Pumpkin Pie Bars

Pecan pie bars are a favorite Thanksgiving dessert in our house. I chose this pumpkin pie version to serve along with a tried and true brown-butter and vanilla bean apple pie for our intimate Thanksgiving feast. (Yes, we had leftover dessert for at least a week!)

This recipe was adapted from a “staff favorite” Food and Wine recipe, contributed by Sarah Jordan. I appreciated the press-in crust and we all absolutely loved the consistency of the bars. Pie bars have the bonus of easier portion control too- which is crucial on Thanksgiving. 😉 Great.

Yield: Makes on 9×13-inch pie

For the Press-In-Crust:

  • 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour-and-salt mixture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  4. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. (I used a pyrex pan.)
  5. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick.
  6. Refrigerate until firm.
  7. Bake the crust for 25 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom, optional (I omitted it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • Baked Press-In Crust (above)
  • crème fraîche or whipped cream, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the sugars with the spices and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the sugar mixture, then whisk in the pumpkin puree and the evaporated milk until smooth.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake for about 25 minutes longer, until the filling is fully set.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
  8. Cut into bars and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche, as desired.

Note: Bars should be stored in the refrigerator. Serve chilled or at room temperature. (I prepared them a day prior to serving.)

Slow-Roasted Carrots with Browned-Butter Vinaigrette

These caramelized carrots were part of our Thanksgiving feast. Initially, I thought that the proportions were really off in this dish- only a drizzle of the amazing browned butter vinaigrette is used and I had a tremendous amount leftover. The proportions could be reduced, of course, but I have used the leftover vinaigrette with roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, CSA rutabaga, and more rainbow carrots. It is absolutely wonderful.

This recipe was adapted from chef Neil Borthwick’s “forgotten carrots” at Merchants Tavern in London via The New York Times, contributed by Mark Bittman. I modified the proportions and cooked the carrots in a cast iron skillet. I would roast four pounds of rainbow carrots next time.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

  • 2 pounds large carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 3 extra tablespoons for roasting the carrots
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1-2 star anise
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chervil leaves or chopped fresh parsley
  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Scrub the carrots, and peel them if you like (it really doesn’t matter but I peeled them).
  3. Set a 12-inch cast iron skillet or a roasting pan over two burners on medium heat; put the olive oil in the pan.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and cook, turning as they brown, until lightly caramelized all over, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Add 3 tablespoons butter, spices, salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven, and cook, shaking the pan once or twice, until the carrots are crinkly on the outside and you can pierce them easily with the tip of a sharp knife, 45 to 60 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, put 1 stick butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter foam subsides and the butter turns nut brown, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  8. Put brown butter, vinegar, Dijon, salt and pepper in a blender or mini food processor. Blend until a creamy emulsion forms, about 30 seconds; taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Put the carrots on a platter, drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and garnish with the chervil or parsley, and serve.

Note: Leftover vinaigrette can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator to toss with other roasted vegetables.

Herb-Scented Mashed Potatoes

These wonderful, creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes had a subtle flavor from cream steeped with rosemary, sage, and garlic. My son made them as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. I loved the contrasting texture of the crispy top layer.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. I modified the proportions and broiled the potatoes in a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 T, one stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 T melted butter for brushing
  • one 4 to 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 1 4 to 6-inch sage sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I used Maine Cold River Gold potatoes)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and one stick of butter with the rosemary, sage and garlic and bring just to a simmer.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes, then discard the rosemary, sage and garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Drain well, then pass the potatoes through a ricer into the pot.
  5. Fold in the cream mixture and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Light the broiler and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
  7. Scrape the potatoes into a 9-inch round flameproof pan or baking dish (2 inches deep) and, using a spoon, decoratively swirl the top. (I used a cast iron skillet.)
  8. Gently brush with melted butter.
  9. Broil for about 8 minutes, until the top is browned in spots. Serve hot.

Note: If doubling the recipe, place the riced potatoes into a 12-inch round flameproof pan such as a cast iron skillet.

Buttermilk-Poblano Gravy

This Thanksgiving, we branched out from our favorite wild mushroom gravy to try this roasted poblano version. It was incredible. Because we roasted a much smaller turkey and made less mashed potatoes, I plan to gobble up any leftover gravy as a dip with tortilla chips. 🙂 It would also be wonderful in tacos or as sauce in a pot pie.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Javier Cabral and Paola Brinseño González. I incorporated a shallot as well as the roasted turkey pan dripping and juices. I also reduced the salt. Next time I will roast the poblanos in advance. I am going to start making it year-round!

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 2 large (3 ounce) poblano chilies
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T roasted turkey pan fat (can substitute 2 T unsalted butter)
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted turkey pan drippings plus vegetable, chicken, or turkey stock, divided
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Place chilies on an aluminum foil lined baking pan. Place under a broiler, rotating every 5 minutes, until skin is charred on all sides. (Alternatively, using kitchen tongs, hold 1 chile directly over a medium flame of a gas stovetop. Cook until skin is blackened, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining chile.)
  2. Wrap the blackened chilies in the aluminum foil to steam. (Alternatively, place chiles in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap.) Let steam for 10 minutes.
  3. Rub off skin from chiles, removing as much of the blackened skin as you can. (Don’t worry if all of the skin doesn’t come off.) Remove and discard stems and seeds.
  4. Finely dice the roasted chilies.
  5. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add shallot and diced chiles. Cook until onion is soft, about 4 minutes.
  6. Combine shallot mixture and 1/2 cup stock in a blender, and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. (I used a Vitamix.)
  7. Place 2 tablespoons of fat from pan drippings (or 2 T butter) in same skillet over medium.
  8. Whisk in flour, and reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Increase heat to medium and add shallot-chile puree and remaining 1 cup pan drippings with stock, and cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
  10. Reduce heat to low; add buttermilk. Simmer gently to allow flavors to meld, about 2 minutes.
  11. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Note: Poblano peppers can be roasted, peeled, and cut 2 days ahead.

Vanilla Pear Sour

This festive seasonal cocktail was absolutely fabulous. My husband and I enjoyed it prior to our quiet Thanksgiving feast this year.

This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver via francoiselaprune.com. I poached thin slices of pear so that I could use them as a garnish. I may poach even larger slices next time. We preferred it with a little bit less alcohol so I noted a range in the recipe below.

The delicious pear syrup can be made in advance, making this perfect for Thanksgiving or a party. We used the leftover syrup to make more cocktails! 😉 It could also be drizzled over ice cream.

Yield: Makes one drink (plus additional Vanilla Pear Syrup)

For the Vanilla Pear Syrup: (makes enough syrup for approximately 10 drinks)

  • 1 Bartlett pear, cut in half or quartered, cored, & cut into thin slices
  • 200 g (7.1 ounces, 1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200 ml (7 ounces, scant 1 cup) water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

For the Cocktail:

  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) Vanilla Pear Syrup
  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 44 to 50ml (1.5 to 1.75 ounces) vodka
  • ice cubes
  • poached pear slices, for garnish
  1. Add the pear slices, sugar, water, vanilla seeds with vanilla bean pod to a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Let the poaching liquid infuse and cool down for another 30 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer, reserving the poached pear slices for garnish. Keep pear syrup in a jar in the refrigerator; it will keep for 5 days.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, vodka and 30ml of the vanilla pear syrup into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass with ice.
  5. Garnish with a thin pear slice (or two).

Note: This cocktail was also wonderful with Meyer lemon juice. (I used the juice of my very first lemon from my Meyer lemon tree!) 🙂

Thanksgiving Menu 2020

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday Season to everyone! We definitely missed our extended family at Thanksgiving this year but our quiet feast was still lovely.

I love to post my Thanksgiving Menu to help me plan in the future. Hopefully some of my menu choices are helpful to others too. I will link the new menu items to posts as soon as I am able.

I decreased the proportions for our small scale feast but we still made quite a variety of dishes in order to accommodate everyone’s favorites. My kids actively participated in the cooking process throughout the day which was the absolute highlight for me. 🙂

We tried a new gravy this year- this change would have been met with great objection from our extended family. 😉 It incorporated roasted poblano chilies, a favorite flavor in our house. We also enjoyed a new festive cocktail which was so fabulous I plan to incorporate it into the menu next year.

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Festive Cocktail:

Dinner:

Leftover Dishes:

Yes! My cat, Franklin “the Fluff,” has an Instagram page. ❤

Savory Butternut Squash Crumble

This is another lovely seasonal side dish. I received a lot of butternut squash in my CSA share this season and kept looking for new ways to enjoy it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz. I modified the proportions. It would be a great side to serve as part of a Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

For the Squash Filling:

  • 1 T unsalted or salted butter
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cubes
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced shallots (I used 1 large shallot)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T (52.5g) fresh or dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (35g) stone-ground cornmeal or polenta
  • 1/4 cup (22.5g/.75oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 T minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 2 T (1oz/27.5g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C), preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter a shallow 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish with softened butter. (I used a round ceramic baking dish.)

Make the Filling:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the squash and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the squash pieces begin to brown on several sides.
  3. Add the shallots and cook for another few minutes, until they’re softened.
  4. Add the stock and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring, to reduce the stock a bit and heat everything through.
  5. Scrape the squash mixture into the prepared baking dish; stir in the parsley. Press the mixture into a relatively even layer.
  6. Cover the dish snugly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, until the squash is pretty soft when poked with a paring knife or fork.

Make the Topping:

  1. While the squash is baking, combine the bread crumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan, sage, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. (Alternatively, the topping can be made by hand in a large bowl, using a pastry blender.)
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is completely incorporated.
  3. Add the egg and pulse a few more times until the mixture just starts clumping together in bits.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Remove the squash from the oven, remove the foil, and cover with the topping.
  2. Decrease the oven temperature to 350˚F (180˚C) ad return the dish to the oven.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown, and serve.

Note: If doubling the recipe, use 1 egg.

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