Tag Archives: thanksgiving

The Best Way to Mix Pie Dough in the Food Processor

For years, I have been telling you to mix your pie dough by hand. In fact, I have insisted.

The Best Way to Mix Pie Dough​ in the Food Processor

In the seven Thanksgiving seasons that this blog has seen, I have never put a food processor method for pie dough on here. I thought I was above it and that hand-mixed dough was far superior, but that was then, when I was young(er) and could still move after a full day of work. But now, at 36, I must admit that I was wrong (or at least wrong enough) and have discovered the joy of making batches of pie dough in five minutes in my food processor.

Of course, people have been making pie dough in the food processor for decades, so this is nothing new. My resistance is not because I’m a Luddite (which I am), but because I find most food processor pie doughs to lack flakiness, because people tend to process the butter too much. Visible butter is the sign of a future flaky crust; the water in the butter evaporates and creates buttery lil’ air pockets. When you mix dough by hand, it’s much easier to ensure that you get visible butter chunks, but that takes time and energy that I do not currently have, so I have figured a way to make the food processor method work for me. Here’s my method for All-Butter Pie Dough in the food processor.

First, blitz the dry ingredients together. This will evenly mix the sugar and salt into the flour. Also, it looks like freshly fallen snow and that delights me.

Next, add the COLD cubed butter and pulse it until the largest pieces are the size of marbles. This should take a maximum 5-10 pulses. Don’t let the butter get to the standard “large peas” phase or there will not have visible butter in the final product. If the butter is over-processed, the dry ingredients and butter may be transferred to a bowl where the liquid may be added by hand. Otherwise…

Pulse in the liquid ingredients. For my All-Butter Pie Dough, I use ice water and vinegar. Add liquid slowly through the food processor’s feed tube just until the dough gathers together. It should look clumpy.

The Best Way to Mix Pie Dough​ in the Food Processor

After that simply halve the dough, form it into disks, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or up to three days. For longer storage, triple wrap the pie dough in plastic and freeze it for up to six months.

The Best Way to Mix Pie Dough​ in the Food Processor

I could leave it at that, but I know pie dough freaks some people out, so I’m going to give you some tips for pie dough success. These aren’t secrets, just things I wish someone would have gently told me before I ever made my first crust. Years of hearing food personalities telling you that pie dough (and for that matter, yeasted anything) is difficult to make are not easily shaken, but I promise that this is way simpler than it’s been made out to be.

The Best Way to Mix Pie Dough​ in the Food Processor

Measure all the ingredients ahead of time and chill the ones that need to be chilled. This goes for any pie dough recipe you are making. Ideally, you should do this with every recipe, but I understand that you live in the real world. Nevertheless, doing it here will keep you from having soft butter and make everything accessible so you can be efficient.

Move quickly, but don’t rush! Resist the urge to add all the ingredients at the same time. There are three steps here: blitz the dry ingredients, pulse in the butter, pulse in the liquid ingredients. Each one has to be done just to a certain point because, as with hand-mixed pie dough, we want visible butter in our finished product. Visible butter = flaky pie crust.

The fridge is your friend. Getting overwhelmed or over-warmed? You have the option of throwing your entire food processor (minus the stand) in the refrigerator at anytime. A 15 minute chill can do your dough and your mental health a world of good.

Make multiple batches at once. Your food processor is already out and dirty after one batch and pie dough is very freezer-friendly. You can spend less than half an hour mixing dough and then be stocked for the holidays and beyond. Simply thaw disks of dough overnight in the fridge when you want to make pie.

Do not make pie dough if you do not enjoy it. I mean it! If you are indifferent to the flavor of homemade vs. store bought pie crust, or if making pie dough brings you more agony than joy, please please please do not waste your time making it. Baking should be fun, period. Full stop.

I, for one, find making pie dough very fun and look forward to making three new Thanksgiving pies for you every year. Here’s a sneak peek at the first! It’s coming Friday.

Still have questions? I made a video of this process last year. Click here to see how it’s done!

All-Butter Pie Dough in the Food Processor
makes 2 crusts

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~2/3 cup water, very cold
ice cubes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Cut butter into cubes. Put it on a plate and freeze it while you prepare the other ingredients.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add cold water up to the 2/3 cup mark. Add a few ice cubes. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt until combined.

Add butter and pulse until the largest pieces are the size of marbles.

Slowly add 1/2 cup of the liquid through the feed tube of the food processor, pulsing occasionally, to combine. Continue to add more liquid and pulse just until the dough clumps.

Turn dough onto a surface and give it a couple of quick kneads to help it come together, if needed. Divide dough into two equal pieces and fork into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. For longer storage, triple wrap your disks in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unwrap one disk of dough. Use rolling pin to roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness (about 14 inches in diameter for a 9-inch pie plate). For easiest rolling, roll dough in one direction, turning it one quarter turn after each roll. Re-flour surface and rolling pin as needed.

To transfer to a pie plate, carefully fold dough into quarters. Place point in the center of the pie plate and carefully unfold. Fit it to the pan, trim any excess overhang to 1-inch and crimp.

Proceed with your pie recipe as written.

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI never know what to post during Thanksgiving week. I assume your menus are set and that you’ve already shopped and everything—I mean, mine is and I have. Still, I always like to leave you with one last recipe before the holiday.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsIn years past, it’s been cheese-related, but this year, I’m going straight for dessert. I know I will be making a pie (or two) in the upcoming days, and maybe you are planning to as well, but also…? You might be a little burnt out and not particularly feeling like going through the trouble of making a whole pie for a very small Thanksgiving gathering, even though you’ve already made a bunch of pie dough.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsWell, my friends, that’s where Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists come in. Where you’d normally roll out your pie crust, fit it in a pie plate, fill it, chill it several times and finally bake, this recipe takes super buttery pie dough and transforms it into a flaky cinnamon-scented dessert that you can make with minimal ingredients and tuck into in under an hour. It’s the dream.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsStart by rolling out your disk of pie dough (this is my All-Butter Pie Dough) into a 12-inch square(-ish shape). Brush the whole thing with melted butter, then scatter cinnamon-sugar on the center 4×12-inch section.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsFold one of the outer thirds over the cinnamon-sugar, then brush on more butter and sprinkle on more cinnamon-sugar. Fold the last blank third of dough over (like a letter) and then refrigerate for 20 or so minutes while the oven preheats. Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsOnce the oven hits 375F, slice your dough into strips, brush with more melted butter, and twist them do that you can see the two layers of cinnamon swirling all the way down the length of the twists. Yum!Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsAfter that, bake for 22 minutes or so until your kitchen smells like butter and cinnamon and everything else that’s good in this universe. Then wait just long enough so that you don’t burn your mouth before digging in, with ice cream if you are better-prepared than I am.Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsI know I am not the first person to write a recipe for Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists, and I won’t be the last either. Some people just spread the cinnamon-sugar right on and skip all the folding and whatnot, but in my experience, this extra care results in a triple-layer twist that is favorably compared to churros. Churros! I don’t know about you, but the one thing my Thanksgiving menu is missing is a flaky, churro-esque finish.Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Pie Crust Cinnamon Twists
makes about 1.5 dozen twists

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe All-Butter Pie Dough, or other good single crust pie dough recipe
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cinnamon.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll pie dough out to a 12-inch square. Paint a thin layer of melted butter onto the dough.

Mentally divide the dough into thirds (perhaps with the help of a ruler), 4×12 inches each. Scatter half the cinnamon-sugar over the central third. Fold one of the outer thirds over the center to cover the cinnamon-sugar, then paint melted butter on top. Fold the remaining third so that it covers the cinnamon-sugar. Use your rolling pin to tamp down the ends so you don’t lose filling, then roll the whole thing so it’s about 6-inches wide. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment.

Flour a surface and a large, sharp chef’s knife. Unwrap the folded dough and brush the top with butter. Slice it into 3/4-inch strips. Twist each one a few times and place 2 inches apart on prepared sheet pans (I like about 10 per pan). Bake 21-23 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let cool a few minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Pie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon TwistsPie Crust Cinnamon Twists

Little Pumpkin Pie Jars

Little Pumpkin Pie JarsI questioned my sanity while making these Little Pumpkin Pie Jars earlier this week—do we need a third pie post before what is inevitably going to be the strangest Thanksgiving of our lives so far? Probably not.Little Pumpkin Pie JarsThat said, we might need eight pies, but little ones in mason jars that require no baking—perfect for a Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and all the COVID precautions. Little Pumpkin Pie Jars are just the ticket.Little Pumpkin Pie JarsThis recipe is nearly a carbon copy of the Little Lemon Pie Jars I made over the summer, except where those are bright and tangy, these are all sorts of pumpkin spicy. They’re rich and creamy and no-bake, which is ideal if you’re as burnt out from 2020 as I am right now.Little Pumpkin Pie JarsLittle Pumpkin Pie JarsLittle Pumpkin Pie Jars get their autumnal flavor from the Pumpkin Spice Spread I posted at the beginning of fall. Simply mix 2/3 cup of the spread in with some cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, salt and vanilla, then lighten it with some whipped cream. Spoon the filling on top of some barely-cohesive graham cracker crusts, wrap your pie jars in plastic and refrigerate for a couple of hours or a couple of days. Then finish them off with a festive dollop of whipped cream and a pinch of cinnamon before digging in, and maybe—just maybe–counting the list of things you’re thankful for this pandemic.Little Pumpkin Pie Jars

Little Pumpkin Pie Jars
makes 8 4-ounce pie jars

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 whole graham crackers)
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
6 tablespoons heavy cream, very cold
2/3 cup Pumpkin Spice Spread
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Garnish:
whipped cream
ground cinnamon

Special Equipment:
8 4-ounce mason jars or ramekins

Make the crust. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add melted butter and whisk until everything is lightly moistened and resembles damp sand.

Divide mixture among 8 4-ounce mason jars (or ramekins), about 2-3 heaping tablespoons each. Tamp down the crust with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

Make the filling. Pour heavy cream into a small-medium mixing bowl, and use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together Pumpkin Spice Spread and cream cheese. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt and beat to combine. Mix in vanilla.

Use a silicone spatula to stir half the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture. Gently fold in the second half of the whipped cream. Spoon filling into mason jars, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or press plastic wrap to the surfaces and chill up to 2 days. If you are short on time, these may be frozen for an hour.

To serve, top with whipped cream and a pinch of cinnamon.Little Pumpkin Pie JarsLittle Pumpkin Pie Jars

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet PotatoesI’ve wanted to make Thanksgiving for years and years, but my family usually travels for this holiday. That said, I guess next Thursday is my lucky day…or something. Yes, since traveling is inadvisable at the moment, I am staying put and taking this excuse to make the whole turkey dinner in my apartment. This is obviously not how I imagined my first time making Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s what’s happening. And it might be a little messed up to say this, but I’m kind of excited about it. I mean, I’ll be bummed not to be with my parents, older sister and sister-in-law (and the dogs), and I would definitely like for this period of world history to get over and done, but I am really excited to make Thanksgiving.

The menu is still in the tentative planning phase, but I know for sure that I am making J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Turchetta and smaller batches of the cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and caramelized Brussels sprouts from my archives. Oh, and the best dang Mashed Sweet Potatoes you can get anywhere.Mashed Sweet PotatoesI can’t believe I’ve made it this many years without posting this recipe.

Creamed Kale? ✅
Dinner rolls? ✅
Two kinds of stuffing? ✅✅
Every cheesy appetizer under the sun? ✅✅✅✅✅
Mashed Sweet Potatoes? ❌

Truly, it’s bonkers. When I first moved to New York a thousand thirteen years ago, these were my go-to contribution to various Thanksgivings and holiday dinners, and they were a hit on every table they graced. These are seriously the *best* holiday sweet potatoes ever. Marshmallows be damned. (But not really.)Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet PotatoesMy mom got the original recipe from her friend, Amy, and then passed it on to me. I’ve twisted the it a little since then, but only a little, because they were already pretty dang perfect. The secret? An entire brick of cream cheese and an entire stick of butter. Yes, I know that’s a lot of dairy and a lot of dense calories, but this recipe also makes a lot of sweet potatoes. Please resist the urge to cut back or use low-fat ingredients—it’s just not worth the effort without the real deals. This is holiday food, not everyday food (although I would never judge you for eating them with every meal for four days straight…ahem).Mashed Sweet PotatoesAs you might imagine, these Mashed Sweet Potatoes are…beyond. Beyond creamy. Beyond delicious. So beyond that it’s simply beyond me why anyone wouldn’t throw these on next week’s menu right now.Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
barely adapted from my mom’s friend, Amy
makes 10-12 servings

4 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed & peeled, diced into 1-inch pieces
cold water, to cover sweet potatoes
2 1/2–3 teaspoons teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, divided
1 8-ounce brick full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish

Place diced sweet potatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add salt and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high and let simmer until sweet potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat.

Carefully drain water by pouring sweet potatoes through a colander. Return sweet potatoes to the hot pot. Use a potato masher to begin to break up sweet potatoes. Add all pieces of cream cheese and butter, along with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mash to combine, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to scrape down the sides of the pot as necessary. Do not over-mash. Taste for seasoning, then stir in more salt by the 1/2 teaspoon and pepper as desired.

Remove to a serving dish and serve immediately with chopped parsley, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you’d like to make Mashed Sweet Potatoes ahead, spread them into a medium-sized casserole dish. Let cool completely, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove them from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Then place covered dish in a 350F oven for 30-40 minutes, until hot. Serve.Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes

Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers

Turkey and pie may take all the Thanksgiving glory, but I’m on a mission to nab a tiny bit of it for holiday cheese plates. You know, the stuff you snack on while you make…everything else. They’re frequently overlooked or taken for granted, which is a shame because the holiday cheese plate says something about the person who made it. Specifically, that they like cheese.

While there is nothing wrong with just putting out cheese and crackers, I’ve made it a point over these last several Thanksgivings to turn my cheese plate game up to 11. These twists, shortbreads and slumping blocks of feta aren’t difficult or overly flashy—nobody has time for that on the fourth Thursday in November!—but they sure are delicious. Here is a definitive list of your favorite cheesy food blogger’s favorite cheesy appetizers.Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers Rosemary-Parmesan Cheese Straws

These flaky homemade cheese straws are the perfect thing to serve alongside an assortment of cheeses and fresh fruit. They’re perfumed with rosemary, have a little funk from grated Parmesan, can be prepped ahead (!), and they’re absolutely gorgeous.
Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions

Baked Brie is a classic holiday party treat, and it couldn’t be simpler to make. Just wrap a wheel of brie in puff pastry and bake until golden and gooey—that’s it! This version has added sweetness and depth from caramelized onions and a smear of dijon mustard. Yum!Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers
Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

These shortbread are like Cheez-Its all glowed up. They’ve got a rich cheddar flavor with hits of spicy cayenne and black pepper, and are outrageously good. Serve them by themselves or pair with a tart apple for a bright, rich finish.Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers
Baked Feta with Sautéed Dates

I made a whole Christmas dinner for my family last year, including a porchetta, but this easy appetizer stole the show. An entire block of feta is painted with olive oil and honey before being baked until soft and slumping, then broiled to a golden finish. While Baked Feta would be delicious served on its own with water crackers, you’d be remiss to skip the sweet & savory Sautéed Dates. They’re chewy, caramelized, and get finished with a a good hit of coarse salt before being piled on the Baked Feta and fully devoured.Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers
Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil

This year’s cheese plate offering is low-brow and high-brow and completely delicious. Two sheets of flaky rough puff pastry are sandwiched together with southern pimento cheese, gently twisted into a sun shape (“soleil”) and baked until bubbly and golden. While everything else on this list works well as part of a cheese plate, this Pimento Cheese Tarte Soleil *is* the cheese plate.

Have you made any of these or any of my other cheesy appetizers? What’s your favorite thing to put on a holiday cheese plate? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Cheesy Appetizers