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French Twist

Celebrate Thanksgiving à la française with this menu from an expat in Paris
French Twist

Autumn in Paris is a lot like every other season in the City of Light: a delicious feast for the senses. But for an American expatriate—even one who’s head over heels in love with her adopted hometown—the same sensory pleasures associated with the shift from summer to fall can unhinge floodgates of nostalgia for home. All it takes is the faintest hint of wood-fire smoke in the nippy air to stir up a hankering for harvest fairs and holiday pies. And then there’??s Thanksgiving.

This year, Thanksgiving dinner commences chez moi, in a little corner of Paris where the harvest table is always vegetarian. The inspiration for this multicourse feast is utterly American—think mashed potatoes, a savory roast, and traditional stuffing. The dishes themselves are nuanced by French influences and designed to create delicious new traditions to be enjoyed with friends and family, wherever you happen to be in the world.

Countdown to a Feast
Most of these recipes can be prepared in advance without compromising flavor—simply follow this rundown of what to do when.

1 week ahead
1. Prepare bread for stuffing, and store in an airtight container.
2. Purchase wine.

3 to 5 days ahead
1. Prepare candied pecans for salad, and refrigerate.
2. Prepare compote; refrigerate.
3. Shop for fresh ingredients (fruits, vegetables, potatoes).
4. Make almond filling for Vegan Galette des Rois.

1 to 2 days ahead
1. Assemble terrine, and refrigerate.
2. Prepare Chestnut-Champignon Stuffing, and refrigerate.
3. Make Vegan Galette des Rois.

Thanksgiving Day
1. Bake Seitan Timbales.
2. Make Parsley-Garlic Créme.
3. Prepare Truffled Mashed Potatoes.
4. Assemble salad.

November 2011 p.58

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Salad of Shaved Fennel, Oranges, and Candied Pecans

Salad of Shaved Fennel, Oranges, and Candied Pecans

Fresh fennel is popular in France year-round, but the traditional harvest period begins in November. Here, thin slices of the mildly anise-flavored bulb are tossed with baby arugula, Valencia orange slices, and red onion, and topped with candied pecans for an American touch.

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Spiced Balsamic-Beet Compote

Spiced Balsamic-Beet Compote

The rich, red hue of this compote mirrors the color of traditional cranberry sauce, but the subtle spiciness offers something savory and unexpected. Serve like cranberry sauce or as a bread topping for hors d’oeuvres.

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Seitan Timbales with Chestnut-Champignon Stuffing

Seitan Timbales with Chestnut-Champignon Stuffing

Not Yet Rated

Baked in elegant individual portions, this delicious main course is easy to assemble. The timbales can be made earlier in the day and reheated just before serving. If you want to try a more elaborate variation on the same recipe, try this tasty roulade.

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Truffled Mashed Potatoes

Truffled Mashed Potatoes

In France, fresh truffles are sometimes referred to as “black diamonds,” fetching as much as $500 per pound. Truffle oil provides the same complex flavor at a fraction of the price. (Truffle oils vary in intensity, so start with the smallest amount recommended and adjust according to taste.)

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Mediterranean Terrine

Mediterranean Terrine

Not Yet Rated

This updated version of a classic French terrine brings back the flavors of summer in a way that doesn’t feel out of place on a harvest table. Agar powder, a vegetarian substitute for gelatin, is available at natural-food stores and Asian markets. Garnish with Parsley-Garlic Crème.

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Parsley-Garlic Crème

Parsley-Garlic Crème

Dollop this sauce atop Mediterranean Terrine slices, or pass it around the table in a small bowl so guests can serve themselves.

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Vegan Galette des Rois

Vegan Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois, or kings’ cake, makes its appearance in French pâtisseries around Christmas, but it is a delicious dessert option anytime.

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