November, 2007 Archive

Thursday, November 22, 2007

an apple pie tale

apple pie

About five years ago, I brought an apple pie to Thanksgiving from some recipe I had made up while I was going along–feh, who needs a recipe for apple pie?–and my aunt declared it the best apple pie she had ever tasted. While this should have been the best news in the world, in the years since, in my mind, at least, it has brought nothing but chaos because, without having written down my “little of this” and “little of that” approach, I’ve had a terrible time recreating it.

apple pie

Fairly certain I had used only yellow delicious apples, as I had heard that they have the lowest water content and therefore spare the pie sludginess, I used them again the following year only to have an overcooked and not tart enough pie. The next year, my New Boyfriend Alex and I made a slew of stunning pies (so I could send one to his family, too, oh, I was in deep) with a mix of apples, but these ended up slightly undercooked. The following year, unbearably short on time, I used one of those Pillsbury unroll-and-bake doughs (more on this later, or another time if it gets late), but found the inner contents not to be heavy and gushy enough. Yeah, gushy is an acceptable word to describe pie, okay?

apple pie

Last year, realizing I was flopping around, creating chaos and confusion where neither need be, I turned to good ol’ Cooks Illustrated, the pinnacle of reliability and sound practices in cooking and baking. I used shortening in the crust, even though shortening makes me cringe; I used their suggested mix of apples; I used lemon and lemon zest because they said I should, but I insisted upon keeping the lattice top because I think it’s just the prettiest. In the end, I still cringed from shortening (but admitted the crust was very flaky), didn’t like the lemon and felt there was not nearly enough spice. I realized that the pie kept getting dry because there was too much openness in the lid. At least this time I took notes.

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

chile-garlic egg noodles

chile-garlic egg noodles

We’re going to do this short and sweet tonight, because I’m at the halftime of two cranberry tarts, one apple pie and one pumpkin cheesecake. Yes, I have gone mad. But this is no time to discuss the obvious. I actually have sugar melting on the stove.


garlic shallot oilhoney

Okay, it’s not ready yet. Wow, that takes a while. I am sure the last thing you want to see tonight is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s chile-garlic eggs noodles, but alas, that is what we made for dinner on Monday night after I saw it on Serious Eats and could not resist the recipe’s tractor beam.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

moules frites, redux

easy setup

In the comments of yesterday’s post, someone asked why she feels a need to make so many dishes for Thanksgiving when she’s only feeding a few people and always ends up with leftovers that end up getting thrown out four days later. Now, I’m sure the question was rhetorical yet I can’t help but chime in because I’ve been mulling this over a lot lately: Why is it that hosts feel so compelled to over-feed? Why is it that I feel bad when I only have served just enough food?

potatoes on the ready

Yes, I know these are first world problems, but they’re not bad things to consider in this season of indulgence. The average American’s Thanksgiving intake measures about 4,500 calories, or over twice the recommended daily allowance of a full-grown adult. Our tables flow with an amount of food that would feed most families in the world for a week, many longer. We stumble away from them drunk, stuffed, our waistbands snug. We actually think that what the potatoes might benefit from another stick of butter.

baked pommes fritesbaked pommes frites

Continued after the jump »

Monday, November 19, 2007

q&a: special thanksgiving edition

q&a: special thanksgiving edition

For once this month, I actually have a few really great recipes in the queue that I haven’t gotten to (as opposed to a frantic “I guess I have to make dinner tonight so I’ll have something to NaBlop!”) but I’ve received so many Thanksgiving questions in my Inbox and in comments on previous posts, it seems far more useful today to bring them up to the top of the page. Thus, I’m going to answer a few questions as best as I can, but feel free to weigh in on these concerns in the comments, or add your own between now and Thursday. Any newer questions I receive I will answer in the comments. Finally, I’ve rounded up some Thanksgiving recipes at the end, so be sure to skip to that if it’s all you’re really looking for.


Leslie asks about how much the butter and shortening should be combined in a pie dough? She notices when she is rolling hers out, she sees flecks that weren’t incorporated–is this okay?

Depending on the size of the flecks, it is most certainly okay. In fact, it is that melting of the butter/shortening bits engulfed in fine layers of flour that create the holy grail of pastry: flakiness. See any significantly bigger pieces that were saved from the slicing blade? Pinch or cut them into smaller pieces.

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, November 18, 2007

nutmeg-maple cream pie

nutmeg-maple cream pie

Before I can tell you about this recipe, I need to ask you a few leetle questions. It will only detain you a minute or two, I promise, but it essential that we get some facts out in the open before we can proceed. I wouldn’t want to lead you astray.

Do you love maple syrup?

maple syrup

Do you flood your pancakes/waffles/French toast with so much maple syrup that you at times question whether they are simply a vehicle for your favorite sweetener, and have nothing to do with breakfast at all?

Do you wonder why, oh why, more desserts are not sweetened with this cozy ingredient, instead of granulated sugar, which is really so boring in comparison?

maple syrup, reducing

Have you tried to swap maple syrup for sugar in a dessert in the past, such as Pumpkin Pie, only to end up sorely disappointed that the maple flavor wasn’t pronounced at all?

Come, sit down next to me. [Hat tip.] Pull up a chair, let’s brew a strong espresso and stay for a while, because I have the dessert that you–and by you I mean we–have been searching for our whole lives.


Continued after the jump »