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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cheese Fondue in a Pumpkin & Other Delights

Gourmet magazine was most regrettably retired back in 2008. I however, fortunately, was not. For it was there, in the final November 2008 issue (I have another gruesomely sentimental copy still wrapped in the plastic, cuddling next to my beloved Gourmet 70's back issue stash) that I culled together this year's Thanksgiving menu (links provided here by yours truly). And what a wonderful, Dickensian feast in merrie olde England it seemed, once all laid out on the table! Most of it was made the day before (at least in parts), and other delights subtly assembled while the turkey that Baby prepared sat to consider its satsuma tangerine-and-herb-stuffed cavity, at rest. Summoning motes of clarity, I set the table two days before.

Cunning coriander and rosemary goat cheese marbles skewered with parsley leaves were a cozy nibble...

before the great pumpkin fondue arrived, filled with layers of mixed Emmental and gruyere cheeses, a light bechamel, and sturdy slices of miche country bread. We swooned and supped laudably and audibly too over the instantly comforting innards, ladled out into our bowls, with spooned crescents of pumpkin pulled from within for (very) good measure. This was very simple to prepare, except for the careful business of slicing off the stubborn tops. Short of procuring a reciprocating saw, the only thing I might suggest is taking hold of your strongest, most resilient knife (probably a well-sharpened butcher's knife) as I did and nimbly hacking away at the beast with a few deliberate whacks. Although this particular recipe was on the Thanksgiving roster, it will serve you and your guests well anytime through the winter months and act as a wonderful gift for Christmas, tableside. Consider my chicken pot pie in a pumpkin as well, always a favorite!

We paused with a smartly civilized watercress salad with smoked sable (a.k.a. black cod, found at our local bagel place) and beets, diced and stacked like a terrine on top of the green watercress sprigs. The beets marinated overnight in a tart shallot and fresh grapefruit juice (my idea, instead of lemon juice) vinaigrette.

The traditional pork pie course made its way...

highly suited for sopping up with our gravy (see turkey recipe below). I made the pork pies a week ahead of time and froze them--as I suggest you do too--and thawed them out the night before our dinner, back into the oven for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Behold our Tom! Quite carved obviously, having been injected with white wine, and melted black truffle butter (a mixture of purchased black truffle paste with butter), the recipe road map here! Tinker with it as you will. More about tending to old Tom is found here, during our trip to Turks and Caicos a few years ago.

Amiable sides were comprised of our compote, with red pearl onions, quince (I used quince paste!) and fresh cranberries...

Also added to our festive mix was a trio featuring mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables (thanks super duper delivery service Fresh Direct!) and a stunningly seductive, silken parsnip puree with sauteed Brussels sprouts that I made myself.

Gourmet suggests an apple granita as a palate cleansing kick-off to dessert but we found a time-saving, luscious Italian pear sorbetti instead, and certainly any brightly tart fruit sorbet will tingle the taste buds to the same effect.

Desserts were unapologetically store-bought pumpkin and pecan pies (courtesy again of Fresh Direct). Our merry band politely nibbled only, as we had naturally become as stuffed as our turkeys, and quite without apology as well at that! I urge you to try all of these terrific recipes over the upcoming months, whatever the occasion--and do enjoy!

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