Magazine article Sunset

The Adjustable Thanksgiving

Magazine article Sunset

The Adjustable Thanksgiving

Article excerpt

Tradition tailored to personal taste is the essence of this fine Thanksgiving dinner. Almost every dish offers pick-and-choose options designed to please all generations, with particular regard for finicky eaters, fancy eaters, and those with special dietary considerations.

Turkey, of course, is the mainstay of the meal.

But from the first nibble, you have choices to make. The appetizer tray includes lean raw vegetables and plain crackers for the cautious and those concerned with fat or cholesterol. For hearty appetites, there are cold cured meats, a mellow vegetable spread, and polenta flat bread. Dried tomatoes and fresh herbs should satisfy more cosmopolitan tastes.

Set up both the salad and main courses as buffets so people can make their selections easily. At the salad bar, offer separate bowls of mild lettuces and of more pungent-flavored leaves, such as Belgian endive, escarole, and radicchio. Each person chooses the greens that suit his or her taste, then moistens the greens with lemon, a simple vinaigrette, or a creamy balsamic vinegar and chili dressing. Then, if you like, also offer crisp toasted nuts and croutons-again to add to taste.

Once the salad is organized, people can go directly to the table, treating the salad as a first course. Or they can deposit their salad at the table, then proceed to the turkey buffet to collect ingredients for the main course.

The plump turkey contains a wild rice stuffing with lots of seasonings; alongside bakes a simpler, lightly seasoned brown rice stuffing. Have guests choose the kind they prefer-or they can try some of both,

The giblet gravy is rich and dark. In the kitchen, enhance its flavor with a touch of white wine.

To solve the white versus sweet potato dilemma, roast both vegetables together with small onions, browning and glazing vegetables in a modest amount of olive oil. At the buffet, you can season them with salt and pepper or dot with sherry butter.

Hot or room-temperature peas flanked by tepid poached leeks can be enjoyed plain or enlivened with a tart caper sauce.

For relishes, there are a cooked cranberry classic and one with caramelized fresh ginger.

Dessert features more options, with homey and/or dressed-up apple pie. One pie has a double crust and orange sauce. The other is struesel covered with a lavish cream topping (recipes on page 104). Other recipes for Thanksgiving dinner are on the following pages and on pages 204 and 206. From this colorful display of purchase and prepared elements, everyone is sure t find an item or combination that pleases. In addition to crackers, you might like t include the polenta triangles on page 204.

Appetizer Platter

2 ounces parmesan cheese

1/2 cup dried tomatoes packed in oil,

drained and slivered

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil

leaves

Caramelized onion and roasted

pepper spread (recipe follows)

1 can (6 oz.) pitted large black ripe

olives, drained

3/4 to 1 cup calamata olives or nicoise

olives

1/2 pound each thinly sliced prosciutto

and dry salami

2 large carrots, peeled and cut into

thin sticks

1 each large red and yellow bell

peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into wide strips

Unsalted or salted crackers With a vegetable peeler, shave parmesan into very thin slices. If desired, mound in individual bowls on a large platter the cheese, tomatoes, basil, onion spread, ripe olives, and calamata olives. Or mound ingredients individually on the platter. Arrange alongside the prosciutto, salami, carrots, peppers, and crackers. To serve, let guests choose foods to nibble plain or on crackers. Serves 12.

Caramelized onion and roasted pepper spread Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 large onions, thinly sliced, in a 10to 1 2-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. …

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