Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Apple Pie with New Crust

17 Dec

My Aunt Dinah is a 90-something powerhouse of a woman with a fondness for awesome shoes and the most amazing spirit you have ever met.   She is awesome.

However, she is 90-something and while she was fine to make ONE homemade apple pie from scratch for Thanksgiving, she admitted she couldn’t bring the usual two pies.  My cousin/uncle Mark, who hosts Thanksgiving every year at his house with wife Wanda, asked that I pick up a pie down the street.

Are you kidding?

Pick up a pie?

That was not going to happen.  Though I couldn’t go up against Dinah’s classic apple pie.  I didn’t even want to try to compete.  So I wanted a bit more of a twist on the pie, so I went with one that had a crumble top.  I got the full recipe from one of my new favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  And I was up for a challenge, so I chose her pie crust that she, a very experienced baker, said was very difficult to make.

And it started with (gulp)… shortening!  EEEEEEEEEEEEK!  How can you make a buttery crust without butter?  I just wasn’t sure, but I had trust.  So I took out the stuff that always reminds me of kindergarten paste and measured myself a cup.


 And because I have never seen the difference between pastry that I do by hand and when I do it in the food processor (except in wrist pain), I “cheated.”


 So I pulsed the shortening with the flour until it made a lumpy mess.


 So I pulsed it a bit more until it looked more like crumbs. 


 My idea of the right texture for pie crust is always where most of it is making pencil eraser size chunks with a few bigger and some crumbs.


 Then I added some egg.


And some water, white vinegar, and salt before separating the crust into 3 parts and making some balls.


 I put the balls into ziplocks.


Then used a rolling pin to smush it down so it would be “easier” to work with later (HA!)


Then I stuck it in the freezer, for what wound up being overnight.  I took it out the next morning to thaw while I prepared the filling.  First I cut up apples (uniformity is important!) 

The filling recipe also came from the Pioneer Woman recipe collection.


And then stirred together this mixture that was like heaven in my mouth.


 Phew!  Now just to roll out the crust.

I added flour to my surface and pin.


And then I rolled… and rolled… and folding it up… and rolled… and rolled.. and refloured… and rolled and rolled and folded it up and rolled and rolled and refloured and rolledandrolledandfoldeditupandrolledandrolledandrefloured… and rolled…


 It just never quite made it smooth.  I decided that even though it looked like it was falling apart that I would try to lay it into the pie dish and just patch it as needed.


But how do I get it off of the mat?  It had been floured and all… but it was STUCK.  And it was right around the moment when I somehow looped my apron around the handle of the cabinet and in one foul swooped yanked it open, toppled out the top to my salad spinner, and dumped a combo of flour and pie dough all over the floor.


Mike was looking at the sorry state of me covered in flour, fear, and frustration and suggested that I turn the whole thing over on the pie plate and peal the dough off. 


Much to my relief, it worked.  


 I had to patch some areas and wound up with no where near enough to make nice edges, however, it was SO thin that I dared not roll it anymore. 


The recipe didn’t mention if the crust should be pricked to allow air out, however, I didn’t want to take any chances so I pricked.


Then I filled it with the apples that were covered in the delicious sauce. 


 And I made the topping, which was supposed to be like crumbs… but it never really came close.


So I wound up breaking it into little chunks with my fingers and spreading it across the top.


 The smell while this was baking was absolutely fantastic.  And it came out looking BEAUTIFUL!


But how did it taste?

Well…. ehhhh… it was good… but it wasn’t great.  Not even all that special.  I don’t know why this fell short.  It had all the makings (and look) of a brilliant pie… but it just wasn’t.  And the crust was no better than my other crust, which was much less effort.

So while I still love Ree and her recipes, I think I have to say… skip this pie.   And from what I hear from Lori, make this Pecan Pie instead (which I plan on doing very soon).

For the recipes, it’s better (and so worthwhile) to check out Ree’s summaries:

The Crust

The Pie

One year of NYC Nom Nom

9 Feb

Today marks the one year anniversary of when I officially started NYC Nom Nom.

My first blog entries were definitely a “hello cyberspace!” entry without much substance.  It was a simple list of my current favorite restaurants in NYC followed up by my recipe for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars that everyone loves.

My favorite eating moments of the past year were WD50 and Thanksgiving.  I also won TWO meals: one at Fishtail from Foodbuzz and the other at Landmarc from Time Warner Center’s Circle of Taste (and won a cooking class at Williams Sonoma from them too!)  I even got to eat on a completely different continent for the first time.

As for the bad… I had a casualty of bread, had an absolutely terrible meal at a diner that some people love and some people hate, had my gallbladder removed, and was nearly killed by Co.

I also really learned how to cook this year.  I managed to find a love for brussel sprouts and learned how to make pasta.  I no longer can be accused of being such a bad cook that I hermetically seal pots.  I even won my last company’s Top Chef Competition.

It has been quite an adventure for me and I have loved this little side project and hope to continue it for a long time to come.

My friends, my family, and even my mom called ME for recipes and suggestions this past year.  My Grandma even asked me for a cooking tip last weekend when we all sat down to a wonderful, homemade meal together.  My Grandma taught me a lot about food (especially baking) and really taught me not just a love for food, but a love for the traditions of food, especially surrounded by family and loved ones.  She passed away the very next day after our family meal together.  I will be forever thankful for all she taught me and for that last meal we shared together.

Grandma Litty (May 26, 1927 – February 1, 2010) enjoying a banana cream pie on a boat in Colorado- 2007.

Thanksgiving 2009

15 Jan

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Nobody I know quite does Thanksgiving like we do.  40 loud, wonderful people somehow all fit into one house and we all sit down to dinner. Everyone brings a dish, and usually it’s the same dish for 50+ years.  I have been trying to write this blog for weeks (months) now, however, it’s quite a daunting task!  It’s never too late to talk about Thanksgiving though. What could be wrong with a holiday filled with family, food, and reminding ourselves to be thankful for the best things in our lives?

What’s amazing to me is that some of the cousins that are there are my 6th cousins (or something like that… it’s just too hard to calculate).  The discussion comes up every year that no one is quite sure how some of us are related and it’s always tossed around that we should make a family tree.  It never gets done… but no one seems to mind. (And if any of you should see any errors below or have any additions, please feel free to let me know! I know what an opinionated bunch we can be.)

I have to give special thanks to my sister the photographer for these amazing pics!  My point and shoot will never be able to capture what her good camera does and her eye is just fantastic!

So how does this work?  I’m pretty sure our gracious hosts begin prepping for the next Thanksgiving the day after the previous Thanksgiving ended.  I do know they collect takeout containers all year to ensure we can all take home some leftovers!

My dad usually brings an appetizer, but this year he wanted to do something different.  He went with toasted bread with guacamole and shrimp.  It was fresh and delicious.  I think I see a keeper! (At least for a few years)

A new addition this year was pigs in blankets.  How can you go wrong with tiny hot dogs in pastry?

I have to say, it is not Thanksgiving without the meatballs.  I don’t know how this Jewish family started the tradition of meatballs every Thanksgiving, but I’m sure glad they did!  As soon as I smell the sauce and see the little copper pot go on the warming stand, I know it truly is Thanksgiving.

I guess serving it with challah makes it more culturally fitting, but really it’s just the conduit for getting as much sauce as possible up from our plates.

We used to have one giant turkey, however, this year we had THREE smaller turkeys.  This is the one thing that isn’t cooked by the family.  We outsource this due to simple volume of meat.

Thankfully, we have many expert carvers in the family.

Mike attended his first Thanksgiving last year and I give him a lot of credit.  It cannot be easy to walk into our family, especially at Thanksgiving.  We are a loud, out going, crazy bunch.  And there are a LOT of us.  Mike managed to hold his own, however, and even brought a butternut squash souffle last year that was a hit. So of course we brought it again this year.  Unfortunately we had a bit of a collapse this year, so there was a little hole in the middle.  Nobody seemed to mind.

The cranberry sauce is homemade, and even I, who isn’t a cranberry fan, look forward to this every year.

The dinner spread pretty much never changes.  There is always turkey, gravy, string beans, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, baked turnips, cranberry sauce, corn bread (new arrival in the past few years) and stuffing.  This year the stuffing was a bit different than normal, however, I LOVED it.  Whichever cousin made this… take note!

The spread is so big that Stacey had to capture it in 2 shots and then put the panorama together.

Everyone is assigned seats each year, designated by a leaf with their name on it on their plate (see in the below picture on the left).  The plan for plates is the same for most people: take a little of everything.

To me, the desserts are epic.  My sweet tooth is never quite so satisfied as it is on Thanksgiving.  This is also filled with tradition, however, there are more change-ups in dessert than there are at dinner.  There are always items that remain the same: Dinah’s brownies and apple pie, marble cake, cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookies.  This year we had the addition of gooey pumpkin squares, a new (winning) recipe for the pumpkin pie, and I brought the pumpkin whoopie pies and the salted english toffee that I fell in love with this year.

Just looking back at these pictures is making my mouth water.

When it’s all over (and that is a sad, sad moment), the take out containers come out and everyone goes home with some leftovers.  As soon as Thanksgiving ends, I look forward to the next year.

My dad, sister, and I actually started a tradition a few years back of having an Annual Leftovers Party at my dad’s house the Friday night after Thanksgiving.  It’s a fun way to share some of our Thanksgiving with our friends and get to sample some of their Thanksgiving.  I added some new food to the Leftovers Party including a baked spinach and artichoke dip with roasted garlic in a bread bowl.  SCRUMPTIOUS!  Though I think some people were a bit alarmed at the amount of garlic! (look closely and you’ll see full cloves sticking out below)

We also had made a second squash souffle just for this occasion.

We always wind up with too little room for the food and then spend half the time shooing away the dog and cats. But everyone samples a bit of everything, drinks beer, and has a merry old time.

Stacey takes such beautiful photos that I have to share some more, even if they aren’t specifically food focused:

Can’t wait for next year!

Makin’ Whoopie… Pies… again

9 Dec

The whoopie pies were such a hit at the housewarming that I decided to make them for our epic Thanksgiving feast (more on THAT later).  They were a HUGE hit.  The only person that didn’t like them was the person’s whose opinion matters to me most… Dinah (the matriarch of our family and Thanksgiving).  She said they were too sweet and she likes more “simple” desserts.  SAD! But everyone else loved them… so I’ll call it a success.  The last entry has the recipe, however, I never got pics of the finished cookies nor completed cakes!  So without further ado…