Category Archives: Holiday

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsYou may not be able to tell from the bevy of desserts I post every week, but I am a huge proponent of eating your greens. Almost every meal I make for myself involves a huge bed of arugula. Yes, for real.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThat said, on Thanksgiving, there are so many sides that leafy greens can get lost in the mix or left out entirely. To that, I counter this: Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs. It’s the sort of “eat your greens” situation that is absolutely welcome sidled up to cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, and Fluffy Dinner Rolls.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsThis is a vegetable side dish that stretches the meaning of the word “vegetable.” Yes, there is kale in there—a lot of it—but it’s coated in a sauce of butter, heavy cream, milk, cream cheese and parmesan, and topped with buttery breadcrumbs. Dietetic, this is not. On Thanksgiving, though, who cares? If there were ever a day for eating a creamy, cheesy, crispy-topped side and calling it a serving of vegetables, this is the one.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsIf you’re wondering why I used kale here instead of going for classic creamed spinach, the answer is simple: kale’s texture holds up. Even after the blanching, shocking, sautéing, saucing, and baking, it still has texture. It contrasts perfectly with the crispy breadcrumbs instead of getting lost in the cheesy sauce. And it’s pretty. And I just *like* kale.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsNow, I know that adding one more thing to your Thanksgiving menu is never something to be taken lightly. Time and energy are at a premium at the holidays! Luckily, Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs is perfect for making ahead. You can stir together the creamed kale part of the equation a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to serve, top it off with the breadcrumb mixture and bake until brown, bubbly, and so creamy and wonderful that even I—a person who has written repeatedly about loathing cream sauce—can’t resist.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsLooking for something a little lighter? Try my Caramelized Brussels Sprouts!

Creamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs
makes 6-8 servings

Creamed Kale:
2 lbs lacinato kale (curly kale works too)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Breadcrumb Topping:
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or other plain breadcrumbs)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (~1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a large (6 quart) pot of water to a boil over high heat.

Wash and dry kale. Remove and discard the ribs. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice kale into 1/2-inch ribbons.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt it liberally. Add kale and let cook about 1 minute (until bright green). Remove kale and plunge it directly into the ice water. This method is called blanching & shocking.

Line a sheet pan (or a few plates) with paper towels. Once kale is cool (a few minutes), remove it from the water and place on paper towel-lined pan. Blot with more paper towels to remove excess water.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used the same one I used for the kale) over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Sauté onion 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in kale, followed by nutmeg, salt & pepper. Stir in heavy cream, milk, and cream cheese. Turn heat up to medium-high and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until cream cheese has melted and sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Grease an 8-inch casserole dish. Fill with creamed kale.

Make breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and melted butter. Add Parmesan. Scatter mixture over the top of the kale. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

Serve warm. This is best the day it is made, but may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Breadcrumbs will soften over time, but may be re-crisped in the oven.

To make ahead: after transferring creamed kale to a casserole dish, press plastic wrap to the surface and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, make breadcrumb mixture and scatter it over the top. Bake at 400F until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.Creamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy BreadcrumbsCreamed Kale with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Apple Pie

Apple PieI’ve somehow blogged my way through five Thanksgivings without ever posting an apple pie. There was one Cranberry Apple Pie that got a little toasty on top, a couple of apple cakes, some shortbread bars and even Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls, but a mile-high, nicely spiced Apple Pie has never made it into my Thanksgiving Recipe line-up until right now. I think it was worth the wait.Apple PieI kind of feel like I should preface this recipe by saying that I know there are a million and a half apple pie recipes and that this is nothing revolutionary, but

  1. screw that.
  2. when is homemade apple pie anything other than revolutionary?Apple Pie

I mean, look at this golden, lattice-domed thing! It’s stuffed to the gills—there are 4.5 pounds of apples in there! They’re a mix of Granny Smith, Gala and Honeycrisp, so there are a variety of flavors and textures, but they are all delicious baked between two layers of All-Butter Pie Dough.Apple PieApple PieIn terms of flavoring, there’s all sorts of good stuff in here. The apples are tossed in a mixture of granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar before being left to macerate (sit and release liquid) for an hour. After that, a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves is stirred in, along with some cornstarch for thickening and salt for balance. Mmhmm.Apple PieApple PieThe filling—accumulated liquid and all—is piled high into a pie crust before being topped with another crust. I went for a classic lattice and a couple of braids here, but feel free to do a whole top crust (make sure to cut some vents!) or whatever makes you happy. Then brush that thing with egg wash, sprinkle it with coarse sugar and bake the crap out of it.Apple PieApple PieWhen you read through this recipe, you’ll notice that there are a lot of pauses and chills and that this pie bakes for more than an hour. Pie takes time, y’all. There’s no way around it. If I wrote a chill in there, it’s because I think it’s important. I don’t want to put anymore time between you (or me!) and that first slice than absolutely necessary.Apple PieAs for baking, this pie is a bit of a diva, but aren’t they all?! In apple pie’s case, you’ll need to preheat a rimmed baking sheet when you heat the oven. This serves two purposes: protecting your oven floor from overflow and helping ensure that the bottom crust doesn’t wind up completely raw. Also, this pie starts baking at 400F for fifteen minutes and finishes at 375F for 50-60 more. It’s a long time, but this is a big pie! Try to be patient, and don’t forget to tent with foil as necessary. You want that golden top!Apple PieApple PieI promise all this work will be worth it when you slice this thing up. Homemade apple pie always is.Apple Pie

Apple Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

Filling:
10 medium baking apples or about 4.5 lbs (I used a mix of Granny Smith, Gala and Honeycrisp)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Pie Crust:
1 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough or other good double crust recipe, divided

Egg Wash & Garnish:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
coarse sugar

Prepare the apples. Peel and core apples and slice in 1/8-inch slices. Place pieces in a large mixing bowl and toss with vinegar, sugar, and brown sugar. Let sit 1 hour at room temperature, tossing occasionally, so they can release some liquid.

Prepare the bottom crust. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll one disk of pie dough out to a 14-inch diameter. Fit it in a pie plate, trim any overhang to 1-inch. Crimp as desired. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Prepare the top crust. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll one disk of pie dough out to a 14-inch diameter. Slice in strips or carefully fold in quarters (depending what kind of top crust you’d like), wrap loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

Once the apples’ time has elapsed, add cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt, and toss to combine. Transfer filling (including all accumulated liquid) to prepared bottom crust. Use refrigerated prepared top crust to either create a lattice or cover completely and cut a few vents. Freeze for 20 minutes.

Place an oven rack in the lowest position. Place a rimmed baking sheet on that rack. Preheat oven to 400F.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Use a pastry brush mixture over all exposed crust. Sprinkle coarse sugar over the top.

Bake the pie. Place pie on hot baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake another 50-60 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is cooked but not mushy. Loosely tend with foil at the 30 minute mark, or if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Use rimmed baking sheet to remove pie from the oven. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool for a minimum of 4 hours before slicing and serving.

Pie will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.Apple PieApple PieApple Pie

Fluffy Dinner Rolls

Fluffy Dinner RollsUntil recently, I’ve eaten (baked) frozen dinner rolls at every holiday dinner of my life and had exactly zero idea that I was missing anything. Warm bread is warm bread, right?

WRONG. So wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrongwrongwrong.Fluffy Dinner RollsI mean, I’m sure I will eat a (baked) frozen dinner roll in the future because warm bread, but now I know the magic and ease of buttery, homemade Fluffy Dinner Rolls and I can never fully go back. In the story of my life, time will be defined as “Before Fluffy Dinner Rolls” and “After Fluffy Dinner Rolls.” Fluffy Dinner RollsOkay, maybe not. But I am changed, and I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you are in the same boat I once was—out there living your lives, blissfully unconcerned that your holiday table is missing something or that you have been denied anything—and I am here to mess all that up by giving you an easy six-ingredient dinner roll recipe that will blow your freaking minds with its buttery, golden wonderfulness and ruin freezer aisle rolls for you forever. #sorrynotsorryFluffy Dinner RollsThese Fluffy Dinner Rolls, y’all. They are fluffy. So fluffy. And they are slightly sweet and buttery as all get-out (whatever that means). There’s butter in the dough, and more is brushed on both before and after baking!Fluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsDid I mention their softness? When I was testing this recipe, I spent a lot of time poking the golden tops of these rolls and watching them bounce back, just because I could. So soft! So dang fluffy!Fluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsAs I said, these beautiful dinner rolls require just six ingredients: flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter and buttermilk. These rolls are egg-free, but lack nothing in the flavor or texture departments.Fluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsThey are super simple to make, too. Don’t let the length of the recipe fool you—I just wanted to ensure that you have all the information you need for Fluffy Dinner Roll success. I’ve included instructions for a stand mixer and mixing by hand, and for using both active dry and instant yeasts. I tried my best to describe how to shape them, but it’s surprisingly difficult to explain with words alone, so here are some pictures of what I did:Fluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsDon’t worry, they don’t have to be shaped perfectly to be delicious. It took me three batches to get a consistent shaping method. Those other four batches? They were for quality control. Or maybe just making up for lost time.Fluffy Dinner Rolls

Fluffy Dinner Rolls
makes 16 rolls

1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast*
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

For brushing:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. Instructions for using instant yeast and mixing by-hand are in the notes at the end of the recipe.

Heat buttermilk until it’s between 90-110F (warm to the touch, but not so hot that you can’t comfortably hold a finger in it).

Stir together buttermilk and granulated sugar in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow to sit for 5 minutes or until it is a bit bubbly or foamy (sometimes a light stir can help this be more visible). If it doesn’t bubble, your yeast is dead. Discard the mixture, get new yeast, and try again.

In the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with a dough hook, combine 2 cups of flour and salt. Add butter and buttermilk mixture and mix to combine. Mix in remaining 3/4 cup flour. Knead dough in mixer* for 5 minutes or until smooth and slightly sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, butter (or otherwise grease) an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Flour a surface. Uncover risen dough and gently punch it down. Place dough on floured surface and pat out into a 1-inch thick disk. Flour a large, sharp chef’s knife and slice the disk into 16 thin wedges.

Shape the rolls. Working with one wedge at a time, roll the point (from the center of the disk, where the long sides meet) toward the short end. Then use your fingers to pull edges or creases underneath, creating a smooth ball-like appearance. Place in pan. Repeat until all rolls have been shaped.

Loosely cover the pan of rolls and place in a warm, draft-free environment for 60 minutes or until they have doubled in size and/or fill the pan.

Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the central or lower position (either will work). Preheat your oven to 400F. Melt the butter for brushing.

Uncover risen rolls. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the tops with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Bake rolls for 20 minutes, or until deep golden on top. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter when you remove them from the oven.

Let rolls cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Rolls are best the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so.

Notes:

1. You may use an equal volume of instant yeast. Add it (and the sugar) directly to the dry ingredients, skipping the blooming step. Add warmed buttermilk and butter directly to the dry ingredients and mix as written above in the paragraph beginning “In the bowl of a stand mixer.” The rises may take about 15 minutes longer than with active dry yeast.
2. You may mix this dough in a large mixing bowl with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.
3. You may knead this dough by hand on a floured surface.

Fluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner RollsFluffy Dinner Rolls

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan PieI am all about this Chocolate Pecan Pie right now. I am into it. So into it, in fact, that I thought about it for a year and a half before I actually made it, and then I made it six times. Six times!Chocolate Pecan PieSome recipes take two or three tries. Some I even get on the first go. Both of this week’s took six rounds. What does that say about me? I don’t know, except that there has been A LOT of pie in my apartment lately.

(Not a bad thing.)

(Also, please come over for pie.)Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie, y’all. It’s rich and fudgy and studded with toasted pecans—the sort of dessert that haunts my dreams. But the good kind of haunting. The kind where I get to eat pie.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieBut I digress. The filling here is somewhere between traditional pecan pie, chocolate pie, and brownies. It’s soft, deeply chocolaty, and dense but somehow not heavy…and that’s to say nothing of the bevy of naturally caramelly pecans strewn throughout. Add to that that it’s all wrapped up in flaky All-Butter Pie Dough and…best pie ever?!Chocolate Pecan PieI cannot overstate how delicious this is, with or without whipped cream and shaved chocolate. It’s a guaranteed Turkey Day slam dunk! I mean, it’s also a slam dunk when you’re hovering over it at 1am on a random Tuesday, evening out edges and eating it with your fingers like a wild animal, but I somehow think your guests will prefer the former.Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

2 cups pecan halves, chopped + more for topping
1 unbaked pie crust (I used 1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup light corn syrup (or golden syrup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For serving:
whipped cream
shaved bittersweet chocolate

Place the oven rack in the bottom-third position. Preheat oven to 400F.

Scatter chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Fit in pie plate. Cut excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill pie crust.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, light brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Mix in corn syrup and vanilla.

Combine bittersweet chocolate and butter a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Allow to cool 2-3 minutes just so it’s not screaming hot.

Whisking constantly, add chocolate mixture to egg mixture.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and place it on top of a rimmed baking sheet (for ease of removal from the oven). Place chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour chocolate filling over the top. Scatter more pecan halves over the top, if desired.

Make egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork. Brush mixture over exposed crust.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350F and continue to bake 30-40 minutes, loosely tenting with foil at the 15 minute mark. Pie is done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan PieChocolate Pecan Pie

Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry BraidIt’s almost time for pie. Almost.

Yes, I know it’s November now, but I can’t just switch from Popcorn Balls to Pumpkin Pie on a dime. And truthfully, I’ve been concentrating too hard on the World Series and anticipating the new Scorsese film this week to fully get down to business with Thanksgiving. Rest assured though that the pies are coming. Sides, too! But first, this Pear Pastry Braid.Pear Pastry BraidI mean, do you see this beautiful thing? Is it brunch food? Is it dessert? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry BraidAnd oh, is this a good one. Pear Pastry Braid is super buttery and filled with tender pears that have been tossed with ginger, lemon, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Yum!Pear Pastry BraidDon’t let these glamour shots deceive you–it’s surprisingly easy to make. Simply roll out a sheet of rough puff pastry (or the frozen thawed all-butter stuff), make a bunch of diagonal cuts down both long sides and fill the center with sliced pear filling.Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidAlternating sides, carefully cover the filling with overlapping strips of dough, producing a braid-like appearance. Give it a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and then let it bake til golden.Pear Pastry BraidSounds like a lot, but the time from when you start peeling pears to when you pull the finished pastry out of the oven is less than an hour. It can be sliced and served warm too, meaning that you don’t have to plan crazy far in advance (especially if you already have the pastry dough in the fridge). There’s so much planning around food this time of year that it’s kind of nice to have something you can make when the mood strikes or when someone says they’re going to pop by.Pear Pastry BraidYou know what else is nice? Eating a slice of sweet, flaky Pear Pastry Braid in your pajamas on a Saturday morning. Or a Saturday night. Or both.

What?! I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry Braid
makes 1 braid, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Pear Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe pears
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the pear filling. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Working with one pear at a time, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off both ends. Slice down through the stem end to halve the pear lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the pear as thinly as you can.

Place sliced pear pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Assemble the pastry braid. Flour a rolling pin. Unfold dough on the prepared pan. Roll dough out to 12×16-inch rectangle. Orient the pan/rectangle so that the side nearest you is a short side.

Carefully dust the edge of a sharp knife with flour. Cut off two small corners of dough on the edge furthest from you. Leaving a 4×16-inch space in the center for the filling, cut 1-inch diagonal strips strips down both sides of the pastry, as pictured in the post.

Fill the pastry braid. Leaving 1/2-inch of space at each short end, mound pear filling along the center (intact) section of dough. Make sure to leave any accumulated liquid behind in the bowl. Dot filling with butter.

“Braid” the dough. Starting at the edge furthest from you, take a strip of dough and carefully lay it across the filling. Then grab a strip of dough from the right side and carefully lay it over the filling so that it is overlapping the first strip. Continue doing this, alternating left and right until you reach the end of the braid. Fold the short edges up slightly to seal.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Paint egg wash over all exposed pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake pastry braid for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender.

Let pastry braid cool on its pan on a rack. When you can handle it (I could at 30 minutes, although it was still warm), very carefully slip your hands palm-side-up under the pastry and quickly lift it onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

Pear Pastry Braid is best the day it is made.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the pear filling.”Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidPear Pastry Braid