There are traditions which are, like certain feasts, immovable. One of them at our house involves Thanksgiving. Yes the feast day its self is a movable but the presence of Smoky Pumpkin Soup is a given tradition for the feast itself. The recipe comes from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook so the tradition probably started around 1984. I recall when I first made it I went whole-hog and followed the recipe to the letter and cooked and pureed my pumpkin; over time and in places where pumpkin wasn’t always available I made an adaptation using canned pure pumpkin. It works just as well.
Smokey Pumpkin Soup – serves 6 Adapted from: The Silver Palate Good Times Cook Book Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 35 minute
Ingredients: 6 strips of bacon fried until crisp, diced, fat reserved. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 4 cups pureed pure pumpkin 6 cups beef stock 1/2 cup Marsala* 1 teaspoon dried thyme Salt and pepper to tasted Toasted pumpkin seeds
Preparation Heat butter and bacon fat in a stock pot over a medium high heat. Briefly saute the pureed pumpkin to absorb the flavour of the bacon fat. Add the beef stock and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the Marsala, salt, pepper and thyme and stir combine. Add the bacon and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds.
* Madeira or a Dry Sherry (not cooking sherry) will do also.
It’s quick and easy and can be very comforting on any cold winter night not just at Thanksgiving.
The word for October 10th is: Pumpkin \pŭmp′kĭn,\: [noun] 1.1 A round, often large squash with coarse, strongly flavored yellow to orange flesh, numerous seeds, and a moderately hard, usually orange rind. 1.2 Any of several plants producing these fruits, especially varieties of the species Cucurbita pepo, and also varieties of C. maxima and C. moschata. 1.3 A moderate to strong orange colour. Alteration (influenced by –kin) of obsolete pumpion, from obsolete French pompon, popon, from Old French pepon, from Late Latin pepōn, from Latin, watermelon or gourd, from Greek, ripe, large melon.
Though it wasn’t a Thursday last night’s dinner was a throwback! A throwback to the early 1980s and the glory days of The Silver Palate Cookbook. Now rest easy faithful reader, this is not one of those recipe sites where I will tell you about my first visit to New York as a mere child in 1981 – a stretch of anyone’s imagination at best. And about how I wandered aimless down 73rd until a tantalizing smell led me to press my nose against the window of a shop at Columbus Circle and I caught my first glimpse of Chicken Marbella. How the kindly owner took pity on my youth and offered me a taste. How I was immediately taken out of myself and …. Oh wait a minute. Sorry, if you want the recipe for last night’s main just: Go to recipe.
Last night was a throwback to dinner parties given and attended in those bygone years of such events. We were served or ourselves served this savoury-sweet-acidy-fruity dish on more (!) than one occasion. It was easy to prepare in advance! It was trendy! It was easy to prepare in advance! It was what sophisticated New Yorkers picked up at the end of the work day as they headed home to their smart flats on the Upper West side. And it was easy to prepare in advance!
The last time I had made it was in Warsaw in 1998 when our Ambassador came to dinner. By then it was old hat and our military attache’s wife, who was also there, felt the need to mention it. Ask if she was ever invited back? After more than 24 years a brief mention of it in Sunday’s New York Times and a package of chicken thighs that had to be used made me decided to give it a try. As I measured out the capers, prunes, olives and minced 6 cloves of garlic (!) I begin to think of a few other food trends that I recall from my glory (?) days of bon vivantery.
Does anyone else remember the fondue era? There was cheese fondue, meat (oil) fondue, Chinese (broth) fondue and chocolate fondue. Everyone had a fondue pot! A fondue pot? Try three or four! Not only because you needed a separate one for each type but because you could be guaranteed one would be presented as a housewarming/birthday/Christmas gift at some point in the year. Sets of colour-coded forks would accompanying them often with a packet of Sterno. Sterno was no longer just the favourite of a certain class of drinker but was seen in respectable suburban homes throughout North America. Damn it we were hip, we were cutting culinary edge, almost European we were so damned sophisticated. And it was easy to prepare in advance if you could remember what cheese melted best and didn’t use Kraft Processed Cheese Food.
But the height of sophistication had to be the quiche phase. I mean how French was that? And the variety was endless and it covered most of the food groups: dairy, vegetables, chicken, pork, sea food, even blueberries or plums – though at that point without the crust and it morphed into clafoutis. It became a favourite at breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. And very few restaurants or cafes didn’t have at least one or two varieties on their chalk board menu. It was easy to prepare: pie crust, eggs, milk/cream, seasonings, fillers of your choice. Deceptively easy I might add – I can only think of one or two quiches I’ve made that really hit the mark – one being a lobster quiche I made last year.
So after measuring, marinating and meandering down Memory Lane how did it turn out, asks my faithful reader. Excellent! A recipe to be repeated and maybe even used at a dinner party should such things ever be reinstituted. It was tasty, had an interesting combination of flavours, and even better it can be done in advance! (Oh and yes that marinating overnight is necessary don’t skit it!)
Is there any food trend that you recall – fondly or with a shudder – from your glory entertaining days of yore? If so do tell me about it in the comment section.
The word for January 11th is: Trend /trend/: [1.noun2. verb] 1.1 A general direction in which something is developing or changing 1.2 A fashion. 2.1 To change or develop in a general direction. 2.2 To be the subject of many posts on a social media website within a short period of time. Old English trendan ‘revolve, rotate’, of Germanic origin; compare with trundle. The verb sense ‘turn in a specified direction’ dates from the late 16th century, and gave rise to the figurative use ‘develop in a general direction’ in the mid 19th century, a development paralleled in the noun.
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