Chicken fat fries, and I don’t care

Roast chicken with parsnips and swiss chard

Sorry for getting "Jimmy Crack Corn" stuck in your head.

Sorry for getting “Jimmy Crack Corn” stuck in your head.

This is one of the “take five” recipes in the November issue with five ingredients.  Our five for this adaptation are:*

  • 1 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise then lengthwise (big ends quartered lengthwise)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 bone-in, skin on-chicken leg quarters (leg and thigh combo) because they were insanely cheap at the store, and I couldn’t find the bone-in, skin-on breasts the recipe called for.  Cut apart the thigh and the leg
  • 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, leaves coarsely torn and stalks cut into 1 inch lengths.
  • 1 T white-wine vinegar

Roast those parsnips at 450 in one 1 T of oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.  Push parsnips to the side, add the chicken, and then the fun really starts…  Roast to 165 degrees, about 30-35 minutes.

The fat renders off of the thighs and legs and fries the parsnips in chicken fat making chicken fat fries.  So rich.  So good.  I’ve heard that some cooks are trying to bring back schmaltz.  Hurry up!

Sautee the stalks in the remaining T olive oil until crisp-tender then toss in the leaves.  Toss and turn those leaves, adding more as it cooks down and makes room.  It takes about 5 minutes to get all of the leaves cooked to tender.  Remove it from the heat, stir in vinegar.  Serve it all together.  This chard side reminds me of when D and I were in a community garden and we always had way too much chard.  Our one criterion for a chard recipe was that it use a ton of chard.  Our favorite was chard pie.  This recipe probably would have made the cut because it uses a whole bunch, but it’s no chard pie.

Over all, this was a great meal.  It’s the kind of recipe I would have probably ignored back before I had to make everything.  Plus, chicken fat fries.  Yeah.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47 November 2007 p. 148

Spaghetti squash in the microwave(!)

Skirt steak with pickled onion and spaghetti squash*

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

This is a supposed one hour prep time recipe that can be made in about 20 minutes with the help of the microwave.  Yes, you can make spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I found some instructions online that had you cut the thing in half before you microwave it.  That seemed to defeat the purpose.  So this is what you do: Take the whole spaghetti squash and stab it with a big knife in many many places evenly spaced (you can’t play serial killer and really hack at it because it’ll roll…), place it in the microwave and heat for for 16 minutes (check it at 10, 12, and 14 minutes).  It will be done when you can stab it very easily with a paring knife.  Take it out of the microwave and cut it in half lengthwise.  You’ll need mitts.  The squash is so much easier to cut when it’s cooked than it is when it’s raw.  Scrape out the seeds and discard.  Do the spaghetti squash thing with a fork to get your strands.  My strands weren’t great, but I’m no good at that.  Done!  It’s not as tasty as roasted squash, but you can barely tell the difference.  This technique makes it so squash on a weekday is actually feasible.  Ok, it did explode a little even though I stabbed holes, but it wasn’t a very big mess.  I lost maybe an 1/8 of a cup of goo and seeds.  Combine the squash with 2 T olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

The skirt steak was tasty.  It’s not worth giving directions beyond cook steak in a skillet, tent it with foil.  I used montreal steak seasoning because Montreal steak seasoning>salt and pepper.  It was a little tough, but that’s a problem with most skirt steak.

The onions were delicious, but strong.  You take a red onion, slice it very thinly and marinate it with the juice and zest of 3 limes for at least 15 minutes.  This may actually be a job for that most dangerous utensil, the mandoline.  The onions kind of upset my stomach eating that many that raw.  The leftovers softened and mellowed quite a bit, luckily.  I ate them on a leftover turkey sandwich.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 November 2007 p. 136

cheddar bay biscuits and gravy

Cheddar Bay Biscuits and Gravy: G goes rogue again

B made fun of how this looks.  She's just jealous she couldn't eat it.  :P

B made fun of how this looks. She’s just jealous she couldn’t eat it. 😛

The November 2007 Everyday Food recipe is focused on Thanksgiving, so it should come as no surprise that it has waaay more sides than main dishes.  This is great for your average home cook.  Your average home cook isn’t trying to make everything in the issue in a month.  B and I had to get creative to use up all of those side dish recipes.  So my biscuits became a breakfast.  I was walking around downtown thinking to myself about what to do with cheddar biscuits.  I kept thinking “cheddar biscuits, cheddar biscuits”…  Then a wonderful voice in my head added one simple word and said, softly, “cheddar bay biscuits.”  We all have our chain food vices, right?  For D and I, it’s Red Lobster.  I love the fried shrimp and those cheddar bay biscuits.  So I decided to work in some “bay” in the cheddar biscuit recipe by borrowing from some copycat recipes on the internet.  Before I move on to the “and gravy” part…Kyle Kinane’s bit about cheddar bay biscuits and Michael Jackson is genius.  Enjoy.

I had my cheddar bay idea, but I was still stuck on what to serve it with.  Then another genius voice in my head said “biscuits and gravy.”  Like a before and after puzzle on Wheel of Fortune, my head put it together: cheddar bay biscuits and gravy.  Boom.

Ok, this is a combination of three different recipes, so bear with me.  I started with the original Everyday Food Buttermilk Biscuits recipe (Cheddar Variation), but make some cheddar bay changes.  (Here’s a pretty good Cheddar Bay Biscuits copycat recipe that I used as inspiration.)  Follow the Everyday Food recipe with these variations:

1)When you mix all the dry ingredients together, add a teaspoon of garlic powder.  I messed up and forgot it at that step so I had to add it with the cheddar when I kneaded it all together.  That worked out, but I was definitely afraid of over-working the dough.  I should have added it with the dry ingredients.

2)  As for the cheddar part of cheddar bay, the cheddar variation is only in the magazine.  At the part where you knead the dough to combine it, you add 2 cups of grated cheddar.  The recipe also says to add more to the top, but holy moley, that’s already a ton of cheese.  I love cheese more than the next gal, and I left it off of the top.

3)  To finish up the cruise to cheddar bay, I brushed the tops with parsley and melted butter.  Some of the copycat recipes had you mix dried parsley in with the dough, but I don’t have dried parsley and I didn’t think buttermilk biscuits with cheddar cheese and garlic really needed much more!

I had to step back the heat on my oven to about 425 instead of 450 because my biscuits were bigger than the ones in the magazine.  I cut them out with the top of a rocks glass.

Look what washed up on the shores of Cheddar Bay!

Look what washed up on the shores of Cheddar Bay!

Ok, that’s your cheddar bay biscuits.  I must admit that they do not taste exactly like the ones from Red Lobster.  The ones from Red Lobster are far more buttery, but have far less cheese and garlic flavor.  I think you could double the amount of butter and halve the amount of cheese and garlic to approximate the restaurant experience, but I hope you’ll try it my way.

On to the “n’ gravy”.  I got the sausage gravy recipe from the internet only after none of the packages of Jimmy Dean sausage at the grocery store had a recipe for sausage gravy on the side.  C’mon, Dean!  I took this recipe, halved it (huge mistake, we wound up wanting more gravy), but bumped the sausage back up to a 1/3 lb.  I did use whole milk because I have a toddler in the house and one of the perks is that you have whole milk around for cooking and baking.

So how was it?  Do you even have to ask?  It was cheddar bay biscuits with sausage gravy on top.  It was super good.  I just wish I would have made more.  Luckily, I have four more biscuits in the freezer ready to bake.

 

creamy veggie spread

Creamy veggie spread

on mini bagels...not that you can tell from this picture

on mini bagels…not that you can tell from this picture

I’ve mentioned my index card before.  That’s where I kept the information for my favorite Everyday Food recipes back before this blog.  Well, this is another one that’s on the card and has been since 2007.  It’s a very satisfying recipe even though it’s just low-fat cream cheese/Neufchatel, chopped veggies, salt and pepper.  I’ve never messed with the ingredients or the proportions.  It’s just too good.  Normally, I mess with everything.  Not this.  Make it exactly as you’re told.  One downside is that it gets weird if you hang on to it too long.  It really is only good for a couple days.  The veggies start to break down and release water into the spread and that, in turn, makes the parsley kinda limp.  Oh, and a tip for when you definitely make this: take the cream cheese out and put it into the bowl as your very first step, then do all the rest of the prep into the bowl to give the cheese a little time to soften.  A metal spoon and your arms will be enough fire power.  Otherwise, you’re in for quite a workout trying to mix cold cream cheese and veggies together.

Creamy veggie spread

*adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47 November 2007 p. 52

  • 1 8 oz packaged Neufchatel cheese
  • 1 carrot, peeled then grated with a box grater
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced.  Keep the white part, the light green, and just a bit of the green green
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley

Set the cheese in a medium bowl.  Prep the rest of the ingredients into that bowl, giving the cheese time to soften.  Season with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.  Stir it together with a metal spoon.  Spread on bagels or crackers.  Use it within 3 days.  Everyday Food says 5.  I’ve never been lucky enough to get it to last that long.

G&D-giving

G and D’s Mini Thanksgiving

#nofilter

#nofilter

D and I have a tradition of having a mini Thanksgiving ahead of the actual holiday.  Because there are so many people at the actual celebration, it can be hard to get a chance to spend any time together.  We didn’t do one last year because J was less than a month old and took all of our energy.  So we brought back the tradition this year.  Plus, it gave me a chance to knock out some recipes for the blog.  Plus plus, stuffing > not stuffing.

One mistake: not breaking this meal up with something like a salad or cranberries or green beans.  Look at that picture!  It’s sepia-toned it’s so stinkin’ brown.  Brown onions, brown stuffing, brown gravy, brown turkey skin.  Yikes.

I’m going to start with the low-light and work my way up.  The turkey.  We always get the Jennie O perfect turkey breast in a bag.  You don’t thaw it, don’t season it, don’t baste it.  Just stick it in the oven and wait until the timer pops.  Except ours didn’t have a timer, and I didn’t notice that until it was already overcooked and crazy dry.  Oops.  At least I found the thing on sale.

Sugar-glazed pearl onions

I was maybe going to make these for the big Thanksgiving, but D talked me into trying it first.  That was a good call.  This took forever, and it wasn’t all that tasty.  The first step, where it says to cook on medium low until the liquid has evaporated?  Yeah, 30 minutes later and it was still super soupy.  That’s when G got impatient, cranked up the heat and pretty much boiled off the liquid.  The next step where you get them golden went pretty well.  The actual vinegar and thyme was tasty, but really it was just onions.  Nearly an hour for a bunch of onions?  You’d better be caramelizing onions for some french onion soup or something.  Mmmmm….french onion soup….

Simple stuffing (Sausage variation)

The sausage variation is only in the magazine.  You add 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, out of the casing, to the veggies in the pan after they are softened and cook until browned.  Then, move on to the add wine step and follow as always.  I used sourdough bread instead of Italian bread, and I’m quite happy that I did.  Sourdough gives you just a little more flavor and cuts against the richness ever so slightly.  Also, this recipe doesn’t give directions for you to cook this on its own.  The turkey breast had you cooking it at 375 so I cooked this in a 8 x 8 pan at 375 for 25 minutes then browned it uncovered for about 15 minutes.  That’s another thing.  I halved this recipe to just make one pan.  I regretted that.  Who has ever wanted less stuffing?  Rookie mistake.  It was delicious.  It’s tough to say if that’s just because stuffing is delicious as a general proposition.

Cranberry-pear cake bars

Where did that corner piece go?

Where did that corner piece go?

Yet again, MSLO is kiiiiilling me by not putting one of the recipes online.  The November 2007 issue seems to be especially bad for this.  Sigh.  My version of the recipe after the jump.

Anyway, the cranberry bars were amazing.  They were very moist and blondie-like in flavor although cake-like in texture.  The batter definitely seemed like a muffin batter.  I am fully planning to try making this as muffins someday.  Maybe with a struesel topping.

Oh, and I had a small piece with two different Ben and Jerry’s coffee ice creams as a semi-frozen Kaffee und Kuchen.  Coffee heath bar crunch was the best with the cake.  Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz (coffee ice cream with espresso-flavored chocolate chunks) was the better of the two on its own.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

It was an awesome Thanksgiving dessert, day after Thanksgiving breakfast, dessert to send to work with your husband, all around sweet treat.  Thank you, Beck family of New Canaan, Connecticut.  You’re all geniuses.

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Food, Glorious Food!!

Well, I told you I would be back with an epic post concerning my Thanksgiving Dinner.  I think the best way to get started is to just show you the splendor.

Food, glorious food! What wouldn't we give for that extra bit more -- That's all that we live for. Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food, wonderful food, marvellous food, fabulous food, beautiful food, glorious food!

Food, glorious food! What wouldn’t we give for that extra bit more — That’s all that we live for. Why should we be fated to do nothing but brood on food, magical food, wonderful food, marvellous food, fabulous food, beautiful food, glorious food!

Now, here’s the menu:

Herb-Rubbed Turkey

Simple Stuffing with Mushrooms and Sage

White Wine Gravy

Cranberry-Ginger Relish

Roasted Harvest Vegetables

Green Bean, Watercress and Crispy Shallot Salad

Lovely Mashed Potatoes (contribution of my neighbor)

And to top it all off:

Apple Crumb Pie

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Yes, I made two desserts to feed a total of four people. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Yes, I made two desserts to feed a total of four people. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

My day started out pretty early, getting the stuffing ready to go.  To make the mushroom and sage variation you add 1 lb of mushrooms (I used cremini) and 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage after you have softened the vegetables in step 1 of the Simple Stuffing recipe. After the mushrooms have released their liquid you continue with the recipe by adding in the white wine. I thought the stuffing turned out pretty well, although in the future I think I would try to cut up the bread into slightly smaller pieces.  It didn’t all congeal together exactly as I expected and I am fairly certain it was user error.

Once the stuffing was made, I did actually stuff the turkey.  Let me first say, I took the turkey out of the freezer on Saturday and the damn thing was still frozen solid on Wednesday morning.  I spent a good part of the day running cool water over it to let it thaw out safely.  Luckily, come Thursday morning it was in good shape to get stuffed!

The herb rub for the turkey is also very simple.  You just gently lift the skin from the breast and spread the mix of three herbs, salt and pepper under there and rub it into the meat a bit.  Now, by some small miracle, this turkey decided to keep all of its moisture inside itself.  The recipe indicates that you are supposed to start basting after an hour in the oven.  There were literally no drippings after one hour.  I waited for an hour and a half, still nearly no drippings.  I was getting scared for my gravy at this point so I added about half a box of chicken stock to the pan so I could do a little basting.  When the turkey came out, it was beautiful.

Just look at that crispy skin!

Just look at that crispy skin!

The intensely dark stuff under the skin is the herb rub.  And yes, the turkey had still refused to give up its juice when I finally took it out of the oven.  I technically even overcooked it because the breast was at nearly 190 degs when I pulled it out.  Like I said, total miracle.  That was one super juicy turkey.  I let it rest for around 45 minutes before we cut into it, but it was completely perfect. The herb rub under the crispy skin was so savory.

My step-dad doing the honors.

My step-dad doing the honors.

For the most part, the sides were all fairly healthy.  The roasted harvest vegetables were delicious but also light.  The garlic that was roasted with it really flavored everything thoroughly.

And they were a totally beautiful color.

And they were a totally beautiful color.

The green bean, watercress and crispy shallot salad might be my new favorite thing.  I’ve told you I love shallots.  I will just add to that love now by saying that crispy fried shallots cannot be beat.  They taste just like those french fried onions that you put on top of green bean salad but you have the extra satisfaction of making them that delicious yourself.  And the lemon-mustard vinaigrette is incredible.

I wish I had some show tune lyrics specific to shallots...

I wish I had some show tune lyrics specific to shallots…

The gravy was also awesome.  I love adding white wine to my gravy.  The one thing I refused to follow in the recipe was the instruction to add water.  I would never ever want to thin all that flavor.  Especially when I struggled so to get any drippings to make my gravy with in the first place.

And I normally am very strict about eating only cranberry orange relish made in a food processor.  It’s what I grew up with.  It’s delicious. I was brave.  I tried something new (even though I was contemplating making both relish options for most of the week…).  It was worth it.  I love ginger.  I love cranberry.  It all went really well together. It was super yummy and even more so when it was mixed in with all the gravy and potatoes and turkey.

This also had an awesome color.  Like a jam full of rubies. Delicious soft rubies.

This also had an awesome color. Like a jam full of rubies. Delicious soft rubies.

Yes, I will make it again.

And now, on to the dessert.  The pie was super tasty.  I had a slight mishap.  Either my pie crust was not big enough, my pie plate was too deep, or the recipe was way off when it called for 4 lbs of granny smith apples.  It definitely didn’t all fit.  I had to put probably half a pound in another dish to bake on its own and I also had to make a little more of the crumb topping to make sure I could cover the whole thing.  I also had to add a little nutmeg, because… I had to.  But after all that, it was awesome.  Super fruity and dense and just sweet enough that I didn’t feel guilty chasing it with a piece of cheesecake (it counted as a fruit serving right?).

So very very very chocolatey.

So very very very chocolatey.

This was the first cheesecake I ever made, so it was a bit of an experiment.  Despite following instructions, it cracked anyway, but I just turned it into a ganache canyon.  Yeah.  That’s right.  Ganache canyon.  The texture of this cheesecake is super creamy.  I’m amazed at how perfect the texture was considering it cracked (I assumed that meant it was overcooked).  And the crust managed to taste kind of like a brownie.  So decadent.

So that was my Thanksgiving everyone.  My very first time hosting.  I followed the make ahead instructions in the magazine for just about everything which made the day of pretty easy.  I was cooking for most of the day but at a steady and stress free pace.  I even had the time to post about the lovely Baked Brie with Pecans.

I hope everyone else’s Thanksgiving was as stress free and enjoyable as mine!  Happy Holidays!!!

Pumpkin cake and the Brussels sprouts reprised

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

lovely cake on a lovely table

lovely cake on a lovely table

D, J, and I spent Thanksgiving with my family.  Because they host Thanksgiving, I often just cook whatever is needed to fill in the gaps in the menu.  This year, that meant two cranberry sauces: the one from the Ocean Spray bag and a cranberry chutney.  The chutney was good and made an obscene amount of food.  Seriously.  Watch out everyone I know, you’re getting a jar of chutney for Christmas.

I was also in charge of bringing a non-starchy vegetable.  I made the Brussels sprouts salad again.  It scaled up pretty well, and, wouldn’t you know it, there were make-ahead instructions on another page!  I wrongly maligned that recipe.  You blanch the brussels sprouts and toast the pine nuts the day before.  That leaves only the dressing and slicing the apples the day of.

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Another beautiful dish in a beautiful dish

Pumpkin layer cake (recipe after the jump)

The real star of the show was the pumpkin cake.  Now, we had desserts more than covered.  We had a maple walnut pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, red velvet cake, pumpkin truffles, and a cheesecake.  But…when else was I going to make a giant layer cake?  My sister already rejected the idea of having it for her birthday next Sunday, so I piled on yet another dessert.  Nobody was mad.  This was a popular cake.  It’s very easy to bake and keeps wonderfully overnight.  I think the pumpkin pie spice in the cream cheese frosting (yeah, you read that right) really did add something.  I wouldn’t call it optional.  The cake was very moist.  I guess it reminded me a lot of pumpkin pancakes!  Giant pumpkin pancakes with cream cheese frosting.  You’re gonna want that.  Oh, one tip: the recipe says to use an electric mixer to make the batter and the frosting.  Incorrect.  Bust out the Kitchen Aid and the paddle attachment.  You’ll want the firepower of a stand mixer to get through all that butter and cream cheese.  Also, it’s a lot of batter.  Your arms will be glad you used ol’ Kitchy.

It just looks moist, doesn't it?  Gotta love pumpkin

It just looks moist, doesn’t it? Gotta love pumpkin

Oh, and check out the cheese from my trip to see B!

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Cabot aged cheddar, buffalo wing sauce cheddar, everything bagel cheddar.

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever and whoever you are.

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

Baked Brie with Pecans

The spread.

The spread.

Just a quick Thanksgiving teaser!  Since we are having a later dinner, I decided to make the Baked Brie with Pecans.  It was so worth it!  Once the cheese has softened in the oven (or in my case toaster oven), you toast the pecans and then basically make a thin caramel sauce out of the brown sugar and maple syrup.

Mmm... Gooey...

Mmm… Gooey…

It gets super gooey once you cut into it and kind of all melts out, but that just makes it easier to scoop up cheese, nuts, and sauce all in one go.  It’s so good.  Maple and pecans might be best friends.  I really hope all of you make one of these this holiday season.  It’s so much easier than a brie en croute but definitely a crowd pleaser.

I also hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving!  Expect to see an epic post from me soon featuring my Thanksgiving dinner!

Buttermilk Biscuits: Two Ways

Buttermilk Biscuits

The November 2007 issue included a fairly awesome buttermilk biscuit recipe, along with three suggested variations.  I made the mixed herb variation, M made the black pepper variation, and G went really rogue on the cheddar variation which you will soon learn about in another post.

Those little flecks are flavor.

Those little flecks are flavor.

Like many other recipes in this issue, I could only find the base recipe for buttermilk biscuits but no discussion of the variations.  So basically, if you want to make the mixed herb variation, do this:

In step 1, add a 1/2 cup of your favorite fresh chopped herbs.  I did a blend of thyme, chives, and dried parsley (because it’s what I had).  Add less of the intensely flavored herbs live thyme and rosemary (if you choose rosemary) and more of the lighter herbs like parsley and chives.

*adpated from page 48, November 2007, issue 47

It is a pretty simple recipe.  You make the dough, you roll the biscuits out, you cut them out, you bake them.  No surprises.  They are really tasty.  I loved the flavor of chive in the biscuits.  I just ate them straight.  They were so flavorful they didn’t need butter.  After the second or third one, I started to realize how salty they were.  Salty in a good way, but easily that salt could have been cut without really cutting the flavor.

I mentioned this to M before she made the black pepper variation.  Let’s hear about it, M!

If you want to make the cracked black pepper variation do the following:

In step 1 add 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper to the dry flour mixture.  In step 3 after brushing biscuits with butter, sprinkle them with ½ teaspoon more cracked black pepper.

*adapted from page 48, Issue #47, November 2007

Biscuits with cracked black pepper.

Biscuits with cracked black pepper.

I completely agree with B and the simplicity of the buttermilk biscuits.  I did stray from the actual recipe for two ingredients.  Following B’s recommendation, I decreased the salt to only 1.25 teaspoons not two.  I also used a cultured buttermilk powder (which you can find at most grocery stores in the baking aisle with the flour and sugar).  My mom turned me onto the powdered buttermilk because I hate wasting food and I would never use all of the fresh buttermilk that I would buy.  So powder it is and I think it works great!

I did find the biscuit dough very wet before adding flour to it on the work surface.  It reminded me of drop biscuit batter.  In the future if I want to cut corners with the recipe I may just drop the dough on a cookie sheet and bake them that way.  The dough was fine once I added quite a bit of flour to it.

I served my biscuits for dinner as a side to vegetarian chili.  They went very well together.  P and I really liked the black pepper flavor and of course the butter!  I must confess my biscuits don’t look quite as nice as B’s, for at least two reasons.  First, I don’t have a round cookie cutter, so I used a football.  Second, I blame it all on my less than mediocre oven.

Pecan Pie with a twist…

Delicious piece of Maple-Nut Tart

Delicious piece of Maple-Nut Tart

Maple-Nut Tart*

  • 1  our favorite pie crust (recipe follows)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1.5 cups pecan pieces
  • 1.5 cups walnut pieces

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350°.  On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll chilled dough into a 12-inch circle.  Carefully fit into 9-inch tart pan, gently lowering dough into bottom and sides of pan without stretching.  Roll rolling pin over edge of tart pan to cut off excess dough.  Set tart shell aside.

Step 2. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt.  Then whisk in maple syrup.  Add nuts, and mix filling to combine.  Place tart pan on rimmed baking sheet, and pour in filling.  Bake tart until filling is set and crust is slightly golden, 55-60 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Remove tart from pan before serving.

*adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47, pg. 114, November 2007

Our Favorite Pie Crust**

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 4 tablespoons ice water

Step 1. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. Then using a pastry blender cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Step 2. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of ice water and continue to work dough with pastry blender, continue adding 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers.

Step 3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, forming a ¾ inch thick disk.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Or wrap in plastic, place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling.)

**adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47, pg. 88, November 2007

 

Raw dough

Raw dough

I offered to bring the Maple-Nut Tart to my husband’s cousin’s house for Early Thanksgiving Dinner.  I didn’t want to mess the tart up and I only had one chance to get it right.  We were going to the Syracuse football game on Saturday leaving me with a couple hours that night to bake before we headed out the next morning.  While reading the recipe for the Maple-Nut Tart I realized it was just a Pecan Pie with a few changes.

I usually avoid baking pies because I have some difficult shoes to fill.  I can’t compete with my mom and mother-in-law, and my mother-in law was most certainly going bring a few pies to Early Thanksgiving Dinner as well.  I guess it’s time to start practicing my pie skills…

I don’t own a tart pan and have no intentions of adding such a pan to my collection until I have a larger kitchen.  Considering the crust for the tart was just a pie crust I thought it would be fine to turn the ‘Maple-Nut Tart’ into a ‘Maple-Nut Pie’.  The pie crust was very easy to make and I really liked using butter instead of shortening.  I love using simple ingredients.  I know how butter is made, but I can’t say the same about shortening.  I was pleasantly surprised how easily the dough rolled out and did not stick to the counter.  I fit the crust into my Pyrex pie pan with NO problems.

MapleNut PieCrust

The maple nut mixture was also really easy to throw together.  Again very simple ingredients: eggs, pecans, walnuts, brown sugar, and maple syrup.    It was awesome to use pure maple syrup instead of corn syrup!  I like to eat maple syrup off a spoon (I can’t say the same for corn syrup)!  Although using a cup of maple syrup almost cleaned my supply out.  Good thing we always get some pure maple syrup from Lewis County every year for Christmas!

Uncooked Maple Nut Tart

Uncooked tart/pie

I baked the maple-nut pie for 60 minutes in my little unreliable oven.  The temperature ranged from 300-400°F.  I was a little nervous that the center was either going to be under- or overdone, but the outside looked delicious.  Only time would tell if my contribution to dessert was a success.

Finished product!

Finished product!

The following day when it came time for dessert I made sure P and I had a piece of Maple-Nut pie.  It was amazing.  The crust was done to perfection the outer layer of nuts and syrup was crisp and the center was nice in gooey.  Everyone else liked it too.  SUCCESS!

In the future if I ever need or want to make a pecan pie I am going back to the Maple-Nut Tart recipe!  Maybe next time I could even add some chocolate…