Pumpkin Pie? No, thank you.

A custard-like mixture of pureed pumpkin, eggs, seasonal spices, sugar and cream makes its way to the dinner table in many homes in America on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll pass on that, thank you.

It’s not the flavor of pumpkin pie that I dislike. It’s more of a texture thing for me. Stir pureed pumpkin and spices into a more substantial cheesecake and I’m all in. Add pumpkin to quick bread batter with chopped dates and chunks of pecans — I’d never pass it up.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Twin Cities author, Nicole Mary (N.M.) Kelby, read from her recently published book, “White Truffles in Winter.” With humor and passion and a glass of wine at hand, the author brought a reckless, sensuous air into the culinary kitchen at the St. Louis Park Byerly’s store. She offered members of our Minneapolis-St.Paul Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier a peek into the great Chef Auguste Escoffier’s life as she read just enough snippets from her book to leave us hungry for more.

With help from a few members of our Les Dames group, a meal was prepared using Kelby’s recipes that she developed with inspiration from the late Escoffier (1846-1935).

A chunky and chewy wild rice salad loaded with dried fruit, fresh apples and toasted nuts started the meal. The first bite instantly awakened my senses and my taste-buds. The salad was followed by succulent bacon-wrapped and roasted chicken, each slice generously blanketed with wild mushroom sauce. Whole pumpkins, which Kelby harvested from her own garden, were baked with a bread stuffing flecked with chunks of chorizo sausage, olives and cheese. As she spooned the moist stuffing from the pumpkins, she caught a bit of creamy flesh and ever so carefully used a finger to help move the mixture to a plate.

It was the Pear Clafouti with Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce and Creme Fraiche that made me swoon. Tiny, satisfied noises may have come from my throat as I savored each velvety bite, sweet with caramelized sugar and ripe pears.

Simple, yet elegant. Lush with flavor, yet refined in appearance. Delicate, fruity and fresh. Yes, this will be dessert at my house on Thanksgiving. And, several times throughout the holiday season.

To learn more about N.M. Kelby and “White Truffles in Winter,” you can click here to get to her web site.

Click here to get to the author’s recipe for her remarkably easy-to-make (no crust necessary) Pear Clafouti with Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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