Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Holiday Triple-Header From The Baking Sisters' Dad!

Ah, Thanksgiving: a weekend of gratitude, family, shopping (for some), football (for others), and food – too much food – for all. In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner (at my sister- and brother-in-law’s home in Connecticut), our family has two long-standing rituals that involve food.
The first began more than 30 years ago, before any of the Baking Sisters were born. Because we live near the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route, we used to take friends’ children to see the parade. After standing in the cold for several hours, we would return home to hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies (we still use the recipe on the package of Toll House chips). This tradition continued during the many years when we stood on the parade route with the Baking Sisters. Now that they are grown, we watch the parade on television, but we still bring out the cocoa and cookies when Santa gets to Herald Square. Next year, we hope to restore the full tradition and take our grandson to see the parade live and in person! The other tradition goes back only 15 years or so. We attend the Big Apple Circus with close friends and then return home, build a fire in the fireplace (it was 60 degrees this year, but we have to make S’mores), eat plenty of wonderful food and go through several bottles of wine. So it was a busy weekend for the Baking Sister’s dad. I started with my traditional Vermont Pumpkin Pie, based on a recipe I clipped from the New York Times many years ago which I adapted to make the pie non-dairy. Beaten egg whites give the pie a light texture, while maple syrup adds New England-style sweetness that seems to be the essence of Thanksgiving. For the post-circus feast, I made Apricot Tarragon Cocktail Cookies, which go wonderfully with cheese and wine. I saw the recipe in Rebecca’s Food & Wine magazine when I visited California in October, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the recipe was contributed by Dorie Greenspan. Here is a link to the recipe. I went all-out for dessert. I always have canned pumpkin left over when I make the pumpkin pies, so I looked for a pumpkin ice cream recipe to use it up. I found a great one on David Lebovitz’s blog. As he suggests, I included rum and chopped pecans. And since it didn’t seem right to serve just ice cream, I also made Moosehead Gingerbread from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. According to the book, the recipe came from an old-time fishing guide in Maine. In any event, the gingerbread and the ice cream were a great combination.

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