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Newbie :D. Just saying Hi & Wondering about a Thanksgiving Menu

Hi everyone!

First I should say that I am not a novice cook. However, I'm no iron chef either, and there is no way I could participate on that show. I'd be stumped by some of the ingredients on Chopped, but I think I could make do with the ingredients and possibly get out of the App round :).

I have had a class working in a commercial kitchen as part of being in the Hospitality program at Virginia Tech. However, sadly the class that introduced me to a more refined style of cooking, further branching me from my previous generic approach, is the only course that we have that involves working in a kitchen at the University.

I can make a great Shrimp and Asparagus Rissotto, Chateau Briand, Creme Brulee, Panna Cotta, chicken stocks, and things like that. I know what Creme Fraiche is haha (When I say that to my friends and family, they're in awe of what it is lol). So I would say I definitely have experience cooking and a good knowledge of the kitchen.

I seriously lack in the seafood area, and recipes with Scallops, Crab, Salmon, Mussels, Clams, Tuna, etc I tend to shy away from because I don't live in an area that has great seafood. And what we have is quite expensive at the local Kroger, especially for the fact that I don't know the best ways to cook the aforementioned ingredients, and I live alone, but I do cook for friends once a week or so. Also, I'm not as experienced with lamb, veal or duck, and I honestly do not know if I like veal or duck. Lamb is a bit fatty, or at least in the experiences that I have eaten it, which is probably one of the top reasons I haven't tried to cook it on my own.

Anyway, for thanksgiving dinner I have informed that family that I wish to cook a majority or it.
I am planning to brine a turkey and stuff it with aeromatics much like Alton Brown. Also I am going to cook a beef tenderlion in the "salt dough" that Alton cooked. Did I mention I am a HUGE Alton Brown fan haha. However even with the direction, I will add things that I prefer in the form of herbs and spices that I prefer.

I'm going to allow my mom to cook the cornbread stuffing because it is amazing as it is, though I am going to have her use my home made chicken stock rather than the box kind that she usually would use. I'm thinking about some type of green-bean casserole and some baked creamy mac n chees for some of the kids that love it. Also, we normally have mashed potatoes, but I'm thinking of a some type of potato gratin in addition.

For dessert, I I am going to make a Cheesecake with a raspberry or blueberry coulis . Also we'll have a Pecan Pie, and Creme Brulee.

Any Ideas on something to add, something that is generally favorable and has that "wow" factor response from your family. Luckily I don't have to pay for the stuff (having to pay here at school majorly cramps my style in getting much of what I really want :(....and since the fam will be paying I can get whatever I want.

I'm glad I finally found a "food" message board that is active. I look forward to all the advice and knowledge that I will gain as a part of the community here.

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  1. Welcome! There are several active threads on Thanksgiving (many are linked to at the bottom of this thread), so you may want to start looking there for inspiration. Cheers!

    1. Welcome!

      What are you doing for cranberry sauce? Must have cranberry sauce! And don't forget the rolls!

      ~TDQ

      3 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        You know oddly, my family has never eaten cranberry sauce. Personally, I love it, but I don't know if i should make it for myself. They can be picky eaters and might not bother to put it on their plate :(

        1. re: hpman247

          If you love it, hpman, you should make a little bit, even, for yourself. Even just a small bit of cranberry compote to pamper yourself after all that work.

          1. re: Normandie

            Especially as it's so easy, and you never know, you might gain a couple of converts. For me, the cranberry sauce yields great rewards for little time and effort. Put a stick of cinnamon, some nutmeg, minced ginger, orange peel, marmalade--whatever in it--you can come up with your own flavour combination and, presto, delicious. Plus, you have it for leftover turkey sandwiches... And it lasts forever in the fridge.

      2. How do you feel about a dip involving caviar? Since the budget isn't an issue (and the recipe only calls for a small amount anyway), something unusual and tasty like this could have the "wow" factor. Let me know if you're interested, and I'll post the recipe.

        7 Replies
        1. re: ChristinaMason

          I would say yes, because I am sure that your caviar dip is amazing, but sadly there is no where within 50 miles that I know of that sells caviar. Much less the fact that I will be going home to a much smaller area for thanksgiving where the main grocery store is wal-mart, so i doubt I'd be able to pull off that recipe.

          I'm actually doing a lot of shopping here for the gourmet dishes because I am afraid that while I am home I won't be able to find necessary items

          1. re: hpman247

            Why not shop online for stuff you need and have it shipped to where you're preparing the meal?

            1. re: mcf

              I could certainly do that, but I know nothing about caviar selection...

              1. re: hpman247

                Aw, I feel your pain. My dad lives in WV where the main grocery (and clothing, and Christmas gift) store is Wal-Mart.

                The only reason I made a dip like this was 1) I was obsessed after having something similar at a bar in NY TWO years ago; and 2) I found a small container of caviar (just generic black "German caviar"...from Germans?) at a specialty food shop here in Berlin. That said, I have seen it at places like Cost Plus World Market (I think) and Whole Foods (with the smoked fish).

            1. re: perk

              Sure, I'll try to get it up today.

          2. We make two kinds of cranberries, the raw one on the back of the bag and I make a cranberry chutney that is nice and tangy. I do a sweet potato ginger pudding that is decadent or a warm roasted sweet potato salad with cranberries. We always do some type of greens like arugala, roasted pears, blue or goat cheese, and candied pecans. NO green beans or mashed potatoes, I am all for the stuffing!!! I usually make Ina Gartens rosemary cashews to serve with cocktails before the big meal. An onion marmalade would be nice with the turkey and the beef and can be made ahead of time.

            1. Hi, hpman. I just wanted to say "hello and welcome".

              This may just be a case of personal preference, but when I look at your menu, I'd make only one suggestion, which is...perhaps one more vegetable, in addition to the green bean casserole? You could keep with the Thanksgiving "flavor" and go for something associated with the holiday, or something not, but either way, I'd keep it fairly simple because it looks like you'll be plenty busy cooking. :-)

              So, you could go the root vegetable root and do something like a carrot-parsnip mix. Or sauteed corn with spices/herbs of your choice, peas with thyme, cauliflower with a simple EVOO-bread-crumb-herb dressing.

              Again, I'd keep it simple and take into consideration when choosing the treatment whether the oven or burners will be in more demand...

              Sounds delicious, though. Looking forward to hearing how it all turned out!

              1. Hi, and welcome! your Thanksgiving menu sound good to me but I will add a precautionary note. I once tried not serving mashed potatoes with Thanksgiving dinner and was nearly booed out of the dining room! Chief complaint? Gravy on potatoes au gratin sucks! So just be warned. '-)

                4 Replies
                1. re: Caroline1

                  <<Gravy on potatoes au gratin sucks! >>

                  Another illustration of the vagaries of geography determining our fates. Had you been in Quebec or some of our border areas here in New England, Caroline, your meal would have been remembered for its beautiful ad hoc "poutine". :-)

                  1. re: Normandie

                    Well, I'm a fifth generation California native who fled the state when too much of my childhood was being paved or buried under concrete. I landed in Texas. Both here and in California, the closest thing we have to poutine is "chile fries," or French fries topped with chili and cheese. No brown gravy or cheese curds, but I suspect they are equally messy to eat.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      I've just had to face facts that I'm a food "weinie". I don't think I could eat either the Canadian or Texan versions of "au gratin T-Day potatoes with gravy."

                  2. LIke some others I'd say stick with mashed potatoes especially if you have a picky family. Desserts all sound good, but I think you should have some pumpkin in there, Maybe a pumpkin creme brulee? Pumpkin cheesecake? Or just traditional pumpkin pie?