there was a newlywed. A newlywed who was hosting her first Thanksgiving. Her in-laws and her cousin were to be this couple’s guests at their first ever holiday. She plotted and planned and channelled Martha for divine inspiration in the kitchen and beyond. She bought a new tablecloth and napkins, found the perfect autumnal flowers for the centerpiece and cooked way too much food for five average-sized people to consume.
Magically, it was all produced in a kitchen roughly the size of two bathroom stalls. Talk about flying in the face of adversity. Newlywed believes there was exactly three feet of counter space (two useable feet if you count the space where the cappuccino maker sat) and enough room to fit three people in the area at once.
BUT…she cleaned and cooked and arranged (and wished for a bigger kitchen. Huh. Apparently some wishes take some time to materialize. Still wishing on this one).
Thanksgiving Day arrived. Almost all souls attended the Big Parade. Hubby stayed home and watched The Bird because crowds drive him to the brink. That was the best decision for everyone. We wanted this to be a happy day.
Turkey is done! Parade was great! Ooooo…food looks good! Centerpiece looks great!
Tummies are happy. Tryptophan kicked in. Ahhhhhh.
But wait, time for the best part. Dessert!
Pumpkin pie, gingerbread squares with real whipped cream and topped with crystallized ginger curls…and also, a pumpkin-ginger cheesecake.
Pumpkin-ginger cheesecake is worth every single atom of a calorie in the newlywed’s book. The crust, the spices…even the COLOR of it is insanely pleasing and just screams “Thanksgiving!”
Did I mention that these newlyweds had two young cats?
All parties are sitting in the living room/dining room (remember this is an apartment in a major metropolitan city. Space is a non-entity and multi-purposing rules the roost) awaiting dessert. Cats saunter in and out of the festivities and circle a bit, as they know that turkey is somewhere in their midst. Gray cat is particularly interested.
All desserts are on the long side table next to the tv (so Martha. Not.) and as the newlywed reaches to start doling out pie, Father-in-Law notices that Gray Cat looks about the jump onto the dessert table. Chaos follows. And then much laughter. And then a memory is created that the newlywed is now writing about 17 years later.
Cat jumps to table! Father-in-law jumps to reach for cheesecake that is directly in the path of the airborne cat! Father-in-law saves cheesecake and in haste of jumping and then TURNING around, cheesecake FLIIIIIIIES off the serving plate and clear across the room….
Landing…*THUMP*…perfectly upside down on the wool rug. There was a not a skid. Not a dent. No, it was just completely upside down, as if it had fallen out of the ceiling as opposed to flying across the room
All parties were quiet, looking at the toppled dessert on the patterned rug. A wool rug. Not a great topping for a cheesecake. Newlywed likes fruit, a sauce or even flowers. But not that.
What to do when a great dessert lands on your rug? You NOW channel Julia Child.
You turn it over, careful now…hey, it’s still absolutely intact! Then you take the looooongest knife that you received for your recent wedding and you slice clear across that top layer, shaving off a cool inch or so. Wool free!
And….Dessert is served!
(Thank goodness for in-laws with a good sense of humor! And note: this was an isolated incident. You should not harbor fears that your food has been on my floor if you come to dine at my home. Rest easy.)
And here is the infamous recipe. You’ll love it, especially if it isn’t airborne at some point during the meal.
Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tb. plus 1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground ginger
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1.5 lb. cream cheese, at room temp.
1.75 cups pumpkin puree
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp. pure orange oil
1 Tb. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 325. Cover the outside of a 9″ springform pan with heavy-duty foil, shiny side out. Butter inside of pan and set aside. In a bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, the 3 Tb. sugar and ground ginger; stir while gradually adding melted butter. Stir until well mixed. Press crumb mixture evenly over inside of pan to reach 2″ up sides. Chill 30 minutes.
Using mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly add the 1 cup sugar while beating, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, ginger, orange oil, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Then beat into the cheese. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition and scraping sides.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake until top is lightly puffed all over, about 60-70 minutes. The center may be slightly underset, it will firm up during cooling. Cool on a wire rack; remove foil and pan sides and refrigerate overnight.