Monday, November 04, 2013

Festive Menus

Happy Diwali, friends!
From the One Hot Stove family, we wish you a year shining with joy.
This month marks one year since we moved to our new home, but I feel like we've been in Georgia for much longer. That means I feel very much at home here and feel accepted into the community and that is something to be very grateful for.

There's no doubt that cooking is a big part of how I cement friendships- I've noticed that lots of people are willing to put up with me because they like to eat home-cooked food!

A few days ago, Ruma left me a comment asking for menu ideas for the American celebration of Thanksgiving which falls on the 28th of this month. Thanksgiving- an entire holiday devoted to cooking and eating with family and friends, kicking off a 4 day relaxing weekend in which to cook and eat some more- is indeed a cook's dream come true. Over the years, I've hosted and attended several memorable Thanksgiving meals. Ruma's question got me reminiscing about Thanksgiving meals since I've started writing this blog over 8 years ago...

 Thanksgiving 2005 was cooked on a tiny range in New York City (the range with a single solitary hard-working burner which led me to name this blog One Hot Stove)- we had over a dozen guests and a distinctly non-traditional seating arrangement: one guest had to sit on the dog bed next to a very miffed Dale. Thanksgiving 2006 was not documented on the blog because at that time, I was writing my dissertation 14 hours a day. I do distinctly remember visiting V in St. Louis that week- spending the day at my laptop in an overheated apartment and then cooking a wild rice pilaf for Thanksgiving supper.

Thanksgiving 2007 had a simple yet enjoyable menu and was the first of many times that I made chocolate pecan pie. I probably spent Thanksgiving 2008 knitting! I started knitting and crocheting that year and was so obsessed that I stopped blogging for several months. Thanksgiving 2009 saw me making a traditional dish- green bean casserole and one non-traditional but very seasonally appropriate one- pumpkin flan. On Thanksgiving 2010 I tried something new- I live-blogged the day of cooking and the menu was a mix of Indian and American dishes.

Thanksgiving 2011 was special because we had a brand new baby daughter- and we spent the holiday with our friends down the street who had a brand new son. The menu was simple enough and a mix of Indian and American favorites- broccoli cheddar soup, vegetable biryani, raita, sweet potato fries and chocolate pecan pie for dessert. I remember that we four new parents enjoyed dinner over several hours in the living room, taking turns holding the babies and digging into the food.

Thanksgiving 2012 was our first in Georgia and we were invited to a friend's home for a large Thanksgiving potluck party- I took what-else-but chocolate pecan pie and vegetable biryani. We have been invited to a colleague's Thanksgiving gathering this year too, so I will only be contributing a couple of appetizers and a dessert to Thanksgiving 2013.

After that jaunt down memory lane, let me get back on track to Thanksgiving menu ideas. I enjoy cooking for this holiday because the dishes are oriented towards (a) Hearty food and (b) Vegetable-centric dishes and (c) Earthy flavors. All of which are practically hallmarks of how I like to cook. Pumpkin and winter squashes, green beans, potato, sweet potato, broccoli, corn, pecans, cranberries, mushrooms, maple syrup are some typical ingredients seen on Thanksgiving menus.

I try to make sure that there is variety in any party menu so that one ingredient is not over-represented and that there is a mix of heavier and lighter dishes. Party menus are a great way to showcase one's best dishes, for sure, but I for one can never resist experimenting on my friends with a new recipe. I never have a problem mixing dishes from different cuisines- and there's always one or more Indian dishes on the menu because that's my culinary background. It works seamlessly- I've never heard anyone complain that the menu is not matchy-matchy enough.

I'd pick one dish from each of these categories to make a Thanksgiving menu that I would enjoy both cooking and eating:

1. Appetizer

  • Hot spinach dip
  • Samosa puffs
  • Sweet and spicy mixed nuts
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Crostini with mushrooms





2. Soup

  • Mushroom soup
  • Broccoli cheese soup
  • Lentil butternut squash soup

 3. Main dish

  • Roasted vegetable biryani
  • Butternut squash lasagna
  • Pumpkin mac and cheese
  • Cauliflower gratin
  • Caramelized onion quiche






4. Side dish: cooked vegetable

  • Sweet potato fries
  • Maple roasted brussels sprouts
  • Chipotle mashed sweet potatoes
  • Green bean casserole 








5. Side dish: raw vegetable

  • Spinach pecan salad
  • Raw shredded beet salad
  • Crudites






6. Dessert

  • Chocolate pecan pie with vanilla ice cream
  • Pumpkin flan
  • Apple crisp




For some years, I've been toying with the idea of cooking an Indian-American fusion Thanksgiving menu. Who knows if or when this will actually happen, but here's my fantasy of what such a menu might look like.

Green bean patties/cutlets with cranberry chutney (an homage to mashed potatoes and green bean casserole)
Curried lentil butternut squash soup

Whole roasted tandoori cauliflower (to be carved at the table!)
Vegetable kofta biryani
Raita/Coleslaw

Warm carrot halwa served with pumpkin ice cream or alternatively,
Warm pumpkin halwa served with pecan kulfi

What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? What are your favorite tips for cooking for festive meals? Got a fantasy Thanksgiving menu to share? Tell us in the comments!

42 comments:

  1. What a lovely trip down memory lane, Nupur! I actually remember reading a lot of what you've written at the time, so it shows I'm a long-time fan :) And this year will be Duncan's first Thanksgiving, so that's something else that will be special.
    All the best to all of you, and big hugs to Lila and Duncan
    Kamini.

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    1. Kamini- too true, you've been a long time friend and supporter and I love you so much for that! I'll have to do something special for Duncan for Thanksgiving because I really do feel like we won the lottery with him- he has such a sweet temperament. He's napping with his head on my lap as I type this.

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  2. I love the fusion thanksgiving menu. it combines the best of both worlds. i have always enjoyed your thanksgiving posts over the years. I specially enjoyed the live blogging thanksgiving.

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    1. Thanks Nikita! If I host another big holiday meal, I'll have to do some live-blogging again. That was a lot of fun.

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  3. I still remember your live post on Thanksgiving 2010 :-) and also some others mentioned above. Surprisingly I can't recall how I spent Thanksgiving except a couple of years back ;-) I guess, that gives me another good reason to start blogging - to document good times in my own life.

    Favorite Thanksgiving dishes: The stuffing and pecan pie. Biryani's and Indian desserts.

    Favorite Tip for cooking festive meals: This tip comes from my hubby - 'Plan backwards'. Make a note of things you would ideally like to do on the day of the party that cannot be made ahead of time and then must-do one day before and so on. This gives me a realistic idea of how many days (or weeks!) ahead I need to start preparing and if this plan is well executed it is extremely rewarding.

    Fantasy Thanksgiving Menu: I have several fantasy menu's for the different group of people (family and friends) in my life as I tend to focus on what my loved ones love to eat. We host a grand dinner party once a year (our very own Thanksgiving) in spring/summer for our friends and I love to include atleast one favorite dish of each guest, across all age groups, needless to say the menu's are very elaborate and labor-intensive but the happy reactions on their faces makes it worth the effort. I always find myself thinking of all the beautiful memories associated with that person while cooking their favorite foods, it makes whole process so much more fun and I find myself looking forward to next year's party - our very own special Thanksgiving. :-)

    - Priti

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    1. Priti- That's one of the best things about writing a blog- you document those small-but-important moments in life that otherwise dissolve as a blur in memory.

      Plan backwards is a fantastic tip!

      How very sweet to include one favorite dish of each guest. I'll have to remember that one for special meals. Having a special celebration day in summer is also a great idea. You guys are awesome to start these meaningful traditions.

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  4. What a coincidence that you should have a Thanksgiving menu post when I was thinking about the same. My son is 3 years old now, and I thought it is a good time to start having a Thanksgiving meal for him to remember as a tradition. Since I am partial towards Indian flavors, here is a menu I had planned on. Vegetable stew, lentil and rice pilaf with cranberries and almonds, roasted potatoes, salad, apple crisp and sev puri. :)

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    1. Your menu sounds lovely, Anjali. I myself would gorge on the sev puri :) and the pilaf with cranberries and almonds sounds like the perfect fusion dish.

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  5. Pumpkin halwa sounds like a winner!

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    1. It would be if I made it, huh? LOL

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  6. It was great to read about your Thanksgivings past, Nupur, and you certainly seem to have had some memorable ones. Love all of the vegetarian food ideas-- proof that Thanksgiving can be both delicious and compassionate. The one food I have often made in the past for Thanksgiving and want to make again this year is my vegan mango cheesecake that everyone-- vegan or not--seems to adore. It works out because mango's my favorite food in the world, it's orange which rather fits the occasion, and it beats out pumpkin any day. :)

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    1. Oh yes, Vaishali, come to think of it, I'll have many omnivores at my Thanksgiving table over the years. Everyone left satisfied and happy. For me, thanksgiving is all about the side dishes! And your mango cheesecake sounds absolutely fantastic.

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  7. Some of my favorites - stuffed mushrooms, creamed corn casserole, stuffed acorn squash with couscous, creamy dip with herbs and garlic. I'll be hosting my best friend and her husband for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm so excited to have her over, I can't decide what I want to make. Just settled one item so far - mini Brie tarts with cranberry sauce.

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    1. Great ideas, Snehal. All those dishes would be fantastic- stuffed mushrooms are my particular favorite. How exciting for you- hope Thanksgiving with your best friend is fabulous!

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  8. What a great post. I am planning on hosting a Thanksgiving Party this year, I plan on a non-Indian menu. It is still in the 'idea' phase, I will share the details once it is settled.
    But one thing I want to make is a pie and I really like the apple cake you made. So looks like dessert is decided :)

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    1. I'm excited to see what you end up making, Manasi! Pie and apple cake would be well-received for sure. I tend to start menu planning with dessert too :)

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  9. I recall those days when I used to wait for a post from your blog...refreshing the bookmark every now and then...ahh good old (no google reader days) :)
    Enjoyed reading your post as always. ..happy thanksgiving in advance.:)

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    1. Thank you Sumi and I guess we're back to the no google reader days :)

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  10. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite celebration of the year. Oddly enough, my parents are always out of the country this time of year, so we never ever celebrated it at home. All my memories of it come from being invited to the homes of random friends during college and grad school and being treated as part of the family with lots of love and food.

    I loved reminiscing with you in this post. I think I started reading your blog in 2007 - coz I remember making that exact same menu (minus the dessert) at a later date. I still make that cranberry date chutney (its yummy).
    I just reread your live blogged Thanksgiving - its particularly awesome for a time/organizationally challenged person like me. I hope as my kids get older, we can host some nice thanksgiving dinners. For this year though, I will settle on some soup and some chocolate pecan pie - been wanting to make it for forever and its time has come :-)
    Prashanti

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    1. That's just it, Prashanti- I love the "whoever it at the table is family" feeling of Thanksgiving. Soup and pie sounds pretty much like a fabulous celebration to me!

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  11. Happy Diwali to you too! I made your vatana rassa, the one with mint and coconut milk, for a Diwali party this year and the serving bowl was licked clean :)

    Preeti

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  12. Loved this post! i think they say that for every post of yours but it is true!
    I started following your blog right around the live Thanksgiving meal blogging because remember checking on you every hour.
    My favorite Thanksgiving desert is chocolate pecan pie with a splash of spiced rum in it. It came out fantastic last year, so planning to make it again this year.
    My dream meal would be cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, corn chowder, pecan pie - all the basics. I lack a main entree because I am not sure what goes with these but I will figure it out soon!

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    1. Thank you, Sangeetha! Ooh, spiced rum would be a wonderful addition to the pecan pie. Your dream meal sounds dreamy indeed. Corn chowder would be wonderful on a chilly November night!

      I'm thinking of entrees that would fit your dinner...maybe stuffed acorn squash or a nutloaf? And biryani goes with everything ;)

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  13. Nupur I remember reading all those TG posts :) I have had two fabulous dinners at a friend's home. The couple went all out and their generosity, passion for cooking and the special care they took of all guests made the dinners very memorable. The first year I made a paanch phoron cranberry chutney for the hostess and it was such a hit that they asked me to get it next year, even though it wasnt a potluck :)
    And coincidence - last weekend I had some friends over and served carrot halwa with pumpkin icecream from TJs!!! Needless to add the dessert was much appreciated.
    Hope the OHS family had a wonderful Diwali.
    Ashwini

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    1. Oh how wonderful when hosts make a special effort to show their friends a good time! I aspire towards that. Cranberry chutney sounds wonderful and thanks for the reminder to make some while cranberries are in season.

      Glad to hear that carrot halwa indeed goes well with pumpkin ice cream. I had out together the combo only in my imagination :)

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  14. your fantasy menu looks fantastic - and I like how you focus on the vegies in the meal - our main festive meal is Christmas and it is so meat-centric - hope you have a happy thanksgiving

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    1. Thanks Johanna! The veggies are technically the side dishes but as far as I'm concerned, they are the star of the meal.

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  15. Hi Nupur,

    You got me all geared up for thanksgiving now :). Regarding the fusion recipes, yesterday I tried the indian style cranberry relish. Recipe is on similar lines of 'maharshtrian style Methamba' or pinapple relish that you cooked before. It tastes really wonderful with jaggery and fenugreek seeds. With fresh cranberries available all around, you might want to give it a try.

    Thanks,
    Ashwini

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    1. Ashwini- I'll definitely give the cranberry relish a try soon! A friend of my parents makes a cranberry thokku and it is beyond delicious.

      I make this cranberry date chutney that is a good fusion dish as well:http://onehotstove.blogspot.com/2007/11/cranberry-date-chutney.html

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  16. This post brought back many memories. Just like other long time readers I remember almost all your past Thanksgiving holidays :)

    The from scratch green bean casserole you blogged about is such a keeper. I've made it many times and it's always perfect and so worth the steps. I amde it for my parents when they visited a couple of months back. I think this year I shall try the chocolate pecan pie.

    If you're looking for a new cake recipe to try, I recently made Amanda Hesser's almond cake and gosh that one disappeared in record time. Something about its crumb and taste. Delicious! Google it for the recipe, scores of bloggers have made it.

    -Anu

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    1. Anu- Alanna's green bean casserole- I agree, it is fabulous and I should make it again this month. Thanks for mentioning the almond cake, I will be trying it soon for sure!

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  17. Forgot to add..
    Reading about how your blog got its name put a smile on my face. I've always wondered about it. Thanks for solving the mystery :)

    -Anu

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    1. LOL yes, the name was chosen on a whim. If I knew I would be writing the blog for years, I might have given it more thought!

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    2. I think it's perfect.

      -Anu

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  18. Shubha from SydneyNovember 07, 2013 1:27 AM

    Nupur, loved reading your post. Thanksgiving does not mean anything to us Down Under. Enjoy the day/weekend with your friends :) Warm wishes from Sydney - Shubha

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    1. Thanks Shubha! You must be celebrating Spring there.

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  19. I love thanksgiving..the very name of it warms me up somehow! Most of our thanksgivings are spent with a bunch of our friends from grad school who stay in the same city..we end up at one of our houses and cook a grand dinner together. Last year it turned out to be too grand and we ended up cooking and having fun till midnight and when the time came to eat, all of us had lost our appetite that we ended up having the dinner as lunch next day!
    Also, I loved how your blog got the name! I am really glad you didnt spend more time on the name as I really like it! :)

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    1. Oh your dinner with friends sounds grand indeed!!

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  20. Love your menus, Nupur. Congrats on the one month anniversary! I LOVE your blog's name too and have often admired your ingenuity for coming up with it. We are usually invited to friends's houses for Thanksgiving. If I cooked, I'd make your pav bhaji- it's a no-fail dish. I don't really like American thanksgiving dishes but I love the pies. I will have to try your chocolate pecan pie. Pumpkin double chocolate cookies are also a new favorite dessert with me. R

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    1. I'm going to have to try that pumpkin double choc cookies recipe!! Like you, I love pies of all sorts, the sweet and the savory even more.

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  21. Nice of you to write up this post in response to my question. Thanks so much!

    -Ruma

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