Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Pre-Dinner Winner

Thanksgiving, America's Holiday! Whether it's your first rodeo or your fiftieth, the stress of the cooking the treasured Thanksgiving cuisine is generally pretty high. The idea of perfectly preparing recipes, tediously timing their delivery, and pleasing a plethora of palates would make any Iron Chef quiver in their Crocs! Although we may wish for the Norman Rockwell rendition of Thanksgiving dinner, the truth is many Americans are subjected to the limitations of time, money, and ingenuity when it comes to preparing this picturesque meal. In my Hallmark card world, I would spend the day before the sacred event  prepping and planning so we could enjoy a lunchtime feast the next day. Thanksgiving evening would be observed by drinking Uncle Jimmy's "special" cider, dancing the Polka, and maybe even a little karaoke by the firelight...Ahhh, the perfect Dostal-Thornton Thanksgiving...My reality is the prep work, the cooking, AND the cleaning will all be done on Thanksgiving day putting meal time closer to dusk. Goodness knows I don't want anyone to spoil their supper, but I always need something to keep these ravenous little piggies at bay! Sound faintly familiar? This year, let's all scrap the store-bought, pre cut, plastic preserved, veggie platters and impress your guests with this modern remake of a Charcuterie plate. The most wonderful thing about this assortment is that it's a NO COOKING REQUIRED appetizer! That's one less dish keeping you away from your favorite football game and those Macy's floats! Yippee! The items listed below are suggestions that can aid you in creating your own Charcuterie. Your guests will have a splendid time exploring their own custom flavor combinations and will be impressed by your gastronomic knowledge. In addition to this artisanal assortment, have a red and white wine available with water and/or tea to keep the thirst quenched and the spirits jolly. Again, the items listed below do not need to be cooked and are probably best served straight out of the can. The beauty of this bevy of eats is simplicity!

Create Your Own Charcuterie Components:

*Smoked Almonds or Mixed Party Nuts

*Whole Green Olives or Whole Kalamata Olives

*Baby Gherkins

*Caper Berries- A bit pricey but worth it for that gourmet touch

*Pearl Onions

*Artichoke Hearts- Available in cans and jars, be sure to drain thoroughly

*Roasted Red Peppers
*Arugula- The perfect edible garnish to "line" your tray

*Fresh Apple and Pear Slices- Don't forget to brush these with lemon juice to prevent browning

*Dried Fruit- Try dried Apricots, Cranberries, Raisins, or even Cherries

*Preserved Meats- Try Salami, Prosciutto or pre sliced Pepperoni

*Cheese- A variety of (3) is nice, Chevre for spreading, Brie for stacking, and Bleu Cheese for KICK

*Relish or Tapenade

*Jam or Preserves- Fig and Pig are a match made in hungry heaven

*Whole Grain Mustard

* Assortment Crackers- Bagel Chips and Pretzel Rod's are also great "vessels"
*Sliced Breads- Consider Rye Toast minis, French bread hunks, and Pita triangles

Start with a beautiful tray; perhaps the one Granny gave you at a bridal shower or a variety of fun and quirky bowls you found at last weekend's garage sale. Be sure to include serving utensils such a spreaders, toothpicks, pickle forks; no silverware necessary. Small paper plates and cocktail napkins make for easy clean up- why not color coordinate them to your autumnal table scape? Also remember to strategically place your plate. If you want company in the kitchen, even those back seat chefs, place this appetizing assortment close to the action. If you would rather fly solo, perhaps set up shop in the living room next to the tube.

Wherever you put this pre-dinner winner, take some time out of your culinary tasks to replenish and refurbish as necessary.

Enjoy Divas and here's to a full, fun, and fabulous Thanksgiving!

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