When invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, Matilde replied, “Definitely! My husband wants so much to experience a Thanksgiving dinner with a whole turkey, that he was considering buying tickets to go to New York, just to celebrate!”  Italians are enamored with our  American holiday–and we’ve had a great time for the past three years, introducing several groups of friends to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  Yesterday was especially nice…here’s are some of our friends who celebrated with us this year…

And here was our menu…

Center stage, of course, is the turkey. We ordered ours from the local butcher and brined it using primarily Alton Brown’s brining recipe. I have to say it looked pretty interesting sticking up out of our brining bag…

We followed his instructions last year as well, and both times the turkey was delicious…moist, flavorful..and much better looking after coming out of the oven…

The breast is a bit light since I covered it with thin slices of bacon which gave it a nice flavor and helped to keep it moist–but were a bit ugly for the photo!

For appetizers I served Red Wine Mushrooms…  They were a big hit! Everyone asked for the recipe!

We also enjoyed Endive with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions…  My first time making them. Definitely a “keeper”!

and Cheese Secrets (p. 7 in O Taste & See Some More!) which I shaped into pumpkins and acorns.

I also offered Fresh Ginger Sparkler (p. 27 in Around Our Table). It’s always a favorite, with people trying to guess what’s in it. Ginger? Oh, yes, ginger! Lemon, orange juice… Honey? Oh sure, honey!…So interesting!

I combine all the ingredients except the sparkling water several days ahead and store it in the fridge…then just pull it out at the last minute and add water and ice if desired.

We decided this year to serve our Thanksgiving dinner in three separate courses. Italians don’t like their foods to touch each other, and they want to enjoy each flavor separately. You can see this on the menu…first we served the turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. All of those sort of “went together” well. The cranberry sauce was imported from the States since they don’t have them here, though occasionally you can find dried ones.

The next “course” was four types of roasted vegetables...carrots, green beans, cauliflower and brussel sprouts…

Ready to roast in the oven…

Oven-roasted Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower

Oven-roasted Green Beans and Carrots

The last course was one of my good husband’s favorites–Mashed Sweet Potatoes (p. 92 in O Taste & See Some More! though I use half the butter and half the sugar now that I’m older and wiser).

Sometimes we find fresh sweet potatoes here…and sometimes we don’t. I looked high and low for them this year…asked my local grocery store if they could order them…went to the largest outdoor market in Europe (in Torino) asking for them. No. Nobody had them. Nobody knew where I could get them. I sent up one of my “SOS-this-isn’t-life threatening-but sure-would-be-nice” prayers and last Saturday afternoon I was on a tram when, through the window I saw what looked like sweet potatoes for sale at a market stall. I squinted to read the cardboard sign–Patate Dolce! I jumped off at the next stop…bought 2 kilos (4 lbs.) and smiled. Love it when God answers those “little” prayers, don’t you?  I boiled them up…mashed them and here they are:

Don’t they look delicious? They were! If my marshmallows look a bit unusual…it’s because I made them myself. The only marshmallows they sell here in Italy are pastel colored–not quite the look I wanted for Thanksgiving. I used a recipe for Homemade Marshmallows from my childhood days in Africa…but that’s another blog.

Alongside the Mashed Sweet Potatoes I served Corn Pudding…a new recipe for me but it didn’t turn out too good. The Italians had no idea what Corn Pudding was supposed to taste like…so nothing lost. No photo of the dry Corn Pudding…and sure as shootin’ you wouldn’t want the recipe. Next year I’m going to serve a salad instead. About the time of that last course, we were just getting too full. And we still had the desserts to come!

Pecan Pie (p. 204 in O Taste & See Some More!). My absolute favorite Thanksgiving Pie. A special thanks to my sister-in-law for bringing us a bag of pecans last month so we could make Pecan Pie!

All-American Apple Pie (p. 200 in O Taste & See Some More!)

And Pumpkin Pie…I used the recipe on the can of pumpkin, which was imported from the States. No evaporated milk here but it was easy to “evaporate” 2 1/2 cups of whole milk over a very low flame to make 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk.

My good husband told the amazing story of the Pilgrims’ trip to the New Land, their initial hardships, the wonderful provision of Squanto and their celebration of giving thanks to God in 1621. We each had three pieces of corn hidden by our plates…and the opportunity to express our gratitude for three things we were especially thankful for. What a special way to spend Thanksgiving…introducing good friends to the traditions and foods of our holiday. And being reminded of our many, many blessings. I hope you had a wonderful day as well!

Ciao!

Debbie

One Comment

  1. 12-16-2011

    you continue to be inspirational…

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