All Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving

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thanksgiving week 2015: sour cream apple pie.

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We made it! It’s the big day. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’ll be spending my day mostly in the kitchen, managing the oven schedule, checking in on progress, and making use of all those vegetables that we chopped and prepped yesterday. We’ll sit down to eat about 4pm and relish in and be thankful for all that we have. It will be a small, cozy feast, but oh, such a good one.

The crown jewel on any proper Thanksgiving feast, in my opinion, is a really great pie. So, with that in mind, I present to you a really great pie. Sour Cream Apple Pie is something I didn’t know existed until about 8 years ago, and when I found the recipe for this, I was immediately intrigued. It has the fresh fruitiness of an apple pie with the rich custard of a pumpkin pie, and when you put those together on a homemade pie crust and add a streusel topping (my favorite), you’ve got a true gem. It’s supremely delicious, and now I’m here to share it with you. I’m thankful for all of you today, dear readers; all of you and this pie.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Sour Cream Apple Pie
Serves: 8

You will need:

For the crust:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3-5 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
5 medium apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I usually use Granny Smith, but any sweet/tart variety will do)
1¼ cup sour cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg

For the topping:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
½ cup pecans, chopped

Kitchen equipment: pie dish, pastry cutter (optional), two large mixing bowls, one small mixing bowl, tin foil

Make the dough. First things first, make some pie dough. Remember, as I’ve told you before, the key to perfect pie dough is keeping everything as cold as possible. I’ve even started keeping my flour in the freezer. Don’t even think about using room temperature butter or water here; your results will be infinitely better if all ingredients are nice and chilly.

To bring the dough together, mix your flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chilled butter, and using your hands or a pastry cutter, push the butter into the flour mixture. Your goal is a sandy textured mix with a bunch of different sized butter pieces (this is where the magic happens). This should only take a few minutes to accomplish, and the less manhandling of the butter, the better. Once you’ve achieved the correct consistency, mix 3 tablespoons of ice water with the apple cider vinegar and drizzle over the top of the dry ingredients. Begin to incorporate the water/vinegar into the other ingredients by running your hands through the dough and gently beginning to bring things together. If after a few minutes your dough is still looking a little dry and things aren’t coming together, you can add an additional 2 tablespoons of ice water, one at a time, until the dough just starts to come together in a ball. It will still have a shaggy texture, which is what you’re looking for, so don’t overwork or overwater your dough.

Once the dough has come together, take it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and give it a couple of kneads (but not too many). Finally, flatten the dough into a round disc, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Prep the filling. While the dough is chilling, let’s turn our attention to the filling. The most labor intensive part of this process is peeling and slicing the apples, so do that first. You want to slice your apples as thin as possible — if you have a mandolin, use it. Once your apples are peeled and sliced, place them in a large bowl and squeeze a little lemon juice over the top to prevent browning.

In your other large mixing bowl, whisk together the rest of the filling ingredients until fully incorporated, smooth and shiny. Add in the apples and toss to coat completely. Set aside.

Make the streusel topping. Mix the flour, oats, sugar and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Add the butter pieces, and in the same way you did with the pie crust, push the butter into the dry ingredients until well incorporated and sandy. Mix in the pecans and set aside.

Bring it all together. OK, let’s put this baby together. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove your pie dough from the refrigerator, and roll it out on a floured board or counter top. Transfer to your pie dish, pushing the dough into the edges of the dish and crimping the edges.

Pour the apple filling into the pie shell carefully, smoothing out any wayward pieces as you go. Pour any leftover filling over the apples and spread evenly. Tear off a few strips of tin foil and cover the edges of the pie crust to prevent them from burning.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Take the pie out of the oven at this point, and sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the pie. Place the pie back in the oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the foil covers in the last 5 minutes of baking so the edges of the crust can brown properly.

Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely. Serve on its own or with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. YUM.

Happy Thanksgiving all! I wish you and yours the best of days. xx

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thanksgiving week 2015: donna’s cranberry sauce and roasted root vegetables with rosemary & parmesan.

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The next entry in the lead up to the big day? A classic accompaniment and a twist on a traditional side.

First things first, let’s talk about cranberry sauce. Some people love it, some people think it’s wholly unnecessary. I happen to fall into the former camp and think that those in the latter camp must have only experienced cranberry sauce from a can. Which is basically illegal in the Radeke household.

Once you’ve tasted homemade cranberry sauce — one with warm spices and a hint of orange, you’ll seriously examine your life for what’s been missing all these years. It’s a revelation that was bestowed upon us long ago by a dear family friend, and my defacto Aunt growing up, Donna. Donna’s cranberry sauce is rich and a little boozy and it’s sweet/tart flavor pairs perfectly with the buttery flavors found on the rest of the table. It’s a never miss in this house, and it should be in yours too.

As for the next recipe, it’s a different take on a classic Thanksgiving ingredient — sweet potatoes. I’ve never been a fan of the sweet potato marshmallow monstrosity that finds its way to the table; it’s too sweet and it completely masks the beautiful flavor (and natural sweetness) of this glorious root vegetable. In this version, which is a take on a Bon Appétit recipe found long ago, roasted sweet potatoes are paired with roasted red onions and dressed minimally with fresh rosemary and parmesan. It’s so simple but so insanely good; you’ll have a really hard time trying not to sneak bites before it even gets to the serving table.

Two great recipes. Two excellent additions to any Thanksgiving.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Donna’s Cranberry Sauce
Serves: 8

You will need:

3 cups fresh cranberries
1½ cup sugar
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup brandy, port or rum

1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon orange zest

1/3 cup mincemeat (I recently learned that mincemeat does in fact contain meat, so if you want a vegetarian version of this dish, skip this step or sub in a few tablespoons of orange marmalade)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Kitchen equipment: large saucepan

In a large saucepan, bring the orange juice, booze of your choice, sugar, and all of the spices to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Add the cranberries and stir to coat them in the liquid. Let the cranberries cook, stirring occasionally, until their skins start to pop and the sauce begins to reduce. This should take about 15 minutes. After most of the berries have popped, add in the mincemeat (or marmalade) and the nuts. Let cool completely, which will thicken the sauce slightly. You can either serve at this point, or you can refrigerate until about an hour before you need it. Let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Red Onions with Rosemary & Parmesan
Serves: 6

You will need:

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
3 red onions, peeled and cut into eighths through the root
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Kitchen equipment: two baking sheets

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, setting one rack in the middle and one on the lowest bar. Lay out your baking sheets, placing the sweet potatoes on one and the onions on the other. Drizzle the vegetables each with a few tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle the garlic over the sweet potatoes. Season both trays liberally with salt and pepper, then get in there with your hands and toss to coat the vegetables thoroughly with the oil and spices. Spread the vegetables out into a single layer on each sheet and pop them in the oven.

Check and stir the veggies about every ten minutes; they should be completely done in about 30-35 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the sweet potatoes are soft and nicely browned and the onions are a deep purple.

Remove from the oven and add both veggies to a large serving bowl. Add most of the parmesan and rosemary (reserving a little of each for garnish) and toss to coat. Garnish with the rest of the cheese and herbs and serve immediately.

If you need to make this ahead of time, roast the vegetables and refrigerate separately. Then reheat just before serving, combine and toss with cheese and herbs.

Enjoy!

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thanksgiving week 2015: caramelized brussels sprouts.

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To kickoff the Plumber’s Daughter Thanksgiving Extravaganza, we begin with the simplest of the simple. Brussels Sprouts, always a favorite vegetable of mine, can be found on any menu in any trendy restaurant in 2015. Which I think is hilarious given their status as a throwaway vegetable up until a few years ago. But throwaway they are not, and if you prepare them in the right way (read: DO NOT BOIL THEM), they can be a simply magical addition to any Thanksgiving table.

For our meal this year, we’ll be serving a caramelized version of this teeny tiny cabbage, a quick and easy side dish that comes together in a matter of minutes. If this version doesn’t suit your fancy, I’ve included several alternatives below. No matter how you cook them, however, brussels sprouts should take up some prime real estate on your Thanksgiving menu.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Serves: 6

You will need:

2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the root
4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Handful of brown sugar
Dark rum
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat two tablespoons of your butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add your brussels sprouts cut side down in a single layer (you may need to cook them in more than one batch of your skillet is not big enough to accommodate all of them at once). Season with salt and pepper and let brown without messing with them for approximately 5-7 minutes. If the pan is looking dry, you can add a tablespoon or two more of butter.

Once the brussels are nicely browned on one side, add in another two tablespoons of butter and stir/toss them in the pan to thoroughly coat in butter on all sides. Add in the handful of brown sugar and toss again to coat.

Now, grab your rum and taking the pan OFF THE FLAME, pour one turn of rum into the pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan). Place the pan back on the stove and stir to melt the sugar and butter into the rum. The rum will bubble up but will settle down quickly. Cook a few minutes longer, seasoning again with salt and pepper, until the butter/sugar/rum mixture reduces to a syrupy consistency. Test a sprout to see if they are done to your liking; if not, cook a few minutes longer. You want them to still have a little bite, and they should be bright green, but you don’t want them to be too raw.

When they are done, pour into a serving dish, topping with the pan caramel sauce, and serve immediately. These should be made just before you sit down to eat, as they taste best served piping hot from the stove. Simple, delicious, full of flavor and crunch. A perfect veggie addition to any Thanksgiving meal.

Not into caramelized sprouts? Try any of the recipes below.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinegar (Ina Garten)
Fried Brussels Sprouts with Smoky Honey Aioli (How Sweet It Is)
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts & Pecorino (Epicurious)

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thanksgiving 2015: a survival guide.

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Guys! It’s almost Thanksgiving! My very favorite holiday. Let’s be honest, any holiday that is 100% focused on food is my favorite kind of holiday. Oh yes, and seeing my family and being thankful and all that jazz. But mostly the food. Here’s what’s on tap for my family this year:MONDAYS

Thanksgiving has always been an enjoyable, well-orchestrated event in the Radeke household, so I never quite identify when people tell me their horror stories of Thanksgiving prep gone wrong. Now, if you wait until the day of (or even the day before) to start your planning, then I understand your strife. The key to a successful Thanksgiving meal is all about planning and time management…and a few helpful tips from your friendly neighborhood Plumber’s Daughter.

So break out your spreadsheets and your stopwatches and follow the plan below for an efficient, mostly stress-free journey to Thanksgiving success.

ALSO, check back each day this week for my favorite Thanksgiving recipes — from the easy peasy to the not so. Deliciousness awaits.

You ready? OK, let’s do this!

LIST DAY — MONDAY

NOTE: this list planning is intended for everything EXCEPT the turkey. You should already have your turkey for several reasons (if you don’t, go get it! Now!):

  1. You’ve pre-ordered a fresh, heritage bird (my preference) which usually requires at least a few weeks’ notice.
  2. You’ve purchased a frozen bird (sometimes a necessary evil), which means you need a few days to thaw it before cooking. If you haven’t already, take the turkey out of the freezer and place in the refrigerator to start the thawing process.
  3. If you believe in brine, it usually takes a few days to properly brine your turkey, so get to brinin’ before making the rest of your list.

With that aside, welcome to the official start of your Thanksgiving planning! You’re going to be great, I promise. Today is all about gathering your thoughts and organizing a list of everything you’ll need for the big day. Doing this a few days ahead of time is key — not only will you feel better prepared for everything that’s about to happen, you’ll also be able to evaluate what you already have on hand vs. what you need to pick up at the market. It might take a bit of extra time, but it’s well worth the effort.

First things first, get all of your recipes together and read them carefully. You want to look for common ingredients across different recipes so you can factor that into your shopping list. That way you can get everything you need in one go rather than realizing only after you get home that you needed twice as many potatoes than what you actually bought.

If you want to go really crazy (and I highly recommend you do), write out your list on a spreadsheet or large piece of paper using the following categories:

Meats
Fruits & Vegetables (includes Fresh Herbs)
Dairy Products
Condiments, Oil & Vinegar
Canned Goods
Dry Spices
Other

Now that you have your categories, go through each recipe and record what you need by adding the appropriate amount to the correct category. Once you have everything down, go through the list and consolidate where necessary if you have common ingredients across multiple recipes. Remember to check your fridge and pantry to ensure you don’t already have certain ingredients on hand — if you do, cross it off the list.

QUICK TIP: when putting together your list, don’t forget prep and storage materials! It pays to pick up a few different sizes of sealable plastic bags for prep work as well as plastic containers, tin foil and plastic wrap for taking care of leftovers.

Once you have the list ready, you’re good to go for the next step in pulling off a legendary Thanksgiving meal!

SHOP DAY — TUESDAY

Today will take place mostly outside of the house, as your main focus on shop day should be to knock out everything on the list you created yesterday and/or this morning. Since you already have your list organized in categories of ingredients and the appropriate amount, your shopping trip should be an efficient experience. Depending on the shopping resources available to you, you may be able to snag everything in one stop; however, I would urge you to strive for quality of ingredients over convenience of shopping method. So if that means you need to make a few extra stops to get the good stuff, then do it! This is your only task today so really make the most of it.

Once you’ve got your goods, head on home and organize. Your dry goods can stay out on the counter if you have the space (and you may want to organize them by recipe), and your fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy should all go in the fridge. If you run out of room in your primary refrigerator, prioritize the refrigerator space for the meats and dairy products, then take advantage of a cooler for overflow fruits and vegetables (you could even leverage a cold garage or outdoor space as long as it’s cold enough, but not too cold, and you have a place to store things out of the way).

PREP DAY — WEDNESDAY

OK, you’ve made it to prep day. What can I say about prep day? It’s where all the heavy lifting happens. It’s going to be a little rough, so get started with a hearty breakfast and some strong coffee. You’re going to want to get as much done as you can today, so by tomorrow all you need to manage is the oven schedule, setting the table and any last minute stovetop cooking.

Things to do on prep day:

  • Clean and prep all vegetables (use your sealable plastic bags to store prepped veggies in appropriate measurements)
  • Make the cranberry sauce
  • Make the mashed potatoes
  • Make and pre-bake your pie dough
  • Bake the pie(s)

That seems like a lot, no? It is. But. I promise by taking care of the above list a day ahead of time, it will make the actual day measurably less stressful. Then you can focus your time on your sparkling charm and top notch hosting skills. You know you have it in you.

THE MAIN EVENT — THURSDAY

You made it! The big day. And today is all about time management. Here’s what’s on tap for the day, in chronological order:

  • Roast the turkey (you’ll need about 13-15 minutes per pound, about 2 1/2 – 3 hours for a 12-14 pound bird)
  • Set the table (and prep the sideboard if you’re planning to serve the food away from the table)
  • Get your serving dishes and utensils out and ready
  • Bake the stuffing
  • Shower, primp and put on your Thanksgiving finest
  • Open the wine! (crucial step)
  • Set out the appetizers (only a few, you’ve got a lot of eating ahead of you — I’m a fan of a few cheeses, meats and crackers and a selection of olives, but that’s it)
  • Reheat the mashed potatoes
  • Cook the stovetop vegetable sides
  • Dish the sides and set them out on the table or sideboard
  • Carve the turkey
  • Sit, give thanks and get to eatin’!

Having a plan is the best way to ensure that things go your way on the big day and to allow you time to actually spend with your family, which isn’t that the point? (If you want an actual timetable for Turkey Day, here’s a great one from the folks over at The Kitchn.) You’ll be prepped, polished and the furthest thing from frazzled, and your fussy aunt and her snarky daughter will wonder, ‘how did they do it?’. You’ll be a Thanksgiving champion, and what a well-deserved title.