I'm super excited for Thanksgiving this year. My family is coming to my house, which I like because it makes me feel like a grownup, so I will be spending it with my dad, my brother, his girlfriend, and, for the first time ever, Bernie.
I have had the cooking and baking bug hardcore lately, so I'm champing at the bit to have the chance to make a huge elaborate meal. We've had basically the same Thanksgiving since I was a tiny child, and I'm not planning on changing up the dinner menu much. That makes a roast turkey with a kind of French country-inspired stuffing that was my mom's invention, whipped mashed potatoes, roast brussel sprouts, a fancy pear and parsnip puree, spicy cranberry sauce, and croissants in place of dinner rolls. It's a homey meal that I really love, and one I look forward to all year.
The differences I'm introducing this year are mostly to do with the baking and dessert. We usually buy croissants, but this time I think I want to try my hand at making them from scratch. It's definitely not an easy task, as it involves making a laminated dough, but I think beautiful homemade pastry would be a fun challenge and a nice addition to the table. I am using a recipe by Paul Hollywood
, the judge on the Great British Bake Off. I'll have to convert some of the measurements to Imperial, and there's probably easier version out there, but I'm kind of on a kick with him right now. He knows his stuff, and, because I am shallow and easily manipulated by personality, I like his spiky hair, his blue eyes, and his slightly coarse accent.
I'm also going to make a pumpkin cheesecake for Casey and Sarah. Our usual family desserts and pumpkin and apple pies, which I really do love, but I wanted to shake things up this year, and Casey asked for cheesecake. Again I've never made one before, but I'm trying to expand my baking repetoire. For this I'm using a recipe of Alton Brown's
, who is my go-to guy for when I want to try a dish I've never done before. This one is from his personal website, so sadly there is no corresponding Good Eats video, but he did do a regular cheesecake episode which I've watched for reference. With this version we can keep the presence of pumpkin on the table somehow.
The only real sticking point is Bernie's keeping kosher. My family lives on butter combined with meat, and up to this point it's been an integral part of our Thanksgiving recipes. My dad is not enthusiastic about the idea of a kosher Thanksgiving, so it's up to me to manage the cooking so that it goes as smoothly as possible. If I can pull it off so that it's not a pain in the butt to do, and the food comes out just as good, then I hope that will send the message that Bernie joining us for holidays is not a kink in the gears. I think if that precedent is set, it won't be an issue for the future.
Most of our holiday traditions are doing things we've been doing since Casey and I were born, basically, and never really involved anyone besides the four of us. We're all introverted to a degree, and part of the appeal was to celebrate exactly the way we liked it without having to put on anything for company. But I want Bernie to be part of my family now, joining us for our celebrations-- and honestly one of the advantages of being a mixed-faith couple is we can each celebrate our most important holidays in the way we prefer. Still, this is a small hurdle I'll have to work out.
Currently my plan is to start with Alton Brown's recipe for roast turkey with stuffing and adapt it to my purposes. I'm going to use my mother's stuffing instead of his, but follow his cooking instructions because his version doesn't use butter. I really hope you can't taste the difference too much-- everything is better with butter, and I don't want my dad to be disappointed. The extra stuffing that won't fit in the bird we usually put in a pan and bake separately as a dressing, so that can have butter in it-- though no meat juice from the turkey. The brussels sprouts can be done as we usually do them, as can the cranberry sauce. I think we'll do two versions of the mashed potatoes, one with milk and butter and one without. I hate margarine and think it's basically like eating toxic waste, but maybe I ought to pick some up just for Bernie's sake. The pear and parnsip requires sour cream and I'm not sure if there's anything that can substitute for it. He'll just have to wait on the croissants and desserts, but that's what usually happens anyway.
I hope it works out. Integrating new people into family gatherings can be tricky, but at least I've got a plan.