Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How to Host Your First Thanksgiving: Part III

But before all the decorating decisions were made, I had much bigger things to consider.

The menu.

Last year I made an Indian- and North Africa-inspired meal that combined spices and flavors that to me suggested more celebration than tradition. Thanksgiving, to me, is a celebration all the great things we experience day to day, but I suspected that many of our 12 guests might be looking for more tradition.

The solution, of course, was a compromise. As has been the spirit of my house life with Neil. First it’s the house choice and then the walls paint, furniture design and rug colors. We’re getting pretty darn good at it too! In fact, I think we’ve moved beyond compromise into hybrid ideas. And we all know hybrid technology is all the rage.

I compiled a list of recipes for hors d’oeuvres, sides, turkeys, stuffing and desserts to pass around my cabinet of culinary advisors, chopped and trimmed to arrive at this menu:

Hors d’oeuvres:
Fresh-baked baguette with brie
Fig and proscuitto flatbread
Margherite pizza
Sesame crackers with three cheeses*

First course:
Spicy mushroom bisque

Brined turkey (11 lb)
Paprika-glazed turkey breast (6 lb)

Pumpkin seed bread salad
Chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon
Mashed potatoes with horseradish cream
Apple cider mashed sweet potatoes
Butternut squash and chestnut risotto
Rosemary-butter biscuits
Smoky sherry-doused gravy

Gianduja mousse
Pumpkin-gingersnap tiramisu

We supplemented the meal with a regular mesclun salad, corn and green beans, while our mom’s gave the meal’s end extra sparkle with delicious pumpkin and apple pies from Neil’s mom and a an incredible bread pudding (with croissant base) from my mom’s kitchen.

I think Neil was a little nervous his more traditional family wouldn’t dig the non-traditional menu (it wasn’t too far off), but they really dived into the dishes and didn’t utter an un-mmmed word.

* While I cut up some Colby and swiss, I was really enamored of a light Wisconsin cheddar and cranberry I picked up at Whole Foods. For once, I wasn’t too upset about people not wanting to try new things. More for me!