Friday, November 25, 2011

The boots I ordered don't fit over my calves. I wonder why.

Cocktail hour around newly painted hearth
I know the last thing anyone wants to think about right now is Thanksgiving, but in my role as recipe recommender and anthologizer, I need to offer a quick recap of what was cooked at our house and what we thought, as some of it is applicable to Christmas. I'm late with this report; I had a mild case of PTSD over the weekend.


*seasonal cocktail. Brought by my sister. There were two: a negroni and a fabulous sweet-sour-smoky Scotch creation the recipe for which I have requested. I drank three. Strangely, I never became drunk. Adrenaline?
*gougeres (from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table). Excellent, as always.
*sardines rillettes (Dorie again). Excellent, as always. 
*creamy sausage-stuffed mushrooms (Food52) Enormously popular, although there was twice as much stuffing as required for the number of mushrooms. Highly recommend.
salted almonds (Food52) Good. Unexciting
**pear soup with pancetta and blue cheese (Food52Jennifer Steinhauer does not lie or even exaggerate. I'm printing out the recipe and putting it in my binder and will try very hard to remember it next Thanksgiving. This soup really tastes of pear and yet is unquestionably a savory. We had leftovers of everything except this soup, but this is what I most wanted leftovers of. You should bookmark this right now. You could also serve it for Christmas. Or tonight.
roasted turkey   
*ciabatta stuffing with chorizo, mushrooms and sweet potato (Food52) Good! Although next time I would omit the sweet potatoes, which I found incongruous.
*green beans with hazelnut crumbs. The sleeper hit of the party. The recipe came from the Frog Commissary Cookbook, which I pulled out to make the mocha buttercrunch pie. (See below.) I spotted the interesting bean recipe while idly flipping through the book and since I had all the ingredients, made it. Very glad I did. (Recipe below.)
*apple, brandy and walnut cranberry sauce (from Food52) Great. Just be sure to add a pinch of salt. (FYI, the recipe calls for pears, but apples work fine.)
mashed potatoes
*spinach-jalapeno casserole (brought by my aunt, made from Laurie Colwin recipe) Wonderful, as usual. A standby and my aunt's signature dish.
*kale salad (brought by my sister, made from Martha Stewart recipe) Wonderful, as usual.
peas These were supposed to be brought my maternal grandmother, topped with a limp piece of lettuce in an old CorningWare dish with a little blue flower on it. These did not appear. The end of an era? Or just a hiatus?
*chess pie. "My" recipe for this supersweet Southern custard pie calls for a tablespoon of cornmeal, which I forgot to put in. I had always wondered if the cornmeal mattered and now I know: It does. Even without the cornmeal, it's my all-time favorite pie. 
*mocha buttercrunch pieIt was absurd and gaudy and creamy and rich and big. And it was unspeakably delicious. For the last few days I've had trouble passing the refrigerator without eating a big spoonful of cold leftover mocha buttercrunch pie. Today I put the last bit of pie in the sink and ran water over it to stop myself.
*pecan pie. Also hard to resist. I tried the recipe from the Frog Commissary Cookbook and it was excellent.
sour cream apple pie. Also from Frog Commissary and very good. 
peanut butter pie. Isabel made this out of a charming cookbook called Sweety Pies by Patty Pinner. Rather than a cold, creamy peanut butter pie with some kind of chocolate embellishment -- which is what I'm used to -- this was a baked, cakey peanut butter pie. Very unusual, very tasty. 
pumpkin cheesecake. Isabel made this from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. Quite good.

All in all, a wonderful Thanksgiving with 17 of my favorite people. I missed my mother something awful, though. She would have loved that mocha buttercrunch pie. 

from The Frog Commissary Cookbook

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned (to the extent possible) and finely chopped
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 pound green beans, trimmed (use haricots verts if you can find them)
6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallots
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste.

1. Mix the nuts and the breadcrumbs. 
2. Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under very cold water to stop the cooking. 
3. Heat the butter in a skillet. Add the shallots and cook until softened. Add the green beans, salt, pepper, and hazelnut crumbs. Cook for several minutes, turning the beans to coat them with the crumbs. Serves 6.


  1. You make me miss Frog Commissary--I loved those green beans, and they are not usually among my favorite veggies.
    But that's nothing compared to missing a mom on Turkey Day. Hang in there. They stay hard for a while but the first is a bummer.

  2. running water over a pie...I can see myself doing that...I made Ian eat most of the pies before he left. It almost made me forgive him for leaving a Trader Joe Dark chocolate salted caramel bar behind that I had to eat yesterday. Thanks for the review and I WILL make that mocha buttercrunch pie for Christmas!

  3. Thanks for the review. I am wonderstruck at your menu! I would ask how you do it, but I know how you do it, lots of work! As to missing your mom, that never goes away, but it changes into something more tolerable over time. Mine has been gone a long time, and I think of her a lot, especially in the kitchen.

  4. Melvil Dewey11/29/11, 8:06 AM

    Wow, that is an impressive menu. Just the appetizers alone could make a meal. Or just the desserts. I don't even know what the Frog Commissary is, but I'm going to look it up now. Also, I plan to make the pear soup very soon. I'd like the recipe for the second cocktail, please. And your house looks great in the photos!

  5. This sounds like a feast- all delicious, all fun.

  6. Chess pie is just about my favorite too. I sometimes make a plain one, and sometimes like yours (Thorne's) with buttermilk. Nancie McDermott's wonderful Southern Pies has a whole chapter filled with various chess pies, from the classic one, to vinegar and transparent pie, to pecan pie.

  7. Regarding buying boots on-line, if you can find the pair on, they list the calf circumference. Very helpful.