Welcome to the post Thanksgiving debriefing! How much butter did you go through? I think we did six pounds, but I wasn’t really keeping track. I’ll let, ahem, my body keep the score.
This year on the internet, the big fuss seemed to be that brilliant scarlet cranberry curd tart, and ube pie. (I’m sure some of you have been making these for years, but they were suddenly everywhere this year.) We’re huge cranberry fans here (the kids were snacking on raw cranberries — RAW CRANBERRIES — while working on Jesse Tree ornaments today), so even though I bought eight cans of cranberry sauce and made two dozen cranberry muffins, I knew what I had to do. And that was make some tarts.
First, a quick run-down of the rest of the week:
Hamburgers and chips
Damien and I went to see Moe’s directorial debut, Moriarty’s Daughters.
It was great! All of those kids (middle schoolers) were all in, and it was a complicated play, with tons of dialogue, scene changes, and choreography. Excellent work.
The kids at home had french toast casserole (torn up leftover bread soaked in a milk, egg, vanilla, and sugar batter, and then baked in a buttered casserole dish with some more sugar and cinnamon on top) and I don’t know what else, and Damien and I went to The Winchester, I mean Chili’s, after the play. I really like Chili’s. It’s cheap, the food is reliable, and it doesn’t draw as much of a “OMG Cayden, I found my stepmom’s Visa and we can get as many Berry Merry Daquiris as we want!” crowd as Applebee’s tends to. I had some kind of chipotle salad nonsense. And then we went to Walmart to get some mouse poison. THREE venues, quite an evening out for Mr. and Mrs. Fisher.
One pepperoni, one olive, and one half cheese, half garlic and roast red peppers.
On Monday evening, I suddenly realized I had promised to send in a pie for the school thing, so I made a slightly weird apple pie.
I forgot to put my name on the pie plate, so farewell to thee, pie plate.
On Tuesday, I started Thanksgiving baking in earnest. I made a two pies and two dozen cranberry muffins.
First I made an apple pie. I made a big slab pie in a casserole dish.
The crust design was, again, a little weird. First I made a lattice crust, but with broad strips of dough, rather than narrow ones. It looked a little plain, so I added some flowers and stems and leaves, and it still looked weird, but it wasn’t the only pie on my agenda, so I had to let it go.
Then I made a pecan pie. I usually make a standard recipe with corn syrup and bourbon, but I decided to try a different one this year, because why not, from my friend Melanie. Gotta make up a proper recipe card, but in the mean time, here it is:
I sprinkled some extra pecans on top in a swirl pattern. The pie swelled up and came out with almost a crust on top, like on a baked custard. I think this is the clearest picture I have of it:
And I haven’t tried it yet! So I will have to report back soon.
I also tried a new recipe for cranberry muffins. They usually come out with a nice flavor but too dense, so I tried the Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe. She usually has good recipes for light baked goods. I didn’t realize until after I filled the muffin tins that the recipe doesn’t include walnuts! Oh well. Next time, I’ll just add walnuts in. (Unless. . . that might make them less light. . . . hmm.)
It does have an orange glaze, which I thought that was lovely. It ran over the tops and ended up soaking the bottoms of the muffins, so they were very sticky and moist on the bottom and tender and cake-like inside, with lots of bright cranberries and bits of orange peel.
She also had the tip to save out some cranberries and sprinkle them over the tops before you put it in the oven, so they are more colorful. Definitely doing it that way from now on.
Mac and cheese and kielbasa
Wednesday I made two pumpkin pies (just following the recipe on the pumpkin can, using the zoom feature on my camera so I could read the recipe on the pumpkin can) in pre-made graham cracker crusts, and two cranberry curd tarts, spanakopita, and vanilla and strawberry ice cream.
Then I put my feet up for a while, and then I made candied sweet potatoes and peeled ten pounds of white potatoes. Then I processed the last of the butternut squash from my garden
and candied some walnuts with honey and curry powder,
to make ice cream with the next day. Should have chopped them a bit more, but oh well.
The pumpkin pies turned out fine. I made one moderately fancy with some leftover pecans and some crust cut in the shape of . . . this.
I inquired on Twitter. I thought a brain hastening away was the most likely thing, but Joanne finally clued me in that they are turkeys that have been squashed in the drawer.
Now I know! Anyway, here’s the pie:
I made spanakopita with two pounds of spinach (which is a LOT of spinach) and I just straight up used a house paintbrush to apply the melted butter to the phyllo dough sheets.
I didn’t count how many I made, but the dough and the spinach and cheese filling ran out at about the same time, so that was a win!
Covered and put in the fridge for the next day.
The cranberry tarts were next. Those were fun to make, but listen to me: START EARLY. This is a pie that needs to sit around a lot before you can even put it in the fridge. I followed the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (limitless views here)
The recipe has instructions for an almond crust, but I thought it would be pushing my luck to try so many new things; so I just bought two premade pecan crusts.
You mix the cranberries with sugar and water
take a photo for social media (mandatory), and simmer them until they all pop
then separately whisk up some egg yolk and cornstarch, and put that and the cranberry mixture into the food processor and whir it all up
I’m here to tell you that you CAN fit a double recipe of hot cranberry curd into an eight-cup food processor, but make sure your affairs are in order first.
Then you have to let it cool down to 125 degrees. This took quite some time! Then you add butter in and whir it up again, and press the mixture through a sieve
You save out a few tablespoons of the cranberry mix to be whipped up later with cream to decorate it, and you pour the rest of the cranberry mix into the crust, and let it sit at room temp for another four hours.
Then I covered it and put it in the fridge for overnight (it keeps well), and started on the ice cream, which I should have done earlier in the day, but what can one do. I made one batch of vanilla and one of strawberry
Mindful of the tip with the cranberry muffins, I saved some of the strawberries and sprinkled them on top.
Then I somewhat grumpily made some mac and cheese and kielbasa for dinner.
After dinner, I made the candied sweet potatoes using this recipe from My Forking Life, except I sliced up an orange and cooked the slices along with the sweet potatoes.
Then I peeled the white potatoes. I think it was at this point where, being a little tired, I had a little mishap with the potato peeler, which, hooray for fingernails, or else that would have ended differently. And hooray that I don’t care what my nails look like.
And THEN I processed the butternut squash. I was following this recipe from Blue Apron, which calls for curried candied pecans, but I used walnuts instead. Look, some people make a shopping list, lose it, make another shopping list, also lose that, and then just go to the supermarket and buy everything that looks more or less Thanksgiving-y, and it more or less works out. I’ll tell you, though, every time I thought I had found my list, it turned out to actually be a paper with a drawing of a cat called SNUFFLES on it. Every damn time. I will swear to you that I threw it away, but then a few hours later I would be like, hey, where’s my list? And I would find it, and then –OH NO, IT’S SNUFFLES AGAIN. This was before I cut the tip of my finger off.
This ice cream is somewhat labor intensive, because you have to process the squash and make the candied nuts, and the ice cream itself is the cooked custard type
but gosh it’s delicious. It’s sophisticated flavors and comfort food all in one.
And then I put my whole ass in bed.
Thursday! Thanksgiving itself!
Damien was in charge of the turkey, the stuffing, and the gravy. The turkey was juicy and delicious, as always. We don’t have any special tricks, just lots of basting.
and Sophia made some bacon jalapeño cheddar biscuits that turned out SCRUMPTIOUS
I’ll get her recipe when she comes home from work!
So on Thursday, all that was left for me to do was make mulled cider, bake the apple pie, cook the mashed potatoes, and bake the spanakopita, and finish making the squash nut ice cream.
I truly wish I had a second freezer and a second oven. But we just did a lot of juggling and shuffling and strategizing. I made the mulled cider in the Instant Pot (cinnamon sticks, cloves, halved clementines) and kept the mashed potatoes in the slow cooker, and I ended up bringing out hot dishes to the table as they finished baking, and it was nice!
Some of my spanakopita triangles burst open, but there were no complaints.
Everybody ate their fill and told funny stories.
But WordPress is being a bag of butts and won’t let me upload any more pictures! I’ll have to embed the rest from Facebook.
After we ate, I whipped up the cranberry-flavored whipped cream, and Clara decorated the cranberry tarts with it.
The ice cream was not my best effort. The vanilla and strawberry didn’t freeze properly in the ice cream maker, for some reason, so I put the churned ice cream in the freezer while it was still liquidy, which makes it freeze in a sort of splintery fashion. The butternut squash ice cream came out of the machine very unevenly frozen, for some reason. I think the dasher got stuck, and didn’t keep the ice cream churning, but I didn’t notice because there were so many other things making loud scronching noises at the time; so it was much more frozen in some spots than in others. The flavor was wonderful, though. It’s mellow and custardy, and the candied curried nuts give it a nice kick. I love this ice cream.
So, we had a really good day. All our kids and Moe’s girlfriend came, and just about everyone was hungry and cheerful.
We had our traditional annual fight about whether it’s traditional to watch National Treasure on Thanksgiving (it’s not, but it’s now traditional to fight about it), and ended up watching The Road to El Dorado. I made sure to point out to the kids that while Cortes is portrayed in a truly horrible light, really cruel and ravening, they shouldn’t think all Catholics are like that. Really, it’s just that all Spanish people are like that. They said okay Mama. They were so good about it that I didn’t go on my traditional “I’m sorry, HOW old is Chel?” rant.
Leftovers. Long live leftovers. I was planning to do yoga today, but I accidentally ate a bunch of pie, and I have learned that you can power through pie when you’re in downward facing dog, but it is not advisable.
And that’s my story! If you didn’t make the cranberry curd tart but you think it sounds nice, make it for Christmas! It’s so pretty and bright, very tart indeed, and it was a big hit. Some people decorate it with sugared and candied fruits, or nuts, or rosemary, or whatever you want. The scarlet and the white really lend themselves to lots of elegant designs.
And I was thinking . . . . this would be amazing as the top layer of a cheesecake. Yes it would.
No, I’m not doing yoga today. Maybe tomorrow.