Cocktail Recipes, Spirits, and Local Bars

Thanksgiving Holidays Around the World Slideshow

Thanksgiving Holidays Around the World Slideshow

Countries around the world have different ways of giving thanks

Chuseok, or a Korean Thanksgiving

Like Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., Chuseok (or Korean Thanksgiving Day) is one of Korea’s largest and most important holidays. Again, similar to the U.S., it is a considered to be a time for families to reunite and share a large meal.

Alternatively know has Hangawi, the holiday has historically marked a time when Koreans (who were primarily an agrarian population until recent history), "gave thanks to their ancestors for the year’s harvest." Its actual origins are still unclear, but the custom is believed to be related to "ancient religious practices that centered around the moon."

Some of the most important Chuseok traditions involve food. The quintessential holiday dish, which is also evocative of the holiday’s lunar ties, are small rice cakes called songpyun. The half-moon cakes are composed of rice flour, stuffed with sesame seeds and/or chestnuts, and sweetened with honey before being steamed with pine needles.

Want to try your own hand at a songpyun recipe? Click here to learn more about both classic and regional varieties.

Liberia

Thanksgiving isn’t always held on the last Thursday in November, nor is it only celebrated with a turkey. Take Thanksgiving in Liberia, for example.

Liberia is a country in West Africa that was founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves in the early 19th century. Today, the founding slaves’ descendants only make up about 5 percent of the country’s current population, but several traditions that they imported from the States, Thanksgiving included, are celebrated to this day.

Liberians celebrate Thanksgiving on the first Thursday of November. It’s generally considered to be a day for Liberians to give thanks for freedom and the founding of their country. Like in the States, people gather for a special meal, as well as concerts and dancing.

As far as their traditional Thanksgiving menu goes, Liberians have adapted the meal to the tastes of the region by serving dishes like roasted chicken, mashed cassavas, and green bean casserole. Some folks even add a little extra spice to their meal with peppers like cayenne.

Want to add some Liberian flavor to your next meal, Thanksgiving or otherwise? Check out these recipes including Monrovian collards and cabbage, sweet potato pone, and ginger beer.

Norfolk Island

Perhaps the most unexpected place where one will find a Thanksgiving celebration inspired by the American tradition is on Norfolk Island, a small island in the South Pacific.

The island, which is a little more than 13.36 square miles and has about 2,100 residents, is about 904 miles from Brisbane, Australia. Locals on the island speak English and also communicate in a Norfuk dialect (a mix of English and Tahitian), and the area is technically considered to be an Australian territory.

This background info still begs the question of how Thanksgiving came to this part of the world. According to an islander Thanksgiving expert, the holiday was formally introduced to the island in the mid-1890s when Isaac Robinson, an American trader who came to Norfolk as an agent and eventually became "the island’s first (and so far only) United States consul."

Robinson suggested decorating the All Saints Church with palm leaves and lemons in the capital of Kingston and the tradition stuck. Today, families celebrate on the fourth Wednesday of November by bringing produce to sell to help raise money for church upkeep. They also sing American hymns and sharing a potluck meal of "cold pork and chicken, pilhis, bananas... [and] pumpkin pie."

Want to add a little island flavor to your Thanksgiving meal? Check out these pilhi recipes.

Germany

A holiday marking a time to give thanks is hardly a North American invention. In fact, many cultures around the world have had "thanksgiving" traditions for centuries.

One of the more established European examples is Germany’s Erntedankfest (meaning "harvest festival of thanks"). Unlike in the U.S. or Canada, the holiday does not have an official date, but is most often celebrated on the first Sunday of October (although the date can change depending on the region). It is primarily a religious celebration observed in rural areas in celebration of a successful harvest, and is usually only celebrated in churches in urban settings.

As for the food, different families have different menus, with some serving traditional German dishes like wienerschnitzel, while some families have adopted North American traditions and serve turkey. Dishes aside, both holidays honor the harvest, which usually means many food-inspired decorations including grains, honeycombs, and seasonal produce.

Want to introduce a traditional German dish to your Thanksgiving meal? Check out this recipe for wienerschnitzel.

Canada

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

If you live in Canada, or have at least had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving there, then you may have noticed a few significant differences from (and similarities to) the holiday’s celebration in the U.S. First of all, the day: Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October (Columbus Day in the States). It is also sometimes celebrated on the weekend so that folks don’t miss school or work — so it's hardly one of the top travel periods like it is south of the border.

Additionally, Canadians don’t cite the Pilgrims’ story. The holiday celebrates the harvest, but this has no connection to the traditional U.S. story. The Canadian observance of the harvest was actually celebrated on different dates for many years (sometimes the same as the U.S. date) until 1899, when the government officially moved the celebration to mid-October.

So despite the major differences, what about the food? Turns out that the Thanksgiving meal is pretty much the same in both countries: turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie are all typical on many family tables.

To recognize of the similarities between the two countries, as well as their distinct differences, here’ s a Thanksgiving recipe for butternut squash soup inspired by one of Canada’s most beloved culinary staples: maple syrup.

The Netherlands

Although most Americans wouldn’t know it, Thanksgiving Day is important for the Dutch. You might remember from your history lesson, but before heading to North America, the Pilgrims actually landed in Leiden in the Netherlands (where they ended up staying for 11 years).

Today in Leiden, there is an annual Thanksgiving Celebration held at the Pieterskerk (see above), a Gothic church in the city where one of the Pilgrim leaders, John Robinson, is buried. Additionally, Leiden is home to the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum. This small establishment recreates 16th- and 17th-century furnishings from the time of the Pilgrims.

Locals and tourists can find traditional Thanksgiving meals throughout the country on the third Thursday of every November. Restaurants like the Hard Rock Café, as well as several American associations, host traditional meals with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, and dressing.

Wanting to add a traditional Dutch dish to your Thanksgiving meal? Consider stamppot, a dish of mashed potatoes and kale.

Grenada

As we have discussed in our series on different Thanksgiving celebrations from around the world, not all "thanksgiving" holidays have the same origins as the familiar American tradition. The U.S. holiday does have some influence over several international Thanksgiving traditions, however, including the October 25 observance in Grenada.
Instead of giving thanks for healthy harvests like many other international Thanksgiving holidays, the Grenadian tradition dates back to the 1983 when American forces intervened during a period of political instability. Grenada had been granted independence from the U.K. about a decade earlier, but political conflicts occurred in the country until the U.S. intervened after a military coup.[slideshow:673330]

A constitutional government was eventually established in Grenada after the invasion, and ever since, the day that the Americans arrived as been designated by the government as a day of thanksgiving for the soldiers who died, as well as the country’s political stability.

Today’s national holiday in Grenada is typically celebrated with family and friends at special church services, or just simply on the beach. Celebrations are generally low-key, with most folks finding ways to enjoy a day off work. Looking to add a little Caribbean flavor to you next Thanksgiving meal? Check out our recipe for oil down, or Grenada’s national dish.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.


Our 10 best Thanksgiving recipes from the past 20 years

This year’s Thanksgiving will look a lot different for most of us.

The “friendsgiving” or “framily” potluck may happen, but we’ll have to drop side dishes off at each other’s homes in order to share our food in a safe manner.

Some of us will want to uplift our spirits by cooking something entirely new others will skip the turkey in favor of a daring roast duck or a few dainty Cornish game hens.

Whatever side dishes and entrees we decide upon, it’s more important than ever to make them stand out amid the dizzying array of appetizers and entrees, sides and sauces that always crowd together on the table.

For that reason, we dug back through The Press Democrat archives from the past 20 years to offer up 10 Thanksgiving recipes that rise to the top with their bold and unforgettable flavors.

The creators of these dishes often took a traditional recipe and gave it a California twist, adding local produce or artisan products, a surprising bite of heat or a refreshing splash of ginger.

In other words, don’t expect a recipe for your grandma’s green bean casserole.

Most of these recipes were shared by local chefs for our Thanksgiving coverage through the years, but a few outliers snuck in because they provided needed balance for a feast that often ends up heavy on the fat and carbs.

From fruit and soup to rubs and rice stuffing, here are our top 10 Thanksgiving picks for a healthy, nourishing and delicious holiday, whether you’re celebrating safely with a potluck pod or small bubble.

Chef Jennifer Luttrell and The Fork at Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. shared this simple cocktail to start the festivities, back when she led a class at the cooking school on holiday sides.

Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktail

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 (2 ½-inch-long) thin slices fresh, peeled ginger

2 thin slices apple, for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add apple cider, bourbon, lemon juice and ginger.

Shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.

It’s a challenge to find an appetizer that whets appetites but doesn’t ruin them. This recipe from Lia Huber of Nourish Network in Healdsburg is a crowd-pleaser. Similar to the retro 1960s-era celery with cream cheese, it offers a satisfying crunch with a burst of flavor from the Roquefort.

Endive Spears with Roquefort Mousse and Walnuts

6 ounces Roquefort cheese

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons snipped chives

4 heads endive (or 96 leaves)

24 walnuts, toasted and broken into pieces

Blend the ingredients from the Roquefort through the chives in a blender until smooth. Chill for 20 minutes. Transfer Roquefort mixture to a pastry bag and pipe a teaspoon mound onto the end of each endive spear. Top with a toasted walnut piece.

The late chef Thomas Oden, who founded Santi restaurant in Geyserville in 2000 with Franco Dunn, shared this fruit compote recipe for a Thanksgiving sides story back in 2002. The restaurant, now closed, was an incubator for many of the best chef-owned restaurants in Sonoma County, from Diavola and Campo Fina to The Spinster Sisters.

Autumn Fruit Compote

2 quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into dice (save the cores and peels)

3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cored

1 pomegranate, seeds separated from husk and white membrane

4 figs, cut into quarters or sixths, depending on size (optional)

4 sprigs fresh thyme, stems removed

Put the water in a pot on the stove, add the quince cores and peels and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil) for 30 minutes. Strain out the solids, saving the liquid, and return liquid to the pot. Add the quince and cook at a low simmer until just tender. Remove the quince and hold in a bowl. Add the sugar to the liquid, stirring to dissolve, and cook at a low simmer until it forms a jelly when a spoon of it is placed on a chilled plate.

Add back the quince and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes more. Cool the mixture. Cut the persimmons in half widthwise and slice into ⅛-inch-thick pieces (shaped like triangles). Add to the cooled quince preserve along with the pomegranate seeds, thyme and figs. Use immediately or up to 2 days later if well refrigerated.

We’ve published several squash soup recipes over the years, but this one from Kay Baumhefner, chef/owner of the Come Home to Cooking school in Petaluma, is tough to beat. It combines caramelized onions, squash and garnet yams with silky leaves of baby spinach. It was tough to choose just one Thanksgiving recipe by Baumhefner, who was opening chef at Della Fattoria. If you don’t make it for Thanksgiving, try it on a blustery fall or winter day and store some in your freezer.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

5 pounds butternut squash

2 large garnet yams (about 1 ½ pounds)

2 tablespoons each oil and butter

4 cups (2 large) thinly sliced onions

1 small bundle fresh thyme, tied with string (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)

½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 to 10 cups hot homemade chicken stock

8 loose cups baby spinach leaves (¼ to ½ pounds)

Heavy cream or truffle oil, optional garnish

Cooked bacon bits or toasted pit nuts, optional garnish

Cut several small slits in the butternut squash and yams and roast whole on a sheet pan in a 400-degree oven until completely tender (about an hour or more).

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt the oil and butter. Add the onions and herbs, stirring well to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are completely tender (about 30 minutes).

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stir in the spices and Grand Marnier. Raise the heat to medium and add 1 cup of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan and soften the onions. Turn off the heat.

Peel and seed the roasted squash and yams, reserving any juices. Cut across the fiber into small chunks and add to the cooked onions, along with the reserved juices.

Off heat, puree the onions, squash and yams together with an immersion blender until absolutely smooth, gradually adding stock only as needed to liquify.

Whisk in enough of the hot stock to create a nice consistency. Then simmer, lid askew, to combine and thicken slightly (15 to 30 minutes).

Taste carefully for salt and white pepper, add the heavy cream and stir in the spinach just to wilt. Garnish as desired and serve.

This green bean recipe was shared in 2002 by Michael Quigley, chef/owner of the former Cafe Lolo on Fifth Street in Santa Rosa, a wildly popular spot that closed in 2005. Adding fresh haricot verts to the Thanksgiving plate brings a welcome crunch, and he enhances their flavor with prosciutto and pecorino cheese.

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pecorino Cheese and Pine Nuts

1 ½ pounds haricot verts (thin French green beans)

4 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

½ cup (4 ounces) toasted pine nuts

2 red bell peppers (diced very small)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

½ cup (4 ounces) pecorino cheese

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) prosciutto, julienned

Blanch green beans in boiling water until soft. Shock green beans in ice water.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute, then add pine nuts and red peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add green beans and sauté until they are warm. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamic, pecorino and prosciutto. Season with salt and ground pepper and serve.

It’s not Thanksgiving without a big bowl of Brussels sprouts, in our humble opinion. This side dish from Ari Rosen’s former restaurant, Scopa, was extremely popular — even with those who said they hate Brussels sprouts. Rosen, who now owns Campo Fina in Healdsburg, shared this recipe with us in 2009.

Best Brussels Sprouts Ever

Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

2 pounds Brussels sprouts

3 slices pancetta (or bacon), cut into half-inch pieces

3 hefty pinches black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Remove and throw away all of the dark green outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts. Then cut each sprout into quarters.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat with half the olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta caramelize evenly, moving it around with a wooden spoon. Add sage leaves once all the pancetta is golden and cook for 30 seconds. Then carefully, with a slotted spoon, remove and put aside the pancetta and sage leaves for later.

Next, add the quartered Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. A lot of the salt flavor should come from the pancetta if you are using a sweeter bacon, add a little more salt. After 30 to 60 seconds, move the sprouts around to caramelize all sides. Repeat this every minute for about 5 minutes. Add a drizzle of the remaining olive oil every 2 minutes until it’s finished. The goal is to achieve a deep golden brown color on one to two sides of each sprout without burning them. If you start to char too many sprouts, either lower your heat or move them around more often (especially in the first few minutes of cooking).

After 5 minutes, add back the cooked pancetta and sage to the almost-finished sprouts. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low heat to finish cooking the sprouts through to their centers. Toss with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan and serve immediately.

Tracey Shepos Cenami of La Crema Winery spent eight years cooking with Mark Stark of Stark Reality Restaurants before joining the Kendall-Jackson culinary team in 2005. She shared this nice, tart cranberry sauce with us in 2011 for a story about how to plan your Thanksgiving potluck. It’s far and away the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever eat, if you like heat with your sweet.

Cranberry Sauce with Pomegranate Molasses, Chiles and Pecans

2 pounds fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 red Fresno chiles, minced with seeds

¾ cup pecans, toasted, optional garnish

½ cup cilantro leaves, optional garnish

Sauté onions in oil until soft and translucent. Add cranberries, zest, ginger and juice. Cook on medium heat until berries have popped and sauce thickens, roughly 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add in molasses and half the chiles. Taste and add more chile depending on desired spice. Chill and serve garnished with pecans and cilantro.

Cooking a whole turkey has always been challenging because it’s nearly impossible to get the dark meat done without drying out the breast meat. Over the years, we have written about various methods of coming to grips with this dilemma, from cooking the legs separately to flipping the bird upside down. For about 20 years, the wet brine method was also recommended, but the awkward act of submerging a large bird in a body of chilled, flavored salt water finally fell out of favor a few years ago. That’s when we wrote about the rise of the dry brine, a spice and salt rub that is quick, easy and doesn’t make the bird taste like deli meat. Here is a recipe for a Cajun Rub from chef/owner Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfeller’s.

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ½ tablespoon onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder

Pull the turkey out of the refrigerator a few hours before it goes into the oven. Combine the spice blend. Before cooking, rub the skin with melted ghee and season liberally with the spices. Roast the turkey as you would normally.

Chef Laci Sandoval, owner of Wind & Rye Kitchen in Penngrove, shared this delicious rice and vegetable “stuffing” in 2019 during a two-day Thanksgiving workshop. She recommended using the Organic Wild Blend Rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Brussels sprouts can be swapped out for green beans, broccoli or Romanesco. The vegetables can be chopped the day before and wrapped in parchment paper.

Rice and Fall Veggie “Stuffing”

1 pound ground pork sausage, loose

5-6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh herbs, to taste (flat-leaf parsley, thyme and/or oregano)

Pecans, chopped and roasted, to finish (optional)

Fresh orange zest, to finish (optional)

Cook sausage over medium heat in a large, cast-iron Dutch oven until browned. Remove sausage from pan, leaving the fat.

Chop shallots, garlic, celery and carrots into small, uniform pieces. Remove outer leaves of Brussels sprouts and shave sprouts into thin slices. Roughly chop dried cranberries and assorted fresh herbs.

If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter to the remaining sausage fat in the pan and warm over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened. Add the Brussels sprouts and additional butter, salt or pepper, if needed.

Once all the veggies are tender, remove from the pan and reserve with the cooked sausage.

Add wild rice and 5 cups of broth to the pan, cover and cook over medium heat until rice is tender, adding more broth if necessary.

When rice is tender, add sausage and cooked veggies back into the pot, mixing until well combined.

Toss in the dried cranberries and fresh herbs, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finish with orange zest and pecans, if desired.

Keep warm in a casserole dish to serve.

Rick Rodgers, author of the “Thanksgiving 101” cookbook (William Morrow, 2007), gave a class at Ramekins in Sonoma in 2007 that included this seasonal crostada with buttery pastry dough.

Pear and Nutmeg Custard Crostada

8 tablespoons (1 stick) European-styled butter (such as Straus), cut up into 8 tablespoon-sized slices

About 3 tablespoons ice water (start with 2½ tablespoons)

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 ripe-firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices, tossed with a little lemon juice to discourage browning

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade. Add the butter and pulse until the butter looks like coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in enough ice water to evenly moisten the dough — the dough will hold together when pinched between your finger and thumb. Gather up into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough into a 12- to 13-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to an ungreased, rimless baking sheet (or the back of an inverted rimmed baking sheet). Sprinkle the center of the dough round with 1 tablespoon sugar, leaving a 1½-inch border.

Arrange the pear slices in two overlapping concentric circles on the sugar, filling in the center with the smaller slices. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Fold the dough border over to partially cover the outer ring of pears, loosely pleating the dough as needed, leaving the rest of the pears exposed. Brush away any flour from the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes to set the dough. Meanwhile, whisk the cream, yolk, vanilla, nutmeg and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until combined. Remove the dough from the oven and slowly pour over the pears, letting the custard fill in the spaces around the slices (pour slowly and don’t use all the custard if it threatens to overflow the crust). Bake until the custard is set and pears are tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 20 minutes.

Cool on a baking sheet for 15 minutes. Slide the crostada off the sheet onto a serving platter. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or [email protected] On Twitter @dianepete56

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.