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.
Kalle had asked me about converting my bourbon pumpkin cheesecake to miniatures a couple weeks ago. I just bought the Norpro Mini-Cheesecake Pan with 12 cups with the intention of making this same conversion this year but hadn’t worked out the math yet.
Unfortunately, to the best of my rusty math abilities I now have, and realized that a cheesecake baked in one 9-inch springform would yield enough batter to make 24 cupcake-sized cheesecakes, which means I will have to do the much-dreaded two batches of baking if I don’t halve the recipe.
Lana says she tried the pie dough last night with a “hippie brand” shortening and found that the dough never got to the cornmeal stage, and once the liquid was added it got very sticky. She is certain she “screwed it up.”
Because I have no experience with this hippie shortening you mention (heh), so I won’t be very helpful in determining if that’s where it went wrong. But I did want to remind everyone that this pie dough–with the extra liquid to compensate for the vodka that burns off–is stickier than other pie doughs. However, it bakes up just fine, and miraculously, seems to shrink less than others I have used.
Lots of vodka questions: Can I use cheap vodka? Can I use flavored vodka?
Answers, which are really just my humble opinion, yes and no. I wouldn’t worry about using cheap stuff. Vodka is vodka. In your martini, you might want something fancier, but for baking? I can’t even imagine using Grey Goose only for the purpose of evaporating it. Seems a terrible waste. That said, I really deeply dislike flavored vodkas; their artificial flavor horrifies my inner chef. The idea of cooking off the decent part–the vodka–and leaving behind the ick part–loud, artificial flavors–seems wrong to me, especially when we work so hard to fill them with fresh and delicious ingredients. Want a lemon crust? Add some zest. Want a vanilla crust? Add a 1/4 teaspoon of extract, or a scrape of a fresh bean. However, like I said in the caveat, on this vodka stuff, my answers reflect my views only.
What am I cooking this year?
If I were hosting my own, however, I’ve got all sorts of recipes from the archives I’d consider, and hope you do too.
Appetizers and Sides
- Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
- Wild Mushroom Galette
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Roasted Mushrooms Stuffed With Feta, Spinach and Bacon
- Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Poppy Seeds
- Roasted Stuffed Onions
- Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts in Brown Butter
- Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Mustard-Caper Butter
- Winter Panzanella (with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts)
- Stuffed Rond de Nice Squash Poached in Olive Oil
- Acorn Squash with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
- Cranberry Sauce, Three Ways
- Buttermilk Chive Biscuits
- Black Bean Pumpkin Soup
- Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
- Acorn and Butternut Squash soup
- Garlic Soup
- Silky Cauliflower Soup
Feel free to ask any cooking questions you run into between now and Thursday in the comments, and I’ll respond as best as I can.