Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Menus

Today is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and all the food sections are full of pictures of happy Pennsylvania  farm families eating in what appears to be Hawaii, or browned and tasty dishes created just for the day. Some amateur food bloggers like me even celebrate Thanksgiving ahead of time so they can put it on their blogs for their readers. I think one guy in Washington calls his preholiday dinner bloggsgiving.
Well, it struck me that I could be somewhat useful to what readers I have. I know there are gradually becoming more of you, even if you never write in. So, here are some suggestions for Thanksgiving menus with recipes that appeared in the blog. I will try to give readers some idea of the difficulty or length of time it takes to prepare each dish.
The recipes will fall into the following categories. Soup or appetizer, side dishes,  bread, dessert. The only turkey recipe in the New York Times Heritage Cookbook is Roast Oregon Turkey with Sausage Dressing. I prepared it prior to 1983 when my husband Bob started writing the dates next to the recipes. It was probably in the fall of 1978 when we had Thanksgiving at our apartment in Georgetown. I have a memory of that dinner, but no memory whatsoever of the turkey. If you don't have a basic cookbook like Joy of Cooking or Fanny Farmer, Google turkey recipes.


Soup can be made ahead of time. In fact, make your soup ahead of time. This weekend. Don't delay. The shellfish recipes are simplicity themselves.

Cream of Chicken Soup  December 7, 2010 "Yummy, but time consuming"
Escarole Soup October 12, 2010 "Tasty but time consuming" Takes two days
Rivel Soup April 9, 2011  Starts with already made chicken stock. Relatively easy.


Scallops Mayonnaise November 23, 2012 "Takes all of 15 minutes. Could be made the night before."

Scallops Mayonnaise

Crevettes Paula    November 24, 2011 Crevettes are a fancy word for shrimp. Shelling shrimp can be time consuming. Two and one-half pounds of shrimp in shells makes one pound, or two cups of cooked shrimp. Can be done ahead of time.

Crevettes Paula

Side Dishes

Mushrooms with Cream  February 21, 2011, Fast and tasty. However, there was an issue with how long to boil the mushrooms and cream to achieve thickening. Perhaps, mixing in a tablespoonful of cornstarch to the cream before adding it to the mushrooms could achieve the same result.

Fried Onions and Apples February 19, 2011. Takes maybe 20 minutes total, is seasonal and a part of Americana.

Green Beans, Southern Style September 22, 2013  These take up time boiling on the back burner, but need practically no effort.
Green Beans, Southern Style

Baked Bourbon Spiced Sweet Potatoes  November 22, 2012  Sweet potatoes bake in the oven with the turkey, and are nearly mashed already. A high calorie but delicious side.

Baked Bourbon Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Cheese Grits Casserole  September 22, 1013.  This takes a little extra time because the grits have to cool to room temperature. If you start it Thursday morning, or even Wednesday night, that shouldn't be a problem.  However, it is flat out delicious. It bakes at 350 degrees, same as the turkey.

Cheese Grits Casserole


Pumpkin Rolls  November 24, 2011. The pumpkin makes these rolls a lovely orange color. Since it is a day before recipe, you can get everything but the baking out of the way on Wednesday night. They bake at 375 degrees, so you could put them in with the turkey. 

Pumpkin Rolls

 Flaky Rolls  November 21, 2012    Unless you are a skilled baker, I would not attempt these on Thanksgiving. They are delicious, but they take hours to roll out, chill, spread with butter and chill again. They also bake at 475 degrees, which is too hot for the turkey. But they are really good. Make them some other time. 
Flaky Rolls

Quahog Popovers September 8, 2013. Upside, these are easy to make, and very good. On the down side, they do bake at 425 degrees which will be too hot for the turkey. However, they only have to bake 25 to 30 minutes, so you could stick them in after the turkey comes out to rest. They don't have to rise. The only thing you have to remember is, the ingredients should be at room temperature, so you could take them out the night before.


Winy Apple-Raisin Pie  April 2, 2011. If your guests are mainly adults, and you have a non alcoholic dessert for the junior set, this is a little different turn on an old standard. You can make it the day before, or even over the weekend. Using ready made pie crust lowers the stress level considerably. The top may look complex, but, it's just strips laid one way over strips laid the other way. You don't have to weave the strips. 

Winy Apple-Raisin Pie

Squash Apple Pie  October 30, 2010 This pie can be made from steamed acorn squash, butternut squash, or pumpkin. The result is pumpkin pie-ish, because the spices are what make the pie. It can be made this weekend and put safely in the refrigerator, one less thing to juggle in and out of the oven. It also calls for a pie shell, which you can buy at the store. 

French Silk Chocolate Pie  April 15, 2012. Well, why not a chocolate pie? All the pies at Thanksgiving don't have to be apple or pumpkin. The Pilgrims might have had a chocolate pie if they traded with Africa where people grew cocoa beans. Time consuming, but not difficult. The cook has to beat 4 eggs into the melted chocolate one at a time, for five minutes each, making 20 minutes of beating. Since the pie is chilled, not baked, it can be made ahead of time, Friday night, if you wish. It's really good.  

So, those are my suggestions. I hope somebody finds them useful. My overall advice is, 1. Make what you can ahead of time. 2. Think outside the box. 3. It doesn't have to be your grandmother's Thanksgiving. If you want to make lasagna, make lasagna. 4. I pass this one on from another foodie expert. Take out all your serving dishes early Thursday morning and decide what is going to go in what. Use sticky notes to remind you. If you don;t have a container for the fourth side dish, don't make it. Happy Thanksgiving. 


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