Indiana Persimmon Pudding

A few months ago, I was shopping the Borders going out of business sale, and I came across a book of regional American Thanksgiving recipes. It was in the remainder section, and with the additional mark-downs, it was practically free. I picked up a copy for myself and a few extra copies for some of my online baking friends. Once everyone had their books, we all set out to find the recipes we wanted to try.

My friend Kayte was the first to point out this recipe, and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to try it. Although I’m a Hoosier born and bred, I never had persimmon pudding growing up. If fact, even though I lived in Indiana until I was 10 years old, the first time I tasted a persimmon was in high school in Lancaster County, PA.

The most challenging part of this recipe was finding the persimmons. They are in season from October through February, but it was mid-November before they appeared in the produce section of my local grocery store. And the ones that I bought were quite underripe. If you know anything about persimmons, you know that you can’t eat them until they are dead ripe or your mouth will completely dry up and leave you puckered like a toothless old codger. So I put my persimmons in a paper bag and waited. And waited. And waited.

It was several weeks (yes, weeks) before they were ripe. And they actually could have benefitted from another week or so. But my patience was at an end, so I peeled and mashed them and pressed on with the pudding.

Besides the persimmons, the recipe called for butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, buttermilk, and heavy cream. After mixing the ingredients, I baked the pudding at 350°F for about 45 minutes, until the pudding was set and nicely browned.

This bakes up more like a cake or custard than what I usually think of as pudding. It smelled really good coming out of the oven, and I was glad the recipe said to eat it warm. I didn’t taste a strong “persimmony” flavor, but the pudding was really delicious. We ate it with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert the evening I baked it, and continued to enjoy it over the next few days.

Kayte claims to be able to buy persimmon pulp in the frozen section of her local groceries. If I am ever able to find that around here, I will probably try this recipe again. But as much as I enjoyed it, I don’t think I have the patience the wait for persimmons to ripen to make it very often.

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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.

Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter {Recipe} {Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup}

When my family gets together for Thanksgiving, we often divide cooking duties, with each family providing one or two dishes. But the host always provides the turkey. So when I decided to host a virtual Thanksgiving Dinner, I signed up to provide the main dish.

I’ve been known to mix things up for Thanksgiving — replacing the typical candied yams with sweet potato soufflé; serving cranberry compote in place of relish; even (once) making oyster stuffing. And my family is (mostly) tolerant of my experiments and exploits.

But you don’t mess with the turkey. You season it. You roast it. You serve it.

So when I saw this recipe in Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That?, I decided I’d better test it out ahead of time to make sure it was “traditional” enough for the Thanksgiving table.

The unique thing about this recipe, and what immediately caught my eye, is the use of truffle butter to season the turkey and keep it moist. I checked several local stores but didn’t find it. I knew I could probably find some at Whole Paycheck, but the closest one is about 45 minutes away. So I did what I always do in these situations: I made my own truffle butter.

I made this turkey for dinner a couple of nights ago, along with a few other recipes I wanted to try out for possible inclusion on the Thanksgiving table (stuffed pumpkin with rice and peas; Indiana persimmon pudding; and stuffing made with buttermilk cottage dill bread). It was without question the best turkey I’ve ever had. The meat was moist and flavorful; the skin salty, crispy, and delicious.

Roast Turkey with Truffle Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey, preferably fresh
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces truffle butter, at room temperature
  • Truffle salt
  • 1 yellow or white onion, unpeeled and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme (10 – 12 sprigs)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavity, drain juices from turkey, and pat dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle cavity with Kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Gently work your fingers (wear gloves if you’re squeamish) between turkey skin and breast meat. Loosen skin of breast, legs, and thighs. Rub about 3 ounces of the truffle butter under skin, covering breast, thighs, and legs. It’s easiest to do this by pushing butter under skin, then rubbing the top of skin to cover meat well.
  3. Place turkey, breast side up, in roasting pan. Stuff cavity of bird with onion, garlic, and 8 sprigs thyme. Tuck wings under body and tie legs with kitchen twine.
  4. Melt remaining truffle butter and brush generously over turkey (use it all). Sprinkle with truffle salt, freshly ground black pepper, and remaining thyme leaves, pulled from stems.
  5. Roast turkey for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until breast meat registers 160°F on a meat thermometer. Cover loosely with foil about halfway through roasting time to prevent skin from overbrowning.
  6. Remove from oven, cover tightly with heavy-duty foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
  7. While the turkey is resting, skim grease from pan juices (there will be a lot of grease), and thicken the juices to make a delicious gravy.

This turkey is definitely making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table. And I suspect it will be making repeat appearances for years to come.

Truffle Butter {Recipe}

We’re having Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year, so I’m responsible for the turkey. And I’m hosting a virtual Thanksgiving Dinner Roundup for some of my friends this weekend, so I needed to try out a turkey recipe that would fit into the Roundup and, hopefully, be worth repeating on Thanksgiving Day.

I found a recipe by Ina Garten that looked really delicious. In fact, I probably would have tried this recipe even if I didn’t need it for the Roundup and Thanksgiving. You’ll have to wait until Sunday to see my turkey post, but I can tell you that one of the key ingredients is truffle butter.

I’m sure truffle butter is easy to find in the Hamptons, where Ina lives. In Stow, Ohio — not so much. I checked several stores before I decided to try making my own. After surfing the ‘Net and finding a number of different methods for making it, I came up with this recipe. It’s simple, and the results are wonderful.

Truffle Butter (makes 4 ounces)

Ingredients

  • One stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons white truffle oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle salt, or Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Mix butter, oil, and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Taste for salt, adding up to another 1/2 teaspoon, if needed.
  3. Cover and leave at room temperature if you are going to use within a day or two. Refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

A word of warning: when you taste the butter, you may find yourself wanting to eat it by the spoonful. It’s that good.

Once you discover how easy and delicious this butter is, you’re sure to find many uses for it. And if you do, I’d love to read about them in the Comments section below.

Pumpkin Pecan Buttermilk Tart with Cinnamon Whipped Cream {ModBak}

The second recipe I signed up to post for the Sweet Tarts and Pies section of the Modern Baker Challenge was one I knew right away I would love. I’m a huge pumpkin pie fan. In my house we eat them year-round, and we always make at least two at a time — one for the day it’s made and the other for the next day, starting with breakfast. And if you need some left for, say, Thanksgiving dinner, you have to bake a few more. And no one makes them like my mom.

So I was excited to try Nick’s recipe to see how it would stack up to mom’s normal, back-of-the-can recipe. Having made the bourbon-scented pecan tart, which blew my old pecan pie recipe out of the water, I couldn’t wait to see what Nick would do with pumpkin pie.

Like most of the recipes in this section, this one starts with sweet tart dough. I’ve really come to love this pastry dough. It is so easy to work with, and the results are consistently delicious. Because of my family’s affection for pumpkin pie, I decided to make the full recipe. So I started with an 11-inch tart crust.

The tart filling came together very quickly. After whisking pumpkin pie filling and eggs together in a bowl, I added sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and buttermilk and mixed it all together. I poured the filling into the tart shell, then topped it with chopped pecans. The recipe said to sprinkle sugar on top, but I forgot. It didn’t seem to affect the final product, although I will definitely remember it next time so I can compare.

I baked the tart for 35 minutes at 350°F, until the crust was baked through and the filling was set.

I cooled the tart for about half an hour, then removed the sides and bottom of the pan and put the tart on a cutting board while I made the cinnamon whipped cream, which consisted of heavy cream, sugar, and cinnamon.

We ate a quick dinner of leftovers so we could have the tart for dessert. I served the tart with cinnamon whipped cream on the side, to the great delight of my family — and me.

So how did Nick’s pumpkin tart stack up to mom’s much-loved pie? Sorry, Mom. You lose this throwdown — big time. The tart was delicious — creamy, spicy, sweet, but not overly so. And the crunch of the pecans was a welcome addition, as was the cinnamon whipped cream.

This is definitely my new pumpkin tart recipe. And I have a feeling that, once I make it for Mom, it will be hers, too.

Pumpkin Gingerbread {Recipe} {BOM}

Here is an easy, festive pumpkin bread recipe, made special by the addition of lots of ginger. For a real treat, use freshly grated ginger instead of powdered.
 
Pumpkin Gingerbread Crumb
 
INGREDIENTS:

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice and cinnamon.
3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Still Life with Pumpkin Gingerbread