Monday, December 5, 2011

Our first Thanksgiving dinner as cooks

Da beast (with socks...our host was very proud of the socks...)
And so my first American Thanksgiving as a cook came and went...Although technically this was my third Thanksgiving in the US, this was the first one where I actually was in charge of half of the menu. The other half - the more important one, to be honest - was the responsibility of our host, a fellow Italian who is a very good cook. Hers was the task of cooking the perfect turkey, and boy, did she deliver...She also had to make the stuffing, the potatoes, the gravy and a pecan pie.

Our task was to fill in the gaps: we had to bake some artisan bread, some focaccia bread, some starters, the cranberries chutney, a sweet potato side dish and a pumpkin cheesecake pie. The idea was to have a traditional American menu, although the only American attending the evening was Charlie Brown (my not yet 5-month old son), who really doesn't care about any food outside his bottle. Everybody else was Italian...My impression is that we made a pretty decent job in maintaining the American cooking spirit, with the turkey and the traditional sides and stuffing. Our only Italian variations were in the appetizers (fried bread with either chicken liver pate' or a mushroom sauce), and in the breads. For the rest we tried to keep it real.

The Turkey, the spread, the plate...
Surprisingly, my sweet potato, brown sugar & pecan crusted casserole was a hit. Let me explain for the non-Americans here. Traditionally on Thanksgiving, many Americans eat a sweet potato side dish with marshmallows on top. I ate it once, many years ago, when an American living in Brussels had us over for what was my first Thanksgiving dinner. And I loved it. I love sweet potatoes, and I love to eat meat with sweet sauces and sweet side dishes. But when I proposed to have something similar for our Thanksgiving dinner, the idea wasn't exactly welcomed. Whereas our host was too polite to tell me to go to hell, my mother wasn't (my family visited for Thanksgiving, in the purest American spirit). So I turned to another recipe, from the New York Times cookbook, which I adapted to make it less sweet, and to give it some heat with the right amount of paprika. 

Sweet potato, brown sugar and pecan casserole...with a kick

I expected the dish to remain almost untouched at dinner: even if less sweet than the version with marshmallows, this thing had a lot of brown sugar in it...But I was very wrong: we almost finished it!

The cranberry chutney came out also very good, but there we really had to deviate a lot from the original recipe (taken again from the New York Times cookbook, which has become my go-to cookbook for US food). I had never had cranberries, and let me tell you, they are nasty little berries. They are as sour as taxes, and they need a lot of sweetness to be edible. Good thing is that we realized this in mid-course, and we were able to adjust things, and it turned out very well.

The cranberry chutney: cranberries are evil.

And now Christmas is fast approaching...we will spend it here for the first time, and I am already thinking about the menu...


6 comments:

Brian said...

wow it all looks amazing!

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Thank you Brian! We should have a proper Christmas dinner when you guys are in town.

Trobairitz said...

Seems like you did an amazing job with the dinner menu.

From the pictures it looks very tasty. I bet a well deserved nap was in order after that meal.

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Thanks Trobairitz! By the time we finished it was almost bed time, and Charlie Brown wanted to go home...

Claudio said...

The turkey with socks looks really spectacular!

Tuscan foodie in America said...

Hi Claudio, I am sure our host will be very happy to read your comment...

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