the leftovers that keep on giving
Although Thanksgiving at my mother’s house usually begins with butternut squash, this year, I thought we would start in Brooklyn with cauliflower from the farmers’ market, with the local markets as the beginning for all of this holiday about food.
Imagining orange and purple cauliflower I found at Union Square Greenmarket swirling in a soup, I then found crosnes—small, white tubers from the mint family—that resemble tiny Michelin men. Sneaking one at the stand, I decided these were the crisp surprise topping for a salad.
Before the sun rose on Thursday, with one oven to work with, I prepped dishes on the stove while rotating pans in an out of the oven.
Grateful to an oven that hummed away at a consistent temperature, my proudest moment came stirring homemade buttermilk and homemade butter into smashed Adirondack potatoes from Evolutionary Organics, their blue and dark pink skins tingeing the bowl.
With the kitchen smelling of spices, I set the table, placing vintage glasses around the kale centerpiece from the Prospect Park market and carefully lining up my great-great grandmother’s silver.
The amazing Solana arrived to apply her ninja skills to peeling carrots and final prep, then Jessica brought her incredible energy and her boyfriend Matthew (he’s lovely) into the apartment, and a little later, Jenne carried fabulous in with a chocolate mousse cake and killer bangs.
(I should also mention that Solana has a gift for texting—see our text exchange that morning below.)
Solana: I’m going to dress like a pilgrim today. Or an Indian.
S: That means you have to dress like a turkey because there are no other characters left.
me: I promise to wear feathers.
S: Ooh feathers.
Solana did indeed rock Pilgrimesque style, competing with the quince on the table for Most Traditional Dress.
Toasting with cava, we started in the kitchen with silver lusterware bowls; Jessica bravely poured orange at the same time I poured purple, and filling the bowls from both sides, we used the oven thermometer as a wand to swirl the recipient’s initials into each vessel of cauliflower (next year, crunch from croutons of some sort will return).
Next, all of the salad in a large white bowl made me happy as I set it on the table—those tiny lettuces and radishes from my expedition to Rooftop Farms mixed with Patches of Star’s goat cheese (she sells at Union Square Greenmarket) and the strange and wonderful crosnes.
One of the nicest parts of Thanksgiving with friends is the casual way you can set out the many bowls and pans of carrots with a pesto of their tops, smashed potatoes, mustardy peas and pearl onions, and roasted brussel sprouts and fennel.
We all agreed that Matthew did an admirable carving of the DiPaolo turkey (I highly recommend them—they are a fixture at the Prospect Park Farmers’ Market on Saturdays), but the real focus was Thomas Keller’s leek bread pudding (I subbed a fennel-parmesan loaf from Brooklyn Larder in for brioche).
And we went back for second plates,
and I felt grateful for these friends to celebrate with as the afternoon light filtered in.
Laughing, we put an embarrassment of rich desserts on the den floor and opened more red wine (everyone pictured here has excellent taste in wine—Matthew’s “Carpe Diem” was my favorite label),
Jenne’s chocolate mousse cake, Jessica and Matthew’s pecan pie, pumpkin bread in the center with Patches of Star goat yogurt, chocolate squares with pistachios and prunes, and croissant pudding made for lazy conversation as we sat in a circle and talked and ate and talked.
Yesterday afternoon, I made a tall sandwich with the leftovers that keep on giving,
and the fennel-parmesan bread slices spread with chicken liver pâté on one side and carrot top pesto on the other, with turkey, skin, cranberry sauce, and roasted fennel between stood as a reminder of how very fortunate I am to have these friends in my life, these ingredients where I live, and small remaining portions of each dish still in the refrigerator…