If a pumpkin dessert is your favourite way to end a Thanksgiving feast you’re not alone. When I surveyed our subscribers about their favourite foods to bake around thanksgiving, pumpkin recipes – sweet pumpkin recipes — came in first by a long shot.
To be fair, many of you also voted for apple desserts. More reason to enjoy Thanksgiving dessert like my family — we have pumpkin pie and apple pie on the dessert table each year.
Gingerbread, pumpkin and molasses. Has there ever been a tastier trio?
Thanksgiving is our pumpkin carving weekend. It’s a family tradition up at our cottage with my children and all of my nieces and nephews. The kids (many of whom are now in their 20s) do the carving and the parents drink wine. It’s a great afternoon.
We’re also busy preparing supper so by the time the carving is complete we’re all set to sit down to our Thanksgiving feast.
When the last piece of pumpkin pie has been eaten and it’s good and dark outside, the great pumpkin lighting begins. It’s an impressive sight to see that many intricately carved pumpkins clustered together out on the deck, flickering in the autumn scented breeze.
From pie to the great pumpkin carving fest, pumpkin is very much a part of our Thanksgiving weekend.
That’s why this pumpkin gingerbread will be a great addition. Flavoured with classic gingerbread spices and a note of nutmeg this gingerbread combines all that I love about pumpkin pie and gingerbread – lovely texture and a beautiful spice blend. The candied ginger sprinkled on top makes it extra pretty and adds a little more sweet heat.
Cranberry sauce with apples and molasses is so tasty, so simple, so much better than store bought.
Homemade cranberry sauce is the easiest of all preserves…
I grew up in a house with a cold room in the basement, that brilliant cold storage concept that got forgotten sometime during the post war building craze.
As a child I didn’t much like putting my hands into crates of potatoes in a dim room at the foot of the basement stairs, but I didn’t mind being sent down to choose a bottle of jam or pickles.
The shelves were filled with strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, and raspberry jam, cranberry chutney, spiced currants, crab apple jelly a beautiful blush of clear pink, zucchini relish, mustard pickles, pickled beets and my favourite, Lady Ashburnham pickles. There were huge mason jars of dill pickles and my dad’s favourite, chow chow made with green tomatoes.
All of this stuff wasn’t necessarily labeled and in that dim room it was often hard for young eyes to discern the difference between a jar of strawberry jam, and say, a jar of cranberry chutney.
As a child in a home where preserving is a tradition this is what you believe:
You believe that everyone has a cold room with old wooden shelves that sag under the weight of preserves by the time November arrives.
You assume that every child arrives home from school in October to the sinus-clearing scent of cider vinegar simmering on the stove and tins of liquid paraffin in a water bath that you could dip your fingers in to make finger molds.
You know that crab apple jelly only tastes good when there is no strawberry or raspberry jam left in the house.
You have accidentally made (and eaten) peanut butter and cranberry chutney on toast (or some other unlikely combo).
You’d think I would have absorbed some preserving know-how from my mom, but no…
There was the time we decided that strawberry jam had too much sugar so we cut the amount in half and had a whole batch blow up in our basement.
There was the time that we bottled zucchini relish when it was too cool so the canning tops didn’t seal and we had to store it all in our fridge.
There was the time we made dill pickles and the garlic cloves turned blue.
These days my preserving is limited and I’m happy to receive homemade preserves as gifts, but one preserve I make faithfully year after year is cranberry sauce – mostly because it’s so easy but also because I love it with winter squash and root vegetables.
It adds a lovely dash of colour and a bright flavour to the sometimes drab-coloured plates of winter food. Even better, local cranberries are abundant in New Brunswick and easy to find at local markets.
My adaptation — I swapped out some of the white sugar for molasses which deepens the flavour and works beautifully with the spices. The spicing is light so you still get that bright flavour that makes cranberry sauce so wonderful on a plate of heavy food. You can omit the spices altogether, if you prefer.
I swapped out some of the white sugar for molasses which deepens the flavour and works beautifully with the spices. The spicing is light so you still get that bright flavour that makes cranberry sauce so wonderful on a plate of heavy food. You can omit the spices altogether, if you prefer.
1 pound of cranberries, picked over and washed
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/8 tsp allspice (optional)
1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
In a medium pot combine the cranberries, sugar, molasses and apples.
Cover and place on medium heat, stirring from time to time.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Uncover, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook another 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the spices.
The mixture will thicken as it cools but cook it a little longer if you prefer a thicker sauce.
Store in the refrigerator (up to three months) or preserve in canning jars.
These pumpkin spice cheesecake bars are a bit like a rich version of pumpkin pie with a delicious crumbly topping.
Pumpkin + Spice +Molasses.
If molasses had a season I’d say it’s Autumn. There’s something about the tangy, warming flavour of molasses that makes it the perfect partner for all sorts of Fall baking. A decidedly October flavour trio is pumpkin, spice and molasses.
These squares are a bit like a rich version of pumpkin pie with a delicious crumbly topping. They’re also super easy.
Roasted root vegetables with molasses cider glaze is easy and impressive.
Sometimes I aspire to be a bit like Martha Stewart; to take the time and attention to set a stunning table or arrange charming seasonal decorations outside the front door.
Truth is I can barely manage to vacuum up the dog hair and clear the dining table of clutter to make room for place settings before our guests land at the door. (Meanwhile my husband is getting the laundry out of view, rounding up the kids and making sure there are no Lego pieces in the path of sock-footed guests.)
My entertaining energy goes into creating a great meal and then relaxing to enjoy it with friends.
Every once in a while a dish comes along that by its very nature has that “Martha” look, and gives the appearance that you have outdone yourself, with really not a lot of effort.
This is that dish. And in spite of the number of steps listed below, it’s pretty easy.
Tip: Prep your vegetables first and get them in the oven. While they’re roasting you can make the cider glaze and toast the pumpkin seeds.
Cider-glazed roasted root vegetables recipe (served in roasted winter squash)
1 medium-sized buttercup squash, top third cut off, and seeds removed
4-6 cups of root vegetables, cut into one-inch dice (a mixture of carrots, parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, sweet potato, beets)
1 red onion, sliced
2 firm, tart apples, peeled and diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh sage or 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt & pepper to taste
For the cranberry pumpkin seed sprinkle:
2 tsp. butter or olive oil
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
pinch kosher salt
pinch chili powder
½ cup dried cranberries
To make the glaze:
Combine apple cider and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium high heat and simmer until it reduces to about 1/2 cup (15-20 minutes). Be careful not to overdo it.
Remove from heat, add the molasses. Set aside.
Roast your veggies and apples:
Place your choice of root vegetables, along with the apples, onion, garlic and herbs, into a large bowl and toss with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and the sage or thyme.
Turn your mixture out onto a large baking sheet or pan lined with parchment paper.
Season with salt and pepper
Rub the inside of the squash, and the flesh side of the “lid”, with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place it on a baking sheet, flesh side down.
Put both pans in the oven and roast at 400 F until tender and starting to brown a bit. About 25-35 minutes.
(Toss the chopped veggies every 10 minutes or so)
Toast your pumpkin seeds:
Melt the butter (or warm oil) in a small pan over medium heat.
Add pumpkin seeds to the pan along with the chili powder and toss with the butter.
Toast gently until they start to pop, stirring them around in the pan to ensue nothing burns or browns too much.
Remove from heat and stir in the cranberries.
To assemble your squash bowl:
Place roasted quash on a warmed serving platter and fill with the roasted root vegetables.
Pile extra roasted vegetables alongside the squash.
Pour over the cider glaze and sprinkle with the roasted pumpkin seed cranberry mixture.
To serve, slice squash into 4-6 wedges and plate, scooping up some extra root vegetables.
One more thing…
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