Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Otherworldly Pie: make this for your Thanksgiving table

Last year I put my foot down and stayed home so I could prepare a Thanksgiving meal worthy of the knowledge I've accumulated, instead of a mad dash to visit this-or-that family and, well.... not rejoicing in the special food I've grown to love.

I cooked a 9-dish feast, including Paris market carrots in garlic and honey (similar recipe as in my book Kid Chef), a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with hazelnuts and shaved Parm, and my favorite spatchcock turkey (a riff on this beauty). It took a huge amount of effort, all just to feed my husband and me (I was possessed, I'll admit, but it prepared me for this project a couple weeks ago). It was totally worth it.

We ate like royalty for the next week-and-a-half. Many sandwiches and soup were made from the glorious leftovers. :D

It was this pie however, that stopped us both in our tracks. Basically, HOLY SHIT.

I'd seen this recipe in Bon Appetit and was compelled to make it, and then made some tweaks 'cuz I can't leave anything without adding my two cents...

Brûléed spicy smoked pumpkin pie with chocolate crust, adapted from Bon Appetit
serves 8-10

for the pastry
  • generous ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    1¼ cups plus 1 tbsp AP flour, plus more for dusting
    3½ tbsp organic cane sugar
    1 tsp kosher salt
    6 tbsp butter, cut into cubes and freezer-cold
    2 tbsp coconut oil, cut into small pieces and freezer cold
    1 large egg yolk
    1 tsp apple cider vinegar
    1 egg, for wash
    demerara sugar, for sprinkling

    for the filling
    AP flour, for dusting
    3 pasture-raised eggs
    2 cups pumpkin or kabocha squash, seeds discarded and cut into wedges
    ¼ cup sour cream or crème fraîche 
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    ¼ tsp ground ginger
    ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
    ⅛ tsp ground allspice
    ¼ teaspoon cayenne
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ¾ cup grade B maple syrup
    2 tbsp bourbon (I used Woodford - Bulleit is also good)
    1 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons organic cane sugar, for sprinkling
    pecan or apple wood chips, pre-soaked for a couple hours for smoking, liquid reserved

    • To make the dough, pulse cocoa powder, sugar+salt, and 1¼ cups plus 1 tbsp flour in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add butter+coconut oil and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size bits of butter and coconut oil remaining. Add egg yolk and pulse until just combined. Drizzle vinegar, combined with a couple tablespoons of ice water, through the feed tube and pulse until just combined. Squeeze a clump of dough between your fingers: it should hold together but not be wet. 
      Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated crumbly pieces of dough between layers and press down to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point). Shape dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap in cellophane and chill at least 1 hour.
      Roast pumpkin wedges on a rimmed baking sheet, rubbed with a little good olive oil, for 20 minutes or until beginning to become tender when pierced with a knife - there should be a slight resistance. Lower heat to 250 degrees and transfer pumpkin wedges to a smoker (or to an aluminum roasting pan, set on a roasting rack to separate the wood from the pumpkin, and sealed securely with aluminum foil). Smoke pumpkin for 30-45 minutes over a single layer of wood chips, or until smoky to your liking. Check after 20 minutes to ensure wood is smoking but not igniting. Add reserved soaking liquid as needed to keep wood chips from catching fire.
      Let pumpkin cool fully, then scrape flesh from skin and mash with a fork until smooth. Alternatively, use a hand-held blender and purée. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees.
      Separate 1/4 of the dough, and roll out the remainder on a lightly floured surface into a 12” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish. Gently lift edges to allow dough to slump into the dish. Trim any overhang and add to the reserved dough. Separate reserved portion into 4 equal chunks and roll out into thinnish ropes, each about 12 inches long. Twist rope in pairs, then line the border, pressing lightly to affix. Lace ends together for a seamless effect. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or in freezer 15 minutes.
      Line pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry at the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, about 7 minutes more. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg and sprinkle twisted edge with sugar. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes. (Brushing crust with egg and then baking prevents a soggy crust.)
      Whisk pumpkin purée, sour cream or crème fraîche, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cayenne, and eggs in a large bowl. Set aside.

      Pour maple syrup in a small saucepan and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until syrup has thickened and small puffs of steam release, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in 3 additions, stirring with a silicone spatula after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.

      Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until set around edge and center jiggles just barely, about 50 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rack and let it cool fully.

      Just before serving, sprinkle pie with sugar. Use a kitchen torch, brûlée the sugar to melt and turn into a dark brown "glass" on the surface. I scorched mine in places and the results furthered the overall. A total delight. 

      If you make the pie, please let me know. I was shocked to realize it's been a year since I made it and plan on remedying that error pronto!

      My dear parents arrive tomorrow for a week - to be spent largely in great conversation and similar eating. We will visit family together for Thanksgiving and eat their food, catch up on the year's stories, and return home more full than I prefer. But, there is humanity in connecting with food and folks not exactly like me - something we all could probably benefit from. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Eating Well holiday cover, New York Times Thanksgiving, bright seasonal fare

Thanksgiving and the holiday season are upon us!

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of seeing my work debut for the 2017 New York Times Thanksgiving issue. To have been asked - trusted, even! - with the entire NYT Thanksgiving spread is true affirmation. For that I am over the moon with gratitude.

I single-handedly (with a minor meltdown here or there) cooked, styled, and photographed 9 feast recipes. And then photographed all of them, together. NBD. And then got my act together (aka cleaned my house) to throw a dinner party, since I had enough food to feed a small army.

Here is the full story. Below are some of my favorites with their respective links, should you want to make them!

fennel and apple salad with walnuts and parmesan

classic mashed potatoes

red wine cranberry sauce

smoky braised kale with tomato

sweet potato & Gruyère gratin

roast turkey with orange and sage

classic pan gravy

chorizo dressing with leeks

apple gingersnap crumble
In other Thanksgiving projects, I have been commissioned for seasonal recipe development with La Tourangelle Artisan Oils, and this month's feature is a turkey of my own design.

It might be my favorite preparation ever. The avocado oil imparts an incredible, softly buttery-nutty quality, and that - paired with the dry brine for extra-crispy skin and the spatchcock method (which ensures even cooking) - makes for perfection. Try it for yourself and see: recipe here.

Another exciting project out now is this beautiful cover, styled+photographed for the holiday issue of Eating Well Magazine. I absolutely love the creative kernel the team presented, and producing it was as much fun as it looks. ;)

Working through so many varied projects, I use the imagination of the above towards my fridge-full of leftovers on repeat... To ultimately create simple and brightly flavorful daily eating. Of course. It is lots of fun to make a special-occasion dish. But! There is a quiet glory in the day-to-day nourishment of food.

This salad one of my go-to type meals, where I pull together a bunch of disparate elements and steer towards a representation by my favorite textures and flavors. Here,  crunchy-crispy-creamy-briny-herbacious all get their say. See below for the loose recipe -

Vibrant salad bowl
for 2

2-3 types crunchy elements - 1 each: chioggia beets, hakurai turnips, diced Kirby cucumber
2-3 salady greens or leaf herbs - small handful each: red vein sorrel, purslane tips, purple basil
1-2 wild card additions (think punch, zing) - here, a few nasturtium flowers + a couple tablespoons diced homemade pickles

Thinly slice sturdy veg such as beets and turnips on a mandoline. 

Lay down your greens as a base layer. Arrange the crunchy elements around, accented by the wild card elements. In this instance, I drizzled a little pickle brine, along with some good olive oil, and finished the salad simply with lots of fresh cracked pepper and a little sea salt. 

To fortify the meal, I made this lentil dip to go alongside and modified it with what was available. In this instance, less cilantro but the addition of parsley, some roasted garlic and plenty of sumac, and foraged wild onion blossoms. 

Peeking in on the right are some tortillas leftover from another project, which I pan fried in grapeseed oil until a bit charred and pleasantly crispy, for dipping.

Along the same lines - and perfect at your Thanksgiving table - is this salad, made just today....

Same principles as the previous salad.

Apple and mizuna salad with toasted almonds, grapes, and shaved parmesan 

salady/leafy type green - a large handful each mizuna + romaine
crunchy elements - 1/2 a Granny Smith apple + a small handful toasted almonds
wild card additions - 1 strip lemon zest, sliced very thinly, a handful of grapes, shaved Parm

And again here, I used (a different) pickle brine as the base for the vinaigrette. Good eating indeed.

However you plan on celebrating the holidays, do so conscientiously.

Buy the good stuff, from family farmers. 
Honor the elders and indigenous. 
Cook with people you can learn from, or with those who want to learn from you. 
Share food with those you love.
Make it beautiful.