Thanksgiving Spice – Chef Biagio “Gino” Cipriano

Ristorante Tuscany - Desert Springs JW Marriott

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What better way to celebrate our country’s rich culture than by fusing a traditional American holiday with flavors from other countries?

Promising a new world where people could live free, America became a melting pot of cultures ever since the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, Mass. The “land of opportunity” fuses more ethnic flavors than any other country in the world.

Throughout the centuries, as people continued to emigrate from every continent in the world, many adopted the “American” way of doing things. However, certain ethnic customs and influences have thankfully simmered through, mixing and mingling in the most delightful ways, especially in the area of gastronomy.

Three desert chefs — one Italian, one French, and one Mexican — who moved to the States to pursue their culinary dreams, talk about how their love of dishes from home influence their celebration of the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving.


“I celebrated my first Thanksgiving only 10 years ago,” Gino Cipriano says. “When I moved from Sicily to the United States, I didn’t know many people. My new friends, not wanting me to spend the holiday alone, invited me to share the day with them and made me feel like I was a part of their family. I will never forget that day. It will always be my most special Thanksgiving memory.”

Today, Cipriano shares Thanksgiving with his wife and daughters at home. “I love this day. Celebrating it with my family all together makes us stronger,” he says.

You’ll find the Cipriano family together in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dishes. They enjoy incorporating traditional turkey with ethnic influences. “We always like to try some new celebratory dishes,” the chef says.

Just as the pilgrims and American Indians used foods local to their area and season for the first Thanksgiving meal, Cipriano incorporates ingredients grown in Northern Italy — beets, cabbage, mushrooms, and pumpkin — in recipes here.

“The combined, distinct flavors of each ingredient come together in perfect harmony for each dish,” he says. “Creating that perfect blend of flavors is part of the fun of cooking.” The tiramisu recipe comes direct from his mother’s kitchen.

8 baby beets
16 oz. mache or baby arugula
8 oz. raspberries
4 oz. almonds
4 oz. golden raisins
1 /2 c. lemon vinaigrette (juice from 3 fresh
lemons, 6 oz. olive oil, salt. and black
pepper to taste)
8 oz. Gorgonzola crumbles

Boil the beets until tender (approximately
8-10 minutes), then chill the beets approximately 30 minutes and slice 1/4-inch thick. Toss greens with raspberries, almonds, raisins, sliced beets, and vinaigrette. Divide among four salad plates and garnish with Gorgonzola crumbles.

Serves 8

1 oz. olive oil
10 oz. veal chop
8 oz. fresh red cabbage, sliced thin
6 oz. oyster mushrooms
6 oz. chanterelle mushrooms
8 oz. fresh pumpkin (1 pound yields about 1 cup
of purée; you can buy pieces of pumpkin or use canned purée)
Salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. L’Ambrusco Wine (or another sweet wine
of your choice)

To make pumpkin purée: Peel and cut the pumpkin in squares. Boil in salted water until soft. Strain pumpkin and purée in food processor. If you use a whole pumpkin, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split the pumpkin in half, removing seeds and stringy fibers. Place the two halves cut side down in a roasting pan along with 1 cup water. Bake until tender, approximately 90 minutes. Scoop the flesh out of each pumpkin half and purée in a food processor.

Heat olive oil in a skillet; sear veal chop on both sides over medium to high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Add cabbage, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring the wine to a slow boil on the stovetop. Let it cook until reduced to half its volume.

On a plate, place cabbage. Top with pumpkin purée, then mushrooms (separating each ingredient from the skillet with the veal). Place veal on top and drizzle with red wine reduction.

Serves 8

8 oz. mascarpone
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. Marsala wine
1 c. whipping cream
12 ladyfingers
1/2 c. cold prepared espresso or strong coffee
2 tsp. cocoa

Beat mascarpone and powdered sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in wine on low speed; set aside.

Beat whipping cream in chilled small bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture.

Split ladyfingers horizontally in half. Arrange half of the ladyfingers cut sides up, on bottom of ungreased square pan (8x8x2 inches) or round pan (9×1 1/2 inches). Drizzle 1/4 cup of the espresso over ladyfingers. Spread half of the cheese mixture over ladyfingers. Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, espresso, and cheese mixture and sift cocoa on top.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until filling is firm. Store covered in refrigerator.

Serves 8

Ristorante Tuscany at Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa
74885 Country Club Drive
Desert Springs JW Marriott Resort and Spa
Palm Desert, CA 92260

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