Thanksgiving 2020 recipes from Alvin Cailan, Joe Yonan, Hawa Hassan, Ori Menashe and Genevie Gergis

Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year because of COVID, so why not make it taste a little different too? Press Play revisits some interviews with chefs/cookbook authors and highlights some of their favorite recipes. 

Alvin Cailan, creator of the hit chain “EggSlut” and now “Amboy,” loves to eat a Filipino bread called Pan de Sal. It’s part of his cookbook, “Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream.” Listen to his full interview here

Joe Yonan, Washington Post food and dining editor, has ideas for what to do with beans you might have been panic-buying at the start of the pandemic. He says one of his favorite ways to make beans is inspired by a Mexican chef named Lalo, who’s famous for his Cacahuate beans. Yonan’s cookbook is “Cool Beans.” Listen to his full interview here.  

Hawa Hassan’s cookbook “In Bibi’s Kitchen” looks at the cuisines of eight East African countries, including her native Somalia. The book includes a recipe for one of the country’s signature pasta dishes called Suugo Suqaar. The key ingredient is a warm, savory and sweet spice mix called  “Xawaash.” Listen to her full interview here. 

Chefs Ori Menashe and Genevie Gergis are behind the popular restaurants Bestia and Bavel in downtown LA, and their cookbook highlights dishes from Bestia. Gergis shares the recipe for her persimmon mascarpone rice pudding. Persimmons are in season right now. This recipe is for a homecook who’s looking for a challenge or a project to pass the time. 

Pan de Sal. Photo courtesy of Alvin Cailan. 

Pan de Sal (sweet rolls)
Makes about 1 dozen

Dear Pan de Sal,

Thank you for existing. Because of you, I’m deeply in love with all things bread. I can remember when I was a child, walking into the Filipino bakery and smelling your fresh baked scent. I would immediately crave you. To this day, when I smell fresh baked pan de sal, my knees buckle, and no matter what kind of crazy diet program I’m on, I will always cheat on it with you. Your rough bread crumb exterior and your super fluffy interior serve as great vessels for peanut butter and jelly. In the mornings, I want to dip you in coffee, and when I’m home drunk from the club, I want to lather you with mayo and stuff you with Spam. I pray every night that God takes care of me and doesn’t curse me with a disease that will take you away from me.



  • 1¼ cups whole milk, warmed to 104°F
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup plain bread crumbs

MAKE THE STARTER: In a small bowl, stir together the milk, yeast, flour, and sugar. Let this mixture stand until the yeast is bloomed, 7 to 15 minutes. This step is to ensure that your yeast is alive to make bread magic. If the yeast doesn’t bloom, go out and buy a new package of yeast, so your pan de sal doesn’t fall flat. Literally.

MAKE THE DOUGH: Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the melted butter, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and the egg at low speed for 15 seconds. Then, add your dry ingredients in thirds, mixing at medium-low speed for about 30 seconds with every addition. When everything is evenly combined, add the starter and mix at medium speed until it’s fully incorporated, or until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes. Change the paddle to the dough hook and knead at medium speed for 7 to 10 minutes. To see if you’ve achieved dough status, form a ball with the dough and press your finger into the center. If the dough bounces back, you’re ready. Pull the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until the dough forms a nice, smooth surface, about 7 minutes. Lube the sides of a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil so the dough won’t stick when it proofs. Add the dough and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough rise somewhere warm until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Using your hands, roll the long edge of each rectangle away from you into a tight log like you’re rolling a cinnamon roll.

-Make sure the seam side is at the bottom of the log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1-inch-thick medallions (see Note). Lay the medallions on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches of space in between. 

-Sprinkle the tops with bread crumbs, cover with a damp towel, and let proof until the rolls are doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. 

-Bake the pan de sal until golden brown, rotating and switching the baking sheets halfway through baking, 15 to 20 minutes. 

-Remove from the oven and serve hot, with butter.

NOTE: Personally, I don’t think it matters how you shape pan de sal. I’ve had arguments about how it has to be cut a certain way, rolled, and then sliced. In the Philippines, I’ve seen pan de sal that looks like Parker House rolls, or pan de sal stuck together like Hawaiian rolls. So I think it can look different.

Cacahuate beans. Photo courtesy of Joe Yonan.

Lalo’s Cacahuate beans with pico de gallo
4 main-course or 8 side-dish servings

Mexico City chef Eduardo “Lalo” Garcia’s secret is to cook these beans very simply, for a very long time, until they’re super-soft, then to add his seasoning—a sofrito of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and dried chiles—and boil them for another half hour, simultaneously infusing them with flavor and concentrating their cooking liquid. These are some of the simplest and yet most complex beans I’ve ever tasted, let alone cooked. A straightforward pico de gallo adds a little freshness and crunch. Serve with tortillas.


  • 1 white onion
  • 1 pound dried cranberry / borlotti (aka cacahuate) beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 dried ancho or guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste


  • 2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

-Cut the onion in half. Keep one half intact and throw it into a large pot. 

-Chop the other half and reserve. Add the beans and 1 of the garlic cloves to the pot, along with enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches, and turn the heat to high. 

-Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat as low as it will go, cover, and cook until the beans are tender, 60 to 90 minutes. 

-Chop the remaining garlic clove. While the beans are cooking, make the sofrito: Pour the oil into a medium sauté pan over medium heat. 

-Add the reserved chopped onion and the chopped garlic and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. 

-Add the tomatoes and chiles and cook until the tomatoes break down, release their liquid, and become very soft, and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. 

-Remove from the heat. When the beans are tender, sir in the sofrito, increase the heat to high, and cook, uncovered, until the beans are very soft and starting to break apart and the liquid has reduced by about one-third but the beans are still brothy, about 30 minutes. 

-Stir in the salt, taste, and add more if needed. While the beans are cooking, make the pico de gallo: In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, chile, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. 

-Taste and add more salt if needed. When the beans are ready, divide them among shallow bowls and top each portion with some pico de gallo.

-Serve hot, with tortillas. 

-Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Suugo Suqaar. Photo courtesy of Hawa Hassan.

Suugo Suqaar (pasta sauce with beef)
Serves 4

Italy’s colonization of southern Somalia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a lasting impact on Somali cuisine. Pasta is just as popular as Canjeero (Sourdough Pancakes, page 83). Suugo is the most popular of Somali pasta sauces and resembles an easy weeknight meat sauce but the added flavor of Xawaash Spice Mix makes it distinctly Somali (and distinctly tasty). You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the beef if you’d like. Serve with cooked pasta (any shape will work, whether it be a strandlike spaghetti or a shorter cut like penne). If you’re gluten-free, try serving it over Ma Maria’s Xima (Smooth Cornmeal Porridge, page 182) or roasted sweet potatoes instead of pasta.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons Xawaash Spice Mix
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • Cooked spaghetti (or whatever shape pasta you like) and coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving

-Place the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes.

-Add the beef, Xawaash, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally to break up the beef, until the meat is browned, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes (and their juices). 

-Fill the tomato can halfway with water and add it to the pot.

-Stir well to combine, being sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally as the sauce cooks, for 30 minutes.

-Season the sauce to taste with salt.

-Serve hot over cooked spaghetti, with the cilantro sprinkled on top. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days and rewarmed in a heavy pot set over low heat (stir while you heat).

Persimmon mascarpone rice pudding. Photo courtesy of Ori Menashe and Genevie Gergis. 

Mascarpone rice pudding with persimmon caramel, hachiya persimmons, and orange blossom pistachios
Serves 8

This is the dessert I’m the most proud of. It’s a dessert that is unique and complex, yet manages to evoke familiarity, and the whole creation came from happenstance. Somewhere along the way, I began layering beautiful peak-of-ripeness Hachiya persimmons over the pudding, followed by a caramel made from the persimmons too ripe to cut. The pistachios are a nod to the nuts you would find in a traditional rice pudding, but with the floral notes of orange blossom rather than cardamom or cinnamon. The key to this rice pudding is to cook the rice enough to remove the chalkiness, but to leave just a touch of chewy texture. This allows the rice to keep its identity amidst all of that creaminess.


  • 8 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus1 teaspoon (130 grams) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, pod reserved
  • 2 fresh bay leaves or 2 small dried
  • 3 large strips orange zest
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Slightly rounded 1 cup (200 grams) Carnaroli rice
  • 11/4 cups (283 grams) mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (142 grams) crème fraîche
  • 4 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons, sliced
  • Persimmon Caramel for serving (recipe follows)
  • Orange Blossom Pistachios for serving (recipe follows)

-In a large, heavy saucepan over high heat, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and pod, bay leaves, orange zest, saffron, and salt and bring to a boil, whisking occasion- ally. Once boiling, stir in the rice.

-Cook, uncovered, over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the grains are fully cooked and the mixture is the consistency of a loose oatmeal, about 30 minutes. If the liquid gets too thick before the rice is finished, add more milk, a little at a time and up to 1/4 cup, and continue to cook. You want to cook the rice just until it becomes completely tender and soft all the way through. It will harden up a bit and have a chew once it cools down.

-Have ready a large bowl full of ice and water. Transfer the rice mixture to a large glass or metal baking dish and set it in the ice bath. Stir for about 2 minutes to release the steam and stop the cooking process. With tongs, pick out and discard the orange zest, bay leaf, and vanilla pod. When the rice is completely cool, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed to the surface and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until cold. Once chilled, test the texture. It should be very thick, but you should be able to stir it easily. If it’s too thick, slowly mix in a small drizzle of milk. The texture should be such that if you spooned the rice onto a plate it would hold in a soft pile, not spread.

-Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, combine the mascarpone and crème fraîche on medium speed until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes.

-Using a rubber spatula, spread the mascarpone mixture over the cooled rice, then gently fold it into the rice until just incorporated. It’s okay if a few streaks remain. Divide among serving bowls and top with caramel and pistachios before serving.

Persimmon caramel

  • 4 very ripe Hachiya persimmons, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons kirsch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

-Place the persimmons in a food processor or a blender and purée until smooth. Then, using your hand or a scraper, push the mixture through a tamis or extra-fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl.

-In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and just enough water to cover (about 2 tablespoons). Add the vanilla and place over medium- high heat. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, gently brush down the inner sides of the pan to make sure no sugar crystals form. Cook undisturbed about 10 minutes, gently tilting the pan from side to side if any hot spots emerge, until the mixture turns a deep golden amber color.

-Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 cup of the persimmon purée. The caramel will naturally stiffen. Return the pan to very low heat and whisk continuously until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the kirsch and lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Orange blossom pistachios

  • 1/4 cup raw pistachio oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon food-grade orange blossom oil 
  • 1/4 cup raw whole pistachios

-In a bowl, whisk together the two oils, then stir in the pistachios. When ready to serve, use 8 or 9 pistachios and a few drops of oil per plate.

NOTE: Do not substitute orange blossom water for the orange blossom oil. The orange water will not emulsify with the pistachio oil and will make the nuts soggy.



  • Alvin Cailan - chef and creator of Eggslut and author of the new cookbook, “Amboy: Recipes from the Filipino-American Dream.”
  • Joe Yonan - Washington Post, author of “Cool Beans”
  • Hawa Hassan - Somali chef and author “In Bibi’s Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean”
  • Ori Menashe - chef and co-owner of Bestia and Bavel in DTLA
  • Genevieve Gergis - chef and co-owner of Bestia and Bavel in DTLA