The November 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived on October 20. The proposed menu had come together relatively quickly some weeks before, although a few details had remained vague and I was less than enthusiastic about the green beans. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the menu and I needed Martha to come through. She did.
Champagne: Lobster Salad on Herb Crackers
My one regret in moving to Georgia is that I would no longer be in driving distance to Newport, RI, where friends and I would occasionally enjoy a fine day lunching wharfside on exceptional lobster salad at the Black Pearl. I can taste it now, fresh lobster, simply dressed and piled high on a croissant.
I mean to replicate the lobster salad, but croissants don’t make very convenient hors d’oeuvres. I pull out the best Martha issue ever, November 1997, for the answer: Mixed Herb Swatches. These are crackers made with sour cream and herbs and tarragon and dill sound just about right to me.
Making crackers is frightfully simple: this recipe is just like pastry, but with minced herbs added in and some sour cream instead of ice water. Once you’ve tasted the rather ethereal results, you’ll not want to pay $5 for a box of fancy pants crackers again.
Reisling: Smoky Sweet Potato Soup with Spiced Pepitas
I’m going to try this recipe from the October 2011 MSL issue and at this link. It calls for a garnish of salted pepitas (green hulled pumpkin seeds), but I make a cocktail snack of spiced pepitas and I’m going to use those instead of plain.
I toast the pepitas in a hot dry skillet for a couple minutes, tossing to toast evenly. Then add a teaspoon of oil and toss to coat. Once the pepitas are puffed and a little brown, I stir in my spice mix. I don’t have this written down, but it contains chili powder, brown sugar, salt, cayenne, paprika and cumin. For the Thanksgiving batch, I’ll probably use the Spanish smoked paprika I recently picked up.
Brunello di Montalcino: Rotisserie Turkey
Following the success of the test turkey my husband rotisseried in preparation for the , the temporary BBQ will be reassembled and this year’s bird will be turned on the open coals. This will be excellent for my oven utilization plan on Thanksgiving Day, but presents its own challenges. Namely, I’ll need to have prepared for Plan B (oven roasting) in the event of inclement weather, and if Plan A is employed, the rotisserie will be in operation and thus be requiring manly supervision during the time the soup course will be served. There’s no help for it; the soup will need to be served in mugs outside.
Rotissing (is that a word?) the turkey also necessitates the absence of stuffing. This will be remedied by an excellent suggestion in the latest MSL: Stuffed Roasted Onions. Not being enamored with the recipe’s sausage stuffing topped with cheese, I’m going to stuff my version with a bread stuffing including chestnuts, dried cranberries and pears; and skip the cheese.
Gringo’s restaurant (former occupier of the Fox Brothers Barbeque building on DeKalb Avenue) used to have a fantastic Corn Budin that I have often pined after following Gringo’s demise. I remember a server there once telling me that the recipe was top secret and had upwards of 22 ingredients. For years, I was foiled in my efforts to find a similar recipe as none had more than six or so ingredients. I finally determined the server had either been misinformed or was exaggerating and set to testing a couple different recipes. I will let you know how that turns out.
Twice Baked Potatoes were vociferously requested. While one of my favorites, it doesn’t seem a very inspired choice considering a horseradish version was on last year’s menu. I decide that making them with grated onions, roasted garlic, gruyere and chives would be suitably inspirational.
Since one can never have too much roasted garlic, I don’t mind including it in my Butternut Gratin with Sage, Roasted Garlic and Hazelnuts. I’m going to slice the squash thin and toss with melted butter and the other ingredients before layering in a shallow dish and baking until the top is crisp.
The token green on the table (Mixed Chicories with Persimmon) will be more interesting than the original idea of green beans. An attempt to fancify the beans with pancetta just made them sound unappealingly greasy. Martha to the rescue with this salad recipe from MSL November 2011. The bitter greens and red-wine vinaigrette promise to provide a nice contrast to the other rich flavors being served.
While re-reading the most excellent November 1997 issue, I see a recipe for Spicy Cranberry Jam and decide to add that to the menu, too. It’s basically a standard cranberry sauce with julienned jalapeño. But
a kind friend just gave me several Scotch Bonnet peppers, so I’ll probably use one of those instead.
Carlos I: Chocolate Terrine
This delightful Spanish brandy will be served with the seriously decadent desert prepared by Chef Joe Truex of Watershed at a back in May. The chances of anyone actually eating any of this after the afore-described meal are probably pretty slim. But, Thanksgiving is the one dayI actually do prepare some desert and it will be available for any hearty soul not too stuffed to have it.