Happy Thanksgiving! And welcome back to Dinner and a Book Club!
Thanksgiving always makes us think about the things we're most grateful for: family, friends, and the time we get to enjoy together. These simple things are what matter most. So, this month, we're returning to a favorite book series that reminds us to stop and smell the roses.
Or, in this case, the Kalahari and redbush tea.
The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Precious Ramotswe is the first "lady detective" in all of Botswana. Armed with her wits, a typewriter, and a tiny white van, she sets out to solve people's problems, whatever those might happen to be. From missing husbands to family imposters, her practical solutions are sometimes elegant, sometimes ill received, but they are always well intended—and always effective, whether her clients appreciate them or not.
This is a delightful read when you want to lose yourself for a few hours in a quieter, simpler life. The cases Mma Ramotswe solves are fun and charming, and the view of life in Botswana some 20 years ago is the perfect staycation for the holidays.
After the first chapter, the book relates her father's history and then a bit of her own childhood, providing deep character development. If you're a people sort of person, you'll love that. If you prefer action, skim through that part, but stick with the book. At about 25%, the story returns to the detective agency—the diamond that lies at the heart of this marvelous bestselling series, now 20 books strong.
With Thanksgiving coming up this week, we thought we'd offer a simpler, lighter option for our November dinner and a book club: hors d'oeuvres! These finger foods offer something for everyone—a savory counterpoint to the traditional holiday dishes.
Choose your favorites, or make them all. Your guests will delight in the ability to snack and chat all evening, at their leisure—and yours.
Goat Cheese, Cream Cheese (Spread, Dip or Finger Sandwiches)
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup red pepper jelly
Stir together goat cheese, cream cheese, pecans, and parsley. I use this as a spread or dip with crackers and provide red pepper jelly to top it.
If you prefer to make finger sandwiches, spread the mixture on 7 slices of bread and the red pepper jelly on another 7 slices of bread. Put them together, remove crust and cut into desired shapes.
Curry Dip (Serve with Raw Vegetable Slices)
1 c. mayonnaise
1t. lemon juice
1t. curry powder
1/2 t. minced onion
1/2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 t. tabasco sauce
1/4 c. chili sauce
Mix and chill.
Roast Beef with Blue Cheese Rolls
Cream equal amounts of unsalted butter and blue cheese.
Spread on thinly sliced roast beef.
Chill for about 1/2 hour.
Cut off ends and cut into finger-food sizes.
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 cup sugar (I cut sugar amount in half)
2 large egg whites
5 cups (20 ounces) pecans
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine salt, cayenne pepper, paprika and sugar in a small bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.
Whisk in the spice mixture. Stir in pecans.
Spread the coated pecans onto the prepared baking sheets in a single layer.
Bake for about 15 minutes.
Rotate the sheets in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees, and cook for 10 minutes more.
Immediately spread pecans in a single layer on clean parchment paper; cool before serving or storing.
Lemon Pepper Parmesan Crackers
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 20 minutes
The dough log can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to use.
If using the dough now, preheat oven to 375°F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sour cream, chilled
Pulse flour, cheese, lemon peel, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add sour cream and egg yolk and pulse just enough for dough to come together.
Gather the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into 12-inch-long log. Wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to two days. At this point it can be frozen.
Remove log from refrigerator and slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on prepared baking sheets. Bake about 20 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Transfer to a plate and serve.
For more great book recommendations, visit Dragon Authors.
Flourish Vectors by Vecteezy