03 December 2012

Thanksgiving in Holland 2012

perfect ribbe
ribbe ready

A couple weeks ago, we hosted our 8th Annual Thanksgiving dinner. 31 adults and children shared a sit down dinner. The children outnumbered the adults. The food was awesome. Our potluck is a bit more involved, maybe more formal than a standard American potluck. Instead of a a buffet table, we have a seated dinner. Before that, three or four plated, passed hors d'oeuvres. This year, there was even a passed soup. Salads are assembled on site. Sides are passed from table to table. There were four pies and as many cheeses for dessert. Thanksgiving with our friends here in The Netherlands is nothing like the family Thanksgivings we had growing up. I loved that. I love this.

My job is mainly logistics. Um - chair? plates? forks? glasses? tables?! I take a lot of notes and keep them in my house binder for the following year. It includes a task calendar for the month before, week before, and day of. This year I added contact information for the butcher and the Gelderse Wijnbeurs as well as recipes that will return next year. All those notes keep me feeling a bit sane, or like sanity might be within reach.

I also cook a bit. I love pork, so we have Ribbe, Norwegian style pork belly. It's a two day process, prep the night before and then bake the day of. There are great instructions at My Little Norway. The plate under the meat is key. This dish is so good that should you accidentally have your pork ready two hours early (ahem), it will still be fabulous. A prep ahead Bourbon Gravy makes the perfect accompaniment and keeps kitchen time to a minimum when guests are waiting. A single recipe (no doubling) made more than enough for our entire group! This delicious Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel premiered this year. Cook the potatoes and fennel the day and pop everything in the oven just before dinner - easy peasy and yum.

Our standard dessert, the one we make every year and eat with lots and lots of whipped cream (remember this picture?), is Pumpkin Cheesecake. This recipe came into my family when I was in high school. It now holds prized place in our family cookbook and is a huge hit wherever it goes. I haven't been able to locate a copy on-line, so here it is for one and all.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

serves 12

crust (for springform pan)
1 1/4 cup (300 g) digestive cookies, crushed
2 Tbsp (30 g)butter, melted

16 oz (450 g) cream cheese at room temperature
3 eggs
1 cup (225 g) sugar
1 can (425 g) pumpkin (you can also roast your own in the oven)
1/2 c (120 ml) amaretto
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Makes one 28cm springform pan, one 30cm fluted dish, or two 9 inch pie pans

  1. Mix melted butter into crushed cookies with a fork. The mixture should be damp but not sticky. Add butter if necessary.
  2. Pat mixture into bottom and sides of oiled pan. The crust should come to the top edge of either a fluted dish or pie pan. It should be about 2 cm high in a spring form pan. Set aside.
  3. Beat eggs, sugar, and cream cheese until smooth.
  4. Add pumpkin and spices. Beat until well combined.
  5. Pour filling into pan. The filling should be just shy of the top of the crust.
  6. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Share and enjoy!

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