This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving - technically, the holiday is tomorrow, but my mother has always preferred to celebrate on the Sunday evening, so that none of us have to get up early the next day. I have always though this to be an excellent idea. Since I got married, Chris and I have often spent the Monday afternoon and evening with his family, but happily, this year they accepted my parents' invitation to have dinner with us lot, so we were all together tonight. And it was lovely. I always, always eat too much, and this year was no exception - but everything was so damn delicious that I regret none of it.
My mom cooked a turkey and all the traditional side dishes - nothing too fancy, just two kinds of potatoes (garlic mash and sweet potato mash), peas, carrots, and gravy, with cranberry sauce from a can (just the way I like it). I made soup, of course, and my sister and D. contributed his special layered nacho dip and a spinach lasagna (as my sister doesn't like turkey). My grandma made stuffing, as she always does, and my in-laws brought a bumbleberry crumble pie. My final contribution was a maple-pumpkin bread pudding, from another recipe in Wish magazine. It looked both simple and incredibly delicious, and fortunately, both of those things turned out to be true. It was quick to put together and used simple ingredients; and it tasted amazing, with a great texture and tons of flavour. Everyone who tried it loved it. Topped with some sweetened softly whipped cream, it was my idea of the perfect fall dessert. This is totally something I'll be making over and over in the cooler season. You should, too. I know I'm thankful for the leftovers sitting in my fridge all ready for breakfast consumption.
I should note that the original recipe calls for the bread to be sliced and toasted lightly in the oven; I skipped this step because it seemed like a pain in the behind to cut toasted bread into cubes; I liked my result, but if you usually toast your bread for bread pudding, go for it.
Maple-pumpkin bread pudding (from Wish magazine, September 2007)
1 loaf egg bread (I used a round loaf of whole-wheat challah)
1 litre 2% milk
14 oz. pure pumpkin puree (half of a big can)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ginger and nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F and butter a 9"x13" baking dish (I used Pyrex). Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and place in the baking dish. Place all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread (I used a soup ladle, which worked very well) and allow to stand on the counter for 15 minutes to let the bread absorb some of the liquid. Place in oven and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out reasonably clean. If the top starts browning too much, place a sheet of foil over it.
Cut into squares and serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of real maple syrup. Serves twelve people generously.