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.

Stuffed Pumpkin {FFwD} {Pumpkin Dinner} {Recipe}

My love of all things pumpkin is well known, so I don’t think anyone was surprised when I suggested a pumpkin dinner roundup, where everyone would make a different pumpkin recipe and post them all on the same day.

My contribution was this side dish, which I adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe. I made it the other night for dinner.

Don’t think big jack-o’-lantern pumpkin when you go to make this dish. A 2 1/2 pound pumpkin is pretty small and can be found with the “baking pumpkins” at the grocery store.

Preparing it for baking, however, is a lot like carving a pumpkin.

Once the goop is removed, it’s just a matter of filling it with stuffing and pouring on some spiced cream.

Then you put the lid back on and slide it into the oven for a bit.

The skin will darken and toughen up while the insides get bubbly and delicious.

Stuffed Pumpkin

(adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan)

 Ingredients 

  • 2 1/2 pound pumpkin
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4-5 thin slices stale bread, crusts removed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces each Gruyère and Emmenthal cheeses, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Cut the top off the pumpkin jack-o’-lantern style and remove pulp and seeds. Discard seeds or save for roasting. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper. Place the pumpkin in a round baking dish, preferably one that’s just slightly larger than the pumpkin.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine bread, cheeses, garlic, and thyme. Season with a little salt and lots of pepper and toss well. Spoon filling into pumpkin and pack lightly. The pumpkin should be filled to the top but not overflowing.
  4. Stir together cream and nutmeg, then pour over filling in pumpkin. Put the pumpkin top on the pumpkin.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Remove lid and continue baking for about 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top nicely toasted.
  6. To serve, carefully (it will be very hot) reach inside the pumpkin with a large spoon and scrape the cooked pumpkin meat free from the sides. Mix the pumpkin with the stuffing and replace the lid. Carry the pumpkin in the baking dish to the table. When ready to serve, remove the lid and spoon directly from the pumpkin.

 Yields 4-5 side dish servings

You’ll note that I sliced the pumpkin rather than mixing in the flesh like in the recipe. I didn’t care for it sliced as well. The skin was very dry and leathery, and it was difficult to cut, even with a good, sharp knife. And we were left to deal with it on the plate while eating. I made a note to mix it together inside the pumpkin next time.

This was such a delicious dish. I couldn’t wait to make it again. So, a few weeks later I decided to bake another pumpkin. My parents were in town, and I thought I would switch things up by replacing the bread cubes with rice and adding frozen peas.

We put the whole pumpkin on the table and served it by scooping out the filling, along with some of the pumpkin flesh. It was so good, we all agreed that we would add it to our Thanksgiving menu this year.

In addition to the pumpkin dinner roundup, this post is also part of French Fridays with Dorie.

Garlicky Crumb-coated Broccoli {FFwD} {AMFT}

I’m not sure what I was doing back on April 8, 2011. Around that time I was finishing up the last of the savory tarts and pies for the Modern Baker Challenge and getting started on the sweet tarts and pies. And I was Twitterbaking recipes from Bake! with some friends.

What I wasn’t doing was making this recipe with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie members.

So the other evening while I was making Dorie’s chicken breasts diable and looking for a side to serve with it, I thought I’d play a little catch up and make garlicky crumb-coated broccoli.

This was a very simple recipe. I put the broccoli in the rice steamer to cook while I prepared the crumb coating. I melted butter, and sautéed garlic in it. Then I added bread crumbs and toasted them for a few minutes. Finally, I stirred in lemon oil and parsley, then added the broccoli and tossed it all together.

This was a great side dish, as delicious as it was simple. As for how it went with the chicken breasts diable, well, you’ll have to check back next week.

Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach {FFwD}

OK, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: this is not risotto. Sure, it’s made with Arborio rice cooked in broth and it has aromatics, butter, cream, and cheese added to it. But it’s not risotto.

What makes it “not risotto” is the fact that the rice is put on the stove with all the broth added to it and allowed to cook, unattended, until the broth has mostly absorbed and the rice is tender. Risotto, by contrast, is made by adding the broth a little at a time and cooking until it is absorbed before adding more.

Dorie Greenspan goes to great lengths in Around My French Table to explain that this is not risotto. And I suppose that’s why she gave the recipe such a long, descriptive, non-risotto name. Personally, I would’ve just called it Creamy Rice. Whatever it’s called, it was this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie.

Because you don’t have to attend to the rice while it cooks, this recipe comes together pretty quickly. After putting the rice on the stove, I cooked some spinach with a little salt, until it wilted and lost most of its volume.

While the spinach cooled, I sautéed onions and garlic in butter.

Then it was just a matter of stirring the rice and spinach into the onion mixture and adding cheese and cream.

I served the creamy rice with turkey sausage for a simple, delicious dinner. Risotto purists might object to the texture of the rice, which was more gooey than risotto should be. But no one would complain about the flavor. The garlic and spinach complimented each other well and were the predominate flavors in the dish.

Why the French make their not-risotto this way, well, I suppose only the French know. But one thing I know is that, while it won’t replace traditional risotto in my kitchen, this is a dish that will make repeated appearances on my French table.