Thanksgiving treats

pumpkin pieI took a little blogging break for the holiday. In fact, I wasn't even going to write about what I cooked this year for Thanksgiving, but I got a request from someone very special to me. Then I started looking at all of the photos and realized this had to be a two-parter. There will be some book plugging here, and you know the drill... either I worked on these books, or the authors gave me a free copy. So don't listen to my opinions. Or do, and you'll be really happy if you decide to pick up a copy of these books for yourself.pumpkin pieTrue story -- I don't like pumpkin pie. Or maybe I've never liked it because I've never been presented with a truly good one. That's where Joanne Chang's amazing new book, Flour (which I did not edit) comes to the rescue. The recipe is called Super Pumpkiny Pumpkin Pie, and that piqued my interest. You cook down canned pumpkin with brown sugar, and then you spice it up. So you get this very richly-flavored filling which is sure to convert even a non-pumpkin-pie lover. And check out the texture of that pie. It's like a work of art. If you're an avid baker (or even if you're not) and haven't picked up Flour yet, then you'd better put it on your holiday cheese sticksNext up, these blue cheese straws from The Glory of Southern Cooking by James Villas. They're strongly flavored, but if you like blue cheese, you will love these.  I had trouble with the "twist," but it didn't matter much.  These are all about the rich flavor, and they're fun to eat.  The book is a little older now, so it's not so easy to find.  But if you're craving a great Southern cookbook, you might want to check out Pig by James Villas, which was just named to Amazon's list of the 10 Best Cookbooks of the Year.  I'm getting a little teary-eyed thinking about that... sniff.spiced walnutsI'm an equal-opportunity cook -- this next delight is from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, so no one would feel left out of the yumminess.  You've heard me rave about Shauna a million times before.  Bear with me, because I'm going to do it again.  Reading this book literally makes me laugh, and it makes me cry.  I can't say that about any other cookbook. Add to that, these amazing sweet & spicy walnuts are awesome food for anyone, not just the gluten-free folks.   In fact they were the first thing from the meal we finished off.  I'm thinking they'd make a great holiday gift in a jar (not to mention a copy of the book).pumpkin cheesecakeI guess I saved the best for last.  When I look at this photo, I don't even know how I got such a great shot.  Trust me, my food styling and photography skills are not this good.  I think the amazing photo is a testament to the recipe.  Funny that it was such an afterthought.  The day before Thanksgiving I posted on Twitter asking if anyone could recommend a really good pumpkin cheesecake recipe.  The amazingly-talented Tara from Seven Spoons sent me this link to a David Lebovitz recipe on Epicurious.  Another flawless dessert.  I've never seen a cheesecake bake up so perfectly, with such light and creamy texture.  You chill it, and then serve it with the warm caramel-bourbon sauce on top.  It's one of the best desserts I've ever eaten, let alone made myself.  (I did swap the pecan crust for a traditional graham one, but I just love graham crusts.)  Even though this recipe came from Bon Appetit originally, I bet David has some equally-amazing delights in his latest cookbook, Ready for Dessert.  I'm putting that one on my own wish-list.