Pre-Giving in San Francisco

Last night we made our annual “pre-giving” dinner with Mark and Sarah. We’ve had some version of Thanksgiving (usually after the holiday as “second-giving”) together every year since Alex and I started dating in 2005. Mark’s stuffing and cranberry are absolutely divine and I look forward to this dinner all year long. Unfortunately, I have had a cold this weekend so my taste buds weren’t quite working, but I took extensive notes while watching Mark in the kitchen so that I can attempt to recreate some of the goodies in the weeks ahead. The rosemary dates are a new addition to the meal – I saw them on one of my favorite food blogs and couldn’t resist trying them. Here is the menu:

Rosemary Dates Wrapped in Bacon (hors’ d’oeuvres)

2 Medjool dates/person (I bought them pre-pitted at Whole Foods)
1 half slice of bacon for each date
a bunch of rosemary

Preheat the oven to 375. Stuff a few rosemary leaves into each date, then wrap with the halved bacon slices. You can close them with a toothpick. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

date(Photo courtesy of Bitchin’ Camero)

Cranberry sauce

1 bag cranberries
small bottle of tangerine juice
1 tangerine
white sugar
ground ginger

Rinse the bag of cranberries. Put in a pan with about ¼ to ½ cup tangerine juice. Bring to a boil (the cranberries will start popping) and then let simmer. Add about ½ tsp of tangerine zest and sugar until sweet enough to your liking (½ cup maybe). Once the sauce has the consistency of a jam, add about ¼ tsp of ground ginger, ½ tsp cinnamon, and ¼ cloves. This will keep in the fridge for a few days and works well as a spread for turkey and chicken sandwiches.


1 loaf Italian bread (Ciabatta)
6-7 slices pancetta
olive oil
2 packages of mushrooms (chanterelle, crimini, and/or oysters work well)
chicken stock
dried thyme and sage
1-2 yellow onions

Cut the bread into cubes and dry in a 250-degree oven until they feel stale. Saute chopped pancetta with a little olive oil and remove from the pan once cooked. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and cook the chopped onions and mushrooms. Add the pork back into the pan and once cooked through, add to the stale bread. Mix in a bowl and add enough chicken stock to the mixture until the bread seems bloated but not soaked through. Add thyme and sage. Bake, covered at 350 for about 45 minutes. At the end, remove the cover and let the top roast to a golden brown.

Roasted Green Beans (our token veggie)
Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to trimmed green beans and roast in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until done.

Mark smothered olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika on the 11.5 lb bird and sat her on a bed of chopped onion, celery, and carrot. He took the veggies out once carmelized and used in the gravy.

Add some grease from the bird to the pan. Add flour to make a rue, cook until dark brown. Add veggies, some chicken broth, and brown bits from the turkey pan. Bring to a rolling boil (if adding turkey neck). Add thyme and sage, and salt and pepper. Strain to get the biggest bits out of the gravy.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese

Put the filling into a prepared crust (Sarah made her own) and bake for about 55 minutes. The original recipe from Bon Appetit is here.

Our dessert has rotated between pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin creme brulee, and regular pumpkin pie throughout the years. This version of pumpkin pie with mascarpone cheese is especially decadent. I didn’t photograph any part of the meal because we ate everything too fast. Oops.

Thanks to Mark, Sarah, and Alex for yet another entertaining and delicious Thanksgiving meal together!