Learn from your past mistakes and your past wins. When I mentioned I was working on my Thanksgiving menu for 2014, a friend asked to share what I was thinking of doing so he might gain some inspiration for his menu. I always write a menu, but I don’t know what I actually made until after I made it. So here’s what I actually made for my double Thanksgivings for the past six years. I could have gone further, but enough already!
Roast Duck & Garlic Chive Steamed Buns (pink with beet juice), Mushroom Veggie Steamed Buns (yellow with turmeric juice) served w Soy-Scallion-Ginger Sauce & Sriracha
Shrimp & Grits Balls served with Creole Butter Sauce (David Leite inspired)
Buffalo Cracklin’ Sticks (blue cheese stuffed celery with hot sauced chicken cracklings)
Mega Mushroom Stuffing
Latke Stuffing (Laura Kumin inspired)
Orange Maple Walnut Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Jax Mac & Cheese
Coriander Roasted Butternut & Shallots with Barley, Lentils & Chick Peas
Five Shade Of Greens: String Beans, Swiss Chard, Zukes, Scallions & Garlic Chives
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Orange Mostarda (Judy Witts Francini inspired)
Apple Pie (Thanks Karen Carzo!)
Gingered Sour Cherry, Apricot, Currant, Cranberry Gallette
Banana Brûlée Tart in a Chocolate Crust
Tiramisu Heavenly Pie ( Dennis K. Littley ‘s tiramisu filling recipe)
Browned Butter Almond Cherry Cake-lettes
Chocolate Pecan Whipped Cream Roll with Cajeta, Chocolate Sauce & Spiced Pecans
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Dipped Apricots & Grahams
Pork Stuffed Sticky Rice Rolls with Scallion-Ginger Condiment & Chili Soy Sauce
Peanut & Sesame Crusted Vietnamese Beef Balls
Yuzu Smoked Salmon Tatare in Cucumber Cups with Nori Flakes
Turkey (Dry Brined = amazing! Russ Parsons = genius!)
A Foursome Of Mushrooms Stuffing
Jax Mac n Cheese
Apple Cider Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples & Cranberries
Salumi’d, Spinach’d & Shallot’d Potato Stuffing
G’Roots: amaranth, millet, quinoa & buckwheat topped with roasted rutabagas, turnips, carrots and garlic chips
Slow Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel, Zucchini & Eggplant
Maija’s Maine Picked Cranberry Sauce
Tangerine Cranberry Sauce
Pine Nut-Cherry-Apricot, Browned Butter Frangipane Tart
Cajeta, Chocolate Ganache & Toasted Pecan Cheesecake
Tropi-Panna Cotta Layers of Coconut Panna Cotta, Pineapple Lime Jelly & Roasted Banana Panna Cotta
Maple Butternut Pie with a Rum Toffee Sauce
Blueberries, Raspberries, Almond and Pistachio Nougat
Roasted Garlic Feta Butternut Squash Beet Parfait w Spiced Apple Chips
Jax Mac n Cheese
Heritage Beans & Bacon
Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Okra Corn & Tomatoes
Old School Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Italian Plum, Beet & Ginger chutney
Granddad’s Rice Pudding
Apple Cherry Crumble Pie
Chocolate Pecan Squares
Bacon Wrapped Plantains w Lime Mojo
Steel Cut “Shrooms’ with tomatoes, zucchini feta
Pimp Your Egg Platter (NOTE: serve some white bean dip & toast points as well for folks who don’t like eggs)
- fried capers
- fried croutons
- cheese chips
- spiced nuts
- garden tomatoes
- smoked trout
- beet relish
- pickled onions
- pickled green tomatoes
- pickled shallots
Seriously Mushroomy Stuffing
Browned Butter Squash Medley: delicata, butternut & sweet potatoes w cranberries & walnuts
Mac n Cheese
Roast Garlic & Pearl Onion Scalloped Potatoes
Steamed Green Veggies & Carrots
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Orange Cranberry Relish
East 62nd St Lemon Cake
Salted Pecan Chocolate Caramel Slice
Funny Bone Roulade Chocolate roll filled with white chocolate and peanut butter filling and encased in chocolate glaze
Sour Cream Apple Pie
Pear Harvest Pie
Panko Crusted Sesame Scallion Shrimp Balls with a trio of dipping sauces: Chinese mustard, soy ginger reduction, sweet & hot Chili
Bacon & Parmesan Johnny Cakes with Green Tomato Apple Chutney & Sour Cream
Jax Summer Harvest Pickled Veggies
Wild Mushroom & Roasted Shallot Stuffing
Almond &Toffee Crusted Scalloped Sweet Potatoes & Pears
Smashed and Creamed Turnips
Jax Classic Macaroni & Cheese
Steamed Green Veggies
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Concorde Grape Chutney
Mixed Nut Tart
Hazelnut Chocolate Banana Slice
Apple Harvest Pie
Chocolate Oblivion Torte
Prosciutto Asparagus Rolls
Hot Deviled Crab Dip
Date Nut Sweet Potatoes
Mac n Cheese
Roast Garlic Scalloped Potato
Bacon Parmesan Creamed Pearl Onions
String Beans & Cauliflower
Concord Grape & Apple Chutney
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Cherry Apple Pie
Lemon Chiffon Roll
- Spice Bag1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons allspice berries
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Chutney3 pounds green apple, diced
- 3 pounds green tomatoes, diced
- 1 pound onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 pounds currants
- 1 large red pepper, diced
- 2 pounds brown sugar
- 16 ounces cider vinegar
- 3 lemons, rind and juice
- 4 teaspoons black or yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 cup loosely chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 pound jalapeño chilies (about 7), seeded and chopped
- Prepare the spice bag by tying the spices in cheese cloth or a large tea strainer that will not open.
- Mix all remaining ingredients in a 6 quart stainless steel pot.
- Add spice bag. Bring to a simmer and cook for about two hours.
- Remove spice bag and cool slightly.
- Can in sterilized jars.
- 2 cups onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 cup celery stalks with leaves, stalks diced, leaves minced
- 1/2 cup red pepper, diced
- 7 cups low-salt rich chicken or vegetable stock
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 cup green olives with pimentos
- 4 cups of white, long grain rice
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a 4-6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat, melt 4 ounces of butter.
- Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent.
- Add celery stalks, celery leaves, red pepper and season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the rice, then lower the heat and continue cooking and stirring until the rice loses it’s translucency and starts to smell nutty.
- Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme and olives, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, then stir to incorporate and put on the lid. Cook without stirring for about 20 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.
- Allow pilaf to sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Stir in remaining butter and Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
For Thanksgiving, I like to make the rice ahead of time and reheat it in a baking dish dotted with butter and maybe even some more Parmesan cheese.
- 3 pounds dry pasta (macaroni, penne, rigatoni, etc), cooked (I like it slightly more cooked than al dente.) and cooled
- 3 pounds extra sharp cheddar, 1/2 grated, 1/2 cut into 1” cubes
- 1 quart milk, warmed
- 2/3 cups flour
- 1 cups unsalted butter
- pinch nutmeg ground (optional)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup grated cheese (Parmesan, pecorino, aged gouda)
- 1/3 cup butter, cut into small pats
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- Preheat to 350°.
- Have pasta ready in a large bowl.
- Prepare the baking pans by greasing thoroughly with butter.
- Prepare the béchamel by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan, then adding the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It will make a paste and keep stirring and cooking it for about two minutes. Do not brown it or burn it.
- Stir in the warm milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and continue to cook for another few minutes to let the sauce thicken a little and cook off the floury taste. Remove from heat. Add the grated and cubed cheddar cheese and stir until the cubed cheese is 1/2 melted. If the cheese doesn’t melt, you can return the pan to the stove on a low flame, stirring constantly to keep the sauce from scorching.
- Add cheese sauce to the pasta and mix thoroughly. Press the pasta mixture into the pans and top with the bread crumbs, grated cheese and dot with the butter pats.
- Bake for 30 minutes. The dish is ready when the top is browned and the mac ’n’ cheese is bubbly.
I’ve been know to mix two or three different types of pasta in my make and cheese to play with the texture a little. I like to mix small macaroni and penne and the curly macaroni.
To freeze it, cut the Mac ’n’ Cheese into pieces, wrap them individually in waxed paper and put them in a large freezer bag.
- 8 - 12 cloves of garlic, roasted
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 8 ounces feta cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 6 ounces sour cream
- 4 scallions, chopped
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Tabasco sauce; few drops
- Combine all ingredients in food processor until very smooth and creamy. Serve with your favorite crackers and/or raw veggies.
- 5 celery stalks, washed and dried with their bottoms trimmed so they sit flat on a platter
- 4 ounces chicken skins
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons of your preferred hot sauce
- 4 ounces blue cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- Paprika or smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Salt the chicken skins and place them flat on a half sheet pan.
- Roast for 5 minutes, then flip them over and roast for 5 minutes more until golden brown and crispy.
- Remove pan from the oven and drain the excess fat. Pepper the skins, sprinkle and stir on the hot sauce. Return pan to oven and cook for 5 minutes more, being careful not to burn them.
- When done, remove them from the oven and cool them completely. Break the skins into shards or chop them roughly.
- Mix blue cheese and cream cheese and add freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- By hand or by using a piping bag (fitting it with a star tube, makes it fancy) or a plastic bag with a hole cut out, stuff the cheese into the celery stalks.
- Sprinkle lightly with paprika and top with chicken cracklings.
- Slice each stalk into 2” lengths, platter and serve.
- 6 pounds of collard with some turnip or mustard greens mixed in, washed. Leave wet.
- 1/2 pound of fatty bacon, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound smoked ham hocks or neck bones
- 1 pound of rutabagas, peeled and cubed
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hot sauce (optional)
- Prepare the greens by stripping the leaves off the stems. Slice the leaves into 1/4” strips and julienne the stems, diagonally very finely.
- In a small saucepan, cover the ham hocks or neck bones with water and bring them to a boil. Drain off the water.
- In a large heavy bottomed stock pot,over a medium low flame, render the bacon until is crispy.
- Remove the bacon bits from the pan, leave the fat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté until just golden.
- Add the ham hocks or neck bones, the bacon bits and as many greens as will fit in the pot. Put on the lid. Allow the greens to steam for 10 minutes, open the pot, stir them, add more greens, continuing until you fit all the greens in the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
- At this point, you can continue to cook the greens on the stove, but I like to transfer them to a large baking pan. I cover them with aluminum foil and cook them in a 300° oven, so I don’t have to watch them carefully.
- If you leave them in the pot, lower the flame.
- Cook the greens for an hour and a half until they are tender. Adjust seasoning. Add a dash of hot sauce (or serve it on the side). Cool completely.
I find that the greens taste better the next day after the flavors have a chance to meld. We call them Collard Greens even if we mix in turnip or mustard greens. You can also use kale, Swiss chard, cabbage, beet greens, and so forth.