I’d like to slip in an early “I’m thankful for…” acknowledgement to say that I’m thankful for cozy weekends at home with family and friends. It probably seems like a ridiculously simple thing, but a concentrated stretch of “closed laptop/turned off work life” and some steady human interaction provides powerful recalibration in life. My own priorities realigned, I was back at my desk this morning with fresh focus and a smile on my face.

That in our house the embrace of these warm and comforting times usually centered around the kitchen is probably not a shocker, and Brian and I decided to throw a little pre-Thanksgiving feast on Sunday evening to cap it all off. There was food and food and more food, plus three wines to pair it up with. We may just have to make a habit of this: Sunday Suppers in Wonderland, anyone? I think I smell a 2012 project coming on…

So anyway, a plan was hatched.

The Menu

The food:

Spinach Salad with Bosch Pears, Cranberries, Red Onion, and Toasted Pecans w/goat cheese rounds rolled in pepitas (a riff off of this)

Kaddo Bowrani (Baked Pumpkin) from The Helmand Restaurant (secret recipe revealed to the world thanks to this)

Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup (a decadent, non-vegan variation on this)

Cheddar and Dill Biscuits (pretty much these, but sans bacon)

Roast Chicken Provençal (Brian made this as outlined, while I subscribed to the blog that provided the recipe, because it’s amazingly lovely.)

Simmered Root Vegetables with Swiss Chard (more or less this, though we only used kale, carrots, and potatoes. It was fairly plain, so next time I think I’ll do a version of the the pot pie gravy and filling instead)

The wines:

2011 Georges Deboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau
2009 Perrin & Fils Cotes de Rhone Villages
2008 Domaine de Ferrand Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Not a dud in the bunch. We enjoyed them all and they complimented the food (right down to the Lake Champlain truffles we ended the night on) perfectly.



And now, a sampling of the recipes. The rest were so close to the linked originals above that they don’t seem to bear repeating.

Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup
adapted from Vegan Workshop

3 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
2 medium pears, cored and cubed
1 small onion or a few shallots, peeled and quartered
2 T hazelnut oil
1/2 cup whole milk
2 T maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place parsnip, pear, and onion chunks on a large baking sheet (I line mine with foil first for easy clean up). Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat.

Roast the fruit and vegetables for about 40 minutes, stirring halfway through for even browning.

About 15 minutes before roasting is complete, bring 5 cups of vegetable broth and 1 bay leaf to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add roasted fruit and vegetables and leave to simmer 10 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and puree the soup. Stir in milk and maple syrup. Add additional vegetable broth or milk to thin to desired consistency, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Kaddo Bowrani (Baked Pumpkin)
from The Helmand Restaurant in Baltimore (via the Baltimore Sun)

1 small pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar (Overwhelmed by this amount, I used a lot less sugar–a 1/4 cup, if that–but then found the dish lacking. Still, that’s a lot of sugar, so more experiments will be needed. I think I’ll give brown sugar a try next.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Dash salt

Remove seeds and peel pumpkin. Slice remaining flesh top to bottom into 2-inch crescents. In a large, oven-safe sautée pan with a lid, heat oil and add pumpkin. Cook on medium covered for 10 minutes, flipping slices over with tongs halfway through. Remove from heat and sprinkle the pumpkin with the sugar and cinnamon. Replace lid and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until soft.

Stir yogurt, garlic, and salt together until smooth. Plate warm pumpkin, drizzle with yogurt sauce, and serve immediately.

Cheddar and Dill Biscuits
adapted from Bon Appétit

3 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix. Cube up the butter and add to the flour mixture, pulsing again until butter is reduced to small bits. Place this mixture in a large bowl, along with cheese and dill. Toss with fork to evenly incorporate. Pour in buttermilk while stirring and mix just enough to wet all ingredients and produce a sticky dough.

Pull off small handfuls (approx. 1/4 cup) of the shaggy dough with your fingers and drop onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake biscuits until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes.

A feast shared and well enjoyed.

A feast shared and well enjoyed.