Thursday, November 27, 2008

Control group: Meet your chefs!

Whew. The guests are starting to arrive. We are so far ahead of schedule (don't ask me how) that there isn't even any need to move quickly, much less panic. Everything is lined up on the bar, ready to pop into the oven. The turkey is gorgeous and aromatic (we turned on the oven; it helps), the potatoes are being peeled, and we're totally calm. I guess we've learned a thing or two about a thing or two about how to run this business over the last nine years.

So, you know. There might be a couple more updates, but I figured I'd take advantage of this lull to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and hope that you are as happy, and as hungry, as we are on this fine day. Thanks for joining us in our insanity here at Pithy and Cleaver.

With love,
Shiv and Biscuit


Sourdough stuffing

1:50: This post should have started earlier, as the stuffing is essentially done now, but still. Better late than never, and all that. I love that we're at the point that I don't actually need a recipe for stuffing -- it's just vegetables, sourdough, and all the herbs in the world. For serious: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (obvs), plus chives, and tarragon. Yarrrm.

Nothing you haven't seen before: Figs and prosciutto


: They are under the broiler, being professionally fabulous. T-minus 3 minutes!


They turned out so beautifully, I just had to give you a picture. Aren't they pretty?

Hi guys!

So, we're a bit crazed in here; we're assembling figs, my hands are full, Biscuit is juggling a thousand tasks. Delightful houseguest no. 1 is wrapping things in prosciutto, Delightful houseguest no. 3 is taking care of the dish backlog. My sister is lost and we're trying to give her directions. We're at capacity, which means we're probably not going to get to blogging the figs until later. Or at all, since ,you've seen these things before.

I will say: fresh mission figs. Coach farm triple cream cheese. 15-year old balsamic vinegar. Organic Sonoma County eucalyptus honey. Aw. Motherfuckin'. Yeah. This stuff's going to be good.

More later!

Do you think we have enough dessert? Tres leches bread pudding.


12:20: Pudding is out, and smothered in dulce de leche. Having trouble not eating it all RIGHT NOW.


: Eggs! Whipping! Milk! Being measured! Custard is GO!

Remember my obsession with dulce de leche? Notice that custard seems to be happening all over the place? Remember what I said about Biscuit's cat?

Yeah, because 5 pies just aren't enough, we're adding another dessert to the roster: Tres leches bread pudding, featuring a large jar of my homemade brew, a lot of brioche, and (of course) looooooooooooooooooove.

Main Event: Herb-Roasted Turkey


4:41: More basting. The shallots are caramelizing. You don't even know.

1:50: Basting, basting. ...which would be easier with an actual baster. I tend to just slosh the stock across the top from a measuring cup, which works pretty well too.

12: 51:
Turkey's looking good. Would be looking better if the oven had been on.

: Ladies and gentlemen, the turkey is in the oven. Repeat: the turkey is in the oven. And it smells fucking AWESOME in here (not just the turkey).


12:03 pm: Okay! We're all buttered up, tucked in, and ready to go. As soon as a couple pies come out of the oven, I can rejigger the shelving in there, and in she goes.


: Shiv here. Biscuit is violating the turkey. And by "violating," I mean smothering it in the wonderful, delightful herb butter. Also wearing it as a glove.

10:30 am: After my first not-entirely-successful attempt at roasting a turkey (Maple-Glazed), I decided to switch to a different recipe for Year Two. I've never looked back. The Herb-Roasted Turkey always ends up succulent and delicious -- and as a bonus, makes a gravy that is so mind-boggling, I wish I could go swimming in it. As of right now, the turkey has been rinsed out, I have some slave labor (hi, Zack!) peeling me a mountain of shallots, and the herb butter is coming up to room temp. Turkey! Pow!

Hors d'oeuvres: Maki, anyone?



12:21: Unfortunately, the recipe for this is going to have to come later; it's go-time here, which means we're going to be doing more running around than blogging. Bear with us; all will be demonstrated in time!

11:58: finis! All that remains is to chill, cool, and plate. Though time consuming, this is far less difficult than you'd think. Don't be afraid to try it!


Still rolling the sushi. I am covered in peanut goo. Delicious, delicious peanut goo.


Wonderful, delightful houseguests have gone to procure soy sauce. Loves.

Soy sauce. A regrettable oversight. Bollocks.

Roll on, peanut filling!

: The rice has been rinsed and is soaking. It'll keep doing that for another 30 minutes or so, whereupon we'll boil it up until it's good and sticky.

We may not be traditionalists, but we have traditions here at the Thanksgiving of Shiv and Biscuit. These traditions include: two gratins (always!), the herb and shallot turkey, and...


Vegetarian maki, actually. Spicy peanut rolls and avocado scallion rolls, to be exact. I couldn't tell you exactly how this tradition got started, because I was probably drunk at the time. As I tend to be at Thanksgiving.

I know, it sounds weird. But it is delicious, and has managed to keep a delightfully incongruous toehold upon our menu, to the delight and confusion of all.

I'll show you how as soon as I finish this slice of quiche.

Thai peanut maki

1 1/2 c dry-roasted peanuts, chopped fine
1/2c smooth peanut butter
1/4c boiling water
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp good soy sauce
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar (or honey)
ginger, grated
red chili flakes
star anise powder
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, pour the boiling water over the peanut butter, whisking until completely combined.
  2. Add the chopped peanuts, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar/honey. Season to taste with the ginger, chili, and star anise. That's it!
To assemble:
1 package (10 sheets) nori seaweed (many grocery stores carry this now)
2c sushi rice
1/2c seasoned rice vinegar
  1. Fill a drinking glass with water; put a butter knife in the water (sounds weird, but trust me)
  2. Take a piece of nori. Place enough prepared rice on it to cover 1/2 of the sheet (once it's smoothed out), in a layer about 1/4" thick. Use the wet knife from the drinking glass to smooth and spread the rice--it's glutinous and sticky, so using a damp utensil is KEY.
  3. Take a small handful of your filling and lay it out in a stripe along the center of the rice--it should be parallel to the long side of the rice field, about 1/2"-3/4" wide.
  4. To roll, carefully take the bottom edge of the nori (the side that has the rice) and roll it carefully around itself, moving away from you. The part of the nori that doesn't have rice on it should wrap around the resulting tube once or twice; seal it down using water. The seaweed will be on the outside.
I know, the assembly part sounds confusing, but it's really not all that difficult. There are tons of videos on youtube--and, frankly, your nori packet should come with instructions. I hope you try this--it's a really unique finger food that is guaranteed to impress the hell out of your guests.

Hidilly Hi, everyone!

Good morning, and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

The quiche is done, the coffee is spiked, the hangovers are mostly at bay. We're 4 and a half hours to showtime, and there's still plenty to do. But fear not! We will keep you apprised, with new posts aplenty. Also be sure to check back with some of yesterday's posts--we'll be picking up where we left off with a lot of our prep work.

Up next: more stuffing! more desserts! more cream! more cheese! more shiv! more biscuit! more awesome!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good Morning Quiche


9:08: And they're out and lovely. I'm going to the store for OJ!

THANKSGIVING, 7:50 am: Good morning, campers! Bubble away, my lovely little quiches. Bubble, I say!!

10:58: Crust's out, and we are Done For The Night. WORD.

10:04 pm: This has been the taste of the holidays in my family since I started making it when I was...ten? The first time I had this was when my mom's best friend put together a gift basket with everything pre-shredded, and all we had to do was whack it in the oven. Luckily, the basket included the recipe, and I haven't had a single holiday -- Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving -- without it. It's actually really difficult to refrain from making this on "normal" days, but I like that I've managed to keep it a special-occasion breakfast. I have more happy memories than I can count, eating this while sitting around the tree or just curled up with a glass of orange juice (or, later, some good strong coffee!) Make the crust and grate the cheeses the night before, so when you wake up it's as easy as that first gift basket -- pop it in, and wait for it to bubble.

Holiday Quiche

24 oz frozen hash browns, thawed
1/3 c melted butter
1 1/2 c shredded swiss
1 1/2 c shredded pepper jack
1 1/2 c diced cooked ham (I use the first slices from a Honeybaked Ham)
1/2 c half and half
2 eggs
1/2 tsp seasoned salt

The night before: Squeeze the hashbrowns between paper towels to drain off extra moisture.  Press into a 10 inch pie plate to form a solid crust.  Brush the crust with the melted butter, being certain to brush the top edges.  Bake at 425 F for 25 minutes.  Let cool, cover with foil, and set aside.
The morning of: Mix the cheeses and ham, and pile in the crust.  Beat the half and half, eggs, and seasoned salt, and pour evenly over the cheese.  Bake uncovered at 350 F for an hour, or until the top has gotten brown and bubbly.

Mozzarella-stuffed Chicken Meatballs


: The meatballs are out of the oven!


9:54 pm: I was so wrong. Decanting the chicken was not the grossest. Wrapping the boconccini in the mashed up chicken was. Wow. Still, gross as it was, as Shiv says, it was strangely satisfying. Meatballs are now assembled, cookie sheeted, refrigerated, and waiting for hors d'oeuvres time.


9:36 pm:
Shiv here: Biscuit is making meatballs. Getting the sausage out of its casing was expectedly gross, and yet strangely satisfying. That is all.


9:12 pm:
I think we're officially in the home stretch of this evening, which means it's totally time for the grossest moment of the day: decanting chicken sausages from their casings. Euurgh.

PiePiePiePie Part 3A: Mint Julep Pie--the recipe


**Now with 100% more picture! You'll see we attempted a brulee crust on the top (I think we'll use a blowtorch next time), and garnished it with sugared mint leaves. Yum!**

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! We're not going to torture you with liveblogging on this one--we'll just give up the recipe, pure and simple.

Prepare yourself!

Mint Julep Pie

1o Graham crackers
1 1/4c pecans
1/4c sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup milk
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 envelope gelatin
1/4c water
½ teaspoon almond extract
1/2 c (or a little more. You know. Whatever) your favorite bourbon
Good handful mint, chopped

4-5 oz dark chocolate
1/4 c heavy cream
  1. In your trusty food processor, whiz together all four crust ingredients. When it's a fine crumb, press it into your favorite pie pan. Whack it in the freezer for a half hour or so to set; then, pop it into a 350 degree preheated oven for 30 minutes or so (or, really, just until it's golden brown and aromatic). Set aside and let cool a bit.
  2. Make the ganache: Chop up the chocolate with a serrated knife, and put in a small bowl. Heat the cream, and pour over chocolate, stirring until smooth and shiny.
  3. Make the filling: scald the milk and cream in a double boiler. Meanwhile, beat together the egg yolks with the sugar, flour, and salt. Once that's a lovely pale yellow (and about tripled in size), gradually add the milk/cream mixture.
  4. Return the mixture to the double boiler and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin by combining it in a small bowl with the 1/4c water.
  6. When the custard's done cooking, decant it into a cool bowl; add the gelatin and whisk until it's completely incorporated.
  7. When it's cooled a bit, add the bourbon, the almond extract, and the chopped mint.
  8. Spread the ganache evenly over the inside of the graham crust, and chill to set.


  9. Once the ganache has set, pour in the custard.


    Chill at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. Garnish with sugared mint leaves, or a brulee crust, or both, or something totally different. (You'll see which one we chose in the morning)
Ta da! Happy hunting, my lambs. Sorry we made you wait!

A dressing, a stuffing, a something delicious: Sourdough stuffing.


6:47: Still tearing. I think we're gonna need a bigger bowl.

: Last night, we baked up three parbaked sourdough boules from FreshDirect; showing admirable restraint, I managed to refrain from eating them then and there, so that they might be preserved for the current activity: tearing it into bite-sized chunks. Fun fact: bread is Biscuit's cat's favorite food. So, you know. We're going to have to be wily about where we leave it to get stale.

If you're anything like me, in your world the stuffing is the best part of the holiday meal. I grew up in a household where we cooked the stuffing inside the bird, so the whole business of cooking it in a pan (and, frankly, making it ourselves, instead of using Pepperidge Farms) is a little novel for me--and took some getting used to. However, now that I've been through a few of our Thanksgivings, I've seen the light! But, pan or bird, one thing remains the same: the stuffing is happening. The holidays have begun.

Cauliflower Gratin: Mmm.

7:20: Everything's done aside from covering everything with cheeeeeese and baking tomorrow. FABS.

6:50: So. This has turned out to be pretty much as labor-intensive as I thought it was going to be. Still, it's pretty interesting labor, in that I don't usually a) completely deconstruct a cauliflower, or b) almost-puree the core and stemlets and cook them up like couscous.


Hey, Shiv here. Biscuit is eviscerating the cauliflower at the moment; we've been marveling at how tidy and compact the structure of the vegetable is--it's almost crystalline. Which makes it beautiful to look at, and a total pain in the ass to cut up.

Every year we make sure to include a couple things we've never had before, and for the moment, that's the Gratin of Cauliflower. I'm looking forward to this -- I think that cauliflower is totally underrated and creamy, and this adds some heat from both curry and horseradish. It also happens to be a totally complicated recipe, with multiple steps of pureeing and blending and such, so we'll see how that goes.

Cauliflower Gratin

3 heads cauliflower
4 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp minced shallots
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of thyme, parsley
2 c heavy cream
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp curry powder
freshly grated nutmeg
2 c grated Swiss-ish cheese, like Comte, Emmentaler, or the Appenzeller used here
2 tbsp panko or fine bread crumbs

Remove and discard the green leaves from the cauliflower.  Cut off the florets, and then cut and reserve the stems off of those.  Reserve the florets.  Cut away and discard the rough exterior of the core, then chop the interior of the core and the stems into small pieces and put in a food processor.  (Breakdown: You should have just the florets part in a large bowl, and then the stems and inside of the core in the processor.  Clear?)  Pulse the processor until the contents are very finely chopped, just short of a puree.
Bring a saucepan full of water to a boil.  Season with salt and 2 tsp of the vinegar.  Add half the florets and blanch for two minutes.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Repeat with the other half of the florets.  Season the blanched florets with salt.
In the now-empty saucepan, add the butter and shallots.  Over medium heat, cook for a few minutes until the shallots are translucent.  Season with salt and pepper, and add the bay leaf, thyme, parsley, minced stems/core, and 2/3 c water.  Cook for 5-6 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated.  Add the cream, and simmer a few more minutes.  Remove from the heat, and discard the bay, parsley, and thyme.
Pour this mix back into the food processor.  Add the horseradish, and blitz until mostly smooth.  Add the curry powder, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Blend well.  Toss the resulting puree with the florets, and transfer to a 9x13 glass dish.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Sprinkle the gratin with the cheese and breadcrumbs.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until it's bubbling and the center is warm.  Remove from the oven, turn on the broiler.  Brown the top of the gratin in the broiler for a minute, and serve.


There's so much potential to unleash in just a cutting board and a sharp knife.


And we're back: Artichoke and prosciutto gratin with gorgonzola



12:58pm, Thanksgiving day: The gratin is now prepped for the oven--we've added the cream, the gorgonzola and sage, and the love.

: I realize this is not the most interesting of all our entries; it's just...we've done this one twice before, so there's not a lot of ruminating left to do. Mea culpa! We'll make it up to you; perhaps I'll tap dance.


4:57: The artichokes are merrily wrapped up, and are resting comfortably in the dish. Tomorrow, we smother them in gorgonzola, cream, and other wonderful things. We'll give you the play by play as it happens. Be sure to check back!

Wow. That is truly a mighty amount of prosciutto that we have obtained. Cured meat bonanza!

Artichokes, meet prosciutto. Prosciutto, meet artichokes. Let's have some fun!

This one is a perennial crowd-pleaser; also a ticking arterial time bomb, but worth every luscious, coronarial bite. It's a bit fiddly, as most dishes that require the wrapping of items in prosciutto tend to be, but it's fun and absolutely worth it. And when you're done, you have something that is so creamy sweet salty's hard not to absolutely adore.

Station break.

And now, we take a short break to pick up one of the most important ingredients of all: booze.

When we return: gratins, mozzarella meatballs, and the event you're all waiting for: the Mint Julep Pie.

Don't go away, we'll be right back!

Overheard In The Kitchen

2:02: "And I thought, there's no way I want to be wearing pants when I'm eating my body weight in cheese."

1:53: There's no other place to post this particular nugget, but it's ten to two, and the only thing we have left to do is whack things in the oven. BAM. Crazy organizational skills, yo.

"She's like an alcoholic Winnie the Pooh!"

"So, your stomach is Isaac Hayes?"

"Once the bone snaps, everything just fits right in."

"Can you fill this turkey up with water for me?"

"Oh, fuck it. We're never going to save the world, it might as well be tasty."

11:57: "Oh, if it was a pony, you would *know* it was a pony."

11:04: "So, how are we keeping the cat out of the bread?"

"It's haaard! I've put it in and out so many times already today!"

9:22: "Okay, so, what are we going to do when Bench shows up and I'm up to my elbows in sausage?"

9:06: "'Pee vegetables' is my new favorite typo."

My heart will go on, performed as a surf-rock instrumental.

"I love this plastic wrap! It solves all the problems of previous plastic wraps."

4:17: "I need to make chicken stock soon; it's creepy having a chicken carcass in my freezer, even though I posed it so it looks like it's doing a little jig. Which was hard, since I'd cut off its legs."

3:09: "Yaay! Complicated!"

2:07: "Your mind is a cute and scary place."

2:01: "*gasp!* Normal-sized whisk!"
Together: "Yaaaaaay!!"

"I don't like the idea of things happening that I don't know about."

"Do you mind a little cheese cross-contamination?"
"I'm a cheese purist."
"...I'm not sure we can be friends."
"My cheeses must never touch."

"Ow. Ow ow ow ow ow."

Hors d'oeuvres: Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms


3:01: They're out, melty, delectable, and gorgeous. POW.

: The mushrooms are in the oven; 20 minutes and they'll be irresistible.


12:24: Stuffing is in progress. Mmmmm.

12:04 pm:
The giant mushrooms are coming out and getting buttered up. Also, the mix? BEING CHOPPED AND BREADCRUMBED, thank you very much.

6:02: Dear Biscuit: Of course, my lamb! Love, Shiv.

Dear Shiv: On posting the recipe, I realized that I completely neglected to add the breadcrumbs to the mix. Remind me tomorrow? Love, Biscuit.


The stuffing is mixed, cooked, and in the fridge. I think in my earlier distraction, I neglected to chop anything anywhere near as fine as might really be required, so remind me to give the mix a blitz tomorrow before it goes into the Giant Mushrooms of Domination. Next action on this one will be tomorrow afternoon!

1:52: So I got distracted. The mushroom stems and onion have been chopped, and the walnuts are toasting. Halfway there!


1:23: Holy crap, these mushrooms are huge. I think we could actually serve a few of these as entrees.

I have been threatened with bodily harm if these don't make a reappearance on the menu tomorrow. "You've ruined everyone else's mushrooms for me," he said. Oh, if I had a nickel.
First step: a bit of fancy knife-work. Chop-chop!

Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms
Adapted, again, from Gourmet Magazine, November 1997, by way of epicurious.

1 1/2 lb mushrooms (I'm using the "Stuffing-Size" mushrooms this time)
1 stick butter
2 tbps olive oil
2/3 c walnuts
2/3 c fresh parsley
1 sweet white onion
1 c grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/3 c Worchestershire
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c grated Parmesan

Remove stems from mushrooms. Chop stems finely. Finely chop parsley. Lightly toast walnuts and chop finely. Again with the fine chop on the onion. Saute the chopped stems and onion with 2 tbsp of the butter and the olive oil. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining ingredients -- walnuts, parsley, Cheddar, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. This can be done a day ahead, and refrigerated.
Melt remaining butter, and brush the mushroom caps all over. Arrange mushrooms on a large baking sheet. Divide mixture into the caps, piling up slightly. Sprinkle grated Parmesan generously on top. Feel free to stuff, cover, and chill a few hours ahead of baking. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, and serve warm.

Interlude: Grating all the cheese in the world.


3:22: For the record, this is what 4.5lbs of grated cheese looks like (half a pound had to be sacrificed to the mushroom gods).

3:20: Oh, sweet merciful heavens, I HAVE FINISHED! Now, the bigger challenge: not stuffing it all into my face immediately.

(and yet, for all its sass, it doesn't take up much room once grated. Interesting.)

AIE! The pecorino likes to jump around--if you're using some of this, grate slowly.

3 down, 2 to go. Somehow, I still have all my knuckles.

Also, a 1-qt ziploc bag holds half pound of grated cheese perfectly. In case you ever need to know that.

I clearly did not need to lift any weights at the gym this morning. Stand in awe of my mighty left arm!

Grating, grating, the process is slow and it's long! Grating, grating, this is my cheese grating soooooong!

: Aaaaaaappppeeeennnnzeelllleeeeerrrrrr! (Grating a pound of cheese takes longer than I would like.)

12:26: We start with the Appenzeller, because saying it makes me happy.


We like cheese. We like it A LOT. Thus, I find myself staring down no less than 5 lbs of Appenzeller, New York State cheddar, Swiss, Pepper jack, and Pecorino Romano. Let's rock!

Going back to my roots (and tubers): Texas-style sweet potato casserole.



1:42, Thanksgiving day:
The (homemade) marshmallows have been applied to the casserole, because I am dumb and kind of forgot that I need to reheat the whole pan before applying the extremely flammable 'mallows. Clearly, I need more wine.


2:28 The casserole is about to go in the oven; we'll bake it for 45 minutes or so, then refrigerate till tomorrow, at which point we'll reheat them for serving. If you've got roots in the South, you know what else we'll be doing--topping them with a few of these. Divoon!

I have seriously got to get me one of these 10" Global chef's knives. Mmmm.


MASH MASH MASH MASH AAAHAHAHAHAHA! *ahem.* Also, is there a discernible difference between orange and yellow sweet potatoes (besides the obvious, of course)?

One of the tricks to this dish is to boil the potatoes with their skins on; when they're done boiling, you can just peel them with your fingers. I should also mention that you should let them cool first. As I probably should have done before I stuck my hands into a steaming colander of cooked potatoes. Ow.

That last one just refuses to finish cooking. But I am patient. It is only a matter of time before I bend it to my will.

Oh, ARSE. There are still two potatoes on the stove, aren't there? I should go check on those.

Cauldrons located. Not one, but two! It is indeed a beautiful world. The sweet potatoes (unpeeled) are now a-boilin'. Also, my face almost got burnt off, but that's cool.

: "Biscuit, do you have a cauldron?"
"Excuse me?"
"Do you have a pot that could double as a cauldron. I have to boil something."
"...I might?"

True story: I have a lot of family in the People's Republic of Texas, where the wide open spaces are wider and opener, the tacos are unparallelled, and even the vegetables come to the table with sugar and spice. This is a recipe that I didn't properly experience until I was nudging the tip of adolescence--the kind of dish that causes my Yankee mother to clutch her heart and make exclamations like "That's not a vegetable! That's dessert!" She may be right, but since when has that stopped me?

Introducing: Sweet potato casserole, Silk-style!

Sweet potato casserole

6-8 Large sweet potatoes
3/4 stick of butter, melted
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
Ground cinnamon (to taste)
Ground nutmeg (to taste)
Dash of salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2c evaporated milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c chopped pecans

Marshmallows to finish
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Wash sweet potatoes (don't peel!) and place them in a large pot with enough water to cover (adding water as needed) until just done. Drain and let cool until they can be handled (heed that part of the step!), then gently peel off the skin.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes. Then, add butter, spices, and salt. As I've said before, I use gargantuan quantities of spice--use however much you're comfortable with.
  4. Add vanilla and milk.
  5. Add eggs. Stir until the concoction is the consistency of thick, creamy mashed potatoes.
  6. Fold in pecans.
  7. Bake in a rectangular casserole dish for 45-60 mins (until it's just starting to brown.
  8. To serve, place in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes or so. Once they're warm, remove from the oven and place marshmallows all over the top. Broil the marshmallowed dish for just as long as it takes the 'mallows to get brown. Be vigilant! Do not overcook! Marshmallows like to set off the fire alarm, so be careful they don't burn.
And there you have it! A little taste of the South for your Thanksgiving table.

We Like the Bourbon, Part Three: Bourbon Cranberry Sauce


1:14 pm: The cranberries are done; sparkling, ruby, tangy. They're so good fresh out of the oven, I'm thinking we might serve them hot this year -- assuming I can refrain from eating all of them right now. Aren't they gorgeous?


12:51: Even if I could adequately describe it, you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you how good this stuff is making the kitchen smell. Suffice it to say, if you threw in a pine bough, you'd have the official, quintessential smell of the holiday season.

12:36: Hmm. We think one side of the oven might be hotter than the other, with one pan coming out mostly liquescient and the other with the berries still quite structurally intact. Interesting. We will keep you posted on how this affects the sauce.


12:00: They've been foiled up and whacked in the oven -- they look like those "frosted" "berries" you can get to decorate your Martha Stewart centerpiece on the holiday table, except prettier...and way more delicious.

11:50: This recipe has been a staple for years. The basic cranberry-sugar/tart-sweet combo gets a nice savory tweak from the bourbon -- and watching the liquor burst into fragrant steam when you stir it into the bubbling cranberries is one of my favorite moments of the day.

Bourbon cranberry sauce:
Adapted from Bon Appétit, November 1991, by way of epicurious.

1 pound of cranberries (I usually go with a bag and a half)
2 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the first three ingredients in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes. Stir well, being sure to scrape up all the sugar on the bottom of the dish. Re-cover, and bake 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven, and stir in the bourbon. Transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate until well-chilled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

PiePiePiePie Part 4: Bourbon pecan pie

11:51: it's in the oven; would that the julep were so simple!


Toasting pecans; also observing the chilling of the mint julep pie. we are not yet convinced.

zesting, zesting, zesting.

We are, unsurprisingly, behind schedule, but we're struggling to catch up. At the very least, we plan to get the Bourbon Pecan Pie ready for action.

Please stand by.

Oh, yeah, here's the recipe! We got it from here, the great nexus of recipes. All hail!

Bourbon-orange pecan pie

1 Butter Pie Crust Dough disk
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons bourbon, or to taste as appropriate
2 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan halves (about 9 1/2 ounces), toasted

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch deep-dish glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang under; crimp edges decoratively. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. (I know you're supposed to do this part, but I rarely bother and it always comes out just fine: Line pie crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust edges begin to brown and crust is set, about 17 minutes. Remove foil and beans.) Bake until golden brown, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles. Transfer pie crust to rack. Maintain oven temperature.
Whisk brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter in large bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in bourbon, grated orange peel, vanilla, salt, and then toasted pecans. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake pie until edges puff and center is just set, about 50 minutes. Cool pie on rack at least 1 hour.

PiePiePiePie Part 3: Mint Julep Pie

12:19 am: Biscuit here: Three out of three people think that the mint julep pie is effing delicious. ...Now we just need to figure out how to make it pretty. Ideas are already percolating. More details tomorrow when Mint Julep Pie Mark II comes out, and we post the recipe. Yessssss!


11:57: So far, so not quite what we were after--at least aesthetically. Stay tuned, we try again in the morning. Tips and tricks on how to bend a custard pie to your will totally appreciated.

I should not be trusted with custard. We think we can salvage the mint julep pie, but it may yet turn ugly. stay tuned.

Biscuit here. I redid the ganache with less cream, and the custard is on the makeshift double-boiler, but we may have had some crossed signals with regards to the "half-batch" we were going for, and it might or might not be thickening. This is totally the most fun dessert of the night!

the milk is scalding; i get schooled on how to blend egg yolks and sugar; biscuit creates a non-ganache that is really closer in personality to the best hot chocolate you've ever had.

the custard begins.

: I'll be honest--this dessert is the wild card. We found ourselves with a large bottle of bourbon and a ridiculous pile of mint, and figured that the best way to dispose of both surpluses was to make a dessert from them; specifically, a pie modeled after that favorite of mine, the mint julep. The problem was that we had no recipe to riff off of, which meant that not only were we responsible for the art of the project, but the chemistry as well. So...we're experimenting here. Tonight's live blog will cover our testing phase; if we find something that works, we'll make a proper batch tomorrow.

Please be gentle.

PiePiePiePie Part 2: Baileys White Chocolate Cheesecake


If I recall correctly, according to Alton Brown, the humble cheesecake is in fact not a cake, but a pie, so I feel fully justified in including this in the Pie category.


We've been making this one for a few years, and what isn't eaten immediately will transmogrify over the next day into the single most coveted leftover EVER. I won't bother denying that I have been caught sitting in my pajamas watching TV, with the entire remains of this cheesecake in my lap. The white choco and the Baileys are spectacular.


Bailey's White Chocolate Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust (see previous), in a 10 inch springform pan
1 1/2 lb cream cheese
3/4 c sugar
3 eggs
1/3 (or 2/3!) c Baileys -- I tend to splash in extra
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz (although I always use more) good white choco -- Callebaut is my fave here

Beat the cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl. Electric mixers work well, but I prefer to use a large wooden spoon and elbow grease; the moment when it comes together and goes creamy is like magic. In a separate bowl, whisk up the eggs, Baileys and vanilla, even if you think it's weird to pour Baileys into eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese and stir up until well mixed and creamy again. Pop in the white choco, stir up, and pour into the graham cracker crust.
Bake at 325 F for about 50 minutes to an hour, until the edges are puffed up and the middle is dry. Garnish, if you really feel you need any, with crushed pecans.

PiePiePiePie, Part 1: 40-proof pumpkin pie.


This one tends to go pretty smoothly (knock on wood). A few field notes:

1. I don't measure my spices in this thing. I used to smoke, so I run on the assumption that everyone who will be eating this pie suffers from a similarly depressed state of taste--thus, spices are hiiiiiiigh.

2. The liquor used is entirely at your discretion--I have, in times past, used bourbon, frangelico, butterscotch schnapps, and rum. The latter is really my favorite, as it adds a certain piratical bent to my humble pastry--and anything that makes me say "Arrrr!" is a good thing.


40-proof pumpkin pie

1/2 batch butter pie crust (enough for an open-top pie)

1x15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c liquor of your choice (this year, it's rum)
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
  1. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
  2. Add the pumpkin
  3. Add the cream and liquor
  4. Add the sugar
  5. Add the spices (to taste) and salt
  6. Mix everything thoroughly, then pour into your prepared pie crust.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; then, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and cook for a further 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for min of two hours. Refrigerate till serving.
Delicious! Tradition! Arrrr!

Step 1: Pie crusts.


7:50: Pumpkin and pecan pie dough in the fridge; graham cracker crusts in the pans! Go Team Efficient!

"There's something about the smell of butter." --Shiv


"Yeah, especially high-fat European butter." --Biscuit

7:44 "Hear that? You just HEARD pie happen."


7:32: Food processor rules. I cannot do math.

: We begin the important underpinnings of our sweet and delightful treats: the crusts. Biscuit's on your pate brisee, I'm pulverizing graham crackers. I get to play with Biscuit's 10-cup food processor; I fully expect to be unseated by its RAW POWER.

Graham Cracker Crust

10 Graham crackers
1 1/4c pecans
1/4c sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Pulverize the first three ingredients in your food processor until you have fine crumbs
  2. Mix the butter in until it becomes slightly sticky.
  3. Press into desired pans, lightly buttered

Butter Pie Crust Dough

For a double-crust pie, double the ingredients, divide the dough in half, and form two disks.

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; use a higher fat content European-style butter like Plugra for wildly-enhanced flakiness
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms. Add 3 tablespoons water. Using on/off turns, blend just until moist clumps form, adding more water by 1/2 tablespoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling.)

Makes one 9-inch crust.

Apologies for our terseness, but we've got some shit to do. I'm sure you understand. ;)

Game On!

OK. It's Thanksgiving Eve Eve. 46 Hours to the main event. Which means it's time to cook!

On the agenda tonight:

Bourbon Pecan pie
Pumpkin pie
Mint Julep Tart (this one's an original, so bear with us)
Bailey's white chocolate cheesecake.
Gratin assembly (Artichoke prosciutto and Cauliflower cheese)

It's 6:54 pm. Liveblogging begins now. Say a prayer for our souls and sanity.

The Herb Butter Is In The Fridge

Have you ever made food that was more ritual than recipe? The kind of food where you know you could take shortcuts, and get the exact same results, but you don't actually want to? The herb-infused butter for my Herb-Roasted Turkey (you'll see this one in full on Thursday!) fits the bill exactly. After the groceries come in, it's the first thing I make. A simple combination of finely-chopped thyme, parsley, and sage, the flavors and rich, green aromas intensify beautifully if made ahead and left in the fridge for a few days.

But as I said: ritual over recipe. The following provides a little insight into both the fine art of making a quality herb butter, and my occasional food-related delusions.

1) Get everything out of the fridge that you're going to need. Two sticks of butter, and a large bunch each of fresh thyme, flat-leaf parsley, sage. By the time you're done dismantling the herbs, the butter will have softened perfectly.

2) Dig around in your cupboards until you find the perfect metal bowl. The little bowl you see pictured above was lucky enough to have been chosen the first year I made this, and as such, I refuse to use anything else. It's a little too shallow for anything else, even scrambling a few eggs, so this butter is really the only reason I have kept the bowl with me through four moves.

3) Start with the thyme. After you rinse the thyme, pat it as dry as you can. I've even left it sitting out for a little while to dry properly -- it makes the later chopping much easier, and I try to avoid adding additional moisture to the finished product. But that's easy; picking these tiny leaves off of their stems is what takes the most time. I'm serious. I was picking leaves through The Rachel Maddow Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and an episode of Futurama. This is because I insist on picking the leaves off the stems individually, instead of just ripping them off all in one go, like a normal person might do, by pinching the top of the stem and pulling your fingers down along it. While I fully realize that getting bits of tiny, tender stem from the longer leaves totally wouldn't matter, I have decided that the extra, invisible ingredient into this butter is a couple of hours of unblinking attention and love. I have made matters worse for myself by also deciding that the tiniest leaves are the ones that taste the best, so I tend to take extra effort to get as many of them as I can. You should end up with a pile of leaves that looks like this (left: whole thyme, right: deconstructed thyme):

4) Now chop. It does help if you patted your thyme dry -- it stops the tiny leaves from sticking like mulch all over your knife.

5) Keep chopping. We want this extra-fine. It should look like coffee ones.

6) Now for the parsley. Rinse, pat dry, as above. Again, I spend too much time picking the individual leaves of of the stems, but this only takes about five minutes, as the parsley leaves are approximately ten thousand times larger than a thyme leaf. Chop as above -- extra fine.

7) The sage is up. Repeat as before. While I generally try for the same volume of each herb, post-chop, I usually can't resist adding extra sage anyway.

8) Pop all of these into your perfect metal bowl. (See? Isn't it perfect? It's so shiny!)

9) Add about 1 tsp each of salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and drop in the two sticks of now marvelously softened butter. Mash everything together -- it's easiest if you use the back of a spoon against the side of the bowl. You'll be left with a glorious mound of perfect, verdant, marvelously-scented herb butter. Cover and store in the fridge until Thanksgiving, being sure to take it out and smell it a few times a day until then.

Of course, in this case I'm going to be using this butter with my turkey (and as a finisher for the gravy), but it works wonderfully in more day-to-day applications as well -- I bet a grilled cheese sandwich, buttered on the outside with this, would be spectacular.

For those of you unwilling to adhere strictly to the Doctrine of the Buttery Faith, the simple version is below. You could probably even do the chopping bit in a food processor, and have the whole thing knocked out in five minutes.

Herb-Infused Butter
Adapted (as are many of my favorites) from Bon Appétit, November 2000, by way of

2 sticks of softened butter
3 tbsp finely-chopped fresh thyme
3 tbsp finely-chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp finely-chopped fresh sage
1 tsp each salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Mix together in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate.