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Thanksgiving Pies And The Wine

I bake pies, lots of pies for Thanksgiving. Not just for me but for some friends as well. For my family it’s just a pumpkin and pecan. I am also making sweet potato, pumpkin and apple for friends. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie, it’s a staple and everyone loves it.

A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone that celebrates the holiday and to all that don’t I hope you have a wonderful day also. The holiday season officially starts after Thanksgiving and it’s a very short time until Christmas. Have a wonderful day with friends and family and enjoy a fantastic meal, there is so much to be thankful for and on this day we want to remember just how lucky we are to have each other, delicious food on our table and the warm home that we live in,

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

I use Joy the Bakers recipe for the sweet potato pie. If you have never had one you should try it, it’s delicious. I actually prefer to pumpkin pie. Joy’s recipe is fantastic.  I made a couple of very minor changes to Joys recipe, I bake the sweet potatoes until they are very soft and caramelized, then I process in the food processor until they are silky smooth. She uses two 5 oz cans of evaporated milk, I use 5 oz of half and half and 5 oz of heavy cream. I also omit the coriander.  It’s very similar to Meta Givens Pumpkin pie rccipe which is what I use for my pumpkin pie. NOTE: The baking time for the sweet potato pie was different than that in the recipe. Joy has you bake at 450 for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 1 hour. well my pie was completely baked in 45 minutes and my oven temperature was accurate. Every stove varies so this doesn’t mean it will not take an hour for your pie but mine did not.

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

I also make Pecan Pie, I posted the recipe last year so click on the link to see the recipe. It’s tooth achingly sweet but that is the way pecan pie is and it’s absolutely delicious.

Here is my favorite recipe and at least for me it’s no fail pie dough or pastry whichever you would like to call it. It’s from the master, Julia Child and is simple and foolproof. She uses butter and shortening, all purpose and cake flour. I like to use leaf lard instead of the shortening. I gave instructions if you want to use a food processor, for me it’s by hand only for a flaky pie crust. I like to use the food processor for tart dough (pate sucre’)

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom

Juilia Childs Pastry Dough

Makes enough dough for a double crust 9 inch pie

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1 tsp salt

6 oz cold unsalted butter cut into tbs size pieces

4 tbs shortening or leaf lard cold

1/2 cup ice cold water

You can make this either by hand or in the food processor. To make by hand, put flours, salt, butter, lard or shortening into mixing bowl, use pastry cutter to combine until it resembles pea size crumbs. Add water mix with fork, gather with your hands, divide dough into a 2 discs and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

In Food Processor, add the flours, salt, butter and shortening or lard into the bowl of the processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles pea size crumbs. Add the water and pulse a few times until it becomes a cohesive dough.  Divide dough into two discs and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

For the Thanksgiving meal I feel like picking a wine is like a crap shoot. There is such a variety of dishes how do you pick something that compliments the meal? I know with poultry or fowl you usually pair white wine but I like red with my meal. I purchased a variety of wines but the star of the show for the meal will be 2010 Christian Bernard Fleurie Select Block Gamay – Beaujolais I got a magnum. I feel that it will not compete with the meal but compliment. Hope I’m right. I can’t take credit for picking out the wine, my friend and owner of Gnarly Vines in Brooklyn is the expert and he guides my choices. Excuse the messy table I quickly shot a pic of the wine before it went into the wine cooler. What wine are you serving with your Thanksgiving feast?

Thanksgiving wine

Thanksgiving wine

Potato Dinner Rolls

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Who wouldn’t want a soft, warm flavorful dinner roll with their Thanksgiving meal.I started making this recipe several years ago and it has become a staple on the Thanksgiving table. It’s a really simple recipe and is pretty much foolproof. Adding potatoes to a bread recipe is like magic, it results in a lovely soft texture. I make these the day of, the rise times are pretty long which works well for me since I am doing so many other things, first rise is 90 minutes and the second is about 2 hours.  The recipe makes approximately 16 large rolls and they freeze well so bake them, wrap well and freeze. This recipe is from King Arthur Flour under the title Amish Dinner Rolls.


2 Large eggs lightly beaten and at room temperature

1/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons Butter at room temperature

1 cup unseasoned mashed potatoes

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

3/4 cups potato water (from the potato you boil ) cooled to room temperature

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook combine all of the ingredients. Mix until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl, approximately 6 minutes. The dough should be smooth and shiny, its a very soft dough and you might be tempted to add more flour, don’t do it that is the way it is supposed to be. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turn the dough so that its coated with the oil. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap, then cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise until its doubled in bulk in a warm place for 90 minutes.

Ready for first rise

Ready for first rise

After almost 2 hours doubled in bulk

After almost 2 hours doubled in bulk

Once the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and on a lightly floured surface divide the dough into 16 pieces (if you want larger rolls like a sandwich roll you can make larger balls), each piece should be about the size of a handball. Gently roll the dough in your cupped hands until it forms a nice round ball.

Place the dough balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between each (You will have to use 2 sheet pans) Cover with well oiled plastic wrap and place a kitchen towel over them and let them rise again for 2 hours, the dough has risen sufficiently when you gently press with your finger and the indent stays. Alternatively you can refrigerate the dough balls overnight and continue the rise in the morning.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

After the rolls have risen for 2 hours place in your pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. They will be golden brown and when you tap them with your finger there will be a hollow sound. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter,

Butter And Herb Roast Turkey, Gravy And Sides

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom

Turkey is the cornerstone of the Thanksgiving meal, for me it just wouldn’t be the same without it. Growing up we usually had Italian food for Thanksgiving but from time to time my Mom would make a traditional American meal. Mom always made a capon rather than a regular turkey, if I understand correctly a capon is a turkey but it has been neutered, its smaller and more tender, it was really good. She always roasted in her black and white speckled enamel roasting pan. When I left home my Mom presented one to me and although I have tried roasting turkeys in other pans I always come back to the black and white graniteware pan. The turkey is cooked in record time, it’s moist and tender and nicely browned. I posted the recipe on food52. Above is the picture that James Ransom took for food 52 when my turkey was chosen as a community pick. The recipe below is for a large turkey for a smaller one you will have to adjust amounts and cooking time. No matter what method you use to cook your bird I highly recommend trying the compound butter inserted under the skin, it produces a moist and flavorful turkey.

For 18-20 lb turkey

Compound butter:

  • 16 tablespoons salted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves removed or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 3 chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  1. Crush garlic with mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt.
  2. Remove the leaves of thyme from the stalk, add thyme and sage and lemon zest and crush it all together.
  3. In small mixing bowl, add the softened butter and garlic and herb mixture mix together.
  4. If you are going to insert the turkey right away, don’t refrigerate — if not, roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before you add to the turkey.


  • 1 18-20 pound turkey
  • Compound butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Put turkey on work surface and make sure it’s clean and dry. Insert fingers under skin to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Work slowly so you don’t tear the skin.
  3. Spread a generous amount of the compound butter under the skin on both sides of the breast. (Reserve a small amount of the compound butter to baste the turkey when you brown the skin.)
  4. Using butchers twine, bind the legs together and place the turkey on a rack in your roasting pan.
  5. Rub the turkey with some olive oil and generously salt and pepper the entire turkey. (I like to do this the night before baking refrigerating overnight, if you do this let sit at room temperature for an hour before placing in the oven). Place lid on pan and put into the oven. No basting required!
  6. After 2- 3 hours, check the internal temperature of your turkey by inserting a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. When it has reached an internal temperature of 150°F, remove from the oven, and brush the turkey with the remaining compound butter. Crank up the oven to 450°F. Put back in the oven without the lid and let it roast until the skin is a nice golden brown. The internal temperature should be 160°F when you remove from the oven. Total cooking time for an 18-20 pound turkey is 4-4 1/2 hours approximately. Let turkey rest for at least 30 minutes tented with foil and final temperature should be 165°F-170°F.
  7. Note: If you don’t have a roaster with a lid just tent with aluminum foil, making sure its sealed well around the pan. Also, you need to watch the turkey and check on it for doneness if you are using a graniteware pan it cooks very quickly, basically sealing the turkey and steam roasting it. I generally start checking on the turkey after 2 hours.


I have several different types of roasting pans and have to say I love the graniteware, it’s very inexpensive ($33 for am extra large pan), lasts forever and always gets the job done well. I don’t use a thermometer when I use my graniteware, I slow roast my turkey at 325  degrees no basting except at the very end when I remove the lid to get the turkey a really deep brown at high heat (450).I can fully cook a 22 lb turkey in my graniteware pan in less than 4 hours.


After the turkey has rested you will want to make gravy, I pour the pan drippings,(when you use a grantiteware pan there is a ton of juice) into one of those separators, you know it separates the fat from the juice. I place about 1/4 cup of the fat into a fry pan and heat it, add some flour to make a roux, stir constantly until the flour is cooked and nicely browned. Add the juice whisking constantly until it’s the desired thickness, season with salt and pepper if necessary. I always use gravy master, it’s a habit, I like it and only use about a tsp of the stuff.

Separator,gravy master, food mill and graniteware

Separator,gravy master, food mill and graniteware pan


The first course will be a Butternut Squash + Bourbon Soup from Mary Frances and her lovely blog,  Love the Secret Ingredient, she has an e-book with recipes and tips for planning your holiday and it’s really great. My sides are really pretty boring I’m afraid. I am a creature of habit and almost always serve the same thing every Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes, always yukon gold, boiled and put through the food mill so there are no lumps. I add sour cream, butter salt and pepper. I like corn and brussels sprouts usually roasted in the oven.

Holiday Dressing Or Stuffing

Dressing or Stuffing

Dressing or Stuffing

I’ve posted this recipe before, its what I make every single Thanksgiving and have been doing so for many years. This recipe has undergone some changes over time, but has essentially remained the same for a while now. There are a lot of components but it’s pretty straightforward and easy to make. I don’t feed an army but make enough for a small army, everyone wants to take some of this home. I like to use cornbread in my dressing and a little bread cubes, lots of nuts, walnuts and pecans and I add them to the usual suspects, onion, celery etc… You can make it vegetarian by simply omitting the bacon and chicken stock (use vegetable stock instead), I’ve done that and it’s still really good.

Makes A lot of dressing/stuffing

Double your favorite recipe for cornbread (I use the recipe on the cornmeal package)

4 cups  cubed herbed bread

2 cups  ground walnuts

2 cups  chopped pecans

1 Chopped white or yellow onion

1 Chopped Granny Smith Apple skin removed chopped into bite size pieces

2 cups chopped celery chopped

1 Pomegranate with the seeds removed its approximately one cup.(OPTIONAL)

1 pound good quality bacon cooked until crisp and broken into small pieces

2 tbs bacon fat

2-3 cups chicken stock (add in installments you don’t want your stuffing to wet)

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup milk or half and half

2-4 teaspoons dried sage (If using fresh sage increase the amount to suit your taste)

2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (black, mixed, your choice)

4-6 tablespoons butter to saute vegetables

  1. Double a recipe for cornbread, I like to bake it a day or two before I make the stuffing cut into cubes or break off small chunks and set out on a baking sheet to dry or you can scatter on two baking sheets and bake in a 200 degree oven until dried.You can also air dry uncovered but its quicker in the oven.
  2. You can make your own herbed bread cubes by cutting a day old loaf of artisan bread into cubes, toss with some chopped herbs (I like sage) a little olive oil and bake in a 200 degree oven until bread is toasted or you can use bagged cubed herbed bread if you wish
  3. Grind walnuts in food processor and roast in fry pan on low heat careful not to burn, You will know they are done when you can smell the walnuts.
  4. Chop pecans, onion, apple and celery. Melt butter (You can use olive oil if you like) in saute pan add the onions and celery saute until onions are translucent then add the pecans, pomegranate,apple and the sage continue cooking until the ingredients are cooked through but not mushy. Fry the bacon until its crisp break into bite size pieces set aside.Reserve 2 tbs of bacon fat.
  5. In large mixing bowl add the cornbread and bread cubes. Add all the other ingredients Toss to mix careful not to over mix you want the breads to retain its shape as much as possible. Now add the chicken stock, eggs and milk and mix everything together. Adjust seasoning, add salt if you wish or more sage to suit your taste.
  6. Butter your casserole or baking pan and put your dressing in. Bake covered with foil in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes then to crisp the top drizzle some of the pan juices from the turkey on top and put in broiler for a few minutes until the top is crisp. You can make this a day ahead and then refrigerate.(Let sit at room temperature for an hour before baking) NOTE: I like to cover and bake then crisp in the broiler you can with very good results just bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes.
  7. I like to use as few pans as possible, in the morning I add the dried cornbread and bread cubes to a large mixing bowl and add what I cooked to the bowl as I go using the same saute pan for everything. Since there are so many steps here I find this makes sense. In the end I only have one saute pan to wash.

Dartstrip | It’s Magnetic!

Fig & Quince

1 b dartstrip fig quince photo2 b dartstrip fig quince photo 3 b dartstrip fig quince photo

The photo series above shows my dear father snapping off a one inch piece of Dartstrip to put up a cute pic of the grandkids on the wall. What is Dartstrip, you ask? Why, it’s a wonderful, patented product (a cross between a scotch tape and a bulletin board, made of snappable steel backed with removable adhesive) that solves the dilemma of displaying artwork and photographs without having to worry about putting a hole in the wall or peeling the paint.

On the one hand, I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming and begging your indulgence to blog about this product because my sister, my bro-in-law (remember his no-knead-bread?) & their biz partner are the team behind Dartstrip, and thus I am beaming with pride and I want to support their Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to bring Dartstrip to the market.

On the other hand (the…

View original post 132 more words

Whole Berry Cranberry Orange Sauce- Thanksgiving Prep

You would think I am cooking for an army with all that I do for Thanksgiving but really it’s a pretty small group usually no more than 8 people. Thanksgiving is like a cooking marathon and I try to do as much in advance as possible to ease the load on the big day. Over the next week I will be posting some of my recipes that I make every year for Thanksgiving. Today, exactly one week before Thanksgiving I made the cranberry compote or sauce. It’s so simple it really isn’t a recipe, I don’t really do anything fancy and it’s delicious. There are a million recipes for cranberry compote, jelly or sauce here is mine.

mise en place

mise en place

Serves 8-10

1  12 oz bag fresh cranberries (cleaned and sorted)

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

zest of 1/2 orange

3/4-1  cup sugar (depending on how sweet the orange is)

pinch of salt

Bring juice, zest, sugar and salt to a boil, add cranberries when it comes to a brisk boil reduce heat.

Brisk boil

Brisk boil

Partially cover and let boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour into container and bring to room temperature then refrigerate until ready to use, I make this a week in advance.

Ready for the fridge

Ready for the fridge

Awards- Merci Beaucoup!!





I am so honored to receive this award and want to thank the extremely sweet and very talented Fae from Fae’s Twist And Tango and the uber talented elamb from food day dreaming for nominating my little blog for this award. I am nominating the following blogs for both the blogger of the year and sunshine award. How about that 2 for the price of one. I just want to say you are NOT obligated to do anything with this except revel in the glory of your awards. We are all busy, including me. I have been working on this for 4 days now,

Anna May,Everyday

Spice Box Travels

Mama’s Gotta Bake


Baking With Gab

Cottage Grove House (tiny white cottage)

Christina’s Cucina

Butter,Basil and Breadcrumbs


The Seasoned Traveller

Sparkle Bubble

Laura’s Mess

Green Door Hospitality

Food thoughts to share

The Garden Deli

The instructions for this award are simple:
1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award
2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.
3 Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them – (please don’t alter the instructions or the badges!)
4 Come over and say hello to the originator of the ‘Blog of the Year 2013’ Award via this link –
5 You can now also join the ‘Blog of the Year’ Award Facebook page – click the link here and share your blog posts with an even wider audience.
6 And as a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog … and start collecting stars…

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award

I was also thrilled to receive the Sunshine Award from Mochi of the lovely blog matchamochimoo Please visit her blog, there are fantastic recipes and beautiful photo’s. Thank you so very much for the award.

I am acknowledging the wonderful bloggers who gave me these awards, thank you Fae, elamb and Mochi. I truly appreciate it, I don’t have time to do all of the things asked of me and I feel badly about that but I do want you to know how very much I appreciate this and I wanted to acknowledge other blogs (bloggers) that I love and find inspiration from.

Thank you everyone!!

Thank You Everyone!

Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Photo by James Ransom for Food52


I just wanted to do a quick post to thank everyone that voted for me, I WON!!! It’s very exciting. Thank you all so very much, I really do appreciate your support.


Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache – Hooray, I’m A Food52 Finalist!!

Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

I actually discovered that if you whisk or whip ganache it turns into a fluffy spreadable concoction. I like using this because it’s not too sweet, easy to spread and decorate with. The chocolate caramel gives this ganache a buttery deeply delicious flavor. This icing is light, much lighter than a standard American buttercream, closer to the consistency of a swiss meringue buttercream but without the eggs. I like to use both dark and milk chocolate but you can can use all dark or even all milk. If you use all dark it will be less sweet.

I had this recipe for over a week as a draft, but entered it in a Food52 contest for best frostings. Well, I just found out today that I am a finalist, I am so thrilled and happy that my recipe was chosen. So now I will shamelessly plug my recipe and ask you all if you don’t mind to vote for me, here is the link to food52 to vote  If you are not a member of food52 (you should be) it’s simple and totally painless to join and you will love the site, you will not be barraged with emails and the like. If you do vote for me I thank you so much!! I used Divine Fair Trade Chocolate in this recipe, the bittersweet for the caramel, dark and milk for the ganache.

Makes enough frosting to fill and frost a 9-inch cakeChocolate Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter cut into tablepoon-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (I used bittersweet)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put the heavy cream in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 45 seconds, add chocolate and microwave another 30 seconds Stir until its smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine, set aside so that it will cool before adding to the caramel.
  2. In large saucepan add the sugar, turn heat to med/high and let sit until it starts to liquefy. Start stirring with a heat proof spatula. The sugar will crystalize but that’s alright — keep stirring until its all liquid. Stop stirring and let it cook until it turns amber in color, then add the butter and stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat and add the chocolate cream. Stir until its incorporated. Store in a container at room temperature until ready to use. Note: If you make this ahead of time, simply place the bottle or jar in hot water to warm the caramel so it’s pourable.

Ganache :

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon liquor (I like cointreau or kahlua) or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate caramel sauce
  1. Heat cream to scalding (not boiling). Pour over the pieces of chocolate that are in a mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes then stir until there are no pieces of chocolate and it’s smooth and shiny, then add the chocolate caramel sauce and stir to combine.
  2. Place bowl in an ice bath and stir or whisk until it’s cool but not cold — it will stiffen fairly quickly if it gets too cold. Remove from the ice bath and beat with a mixer or whisk until the ganache is fluffy and spreadable. Frost the cake immediately. Best served at room temperature.
Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Photo by James Ransom for Food52