1120 “Thanksgiving”

I love Thanksgiving, and I love that nearly every Thanksgiving since 1999 has included at least one bonus Thanksgiving dinner – not the comprised of leftovers type, but the type where you’re surrounded by friends and loved ones who are not bound to you by genetics or tradition. I wrote about this in my zine last year – I love the way that we’ve invented and reinvented traditions while playing with the idea of family. I love that some years there are just a few of us far from home – and some years our house is bursting at the seams with good food and good friends.

Last year we were new in town, so we broke with tradition and instead had a Bosnian feast with friends in Chicago for Kim’s birthday. This year we both wanted to resuscitate the tradition, so in October, I sent out an email inviting friends to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. When we didn’t hear back from many people, we decided to just have an open house – come when you can, bring something tasty, and everyone will go home full and happy. Little did we realize that all but two of the people we invited could make it, meaning that at 8pm we had run out of both plates and seating. By oh my goodness, was it wonderful.

There were so many good things that I can’t begin to recount them, but I do want to tell you about the two dishes we made. First, a pumpkin risotto which used up the last of the weekend’s pumpkin. I misplaced one of the onions – I think it must’ve just gone in early – and I would omit the white pepper next time, but otherwise the dish was a total success. The recipe claimed that it served 6, but at least 15 small portions were spooned out, leaving at least 2 for leftovers, so I would guess you could happily feed 8 hungry people if you want to give it a try.

And second, oh my word, the stand-out recipe of the evening and possibly the fall: Smitten Kitchen‘s sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese. Candied coins of sweet potato topped with a sort of Waldorf salad, except sub a sweet red wine vinegar for the mayonnaise, and sub dried cranberries for the apples. It was exquisite. I’m so glad we made a double batch, and I can’t wait to make more for my family’s Thanksgiving next week.

Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese from Smitten Kitchen
Pumpkin Risotto from Food and Wine


1117 Pumpkin Soup

There’s certainly no shortage of pumpkin recipes this time of year – like pumpkin bread pudding or cakes made of pumpkin (and other) pies – but we’ll get enough of that at/around the actual holiday.  I picked up a couple of wee pumpkins at the market the other weekend with good intentions of making soup or something else savory – but then they sat on the windowsill for a week, and then another week, and then I just gave up and roasted them on Sunday, packing the softened caramelized flesh into a container for another day.

Tonight I used about half of the mashed pumpkin in a curried pumpkin soup, adapted from an Epicurious recipe that called for far too much liquid and far too few seasonings. I halved the recipe, upped the spices, and completely eliminated the extra water – and was rewarded with a creamy and savory soup with just a bit of heat.   We paired it with crusty farm bread and a New Glarus Apple Ale, a fantastically effervescent candy apple of a beer.  Happy days.

Curried Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Epicurious

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 generous teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 generous teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 cups roasted fresh pumpkin or 15 oz canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Saute onions in butter in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute, then add the rest of the spices and cook 1 more minute. Stir in pumpkin, broth, and coconut milk and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Purée soup in batches in a blender or food mill until smooth. Makes 4 generous servings.