American Thanksgiving

Truly, I do not remember what we ate for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Last night we celebrated American Thanksgiving with our neighbours after the children went to bed. (The kids all celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving back in October and we wanted a chance to have a tantrum- and nagging-free meal.)

Our friends brought a stupendous sweet potato casserole: mashed sweet potatoes (yams? these were orange ones) topped with pecans, coconut and other lovely things.

I made a simple salad of red leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, pomegranate seeds, feta, and toasted and candied walnuts. This was tossed with a simple balsamic dressing.

The main dish was the All-American Pot Pie from Vegetarian Planet, and dessert was Skillet Apple Pie from Cook's Illustrated.

All-American Pot Pie
from Vegetarian Planet; page 432
serves 4

1 Tbsp butter
8 cups total any combination of the following vegetables: fresh corn kernels, 1/2-inch cubes of carrot, chopped red bell pepper, chopped zucchini, spinach leaves (firmly packed), sliced onions, and 1/2-inch cubes of potato
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp unbleached white flour
2 cups warmed milk, or a bit more*
1 pinch fresh or dried thyme
1 tsp salt
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 to 5 Tbsp ice water

Make the filling:
In a 12- or 14-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add all of the vegetables, and saute them for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 5 more minutes. Sprinkle the 3 Tbsp flour over the vegetables and stir the mixture for 2 minutes. Add the warmed milk slowly, stirring all the while to avoid lumps. Stir in the thyme. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the vegetables become tender, adding a bit more milk if the sauce becomes too thick. Add 1/2 tsp salt and the pepper. Transfer the mixture to a 9- or 10-inch casserole or deep pie dish. (At this point you can cover the dish and chill it for up to 2 days, if you'd like to bake it later.)

Make the dough:
Put the 1 1/2 cups flour and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the cold butter. Pulse the machine until the butter is in bits no bigger than pea-size. Add 4 Tbsp ice water, and pulse the machine just enough to bring the dough together. Turn dough out onto clean surface, and knead the dough, adding a bit of water or flour as necessary, until the dough is soft, moist, and somewhat smooth. Do this quickly, handling the dough as little as possible. Form the dough into a flattened ball. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Roll the dough into shape slightly larger than the casserole or pie dish. Place the dough over the casserole and pinch the dough along the rim. Cut four 1-inch-long slits in the dough and place the pie in the oven. bake it for about 20 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden.

*I never used to warm the milk - it's an extra step. But your sauce will thicken ever so much more quickly if you do.

Skillet Apple Pie
from Cook's Illustrated; Issue Number 94, page 24
serves 6 to 8

1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch peices
3-4 Tbsp ice water

1/2 cup apple cider*
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds sweet and tart apples (about 5 medium), peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 tsp sugar

For the Crust:
Pulse flour, sugar and salt in food processor until combined. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Sprinkle 3 Tbsp ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Add up to 1 Tbsp more ice water if dough does not come together. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap dough and refrigerate 30 minute or up to 2 days, before rolling out. (If dough is refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.)

For the Filling:
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500F. Whisk cider, syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon (if using) together in medium bowl until smooth. heat butter in 12-inch heatproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add apples and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times until the apples begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. (do not fully cook apples.) Remove pan from heat, add cider mixture and gently stir until apples are well-coated. Set aside to cool slightly.

To Assemble and Bake:
Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface, to 11-inch circle. Transfer dough to top of pie filling. Brush dough with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. With sharp knife, gently cut dough into 6 pieces. Bake until apples are tender and crust is a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes; serve

*If you do not have apple cider, reduced apple juice may be used as a substitute - simmer 1 cup apple juice in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes).


Michael said…
On Wednesday, we had roasted spaghetti squash that we tried to convince the kids was real spaghetti. Didn't really work. Didn't work at all!

It was good, but forgettable compared to last night.
Thanks. I still have no idea what we ate on Tuesday. Probably pasta. Or rice.
doris said…
we had some seriously good turkey. so seriously good that the sides paled in comparison. :D

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