Multicultural Thanksgiving Recipes

Our pre-Thanksgiving hour on the different ways diverse American cultures find their way to the collective holiday table included more than a few delicious recipes. Our three guests offer their ideas for your own uniquely modern American feast.

From Reyna Simnegar, Author Of "Persian Food From The Non-Persian Bride: And Other Sephardic Kosher Recipes You Will Love"

(Reyna Simnegar)
(Reyna Simnegar)

This is the chicken my mother-in-law serves every single Shabbat dinner. It is so easy to make and so delicious! It freezes very well (as long as it is not embellished with potatoes) and children love it. The marinade works wonders on turkey as well, and…you guessed it…this is also what my mother-in-law’s Thanksgiving turkey tastes like! It can also be made using whole chickens, Cornish hens, or even duck.

2 whole chickens or 2 chickens cut in pieces or 1 whole turkey


1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

¼ teaspoon saffron powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder or 3 garlic cloves, pressed

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 lime, juiced or 3 tablespoons lime or lemon concentrate

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all marinade ingredients.
  3. Rub some marinade inside the inner cavity of poultry if using whole birds. Stuff the poultry with desired stuffing, if using. Rub the outside of the poultry with the marinade.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover with a sheet of foil to avoid burning the sauce and bake for 45 more minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Persian Eggplant Omelet (Latkes)
Kookoo Budemjune 
If you are an eggplant fan, this dish will be absolutely delicious! A kookoo is nothing more than a Persian latke. This recipe makes 5-inch kookoos (imagine a latke on steroids) or you can also make the usual 2-inch bite-size portions. These are great stuffed into a pita with chummus and vegetables.

Tricks of the trade

If you do not have a spatula large enough to flip this kookoo, do not panic. Simply use a dinner plate instead of a spatula. Position the plate upside-down firmly on top of the skillet, just like a lid. Hold the skillet handle with your left hand and place your right hand firmly flat on the plate. Rapidly flip the skillet over, supporting the plate with your right hand, and lift the skillet off the plate. The kookoo will be sitting on the plate, ready to be slipped back into the skillet to brown on the other side!

1 large eggplant

½ onion, finely diced

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 egg

½ cup flour

dash turmeric

1 tablespoon canola oil, for frying

  1. Roast the eggplant on a grill or directly over medium heat on your stovetop or broil in the oven on high in a 9″x13″ aluminum pan until the skin is blistered and black on all sides. Make sure to turn the eggplant so all the sides of become blistered. Set aside for 10 minutes or until it looks heavy and sinks in.
  2. In the meantime, combine remaining ingredients (except oil) in a medium bowl.
  3. Peel the eggplants, mash with a fork, and add the pulp to the bowl. Keep mixing until it looks like a creamy batter.
  4. Heat oil in a small skillet (5-inch diameter) over medium/high heat. Use a ladle to pour one-fifth of the batter into the skillet (it should be about 2 inches thick) and cook, covered, over medium heat until the edges brown. With the help of a large spatula or a small plate (see above), turn the kookoo over and cook the other side until it is brown.
  5. Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Serve with pita bread, tomatoes, and onions.

Yield: 5 kookoos or 15 latkes

(Reyna Simnegar)
(Reyna Simnegar)

Persians have a delicious dessert called pirashkee that is nothing less than a doughnut filled with custard. I provide you with the custard recipe here if you want to make this delicious version of a soofganiah.

Tricks of the trade

With anything that needs deep-frying, it is very important to bring the oil to a temperature of 350°F degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil with a small piece of dough. If the ball of dough rises to the top when dropped in the oil, the oil is ready. If the oil is not at the right temperature, the food is more likely to absorb more oil than necessary. If you fry a lot of food, it might be smart to invest in a deep fryer because it makes reaching the right temperatures much easier. Some add a piece of carrot to the hot oil keep it from darkening.

If you do not want to use brandy, you can substitute water or apple juice instead. If you do not have circular cookie cutters, you can use the rim of a glass about the same size. 

Yeast mixture

½ cup warm water

2 envelopes active dried yeast (4½ teaspoons active dry yeast)

1 teaspoon sugar


1 stick unsalted parve margarine at room temperature (8 tablespoons)

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup water

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons brandy

4¼ cups flour, divided

4 cups canola oil, for frying

Filling (your choice)

strawberry jelly

raspberry jelly

chocolate spread

custard (parve or dairy)


powdered sugar

  1. To make the yeast mixture: In a small bowl combine the warm water, active dry yeast, and sugar. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a flat paddle attachment, combine margarine, sugar, salt, water, eggs, brandy, and 2 cups flour. Mix well. Add the yeast mixture and remaining 2¼ cups flour. Mix until uniform, pliable dough is formed.
  3. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper (12"x17") and flatten with a rolling pin to 1-inch thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
  4. In a 6-quart saucepan, heat the canola oil to fry the soofganiot. The oil is ready when a candy thermometer reads 350°F.
  5. Using a 2-inch circular cookie cutter, cut circles of dough. Drop dough into the hot oil and fry each side until brown. Remove from the oil, using a slotted spoon, and place into a colander. Set aside to cool.
  6. Once cooled, inject your choice of jelly into the soofganiah using a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag fitted with a long filling tip. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Yield: about 20 soofganiot

Vanilla Pastry Cream (dairy custard)


This recipe is to fill Persian pirashkee. My mother-in-law loves this! It was her idea to fill soofganiot with this delicious cream. In my country we also have a version of pirashkee called bomba, which in Spanish means bomb! I guess that refers to the fact that eating too many of these is equivalent to bombing your scale! This is my mother’s recipe for crema pastelera (dairy custard). It is super-easy to make and absolutely delicious!  You might just want to forget filling any doughnut and simply eat it all alone! You can make this cream low fat using low-fat condensed and regular milk. I measure the milk using the same can the condensed milk came in…one less thing to wash!

1 (14-oz) can condensed milk

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

5 teaspoons corn starch

1.     In a medium nonstick saucepan, combine all ingredients.  Bring to a boil.

2.     Cook for 1 minute, mixing constantly, until it starts to bubble and thicken.

3.     Cool to room temperature before using.

Yield: 2 cups

From James Trahhan, chefand co-host of Telemundo's morning show, "Un Nuevo Dia." (Translated from Spanish)


Chef James Tahhan's Thanksgiving Pavochon. (Courtesy James Tahhan)
Chef James Tahhan's Thanksgiving Pavochon. (Courtesy James Tahhan)

1 turkey

16 cloves garlic, crushed

16 units of whole black pepper

2 tablespoons oregano

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup vinegar

2 large onions

12 Oz. Beer

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a blender place the garlic, pepper, oregano, vinegar and olive oil to form a paste. Then we season the entire surface of the turkey with this pasta, we introduce the onions in the cavity of it and we took a baking sheet with a rack to raise the turkey so that it does not parboil in its own juices and so these remain all the tray bottom. Add the beer in the bottom of the tray and took to cook for approximately 25 minutes per pound or to an internal temperature of 150 degrees.
Serve with reduced juices left in the bottom of the tray.

Mashed Potatoes With Parmesan Cheese, Parsley And Bacon

5 potatoes (boiled)

2 eggs
1/4 cup parsley
10 cloves of roasted garlic
1 cup Parmesan cheese
6 slices bacon roasted
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk

We began to shred the potatoes, add the eggs, parsley, Parmesan cheese and finely chopped bacon, then butter and hot milk. Mix well and then put the mixture in a heat and serve in container for soufflé.
then bake until golden brown at 400 degrees outside.

Catalan Creme, or Pumpkin Creme Brûlé 

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups heavy cream
7 yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
White sugar for dusting and flaming

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan bring the cream and the sugar to a boil. In a separate container beat the yolks until slightly creamy. Add half of the hot cream and sugar mixture to the egg yolks in the bowl and mix well. Add this mixture to the saucepan and cook until it begins taking on a creamy texture. At this point add the pumpkin puree and spices, stirring constantly. Then pour the mixture into small baking containers (ramekins), passing it through a sieve. Put the containers in a baking pan that has about 2 cups of hot water in the bottom. Bake for 1 hour. Finally, before serving put sugar on top of each container and caramelize the surface with a blowtorch.

From Joanne Chang, pastry chef and owner of Flour, a Boston bakery and cafe

Pâte Brisée II

Makes about 10 ounces dough, enough for one 9-inch single-crust pie, 10-inch crostata, or 9-inch quiche

1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon; 128 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for about 45 seconds, or until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and pecan-size lumps of butter are visible throughout.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk until blended. Add to the flour-butter mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Roasted Pear and Cranberry Crostata

Makes one 9-inch crostata (serves 8 to 10)

We’ve offered this scrumptious open-faced rustic tart for years at Flour, and I started making it long before that. It’s my go-to holiday dessert to take to dinner parties and such, and it never fails to stop conversation as everyone takes a first bite and exhales with a collective “mmmmmm.” It’s a sheet of flaky pâte brisée rolled out into a large circle, a generous layer of frangipane (almond cream) spread in the middle, and pears (roasted with butter, sugar, and fresh ginger) and fresh cranberries placed on top. It’s finished with an egg wash and lots of sanding sugar, and when it emerges from the oven, it is guaranteed to impress everyone with both its gorgeous appearance and delicious taste.

9 Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored  

1-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Pâte Brisée II (see accompanying recipe)

Frangipane (recipe follows)

1 cup (100 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, toss together the pears, ginger, granulated sugar, and butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 11/2 hours, or until the pears are soft when pierced with a knife tip and golden. Let cool completely. (The pears can be roasted up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough circle on the prepared baking sheet.

Using the back of a spoon or a small rubber spatula, spread the frangipane in the middle of the dough round in a circle about 9 inches in diameter, leaving a 3-inch border uncovered.

Place about 8 pear halves, cut side down, in a circle in a single layer on top of the frangipane, lining them up with the edge of the frangipane and with the stem ends pointing toward the middle. Place 1 or 2 pear halves in the center to cover the frangipane circle completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup (75 grams) of the cranberries evenly on top of the pears. Top the first layer of pears with a second layer of pears, using about 7 halves and reserving 1 pear half, arranging them in a smaller concentric circle. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup (25 grams) cranberries evenly on top of the second layer of pears.

Place the reserved pear half on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, and starting at the squat bottom end, cut four or five lengthwise slices, stopping just short of the stem end. Fan the slices, and place the pear half in the center of the second layer of pear halves. Starting at one side of the crostata, fold the 3-inch border of dough up and over the fruit, forming six to eight loose pleats around the perimeter and pressing the pleats firmly together onto the fruit. The center of the crostata will remained exposed in a 3- to 4-inch circle, showing off the fanned pear. Refrigerate the assembled crostata for at least 1 hour before baking. (At this point, the crostata can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the pleated pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle evenly with the sanding sugar. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the pleats are golden brown. Make sure all of the folds are evenly browned, so there are no chewy underbaked bits of dough in the finished crostata. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The crostata can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup (50 grams) blanched whole almonds or 1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour

1/4 cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

If using whole almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into a paste. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. You should have about 1 cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, then let sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before using.


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