Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Spreading on the Pumpkin Cheer

pumpkin dup

About the time of year when carols strike up in endless succession, peppermint and cinnamon emerge from their warm-weather hibernation.  Lattes abound in seasonal flavors and pumpkin is suddenly the guest of honor at dinner.

In the spirit of things, last Saturday I prepared my contributions to our Thanksgiving extravaganza. After last year, my chestnut stuffing and pumpkin dip were requested for a return appearance.

Clockwise from left: Turkey, chile roasted sweet potato, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potato and spinach gratin, mashed potatoes, Cajun potato salad, stuffing, roasted veggies, glazed carrots, green bean casserole and a trifecta of macaroni and cheese

Dinner, clockwise from left: Turkey, chile roasted sweet potato, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potato and spinach gratin, mashed potatoes, Cajun potato salad, stuffing, roasted veggies, glazed carrots, green bean casserole and a trifecta of macaroni and cheese

The stuffing recipe was covered in one of my first posts (“yay” for one year of blogging), and the pumpkin dip also received a nod.  In retrospect, however, I think the dip deserves another moment of glory.

The recipe was lifted from another blog, turned on to me by a friend, Haute Apple Pie.  My friend brought the dip along for a holiday party and immediately it entered my repertoire of go-tos.  In the States, this was complicated by the fact that the dip is best served with sliced apples and a particular Swedish cookie, Anna’s Original Ginger Thins.  Locating the Ginger Thins was a bit of a challenge, but you could always count on your local Ikea.

2012-11-23 10.13.40

Which brings me to the next challenge.

Locating just about anything in Ikea can bear semblance to assisting Indiana Jones in finding the Lost Ark. You have two options: submit to Ikea’s intricately woven maze of ergonomic chairs and locate the cookies in approximately 3.25 hours, or shave off time by gambling with a case of vertigo and take on Ikea in reverse.  If you choose the latter, just remember, when you inevitably lose sight of up from down, walk away from the smell of meatballs.

It's not your fault.

It’s not your fault.

By some coincidence, Ginger Thins are available in all Korean Emarts.  And in three flavors, no less! We must take this as a sign that we are to consume as much pumpkin dip as humanly possible this holiday season.

Great as an appetizer or dessert, it’s always well received.

Pumpkin Dip

From Haute Apple Pie, with modifications

Yield: 2 cups

1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (For Korean kabocha squash, halve then scoop out seeds and microwave about 12-15 minutes or until tender. Scoop out soft flesh and mash with a fork.)

1 package cream cheese

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice, or any available combination of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

apples, to serve

Anna’s Original Ginger Thins

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then serve with Ginger Thins and sliced apples.

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Undoing the Top Button

Living in a foreign country, I’m well aware that on a day-to-day basis my actions are  viewed as somewhat absurd by those around me.   The sideways stares and furrowed brows have become a bit of the background music to my life.  This weekend was no exception.

With ovens being a bit of a commodity here, the silent partner for this whole  ordeal was to be my slow-cooker.  Factor in the need for specific   ingredients, a 5 hour bus journey, two transfers, and a 20 minute walk and we’re looking at  a daunting venture. I was met with a few firmer stares than usual as passersby glanced in the direction of the stifled grunts along the way. I guess a redhead heaving under the weight of canned goods isn’t as common as high heels on a hike.

Having served time with hard labor upon arrival, putting the finishing touches on my stuffing felt like a walk in the park.  I’m happy to report that  the slow-cooker worked fabulously as an incubator of gooey goodness.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to our founding fathers for adding gluttony to the national agenda.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Worth the exertion

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Thanksgiving on the Horizon

Yes, folks, it has arrived.  The only  time of year when the elastic around your waist is praised as ingenious  rather than scorned as geriatric.  Cover a table with dozens of Mom’s recipes, ample spirits, add some football for good measure and you’re standing right next to the Dhali Llama in line for karmic enlightenment.

Bring. It. On.

Some of you may settle for a big chicken.  Some of you may forego the green bean slop we all love to hate.  I, however, am not one of those people.

There will be turkey.

There will be green bean casserole.

There will be stuffing.

There will be potatoes.

There will be cranberry sauce.

And by Gl-tton, there will be pumpkin pie.

This year, I have taken on the responsibilities of stuffing and pumpkin dip (courtesy of fellow WordPress bloggers Haute Apple Pie).

Now, stuffing is one of those things not to be messed with.  Some people were weaned off the bottle with sausage in their stuffing.  Others swear up and down that slimy, salt-saturated surprises called canned oysters are the secret ingredient.  In my house, we prefer to keep it simple.  Over the years, our standard go-to has come of age and left Pepperidge Farm in its dust with the additions of fresh rosemary, roasted chestnuts, and caramelized onions to deepen the flavor.

Round 1: Bread Cubes in Barbie’s Oven

It all starts with good bread.  At home, through trial and error, I have decided that fresh sourdough lends itself best to the final product.  While I like challenges, I also know when to hang up my hat.  This isn’t San Francisco.  Paris Baguette’s “Fresh Homestyle” will work just fine. On Sunday, I set out on the first step of my journey towards the light.

After stocking up with 4 loaves of bread, I headed for a friend’s who kindly offered to share her oven. With help, we had all 4 loaves neatly cut into uniform cubes in under 30 minutes.  The toasting process, however, was not quite as concise.  Complete with a miniature baking sheet and spastic fuse, needless to say, the toasting took a few rounds.  About 32.

Toasted to perfection

Round 2: Hunt and Gather

After a few months (and a few run-ins) on the trail of fresh rosemary, I purchased a small plant of my own a few weeks ago.  Done, and done, you say?  While rosemary has a reputation for being a bit fussy and I have a reputation  for turning things brown, I was a little worried about this one.  Fingers crossed, I think we’ve made it.  That is, unless I cut the sprigs off this evening and every last leaf ends up on my patio floor.  Let’s think positive.

Fresh parsley was secured with help the of NH (previously mentioned) and ample chicken bouillon  was scoured from the hidden corners of HP.  While chestnuts gave me a bit of a run for my money, we’re locked and loaded.

Round 3: Engage Slow-Cooker

Stay tuned (and maybe cross your fingers).

Caramelized Onion and Chestnut Stuffing

Bon Appétit  | November 1998

Serves 8-10

  • 1 pound country-style French bread or regular French bread, crust trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 7- to 8-ounce jar vacuum-packed steamed chestnuts, quartered (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 eggs, beaten to blend

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer to large bowl; cool.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté 10 minutes. Add rosemary; sauté until onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Add celery and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add chestnuts and stir to blend. Transfer onion mixture to medium bowl. Mix in parsley. Add broth to skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add to onion mixture. (Bread and onion mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately. Store bread at room temperature; refrigerate onion mixture.) Stir onion mixture into bread. Season with salt and pepper. Mix eggs into stuffing.

To bake stuffing in turkey:
Loosely fill main cavity with cool stuffing. Butter glass baking dish. Spoon remaining stuffing into prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish alongside turkey until heated through, about 20 minutes.

To bake all of stuffing in baking dish:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Caramelized-Onion-and-Chestnut-Stuffing-100464#ixzz1ec1yJU8B

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