For the past three years, I’ve offered
to have Thanksgiving in my home, and each year, my relatives
"It’s too much trouble," they say. "Let’s just go somewhere."
On the big day, my family sits around a huge table eating mediocre food.
"We’re just happy to be together," someone will say. While we enjoy each other’s company, a Thanksgiving dinner with great food would be a welcome change.
This year I called relatives and friends, and to my surprise, everyone said, "Sure. Love to come."
With 15 guests and a schedule that leaves no time for elaborate preparations, I need help!
I turned to Park Sloper Rozanne Gold, entertainment editor at Bon Appetit magazine for assistance. Gold, known as the "Diva of simplicity" in food circles and author of the new "Cooking 1-2-3: 500 Fabulous Three-Ingredient Recipes" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, November 2003) said, "Let’s face it. Brewing coffee for 15 people is a big deal."
"Make a couple of dishes yourself, buy the turkey and ask your guests to bring the rest," said Gold.
In Brooklyn, the choice of specialty shops, caterers and restaurants that will do the cooking for you is one reason to be grateful on Nov. 27.
Give thanks for caterers:
Crave, in Carroll Gardens [570 Henry St. between Carroll and Summit streets, (718) 643-0361], will cater the entire dinner - turkey to dessert. Chef and co-owners Debbie Lyn and Marco Morillo are roasting 10- to 20-pound birds, basted with fresh herb butter.
To accompany their classic birds, Lyn and Morillo offer two stuffings: bread with herbs and bacon lardons, and mashed Idaho or Yukon Gold potato with herbs. Sides are all-American favorites - candied yams, Brussels sprouts with pancetta, fresh cranberry sauce with orange and lemon zest and roasted rosemary potatoes. Whole pecan, pumpkin and apple pies are baked in Crave’s kitchen.
An unstuffed turkey is $8.95-$9.95 per pound; add an additional $20 if you want the bird carved. Call for additional prices. Orders must be placed by Nov. 23 for Thanksgiving Day delivery. A 50-percent deposit can be charged on Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Diner’s Club
Give thanks for specialty stores:
Eagle Provisions [628 Fifth Ave. at 18th Street in Park Slope, (718) 499-0026], that marvelous purveyor of Polish meat, sausage, prepared salads and gourmet canned and jarred goods is taking orders for cooked turkeys. Sizes range from 13 to 20 pounds and can be ordered either unstuffed or stuffed with cornbread and sausage dressing. Gravy is included. Their "homestyle" roasted turkey is flavored with garlic and parsley, or you can request a hickory-smoked bird. Orders must be placed by Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving Day pickup. The price is $2.59 per pound. A $10 cash deposit is required. Ask for Richard.
Aricka Westbrooks, owner of Fort Greene’s Jive Turkey [441 Myrtle Ave. at Clinton Street, (718) 797-1688] is offering her moist, non-greasy, 12-pound, deep-fried turkeys in two Thanksgiving packages: The Great Gobbler, a 12-pound turkey seasoned simply with salt, pepper and garlic, and a 12-pound herb turkey.
Upgrade the Great Gobbler with baked cornbread stuffing with onions, celery and green peppers, green beans, bruleed yams with ginger and rum for $108.95. Feeds six to 10 guests.
The 12-pound herb turkey, flavored with fresh thyme, sage, rosemary and garlic - with the same stuffing and sides - is $138. The Great Gobbler ($34.95) and the herb turkey ($64.95) can also be purchased without sides. Orders should be placed no later than Nov. 24. A deposit of one-half the total bill can be paid with Visa, American Express or MasterCard. Ask Tyrone for assistance.
Tuller Premium Food [199 Court St. at Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, (718) 222-9933] offers everything from artisanal American cheese to a pumpkin cake that feeds 10 and, according to general manager Tom Van Voorhees, "Looks like Charlie Brown’s pumpkin."
Tuller’s Thanksgiving Day $250 special feeds 10. The package includes a 10-pound, free-range, roasted turkey with sage and chestnut bread stuffing, turkey gravy, fresh cranberry-orange relish and three sides. Choose from mashed potatoes with butter and cream, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted beets with orange vinaigrette.
An eight-inch pumpkin, apple or mixed-nut pie finishes the meal.
Turkeys and stuffing can be ordered without the sides for $90. Sides are $8.99-$9.99 per pound. Eight-inch tarts serve 10 for $27. The pumpkin cake is $50. Orders must be placed by 3 pm on Nov. 22. A 50-percent deposit can be charged on Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Call Tom for information.
For more than 50 years Brooklyn Heights residents have stood in front of the display cases of Lassen & Hennigs [114 Montague St. at Henry Street in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 875-6272] and drooled. For Thanksgiving they’re preparing turkeys and sides for a la carte purchases.
Their turkeys are available in three sizes - 10-12 pounds, 16-18 pounds and 20-26-pounds for $5.99 per pound.
Seven different stuffings may be too much of a good thing for indecisive diners. Try the bread dressing with savory slices of chicken sausage and sweet apples.
Sides include carrots in dill sauce, an autumn vegetable medley of roasted winter squash, parsnips and turnips, and garlic mashed potatoes. Sides are sold by the pint at $5.49-$6.49. Orders should be placed by Nov. 26 for next-day pickup. No deposit is necessary. Press 4 when telephoning the catering department.
Paneantico Bakery and Cafe [9124 Third Ave. at 92nd Street, (718) 680-2347] in Bay Ridge is fixing Thanksgiving Italian style. A 10- to 15-pound or 20- 25-pound oven-roasted turkey is stuffed with rice dressing studded with ham, mushrooms and croutons. Four sides accompany the smaller bird; 5-6 sides complete the larger dinner. Choose from stuffed mushrooms, broccoli rabe, cauliflower and broccoli patties and rice balls among several others. The 10- to 15-pound turkey dinner ($150) serves 10 to 15 guests; the 20- to 25-pound turkey ($300) serves 20 to 25.
Paneantico is known for its luscious, homestyle desserts. Their pies - pumpkin, pumpkin custard and apple crumb - feed eight to 10 and are reasonably priced at $8-$12. A 20-percent deposit is required by Nov. 24, and can be charged on Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Ask for John or Frank.
Give thanks for restaurants
Biscuit [367 Flatbush Ave. at Park Place, (718) 398-2227] in Park Slope, known for down-home barbecue, biscuits and fixin’s, is hickory-smoking their 15-pound turkeys. A half-turkey ($30) comes with six buttermilk biscuits, gravy and two sides from a choice of either cornbread stuffing, stewed cabbage, braised collard greens, mashed potatoes and red beans and rice. The whole turkey ($60) comes with a dozen biscuits and two of the sides. Side dishes purchased separately are $5.99 a pound. Orders must be placed by 5 pm on Nov. 24 for Nov. 26 pickup. A 50-percent cash deposit holds your turkey. Call Josh for information.
If the pastries at Cafe Scaramouche [524 Court St. at Huntington Street in Carroll Gardens, (718) 855-9158] are good enough for the president of Argentina and Dean & Deluca’s picky clientele, then their special holiday meal and array of cakes and pies should be just fine for you.
Their Thanksgiving dinner features cream of mushroom soup, turkey with bread stuffing and gravy, four side dishes and a dinner roll. Dinner for one: $27.50. Tack on $3.50 for a slice of pumpkin, apple or pear-raspberry pie. Dinners for 6-8: $155; dinner for 10-12: $205. Pies and tarts ($15.50, feeds 6), cheesecakes ($20-$24, feeds 8-10) and their famous bread pudding cake ($30, feeds 10) are sure to impress your guests. Orders should be placed by Nov. 24. A 50-percent deposit can be charged on Visa and MasterCard.
Cocotte [337 Fifth Ave. at Fourth Street, (718) 768-3466] in Park Slope, the bistro that started the Fifth Avenue French cafe craze, is offering a sophisticated, three-course, all-American "Thanksgiving to Go." The menu begins with butternut squash soup, followed by roasted turkey with herbed, bread stuffing and shallot gravy. Mashed potatoes, candied sweet potato puree and roasted Brussels sprouts with pearl onions and almonds accompany the bird. Rich pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream finishes the meal. The meal is $30 per person, and orders must be placed by Nov. 25 for Nov. 27 pickup. Payment in full on either Visa or MasterCard is necessary when placing your order. Call Christine for information.
Give thanks for bakeries
If you can’t find the pie of your dreams at Two Little Red Hens in Park Slope [112 Eighth Ave. at 11th Street, (718) 499-8108] then abandon all hope. The bakers here won’t settle for one apple pie, they’ve created four: double-crust apple, apple crumb, Dutch apple and apple-cranberry. You’ll need a crane to lift the pear, plum, apple and walnut Harvest Pie, but it’s light going down.
Of course they’re selling pecan and chocolate pecan pies. The six-inch pie ($16) feeds six people; a 10-inch pie ($21) serves 10. Cakes include pumpkin with cream cheese frosting and devil’s food cake with a turkey decoration. The cakes ($23-$53) are 6-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch, and feed six to 22 people. Don’t miss their cranberry-orange bundt cake, the adorable turkey cupcakes and the turkey cookies.
Orders must be placed Nov. 21 for Thanksgiving Day pickup. A 50-percent deposit can be made with Visa, MasterCard or American Express.
Leske’s [7612 Fifth Ave. at 76th Street, (718) 680-2323] is one of the few remaining Scandinavian bakeries in Brooklyn. Since the 1930s, Bay Ridge residents have lined up for Danish pies, tarts (their Fyrstekage almond tart is legendary), cakes, breads and cookies. The bakers prepare more than 4,000 pies for Thanksgiving, but buy yours early, as their pumpkin, pumpkin custard, and apple pies are first-come, first-serve and they go fast. Pies ($6-$8) come in four sizes and feed 8-10; cakes ($9) come in a variety of sizes and also feed 8-10. The bakery accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.
And don’t forget to give thanks for friends and family. Without them there would be no reason to celebrate.