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Posts tagged ‘thanksgiving’

Bake that pie and eat it with me.

Apple Pie (right out of the oven). How bad can that be?

The pies came out a bit more “rustic” as Chef Scott at FCI would put it, but I cannot complain about the results as far as taste. That more perfect, Martha-esque style will come in time, with much more practice, I hope.

Apple Pie:

After making my pie crusts the night before (using the recipe I’ve previously posted) I used the following:

5 Cortland Apples (thinly sliced)
5 Granny Smith Apples (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T maple syrup
Zest of one lemon
2 T lemon juice
2 T cinnamon
1 T fresh nutmeg
1 T allspice
1/4 cup flour

I toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and add it to the crust lined pan, and then top with crust and cut vents or shapes. Cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour until crust is golden brown. Topped here with some of the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar… such a treat!
Sweet Potato Pie with Ginger Whipped Cream and Maple-Glazed Pecans

I borrowed a really simple recipe for Sweet Potato Pie filling from Bon Appetit (via Epicurious.com) and made a few changes for a more complex flavor combination.

For the Filling:

2 large red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; 13/4 pounds)
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup whipping cream
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg white, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Pierce potatoes with fork and place on wire rack in oven, bake 45 minutes or until completely tender.

When cool, scoop out flesh of potatoes, and mash with potato masher or ricer. Combine next six ingredients. Bake 45 minutes.

For Topping:

The topping here was so easy and so delicious! I just added about 1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger to my whipped cream (whipped by hand of course!) and topped with a few of the wonderful Maple-Glazed Pecans I had prepared the night before. Because Sweet potato pie is really not that sweet, the mild sweetness of the cream, and the sweetness of the maple added a nice touch, not to mention the crunchy texture of the nuts and the subtle bite of the candied ginger. I thought it all tied together quite well. And, judging from the lack of leftovers, so did the rest of the family.

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Thanksgiving Recap

Now that we are no longer the stuffed, satiated lushes we were since Wednesday, (and no longer able to sleep in), I figured I have no excuse not to be productive and post about my holiday meal. Thanksgiving went by without a hitch this year… well almost (we won’t talk about my bacon related meltdown at the local Stop & Shop– the result of which my mother officially labeled me as “one of those obnoxious food people”). After trying to go completely local and seasonal, there were a few things that I forgot to add to my list, one of which was slab bacon. But otherwise, besides quite a mess, I feel everything came out really well. By taking on all the cooking, I hope my family got a little more time to enjoy each other’s company, or at least find some amusement or time to relax. The wine certainly helped if my cooking did not.

The Thanksgiving Spread

Vermont Cheeses

For the cheese plate I picked all Vermont cheeses that I purchased at Murray’s Cheese Shop:

Jasper Hill, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: Nutty and sharp, aged one year.
Champlain Valley, Triple Cream: A buttery and rich creamy cow’s milk cheese from Vergennes, VT.
Consider Bardwell, Manchester: Raw Goat’s Milk, Intense and biting in character, paired best with the Wolffer Big Apple Wine.
Dancing Cow, Lindy Hop: Raw Cow’s Milk Blue, very earthy and barnyardy, also tasted great with the Big Apple wine, could also be paired with something even more sweet.

I served the cheeses with sliced granny smith’s and some La Quercia Proscuitto. I also made some simple maple roasted pecans.

1 bag pecans
2 T Vermont Maple Syrup
2 T Oil
Fine Salt (Sea Salt or I used Fleur De Sel)

Toss all ingredients and bake approximetly 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Sprinkle with salt while warm. Experiment with different herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, or even cayenne.

Uncle Gary Carving the Bird

The turkey came out really well and was extremely moist with I attribute to the brining process, something I have been doing for the past few years. I use Martha Stewart’s Brine Recipe, a mix of salt, sugar, and seasonings. Brining for 24 hours ensures that the turkey will retain much more of its moisture, and absorb much of the flavors added to liquid. I stuffed the turkey with carrots, celery, fennel, sage, lemon and thyme before cooking. We all really noticed the difference in flavor and moisture with the farm-bought bird and plan on making it a tradition.

Brussels and Potatoes

I made mashed potatoes for my two little cousins, and the secret here is as you probably guessed: butter. When you think there is enough butter, add some more.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon:

1 stalk (roughly 16oz) Brussels Sprouts
3 slices thick bacon
3 T Vermont Maple Syrup
3 T Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine all ingredients. Roast 20-30 minutes until sprouts have carmelized.

Acorn Squash with Sage & Cream, Cornbread Stuffing with Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Sausage (and Leeks)

The recipe for the squash can be found in the post below. The stuffing I adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. I also used a box of Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing Mix because after making pie crust, cranberry sauce, and brining the turkey after arriving in Connecticut Wednesday night, I just didn’t feel like making cornbread too. But here is the recipe for the Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage, Dried Cherries, Pecans, and Leeks.

1 lb bulk sausage
1 large onion
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and greens
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 box, bag, or batch of cornbread stuffing, or cornbread
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
3 eggs

Brown sausage in saute pan and place on paper towel. Leave drippings in pan, and saute onions, celery, and leeks until translucent. Add stock to deglaze any sucs in pan. Pour over stuffing. Combine all ingredients and pour into 9 x 13 in baking pan. Cook about 15 minutes in a 300 degree oven.

I will add the photos and recipes of the desserts tomorrow, so keep posted!

Easy as Pie… (Well… Kind of…)

Cold Rainy Day... Perfect for Warm Apple Pie!

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I figured it was time to start experimenting a bit with pie. Pie, especially apple, is such a classic New England dessert, and the favorite of so many people– that’s why it is really such a shame when a delicious holiday feast is finished up with store-bought or frozen crust pies. Because that is what really separates a good pie from a bad one, after all– the crust.

While I really enjoy baking, I’ve always been a bit intimidated by making my own pie dough. My mom told me she attempted it in the past, but I had never seen her do it, and my grandmother had always bought decent apple pies from the orchard down the street from her home in Connecticut. Whenever I baked pies while in school, I would use Vermont Mystic Pie’s frozen pie crusts. When baked, it’s really difficult to tell these crusts are store-bought. They are so good, I’d always bring them back with me for the holidays. But I have not been able to find these crusts outside of Vermont, and expectations for Thanksgiving this year are high because of my culinary schooling, so thus, I broke out some flour, butter, and a rolling-pin, and had at it.

We have a pie and tart dough lesson at the FCI in two weeks, but I asked Chef for advice any way. I thought it would be difficult without a food processor, but Chef assured me it wasn’t. On a clean countertop, I cut the cubed cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it was the size of small peas. I then made a small well in the center to which I added my cold wet ingredients a little at a time. I had read in last months Cook’s Illustrated that by replacing some of the water with vodka, because gluten won’t readily form in alcohol, you are able to add more liquid to the dough which makes it a little easier to work with. (The flavor burns off during baking). I had plenty of vodka in stock, and was looking to make things as easy for myself as I could, so I decided to try this method.

I then fraisaged the dough, a technique Chef emphasized in ensuring a really successful flakey crust. To do this, you form walnut-sized pieces of dough and smear them against your work surface with the heel of your hand. This makes even thin layers of butter within the dough.

It is important to refrigerate your dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out. I didn’t have a lot of free time this week, so I ended up keeping mine in the fridge for two days. I let it sit for a few minutes before starting to roll it out on my floured work surface.

The rolling wasn’t easy. Every recipe I’ve read stresses applying even pressure and rolling from the inside out, but I found my dough did crack a bit, which forced me to handle it a little more… warming it up further, and making it even more difficult to work with. I guess it just takes a bit of practice.

I keep my filling fairly simple and not overly sweet. My favorite apples to work with are cortland. They are tart, crisp, and hold their shape well. I couldn’t find any locally grown cortlands at the Union Square farmer’s market, so I bought macintosh apples which tend to lose their shape and are better for apple sauces. I took the advice of Lucinda Scala Quinn from her cookbook Mad Hungry and balanced the sweet flavor of the macs with some tart granny smiths. I cut the apples into fairly thin, even wedges, (about 1/4 cm), I usually use about 8 apples. I go easy on the sugar, keeping it to under 1/2 cup (I use organic cane sugar), because I also add some Vermont maple syrup for sweetness. I add lemon juice, lemon zest, and for spices I use a good amount of cinnamon, and just a pinch of allspice, ginger, and some freshly grated nutmeg. I covered the pie and refrigerated it for about a half hour before baking for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Here is the recipe for “Foolproof Pie Dough” I used from Cook’s Illustrated. In the original recipe it called for 1/2 cup vegetable shortening in addition to the butter, because it is a pure fat with no water (water encourages gluten development), but I just had butter, so that’s what I used.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks COLD unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in cubes
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 cup cold water

I topped my warm apple pie with a few thin slices of Shelburne Farms 2 year cheddar… and I have to say… it was pretty amazing. I think for my next pie I will try a different dough recipe, and hopefully learn a few more tips in class to pass on before thanksgiving. Please comment with any advice you might have! And of course to keep in theme with last post… Both Quinn and my friend Annie’s grandmother agree… Men love desserts, but pie is their favorite. Didn’t get to have this one tested as planned, but hope to get some input on next weeks experiment.

Food For Thought: Farm to Table Thanksgiving

Photo: NYMag

Read New York Magazine’s list of farms in the New York City Area to call now to reserve your Thanksgiving turkey, here.