Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - S'more Pie

I really wish I took a picture of my pie rather than using the one from Epicurious, because it definitely looked prettier. This pie was a hit, especially with the three men at my house. I personally don't love s'mores, but they do and went nuts. It's not a hard pie to make despite the three steps. It will definitely be part of our Thanksgiving menu next year, but I'm sure I'll be asked to make it before that!

S'more Pie (from Gourmet)

For crust
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (10 graham crackers, about 6 oz)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

For chocolate cream filling
7 ounces chocolate chips, plus an extra 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, at room temperature for 30 minutes

For marshmallow topping
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Vegetable oil for greasing

Make graham cracker crust:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter pie plate.
Stir together all ingredients in a bowl and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Make chocolate cream filling:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Put 7 oz. chocolate in a large bowl. Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, then pour hot cream over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then gently whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in egg and a pinch of salt until combined and pour into graham cracker crumb crust (crust will be about half full).

Cover edge of pie with a pie shield or foil and bake until filling is softly set and trembles slightly in center when gently shaken, about 25 minutes. Remove pie from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Cool pie to room temperature on a rack (filling will firm as it cools), about 1 hour.

Make marshmallow topping:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large deep heatproof bowl and let stand until softened, about 1 minute.

Stir together sugar, corn syrup, a pinch of salt, and remaining 1/4 cup water in cleaned 1- to 1 1/4-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil until thermometer registers 260°F, about 6 minutes.

Begin beating water and gelatin mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed, then carefully pour in hot syrup in a slow stream, beating (avoid beaters and side of bowl). When all of syrup is added, increase speed to high and continue beating until mixture is tripled in volume and very thick, about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined, then immediately spoon topping onto center of pie filling; it will slowly spread to cover top of pie. Chill, uncovered, 1 hour, then cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and chill 3 hours more.

Brown topping:
Preheat broiler.

Transfer pie to a baking sheet. Cover edge of pie with pie shield or foil and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat, rotating pie as necessary, until marshmallow topping is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Cool pie on a rack 10 minutes. Slice pie with a large heavy knife dipped in hot water and then dried with a towel before cutting each slice.

Two Bobby Flay Thanksgiving Recipes

I watched the Thanksgiving Throwdown that Bobby Flay did with the Pioneer Woman. She won, but I was intrigued by two of Bobby's recipes. I made them for our meal, and they were both very good. I'm not sure I'd make them every year, but they were unique and delicious.

Bobby's Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Apple Sauce and Creme Anglaise is excellent - I consider it restaurant quality because of all the flavors, textures, and temperatures. The downside is the recipe is really made of four different recipes plus whipped cream, and each recipe is a different classic dessert preparation: cooked caramel, Creme Anglaise, and custard. That doesn't even factor in the problem I had with the caramel - I took my eyes off it; it burnt to a nasty black tar-like appearance; and my inadequate disposal methods meant I was scraping burnt caramel off the cupboards at midnight. It is amazing, though, and I could make the caramel apple sauce as a cheesecake or spice cake topping. If you want the recipe, click here.

The next recipe is Cranberry Blackberry Sauce. When we saw it on the show, Bobby mentioned jalapenos, so I diced one and added it with the onion since it's not mentioned in the recipe. I liked it, but lots of people really liked it. I did love the blackberries. Here's that link.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is a common Southern "vegetable" served at Thanksgiving. I made it for the first time this year, and even though we have plenty of starchy sides, we really loved it. It also makes a great non-Thanksving-y leftover.

This is Martha Stewart's recipe I've posted before, but here it is with some changes. It is so, so good.

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 12
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or 9x13 pan; set aside. Place panko breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. In the microwave, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with breadcrumbs, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 cup Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/4 cup Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - White Bread Stuffing

Well, it doesn't photograph well, but people are passionate about stuffing! It's already one of Jack's favorites. I've made Thanksgiving dinner most years for the last 16 years, and about 10 years ago, I thought I would try something different from the typical Northern white bread stuffing I grew up with. I tried cornbread, sourdough, sausage, craisins, etc - it was fine.

And then three years ago I asked my mom to make the stuffing. When I tasted her stuffing, it was like a Proustian madeleine - I was transported back to childhood Thanksgiving meals in New Hampshire. No more experimenting - we're sticking with our stuffing.

Here's how I do it. I think this method answers some of the common anxieties about stuffing: food safety and abundance. I make two batches; make one in the bird and one in the oven; mix them together and reheat. We have plenty of stuffing cooked to the correct temperature.

White Bread Stuffing

2 loaves of cheap white bread, torn into 1/2 inch pieces by small children
8 ribs of celery, diced
2 onions, diced
3 sticks butter
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
2 T. sage or poultry seasoning (plus more to taste)

1. Prepare white bread ahead of time so it has time to get a little stale. You can also lightly toast the bread, or you can just skip this step.

2. In a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well. Add more sage if pale and more broth if dry.

3. Heat half the stuffing in the microwave until warm, then stuff the turkey. Roast turkey.

4. Ahead of time or after the turkey comes out of the oven, bake the rest of the stuffing in a 90-inch pan for 30-40 minutes at 350. Hint: you can bake this stuffing on the grill. Turn the grill on to low, put the stuffing in the pan within a disposable aluminum pan, and bake. Keep an eye on it, though - it can cook very quickly!

5. When the turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing and mix with the baked stuffing. Put it back in the oven until heated through - about 5-10 minutes.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Sweet Potato Casserole

I've made many sweet potato casserole recipes, but this year's recipe was especially good. It comes from one of my favorite bloggers, Pioneer Woman; she calls them Soul Sweet Taters. I think it was the milk that made the sweet potatoes so light in texture. These are very sweet; you could reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup with no problem. I made a couple of small changes to the recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole

4 whole Sweet Potatoes
1 cup Sugar (can use less)
1 cup Milk
2 whole Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Pecans, chopped
½ cups Flour
6 T. Butter

Preparation Instructions
Wash 4 sweet potatoes and bake them in a 375-degree oven until fork tender, about 45-50 minutes. When they are finished cooking slice them open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl.

Add 1 cup of (regular granulated) sugar, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt. With a potato masher or a large fork, mash them up just enough—you don’t want to be perfectly smooth.

Now, in a separate bowl, add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup pecans, chopped, ½ cup flour, and 6 T. of butter. With a pastry cutter or fork, mash together until thoroughly combined.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into a regular baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over the top.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. You can bake this before the turkey goes in the oven and reheat before serving - even in the microwave.

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Mashed Potatoes

Before I get to the mashed potatoes, I wanted to point out the gourds in the picture. I bought them at the very beginning of October and they are still in good shape. I read on a decorating blog that if you wash gourds/pumpkins in a 9:1 water:bleach solution (I used a Clorox spray cleaner); coat them in a thin layer of Vaseline; and buff them until they shine, they will last and last. And they did!

Another great timesaver on Thanksgiving is making your mashed potatoes the day before and reheating them in your slow cooker. You'll save room on your stove, too!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (serves 20)

10 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
milk, half and half, or heavy cream
salt and pepper

Put potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with a water - you may need to use two pots. Add about a tablespoon of salt (or divide it between two pots). Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Save a cup or two of potato cooking water in case your potatoes are dry or your gravy needs it. Drain potatoes and keep warm.

I like to use a potato ricer, but you can also use a hand masher. I read once that it's best to add your milk/cream before you add your butter - it has something to do with the starch. Heat cream until warm and add, a cup at a time. Once the potatoes are starting to appear creamy, add butter, a half stick at a time. Add salt and pepper and more cream or butter as necessary. I don't hold back when it comes to Thanksgiving potatoes: it's heavy cream, butter, and lots of it.

Put potatoes in slow cooker crock and chill overnight. Reheat on low, and turn it to warm when the potatoes are hot. If they seem a bit dry, add a little warm milk or potato cooking water - but don't add too much!

Thanksgiving's Greatest Hits - Gravy

Gravy is an essential yet challenging part of the Thanksgiving meal. You need it to be hot, plentiful, and ready when the rest of the food is. Here's a gravy base I came up with after looking at a couple of ideas online; I made it on Wednesday, but you could make it even earlier. Just reheat it gently when the turkey is close to being done. The gravy turned out amazing, and it couldn't have been easier on Thanksgiving Day.

Make Ahead Gravy

3 lbs. turkey wings or chicken wings
turkey neck (if included with your turkey)
2 onions, peeled and quartered
6 T. butter
6 T. flour
salt and pepper (I didn't use salt because my turkey is brined and the drippings are salty; I added more salt shortly before serving)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange a single layer of turkey/chicken wings/neck in a large roasting pan. Scatter the onions over the top of the wings. Roast in the preheated oven for 1-1/4 hours or until wings are browned. Chicken wings will finish earlier than turkey.

2. Place browned wings and onions in a 5 quart stockpot. Add water to roasting pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour the the water from the pan into the stockpot. Stir in 8 (6 cups if you didn't roast the neck) cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, lightly covered for 1-1/2 hours. Discard wings, neck, and onions.

3.In a medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour.

4. Cook over medium-high heat until flour is incorporated and white bubbles begin to form on the top of the roux. Cook the roux for 2-3 minute after the white bubbles have formed, whisking constantly.

5. Gradually add the broth, whisking constantly until the gravy is thickened and comes to a boil.

6. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

7. At this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the gravy base for as long as 4 days. Reheat in a medium-sized pan. When turkey is done, add gravy base to pan drippings and bring it to serving temperature. You may need to add broth or potato cooking water to thin the gravy. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu 2010

Jack and Ben, ripping up white bread for stuffing.

This is not going to be a pretty post. I'm basically going to copy and paste my Thanksgiving Menu into the post. There will be some links, but they'll be long and messy. But I'll be able to keep track of what I'm doing, and if you are looking for a last minute recipe, you might find something here.

As usual, it's a crazy amount of food for 12 people, but I'm going to ask the guests to bring Tupperware so I can send them home with leftovers.

Thanksgiving 2010


Chex Mix - Chris
Spinach Dip - Terri
Fluffy Apple Dip

French Onion Mushrooms


Roast Turkey

Smoked Turkey

Rolls - Chris


Mashed Potatoes

Squash, Wild Rice, Red Onion salad

Spinach Casserole - Chris

Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Topping

Cranberry Apple Salad

Cranberry/Blackberry Sauce by Bobby Flay

Waldorf Salad - Grandma

Jello Salad - Grandma

Green Bean Casserole

Mac and Cheese

Brussels Sprouts


Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Apple Pie - Mom

S’more Pie PW

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (link)

Here's the link if you are looking for a great fall dessert:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Monday, November 15, 2010

No-Knead Bread

This is a dangerous recipe. It's a quick and easy way to have delicious, homemade, crusty bread every night of the week. Once you start having homemade bread with dinner, it's hard to go back to rice or potatoes! An added bonus is you'll always have dough on hand to make a quick homemade pizza. The recipe makes enough for four or more boules (round loaves) of bread, and the dough keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks.

The recipe comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

No-Knead Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough

1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chesapeake Chowder

Wow, is this chowder good! We liked it so much, I made it twice in one week. It's great with crusty bread or as a starter with crab cakes. It reheats well, too, but it wouldn't be good to freeze.

Chesapeake Chowder

1/2 pound unpeeled, medium-size fresh shrimp
1/2 pound fresh crabmeat
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 (8-oz.) bottle clam juice
5 red potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Drain and flake crabmeat, removing any bits of shell. Set seafood aside.

2. Sauté onion, garlic, and celery in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

3. Stir in shrimp, crabmeat, and heavy cream; cook over low heat 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Garnish, if desired.