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A Thanksgiving Feast

by Lou Seibert Pappas

This festive holiday menu for a crowd can be done in segments in advance by the hostess. Or you may elect to ask the guests to each bring a dish. It was my Thanksgiving menu for a dozen guests last year, and I staggered the preparations in advance for ease on the holiday. It adapts beautifully to a family potluck anytime during the winter season.

If the weather is cooperative, you may choose to barbecue the turkey on a covered barbecue grill using a lid. This is my favorite method. Plan to do the desserts a day or two in advance. The cake freezes beautifully. Wine choices run the gamut with such a varied palate of flavors. Check your cellar and pick a chardonnay or sparkling wine to start and a merlot, shiraz, sangiovese, or zinfandel with the entree.

Apricot, Cherry, and Pistachio-Crowned Brie
makes 8 to 10 servings

One 1-pound wheel of Brie
2 tablespoons orange Curacoa, Cointreau, Cognac, or brandy
1/3 cup dried apricots, cut in 1/4-inch strips
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons pistachios or pine nuts
1 loaf French-style baguette, cut in 1/3-inch-thick slices or crackers

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cheese on an oven-proof serving platter. Prick the top with a fork in a dozen places and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of the liqueur. Toss the remaining liqueur with the apricots, cherries, and pistachios and scatter over the top of the cheese. Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese warms and softens. Serve with sliced bread.

Focaccia Sunburst
makes 1 loaf

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup water
Pinch sugar or honey
1-1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cornmeal
Olive oil for brushing
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Sprinkle yeast into warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and let stand until dissolved and puffy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining water and oil. Add 1 cup of the flour and the salt and mix until smooth. Stir in the cornmeal and the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes together. Using a heavy duty mixer or by hand, knead about 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down, turn out on a lightly floured board and knead. Shape into a 14-inch round and place on a pizza pan, cut out a 3 inch center with a glass turned upside down but leave the dough in place, and divide the outer circle into quarters, then cut each again into eighths and again into 16ths. Twist each cut once and lay flat. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Pull apart to serve. If desired use fresh sage instead and add about 2 tablespoons chopped sage to the dough and sprinkle more on top.

Smoked Salmon and Chevre Bruschetta
makes 12 servings

12 slices baguette or country bread, baked in appetizer size
Extra-virgin olive oil
Soft mild goat cheese or natural cream cheese, about 2 ounces
Smoked salmon, about 4 ounces
Minced fresh dill

Drizzle the bread with oil and grill or lightly toast the bread in a 350 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Spread with goat cheese and top with smoked salmon, then sprinkle with dill.

Endive with Shrimp and Curry Sauce
makes 4 dozen appetizers

2 heads Belgian endive (red and green)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
1/4 pound small cooked shrimp

Separate the endive into stalks. Microwave the curry powder 5 to 10 seconds to remove the raw taste and stir into the mayonnaise. Place 1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise on the tip of each endive and top with 2 or 3 shrimp. Arrange like a sunburst on a platter.

Barbecued Turkey

18-20 pound turkey
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lemon, sliced
1 onion, sliced

Remove giblets and rinse the turkey. Season with salt and pepper and stuff the cavity with lemon and onion slices. Ignite charcoal on the barbecue and when the coals turn red, place the bird on the grill breast side up, cover with a lid, and barbecue until the breast reads 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 4-5 hours. Let stand 20 minutes on a board before carving.

Roast Yams with Macadamia Nuts and Roast Red Onions and Garlic
makes 8 to 12 servings

8 to 10 yams
6 to 8 red onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 heads garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prick the yams in several places with a fork and place on a baking pan. Cut the onions into a flower, by cutting 6 to 8 wedges, not quite through. Rub with oil and place on the baking pan. Slice off the top 1/8 inch of the garlic heads and rub with oil; wrap in foil and place in the pan. Bake in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until cooked through; the garlic may be done earlier. Peel and slice the yams and sprinkle with nuts.

Italian Swiss Chard Stuffing
makes 12 servings

6-7 cups sour dough bread cubes
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, chopped
1 bunch red or green Swiss chard, chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 pound ground pork sausage
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 cup reconstituted julienned dried tomatoes
3/4 cup Romano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the bread on a baking pan and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Beat eggs with broth and pour over bread; toss. In a large skillet, heat the oil and saut� leeks; add chard and celery and saute until soft. Turn out of the pan, add the meat, and saute until browned. Add seasonings and tomatoes. Combine with vegetables and 1/2 of the cheese. Spoon into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until browned.

Lemon Kiwi Fruit Tart
makes 12 servings

Butter Crust:
5 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced or strawberries or chocolate balls (optional)
Jelly or apricot jam, optional

Prepare the Butter Crust. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and juice. Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter, a little at a time. Pour into the crust or refrigerate in a container. Garnish the top with kiwi fruit slices, if desired. Drizzle with jelly, if desired. Chill.

Butter Crust: In a food processor combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 6 tablespoons butter, diced, and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, processing until fine crumbs and loose. Pat into an 11-inch flan pan with removable bottom. Freeze 10 minutes. Bake in a preheated 425 degrees F oven for 8 minutes or until browned; let cool.

Hazelnut Rum Cake
makes 12 to 16 servings

Rum Syrup: follows (optional)
6 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon each salt and cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
1-1/4 cups ground walnuts

First prepare the rum syrup and let cool. Beat the egg whites until foamy; add the salt and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating until the meringue stands in peaks; set aside. With the same beater, beat the egg yolks until pale yellow and gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon colored. Beat in the extract. Mix the crumbs with the baking powder and grated zest and beat into the yolks. Mix in half the nuts. Fold in the egg white meringue and remaining nuts. Turn into a 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom or springform pan. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Let cool 5 minutes. While hot, pour over the cool syrup, if desired. Let cool and remove from pan.

Rum syrup: Combine in a saucepan 3/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil and boil until clear. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup rum.

Cranberry Apple Tart
makes 10 servings

Butter Crust: see above
6 Granny Smith apples, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3/4 cup cranberries
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Streusel topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11-inch tart pan with Butter Crust. Toss the apples and cranberries with flour, sugar, and cinnamon and place in the pan. Mix together the streusel toppping and sprinkle over. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, covering the top with foil the last few minutes once it is golden brown.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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