Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I have a bone to pick with America’s end-of-year food-centric holidays. Why is it that all the flavors of Thanksgiving are still acceptable to serve at Christmas, except pumpkin? I mean, sweet potatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sage, turkey, pecans, apples – they’re all carried over past the fourth Thursday in November, but pumpkin is abruptly dropped and seemingly considered verboten even one day past Turkey Day. Why? I mean seriously, who made that rule?

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I’m not accepting this. Pumpkin isn’t that different from the rest, and too many people love it to just wantonly disregard it with such a thud. It should be in our collective repertoire until at least December 25th.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

If you agree, then you just have to make this superb pumpkin dessert for your Christmas feast. It’s more work than a typical pumpkin pie, but it’s also much more special, and more than delicious enough to be worth it. One small change I made to Fine Cooking’s recipe: they call for candying raw unsalted pepitas. I didn’t do that for two reasons. One, because it’s yet *another* step in an already involved and time-consuming recipe; and two, because online reviewers said it made the tart too sweet. I was extremely happy with my results. Enjoy!

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients:

CRUST:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs fine cornmeal
1 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vodka

CARAMEL:
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon

FILLING:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup plus 2 tbs canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup half-and-half

A few handfuls of salted, roasted pepitas, for garnish

Directions:
First make the CRUST: pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal or wet sand. Combine the egg, egg yolk, vodka and 1 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding more water 1 tsp at a time as needed, up to 2 tbs. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased 9-inch springform pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan without stretching it. Tear any high areas of the dough so that the height is about ½ an inch below the rim of the pan; the edge will look ragged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it to the top with dried beans, gently pressing them against the sides. Bake until the edges are firm, 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once and popping any bubbles with a toothpick, just until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Now make the CARAMEL: in a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar may seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick, 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.
Make the FILLING: in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, beating until combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the half-and-half. Mix until just combined.
Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. It’s okay if cracks form, they’ll be covered later. Cool the tart on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and warm, about 1 hour.
If the remaining caramel sauce is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave until pourable. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pepitas around the edges of the top caramel and press lightly. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled.

Bar Americain’s Sweet Potato Pie

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Alright, I know everyone who’s hosting has likely finalized their Thanksgiving plans already, and is very likely already in the throes of prepping their feast; so I won’t share this superb pie in the spirit of giving you an idea for your Thanksgiving this year, but more in the spirit of giving you a break from all the cooking/cleaning prep work to look at (somewhat) pretty pictures of a delicious sweet potato pie you can almost taste. And hey, if anyone bookmarks this to put it on their menus for Thanksgiving 2017, then I’m very flattered! I’m sure Bobby Flay is too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

I have been fortunate enough to dine at his Bar Americain restaurant several times, but never have I ordered this particular pie, or the ice cream he serves with it at his restaurant. I have the cookbook; you should have the cookbook too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

As making ice cream is a little more work than this time of year allows, I topped the pie with a sour cream-whipped cream concoction I learned from the great Ina Garten, then topped that with toffee chips. Let’s just say, no one complained about any lack of ice cream.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

The pie is outstanding! A traditional sweet potato pie filling ensconced in a cinnamon graham cracker crust, topped with billowy whipped cream and the light tang of the sour cream, plus toffee. Because what can’t be improved with a little toffee? Enjoy!

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Source: lightly adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

FILLING:
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

CRUST:
2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 15 crackers)
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

TOPPING:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs sour cream
Confectioners’ sugar, to taste
Toffee chips, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, halve each potato lengthwise and scrape out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Discard the skins. While the potatoes are still hot, mash with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth.
To make the crust, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Grease a 9” deep-dish pie plate, then evenly press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep oven on.
To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugars, molasses, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes, whisking gently until combined. The filling mixture will be a bit lumpy at this point; hit it with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and pour the sweet potato mixture into the shell. Bake until the filling is set around the edges and the center is jiggly but not liquidy when jostled lightly, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled, 2 to 12 hours.
Now make the topping: in a clean mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on the chilled or room temperature pie, then top as you wish with the toffee chips. Slice and serve.

Pecan Pie Cake

Pecan Pie Cake

While I’m all about pies for Thanksgiving, the Christmas season always screams “CAKE!!!” to me. Not sure why, probably some unexplored childhood thing lying deep in my subconscious; whatever it is, it bothers no one, myself included, so I’ll likely keep baking cakes every December.

Much of the time the month of December is harried and I want simple cakes that can be thrown together quickly and still taste amazing (such a cake coming to you tomorrow!). But the holiday season does deserve at least one real show-stopper of a cake, doesn’t it? Obviously I think so.

Pecan Pie Cake

Here we have pecan pie being transformed into a very tall, generously frosted layer cake here. Let me warn/tell you, this baby is RICH! Like, I only ate three bites at a time, rich. Like, make sure there are at least twenty teeth brushings between your last bite of this cake and your next dentist’s appointment. This is most definitely a once-a-year-only cake, but for that one time a year, it is so worth it.

Pecan Pie Cake

It tastes just as advertised – all the flavors and textures of pecan pie, but it’s clearly cake! Extremely delicious and festive, and totally worth the effort. Your family and guests will think so anyways. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Cake

Source: Taste of the South Special Collector’s Issue: Southern Christmas, December 2015

Ingredients:

CAKE:
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
Coarsely chopped pecans for garnish

PECAN PIE FILLING:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark corn syrup (you can substitute 1/3 cup light corn syrup and 1/3 cup sorghum syrup)
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

BROWN SUGAR FROSTING:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 cups unsalted butter, softened and divided
7 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 to 3 tbs whole milk, as needed

Directions:
First make the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, then spray the parchment with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ cup chopped pecans in each prepared pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape the side of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Divided batter evenly among the prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans completely.
Meanwhile, make the PECAN PIE FILLING: in a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, pecans, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Now make the BROWN SUGAR FROSTING: in a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, 1/3 cup water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in ½ cup butter until it melts. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cooled brown sugar mixture and remaining 1 ½ cups softened butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until combined. If needed, add milk, 1 tbs at a time, until the frosting is spreadable consistency. I didn’t need any milk.
Assemble the cake: place one cake on a cake plate and spread half the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Top with a second layer of cake, then spread the remaining half of the Pecan Pie Filling on top. Place the third cake on top, and then frost the entire top and sides of the cake with the Brown Sugar Frosting. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with the chopped pecans for garnish, if desired.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

With less than two weeks to go until December 25th, I’m guessing that most of us are starting to think about menu planning – I know I definitely am. Here I’m offering up a side dish we should all consider serving for our holiday meal. It’s easy, it’s unexpected, and of course, it’s delicious.

This is one of those side dishes you sit down to eat and don’t think much of, until you realize you have been ignoring those around you and absolutely scarfing it for the past five minutes. And then you wonder how uncouth it would be to take seconds of it even though you’ve touched nothing else on your plate. I really can’t say enough good things about it.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

I absolutely loved the mixture of the savory, grassy herbs with the sweetness of the potatoes and the maple syrup. The crunch of the pecans lends a needed contrast with the softness of the sweet potatoes, and truth be told, I wasn’t sure how to feel about leaving the skin on the potatoes until I tasted it; rest assured, it’s wonderful. Interesting, unexpected, and balances out the sweet notes with a little bit of “roughness”.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Pecan

Highly, highly recommend this one. Enjoy!

Source: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients:
2 medium to large sweet potatoes
3 tbs olive oil
4 tbs pecans
4 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tbs dried cranberries
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

DRESSING:
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs orange juice
1 scant tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Do not peel the sweet potatoes! Wash them, dry them, then cut them into ¾-inch cubes. Spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and mix well with your hands. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, shaking the pan well about halfway through.
On a separate baking sheet, toast the pecans for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and chop coarsely.
Make the DRESSING: whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the scallions, parsley, cilantro, pepper flakes, pecans, and cranberries. Pour the dressing over and toss gently to coat (you may not need all the dressing!). Season to taste, then serve at once or at room temperature. It’s even pretty good leftover and cold.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Yeah, so last week. I mean, doesn’t the presence of Thanksgiving alone provide enough craziness? But oh no, the universe apparently decided that I needed so much more. The week began with a water main break in my city, and our water was off for two days. When it (weakly!) returned, it came with a boil notice that city officials probably lifted a tad too soon, because I got very sick on Thursday!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

So in all the mayhem, I ended up neglecting the blog. I totally meant to share this superlative little dessert last week – pre-Thanksgiving, when it’s still socially acceptable to blog pumpkin desserts, but this recipe is so spectacular that it simply can’t wait another year. A small food blogging faux pas will likely be forgiven once you taste these.

I actually made these cupcakes mostly on a whim. A couple years ago I made and blogged a pumpkin cupcake with chocolate cream cheese frosting, which were quite lovely; so this year I impulsively decided to reverse the cupcakes and see if a chocolate cupcake with pumpkin buttercream worked just as well.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Possibly even better, I must say! I’ve made this three times in the past week, to overwhelming raves each time. The cupcakes are chocolate-y and tender and soft, with a not-too-sweet and earthy frosting capping them off. So delicious, and I personally think it’s still an acceptable time of year to enjoy these.

A note about the frosting. The first time I made them, I piped on the frosting with a plain pastry bag tip (not the star tip), and two problems emerged. One, they were over-frosted in the sense that I ran out on cupcake #19 (of 24), and two, the frosting looked like the poop emoji. So I used a small spatula to smooth it out and it looked much nicer. When I made it again, I skipped the pastry bag and had plenty of frosting for all 24 cupcakes. If you want the frosting piled high on all 24 cupcakes, I’d increase the recipe by 1 ½.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

Source: cupcakes from Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo; frosting from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

CUPCAKES:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cocoa powder
2 large eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk

FROSTING:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus a little extra for garnish, if desired
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Directions:
First make the CUPCAKES: preheat your oven to 350 F. Line 2 (12 cup) muffin tins with liners and set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a medium bowl. Add the egg, oil, and sugar to a large bowl and whisk briskly until thick and creamy, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla and milk. Add the dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined.
Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Bake until a metal skewer or cake tester comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting them.
When the cupcakes have cooled, make the FROSTING: place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat until airy and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, and vanilla extract; beat until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly sprinkle in one third of the sugar. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides. Repeat with the remaining sugar. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat the frosting on high speed for 2 minutes.
Frost the cooled cupcakes, and if desired, sprinkle each cupcake with a tad bit of ground cinnamon.

Foie Gras and Cranberry Sauce Doughnuts

Foie Gras and Cranberry Sauce Doughnuts

Hot damn, last week was a WEEK for me! Yeesh. I’d had all these big blog plans, things like sharing a few more Thanksgiving-appropriate desserts and whatnot, but life just blew up in my face instead. I’ll fill in details tomorrow, because today is about fulfilling promises – specifically a promise regarding Thanksgiving leftovers, in the form of cranberry sauce.

Foie Gras and Cranberry Sauce Doughnuts

I will dare to say that this may be the most insane and awesome way to use up your leftover cranberry sauce. Yes, you will stuff it into a homemade doughnut; but only after you’ve piped a homemade foie gras mousse into said doughnut. !!! What’d I tell ya?

Foie Gras and Cranberry Sauce Doughnuts

This recipe is really incredible. First off, it’s a fantastic basic old-fashioned doughnut template you need in your baking repertoire. Secondly, creative and unique are total understatements and don’t suffice as adequate descriptions, but they might have to do. The proper words might not yet exist in the English language (sadly the only language I completely know). You have to take at least two bites to get the whole experience here. The first bite hits you with warm, pillowy doughnut texture and the tart bite and jelly-like texture of the cranberry sauce. The second bite mixes the sweet-tart cranberry sauce with the really savory/salty foie gras, which has a wonderful contrasting texture from the doughnut itself: very soft and thick and velvety against the chewy breadiness.

foie gras mousse and cranberry sauce

foie gras mousse and leftover cranberry sauce

All in all, I gotta say this is simply THE best vehicle for transforming your old cranberry sauce from last week. Amazing!

Foie Gras and Cranberry Sauce Doughnuts

Source: slightly adapted from The Laws of Cooking: And How To Break Them by Justin Warner

Ingredients:

FOIE GRAS MOUSSE:
4 oz. foie gras grade B, roughly chopped
About 7 seedless green grapes
1 small shallot, diced
½ tbs orange liqueur
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs heavy cream

DOUGHNUTS:
½ cup warm water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
4 tbs unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
¼ cup leftover cranberry sauce, blitzed in a small food processor so it is smooth enough to be piped through a plastic storage baggie, if necessary
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:
First make the FOIE GRAS MOUSSE: put the foie gras in a skillet over low heat. Once some fat has rendered and pooled, about 3 minutes, add the grapes and shallots to the skillet. Cook until the shallots soften and the foie gras begins to melt and darken in color, about 5 minutes. Add the orange liqueur and cook 1 minute more.
Carefully pour the hot mixture into your blender and add the salt. With the blender running on a low setting (if possible), slowly pour the heavy cream in and increase the speed to high until combined.
Transfer the mousse to a bowl and store in the refrigerator, uncovered, until cool to the touch. Pour or scrape the mousse into a plastic food storage baggie, or a disposable pastry bag, but do not cut the tip yet. Tie or seal the bag and allow to chill in the refrigerator until completely cooled, at least 1 hour.
Now make the DOUGHNUTS: add the sugar to the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit until the yeast has foamed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot and let cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Once the yeast has foamed up, add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer bowl and slowly combine with the dough hook. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides. Continue kneading the dough on low, then gradually add the butter, then add the beaten eggs one-half at a time. Once the dough is uniform, turn it out onto a clean, floured work surface and knead just until smooth, about 10 turns. Take care not to over-knead or you will end up with a tough doughnut.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl on a heating pad set to its lowest setting and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Flip the risen dough out onto a floured surface, knead once, and regrease the bowl. Flip the dough back into the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again on the heating pad until doubled, about 1 hour more.
Fill your deep fryer or a large Dutch oven halfway with the oil. Bring the oil to 350 F. Lightly sprinkle a sheet pan with flour and set aside. Place a cooling rack on another sheet pan and also set aside.
Turn the dough out onto a clean floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, very gently roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/2 an inch. Cut out circles of the dough with a pint-sized drinking glass or biscuit cutter of about the same size. The recipe instructs not to reroll the scraps, as those doughnuts will be tough. I discarded that dough. Place the circles onto the floured baking sheet, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 10 minutes.
When the oil is up to temperature, working in batches, drop the doughnuts into the hot oil and fry until risen on one side, about 1 minute. Then flip and cook the other side another minute. Use a spider to remove them from the hot oil, then place them on the cooling rack lined sheet pan. Allow to cool slightly.
Transfer your leftover cranberry sauce to a pastry bag or plastic food storage baggie and snip off the tip.
If your doughnuts are too hot to touch, use a twice-folded paper towel to hold them, and use a chopstick to the side of the doughnut to create a tunnel. Don’t poke all the way through! Cut the tip off the bag with the foie gras mousse and pipe it into the hole until the doughnut feels full and heavy, but not until it overflows. Next, pipe in some of the cranberry sauce, allowing it to dribble out of the doughnut. Set the doughnut back on the rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Repeat until done.

Turducken Lasagna

Turducken Lasagna

Every year, I love roasting a turkey for the blog sometime in early November. And this year was no exception. Unfortunately, this year, the turkey did not love me back! First of all, I tried a newfangled type of stuffing-something-flavorful-under-the-skin technique featuring sausage and polenta. Don’t do this. The polenta is not firm enough to stay there.

Turducken Lasagna

Secondly, spatchcocking turkey, also known as butterflying, seems to be all the rage this year, so I thought I’d give it a go. Just, no. If you go this direction, please have your butcher do it. I nearly ruined my kitchen shears and no matter what I did I couldn’t properly break the breast bone. A completely useless waste of time.

Turducken Lasagna

So the bad news is that I have no turkey to share with you this year. The good news is that I’m offering you a main dish alternative for your Thanksgiving Day dinner for those of you who have tired of roasting birds and want a new spin on things.

Turducken Lasagna

This is a play on that freakish concoction otherwise known as Turducken, a scary monstrosity created by wrapping a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey. Honestly, it’s never appealed to me in the least. I just can’t. But lasagna – lasagna I can! This is one of the better-tasting and more special lasagnas I’ve made. It begins with equal parts of ground turkey, ground duck, and ground chicken that makes a flavorful, interesting and pleasantly gamey meat sauce that becomes part of a pretty traditional Italian style lasagna. We were so in love. Seriously, no one would miss a turkey if you served this on Thanksgiving.

Turducken Lasagna

A few recipe notes: it doesn’t matter what cut of duck you grind. Just grind the fat and skin along with the meat (or have your butcher do it). Use all dark turkey and chicken meat, or at least a combination of dark and white. All-white meat grinds will be too dry. I hope you enjoy it!

Source: slightly adapted from Harold Dieterle’s Kitchen Notebook by Harold Dieterle

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
8 oz. ground turkey
8 oz. ground duck (any parts)
8 oz. ground chicken
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 large Spanish onion, minced
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can tomato puree
15 oz. can tomato puree
Leaves from 1 bunch of basil, loosely torn
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 lb. provolone cheese, grated
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. no-boil lasagna noodles
3 lbs. ricotta cheese

Directions:
First, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the ground turkey, duck, and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until the meat is lightly browned and no traces of pink remain, about 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Add the onion, garlic, fennel, and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and stir in all the crushed tomatoes and all the tomato puree. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then continue to simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil.
Now assemble the lasagna: preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino in a bowl and fold them together. Ladle one-quarter of the sauce into the bottom of a very large lasagna pan, spreading it to all the corners.
Top with a layer of noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Spread about one-quarter of the ricotta over the noodles, then about one-quarter of the mozzarella cheese mixture. Repeat, starting with the sauce, three more times, and finishing with the mozzarella mixture. Grind black pepper over the top of the lasagna. Cover with aluminum foil, then bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly and you can pierce the center of the lasagna easily with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and return to the oven to bake until the cheese starts to brown, about 5 more minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce. That classic Thanksgiving staple that I just couldn’t abide as a child. Cranberries were WAY too tart for my little unsophisticated palate back then. But even as I began coming around on cranberries in general (which, to be perfectly candid, began rather unglamorously by drinking Cape Cods in my early twenties), I still eschewed the traditional cranberry sauce because I just didn’t see the point.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

bourbon mint cranberry sauce

I mean, you have gravy for the turkey – what’s the purpose behind the cranberry sauce?? A few years ago, I gave in. Now I alternate bites of turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, because let’s face it – cranberry sauce is just really, really delicious.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

While I will never turn down good ol’ regular cranberry sauce, if you add bourbon, I’ll love you even more. This stuff was outstanding. Less sweet than usual (though of course feel free to add as much sugar as you like), with a wonderful stiff alcohol-y bite, tempered by the mint flavor. Possibly my favorite cranberry sauce to date, and in another week I will have a VERY special post for you using up the leftovers. I’m so excited to share that one with you!! In the meantime, give this one a go next Thursday. I promise it will be a big hit. Enjoy!

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2015

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. fresh cranberries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, plus more to taste if desired
1/3 cup bourbon
5 big sprigs of fresh mint
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
Put the cranberries, sugar, bourbon, mint, salt, and ½ cup water in a 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and many of the cranberries pop, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if you want and cook until dissolved. Cool to room temperature and remove the mint sprigs.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

It’s come to my attention that there are people out there who find pumpkin pie boring. Um… what?? This just doesn’t compute in my brain. I’m too big of a lover, and obsessor, and outright fiend for the Thanksgiving staple to truly comprehend this notion. Since I graduated college, not a November has gone by that I didn’t bake one.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Nowadays I try out different types of pumpkin pie recipes – flirting with different toppings and flavors in the batter. This year, we’re dreaming of the Caribbean. This is a usual pumpkin pie batter, with a few little twists: the sweetened condensed milk is replaced with coconut milk; spiced rum is added in; and there is more ground ginger than ground cinnamon.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

The result is one of deliciousness. This particular pumpkin pie was a touch spicy from the ginger, and had a hint of coconut flavor from the milk. Yet it had all the familiar qualities I love about pumpkin pie – the comforting, warm flavors, the deep cinnamon, the flaky crust.

If you are one of those who have gotten a bit tired of regular pumpkin pie, give this lovely version a try. It might surprise you!

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

You might also like: Pumpkin Pie, Completely From Scratch; and Pecan Praline Topped Pumpkin Pie

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, October/November 2009

Ingredients:
1 unbaked pie crust, fitted into a 9” pie plate, edges fluted or crimped, chilled
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ¼ cups unsweetened coconut milk, full fat only, stirred or shaken well before using
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbs spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan’s)

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 F. Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake the pie until the bottom looks dry but isn’t quite done and the edges are light golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
Raise the oven temperature back to 425 F. Set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the center rack and leave it there while you make the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Whisk in the eggs and then the rum, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Put the pie on the heated baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake until the center of the pie no longer wobbles when the pie is nudged – the center should be jiggly but not liquidy, an additional 45 to 55 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before serving.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Pecan Butter

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Pecan Butter 6601

‘Tis still the season for Brussels sprouts, at least in my humble opinion, so today I shall share a potential side dish for your big holiday dinner, one that NEEDS to grace your table. If not for your Christmas dinner, then some other dinner, like on Thursday or something. Or tonight! These. Sprouts. Are. So. GOOD!!!

Brussels sprouts and vanilla pecan butter 6561

I was about to write something along the lines of these being the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever tasted, but I hedged a little; not because they aren’t indescribably delicious, but because it’s just SUCH a strong statement to say that any Brussels sprouts could, with any degree of real certainty, outdo sprouts topped with an obscene amount of prosciutto bread crumbs. Or sprouts nestled in with broccoli and scattered with bits of almonds. Or sprouts that have been deep-fried – really, yes, deep-fried!

Vanilla Pecan Butter 6573

So you can see my hesitation to not quite go all the way there. But I can tell you with much certainty that this side dish is completely superlative. Vanilla in a savory dish is tricky, but it totally works here. It doesn’t scream vanilla by any stretch, it’s just an interesting and almost musky background note. The sprouts are perfectly charred, richly buttery, and the crunch of the pecans gives a lovely contrast to the softness of the Brussels.

roasted Brussels sprouts with vanilla pecan butter 6582

You really have to try this one. It’s easy, and so, so delicious.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vanilla Pecan Butter 6605

Source: Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

{One Year Ago: Greek Yogurt Pancakes}

Ingredients:
1 ¼ lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 vanilla bean
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put the Brussels sprouts in a large mixing bowl and toss with the oil, plus salt and pepper to taste. Spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven until light golden brown and a knife inserted into the centers goes in without resistance, about 35-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the butter: split the vanilla bean and use a small paring knife to scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to a small bowl with the softened butter. Add in the pecans, then season lightly to taste with salt and black pepper. Stir until well combined, then place the butter on some plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to shape the butter into a log, then encase it in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bring it out about 5-10 minutes before you need to use it.
When the Brussels sprouts are done, remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a large serving bowl. Slice the butter off in small pats and immediately add them to the sprouts. Toss to melt the butter. Keep tossing until it’s all melted and all the sprouts are coated.
Serve right away.