The week leading up to Thanksgiving is always a little bit of a quandary in the dinner department. Restaurants can be crowded with family reunions and people who want to save up their cooking energy for later in the week. You don’t want something too heavy, but you still need to eat! I solved this dilemma by making a list of things that my parents, who arrived on the Monday before Thanksgiving, would like to eat with us. But before they even arrived, we had a few meals on our own and with friends.
First, we made baked potatoes with whipped feta, from Make it Ahead. I hadn’t planned to make them the main event, but circumstances conspired against me, and we ended up eating them alone. That turned out for the best, because they were filling and really rich. I’m not sure I’d add the whipped feta another time, but the herb/salt mixture that coated the potatoes before baking was definitely worth repeating. It was the perfect dinner before heading out to the Rice football game that evening.
After that (but still before Thanksgiving), we had some friends over for dinner. I think this will be our new Sunday-before-Thanksgiving ritual, so that we can have homemade chicken stock to use for Thanksgiving recipes. I made the chicken-on-the-awesome-bread, along with peas with pancetta and smashed potatoes (all from Make It Ahead). I had my doubts about the potatoes, but they were a-mazing.
The best part was that our friends brought awesome dessert and their awesome kids. Yay!
The next night, my parents arrived. I made mushroom soup with farro (from Make it Ahead), quinoa taboulleh (also from Make it Ahead), and a salad of endive, stilton and walnuts (from Family Style).
On another night, I made roast leg of lamb with white beans (from Barefoot in Paris) and a salad of endive, pear and roquefort (also from Barefoot in Paris).
Everything was delicious, or at least my parents said so, and they tend to like things like cheese with blue veins in it. The lamb recipe from Barefoot in Paris was a little odd, though – the beans and the lamb directions should have been reversed, I think, and the beans definitely needed a longer cooking time than was listed. The two endive salads were virtually interchangeable, and the lamb was similar to a previous leg of lamb recipe I’ve made, but it was all good.
My favorite recipe of the pre-Thanksgiving week, though, was the homemade ricotta with berries and almonds for breakfast. I’ve already made another Ina ricotta recipe, and of course a long string of desserts and breakfast recipes with honey and vanilla in them, so I guess I didn’t expect this to be anything special. I was surprised at how very, very good it was. This was served on (homemade) toasted peasant bread. My children devoured an entire loaf of the same peasant bread right out of the oven. Who could blame them?
And! This isn’t an Ina thing, but I made challah! Pretty, no?