The importance of a theme…

I have two holidays that I host: Halloween & Thanksgiving. Halloween is because we get loads of kids and I don’t want to let them down by going to another house. Thanksgiving was a necessity because Alex and I were tired of eating twice (once with his family, and once with mine). So, in taking on Thanksgiving, you kind of have to deliver on the food.  I prefer to do unique things each year.  Try as I may to do something other than Turkey, my family would rebel if the bird didn’t make it to the table in some form. So, in order to get my creative juices flowing, I always have a theme to guide my menu and keep things interesting. I’ve done French, Spanish, Greek, Beer, Wine, Napa… and so on. It’s usually inspired by a trip we went on during the year. I really wanted to do an Indian theme, but my curry phobic mother would not have enjoyed that. So, this year the theme is Fire.

Here’s the menu:

Cocktail Hourfullsizerender2

  • Fall on Fire Cocktail (below)
  • Grilled sausage and greens flatbread

First Course


  • Smoked Turkey, with Roasted Mushroom Gravy and Cranberry Relish (below)
  • Grilled Creamed Corn
  • Mini Sweet Potato Gratins
  • Lemon & Dill Green Beans


  • S’more mousse with homemade graham crackers (below)

fullsizerenderFall on Fire Cocktail

  • Champagne
  • 2 Tbsp pear juice
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger Juice
  • T Tbsp Crème de Cassis
  • Rosemary, for garnish

Fill the champagne glass 2/3 full, then add the ginger and pear and stir. Add the crème de cassis and allow it to drip to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with rosemary to use as a stir stick.


Cranberry Relish

  • img_45561 bag cranberries
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 c water
  • 1 heaping tsp ginger puree
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • ½ c walnuts, diced.

In a pot, stir together the cranberries, sugar, ginger and water. Cook over medium high heat until the cranberries begin to pop and then reduce to medium low heat. Cook and stir for 10 minutes, occasionally pressing down on the cranberries to release their juices. Remove from the heat, and add the celery and walnuts. Stir to combine. Serve at room temperature.

S’more Mousse with Homemade Graham Crackers

img_4555Homemade Graham Crackers

  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • ½ c butter
  • ¼ c honey
  • ¼ c malted barley (or molasses)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • ¼ c whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine cinnamon, wheat flour, flour, salt, and baking powder. Pulse to combine. Add the ginger and butter, and pulse until butter is about pea sized. Add honey, malt, and sugar and pulse to combine (mixture will turn brown). Add the milk and vanilla and pulse until a dough comes together. Place half the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and form a ball. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and roll into a rectangle and use a biscuit cutter to cut out the crackers. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes until brown.

Makes about 2 dozen large crackers.

Dark Chocolate Mousse

  • 9 Tbsp butter
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 9 eggs, separated
  • ½ c sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon
  • 1 ½ c walnuts, chopped

In a double boiler, stir the chocolate and butter until melted. While the chocolate is melting, make the eggs. With a mixer, beat the egg whites with 4 Tbsp sugar until semi-firm peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with ¼ c plus 2 Tbsp sugar, salt and bourbon until soft yellow and doubled in volume. Add the chocolate to the egg yolks and gently fold to combine until there are no streaks. Then add in 1/3 of the egg whites and fold gently to combine. Then add another 1/3 of the egg whites and repeat twice until there are no streaks and all egg whites have been mixed in.

In 12 serving bowls (such as mason jars) sprinkle in 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts on the bottom of each, and add about 1/3 c mousse to each. Cover and chill the mousse to set.

Assembly S’more Mousse

To serve, sprinkle the mousse with sea salt, then top with mini marshmallows. Using a blow torch, roast the marshmallows and top with a homemade graham cracker.

Makes 12.


5 thoughts on “The importance of a theme…

  1. Wishing you and Alex and your whole family a wonderful Thanksgiving
    Your menu sounds delicious and I’m
    Sure it will be delicious
    Have a wonderful holiday season


  2. Pingback: Sharable Moments: November 2016 | Neighborly Life

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