Thanksgiving with a spin

Thanksgiving is perhaps the most characteristic of all holidays in the United States, as I know no other culture that celebrates it. I hated it for years after spending every single one cooking the previously unknown fare at Threadgill’s (“what the hell is cornbread stuffing????”), but I have learned to love it not necessarily for it’s historical meaning, but as an excuse to enjoy family, friends, food, and  football. Every year, we go to the Larson home and enjoy a traditional meal with Will’s parents Dave and Eve, his brother David and wife Lori with their sons Jake and sometimes Rudy. Will’s family are not adventurous eaters nor exciting cooks, with the exception of Lori who likes to entertain and enjoys making special things. Thanks to her, we have introduced mashed rutabagas to the usual fare. Eve’s friend Phillip, who usually joins us on the occasion, is famous for bringing his signature dish: lime and cherry jello in rabbit shaped molds, garnished with celery and carrot sticks. This year, I am bringing Waldorf salad and glazed butternut squash, plus an apple pie and a rum cake from Annie’s Cafe.

Just picked up this amazing apple pie from Annie’s cafe for tomorrow’s family gathering. No way I could have made this myself…

Around 3pm we used to go to my friend Lee’s house for what once was a ruckus celebration of excess and insanely good food we called Franksgiving. Alas, life has gotten in the way and most of this group of friends now celebrates in their own way. This year, Willy and I have decided to do the same, so we can spend time with the dogs instead of leaving them alone all day. As we will likely be hungry again by 7pm, we are cooking just for the two of us, but I am planning on adding a spectacular twist. There will be NO traditional Thanksgiving flavors: no turkey or pumpkin nothing, no cranberry anything, no boring bread stuffing.

At first I had wanted to do a version of “what if Thanksgiving WAS celebrated in Mexico, as a blending of pre-Columbian and Spanish flavors?” a prospect I found intriguing and interesting. But then I got to thinking: why not make a fabulous feast using what I already have?  The idea will be to harvest whatever is ready in the garden and combine it with things that need to be used from the fridge and from the pantry. A true “harvest” celebration, combining seasonal fall flavors with unusual ingredients in challenging, non-traditional dishes. We will be thankful for what we have rather than spend more on what we don’t.

These pretty French radishes want to be part of our “garden to table” Thanksgiving feast. I told them sure.

After inspecting the garden and searching the pantry and fridge, I have a menu draft:

Appetizer buffet served on the kitchen island as we prep, cook dinner, and watch the Saints destroy the Cowgirls:
Caviar stuffed eggs, house pickled pearl onions and fresh radishes, Hungarian peppers stuffed with tuna paté, dry Martinis.

First course: Wild mushroom consomme with epazote and chile morita.

Second course: Roasted quail, apple-celeriac-beet salad with pomegranate seed vinaigrette over beet greens.

Third course: Pork in green mole made with poblanos, hoja santa, lettuce, and radish leaves from the garden, with masa dumplings.

Dessert  while we watch Texas  beat A&M, no matter how shitty a season they have had so far: Goat brie on toast with prickly pear jelly from Confituras (my friend Stephanie’s new venture) and Kakawa roasted cacao beans.

Wine pairings: Tolosa Pinot Gris 2009,  Elk Cove Pinot Noir 2008.

Naturally I’ll have to buy the meats, but really, that is all. I am even thinking I may make tamales over the weekend, on banana leaves from our own trees, if we have leftover mole verde. I am saving some of the pork to make pozole for Friday’s breakfast; it’s supposed to be near freezing and I can’t imagine anything more comforting than a big steaming bowl of savory soup. This, dear friends, is why I LOVE the holidays. I’m off to the kitchen to prep.

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  1. iiiingas perrush! nomas antojas y no invitaaaassss jajajaja yo quiero pozoleeeeeeee!!! enjoy the holidays querida y ya vamos poniendole fecha pa’ vernos! love you

  2. Claudis and Will: no matter what you call it, when it is, or who is there – whatever is on the menu is bound to be fresh and delicious, because that is what you two do! Thank you both for opening your home to me and my family and friends. Just one of life’s “blessings” for which I am truly thankful. joa

  3. Love the post, Claudia, and your menu intrigues. I grew up in an Italian household, and while we did have the turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving, we also had ravioli as a side dish. For dessert we’d have pumpkin pie and cannoli. And there was always jug wine drunk from small, stemless glasses. Ah, memories. Happy happy, baby, to you and yours.

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