It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving and good, well-organized cooks everywhere have planned their menus, assembled their shopping lists and are about to embark upon an epic cooking adventure.
And then there are the rest of us. Well, actually, and then there’s me. About half the time I’m a good cook(the other half I would say I’m a very utilitarian cook). But I would not call myself well-organized. Planning ahead, for me, generally means pulling the cookbooks out on Saturday morning when I’m starting to think about Saturday night.
But Shana and Anne? Man, they put me to shame. These women know how to put together a menu. Anne, in particular, puts all of her considerable organizational skills into menu-planning. The woman is a demon with a pack of post-it notes and a pile of cooking magazines. They keep me on my toes, those two, and in effort to learn from their good example, I actually planned my menu more than a full week ahead.
But I don’t expect the same from you. So, in the spirit of sharing the planning load, I present three variations on a theme, in the hopes they might inspire. Each of us has started with the idea of Thanksgiving, but each of us is cooking for a very different crowd in terms of numbers, ages and tastes. We helped each other out a bit, and here’s what we came up. So, without further ado, three menus, each one constructed in response to constraints as well as opportunity.
Shana Cooks for the Family
The crowd: The Kimball Family
The constraint: As with every family Thanksgiving, some items are non-negotiable
Shana’s notes: This is a rough sketch. Starters and dessert are TBD. As is where I should source the turkey. I’m worried that this menu is too sweet. Suggestions are welcome about how to add some contrast or otherwise offset the carby-sweetness. (Though this is just the problem of thanksgiving, isn’t it?)
greens w/ pears, walnuts, blue cheese
mashed potatoes [a la my mom]
Anne cooks NY Style
The crowd: Anne’s hip New York City friends and family
The constraint: A New York City apartment kitchen
Anne notes: We are going to go to Chelsea market or somewhere else fun on Sat and buy noshes like cheese pate etc.,
My girlfriend is doing this panzanella as a first course:
then for the main I’m doing this:
with a trio of purees:
Then my friend is making an apple tart that we will serve with crème fraiche.
NB: Anne is actually cooking her dinner this very weekend, so early reports may be in on Monday or Tuesday.
Maria Cooks Thanksgiving in Minature
The crowd: Family of four, two of whom are way under legal drinking age, one of whom is under three feet.
The constraint: Pleasing four variously developed palates. The need to use up some of the great big Thanksgiving share due to arrive from Tantre Farm. And a smoked turkey. What sides complement smokiness?
Homemade assorted cheddar crisps to snack on
Smoked/grilled turkey (exact brining method is still under discussion) from The Big Green Egg.
Savory bread pudding (exact plan TBD but along these lines)
Cubed turnips and sweet potatoes, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper, roasted
Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts.
Salad of some sort (On the light, palate cleansing side), with some cheeses
Shana kindly pointed out that there is no cranberry sort of thing here. Must think about that. Maybe those pickled grapes of hers?
Tune in next week to see if any of us actually stuck to our menus. The best-laid plans . . . Looking forward to hearing reports from out there in the cooking world.