A Virtual Thanksgiving Feast
November 24, 2008
It’s Thanksgiving week—and, this year, it will include a mere two days of work, my birthday, my blogiversary, a trip to Minnesota, a chance to see my sister again for the first time since she moved, and a whole lot of cooking and baking. It’s going to be a good week, I can tell already. And, while I wouldn’t trade it for the world, there’s a part of me that’s itching to don my favorite apron and create a Thanksgiving dinner right in my very own kitchen. Just thinking about the menu planning, lists, schedules, trips to the grocery store, cooking and baking gets me downright giddy. But seeing as though we can barely fit six people around our dining table (and, even then, we have to get creative with the chairs), I will have to put off this Thanksgiving hostess fantasy for at least a couple years.
Which is why I’m thrilled to be able to (co-)host a Thanksgiving feast of sorts today. I’ve teamed up with the ladies you might remember from our Halloween post (and one more who’s joined the group) to bring you a virtual feast. It’s got a beautiful turkey, an abundant array of side dishes, and not one but two desserts. In other words, it’s my kind of Thanksgiving. Check out the delicious line up:
- Amy’s Celery Root, Parsnip & Apple Puree
- Tiffany’s Fennel, Apple & Cranberry Stuffing
- Tiffany’s Brussel Sprouts with Virginia Ham
- Sue’s Turkey
- Amy’s Squash and Apple Bake
- My Apple and Pecan Tart
- Grace’s Sweet Potato Cake with Praline Pecan Topping
My contribution to this multi-blog Thanksgiving menu was the Apple-Pecan Tart. I used today’s post as an excuse to audition this recipe for the actual holiday. As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ll be making the pies this year. I had settled on pumpkin pie and French silk pie, but I was waffling between apple and pecan. I could always do one of each, but four pies for about ten people seemed a little much—even by my family’s standards. When I saw a photo of this tart in a New York Times Thanksgiving recipe photo montage, I was sold. I can appease both the apple lovers and pecan mavens all with one simple tart.
Oh, but about that “simple” part? Well, um, how to say this? Nope, not simple. Unless you consider a slumping, shrunken ugly tart shell to be “simple.” Unless your idea of “simple” involves a mid-kitchen mini-tantrum and a vow to never. ever. make. tart. crust. again. I suppose I should’ve used this recipe. Lesson learned.
Even with the unsightly tart shell, this tart (or the filling at least) has survived audition status and has been officially added to my roster of pies for this Thursday. The tart shell is filled with meaty pecans and gently cooked apples, all suspended in a thick layer of maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. It’s not tooth-achingly sweet like some pecan pies and it’s not as mushy and runny as some apple pies. But it’s got the dense chew and gloss of a great pecan pie and the soft, cinnamon-spiked apples of your favorite apple pie. In short, it combines the best of both types of pies, while leaving the pitfalls of each pie out.
Enjoy this virtual feast—Amy, Sue, Tiffany and Grace are waiting for you! And enjoy this week too. We food types live for weeks like this, no?
New York Times
1 1/3 cups flour, more for rolling
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk plus 3 large eggs
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped, for serving
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse to blend. Dice 8 tablespoons butter, place in food processor and give it about 20 quick pulses, until butter is in tiny lumps. Beat egg yolk with 4 tablespoons ice water. Open cover of machine and sprinkle in egg mixture. Pulse briefly. Ingredients should start to clump together to form a dough; do not allow a ball of dough to form. If dough is too dry to hold together, add another teaspoon or two of water and pulse again.
2. Transfer dough mixture to lightly floured work surface and gather together to form into a flat, smooth disk. Roll to a circle about 13 inches in diameter and fit into a 10-inch fluted tart pan. Line with foil, weight with pastry weights and bake 10 minutes, until dry-looking. Remove foil and weights, prick bottom of pastry in a few places and bake until golden, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven.
3. While pastry is baking melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add apples and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Stir in brown sugar, then add pecans. Sauté another minute. Remove from heat and spread in baked pastry. Beat eggs, stir in syrup and vanilla and pour over apples and pecans.
4. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until set and browned on top, about 25 minutes more.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
To make ahead: Bake tart; let cool completely. Wrap pan and all in plastic, then foil. Freeze. Thaw 2 hours, then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and allow to cool 30 minutes before serving with whipped cream.
Pastry can be mixed, formed into a disk, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance of using. Let it come to room temperature 1 hour before rolling. Prebaked pastry, cooled, not filled, can also be frozen in pan, wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 week.