Apple-pear Pie and Other Thanksgiving Nonsense

19 Nov

Apple-pear pie. Yes please.

We in the Ginger Spice household love Thanksgiving.  Behind Christmas it is definitely the most elaborately celebrated holiday in our family, despite the fact that both of the parental types are 100% British/Scottish/Welsh, and had no idea what Thanksgiving was until they moved to the US  twenty odd years ago. (Ok, they probably had some idea what it was. Father Spice wrote a book on American history. Or something. Should probably read that one of these days.)  Being that they didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving you would think we wouldn’t make such a big deal of the holiday.  But instead it has grown into a hybrid American-British affair, and we have been able to create traditions of our own.  For example, I somehow don’t think that having an annual “Port Report” where we drink various ports at the end of the meal and then comment on things like it’s clarity and depth of flavor, is part of a traditional Thanksgiving.  But it’s pretty fun.  Less fun are the history quizzes and being forced to memorize 16th century poetry while slaving away over the cranberry sauce.

Artfully arranged Thanksgiving ingredients

Tonight I am hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at my apartment for friends before we all head out of DC for the real deal next week.  Both my roommate and I like to cook, so we split up the dishes and are even taking on making a turkey, once I can get the courage to take it out of the fridge and wrestle it into a pan.  Since we are basically making a full on Thanksgiving meal, we started the grocery shopping/preparations on Tuesday, so all we have left to do today is make stuffing, vegetables, sweet potatoes and the turkey.  All of these are pretty simple so I’m not too worried about getting everything done in time, and we already have mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and apple-pear pie completed.

I know there is a lot of to brine or not to brine debate out there, but we bought a Trader Joes kosher turkey, which isn’t brined but according to the package is salted in a similar way to being brined.  At home we have never brined our turkey and it always turns out just fine. We use a so called “French method” of cooking the turkey (because clearly we have to be a bit European), which includes putting chicken stock in the base of the pan and covering the bird with foil until the last hour.  I was a bit worried about figuring out when it’s fully cooked, as we are clearly not investing money in a meat thermometer over say, more wine, but Father Spice has said for a 13 pound turkey I should leave it in for 3 1/2 hours, and “the best way to test is to put a skewer or thin knife deep into the thigh meat, leave it there for 10 seconds, and then put it on the back of your hand. It should be hot enough that you don’t want to leave it there! (ie, not quite “ouch!” but more than tepid.)” Thanks Dad! I knew he was useful for something.

Pie just before putting it in the oven. Look at my fancy lattice-ing!

Last night I made an apple-pear pie, and I’ll put the recipe below.  I used an all-butter crust because I didn’t feel like going out and buying shortening, and judging by the smells coming from my oven it worked out pretty well.  Pies are actually not too difficult to make, even the crust- I made the crust the night before because it needs to chill anyway, and then all I had to do yesterday was chop the fruit and roll out the dough and put it all together.  If you don’t have a pastry cutter or food processor I’ve always had success just rubbing the butter and flour between your fingers to get the mixture to form crumbs.  I’m also putting our recipe for candied yams/sweet potatoes below, and these are Pioneer Woman’s delicious mashed potatoes that I made.  In case you were wondering, I have used roughly 4 sticks of butter in the past two days of cooking, and need to go to the store this morning to buy more for the turkey and sweet potatoes.  So for anyone planning on eating all of this food tonight, you have been warned.

Apple Pear Pie

Equipment: Pie pan, rolling pin, pastry cutter/food processor (optional), knife

For the crust: this is the crust I use, I swear it’s not that scary: Really yummy easy pie dough

For the filling:
3 Macintosh or other sweet apples
2 Granny Smith or other tart apples
2 Pears
3/4 Cup plus one tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Teaspoon plus one pinch cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 400 F.  For the filling, peel and core the fruit, and cut into quite thin slices (I cut each apple quarter into 4s, and had roughly the same size pear slices).  Toss fruit with flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, and leave in bowl while you prepare the crust.  Roll the crust out until it is about 1/2 inch thick, making sure to flour both the surface and the rolling pin quite a bit throughout the process.  Roll the dough over the rolling pin and place in a greased pie pan, trim excess and pile fruit and juices into the crust.  If making a double crusted pie, roll out the second half of the dough, place over, cut vents into the top, and seal with a fork around the edges.  For a lattice top pie, cut the dough into strips and weave them into a lattice (here’s a tutorial).  Seal the edges with a fork, and brush the top of the pie with the milk, then sprinkle with the extra sugar and cinnamon.  Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 375 F.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, tenting with foil if the top is browning too quickly.  When you take it out the crust should be golden and the filling bubbling.

Candied Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Equipment: Big pot, baking dish, knife

6 Sweet potatoes
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup water
4 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cook potatoes in jackets in boiling salted water until nearly tender, drain, peel, and cut into slices ½ inch thick.  Place in greased shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Cook together sugar, water, butter in a pan for several minutes, stir in lemon juice and pour mixture over potatoes. Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 20-25 minutes, basting occasionally with syrup.


4 Responses to “Apple-pear Pie and Other Thanksgiving Nonsense”

  1. Aaron November 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Please send all food to Rochester, NY. Also, Paula Deen called…she’s wondering who has been hoarding the country’s butter supply.

  2. Mother Spice November 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I’m handing over all Thanksgiving cooking to you two next week!

  3. Heath November 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    we are going to really miss the dessert girls’ efforts this year but i’m told there is port in atlanta. suspect Ang will be adding carib rum to the day down south. we’ll raise glasses from all over!

  4. Angie Glynn November 20, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Rox-I’m impressed with the turkey! Good job. Thanksgiving will definitely have a Latin flavor to it this year for me. May still be able to incorporate some Thanksgiving cookies into it though….

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