Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup

I recently hosted a Pumpkin Dinner Roundup. That’s right: an entire meal featuring pumpkin! I had so much fun, I decided to invite all my baking friends to join me for an early Thanksgiving Dinner. We agreed on a time and picked our dishes, then I got busy cleaning the house and anticipating everyone’s (virtual) arrival.

Thanks to Mike for the Awesome Place Card!!!

Abby provided our first course — Butternut Squash Bisque. We don’t usually have soup with our Thanksgiving meal, and after trying Abby’s creamy, indulgent bisque, I think I may have to remedy that! The fried sage and popcorn garnish was fun, festive, and delicious! What a great way to start a meal.

I think everyone was surprised when our next guest showed up. Knowing how Nick Malgieri loves to get together and share recipes with other cooks, I wasn’t surprised at all. And once I saw the Cranberry Orange Relish he brought, I was glad I had taken the chance and invited him to the party.

I was recently introduced to Jeanette, who hosts a blog called The Whimsical Cupcake, and I was so pleased that she accepted my invitation. I was even happier when I saw what she brought: Beer and Bacon Macaroni and Cheese! In my humble opinion, there is entirely too little beer at most Thanksgiving dinners. And you can never go wrong with mac and cheese.

Nancy brought our next dish, Carrot Soufflé. This was one of the dishes I was most excited to try. Like most everyone else, I love candied sweet potatoes and look forward to them on Thanksgiving. But this savory, creamy carrot soufflé made me forget all about candied yams.

A must-have dish for Thanksgiving dinner is something with green beans. Like many of you, we always have green bean casserole with mushroom soup and crunchy onions on top. Not this year! Peggy left that old standby in the dust with her Gingered Green Beans.

Ever industrious, our friend Hanaâ signed up for two dishes. For her first offering, she brought these wonderful Mediterranean-style Oven-Roasted Vegetables. I love the smell of vegetables roasting in the oven, and these were absolutely heavenly.

Renee signed up to bring one of the dishes without which the Thanksgiving table wouldn’t be complete. Call it stuffing or dressing (in eastern Pennsylvania, they call it filling), just make sure there’s plenty of it! Renee’s Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples had a lot of texture, as it was made with three different kinds of bread. And the sausage, apples, and white wine really gave it great flavor.

And right next to the stuffing, you have to have mashed potatoes. God bless Glennis. She brought not one, but two kinds of mashed potatoes for us to try. The first, buttermilk mashed potatoes, is a recipe by Ina Garten that I’ve made (and loved) many times. The other recipe, by the Pioneer Woman, raises potato decadence to new heights by adding cream cheese. Glennis and her husband had a hard time deciding which recipe they liked best. Personally, I had to try several helpings of each and still haven’t made up my mind. Maybe I need more….

And for those of you who like mashed potatoes but want something a little different, Mike brought these amazing Cauliflower “Potatoes”. They are as delicious as they are fancy.

As the host, I decided to provide the main attraction. Besides, I’m always looking for an excuse to fill the house with the aroma of roast turkey. And speaking of Ina, I based my Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter on one of her recipes. Turkey slathered in butter seasoned with truffle salt and truffle oil. How bad could that be? Not bad at all, as it turns out.

I let everyone pick what they wanted to bring, but I was secretly hoping that Di would sign up for some kind of bread or rolls, as she always does such an amazing job with them. She didn’t disappoint, and showed up with these beautiful, fluffy, and delicious Make-ahead Dinner Rolls. I have to admit, I slopped some extra gravy on my plate just so I could sop it up with one of these rolls.

Margaret (to no one’s surprise!) showed up with dessert in hand. And what a dessert it was! Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Pecan Sauce. This recipe combines two of my favorite things — pumpkin and whiskey — into my all-time favorite dessert. This bread pudding was everything I dream of. And, no, Margaret, I don’t think there was too much whiskey! (Is that even possible?)

And as if her oven-roasted vegetables weren’t enough, Hanaâ also contributed a Pumpkin Layer Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting. I’m sure she didn’t bring this just because of my love for pumpkin, but buttering up your host never hurts.

Finally, we have a traditional Hoosier dessert from a transplanted Hawkeye. Kayte is responsible for this whole dinner, as she planted the idea in my head when I hosted the Pumpkin Dinner Roundup. So it’s fitting that she should bring this satisfying, belt-loosening meal to a sweet finish with her Persimmon Pudding. I hope you saved some room, because you definitely don’t want to miss out on this one!

Well, that wraps up this amazing Thanksgiving feast. Thanks for coming. We really enjoyed having you here. And don’t worry about the dishes. The girls and I will clean them up after we sleep off some of this food.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so stuffed I don’t think I’ll need to eat again until the Holiday Appetizer Roundup.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls {BOM}

It’s October, so naturally the BOM (bread-of-the-month) for the Facebook Artisan Bread Bakers group would be something featuring pumpkin. However, unlike the very pumpkiny Pumpkin Gingerbread we made a few years ago at this time, the pumpkin in these dinner rolls is there more for texture and color than flavor. In fact, several of the bakers reported not tasting any pumpkin in the rolls at all. My friend Kayte, avowed pumpkin hater, made these rolls and loved them.

I found the recipe here. I made a few changes to the recipe. I used my yeast conversion chart to convert the active dry yeast called for in the recipe to instant yeast and ended up cutting back the amount of yeast in the recipe, as it seemed like way too much to me. I substituted bread flour for the flour. And I reworked the mixing instructions to make the dough in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Makes 24 rolls (Adapted from Peter Reinhart)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

Directions

  • Stir together flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in electric mixer bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low with paddle attachment until well mixed, approximately 1 minute.
  • Switch to dough hook and knead on low speed for 5 minutes, adding flour or water, as necessary, to achieve a smooth, elastic dough that is tacky, but not sticky.
  • Place dough in large oiled bowl and turn dough to oil top. Cover bowl with a clean, lint-free towel and allow dough to rise in warm place until doubled, approximately 1 1/2 hours.

  • Turn dough out onto lightly floured board or Silpat. Divide dough in half, then divide each half into 12 pieces.

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough under your palms into a rope approximately 10-12 inches long.

  • “Tie” the dough rope into a knot. (For detailed shaping instructions, click here.)

  • Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Cover pan and let rolls rise until nearly doubled, approximately 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Just before baking, brush the rolls with egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt).
  • Bake the rolls for about 16-18 minutes, or until golden and baked through.

  • Serve hot from the oven, plain or with butter, honey butter, or pumpkin butter.

These rolls were absolutely delicious — softy, yeasty, and as good as any dinner roll I’ve ever eaten. I baked one pan on the day I made the dough and refrigerated the other pan for a few days before baking. Both batches came out great.

These rolls will be appearing on my table for Thanksgiving this year and for many years to come. Give them a try; I’d be willing to bet they’ll be on your Thanksgiving table, too.

Cornetti: Olive Oil Rolls from Bologna {ModBak}

The final recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Cornetti, a uniquely-shaped dinner roll. When shaped correctly, they look like two croissants criss-crossed over one another. Mine more closely resembled little voodoo dolls.

Other than the shaping, this is a fairly simple recipe, consisting of flour, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and sugar. I mixed the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid, let them autolyse for a few minutes, and mixed some more. After turning the dough out into an oiled bowl, I covered it and let it ferment for about an hour.

When the dough had risen, I divided into six pieces (I made a half recipe), shaped each piece into a ball, and let the dough balls rest for a few minutes.

After the dough had relaxed a bit, I began rolling it out. I found it required another short rest to relax enough to get the dough balls rolled out to 12″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles.

Nick Malgieri says to roll out all the dough at once, then begin shaping it; but I don’t have that much counter space, so I shaped the rolls one at a time. After rolling the dough into a rectangle, I cut the dough corner to corner with a pizza wheel, then flipped one piece of dough so the points were touching.

I brushed the dough with olive oil, then rolled each side from the wide edge to the center, making two connected croissant-shaped rolls.

I lifted the rolls to the baking pan. As I was setting them on the pan, I crossed one roll over the other.

I rolled and shaped the remaining dough, then allowed the rolls to proof for about 45 minutes. I baked the rolls in a 400° oven for about 25 minutes, until they were puffed, golden, and slightly firm to the touch.

The rolls smelled really good coming out of the oven. My shaping left a bit to be desired, but I think with a little experience, these would be really impressive dinner rolls.

As for taste, they were really good. Because of the crescent shape, I was expecting them to be light and fluffy. They weren’t. The texture was what you would expect from a typical dinner roll. Again, not what I expected, but really tasty, especially with homemade plum jam.

I wonder how it would be to make this shape with croissant dough? I might have to try that when we get to croissants.

For now, I’m ready to move onto the next section of the Challenge, Yeast-Risen Specialties, Sweet and Savory. We will be baking in this section for the rest of the year. There are some great holiday recipes like brioche, babka, and ginger-scented panettone. So if you’ve thought about joining the Modern Baker Challenge, this would be a great time to dive in.

Rosemary Olive Knots {ModBak}

Rosemary Olive Knots is the next to last recipe in the Breads section of the Modern Baker Challenge. The individually knotted rolls are stuffed with a savory mixture of olives, rosemary, and olive oil. So these rolls are not a side dish, complement your meal kind of bread; they stand on their own and are best served with a strong, hearty dish or on their own, split and filled with strong flavored cheese or meat.

As with many of the recipes in this section, this one calls for mixing the dough in the food processor. And as with the past few recipes, I ignored this part of the instructions and mixed it in my Kitchen Aid mixer.

The dough was fairly slack, but it rose well and developed some body as it fermented.

After the initial rise, I pressed the dough out into a square and put it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

While the dough was chilling, I mixed the filling, which consisted of olives, rosemary, olive oil, and cracked black pepper. If you’ve ever tried to chop olives on a cutting board, you know what a challenge it can be. I always end up with as many on the counter and floor as on the board, so I came up with a better idea — chopping them directly in the bowl with kitchen shears.

The recipe calls for Gaeta or Kalamata olives. I used Kalamatas, but I was a little concerned as they can be a bit on the tart side, and these particular olives were. Given the strong, pungent flavor of rosemary, I worried that the rolls might come out bitter-tasting.

In order to strip the leaves off the rosemary, I held the stem with one hand and ran my thumb and finger from top to bottom, which caused the tender leaves to fall off the stem.

After mixing the filling ingredients, I retrieved the dough from the refrigerator.

I spread the olive mixture over the lower half of the dough.

Then I folded the dough in half.

The recipe makes 12 rolls, and I scored the dough to create a guide for cutting even strips.

Now came the fun part. As I read the recipe, I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to tie the strips into knots without spilling much of the filling out onto the board. In the end, I lost less filling than I thought I might, but I still left a good bit of it on the board.

I set the rolls aside to proof for an hour. While the rolls rose, I preheated the oven to 400° F.

I baked the proofed rolls for about 25 minutes, until they were golden brown and firm to the touch.

The rolls smelled amazing — in addition to the normal, fresh-baked bread smell, the rosemary and olives gave the rolls an irresistible aroma. I couldn’t wait to try them and wondered if my concern about the strong, bitter flavor of the olives and rosemary had been overblown.

I served the rolls with a dinner of chicken and forbidden rice. We all enjoyed them, but I found that, as I had feared, the filling was a tad on the bitter side. I think a milder olive would have been a better choice. But overall, these rolls were very good and would make an impressive dinner roll to serve to company.

Elegant Dinner Rolls {ModBak}

If you’re like me, you grew up thinking “dinner rolls” meant those half-baked brown-and-serve rolls we all ate at Thanksgiving and other holidays. And the closest they got to elegant was the rare occasion when mom would get them to the table without burning them.

So, I was excited to try the next recipe in the Modern Baker Challenge, Elegant Dinner Rolls. It’s not that I had never made homemade rolls before. It’s just that I never made any that were worth the time and effort, or worth repeating.

This recipe is similar to many of the other recipes in the Breads section of The Modern Baker in that the ingredients are mixed in the food processor. However, after my recent near disaster while making Instant Sandwich Bread, I have sworn off using the food processor to mix dough and have gone back to my traditional methods — the Kitchen Aid mixer, autolyse, and stretch-and-folds.

The dough came together nicely and wasn’t as slack as many of the doughs in this section.

After fermenting the dough, I divided it into 12 pieces.

The recipe offers three different shaping options — classic rolls, oblong rolls, and knots — so, of course, I had to try them all.

After proofing for an hour or so, the rolls were nicely risen and ready to bake.

I baked the rolls for 20 minutes at 400° F until they were golden brown and smelled delicious.

Perhaps the best thing about dinner rolls is that you aren’t expected to wait until they cool to eat them. In fact, they are meant to be enjoyed fresh from the oven. And enjoy them I did.

They were delicious. Light, airy, yeasty. All the things you look for in a dinner roll. They weren’t perfect: I overbaked them a bit, so they were a tad dry. But this is definitely a recipe worth repeating. And the resulting rolls are worth the time and effort.