Enjoy the last sunset of my favorite month. See you tomorrow with Dark Brown Sugar Caramel Corn.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Enjoy the last sunset of my favorite month. See you tomorrow with Dark Brown Sugar Caramel Corn.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thanksgiving for 40 at my house???? Egads!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Gotta Question about Thanksgiving? I'm here. I'm not wearing a bonnet and I'm not scattering corn for tom turkey, but your old Pru is right here.
For prebaking piecrusts the big variable is shrinkage. Prebaking crusts causes them to shrink, but if that isn’t an issue, then you can safely bake them at 350 for 10 minutes. (I recommend an egg yolk wash for custard pies-see wiley family question below.) If you are worried about shrinkage, you will need to fill the pie with weights, which will increase the baking time. PLEASE do not go and buy pie weights! I fit a piece of foil into the pie pan on top of the crust and fill it with dried beans or rice. (Save the beans or rice to use as permanent pie weights, since they are no longer fit to eat.) With the pie weights in the crust, you’ll want to increase your baking time to 16 minutes at 350. That should do the trick nicely!
The problem with early prep on the mashed potatoes is that they tend to collapse and lose their fluffiness. You can make them two hours early and put them in a crock pot, but after that their structure begins to break down. But you know what? They’re still absolutely delicious when flatter. When I have to make them ahead of time (up to 24 hours ahead), I try to capitalize on the denser texture and make them ultra-rich. I boil about 5 pounds of potatoes in salted water, then mash them with about 6 tablespoons butter, 1 cup half and half and a 8 ounces of cream cheese. Season to taste with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. Pile them into a buttered 9 by 13 and dot the top with butter. Reheat them in the oven for about 25 minutes on 350. They’re incredibly fantastic!
Can I make pumpkin pie today or will it go soggy by tomorrow?? I use to make it like my grandmother by cooking the filling like a custard and put in baked shell when you serve it, but my husband wants a traditional pie.
The best way to prevent your pumpkin pie crust from going soggy from an early bake is to prebake your crust with an egg-yolk wash. Brush the insides of the raw dough in the pie pan with a beaten egg yolk. Bake for 10 minutes on 350. It’ll help create a barrier between the custard and the crust. That being said, custard pies tend to have denser, less flaky crust underneath the filling. And that’s OK. Bake your pies today, refrigerate them tonight ONLY if you like them chilled, either way-they’ll be delicious tomorrow.
This year, my husband is deep frying the turkey. So, my question is about gravy. Since we will have no pan drippings , can I still make gravy? In years past, we've used store bought gravy when we deep fried the turkey, but I don't like the store bought stuff. Any suggestions?
I can’t blame you for not liking the store bought stuff. It’s an impostor that only LOOKS like gravy. Gravy is a Thanksgiving staple, so you’ve got to get some on that table, even if you smoke, fry or grill your turkey. First of all, start of by making the gravy base HERE which is basically a cider and broth reduction thickened with cream and a flour/butter roux. Next, you’re going to create some flavorful drippings by dusting lightly in flour and browning in butter some inexpensive, bony poultry pieces. Chicken wings and drumsticks work great, and you can even toss in the turkey neck that they store in the turkey cavity (thank goodness for euphemisms!). When you’ve browned your meat, remove it from the pan, and freeze it for another day when you’re ready for it. Deglaze the cooking pan with about 1 cup chicken broth, scraping up all of the lovely browned bits. Add them to your gravy base and you’ll be a happy camper and a happy turkey smoker, too.
Mom 24, this is an excellent question. The cheapest turkeys come pre-brined and that scares many of us away from hunting the best deal. But never fear. You can brine anyway! It helps to remove the commercial brine flavor and injects the turkey with lots of juicy good flavor. The only difference is that I do use half the salt in my brining solution. Brine your 20 lb. turkey in 10 gallons of water with ½ cup table salt (or 1 cup kosher salt). You can add a bit of sugar, thyme, allspice, and lots of black pepper. I promise you’ll have a juicy fat bird with a fatter pocket book to boot.
Michal, some people love a little sweet on their plate to balance out the savory flavors of turkey, stuffing and gravy. Then there are others that prefer their sugar to be called dessert and to be served after the meal. I can appreciate both camps, but on Thanksgiving, I like my sweet potatoes to be on the less sweet side also. Here’s my favorite recipe for a sweet potato dish, balanced with tart apples a spike of orange juice and a not-too-sweet brown sugar streusel.
Bake 2 large yams until tender in the microwave, about ten minutes. Peel and slice into rounds. Pierce 2 whole green apples with fork and microwave for two minutes on high, just to soften a little. Slice into unpeeled rounds. Layer slices of peeled sweet potato and unpeeled green apples in a butter 8 inch baking dish. Between each layer, dot with a little butter and sprinkle with chopped pecans and tablespoon of brown sugar for each layer. When you’ve finished, in a separate bowl combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, ½ cup orange juice, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Pour over the top and bake for 40 minutes at 325.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I'd like you to meet someone. It's your new favorite pie. If you've never heard of a Brown Bag Apple Pie, think of a simple vanilla spiked pat-in crust, a luscious cinnamon laced apple filling covered with a buttery streusel topping, all baked inside of a paper grocery bag so that it gently steams and the sugars carmelize. This is "THE" apple pie, the one you'll be making again and again. It's the pie everyone will be requesting for years to come. It's the pie that sent reader "Lucky" on a wild goose chase (or should I say pie chase?) through Ohio. Here's what she wrote in the comment section
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Tonight my charges are performing with their violin group at The Jubilee of Trees. It's their first Christmas performance of the season. Sailor will take it in stride. She'll march up on stage and play her little heart out. I can sit in the audience and feel perfectly at ease. But then there is West. And with West you never know for sure what you will get. Sometimes he is confident, dashing and bold. And other times he is shy, timorous, and wary. And when that happens, he likes me to be on stage with him. Right behind him, so close that we are touching.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
We're going to talk turkey for a minute too, because you really can't make gravy without the turkey's flavorful pan drippings. But this turkey is unbelievably delicious in it's own right.I love this recipe, but it requires a little foresight. Basically, I soak my turkey in a 2 day brine, which makes it juicy and flavorful. But you've got to plan ahead. For a 16 pound frozen turkey, you've got to start thawing the FRIDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING. The turkey will brine between Monday morning and Wednesday night. But look what you get for your advanced planning?
Line extra-large pot or bowl with two 13-gallon (or larger) plastic bags, 1 inside the other. Combine 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until salt dissolves. Remove from heat. Add 1 quart cold water and cool to lukewarm. Pour into plastic bags; mix in remaining 6 quarts water. Submerge turkey in brine to cover completely, gathering bags tightly to eliminate any air; tie bags closed. Refrigerate turkey in brine in pot at least 18 hours and up to 20 hours.
Line large roasting pan with 4 layers of paper towels. Remove turkey from brine and drain well; discard brine. Place turkey in prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Mix parsley, sage, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer half of chopped herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.
Combine broth and apple cider in heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, and remaining chopped herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened and reduced to 2 3/4 cups, whisking often, about 20 minutes. Cool gravy base slightly. (Gravy base and herb butter can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)To roast the turkey:
Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some of herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apples and onions around turkey in pan.
Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with 1/2 cup apple cider. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup cider. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 1/2 hours total). Transfer turkey to platter; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).
Discard apples and onions from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour degreased juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy.
I almost forgot to remind you to vote for my recipe at French's. There are only six days left to vote every day to send old Pru to NYC. Can we get to 500 votes this weekend? Help me find out. And thank you. Good-bye.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The funny thing about Pop up ads... is that some see them, and some don't. I'd never spotted one here on PP, so I kind of thought it might be something like the tooth fairy, or maybe the Great Pumpkin, or those snipes we always "hunt" at girl's camp, or at the very least one of those pictures that you had to squint and tilt your head to catch the message. But one of my kind readers and (dear friend from my New York days), captured the image and sent it to me. Ah-hah! Gotcha!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie, the day in which our weekly online baking club creates a Dorie Greenspan sweet. I'd been waiting for this recipe because it appeals to my gobbling greediness. If you're a glutton for the flavors of pumpkin, apple, pecans, and cranberries mingled with the warm autumn spices of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, then this is the recipe for you. When the Thanksgiving smells of this cake come wafting through the house, you'll feel like singing "Over the River and Through the Woods." And you might even start tap dancing too. Just warning you.You won't be able to stop yourself and it'll put you right in the holiday spirits. And that's even before you take your first heavenly bite. If you can wait, it's even better the next day.
I made it almost exactly as written, but reduced to a half batch in a five inch cake pan, and smothered it with a maple icing. (Click here for the recipe.) I also did leave out the cranberries, simply because I didn't have any on hand. Did I ever tell you that I'm categorically opposed to running to the market for that one missing item? I just won't do it! It has forced me to become a master substituter and omitter....and borrower too. Thankfully I have generous neighbors who are only too happy to lend a missing ingredient in exchange for a slice or two of the finished product.
Have a wonderful day, dear readers. Did you know that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week? So while you're busy being productive, would you kindly remember to head over the river and through the woods to the French's website and vote again for my recipe? Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Next Up: Let's talk Gravy.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Along with being eaten by sharks and giving a speech in public, many people are afraid to make a pie crust. A pie crust has no teeth whatsoever and can be done in absolute privacy, so let's abolish that fear so that a new dread can move into its spot. With a little practice, making a beautiful, flaky piecrust is actually elementary, my dear Watson
So let's make a pie crust, shall we?
A few tools will make your job a little easier. Waxed paper and a rolling pin, I wouldn't make a pie without them. If you have a pie cutter, your job will be quicker, but you can use two butter knives instead. I really can't say why I took a picture of a fork and ice water. They're not exactly special equipment, and if you don't have access to a fork and some cold water, then making the perfect pie crust isn't your most pressing issue.
In a large bowl, using a fork, combine 2 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt and a teaspon sugar.
Let's talk a little about fat and flavor. Fact: Shortening produces a flakier crust than butter. Fact: Most people prefer the flavor of butter to shortening. Opinion: You need both butter and shortening to make a piecrust that has both the perfect structure and flavor. It's more expensive, but I like to buy the shortening in cubes (pictured above) in the baking section of the market. I only use shortening for pie crusts, and if I buy even the smallest can, I end up having to throw it out. The cubes are individually sealed and premeasured, so they're ideal for butter-bakers, like me.
I use half shortening/half butter, both of which should be firm and chilled. Dice them both into small pieces.
Use your pie cutter to "cut" the fat into the dry ingredients. You can use two knives in a slicing motion, if you're piecutter-less. It takes just a couple of minutes of constant cutting before the mixture resembles coarsemeal, with a few larger-pea size pieces. Stop there! You want bits of uneven fat throughout the mixture that will melt into your dry ingredients and create layers of flakes.
Take your ice water now and drizzle 6 tablespoons over your dusty dough. Use a fork to mix in the water and try to gather it into a ball. I neglected to take a picture of the drizzling process, because my sister came over with this dear little baby. She's my dear little friend. She's wearing dear little pink pajamas and looking at me with a dear little Gerber expression. I can't stop saying dear little whenever she is around, so shall we get back to my dear little pie?
Now, 6 tablespoons is NEVER enough water for my pie crust, so I always end up drizzling at least 1-2 tablespoons more. Go slowly, and get just enough in there to make the pie crust come into a ball. If you err, err on the side of too much water. It's just too hard to roll out a bone-dry pie crust. Here's my ball of dough just after I stopped sprinkling water and staring at the dear little baby visitor. Get out a generous sheet of waxed paper and a pen. We're going to trace a 12 inch circle onto our waxed paper as a size guide for rolling out the crust. (Just flip the waxed paper over after you make your circle, so that no ink comes in contact with your crust.) Put your crust in the middle of the circle and pat it out a little to make your rolling job a little easier. (If your pie crust is at all moist, lightly flour your waxed paper.) Pat your dough out from the center. There's very little rolling to do, if you pat your pie crust down first. But let's roll now. Start from the center and push lightly on the rolling pin. Move your pin 1/8th of a turn, and continue around the pie, pushing the crust to just outside your circle guide. If you like, you can trim your pie to a perfect circle with a pair of kitchen shears. I never do, but I always think it would be nice. Now, lightly flour the top of your pie crust and fold it in half with the waxed paper. Peel back 1/2 of the waxed paper and place the piecrust down into your piepan, centering the fold line with the middle of the pan. Peel of the rest of the waxed paper and unfold. IMPORTANT: Don't try to make the pie crust look pretty yet, I repeat do not try to make the pie crust look pretty yet. This is where most people make their mistake, and I'm speaking from experience because I did it for years. It's shaggy and uneven, I know, but we're going to fix it. Right now we're just going to build up a ridge. Fold up the extra pie crust over itself to create an even ridge around the top of the pie dish. If you have too much crust in one area, pull it off and add it where you need it. This still needs a little bit of work. When you have it as even as you like, then you can make it look nice. Force your knuckle into sections of dough, pinching it into place with your fingers on the other side. Go all the way around the pie. Now, take a look at the OUTSIDE of your pie dish. Oh, dear. If there's anything hanging over the edge too far, fix it now so it doesn't break off during the baking process. Much better.
And there you are, a beautiful blank canvas. It's ready to fill if you're making pumpkin, apple or berry pie, or ready to pre bake, if you are making quiche, cream pies, or pecan. It's just waiting for you, so get cracking.
Perfect Pie Crust
Estimated Cost: $1.25
Notes: Making your own piecrust is inexpensive and delicious!
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoons cold shortening
5 tablespoons cold butter
6 tablespoons and more ice water
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in fats. Drizzle with ice water and shape into ball. Roll out and place in 8 or 9 inch pie dish.
Post Edit: Another wise Prudence from the comment section asked me some very good questions that I should have included, so here goes. I'm glad my readers are so on the ball, since I can be a bit of a ninny. You CAN freeze this pie dough very easily. I prefer to freeze it BEFORE rolling it out and let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours. It will freeze magnificentally, which is why you should always make a double batch at least.
Have you voted at French's today? Click right here! It's easier and faster than baking a pie! So head on over. And a million thank yous. My new goal is 300 votes, since I just passed 200, thanks to all of you.