Oh my god, guys, I have so many pressing news items to share with you about Thanksgiving! Hubby McMan and I went to Michigan to visit his brother, sister-in-law and their faboo children. We were there for 4 days, during which time we ate a LOT of food. Yes, we ate the requisite large, two-to-three-plater Thanksgiving meal. But believe me--lunch and dinner were an event every time. And I helped make it happen! Yay! I like being useful!
News Item #1: My Sister-in-Law Completely and Utterly Rocks at Making a Turkey
You may remember me singing Angela's praises back when she gave me the greatest Char Siu recipe on the planet. It turns out that she's just all-around great at making meat. She used a Tyler Florence recipe for this beautiful bird. And I would recommend it to ANYONE. Even you, kind reader.
Herb-Roasted Turkey (from Tyler Florence w/Better Homes & Gardens)
-1 12- to 14-lb. turkey
-1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
-Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
**NOTE! Angela did not do any of the separating of the bird. She kept it whole. Therefore, it took a lot longer--but it also looked much prettier. ;)**
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pat turkey dry with paper towels and set it on a cutting board. With a boning knife, separate the thighs/legs from the bird by cutting through the skin and joint where thigh connects to the body; set aside.
2. Remove the breasts from the bone by using a sharp, thin knife to cut down the length of the turkey breast bone. This can also be done by a butcher. You can set aside the bones for gravy. At this point, you will have two thigh/legs and two breasts.
3. In a mixing bowl combine the olive oil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and sage. Rub mixture all over turkey. Finish by liberally seasoning the turkey all over with salt and pepper. (**NOTE: I advised Angela to loosen the skin under the breast and rub the mixture in there, too. It's how I roast chickens, and it is soooo good.**)
4. Place legs, skin sides up, in a large roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes. Carefully remove pan from oven; add breasts to pan, skin sides up. Roast 30 to 45 minutes, or until breast reaches 165 degrees F when checked with a thermometer. Remove from oven; loosely cover with foil and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
-Makes 8 to10 servings.
News Item #2: Hickory Farms Sent Me a Free Box of Goodies to Share (which I received through the Tastemaker program on Foodbuzz)!
Ohhhh yeah, baby. Free cheese and sausage! Do you know the chorus of angels I heard when I opened up the shipping container and saw this amazing spread? It is every Wisconsin girl's dream to be shipped free cheese and sausage (and mustard, really). Plus, being that Hubby's family is also from Wisconsin, I knew this would go over quite well in general. Boy, did it.
I will tell you--Hickory Farms knows how to spoil you. The family decided the hands-down champions of this goodie box were the Beef Summer Sausage (naturally), both mustards (Sweet-Hot and Cranberry), and the Creamy Swiss Blend cheese. Preferably, you would combine all of those together (well--just one mustard, not both at once).
So good. Thanks, Hickory Farms! You helped make our Saturday-After-Thanksgiving. :)
News Item #3: Oh My God! I Helped Make a Non-Failing Mochi!
So, I didn't MAKE mochi. Well, I kind of did. I should say that I FORMED mochi after the dough was made. You may all recall The Great Mochi Disaster of August 2010. Well, this was vastly more successful. I attribute that success to several things.
1) These were not ice cream mochi. We used a crushed pecan and/or a coconut filling/topping.
2) We used gloves instead of our bare hands. This prevented the everpresent danger of burning yourself.
3) We oiled up the gloves before and between mochi. This was INCREDIBLY helpful and made mochi making much less a sticky, horrifying disaster.
News Item #4: Heather Successfully Rolls Out a Pie Crust.
Please note that I did not say that I successfully MADE a pie crust. Angela made the crust. I just rolled it out, trimmed and fluted the edges, and made the filling. It became evident that my pie crust problems lie in the making of the dough, and not the parts that come after. This dough was a freakin' miracle. It was so easy to roll out, pick up, and form. It's so easy that even I can do it.
Originally, I was just making one pie: Pumpkin. While I was laying the dough out in the pan, my niece came over to watch. She noticed there were a lot of extra pie scraps laying on the cutting board, so I suggested we make her an individual pie. A Sophie Pie!
A Sophie Pie consists of frozen blueberries, the juice of one underripe lime, tapioca flour, and raw sugar, to taste. First, combine some tapioca flour with the frozen blueberries and defrost in the microwave for 3 minutes, stirring halfway through. Pour off a little of the excess juice if you want. Then, combine with sugar and lime juice, mixing well. Do you think you need some extra tapioca flour? You probably do. You can add that now. Mix it up good and cook in the microwave another minute or two, until the combination is really thick and gooey. Now you have a delicious pie filling, appropriate for any season!
Back to the Pumpkin Pie. Angela used real pumpkins instead of canned pumpkin, which marks the first time I've ever made a pumpkin pie that way. My advice? DO IT! It was much lighter and more delicately flavored than with canned pumpkin, and it allowed all the flavors of the spices to shine right along with the pumpkin.
Pumpkin Pie (from Better Homes & Gardens)
-1 portion Alan's Pie Pastry, (recipe below), or 1 rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crust
-1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (**NOTE: I used at least 1/2 cup extra of the steamed & pureed pumpkin Angela made--it gave a stronger pumpkin flavor.**)
-2/3 cup packed brown sugar (**NOTE: We used Sugar in the Raw instead of brown sugar, which is likely part of the reason why the pie is light in color.**)
-1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/8 tsp. ground cloves
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-2/3 cup milk
-1/2 cup whipping cream
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out pastry, flouring work surface and rolling pin as needed, to a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 9-inch pie tin or plate without stretching. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Place in freezer 10 minutes. Line pastry with foil pie pan (see Blind Baking, below); fill with dried beans or pie weights. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove foil pie pan. Bake 5 minutes more. Cool on wire rack. (If using rolled refrigerated crust, bake according to package directions.)
2. In a saucepan combine pumpkin, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and cloves; cook and stir over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes to integrate flavors. Remove from heat.
3. Beat in eggs; add milk, cream, and vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 1 hour. Refrigerate to store.
Super Magical Amazing Splendifferous Pie Crust (or "Alan Carter's Pie Pastry," from Better Homes & Gardens)
1. In a very large bowl combine 3 ¾ C all purpose flour, 1 tbs sugar, ½ to 1 tbs kosher salt, and ½ tsp baking powder.
2. With a pastry blender cut in 1 ¾ C cold unsalted butter leaving chunks the size of peas.
3. Combine 2/3 C ice-cold water, 2 tbs of sour cream, and 1 tsp vinegar.
4. Add liquid all at once to the flour mixture. Quickly stir to distribute; do not overmix. The dough should be slightly crumbly.
5. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. The finished dough should break,
6. Divide into three portions; shape into disks. Use at once or wrap and refrigerate up to 3 days. Or freeze up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. Makes 3 single-crust pastries.
Alan's secrets for perfect pastry:
• Always use chilled, not frozen or room temperature, butter. Butter should feel like clay to the
• Do not overwork your pie dough. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour and butter, then stop. As
it rests the dough will come together.
• Acid helps pie dough set up. A little vinegar and sour cream added to the water does the trick.
• If your pie dough is ugly and lumpy with butter knots the size of peas, it's perfect.
• You want a generous crust, so don't roll it too thin. About 1/3 inch is good.
• Always butter the pie dish. Sometimes, especially with fruit pies, the juice sneaks under the
crust and acts like glue, bonding the crust to the pan.
• To prevent shrinking do not stretch the dough into the pie plate or over the top of the pie.
Ohhhh, what's this, you ask? Well. It's a third pie. That's right. I (of all people) helped make 3 pies this weekend. And they were all successful and delicious.
THIS pie is technically Apple-Blueberry. But WE called it "Surgery Pie." Greg's brother, Mark (hence the "M" in the top of the pie), had surgery the day after Thanksgiving. We made the pie in part as a surgery consolation prize, but also because Angela asked me to. ;) We called it Surgery Pie for the first reason...but also because it looks lumpy and bloody. We're gross, I know.
Surgery Pie (partly from me, partly from a Better Crocker cookbook)
-2 pie crusts (top and bottom)
-5 1/2-ish cups of tart apples, like Granny Smith, cut into large chunks
-As many frozen blueberries as you think are appropriate (I used at least 3/4 cup)
-Probably 1/4-1/3 cup tapioca flour
-1/2 cup raw sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
-Sprinkles of cinnamon
1. Prepare your pie crusts. Lay one in the bottom of the pie pan, trimming excess to the rim of the pan.
2. Put frozen blueberries in a bowl with a healthy dose of tapioca flour, stirring well. Microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes and stir again.
3. Place chopped apples and blueberries in a large mixing bowl. Combine with extra tapioca flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well and dump into the pie pan. If there's too much, just remove a little and eat it. It's good, I promise. :)
4. Place the other pie crust on top of the pie. Trim off excess. Tuck the top crust behind the bottom crust all the way around. Then, with two fingers, crimp the edge while poking inward with your other finger. This will help to press the edges of both crusts together so the filling doesn't ooze out the sides. Also, it looks pretty. Sprinkle with some sugar for extra sparkle!
5. Cover the edges with tin foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove the tin foil and continue baking another 35-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown. Let cool for 1 hour on a cooling rack before slicing.