Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A California Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it is centered around cooking and eating with loved ones. It's a great reminder of how much I have to be grateful for and also give back. This year, I went home to San Francisco, California to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  Every year, my mom, sister and I spend the day cooking together in the kitchen. Each of us is in charge of a few dishes while my dad is in charge of beverages and is the self- proclaimed official taste tester. Since it was just the four of us this year, we kept things simple. But just because there were four of us doesn't mean we skimped on flavor!

Before we started cooking, we set the table. Since we weren't entertaining any guests, my mom wanted to keep the table simple to make cleaning up easier. She picked the flowers from our garden and bought festive place settings. It looked beautiful!

My mom is usually in charge of making the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. We got a beautiful fourteen pound bird from our favorite butcher and simply rubbed the inside and outside of the bird with olive oil and herbs de provence. For the stuffing, my mom has always bought a box of Williams Sonoma foccacia stuffing. My mom adds her own twists to the recipe like adding dried cranberries for color and sweetness, but it is super easy to make!  We stuffed the bird and threw it in the oven for the day. We used a baster to coat the turkey in its own juices every now and then to keep it moist which really makes a difference when you carve it.

The cranberry sauce is also a recipe my mother has used for years and it is DELICIOUS. She doubled the recipe and we barely had leftovers! Her recipe calls for diced apples and oranges, as well as lots of clove and cinnamon. It is the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness and is addicting. We ended up making more the next day to accompany our left overs!

I was in charge of two side dishes this year, both of which we had never made or had before. I love sweet potatos and wanted to somehow incorporate them into our meal. At first I wanted to do a sweet potato mash but then decided that a mash was too boring. I stumbled upon an asiago sweet potato dish that sounded and looked delicious. It was similar to a lasagna, with layers of thinly sliced sweet potato, onion and a handful of asiago. You repeated those three steps until you reached the top where it was finished with olive oil and thyme. It came out of the oven with the cheese still bubbling and smelled amazing! It was definitely a success.

The other new side dish I made was sweet and sour cipollini onions. My dad was reading the Wall Street Journal and came across this dish. We all agreed we had to make it and I am so glad we did. The onions were sweet but had a hint of tartness thanks to the vinegar in the recipe. This recipe is a keeper.

My sister was in charge of making a side dish and dessert. She wanted to make brussel sprouts with bacon. My mom rarely allows pork in the house but she made an exception this year and let us cook with bacon! None of us had ever worked with it before. It was incredible (and a little gross) to see how much fat it had. When we put it in the sautee pan, we didn't even need to add oil-there was enough fat in the meat for it to produce it's own oils! The brussel sprouts turned out great, except they were a little too sweet for my taste. The recipe called for brown sugar which I felt over-powered the dish.

My plate (round 1)!!

As if that wasn't enough food, Thanksgiving isn't complete without dessert. We waited an hour to digest before we dug into my sisters apple and pomegranate crisp. She usually makes a scrumptious pumpkin cheesecake, but we all agreed it was time to mix things up. The crisp turned out great and wasn't too heavy either. The apples were cooked through nicely and the pomegranate seeds added a nice crunch to the dish along with the oat topping. I was in a complete state of delirium (thanks tryptophan) and fullness that I forgot to take a picture of the crisp! 

What did you do for your Thanksgiving? Are there any traditions you and your family participate in? Did you try new recipes or stick with tradition? No matter how you celebrated, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with your loved ones! 


  1. Unfortunately being in the UK thanksgiving is a traditional which we don't celebrate. Christmas is our turkey day!

  2. Like Scott, we don't celebrate Thanksgiving unfortunately here in Australia, but your meal looks delicious and the table setting lovely! I'm always envious of Americans and your thanksgiving :)