with Donna Sweeny

Thanksgiving Preparations

That most American of holidays, Thanksgiving, is fast approaching. Although the “traditional” feast we now enjoy is a far cry from its 1621 Pilgrim origins, the spirit of the day has remained the same—a time for reuniting with family and friends, giving thanks and, of course, feasting.

Most historians are fairly certain that the turkey was not a part of the original Thanks­giving dinner, but this native American bird has become synonymous with the holiday. While the turkey is unquestion­ably the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving dining table, there has been an increasing emphasis in recent years on its accompaniments — the vegetables, fruits and nuts which fill the cornucopia at this sea­son have gained in importance so that now they share in the limelight, too. Variety and abundance are what this holi­day is all about and, accord­ingly, most of us are always searching for new ways to serve the delicious foods which are so plentiful at this time of year.

With this thought in mind, I consulted the Junior League’s “San Francisco a la Carte” (Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York). This cookbook and its sequel, “San Francisco Encore,” are re­nowned for their imaginative recipes which emphasize fresh ingredients, fairly easy prepa­ration and, of course, the inspired creativity for which San Francisco cuisine is fa­mous. I found some delicious recipes which afford a wonder­ful array of flavors and tex­tures to complement the Thanksgiving turkey; I was so pleased with the results that I asked the authors if I might share the recipes with you and they enthusiastically agreed.

Have a very happy Thanks­giving — and do remember to invite someone who might otherwise be alone on that special day.

Walnut Liver Pâté (makes approximately 1 cup)

  • 2 ounces shelled walnuts
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 to 5 ounces liverwurst
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried tarragon
  • Finely chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil walnuts, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Drain and, shaking pan often, roast at 350 de­grees for 15 minutes. Cool and chop finely. Beat cream cheese and liverwurst and blend in cognac, tarragon and walnuts, mixing well. Mound on a serving plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Encircle pate with finely chopped parsley. Serve with toast points, crackers or French bread.

Artichoke Ring (serves 6)

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto, sliced
  • 2 10-ounce packages fro­zen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
  • 1 to 11/2 tablespoons but­ter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 de­grees. Oil a 4-cup ring mold and line with prosciutto slices. Leave 2 or 3 inches of pro­sciutto hanging over the edges of the mold for enclosing later. Chop artichokes finely in a blender or food processor. In a skillet melt butter and saute onion and garlic until soft. Set aside. In a large bowl beat eggs lightly and add cream, cheese, onion-garlic mixture and seasonings. Stir in artichokes and pour mixture care­fully into the prosciutto-lined mold. Cover top with over­hanging prosciutto. Place in a pan of hot water in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Gourmet Stuffing for Poultry (makes approximately 10 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery, leaves included
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 pound ground pork sausage meat
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 8 cups unseasoned coarse bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Saute onion and celery in butter until tender. In a separate skillet, cook sausage and mushrooms. Pour off the fat and add to onion and celery. Combine this mixture with the bread crumbs and add all the seasonings. Moisten with the wine or chicken stock, add the egg and apricots and mix well. Stuff the poultry just before roasting.

Raw Cranberry Relish (makes approximately 2 pints)

  • 1 pound cranberries
  • 2 apples, cored
  • 2 oranges, peeled and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 cup cognac

Clean, sort and wash cran­berries. Put the cranberries, apples and oranges through the medium blade of a food grind­er, with a pan underneath to catch the juices. Mix the fruits, juices, sugar and cognac together and refrigerate over­night. This will keep several days in the refrigerator or will freeze well.

Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Brandy Sauce (serves 12)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups sieved persim­mon pulp (about 3 large ripe)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  • 1/4  cup brandy


  • 1 cup sweet (unsalted) butter
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 jigger rum or brandy

Beat eggs until light, then beat in sugar until smooth and lemon-colored. Combine per­simmon pulp and melted butter and stir into egg mixture. Sift dry ingredients and stir in alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Add raisins, pecans and brandy. Transfer to a well-buttered mold and cover tightly with foil. To steam: Set the mold on a rack in a large deep kettle and add water to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Bring water to gentle boil, cover saucepan, lower heat and steam for 2 1/2 hours. Remove pudding from water and let cool for 15 minutes. Unmold onto foil and cool completely if wrapping and freezing. Bring to room tem­perature before reheating. Serve with sauce.

For the sauce: Cream butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, add rum or brandy and mix well. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry, and fold into sugar mixture. Serve at room temperature.