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Monday, November 23, 2009

thanksgiving ideas 2009

little did i know of the dangers that lurked ahead...

We’re pretty much at the homestretch here – Thanksgiving is days (DAYS!) away and tensions are running high. Every year, I freak out that my turkey will be too dry, and every year, just like magic, it comes out perfect, so much so that there are barely any leftovers. And I, personally, love my turkey leftovers. I think I’m just anxious to get into the kitchen and get the actual dinner started. All in good time, I suppose. Until then, I am left to bite my knuckles in nervous anticipation.

escarole & pickled onion salad

Anxiety aside, I love hosting this holiday and cannot imagine not doing it. When we arrived to the US, it was the first real holiday I got to learn about, and I embraced it with a readiness and ardor only a freshly minted immigrant could procure. I wanted to learn everything that was quintessentially American, down to the most minute detail, and nothing screamed America to me more than a table displaying turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, pumpkin and apple pie. If my mother even so much as breathed a suggestion of serving a Russian salad alongside the traditional American dishes, I would shoot her a dirty look. I felt like she was sullying a holiday that was my instant passageway into assimilation and subsequent acceptance. When you’re a teenager and everything about you is awkward, being a foreigner with broken English and an accent is the last nail in the coffin of social suicide. I felt it keenly and perhaps was a bit overly concerned about it, but as we all remember when you’re 13, your issues feel like the weight of the world upon your shoulders. If I only knew then what I know now.

sweet potato salad

In my fervor and push to assimilate and prove my American-ness to everyone, but mostly, really, myself, I hijacked hosting it from the first year. Every year, I made my parents sit through a turkey dinner, tying this holiday upon their necks much a like a boulder-laden bib. Patiently, graciously, they complied with me. But somewhere along the way, we, somehow, grew into this holiday. It stopped being an exercise in trying to belong as the holiday finally grew to belong to us. And one year, and I’m not sure which year it was, the holiday was ours. Really, truly, wonderfully ours. And then we couldn’t remember what it felt like otherwise.

friendship apple cranberry pie with bourbon caramel

And perhaps, this is what I love the most about Thanksgiving – the part of belonging. No matter what religion or cultural background you are, Thanksgiving is for you. Unconcerned with gifts, it’s a holiday to gather with the people you love to celebrate the one thing we should perhaps do consciously every day – practice the act of gratitude. In a country full of immigrants and stories of wandering and arrival, this is a holiday to unite us all. Together, around a table, we partake in meal, share some laughs and hopefully give thanks for our lives. And there are so many things go be grateful for. Each one of us has his own list.

mushroom barley pie

This year, as pretty much every other year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving again (in other words, I am continuing hijacking the hosting duties, just try and pry it out of my hands!) and this time it’s for a party of 11 people (and my doorman!). For the first time since I moved to New York, nearly 9 years ago, my parents will be visiting me for the holiday, thus marking it our first Thanksgiving together in many years! Add to that, my practically next-door neighbor Sharon and her three cousins visiting New York, and my lovely friend Brita and her family and their dog, Oliver. And last, but not least Anna over at Very Small Anna needed someone to babysit her tortoise, Bowser, while she was out of town, and guess who volunteered? Full house, indeed! The heritage turkey’s been ordered months ago, and I can’t wait to pick it up on Wednesday.

sweet potato gnocchi

But, anxiety and dreams of assimilation aside, and many years that have passed, I wanted to share with you this year’s Thanksgiving menu because I’m very excited about it. Maybe it’ll give you a few ideas if you’re still searching for what to make. And if nothing on the menu calls to you, there are a few other suggestions below, which will, hopefully, strike a chord.


And if nothing strikes a chord, then I want to thank you, my dear readers, for coming here and being my sounding board, my audience, my friends. I love this little space I’ve carved out and in the last 15 months or so it has grown even more dear to me than ever before. I am grateful for all of you and wish you all a lovely, warm, wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Porcini Mushroom Soup
Alton Brown’s (influenced) Turkey
Stuffing from Gourmet, Unbound (but will be vegetarian)
Olive Oil Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Pumpkin Bread Pudding Souffle
Escarole Salad with Pickled Onions (recipe coming soon!)
Cranberry Sauce (recipe coming soon!)
Julia Moskin’s Corn (as seen on The Wednesday Chef)
Roasted Acorn Squash with Cilantro Dressing
Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Cumin-Roasted Parsnips (recipe coming soon!)
Apple-Cranberry Pie with Honey-Bourbon Caramel
Pine Nut Tart with Rosemary (from Claudia Fleming – recipe coming soon!)

curried carrot ginger soup

Chestnut Apple Soup
Curried Carrot Ginger Soup with Pepitas, Cilantro Oil and a Homemade Spicy Marshmallow
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Red Pepper Soup

fennel tangerine salad
Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing
Fennel Tangerine Salad
Apple Celery Salad with Candied Pecans

roasted acorn squash stuffed with spiced couscous in a wine reduction sauce

Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Eggplant
Cream Braised Cabbage with Leeks
Glazed Pearl Onions in Port
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Lemon Zest
Roasted Acorn Squash with a Wine Reduction Sauce
Spiced Glazed Carrots
Mushroom Farro Pie (at Gourmet, Unbound)
Sweet Potato Gnocchi

hazelnut chestnut cake

Hazelnut Chestnut Cake
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Turkey Salad (THE best salad for those turkey leftovers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

thanksgiving ideas 2008

Thanksgiving_2006 (12)

In the eleventh hour, I wanted to perhaps collect a few of my favorite holiday recipes here and organize them here for you – in case you were still looking for sides, turkey tips and other ideas. These are not numerous, but it’s a few more recipes and they’re organized here. So rather than search this site, you can just glance down the list and click on what you like.

I hope that you all have a very happy, palate-satisfying Thanksgiving holiday!

My favorite turkey recipe here.

Porcini Barley Soup (better picture coming soon!)
Red Pepper Soup

veggies for the stuffing

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Acorn Squash with Spicy Dressing
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Onions and Lemon Zest
Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Acorn Squash with Wine Reduction
Spiced Glazed Carrots
Apple Celery Salad with Walnuts

Thanksgiving_2006 (5)

Pies, Etc.:
Apple Cranberry Pie
Apple Pear Pie
Pumpkin Bread Pudding Souffle — seriously my favorite thing ever, pardon the nasty pic!
Cornbread Ricotta Cake with Cranberries and Orange Zest
Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes — for the morning after when you are lounging in your pajamas

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

4th of july menu ideas

… or this picture is a decoy

by the handful

Like many of you, 4th of July among a few other holidays make me think endless opportunities to cook, drink and be merry with friends – who can resist such joys?

Ever since living in America, I connect the memory of summer to some kind of a 4th of July celebration. Be it taking my parents to an overcrowded Brooklyn Heights Promenade, or a cook out with friends, each year holds some kind of a memory. However, when I think of my summers spent growing up in Russia, I think of my grandmother’s spacious apartment – sunlit, glorious, full of delicious food, my grandmother up at 6 o’clock in the morning to fix me and my cousin breakfast. Everything from scratch. Whole, fresh, local ingredients. And berries. Endless bowls of berries: gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and currants in red, white and black variety. I would eat them until I could eat no more. I miss those days because it’s not that simple to find fresh currants in America. But when I found red currants at our green market for $3 a box, I felt like I found a hidden treasure and immediately grabbed two cartons!

memories of a blissful childhood

While I am a bit low on content this week (on Monday, KS cooked us a killer meal of steamed wild salmon and sugar snap peas with curry-spiced couscous (did I get lucky or what?) and yesterday I was at work late so we ordered Peking duck and eggplant with garlic sauce – mmmmm), I’d like to revisit some of the dishes that might be good inspiration for your celebratory needs and excellent for group meals! I hope you find this useful and enjoyable.

Me – I’m planning on making a sour cherry pie among other goodies! And of course, I wish everyone a festive and safe Fourth of July!

The SassyRadish signature salad
Apple Pie
Awesome Spicy BBQ Wings
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Marinated Onions
White Bean Salad with Tomato and Basil

And over at Accidental Hedonist where I am guest blogging for another five months:
Tomatillo Black Bean Salsa
Smitten Kitchen’s Potato Salad
Watermelon Martinis (a must for every hot summer night celebration!)

See more: Menu Ideas,
Monday, November 20, 2006

thanksgiving ideas 2006


I’ve not posted much, I will admit, but those who know me will tell you that I live and die by Thanksgiving holiday. Not only is it my opportunity to flex my cooking skills, but it’s also a way to gather my friends together and feed them. Over the years, I’ve met an amazing number of amazing people. And while people say that your friends reflect who you are, I am truly humbled by the friends I have – generous, kind, sensitive people who are full of life and love.

As of last week, the Radish has found herself unemployed. Downsizing and restructuring have put her in the ranks of those laid off and while the lifestyle of leisure has its appeals, she is not one to sit idly.

With more time on my hands to plan, I was able to finalize our menu for this year. I am going to start composing entries for the recipes to publish them one by one once I have good pictures of the dishes. But for now, consider this an amuse-bouche, an preview of things to come.

2006 Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Pumpkin Souffle/Bread Pudding
  • Apple Pear Pie
  • Green Apple and Celery Salad
  • Mushroom Soup
  • Sweet Potato Salad
  • Cheesecake
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Roasted Acorn Squash
  • Roasted Fennel (Ew!) – my best friend is making it.
  • Roasted Beet Salad