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Start & Finish a Thanksgiving Feast with Rudi’s Recipes

Next week is Thanksgiving in the United States. Most homes serve up a delicious turkey as the main course, surrounded by all of the trimmings. Those vary from family to family and might include mashed potatoes, greenbean casserole, sweet potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows, corn, and cranberries in some form – whether it be whole, jelled or otherwise. And of course there’s dessert. Traditional apple and pumpkin pie top the list, but there are so many other sweets on the menu.

If you’re looking for some delicious dishes to serve at your Thanksgiving feast, here are some tasty starters, sides and a dessert from Holland America Line’s Master Chef Rudi Sodamin. Each recipe is featured in one of his “A Taste of…” cookbook series.

“Even though I was born and raised in Austria, Thanksgiving in America is my favorite holiday. After all, what could be better than a day completely orchestrated around cooking all day and eating all evening? Certainly, onboard our ships, no matter where we are or where we are bound, come Thanksgiving our guests are looking for Turkey and all the trimmings … and we give it to them in abundance!”
— Master Chef Rudi Sodamin

…from “A Taste of Excellence”

Yield: 2 cups

1/8 cup hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 large navel orange, peeled sectioned, and membranes removed
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon seeded and minced fresh poblano chile pepper
1/2 cup sugar

In a dry skillet over high heat, stir hazelnuts, taking care not to scorch them, until pale golden beneath the skins. Let cool briefly, then rub inside a clean kitchen towel to remove as much of the skins as possible. Coarsely chop nuts and transfer them to a nonreactive bowl.

In a food processor, pulse fresh cranberries until coarsely chopped. Add them to nuts along with remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

…from “A Taste of Celebration”

Bibb salad with oranges, fennel, and Green Goddess dressing.

Bibb salad with oranges, fennel, and Green Goddess dressing.

Yield: 6 servings

Green Goddess Dressing:
1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
2 anchovy fillets, drained and ñnely chopped
3 small scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 oranges
3 heads Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed, and dried
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced crosswise very thinly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Green Goddess Dressing:
In a blender or food processor, puree the mayonnaise, anchovies, scallions, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and sour cream until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the dressing to a container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

1. With a sharp knife, trim the top and bottom from each orange. Stand them upright and cut downward to remove the rind and pith in thick strips. Working over a bowl, cut between the membranes to release the segments. Cover the orange segments with plastic wrap and reserve.

2. Divide the lettuce leaves among six chilled plates. In a large bowl, combine the orange segments and fennel; save the accumulated orange juice for another use. Season with salt and pepper. Plave a portion of orange and fennel on each plate of lettuce and top with Green Goddess dressing. Sprinkle the salad and serve immediately.

…from “A Taste of Excellence”

Yield: 4-6 servings

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (not peeled)
1 1/2 cups cups whole milk or cream or a combination
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
Salt Freshly ground white or black pepper

In a 5-quart pot cover potatoes with cold salted water by 2 inches. Simmer until tender, 35 to 45 minutes. (The cooking time for the whole potatoes will depend on their size. Keep an eye on the pot; overcooking will make the potatoes crack open and break apart in the cooking water.) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan slowly warm milk (or cream) with butter over low heat until butter is melted. Remove pan from heat and keep milk mixture warm, covered.

In a colander, drain potatoes and cool just until they can be handled. Peel potatoes, transferring to a large bowl. Add three-fourths of the hot milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper. With a potato masher or electric hand mixer, mash or beat potatoes until smooth, adding more milk mixture if necessary to make them creamy (be careful not to beat too long or they may become gluelike). Serve immediately.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Simmer potatoes with 10 peeled garlic cloves. Mash cloves with the potatoes. For texture and even more flavor, saute 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced over low heat in olive oil until tender (but not brown) and stir it into the mashed potatoes.

Basil Mashed Potatoes: After plating potatoes, very lightly swirl in some basil oil or basil pesto to create a marbling effect.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes: Mash 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish into mashed potatoes. Serve with beef or salmon.

Lobster Mashed Potatoes: Boil 1 or 2 lobsters or lobster tails in salted water until meat is just opaque in center. Remove lobsters, let cool, and dice meat. Discard half the lobster cooking liquid, add more fresh water, and use this water to cook peeled, halved potatoes. Drain and mash the potatoes (use milk rather than cream). Fold in lobster meat.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Peel 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes and slice into 1/8-inch slices. Cook in a vegetable steamer for l5 to 18 minutes until soft and mash with 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.

And back by popular demand, Chocolate Pecan Pie — a recipe we featured on the blog a couple of years ago. It’s just too yummy to ignore!

…from “A Taste of Celebration”

Yield: 12 servings

Pie Crust:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
A few ice cubes

2 cups pecan halves
7 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1.5 tablespoons Cointreau
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Pie Crust:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingertips, a pastry blender, or two knives, work the butter and shortening in to the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a food processor, using short pulses.)

2. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup water with a few cubes of ice. Using a fork, stir the water into the flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, using only as much as needed to gather the mixture into a soft ball. Pat the dough into a disk, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a round about 1/8 inch thick. Drape the dough over a rolling pin and fit it into a 10-inch pie pan. Fold the edge under and crimp. Place the pie shell in the freezer for 20 minutes.

4. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork to prevent bubbling during baking. Place a piece of foil over it and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pie shell in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Place it on a wire rack and let it cool completely.


1. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, roughly chop, and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chopped chocolate and flour, and stir to mix. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping two or three times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the corn syrup, molasses, Cointreau, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated.

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir until well combined. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and bake for 1 hour, or until lightly set in the center. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

NOTE: This pie can be kept in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, for up to one day. Serve it at room temperature, topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

If you like these recipes and want to make more of Rudi’s recipes, visit or pick up a copy of his cookbooks in person at the gift shop next time you’re on a Holland America Line cruise.

  • kathy macsween

    Hello. What does Chef Rudi cook on Christmas Eve Christmas day. Thank you!

  • Julie

    Hi Kathy, we’ll be posting Christmas recipes closer to that holiday. Search the blog and I’m sure you’ll find some we’ve featured in the past! 🙂

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