Mon 21 Nov 2011
Thanksgiving is our favorite family holiday. It’s a lively day filled with at least 30 family members. My sister in law, Nancy has been hosting since before I married into the family, but for me it has been 25 years.
When it comes to favorite holiday recipes, there are two schools of thought—either you embrace tradition and lovingly (dutifully?) prepare the classics, or you go for something a bit different, just to shake things up. With our family, the deal is that the traditional food is made year after year, and if you want something different, it’s added. But the traditional recipe stays also—so the spread is quite large!
For those looking to shake things up, USA Weekend magazine’s Thanksgiving issue suggests smartly updated recipes for beloved holiday side dishes. Contributing Editor Pam Anderson tasked a group of talented chefs to create recipes with their own “twists.” They were even challenged to lower amounts of calories, fat and sugar, and the distinguished team came up with some very rich-tasting dishes.
With expert food styling by Debbie Wahl, I shot all of these recipes; and I think that, while they may be a bit healthier and more sophisticated, they pay homage to traditions and definitely do the holiday justice.
Chef Paul Kahan of Blackbird in Chicago said his “Creamy Leek Gratin with Breadcrumbs and Bacon” has “just enough cream, cheese, and bacon to make the dish taste good without taking it decadent. And then there’s the light option where I puree some of the leeks with skim milk and Greek yogurt to completely replace the cheese and cream.”
The luscious dessert above is Pumpkin Creme Caramel topped with Pumpkin Seed Brittle. This recipe is from Chef Brad Farmerie of the Michelin-star New York City restaurant Public. Farmerie says, it’s “a nod to tradition but it’s light, delicate, whimsical.” If you are going to mess with the classics and detour from that beloved pumpkin pie, this is a worthy alternative: creamy, spicy, juicy—and crunchy!
As for our own family’s dinner, Dov has been thinking about the food for months! My nephew from Texas called, already concerned about Marty’s famous contribution to the table: crusty potato bread and fresh cranberry sauce. Marty broke his leg recently, and even though he has graduated to a “walking” (hobbling?) cast, he is still not 100% on his feet, so our family’s chef is semi-sidelined.
Ben is really thinking about the post-dinner sandwich with Marty’s cranberry sauce that is so tart and gingery that you pucker thinking about it; and, his bread has just the right tooth! I promised to cook under Marty’s supervision (no pressure!)…
Are you staying with traditional dishes for your feast, or mixing it up some? Whatever your plans may be, I wish you a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!