It’s Thanksgiving, Reinvented. . . . .
More ideas for a fabulous Thanksgiving, for which you and your family will truly be thankful.
6. A Pumpkin Dessert. I have to admit. I love pumpkin desserts—pumpkin cake roll, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin cake—but not pumpkin pie so much. Of all the pumpkin cakes, this one is my favorite. It’s got an upside-down caramel topping and is so moist and fresh-tasting, you might never go back to pie.
Fresh Pumpkin Cake
Somewhere between a flan and a cheesecake in texture, this moist and delicious burnt orange-colored cake has a thin coating of caramel when it is turned out of the pan. Use small sugar or pie pumpkins that come on the market in October, or in a pinch, canned pumpkin. Fresh pumpkin adds the best flavor, though. This is gorgeous garnished with red, yellow, orange, or variegated edible flowers and leaves.
Makes a one-layer (8-inch) cake
1 1/2 pounds fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces (or a 15-ounce can pumpkin, not pie filling)
1 quart water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1. Place the pumpkin, water, and salt into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Place a wire rack on a kitchen counter. Pour 1 cup of the sugar in the bottom of an 8-inch metal cake pan. Place the pan directly on a burner over medium heat. When the sugar has melted and turned a light gold, about 10 minutes, put an oven mitt on one hand and swirl the pan to coat the bottom and sides with the caramel. Transfer the pan to a wire rack.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the pumpkin and place in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the pumpkin and butter together until smooth. Beat in the flour and milk a little at a time, alternating between the two. Beat in the salt, vanilla, and remaining 1 cup sugar until you have a smooth batter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sieve the batter into the caramelized pan and place the pan in a large, shallow baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water.
3. Bake for 2 hours, or until the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the water bath and cool on a wire rack.
4. When the cake has cooled, carefully loosen the sides, if necessary, and invert onto a cakestand or serving plate. Garnish with fresh flowers and serve.
7. A Signature Cocktail. I recently did a wedding food story and talked with Ryan Maybee, a craft cocktail guru at Manifesto in Kansas City. When I asked about cocktails for a crowd, I envisioned an army of bartenders. But Maybee insists that one of the first American cocktails is great to serve a crowd. It’s also currently enjoying a revival, and can give you something to do with Aunt Hilda’s punch bowl stored under your bed.
What is the mystery drink? Punch! Not after-church or room-mother, 7-Up punch, but punch that really packs a wallop. It’s what George and Martha served at the White House, the cup of good cheer that Thomas Jefferson gave to visitors at Monticello—and a good time was had by all.
According to Maybee, a great punch needs 5 elements: a strong spirit (booze), something acidic (citrus fruit or tart apple), something sweet, something watery, and something spicy. This 18th century punch recipe has all of that, and it’s easy. Just give the kids (and Aunt Hilda) the cider without the booze.
Try an artisan hard cider such as Apple True www.aeppeltreow.com from Wisconsin, Tandem Ciders in Leelanau peninsula in upper Michigan, or Sutliff Cider www.sutliffcider.com near Iowa City in Iowa.
Thanksgiving Cider Punch
Makes 12 servings
2 cups applejack, hard cider, scrumpy, or Calvados
1 quart fresh apple cider
Cinnamon sticks and lemon twists for garnish
1. In a large bowl, stir together the applejack and cider. Fill each cocktail glass or punch cup with ice and pour in the punch. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a twist of fresh lemon.
8. A Side Dish on the Grill. Couldn’t be easier, or make more sense. Send some of the guys outside and free your oven up at the same time.
Grilled Squash and Apple Rings with Buttery Cinnamon Baste
Cut Golden Delicious apples into 1-inch thick slices, then remove the core from each slice with a paring knife. Cut acorn squash into 1-inch slices and remove the seeds and fibrous material in the center of each slice with a paring knife. Microwave the squash slices for about 3 to 4 minutes on HIGH or until they’re par-cooked. In a bowl, whisk 4 tablespoons melted butter with ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Brush the rings with this mixture and grill over medium-high heat until the squash is cooked through and both squash and apple rings have good grill marks.
These can be done ahead of time and kept warm on the grill, wrapped in aluminum foil.