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Posts from the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

Pumpkin Brioche Buns


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday week.  This is my third post in a row about pumpkin; over the past few weeks, I’ll admit that I’ve gone a little pumpkin crazy.  But this recipe was one I had never seen before, and looked so brilliant that I had to give it a try.

I got the itch to try my hand again at real bread when I saw this recipe by Gesine Bullock Prado.  Brioche rolls – which are already delicious – combined with pumpkin?!

This is a yeast bread, not a pumpkin quick bread – it tastes like a fluffy brioche roll, with a distinct pumpkin flavor.

Brioche, Bread, Rolls, Buns, Pumpkin

I was, again, very popular at the office.  These are the perfect addition to any holiday table!  And if for some reason you have leftovers, you can use the buns to make Gesine’s Pumpkin Brioche Bread Pudding.  I can’t imagine a better way to use Thanksgiving leftovers.

Brioche, Buns, Bread, Breads, Pumpkin

One year ago: Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Brioche Buns

Recipe by Gesine Bullock Prado – see her recipe for more tips!

Makes 16 buns, or more if you want them smaller


For the sponge

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 packets instant yeast (I used Red Star)
2 cups bread flour

For the dough

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
8 eggs
2 pounds all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons water)

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, maple syrup, yeast and flour.  Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until the sponge has doubled, about one hour.

2.  Once the sponge has doubled in size, add the brown sugar, salt, pumpkin and eggs to the sponge and mix with the paddle attachment until incorporated.  Switch out the paddle attachment for the hook attachment, and add the two pounds of all-purpose flour and mix until just combined.  Add the butter, a small piece at a time and continue mixing until the dough is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  This can take 15 to 20 minutes.  Only use a larger (5 to 6 quart) mixer to spare the motor of smaller mixers.  Otherwise, sprinkle a small amount of flour on a work surface an knead by hand.

3.  Coat a large bowl with oil or non-stick cooking spray and turn the dough over in the bowl so all the dough is coated.  Cover again with plastic wrap, and allow to dough to double in size, about one hour.

4.  Once the doubled in size (again), punch down the dough, dump onto a work surface, and divide the dough into 16 even pieces.  Roll each piece of dough into a tight ball, and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap and allow the buns to barely double in size.

5.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Brush the bun with egg wash and using a bread lame or sharp knife, score each bun in a star burst fashion to mimic the look of a pumpkin.

6.  Bake until the buns are golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.  If you decide to make smaller buns, bake time will be less.

Caramel Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is almost here!  I don’t anticipate doing any cooking on Thanksgiving, so I thought I’d get my urge to bake a pumpkin pie out of the way early in the week.  I always liked my Pumpkin Pie with Streusel Topping, but I wanted to try something new this year.  Enter the amazing Gesine Bullock Prado, who recently posted her own go-to recipe for pumpkin pie.  Her pie has homemade caramel and creamy mascarpone added to the custard, and that makes for a heavenly, creamy pie.  I would make this again in a heartbeat.

Pumpkin Pie Crust

This was also my first time making Gesine’s quick puff pastry to use as the crust.  It doesn’t look pretty, but it’s AMAZING.  After sampling it last night, this is now my favorite pie crust.  It’s flakey, crunchy, buttery, and stays crisp on the bottom after baking – something we all rarely experience!  Gesine provides step by step instructions on how to make it on her blog (link below), but if you decide you don’t want to go to the trouble, you usual crust recipe will be just fine.

I have a feeling I’m going to be *very* popular at the office today.

Stick around, another great pumpkin recipe is coming soon!

Caramel Mascarpone Pumpkin Pie

Head over to Gesine’s blog to see the recipe and lots of helpful pictures!

Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

Tsoureki, Tsourekia

Happy Easter everyone!  Unless you are Greek Orthodox like me, in which case your Easter is a week later this year!  Last year for Easter, I made Hot Cross Buns, promising that next year I would try my hand at tsoureki, or traditional Greek Easter bread.  My grandmother made it every year for the family when I was growing up, and since she passed, no one in my family has tried to make it.  I knew it was time to try making it on my own.  So behold, my very first tsoureki.

Tsoureki is a sweet yeast bread not unlike challah, but tsoureki is flavored with a spice called mahlab (also called mahlepi) that is ground from the pits of wild cherries.  Mahlab is a little sweet and nutty, but still a unique taste you won’t find with any other spice.  The spice is a little hard to acquire at regular grocery stores – any Greek or Mediterranean food store carries it, and it can also be found online at places like Penzy’s.  There is also a small amount of a second spice – mastiha – in this bread.  Mastiha is the sap of lentisk trees (AKA, evergreen bushes) found only in certain areas of the Greek island of Chios.  Complicated or exotic enough for you?  You can leave the mastiha out, but if you’re going to the trouble of buying mahlab, might as well buy both!

Tsourekia, Tsoureki, Greek Recipes, Greece RecipesTsourekia, Tsoureki, Greek Recipes, Greece Recipes

I have my grandmother’s “recipe” for this bread, but it lacks a lot of what you might call “instructions.”  It is, in other words, a typical vague Greek grandmother’s recipe with imprecise measurements that magically comes together for the grandmother but not for the rest of us.  So I looked at her recipe and mashed it up with a recipe posted last week by Elly Says Opa.  So thank you Elly for for the recipe!  I was very happy with the way my first tsourekia turned out; it’s a lot of work making yeast breads, so I’m glad all my work paid off!

Note that you can speed up the rising process for this bread (and others too) by doing the following: when you start making the dough, set your oven at its lowest setting (likely 200 degrees F).  A few minutes before the dough is ready for its first and second rise, turn off the oven.  Then place the dough in the oven, which will give it a warm, draft-free place to do its thing.

Tsoureki, Tsourekia, Easter, Greek Easter, Greek RecipesGreek Recipes, Tsoureki, Tsourekia

One year ago: Pasta with Broccoli Rabe, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese

Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)

Adapted from my grandmother and Elly Says Opa

Makes 6 loaves

Total time: 6 hours

Note: This makes a lot of bread, but the loaves freeze beautifully.


2 cups warm (not hot)  milk
2 (1/4 oz.) envelopes of dry active yeast, or 4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (I used Red Star)
8-9 cups bread flour, divided (I use King Arthur Flour)
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon ground mahlepi
1/2 teaspoon ground mastiha (optional, but encouraged)
1/2 cup butter, melted
5 large eggs, beaten
Vegetable or canola oil

Egg wash
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk
Sesame seeds and sliced or slivered almonds

1.  In a large bowl, mix together the milk, yeast, 1 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and proof for one hour.  (See my note above about using the oven to make a warm place for it to rise)

2.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together 7 cups of flour, the remaining 1.5 cups sugar, salt, orange zest, mahlepi and mastiha (if using).  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add the yeast mixture, melted butter, and beaten eggs.  Work from the center outwards, bringing flour into the well, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form.

3.  On a heavily floured work surface, knead the dough for about 12 minutes until the dough no longer sticks to your hands, adding some or all of that extra cup of flour when necessary.  I split the dough into two pieces, and used my standing mixer and its dough hook to do my kneading for me.  I split it into two pieces because there was too much dough to fit in the bowl and knead properly, so I did it in turns.  Once you have kneaded the dough (either by hand or with your mixer), place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turning once to get oil on the other side. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.  (See my note again for the oven trick)

4.  Punch down the dough, and divide into 6 equal portions, and then divide each of those into three equal portions. Roll each piece into a 12-inch strip.  Lay 3 strips side by side, pinch together the strips at the top, and then braid them. Pinch the bottom together.  You can tuck the two pinched ends underneath each loaf.  Repeat with each set of 3 strips, until you have 6 braided loaves.  Place the braided loaves on parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheets (I put three loaves per sheet) then cover with a towel and let rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.  I only let mine rise for about an hour.  (See my note again for the oven trick)

5.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Whisk together the egg yolk and milk.  Take a pastry brush, and brush the mixture on top of both loaves evenly.  Sprinkle with slivered almonds and/or sesame seeds.

6.  Bake each sheet for about 25 minutes, checking the loaves about halfway through;  you will likely need to tent the pan with foil to keep the top from over-browning, which I did at about the half-way point.  Let cool, but they do taste good a little warm!

Roasted Almonds with Rosemary and Fleur de Sel

This past weekend, I made a lot of food for a holiday party, which means I have a few new recipes to share this week!  One of this first things I made was this almond snack.  Putting out a bowl of nuts or snack mix is easy, but this – roasted almonds with fleur de sel, fresh rosemary, and cayenne – is almost as easy and way more delicious.  It’s so easy, you don’t need a special occasion to make them.  The savory snack is a little sweet, a little spicy, and totally addictive.

Note that these are better the day after you make them, not hot out of the oven.

Roasted Almonds with Rosemary Fleur de Sel

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Total time: 40 minutes

Makes 2 cups of almonds


Nonstick spray (I used Pam)
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crushed, or fresh finely-chopped rosemary (I used the latter) 
1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel (I used Kosher salt and it turned out great)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste*
2 cups whole blanched almonds**

* I added an extra 1/8 teaspoon on top of the 1/4 teaspoon because I like the spice.  But you can adjust to your tastes.

** If whole blanched almonds aren’t available, substitute whole raw almonds with skin on.

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray foil with nonstick spray. Whisk egg white in medium bowl until foamy.  No mixer needed, just do it by hand.  Add sugar; whisk until frothy.  Whisk in rosemary, fleur de sel, and cayenne.  Add almonds and stir to coat. Transfer to baking sheet, spreading nuts in single layer.

2.  Bake until golden, stirring every 8-10 minutes, about 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely on sheet.

Can be made 1-2 days ahead (in fact, you should definitely make them the day before you want to eat them).  Seal in a container and store at room temperature.

Cauliflower Purée with Parmesan and Thyme

Cauliflower Mash

Here is a quick post to remind you that between all the cookies and other goodies that come with the holidays, it’s still possible to sneak in some healthy dishes.  I saw this on another cooking blog (Food and Style, a great blog!) last month and thought it looked great.  Turns out it was – easy, fast, and healthy, which might be just what you want for holiday meal (or any meal, for that matter).

Thyme bundle

Cauliflower Purée with Parmesan and Thyme

Adapted from Food and Style

Serves 4

Total time: 30 minutes


2 cups milk (any kind)
1 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 medium cauliflower (~ 2 1/4 lbs) – florets torn in 2-inch pieces
1 small bunch fresh thyme – tied in a bundle with kitchen string
freshly ground pepper (white or black), to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

1.  Bring milk to a boil in a large pot. Add half the salt, cauliflower and thyme bundle.  Reduce heat to medium and partially cover the pan so that the milk doesn’t boil over.  Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until cauliflower is very tender.  Strain in a colander, reserve the milk and let stand in the colander for 10 minutes until well drained. Throw out the thyme bundle.

2.  Put cauliflower florets in the bowl of a food processor and process with a steel blade until coarsely chopped.  Add the rest of the salt, pepper, parmesan and 2 tablespoons of the reserved milk.  Process for another 30 seconds until very smooth.  If necessary, add a bit more reserved milk to get your desired consistency.

The purée can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Put the purée to a bowl or tupperware container, let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

3.  If you made your purée ahead of time, place the purée in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until very warm, stirring frequently.  Add the sour cream to warm purée and stir until well incorporated.  Serve immediately.


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