In regards to Thanksgiving…

Only six days into November, and my mind is consumed by thoughts of every cook’s greatest joy/fear: Thanksgiving. Anyone who is as passionate about food as I am will agree: pulling off Thanksgiving dinner is the pièce de résistance in your cooking repertoire. The first time I contributed to my family’s holiday menu I felt like I had really made it: I was a grown-up and I knew how to cook, dammit! I made my curry-squash soup, a tray of brussel sprouts roasted with shallots and thyme, and a Gruyère-filled macaroni-and-cheese that converted my Kraft-loving cousin into a homemade advocate. My dishes were simple, sophisticated takes on traditional Thanksgiving fare and it took me all of October and November to plan them. At one point, I recall waking up in a cold sweat from a nightmare in which I presented endless trays of food to my family and friends, all of which they took one bite of and overturned onto the floor. (This ‘conveyer-belt’ of food is a common theme in my dreams, what on earth does this say about me?) My boyfriend at the time taste-tested so many of my macaroni incarnations that he was sick of it when it came time for the main event. I guess my panic came from the idea of cooking specifically for my dad, the chef. But, honestly, I had successfully won his kitchen-approval before, so why was I so worried?

Thanksgiving has such an aura of tradition around it that it can feel difficult to break from the norm. Whether your customs involve canned cranberry sauce or from-scratch, Campbell’s green bean casserole or a bounty of fresh, seasonal veggies, you must admit: Thanksgiving dinner is about keeping the people you love happy and well-fed, and pulling it off can cost you your sanity.

This year, I’m attending two Thanksgiving dinners, both in New York. One is a potluck prelude to the holiday itself at the home of my girlfriend and her four roommates. The other is planned by a co-worker of mine, who happens to be one of the best cooks I know, and will be attended mostly by my food-obsessed colleagues.. I’ve been specifically asked to contribute pumpkin cheesecake to the latter, but I would also like to bring a savory dish. Since the Thanksgiving recipe bookmark folder I started three years ago has 58 recipes in it, I’ve decided to take a poll. Below are a handful of recipes I’ve been toying with. I’d like to get your opinions on what you’d like to see me post about. Out of these options, I will make and post about the top three. Feel free to leave comments with suggestions, thoughts, or questions; I love hearing from my readers!

*Update! The poll is officially closed, thanks to all who voted! Drumroll please…

First place: Salted Caramel Tart

Second Place: Fennel and Red Pepper Latkes

Third Place: well, there’s a three-way tie between the bacon tart, brussel sprouts, and pumpkin bread. Which means that I get to pick which one I want to eat most, so Bacon and Onion Tart with Blue Cheese it is!

Again, thanks for voting, dudes! I should have both tart recipes up by the weekend.