For me, Thanksgiving launches the festivities for the remainder of the year. It’s a time when I look forward to gathering with family and friends, raising a glass, sharing a meal, all while making lasting memories.
During the fifteen or so years that my husband and I have been hosting Thanksgiving, our guests always ask if they can contribute to the holiday meal. This year was no different. I welcomed the help and the creative recipes that our guests made. Here’s how the menu fell into place.
This year, Michele asked me to do appetizers. I immediately thought of my favorite appetizers but no, they were not suitable to this dinner; one of the guests keeps kosher. But maybe those appetizers could be altered to satisfy kosher dietary laws. That meant no dairy ingredients.
Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Deviled eggs are a crowd pleaser; salmon and eggs are popular partners: dill takes to eggs and to salmon. Ergo: hard-boiled eggs, the whites stuffed with a mixture of the yolks, pieces of smoked salmon, and dill will achieve accolades. They did. Ingredients 12 hard boiled eggs*, halved, whites and yolks kept separate 1/3 cup mayo 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small pieces Garnish - dill fronds (optional) *I used packaged, hard-boiled, medium eggs. The medium, rather than large, eggs are a better size for an appetizer. Preparation
Mix together the yolks, mayo, shallots, mustard, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Add in the salmon and mix well.
Stuff the whites with the salmon mixture. Decorate with a dill frond, if desired.
Persimmons and Pears Wrapped in Pastrami
Such a delightful duo - sweet fruit and savory meat! Over a lot of years of entertaining, it’s clear - bacon wrapped around fruits (persimmons, pears, apples…just about any fruit) will garner great praise from guests. But bacon is a no-no in kosher cooking. Pastrami, with its smoky, spicy taste should make a super substitute. The guests thought so. Ingredients 8 ounces (about) pastrami in slices 1 ripe Fuyu persimmon, peeled and sliced vertically into 10 sections 1 ripe Bartlett pear, peeled and sliced horizontally into 10 sections Preparation
Trim the fruit slices to equal size to fit the width of the pastrami.
Lay out a slice of pastrami. Cut into sections for wrapping around the fruit. Wrap and secure with a toothpick. Serve at room temperature.
Mushroom and Turkey Bacon in Phyllo Cups
An absolute star of an appetizer is the combination of mushrooms sauteed in butter with shallots, white wine, cream and bacon. It works as a pâté, a filler or stuffing. To conform this combo to kosher dietary laws, I used a vegan butter, no cream and turkey bacon. The result lacked oomph while the turkey bacon changed the taste gestalt. The solution - tomato paste to add acid and brightness. I thought this appetizer was okay but not as good as the previous two. If you like turkey bacon you will like it.
My husband, David, prepared the fourth appetizer of guacamole served with veggie sticks. Avocados are the perfect canvas for many ingredients, and Dave’s choice of mayonnaise, tomatoes, dried onion, black pepper and a dash of garlic powder worked really well together. He garnished with sticks of celery and carrots. It was scooped up by all! Our next course was the soup. Another guest, Sally, made a Moroccan-Spiced Butternut Squash Bisque. The sweet flesh of the squash was enhanced with the most wonderful aromatic flavors from ginger, cinnamon, and cumin to fresh orange juice. Our guests thought it was a gastronomic explosion of great taste. Sally substituted the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Here’s the link to the recipe she used:
This year I made Bobby Flay's recipe for a Black Pepper and Pomegranate Molasses turkey. The flesh was moist, and the skin was crispy and extremely tasty. Here’s the link:
https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay Black Pepper-Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Turkey
To accompany the turkey, I made a wild rice pilaf that included shaved Brussels sprouts, sliced carrots and onions, and chopped pecans. The veggie was asparagus which was roasted with evoo and everything- bagel spice. Dave made the cranberry sauce.
Our son, Greg, prepared the salad. It was greens, mixed with orange pepper and cucumbers. He used a mustard vinaigrette that was velvety and tart. It was enjoyed by all.
Last, but not least, it was dessert time!
Billa made a lactose-free (a nod to two of our guests) blueberry cheesecake. It was a WOW in presentation and creamy and luscious on the palate. She used this recipe for the cake:
Then she added a blueberry topping from this recipe:
Sally made a pumpkin pie with a ginger snap crust. The custardy filling was the essence of fall with its seasonal spices. The crust added another layer of spiciness to the custard. It was the perfect ending to our Thanksgiving meal.