You might say that Linda Beaulieu knows good food. As the longtime resident food writer, Linda contributes monthly dining reviews to SO Rhode Island and its sister magazine, Providence Monthly – but her experience writing about food goes way beyond the pages of these magazines. A James Beard Award winner for food writing (not to mention the first place awards she won in 2009 and 2010 from the Rhode Island Press Association for Best Dining Story), Linda has published four cookbooks over her storied career: Divine Providence: An Insider’s Guide to the City’s Best Restaurants, The Grapevine Guide to Rhode Island’s Best Restaurants, The Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, and The TV Maitre d’ Cookbook, based on the local television show.
The dessert included here is from her Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, which is a compendium of recipes collected from respected chefs at restaurants all over the state. “I was thrilled when I got the call from Globe Pequot [commissioning the book],” she says. “For years, I had been collecting recipes that are unique to this area, and I had a file cabinet full of recipes and stories. It was an absolute joy to write that book.” This pumpkin cheesecake is adapted from an original recipe created at the Castle Hill Inn & Resort in Newport. It makes good use of native pumpkins so abundant in the fall. Instead of an ordinary crust, ground almonds are added to the graham cracker crumbs for a slightly nutty flavor.
Much like her unique perspective on dining, Linda also has a twist on how she’ll be spending the holidays. “For the past few years, we’ve been spending Thanksgiving with friends, and then Christmas with our relatives,” she describes. “Many of us now are ‘orphans’ - our parents have passed away, and most of us don’t have any children.” Of course, it’s a good time to flex their culinary skills. “Thanksgiving is a fun time for us. We’re all into food in a major way, and we all love to try new recipes every year.”