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Arts and Entertainment Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 3 weeks ago

Thanksgiving recipes with a side of heart

For the holidays, we all have our some signature dishes that mean more than a full tummy. Local chefs share their most treasured recipes for the season.
by: Abby Weingarten Contributor

Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food. It’s about the feelings. The family memories. The gratitude.

For five area chefs, there’s a lot of sentiment amid the seasoning, as they share some of their tried-and-true holiday recipes for the autumn table — from tarts to turkeys. 


Vegan, Gluten-Free Apple Tart

By Chefs Ryan and Aaron Boeve

Lila: 1576 Main St., Sarasota, 941-296-1042,

Lila's father and son duo: Ryan and Aaron Boeve

This recipe is in honor of our dear friend and “Uncle” Arthur Lopes, who was my (Ryan’s) business partner and like family for over 20 years. We are carrying on his spirit by making our apple tart for the holidays. The apple tart was one of Arthur’s most popular desserts; you could feel the warmth and love that went into its creation. My son, Aaron, who is now cooking with me at Lila, baked and helped his “Uncle” Arthur in the kitchen from time to time. We have begun a tradition of making one of Arthur’s desserts for the holidays, as we continue to be inspired by his recipes and how he treated others.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Apple Tart

(yields eight 4-inch tarts)

Main ingredients:
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled
Apricot glaze
Coconut oil

For the crust:
4 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Press into four-inch tart pans greased with coconut oil.

For the almond-rum butter:
½ pound vegan butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
¾ cup filtered water
¾ cup dark rum
4 tablespoons almond extract
4½ cups almond flour
Cream vegan butter and sugar in stand mixer. Add remaining ingredients and mix for two minutes.

To assemble tart:
Add three to four tablespoons of almond-rum butter to the center of the tart crust. Slice Granny Smith apples and layer them on top of the tart. Brush with apricot glaze. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Cook in a preheated 375-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until browned. Serve warm with vegan ice cream.


Sweet Potato Cobbler

By Chef Pedro Flores

Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar: 5353 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-925-4444,

Chef Pedro Flores with Phillippi Creek

I grew up in Mexico City, cooking family dinners with my mother. I first experienced a traditional Thanksgiving over 30 years ago, and it reminded me so much of my upbringing — gathering in the kitchen and sharing delicious foods. Every day, I want to inspire our guests, and one of the Thanksgiving favorites here has become our sweet potato cobbler (a twist on the traditional sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie). The Creek is home, and I am so happy and honored to present my recipes to our wonderful guests, who are like family to me.

Sweet Potato Cobbler

For the filling:
5 pounds sweet potatoes
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
½ pound melted butter
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon salt

Bake sweet potatoes at 325 degrees for about an hour or until soft. Cool slightly and peel off skins. In a mixing bowl, whisk sweet potatoes until smooth. Add all ingredients for filling and whisk until blended.

For the topping:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces melted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
Place sweet potato filling in an 8-by-10-inch pan or casserole dish.

For the dough:
In a mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix with hands until combined and smooth dough (add a little more flour if the dough is a bit too moist). Top the sweet potato mixture with the dough (crumble) topping. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 75 minutes or until topping is brown.


Peruvian-Style Turkey

By Chef Felix Morales

Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse: 19 E. Road, Sarasota, 941-312-5969,

Chef Felix Morales with Stottlemyer's

I moved to Los Angeles, California, from Nicaragua in 1986, so I had never celebrated Thanksgiving until 1990 (when I was at the Hilton, learning how to cook a turkey and all the traditional sides that accompany it)! My first memory of “Turkey Day” was celebrating that night with the staff after the dinner service. I started working for Stottlemyer's in late 2018 and became head chef in 2020, and this has been my twist on the traditional roast turkey. I hope it’s something that many other families can enjoy this Thanksgiving.

Peruvian-Style Turkey

1 cup ground cumin
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup minced garlic
6 tablespoons smoked paprika
¼ cup black pepper
2 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Blend the ingredients into a paste. Pat the turkey dry after rinsing. Loosen the skin from the breast and legs by running a hand underneath. Reserve about ½ to ¾ cup of the spice paste for later. Rub the rest all over the turkey and underneath the skin. Let the turkey rest for an hour on the counter while the oven preheats. Cut a piece of foil slightly larger than the size of the turkey breast. Use half of the remaining spice paste to rub the interior cavity of the turkey, then tie the legs together and place the turkey in a roasting pan. Roast the turkey for 90 minutes to two hours, then cover the breast with the foil. Continue roasting until the turkey is done (when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170 to 175 degrees). While the turkey is roasting, use a pastry brush every 30 minutes to brush the remaining spice paste onto the turkey's legs, thighs and top. Turkey roasting time is about 15 minutes per pound. 


Pumpkin Crisp

By Pastry Chef Ray Lajoie

Michael’s On East: 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota, 941-366-0007,

Chef Ray Lajoie is the pastry chef at Michael's On East

Sometimes, the holidays are all about improvising! So, this recipe evolved from me not having the ingredients to make a traditional pumpkin pie. I was all out of evaporated milk and I had no other dairy to substitute in my pie, so I decided to make the pie anyway with what I had on hand. I was also making apple crisp and I had oatmeal crumble left over, so I decided to put that on top of the pie. Surprisingly, it worked! After a few tweaks, this is the final product and it has turned into a family favorite. It's also great in the morning with a cup of coffee!

Pumpkin Crisp

For the crust:
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 cups flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a ball forms. Press mixture into a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place in the freezer for an hour then bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside.

For the oatmeal crumble:
1½ cups flour
1½ cups packed brown sugar
1½ cups old-fashioned oats
2 sticks butter, softened
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl by hand to make a crumble. Do not overmix.

For the pumpkin filling:
2 15-ounce cans pumpkin
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
4 eggs

Beat eggs and sugar. Add pumpkin and spices, and mix until smooth. Pour mixture over crust and cover with oatmeal crumble. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until pumpkin filling is firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool, cut into squares and serve with whipped cream.


Sweet n’ Savory Cornbread Stuffing

By Chef Christopher Covelli

Sage Restaurant and Bijou Garden Café: 1216 First St., Sarasota, 941-445-5660,; and 1287 First St., Sarasota, 941-366-8111,

Chef Chris Covelli with Sage

My fondest childhood memories took place in the kitchen with my Italian grandmother. One day, when I was around 12, my grandmother and I were preparing her classic stuffing. I went into the pantry and brought out items to experiment with: pecans, macadamia nuts and dried cranberries. Then I included two pounds of sage-flavored breakfast sausages. That’s the recipe I use to this day. It’s packed with protein — hearty, savory and sweet — with a crunchy texture from the nuts and celery. It reminds me of those precious days in the kitchen with my grandmother.

Sweet n’ Savory Cornbread Stuffing

The full recipe is a bit of a secret, but this is the main idea. Prepare the dish the day before Thanksgiving. Cut toasted cornbread into cubes (store-bought is fine or prepare your own from scratch the day before). Fold in two pounds of ground, sage-flavored sausage with all the veggies, nuts and fruits in a big stainless steel bowl. Add salt and pepper, and pour the mixture into a large aluminum baking pan. Press the stuffing until it is dense and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. The next day, before browning, ladle in a half quart of chicken broth, return it to the oven and cook at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned.

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