Thanksgiving

Mescal and Apple - a Match Made in Heaven

With gratitude to Misty Kalkofen (goddess of mescal) for the inspiration.

mansana

Mansana de Mañana

1  oz Basque Apple Cider simple syrup 1 1/4 oz Mescal 1/2 oz lime juice (half a lime) 1 cardamom pod, pinch of cinnamon

Muddled cardamom in shaker. Add ice, remaining ingredients. Shake well.

Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with pinch of cinnamon and apple slice.

Smokey, slightly sweet and appley.

If you don't have hard apple cider of some sort on hand, use apple liqueur or even fresh apple cider might work.

No Soggy Bottoms! One Perfect Pumpkin Pie with Meringue Topping for Thanksgiving

Who doesn't love pie? I do, and I have had to learn to make them at home since the advent of my dairy allergy. Impossible to eat one out. Pie without butter? Is it any good? Yes. Yes it is. This recipe represents the best of three different recipes and many years of hosting, preparing, feasting. I culled two techniques from the venerable Rose Levy Berenbaum, a crust I love from Amy Traverso and a meringue topping from David Leite. I'll share the full recipe below along with some other terrific tips I've picked up along the way. Won't you join me? Pull up a fork!

two apple pies
two apple pies

Apple Pies for a birthday girl

strawberry_rhubarb_pie
strawberry_rhubarb_pie

Strawberry Rhubarb 

sweet potato pie
sweet potato pie
pm pie
pm pie

One Pumpkin Pie to Rule Them All

Pie Nation, Pie Boxes and more

  • Crust Dust: If you're making a fruit pie, this tip from Pie it Forward is worth the book. Gesine Bullock-Prado makes beautiful pies and some of her best tips can be yours. A soggy bottom is not a good thing. Not in most situations and certainly not in pies.
  • If you're taking a pie to someone's house, the Pie Box is essential!
Pie box 2
Pie box 2

Large enough to accommodate an Emile Henry pie dish

Pie Rules

There are some rules I'd say are non-negotiable.

  1. Make sure the fats are cold, and stay cold.
  2. Work quickly, calmly and with authority. If the fats get warm then pop it back into the fridge
  3. Always let the dough rest before rolling it out. But wait - Dorie Greenspan doyenne of Parisienne food says maybe not? Leite's Culinaria's Renaee Schettler Rossi asks "WWDD"? What Would Dorie Do?

Hm. Seems we have been given permission to ignore some of the rules. I'M IN!

Unified Pie Theory

So here's my unified theory of pie. It's okay to break rules and pick the best parts of various recipes.

My favorite crust at the moment is from Amy Traverso's Apple Lover's Cookbook. The Double Crust pie is a winner. To that, I add Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie & Pastry Bible. I use the cooked custard technique as well as her terrific technique of crushed gingersnaps to line the bottom of the pie. It helps prevent the dreaded soggy bottom, much like the Crust Dust above for fruit pies. If you can enjoy nuts add pecans to the gingersnaps. 4 (2") gingersnaps and 1/4 C pecan halves. I just use 6 Snappy Gingersnaps.

Also, cooking the pumpkin puree and spices, blending in the food processor makes for a smooth, rich filling.

Finally, I loved the addition of a meringue topping and all who enjoyed it agreed. I have Leite's Culinaria to thank for that inspiration. Pumpkin Meringue Pie. And if you need some pie crimping ideas, say no more.

GivingThanks Daily - Today's tips and recipes for a stress-free Thanksgiving

I've just put my pie dough in the fridge. Made crackers for pre dinner nibbles. (Pretzel crisps from Ivy Manning's great Cracker's and Dips book, a gift for anyone with food allergies who cannot find salty, crunchy snacks in the grocery store.) I'll do some other things tonight and work on tomorrow's post and last shopping list. Picking up the turkey tomrrow! How y'all doing? 

Today's To Do:

1. Create a List of Notes for Thanksgiving 2015 (done)

2. Make ginger snaps (done)

3. Make and freeze or can some cranberry something (done)

(okay, this post is a few days in the making...) 

Your New Cranberry Recipe:

This year I'm adding Cranberry-Raspberry sauce from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry. More soon on that. For now, I'll just say, if you've had any thoughts about preserving, making jam, pickles, charcuterie or wondered what to do with those wonderful pantry items after you've created them, this is the book for you. If you've hesitated because you thought you might not be able to do this without someone showing you step-by-step how to do it; this is the book for you. If you thought you really didn't need one more canning book; this is the book for you.

I can't wait to share more with you. I've got a couple other things up my sleeve. For now, let me say this will be part of our Thanksgiving this year and I could not be happier. Many swooning cooks out there are splattering the pages of their copy of this book. Many are posting lovely recipes. I'm sharing this link from from Kate at SnowFlake Kitchen because her post includes a COCKTAIL which was one of the first things I thought of when I tasted this.  Come on who's got a new Thanksgiving cocktail using some cranberry sauce?

 

Cranberry 4

Sexy Sauce

For now, I promised to share my cranberry sauce recipe.  Remember the "I heart spreadsheets" post yesterday? Here's why #3 makes so much sense. Otherwise I may have forgotten that adding pomegranate seeds was a win.

 

Tomorrow: Pie tips

  • Crust dust
  • Breaking rules (AKA "WWDD")
  • Pumpkin pie to beat all pumpkin pies (I pull together three recipes for the single best, most awesome winning pumpkin pie)

 

More Links for You

 

Are you a traditionalist - same menu every Thanksgiving or a try something new type? I've been dying to try an Asian or a Southwest version. Have to do it on one of the other 364 days of the year though.

What are you working on this Thanksgiving?

I heart spreadsheets. For Thanksgiving? You Bet!

Structure binds anxiety.

Sage words from my past life as a corporate trainer.

 

list

Your Grocery List

I love a spreadsheet for this sort of planning. I actually have two. One is the daily to do items. On it the left most column is the menu, the days between today and Thursday across the top. In each cell is the buy/make/prep note that gets the whole shebang done at the right time.

I have a second list/spreadsheet for groceries. It's so easy to forget if you need 4 eggs for one thing and 8 egg whites for another, you won't have 6 whole eggs left for the strata on Friday. Placing the menu on the left column, it's easy to scan and take a quick inventory of all that you need so you don't over-buy in a grocery shopping daze (8 lbs of butter "just to be safe" will take up precious space in your freezer, trust me on that one).

Your To Do List

Remember yesterday's advice about delegating? This will help you clarify all the things you want, in a perfect world with 36 hours a day, to be done before next Thursday. And, it will help you let go of all the things that you really can let go of. For example, my late night craft project might suggest a need for a glue gun. This is beyond ridiculous. Off the list! It's a great feeling to vanquish the demons that threaten to undermine you.

Don't forget to add actual notes to remind yourself to work out. Take a walk is a nice thought, but it's much more likely to happen if it is on the plan, in the calendar, staring at you from the list.

Your 2015 List

Why start now? Because you'll forget on Friday all the little things that worked or didn't, the mental notes you made to do X the day before, to add more herbs to this, less clove to that, which new dish was raving success or one to never try again. Hat tip to Cheryl Sternman Rule for the excellent advice on this one.

Create a list NOW (yes now) to post on the fridge or somewhere handy, to keep a running tally of reminders for next year. You will thank me later.

Some of my items from last year's list:

  • Calibrate Thermapen.
  • Alsace Cremant goes well with appetizers, priced well, bright crisp flavors great with tiny rich bites (like the turkey liver marsala mousse) and oysters. (Apparently I made a turkey liver marsala mousse last year, must've been a last minute improv because I have no recollection nor recipe!)
  • Shaved fennel, green apple, celery salad better to serve in small dishes than big bowl.

At the bottom of the list: Place a reminder in calendar for October 1 (or April or May 1 if you're pitching stories for Thanksgiving) to have the reminder on the calendar gives you a fighting chance at avoiding last minute panic next year. 

 

Next up:

  • Pie tips and recipes.

Colossal Roundup of Thanksgiving Recipes - Including our Black Pepper- Fennel Seed Biscuits

Good friends Denise and Lenny AKA ChezUs.com have compiled a gorgeous round up of dishes from across the country. They've culled the blogs and compiled a mammoth list of terrific links to recipes for every component of your Givingthanks meal. If you're looking for a little inspiration grab a mug of tea and click away!  

black pepper fennel seed biscuits

 

Black pepper - fennel seed biscuits. These are dairyfree, "buttermilk" biscuits.

Pro tip: Biscuits are an easy thing to make ahead and freeze.