Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankshanukkah Giving Pie

This is a special year where two holidays are combined into one celebration.  Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.  Two holidays filled with traditions, and this year I think I started a new tradition.  The Thankshanukkah Giving Pie.  Although it looks quite difficult and intricate, it was such a blast to make.  Especially if there is family around to keep you company and help roll the pie crust.  

I was inspired by Martha (of course) and her Woven Dried Fruit Tart. But I thought I would try the lattice work on a blueberry pie, and it turned out absolutely delicious and beautiful.  It might even be the best pie I've made yet. 

For the filling you need:

3/4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3 cups of blueberries 
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

For the pastry I used a pre-made Dancing Deer Flakey Pie Crust Mix.  It was the perfect amount for both the lattice and crust and one less step I had to do. All you need is 1/4 cup of ice cold water and two frozen sticks of butter.  But if you're an overachiever, check out this pie crust recipe

1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and water. Add to a saucepan and heat until thickened. Set aside to cool as you prepare the pastry.  Rinse the blueberries and set them off to the side.

2.  For the pastry, add half of the Dancing Deer Flakey Pie Crust Mix into the food processor and 1 stick of frozen butter cut into small cubes.  Pulse until the chunks of butter are pea sized and covered in the mix.  Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time in between pulses.  Once it starts to form into a dough take it out of the food processor and knead it into a ball and flatten it into a small disc.  Wrap in Saran wrap and refrigerate for approximately 45 minutes. Repeat this step for the second half of the mix.

4.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each disc of pastry into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Place one circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.  Fit the other circle in an 11-inch pie dish.  Trim the excess dough hanging off the edge of the pan. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

5.  Make the lattice (pictured, above): Remove baking sheet from freezer. Using a clean ruler as a guide, cut dough circle into sixteen 1/2-inch-wide strips with a sharp knife. Lay 6 strips of dough on another baking sheet in parallel lines that extend slightly past the width of the pie pan. Lay 6 more strips on top, almost perpendicular to the first strips, at about a 75 degree angle. Starting in the center, weave 1 new strip diagonally through the existing grid, under the bottom layer of strips and over the top layer. Push diagonal strip into corner of each square (where the perpendicular and parallel strips meet) to create a tight fit. Weave a second strip 1 inch away, this time weaving over then under. Repeat weaving strips across 1/2 the tart. (If dough strips become too soft, return to freezer until firm.) Return to center, and repeat with remaining dough strips to form a star lattice pattern. Freeze until ready to use.

3.  Once the filling sauce is cooled down, mix in a bowl with the blueberries. Make sure the sauce is spread evenly on the blueberries. Spread the filling evenly onto the dough of the pie pan. Carefully slide frozen lattice on top of tart, centering it on filling, and press edges to seal. Trim excess dough. Brush top of lattice with egg wash and sprinkle sugar on top.  Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour. 

4.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and continue baking until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, tent edges with foil).  Let cool in pan until the filling congeals. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Martha's Veggies

This time every year there is always that excitement (or dread) of seeing the early snow, constantly smelling hints of pine-cinnamon-apple pie, hearing Christmas music way too early, and practically every outfit consists of scarves and boots.  It might just be me, but I live for this time of year. November.

I think the driving force of my holiday cheer is my annual Christmas Party.  In high school, my group of friends decided to throw a little white elephant party just for fun, nothing super fancy. We had a little dinner at my house and a slumber party afterwards.  Super girly... I know...  But hey, that's the whole point of being girls, right?

Anyways, this whole thing has been going on for three years and it is the highlight of my year.  So yes, excuse me while I sing-a-long to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" for the third time this week.

In my excitement to plan this party, I always do my best to find new dishes to make.  And what a better place to find a nice holiday side dish than Martha herself, the Queen of the Christmas Parties.
Even though it is still 4 weeks to the party, I wanted to try this delicious looking dish just for fun. (And also to see how long it would actually take to pull it off).  So here it is...

Martha Stewart's Roasted Winter Vegetables

You need:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for sheets
  • 1 medium acorn squash, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and halved lengthwise (quartered if large)
  • 1/2 pound shallots, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cloves broken apart and left unpeeled
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush two large rimmed baking sheets with oil. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss all vegetables with oil and season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Divide vegetables between baking sheets.
  5. Top with thyme and roast until golden and tender, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating sheets and tossing vegetables halfway through.
This is such an easy and super healthy dish to make and it leaves your kitchen smelling absolutely wonderful.  When I made this dish I was worried that I added too much seasoning, when really I ended up needing more salt/pepper!  So don't be shy on the seasoning.  All the yummy juices soak it right up.  Also, Martha suggested 30-35 minutes of cook time, but I had mine in the oven for about 45 or 50 minutes until it was the perfect golden tenderness.  Just keep a good eye on it and it will be the perfect side dish to any holiday meal.