The Thanksgiving Rush

By Megan McDonald November 7, 2011

The Thanksgiving Rush is on: We are hosting 32 people this year. Pray for 78 degrees and no rain or we will be as screwed as the turkeys were just before they were no longer “free range."

I panic most over the main meal; not so much over cocktail hour and appetizers. I lose sleep over whether the turkeys will be moist (of course, I brine them for two days and smother them in butter and some duck fat). I am neurotic about whether 12 side dishes are really enough and whether I should have a boneless prime rib or bone-in. But for now, I will start worrying about the end of the meal.

Boneless prime rib or bone-in as an alternative to turkey?

Desserts are also a little worry for me. This year I do have my super Cuisinart ice cream maker, so homemade pumpkin ice cream and toffee crunch will be easy.  The pies, however, are a whole new thing. My son Eric, an accomplished chef, has moved back to the area and his first attempt at apple pie blew me away--but he also wants to make a sweet potato cake with caramel glaze and is in charge of three sides and the butternut squash bisque with pancetta croutons for 32(!), so I can’t put too much more on his only day off! Nancy Kaplan will bring a pecan pie, and of course I will order a few pumpkin custard pies from Yoder’s because you just have to if you live in Sarasota. son Eric's butternut squash soup.

A few more suggestions for creative desserts this season: Try Jim’s Small Batch Bakery in Gulf Gate. Small Batch means just that, so you have to pre-order. Look for a unique side of dessert, such as pecan pie with caramel mousse, rolled pumpkin cake with cream cheese filling, and a  house specialty: cranberry-gingerbread tart, another Jim’s original. with cranberries, orange, frangipane and streusel in a perfectly spiced crust.

Bring on the apple pie!

(By the way, another baker is making me an apple pie this week, so stay tuned for my review and contact information next week before I move on to the stuffings--and yes, that was meant to be plural!)

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