This year, we stayed home for Thanksgiving. That meant that I would be making dinner, and I was just not at all inspired this time around. It took me forever to come up with a menu – I finally settled on a seasonal French-inspired menu – and then I completely failed in its execution. There wasn’t anything wrong with the recipes, several of which I’d cooked before, but my timing was off, dishes were unbalanced and I just couldn’t deliver. Still, I do like to know what I’ve done in previous years, so here is what I cooked.

1 – Canapés

  • Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese on Crackers
  • Tri-Tip and White Cheddar with Horseradish Cream Crostini
  • Baked Camembert with Honey and Rosemary with crackers

I decided near the last minute to serve a few canapes, as I had invited my friends Lola and Iggy for dinner rather early and I wanted them to have something to eat while I prepared the dinner in the kitchen. I chose things that didn’t require much effort to put together, and they all worked wonderfully.

For the salmon canapés, I simply spread cream cheese on crackers and topped these with slices of refrigerated smoked salmon I got at Safeway. I don’t eat salmon, but everyone liked them. I was inspired by Panera’s steak and white cheddar sandwich for the tri-tip canapé. I had previously toasted some tri-tip in the oven, and I simply made thin slices, which I topped with a slice of white cheddar. I don’t remember what recipe for horseradish cream sauce I used, but there are lots of online and I know I chose one of the simplest ones. It was delicious, and I will be sure to make more of these in the form of sandwiches next time I can get tri-tip on sale. Finally, the baked camembert was just delicious.

2- Roquefort Pear Salad

This turned out to be OK to good. I had made the dressing the day before and I didn’t like it at all, perhaps because I put too much garlic – but it was OK on the salad. My guests did enjoy the pears in particular.

3 – Vegetarian French Onion Soup

This is where things started to go sour. Rather than make a French Onion soup and simply used vegetable broth instead of beef broth, I went with a recipe that enhanced the flavor of the broth with tamari and other seasonings. The results were not tasty. The soup was very intense – though I solved this by adding extra water when I reheated it – and just not that good. Next time, I’ll stick to the traditional recipe or simply serve a different soup altogether.

4- Bourbonnais Chicken with Mustard Sauce

I had made this recipe before and it had been delicious, but this time it just didn’t work. I’d doubled the sauce and vegetables but there were just too many vegetables and they weren’t well integrated with the sauce. I’d made an effort to get organic, free range chicken and somehow it was dryer than the chicken I usually buy. I don’t know, it was fine but not great. I did enjoy the leftovers, however.

Vegan mushroom bourguignon pot pie

I made this for my vegetarian daughter, but it was too alcoholic tasting for her, and the flavors were really not well balanced. Another failure.

Sage Stuffing

I also don’t remember what recipe I used, but it was a pretty standard vegetarian one. It was actually not bad, but I did overcook it so it was dry. Still, my vegetarian daughter liked it

Mashed Potatoes

I’m sad to report that, together with the canapes, the mashed potatoes were everyone’s favorite part of the meal. I’m sad because these were just plain mashed potatoes: yukon gold potatoes boiled and mashed and then mixed with a ton of butter and whipping cream.

5- Tarte Normande

This is a French apple tart with a custard topping. My daughter actually put this together for me while I was taking a nap. The top was very good, but I had messed up the dough when I’d made it and it was way too tough.

See also: Party & Holiday Recipes

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