Apple-Cranberry Pie

Dear World,

 

Today I will tell you about pie, specifically, fruit pie. Even more specifically, I will tell you how to make apple-cranberry pie. This is a really, really good pie. Especially for Thanksgiving, which, incidentally, just happened…conveniently before I got around to posting this. I was going to say you could make this pie for Thanksgiving, and I guess you still can, you just have to wait a year. Anyways, here are some reasons to make this pie.

 

  1. The crust is flaky and buttery and guaranteed to take, like, 3 years off your life.
  2. The cranberries in the filling help cut the sweetness of the apples, providing a whole new level of flavorful complexity to what would otherwise just be a very, very good apple pie.
  3. The apples themselves are cooked in the microwave, and they are still delicious, and this will blow your mind when you eat the pie.
  4. The filling isn’t runny.

 

apple-cranberry-pie

 

OK, with that out of the way, here are some tips for making the recipe, adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook.

 

Crust:

So here’s the deal. This recipe is all about making the flakiest crust possible. While the original recipe insists that you need to use a food processor to make the crust, I think it’s good to do it by hand because you can get a more uneven distribution of butter in the dough which makes for a really flaky crust. Also, the original recipe uses both butter and shortening, but I just replace the shortening with more butter. This makes for better flavor, but does make the dough sort of unwieldy. As such, it is supremely important that you chill everything that goes into the crust. Seriously, even the flour (I would skip chilling the salt and sugar, just because there isn’t very much of either in the recipe.) Also, this recipe calls for vodka which evaporates out of the crust while it bakes and makes the crust, you guessed it, even flakier. The vodka is completely flavorless, and I think it really helps, but you can definitely just replace it with more ice water.

 

Filling:

This filling is basically a layer of cranberry filling at the bottom of the pie, topped with apple filling. I’ve had really good luck with this recipe. It tasted good and wasn’t runny or goopy. Overall, it’s just super solid (as a recipe, of course, not as a filling consistency. That would be icky.)

 

So that’s basically it. Hopefully the instructions are clear. Please comment if you have any questions, suggestions, thoughts, opinions, pictures of you eating the pie, etc. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Apple Cranberry Pie

From: Theresa Kaplan, adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

    For Crust:

    • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, chilled
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 20 tablespoons butter (5 sticks), frozen and cut into .25 inch pieces (alternatively, 12 tablespoons butter and 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, also frozen)
    • ¼ cup vodka, chilled
    • ¼ cup ice water

    For Filling:

    • 8 ounces (2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen
    • ¼ cup orange juice
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 3 ½ pounds Golden Delicious Apples
    • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

    Directions:

      For Crust:

      1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter.
      2. Incorporate the butter by picking up handfuls of the dough and rubbing it between your fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl. Do this until the butter is evenly distributed in small clumps and there is no more loose flour mixture.
      3. Sprinkle in vodka and ice water. Continue the above mixing process until the dough starts to come together. (You might not need all the liquid; you don’t want your dough to be any wetter than it needs to be to just stick together.)
      4. Gather the dough up and divide it into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten the dough into disks, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for an hour or more.

      For Filling:

      1. In a medium saucepan, boil the cranberries, orange juice, ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, mashing up berries a bit as you go, until the mixture forms a jam-like consistency, and a spoon dragged along the bottom of the pot leaves a line that doesn’t fill in immediately. This should be around 10-12 minutes.
      2. Remove from heat and stir in water. Let the mixture cool until room temperature, about 30 minutes (the filling can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
      3. While the cranberries are cooking and chilling, mix ½ cup sugar, the remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and cornstarch in a large bowl.
      4. Peel, core, and cut the apples into ¼ inch slices. Add the apples to the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch mixture, and toss to coat.
      5. Cover and microwave the apples for 10-14 minutes until the apples begin to turn translucent and the liquid is thick and glossy. Be sure to stir the mixture every 3 or 4 minutes as it cooks. Cool the apple mixture to room temperature, about 30 minutes. At this point the apples can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

      Assembly:

      1. While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 425˚. Be sure to place a baking sheet on a rack below the one you intend to cook the pie on to catch any dripping.
      2. Roll out the larger piece of dough into a 12 inch circle on a well floured surface. Loosely roll the dough over the rolling pin and then ease it into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover the crust loosely and chill for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      3. Roll out the smaller piece of dough into a 12 inch circle. Wrap it and chill it for 30 minutes until the dough is firm.
      4. Unwrap the dough and spread the cranberry mixture in the bottom of the pie. Cover it with the apples, mounding them in the middle. Roll the second disk of pie dough loosely over the rolling pin and ease it over the pie. Pinch together the edges of the crust and trim any excess from around the edge of the pie plate.
      5. Cut 4 2-inch slits in the top crust and brush it with the egg white. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the crust.
      6. Place pie in oven over the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until the crust is light brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚, and rotate the pie. Continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Let the pie cool for around 2 hours on a wire rack.
      7. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 6

      Before Thanksgiving, we were all so geared for that first taste of the turkey, gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes. The second and third bites were pretty fabulous too and I for one was really looking forward to The Sandwich the next day. But by day three leftover turkey is a challenge and most of us just want to see it disappear. When my producer asked me to come up with a leftover cooking demo for the last day of the Thanksgiving TV extravaganza, I thought turkey puff pastry turnovers. It took a lot of trial and error  (do you add stuffing or not, I wondered) to come up with the perfect combination. These turnovers are both beautiful, easy, and practical because you can also freeze them and pop them in the oven when whenever you want. And they include bacon too so how could you go wrong? They were a huge hit with Mark and the girls, and the staff at WTIC went crazy over them too. We hope you like them as well!

       

      Question of the Day: What did you do with your leftovers from Thanksgiving?

       

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      Turkey Cranberry Puff Pastry Turnovers

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 sheet puff pastry sheets defrosted
      • All purpose flour for rolling out the dough
      • 1 egg, whisked
      • 1 pound or more leftover turkey cut into 2 inch pieces
      • 8 or more tablespoons leftover gravy
      • 8 tablespoons homemade or canned whole berry cranberry sauce
      • 6 strips cooked crispy bacon, crumbled
      • 2 teaspoons finely chopped sage or rosemary (optional)
      • 1/3 cup or more crispy shallots* (see our recipe for butternut squash soup for recipe)

      Directions:

      1. Roll out one sheet of puff pastry out on a floured surface to 14X14 inches. Square off the edges of the dough using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
      2. Cut both the length and width of the dough in half so there are 4 equal parts. You will have four 7 X 7 squares.
      3. Whisk 1 teaspoon water and 1 whole egg in a small bowl or ramekin and set aside.
      4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
      5. Carefully move the puff pastry squares on to a separate piece of parchment paper.
      6. Place two to three ounces of turkey and two tablespoons each of both gravy and cranberry sauce on each diagonal half of the square. Sprinkle evenly with bacon, shallots and ¼ teaspoon of herbs (optional) on each half of diagonal halves as well, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the square.
      7. Brush the entire border of each square with egg wash and fold over
      8. Use a fork to seal the edges and to assure the filling won’t leak out while the turnovers bake.
      9. Cut the parchment paper around each turnover leaving a 2-inch border. Carefully pick up each by the edges of the parchment paper and place them on the cookie sheet (they will be very fragile, and tend to lose their shape if you lift them with your hands on to the cookie sheet.)
      10. Carefully brush each turnover with egg wash.
      11. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
      12. Serve immediately with a green salad and roasted vegetables.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 4

      pumpkinbacon

       

      This Pumpkin Fondue is one of our absolute favorite recipes of all time. We’ve posted this one before, but in light of the demo it on TV the other day, I decided to bring it back from the archives. It’s too important to miss! If your Thanksgiving menu is still flexible, we highly encourage you to check this one out! Scroll down for the recipe and a video of the TV segment!

       

      pumpkinwithmilk

      pumpkinfondue cinderellapumpkin

       

       

       

      Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good – Our Way

      From: Heide Lang, Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

      Ingredients:

      • 8 strips bacon (¼ cup shallots may be substituted for vegetarian version
      • ¼ pound stale bread cut into cubes
      • ¼ pound cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, cheddar, smoked gouda, asiago, parmesan, or any combination, cut into ½ inch cubes 
      • 3 cloves of garlic pressed or minced 
      • 1/8-1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions 
      • 2 teaspoons or more fresh herbs (i.e., parsley, rosemary, thyme) 
      • ½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
      • 1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin weighing about 3 pounds 
      • 1 cup or more heavy cream 

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Sautee shallots until they are crispy (about 15 minutes), or fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.
      3. Combine chunks of bread and cheese, along with dried cranberries (this is optional, but will add beautiful color to the fondue). Season with salt and pepper. 
      4. Add bacon or shallots to the bread and cheese mixture. Combine well.
      5. Add any herbs you choose, along with the chives or scallions, and garlic. Toss well.
      6. Using a very sturdy knife, cut off the cap of the pumpkin, just as you would a jack-o-lantern.
      7. Scoop out the stringy pumpkin and the seeds and generously salt the inside of the pumpkin.
      8. Pack the filling tightly into the pumpkin (there shouldn’t be any air pockets).
      9. Pour in cream until the bread mixture is saturated and there is a bit of liquid on top (but be careful not to have the bread “swimming” in heavy cream).
      10. Put the cap back on and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 60-90 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 45 minutes to see how soft it is. Continue baking until the ingredients are bubbling and the meat of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Do not let it burn, or the pumpkin will turn black and collapse as it cools. You don’t want all your good work ruined!
      11. Place a large spatula under your creation and move it gently to a beautiful platter.
      12. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer on small plates.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 3

      Tim Lammers, a delightful anchorman at Fox News in Hartford, was very skeptical when I told him we were making mashed potatoes with turnips for the show last week. Turnips, as vegetables go, are not very pretty in their raw form, and many people put in them in the same category as Brussels sprouts (which we will be making later in the week as well!) He was surprised and delighted at just how delicious the potatoes tasted. As a bonus, we also prepared a roasted pear puree, which adds a lovely sweetness to mashed potatoes and cut the richness of the Thanksgiving meal. Here are all the recipes we made.

       

       

      FINALPotatoes

       

       

      Question of the day: What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

       

       

      Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Roasted Pear Puree

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1/8 cup honey
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
      • 4 ripe bosc pears, peeled, quartered, cored
      • 1 basic mashed potato recipe (see below)
      • 1 pound turnips peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Combine honey, lemon juice, melted butter and pears in medium size bowl. Toss to coat evenly.
      3. Season with salt and pepper and place pear mixture in a baking dish so that all the fruit is in one layer.
      4. Roast pears for 30 minutes and then toss the pears in the juices.
      5. Continue roasting for about 30 minutes until the pears are very tender (this will vary depending on how ripe the pears are).
      6. Transfer pears with liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth or puree directly in the dish with an immersion blender. Set aside. (Pear puree can actually be made up to 2 days ahead).
      7. In the meantime, prepare basic mashed potato recipe. (See next recipe)
      8. Place turnips in a separate pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.
      9. Puree turnips until smooth and combine with mashed potatoes.
      10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
      11. Re-warm pear puree and serve together by placing the potato mixture in a serving bowl and swirling in the pear puree. Alternatively, serve separately, and let your guests determine how much puree they would like.

      Basic Mashed Potatoes

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled 
      • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
      • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
      • 1 cup whole milk
      • ½ cup heavy cream
      • 1 teaspoon pepper

      Directions:

      1. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
      2. Place the potatoes in cold water, bring to a boil, and then salt the water (the water should taste like the ocean in order for the potatoes to be properly seasoned). (Water should always be salted once the water is boiling. Otherwise, the salt will sink to the bottom and stick to the bottom of the pot.) Lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
      3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for 2 minutes over a low flame.
      4. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
      5. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
      6. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
      7. Add pepper and additional salt to taste. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving 2

      One of the great (and challenging)  things about television demos is that you have to make two of everything: one recipe a day earlier for the camera shot and the second live with the host of the show. It takes about a full day to get ready for about five minutes of television that involves a lot of prepping and staging. There are of course many rewards, including all the leftovers! It’s just like having company.  My family is having part of  the Thanksgiving meal every day (except poor Gabrielle who can’t stand hearing about the dishes from her dorm room!) leading up to the big day. Lucky Isabella has loved having fig goat cheese shallot squares for breakfast (yes, at 6:30 a.m.) for the past two mornings and butternut squash pumpkin soup for lunch.

       
      Day2intropic

       

      Today, I made bourbon mashed sweet potatoes, our favorite boozy side dish, along with the pancetta cups with goat cheese, which are so easy, delicious and satisfying. I can’t wait to have them for dinner along with a turkey I made over the weekend so I could create some new leftover recipes.

       

      Day2editesweetpot

       

       

      Let us know if you are planning to make any of our recipes and if you come up with any interesting new ingredient additions. We can’t wait to hear from you.  And stay tuned for tomorrow’s segment on Mashed Potato variations!

       
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      Pancetta Cups with Goat Cheese and Grapes

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 16 thin to medium slices of pancetta
      • 16-20 teaspoons fresh goat cheese (room temperature)
      • 8 red grapes cut in half (you may also use ripe pears halved, cored, and cut into ¼ inch thick slices or a thin slice of a firm apple instead of grapes)
      • 2-3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the pancetta slices snugly in mini cupcake muffin pan.
      2. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
      3. Carefully remove pancetta from pan and place on paper towel to absorb the oil.  Remove the pancetta cups from the paper towel and on to an attractive serving platter.
      4. Top each with one with a heaping teaspoon of goat cheese and a half a grape. Sprinkle with thyme or rosemary (optional) and serve.

      Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 pounds sweet potatoes
      • 1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
      • 1/2 cup bourbon whiskey (We like to use Maker’s Mark bourbon. You may also reduce the bourbon to ¼ cup for milder taste.)
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon pepper
      • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional – adding cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg will give the potatoes more of an autumny taste, but will slightly take away from the pure sweet taste of the sweet potatoes and bourbon.
      • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional – see above)

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Put the potatoes on foil or parchment paper and brush with olive oil.
      3. Bake until soft and the potatoes start to “ooze” syrup, approximately 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes). Remove and let cool slightly.
      4. Remove the skin and put the contents of the sweet potatoes in a medium size bowl (if using a hand blender) or place in a food processor.
      5. Add salt, bourbon, heavy cream, brown sugar, and cinnamon (optional) and nutmeg (optional). Puree until smooth.
      6. Serve or cover and refrigerate overnight. This dish can me made the day before and re-heated in a microwave or oven at 350 degrees.

      Countdown to Thanksgiving

      Few will admit this, but preparing Thanksgiving dinner stresses people out. We are living with non-stop information overload and everywhere online, on television, and on billboards we see pictures of that annoying perfect turkey with all the flawless trimming and a relaxed happy host just waiting for their guests to arrive. Nope! We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, but it’s hard not to feel a little judged because, well, you probably are being judged kind of a little, or maybe even a lot depending who is coming.  It’s like going to the hairdresser. Why we care what people think of our hair I’ll never know, but we often do!

       

      EditedFigTart2

       

      So when WTIC Fox News Connecticut asked me to do a Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza for the next eight weekdays in a row starting today, I jumped at the chance to show viewers and our blog friends just how satisfying and easy it can be to host Thanksgiving (Ironically, I’m not hosting this year, but that’s okay because after this series my family will have had about a dozen trial turkey day dinners!). Each day, I will share the recipes and the videos with you, and give you clever ideas meant take the stress out of the day (don’t carve the turkey where people can see you).
      Editedkithenset

       

      We’ll start with appetizers, starters, side dishes and dessert, and work our way up to taking the fear out of carving and what to do with all that turkey meat come day three of leftovers when major boredom sets in.

       

       

      EditedSoup1

       

      Yesterday, we made Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots and Fig Goat Cheese Caramelized Shallot Squares made with puff pastry. These recipes are both huge crowd pleasers and don’t require a ton of time or skill. Watch today’s video to learn how to make these winner recipes as well  (http://foxct.com/2013/11/18/try-a-new-thanksgiving-side-dish/)

       

       

      Also, we’d also love to hear about your Thanksgiving success and disasters (especially if they’re funny.  What are your favorite and worst Thanksgiving memories?

       

       

       

      Fig Goat, Cheese, and Caramelized Shallot Squares

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 1 ready-made defrosted puff pastry sheet
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
      • 2 ½ cups of thinly sliced shallots (4 large shallots, or 6 small ones)
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 12-14 whole dried figs (3 ounces)
      • 3 teaspoons honey
      • 5-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
      • ¼ cup coarsely ground walnuts (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
      2. Roll out the puff pastry to a 10 X 13 rectangle. Poke a few holes in pastry with a fork (so it doesn’t puff up while baking.)
      3. Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
      4. In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
      5. Cook the shallots on medium heat until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan.
      6. Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
      7. Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
      8. Slice figs 1/8 inch thick, and then coarsely chop them (you should have ½ cup of sliced figs). Mix with honey and set aside
      9. Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
      10. Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
      11. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15-20 minutes.
      12. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

      Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
      • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • 2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6-12 shallots, depending on size)

      Directions:

      1. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
      2. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
      3. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
      4. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Pat down to remove excess oil. Once the excess oil is absorbed, place the shallots in an airtight container and use to garnish soups, vegetables, potatoes, and sandwiches.

      Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Shallots

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • 4 tablespoons canola oil
      • 2 cups leeks, chopped
      • 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
      • 2 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash cut in 1-inch cubes
      • 1 can pure organic pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
      • 1 tablespoon cane sugar
      • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely minced
      • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
      • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
      • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
      • 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
      • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
      • 4-5 tablespoons crispy shallots (see recipe below)
      • 1/3 pound pancetta, sliced thin (optional)

      Directions:

      1. Heat canola oil in a 6-8 quart pot. Sautee shallots and leeks over medium heat until they are soft and glassy, but not yet brown, about 5 minutes.
      2. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
      3. Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
      4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
      5. Add the pear and broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is hot, turn down the heat to a steady simmer on a low-medium flame. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pears and squash are soft.
      6. Puree in a food processor, or with an immersion blender (you may also use a blender, but be sure to let the soup cool to lukewarm first).
      7. Add sour cream and mix well.
      8. Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
      9. Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.

      Italian Genovese Sauce: Time to Get Cozy

      “Sometimes, the best meal requires you to forget that time exists”

      –Elizabeth Bauermeister, The School of Essential Ingredients

                                                                                                             

      Cooking is all about time. When to throw in the pasta, when to take out the casserole, how to make a dinner for a family of six in forty-five minutes. But what happens when there is no limit on time? When you have all day to make a meal, as if time doesn’t exist.
      Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

       

      For Neapolitans and their immigrant descendants, what happens is Genoaise. Or, for those not familiar with Neapolitan dialect, sauce Genovese. Genovese is a mysterious sauce, steeped in time and history. No one can agree on the origins of a dish named after Genoa but created in Naples. Perhaps it’s the mystery of the dish that makes it so alluring. For me, it’s the magic of leaving onions, pork, and stock to simmer and discovering three hours later that something new and comforting has taken its place.

       

      Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

       

      There are dozens of variations of Genovese sauce (mine clearly being the best!) but all Neapolitans agree on one thing: that Genovese sauce is not meant for Spring and Summer. It is not a dish that you serve to friends at a picnic or for a buffet. Genoaise is Fall and Winter. Fall for when you need a dish to slow you down and bring the colors of the leaves outside your window to life. Winter for when you need a warm, long hug after a day of snow shoveling and driving on half-plowed roads. Genovese nudges you to discover coziness and revel in it as if nothing else existed.

       

      Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

       

      So, I will leave you to try this sauce for yourself, with a reminder to take things slow every once in a while and let the simplicity of fresh pasta, grated cheese, and cooked down onions heal you.

      Neapolitan Genovese Sauce via The Road Home

      Genovese Sauce

      From: Christina Esposito

      Ingredients:

      • 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
      • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
      • 1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
      • 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/8” thin (about 6 small – medium sized onions)
      • 4 – 4.5 cups of beef stock or broth (enough to cover the meat and onions)
      • Splash of tomato sauce (1/8 cup) – Optional
      • Pecorino Romano grated cheese
      • 1 pound fresh pasta (fettuccine)

      Directions:

      1. Sear the meat (you can use either beef or pork, but I’m partial to pork because it tenderizes so beautifully with this sauce). Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium sized sauce pot and jack the heat up to medium high. While the oil is warming, salt and pepper the meat. Then, when the oil is shimmering, like seeing heat in the desert, add the meat. This should make a loud noise, but that’s good- it’s the noise of juices being sealed into the meat. Remember to rotate the meat around to get all the sides nicely browned. The goal is to brown the meat, not fully cook it.
      2. When the meat is seared, add ¼ cup of the beef stock to scrape up all the bits of meat and ‘brown stuff’ from the bottom of the pan. This brown stuff is ‘fond’, the meat drippings that will melt into your sauce and make it go from good to great.
      3. Add the garlic. Let it cook for just a minute so it releases its scent.
      4. Add the onions and rest of the beef stock (so that the onions and meat are just covered with stock). Throw in a dash of tomato sauce too if you have it and simmer away! Let the sauce simmer for as many hours as you have to give, stirring it every now and again. If the stock evaporates and sinks way below the onion level add some more. Don’t forget to season and remember that the stock may already be salty.
      5. When the onions and meat are beyond tender, it’s time to puree the sauce (at least two to three hours later). Take the meat out and set aside. Then, with either an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender, puree the onions and broth together.
      6. Mix sauce with the fresh pasta and serve with the cut meat on the side. Sprinkle liberally with Pecorino Romano. Sigh with happiness.

      Cookies on the Fly

      Last night, my Sharia class had the most depressing movie party a class could ever have. I had briefly mentioned I might make Baklava, to lift the mood but (spoiler alert) Baklava takes like a year make, and I had literally no time. Cookies, on the other hand, take 10 minutes and de-stress like none other. I can’t write a real post because I still have no time. So, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, speak for yourselves.

       

       

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

       

       

      Do you have no time? Do you make cookies? Tell me all about it in the briefest comments you possibly can 😉

       

      (Recipe Below)

       

       

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Road Home

      Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

      Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Mins

      Ingredients:

      • 3 cups all purpose flour
      • Hefty pinch of salt
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp baking soda
      • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/2-3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
      • 1 cup butter @ room temperature
      • 3/4 cup brown sugar
      • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
      • 1 large egg
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract (optional because I forgot to buy it and it turned out fine) (not really optional though) (also, I suspect Jack Daniels or Jameson would make a great substitute – somebody should try it out)
      • 1 cup canned pumpkin
      • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350
      2. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and soda and spices.
      3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on high, until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
      4. Mix in egg, vanilla and pumpkin also for about 3-4 minutes, until blended. Don’t freak out if it looks curdled, it will do that, and it will be ok.
      5. Slowly add the dry ingredients until just mixed. Then slowly mix in chocolate chips.
      6. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet.
      7. Bake until edges are golden brown. The recipe I was working off said 10 minutes, mine took like 25. Start checking at 10 – you’ll know.
      8. Cool on sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to baking rack and eat them all!

      5 Halloween Traditions

      As I think mom has already made clear, we’re kind of fans of Halloween at our house. That means even five days later we’re not ready to let it go. So when election day reminded me of one of my favorite halloween traditions, I seized the opportunity to wax poetic.

       

       

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      One of the great things about the holiday is everybody’s quirks come out in costumes or traditions. No two people ever celebrate it quite the same. This year I couldn’t spend Halloween at home, but the upside is I’ve gotten to learn about (and participate in!) so many great new traditions – even within a pretty tiny sample size. Here is a wrap-up of all my favorite halloween traditions, old and new, that are sweet, quirky and all around awesome.

       

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      1. Candy Marketplace
        This is not the name for this tradition; it doesn’t have one. Until a year or two ago, there wasn’t a single Halloween I didn’t spend with Ellie, one of my bestest friends in the world. After collecting candy and rocking the vote (see below), every year until we were… gosh, 18, maybe? we scurried upstairs and dumped out every piece of candy and traded and bargained it. I usually ended up with Reese’s cups until July and if I wound up with a single piece of non-chocolate candy, I could consider the night a complete failure. Ellie wrote an actual essay for school on this one once. It’s a big flipping deal.
      2. Political Pumpkin
        Also not the real name. This one started in 2004, when L and I decided it was our civil responsibility to tell everyone in the neighborhood to vote. We threw in our candidate if they had a supportive lawn sign or bumper sticker. As 12-year-olds go, we were cool cats.
      3. Mummy Food
        Halloween is not about real food. If it’s not processed, it’s not allowed in the house. Over the years I’ve seen my fair share of awesome halloween recipes (witch hats, pretzel fingers, graveyard cake) but my favorite was always the mummy food. My mom was a big fan of the mummy dog (hotdog in Pillsbury crescent roll) but last year I was first introduced to mummy meatloaf, with criss-crossed noodles on top. This, friends, is why you babysit.
      4. Secret Santa 
        I brag about my internship a LOT because I really, really love it. I love it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the yearly secret halloween draw. Everybody in the office is secretly responsible for buying somebody else a costume. We exchange a few days before, and at lunch on Halloween, we all go down to the park and frolic. Not much gets done. It’s a good day.
      5. Tricky Treats
        I know a really wonderful mother (other than my own) (the same one, in fact, behind the mummy meatloaf!) who told me last Halloween that back when their family was living in London, the grownups used to take along Diet Coke cans filled with champagne as they took their kids trick or treating to the city’s finest townhouses. This one sums up Halloween perfectly – pushing the rules, treats for the whole family and (lets face it) spying on the rich and fancy neighbors.

       

      Hope everyone had an awesome halloween. Only 360 days left until the next one – plan your costume before it’s too late 😉

       

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      Easy Ghoulish Treats

      Most people think I’m a little bit strange when I tell people that Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s really simple. I adore the foods of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter, not to mention all the glorious casual picnic foods from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but I just love the theatre and whimsy of Halloween.

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

       

      This great holiday, after all, is not about gifts or how perfect the table looks for relatives. It’s about fun, and magic, and theatre. It transcends age. We will have 8-year-olds and 16-year-olds side by side at our house all enjoying the same silly food and wearing goofy costumes. What could be better? I get to take my apron off and think solely about what would make kids of all ages happy. The pressure is off to be perfect. All anyone cares about is that the offerings are funny, maybe a little “scary” and of course colorful.

       

      Clementine Pumpkins | The Road Home  – cancels out the candy right?

       

      So here’s part of our line-up for All Hallow’s Eve at our house. We’ll offer our friends and fellow trick-or-treaters Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew, followed by cauliflower brain dip, and darling little “pumpkins” made of clementines and celery. There will be other things, but these are my favorites. I hope this sampling of our Halloween inspires you to think like a child even for just one day. Happy Halloween everyone!

       

      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Halloween Cauliflower Brain with Guacamole - gruesome but great | The Road Home
      Witches Brew Punch with Dry Ice – epic halloween trick/treat | The Road Home

      Have you got any special halloween foods you make at your house? We’d love to hear about them! Comment below to let us know!

       

       

      Clementine Pumpkins

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

      • One dozen or more Clementines
      • Several stalks celery

      Directions:

      1. Peel Clementines and place on a fun Halloween platter.
      2. Cut a stalk of celery into small pieces for the pumpkin stem. Stick a celery piece into the top of each peeled Clementine and serve!

      Creepy Cauliflower Brain Dip with Guacamole

      From: Heide Lang

      Ingredients:

        Guacamole

        • 4 ripe avocados peeled and pitted
        • ½ cup chopped onions
        • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
        • ¼ cup cilantro (optional)
        • 1 4 ounce can finely chopped seeded jalapeno chilies**
        • 1 teaspoon salt
        • ¾ teaspoon pepper
        • 1 cup of tomatoes, diced and seeded (or canned diced tomatoes in the winter)

        Brain

        • 1 large cauliflower
        • 1 package of red licorice string

        Directions:

        1. Place all guacamole ingredients but tomatoes in a food processor or in a medium sized bowl. Puree in the food processor or puree in bowl using an immersion blender until very smooth.
        2. Drain tomatoes thoroughly through a sieve and gently blend into the avocado mixture using a spatula.
        3. Remove all of the leaves from the cauliflower and remove the stem so that there is a hollow area, but most of the florets are intact. (Use toothpicks to hold the sides together if it starts to fall apart).
        4. Put the hollowed out cauliflower into a snug fitting bowl. (For a really scary presentation, wrap the bowl in cheesecloth stained with red food coloring.)
        5. Fill in with the guacamole and decorate the florets by weaving the licorice between the florets to make the veins and arteries.  You may also sprinkle a bit of red food coloring on the “arteries” as well but be careful not to overdo it.

        Mad Scientist Bubbly Brew

        From: Heide Lang

        Ingredients:

        • Clear glass container or punch bowl
        • Artificial green or red drink, such as Gatorade or Hawaiian Punch (You may also use a clear liquid like seltzer or Sprite, died with food coloring, if you want)
        • Gummy worms, plastic spiders or any other creepy creatures you wish
        • Dry ice

        Directions:

        1. Fill container or punch bowl with a green or red beverage.
        2. Place gummy worms, spiders, etc, on the edge of the bowl.
        3. Add a few small pieces or pellets of dry ice, just enough to get the brew bubbling and smoky. If it comes in a big brick, you will need to chip pieces off of it. (Do NOT pick up dry ice with your bare hands. Use tongs to handle it or protective rubber gloves if you must pick it up with your hands.)
        4. Serve immediately, adding additional pieces of dry ice every 10 minutes, or as needed.