Staff picks: Dishes you’ll want to bring to Friendsgiving
With Thanksgiving only a day away, it’s time to get serious about what to bring to Friendsgiving.
Depending on where you come from and your cooking style - traditional, renegade or a blend of both - you may be open to some new recipes for Thanksgiving sides and desserts for the feast this year.
We are here to help. We asked a handful of staff reporters, editors, designers and photographers to pick some of their favorite recipes for the holiday table.
Like the North Bay community at large, we are a hybrid tribe hailing from many corners of the country and the globe, ranging from the suburbs of the Midwest to the cities of Sweden, from the stormy shores of New England to the tranquil wetlands of the Petaluma River.
We are all united, however, by the common language of food.
As you prepare to gather around the table, to celebrate the 1621 feast - when the Pilgrims of Plymouth dined with the Wampanoag people of Massachusetts, sealing a treaty that lasted more than 50 years - we hope your Thanksgiving is full of gratitude for the bounty of Sonoma County and overflowing with warm memories of holidays past.
Sofia Englund of Santa Rosa joined The Press Democrat in 2016 as the digital editor of Sonoma Magazine:
“I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in 2014, as a recent immigrant from Sweden. At that time, my idea of this quintessentially American holiday was informed by Hollywood films: strained family get-togethers and food mishaps, like in “Home for the Holidays,” or the stress that comes with holiday travels - albeit with comic relief - in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” Not that dissimilar from Swedish Christmas celebrations, only in America, there is roasted turkey instead of roasted ham, and no schnapps.
“Thankfully, Thanksgiving with my American family - my husband, Joshua, and his parents, Susan and Robert - was less dramatic. The turkey was cooked to perfection, and everyone liked the side dishes I contributed: a broccoli Gruyère gratin and sautéed haricots verts with shallots (courtesy of Jacques Pepin). The conversation was convivial; the table setting beautiful. The whole of Thanksgiving Day was like the denouement of those Hollywood films - when the turkey is saved and the dust of the arguments swept away, replaced with warm congeniality and holiday spirit (sans the excess of Hollywood cheesiness).
“Now, my idea of the November holiday is Susan’s pumpkin pancakes on Thanksgiving morning, followed by a lively kitchen table conversation and a walk in Crane Creek Regional Park. And then that first bite of dinner: a slice of turkey, some sweet potato, a little bit of greens and a dollop (or two, or three) of Susan’s delicious cranberry relish.”
Makes 3 cups
1 package fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
- Juice of 1 small lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
- Slivered almonds, for garnish
Combine all ingredients and heat to boiling, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Boil until cranberries all pop, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with a sprinkling of slivered almonds. Can keep 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Jonathan Byrd lives in Santa Rosa and is design desk chief at The Press Democrat, where he has worked for 10 years:
“My late father was an avid gardener who instilled in my elder sister and me an appreciation of fresh produce. Many summers of my youth were spent tending to rows upon rows of plants alongside him and my late mother in the half-acre plot he cultivated near my family home in northeastern Ohio. Toiling in the dirt on the swelteringly hot days was an activity that I then loathed but now is a memory that I cherish. Most of my adult life, after having moved out West, I’ve rarely spent the holidays with my family. This recipe from Jamie Oliver’s ‘The Naked Chef Takes Off’ - it multiplies easily - reminds me of a passion my father shared with us that continues to give me joy.”
Jonathan’s tip: Don’t try to make this salad when you feel like it - make it when you can get perfectly ripe pears.
Watercress, Arugula, Sweet Pear, Walnut and Parmesan Salad
Makes 2 servings
1 pear, peeled (only if the skin is not nice), cored and sliced lengthwise
1 handful watercress
1 handful arugula
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Black pepper, freshly ground
1 handful Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, shaven
- Small handful walnuts
If the pear skins are nice, just give the fruit a wash; if not, remove the skins with a vegetable peeler. Cut the pear in half, remove the core and slice it lengthwise into pieces.
Place the pear in a bowl with the watercress and arugula. Drizzle with the olive oil just to coat, and add 2 small squeezes of lemon juice. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss it all together and divide it onto two small plates. Shave over some Parmesan or Pecorino. Crumble the walnuts over the bowl and serve.