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A California Celebration

You've been cooking in the backyard all summer. Why stop now just because it's Thanksgiving?

November 22, 1998

It's not true that there are no seasons in Southern California. Every November, many leaves turn crimson, the air grows crisp, and, sometimes, snow comes early to the mountains. Still, there's no denying that Southern Californians have it good when it comes to weather.

So why not take advantage of our cool, sunny days? Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving the way East Coasters do--indoors--why not put on a sweater and take the turkey outside? After all, barbecuing in Southern California isn't just for summer.

When you cook a turkey on the barbecue, you not only get moist, wonderfully flavored meat, you free up space in your oven, which means you don't have to leave so much cooking for the last minute.

Our menu, dreamed up by our cooking school interns, Andy Broder and Rommel Delos Santos, starts with Honey-Glazed Soybeans and cool, crisp White Sangria With Pomegranate Ice Cubes. Set out with a bowl of mixed nuts, the soybeans, which we're seeing more and more in supermarkets--offer great munching while final touches are made on the meal.

Next comes autumn-colored Butternut Squash Soup, flavored with bacon and a little carrot and bell pepper.

The turkey, stuffed with citrus for flavor and cooked right on the barbecue, is pure California eating. We serve it with grilled vegetables instead of the usual green beans, Parmesan-Crusted Potatoes instead of mashed potatoes, Savory Applesauce and Cranberry-Orange Relish instead of straight cranberry sauce, and an untraditional but wonderful stuffing made with croissants, French bread, dried cherries and toasted pumpkin seeds.

For dessert, we have two sweets. One, Pumpkin Cheesecake With Caramelized Pecans, is a terrific alternative to plain pumpkin pie. Baked Persimmons With Muscat Wine and Creme Frai^che is a lovely way to end the meal, like baked apples with more depth.

It's a nonconformist meal in style, but at heart it's as satisfying as any traditional turkey dinner.



Honey-Glazed Soybeans

White Sangria With Pomegranate Ice Cubes


Butternut Squash Soup


Citrus-Rosemary Grilled Turkey

Parmesan-Crusted Potatoes Cranberry-Orange Relish

Grilled Vegetables

Croissant and French Bread Stuffing With Dried Cherries and Pepitas

Savory Applesauce

Turkey Gravy


Baked Persimmons With Muscat Wine and Creme Frai^che

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Caramelized Pecans

White Sangria

Active Work Time: 10 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 4 hours 10 minutes

2 (750-milliliter) bottles Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine

1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier)

1/2 cup brandy

2 limes

3 oranges

1 1/2 lemons

1/2 cup sugar

Pomegranate Ice Cubes, optional

* Combine wine, orange liqueur and brandy in bowl or pitcher.

* Juice 1 lime, 2 oranges and 1 lemon. Cook juices and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is thoroughly dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add to wine mixture.

* Thinly slice remaining lime, orange and 1/2 lemon. Add slices to wine and chill 4 to 6 hours. Add Pomegranate Ice Cubes just before serving.

12 to 14 servings. Each of 14 servings: 153 calories, 9 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol, 0 fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 0.16 grams fiber.

Pomegranate Ice Cubes

Active Work Time: 10 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 2 hours

1 large, or 2 small pomegranates


* Seed pomegranates by cutting fruit into 4 pieces then submerging fruit in sink or large pot of cool water and gently working seeds free. Seeds will sink while white pith floats.

* Place about 1 teaspoon seeds into each well of ice cube tray. Add just enough water to cover. Freeze.

Honey-Glazed Soybeans

Active Work Time: 5 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour * Vegetarian

1 (1-pound) package frozen soybean pods (edamame)


3 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cinnamon

* Cook beans in salted boiling water until beans easily pop out of pod, 6 to 8 minutes.

* Drizzle beans with honey, then sprinkle with salt and cinnamon and toss lightly. Place under broiler and broil until honey caramelizes, or turns dark brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and serve.

* To eat soybeans, open pods like peanut shells and pop them into your mouth. Discard shells.

6 servings. Each serving: 144 calories, 798 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol, 5 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 1.55 grams fiber.

Parmesan-Crusted Potatoes

Active Work Time: 10 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes * Vegetarian

2 pounds small red boiling potatoes

Salt, pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 egg white, whipped to light foam

2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

* Boil potatoes in 2-quart saucepan of salted water until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and cut in halves (or quarters for larger potatoes). Transfer to large bowl.

* Season potatoes with salt to taste and generous grinding of pepper. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes. Add egg white and mix to coat potatoes. Sprinkle with rosemary and cheese and mix gently.

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