The combination of sweet, savory, and above all, spicy found in mincemeat hearkens back to the pre-modern kitchen. Finely chopping (mincing!) meat and mixing it with suet, fruits, and spices not only used up leftover, odd bits of meat but stretched the available protein. The use of late apples and dried fruits made it a perfect winter dish, and it was a Christmas specialty by the sixteenth century. Gradually, less actual minced meat was included in the recipe (though suet is still commonly used), and by the mid-nineteenth century, mincemeat in both England and the Americas was what we would recognize today.
I didn’t grow up with it, but I sure do love me some mincemeat. I don’t think it’s common in Hawai’i at all, but every Christmas when we were shopping at Kahala or Pearlridge, Mom and I would stop by See’s Candy for mincemeat and marzipan chocolates (they have since discontinued their mincemeat candies, due to the lack of a reputable supplier. Jerks.). I loved them; they were so foreign, so exotic, and yet so quaint, something out of a Louisa May Alcott or L.M. Montgomery novel. I didn’t get to try a mincemeat pie until I was twenty-one, and visiting my relatives in Western New York (Buffalo). My Cousin Johnny Stevenson’s Quebecois then-wife baked one for my little sister and I, and it was a revelation (she also introduced me to turnips and rutabagas–oh, my!). I was in love at the first bite, and have often been baffled that mincemeat pies are so unpopular in the Pacific Northwest. After all, they use some of our finest ingredients, such as apples and dried berries. When I found this pie in November’s Sunset Magazine, I knew I had to make it for Thanksgiving.
For my pie, I used half Calville Blanc and half Newtown Pippin apples, both heirloom varieties I picked up at the Portland Nursery Apple Tasting Festival this year. They made for a phenomenal pie, with perfect taste and texture. This is a very messy, bubbly pie, so be sure to either place a foil-lined cookie sheet on the rack beneath your pie, or line the floor of your oven. This is a very rich, intensely-flavored pie, not for the faint of heart or full of stomach. Continue reading
Posted in apples, christmas, dessert, fall, fruits, pies, Recipes, thanksgiving, winter
Tagged christmas, mincemeat, pie
After the Apple Tasting Festival at Portland Nursery, I found myself in need of some apple pie–amazing how that works out. I couldn’t find the recipe my sister Maiya gave me last year, so I looked for a patty-pan crust and nice crumb topped recipe to try. The first one I came across that looked delicious and trustworthy was Martha Stewart’s Apple Crumb Pie with Almond Crumb Crust. This worked out nicely since I had some walnuts I wanted to use up before they got rancid, and well, apples and walnuts go really well together. This also gave me the perfect opportunity to use my little nut grinder, which I so dearly love. I used a few Newtown Pippins and two Spitzenberg apples; you’ll remember the latter from last year’s Apple Tasting, but the Newtown was a runner up, only picked because they were out of Cox’s Orange Pippin and all the new heirlooms I wanted to try (save the Calville Blanc, which is excellent). They were fantastic in the pie, with a complex sweet-tart flavor.
I must say, this was not only the best apple pie I have baked, it might be one of the best I have ever tasted. I don’t know whether it was the perfect combination of apples, nuts, and recipe, or what, but everything came together marvelously. The filling was almost custard-like in its rich smoothness, but the apples retained their bite. The crust was like a nutty shortbread, and not at all soggy. The only improvement I would try would be to use brown sugar, but I was out of it. Guess I’ll just have to make it again! I wanted to try a hazelnut crust, or even the original almond, anyways …. Continue reading
a slice of Pumpkin Pecan Pie
Schatzi: I don’t know when I first had pecan pie, but it made an indelible impression on me. The sweet, gooey filling, the pecans, the caramel or toffee-like flavor of brown sugar–when combined, they make an irresistible dessert. (I once ate an entire twelve-inch pecan pie in a day. With no help.) When I came across this Saveur recipe (adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe), I couldn’t resist making a Pumpkin Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving.
It really was the best of both worlds, too. I initially expected that the two fillings would remain distinct layers (I don’t know why), but instead when I poured the filling over the pecans, the two slowly mingled. I was worried, but the resulting pie was just luscious. It was probably the most popular of the four pies I baked this year, though sweet potato was a close second. Like most of my pies, it’s best made the day before (and that frees up your kitchen on big dinner days, too).
continue reading for the Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe
Posted in dessert, fall, nuts, pies, pumpkin, Recipes, thanksgiving, winter
Tagged holiday recipes, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, thanksgiving desserts
Schatzi: My first ever taste of sweet potato pie was Thanksgiving 2006. I had to work at the lol-iday inn that night (luckily, only for a short shift), and had had an abbreviated dinner over at Maiya’s. When E-Money came in to start her graveyard shift, she was kind enough to bring me a plate she had made up for me at her grandmother’s dinner, a plate that included a slice of sweet potato pie. Although everything I ate on that plate was delicious, the pie was a revelation. And I vowed that I would one day bake sweet potato pies.
I found my recipe on Saveur (you’re shocked, I know) while idly clicking through various holiday desserts. Though intrigued by the Sweet Potato Cobbler, I wanted a traditional pie recipe to begin by odyssey. (Sadly, E-Money has since relocated, and I have a hard time getting a hold of her, or I would have simply demanded her grandmother’s recipe.) The resulting pie was rich and delicious (Eli’s favorite pie of the day), and I’ll definitely be baking it again.
Sadly, since it was the last pie to bake (during Thanksgiving dinner), I forgot to take a picture of the sweet potato pie before it was devoured.
continue reading for the Sweet Potato Pie recipe
Schatzi: Someone on a forum I frequent was looking for a pumpkin chocolate chip cake, and some of the other members suggested to him that I would be a good resource. Now, I’d never made one before, but I was willing to try out a recipe or two to help an IFHYer out, so I looked around online. I found a few that seemed promising, and decided upon this one from the New York Times. Instead of a frosted layer cake, however, I decided to alter the recipe slightly for a Bundt pan, feeling that would take a little less effort for a novice baker. I also added a smidgen of vanilla, and I might try it again with brown sugar instead of all white. I left out the pecans this time since my roommate is allergic to tree nuts, and because they’re hellav expensive right now, and I need to hoard the ones I’ve got for pecan pie.
The resulting cake was spicy, moist, and delicious. It hasn’t even been around for twenty-four hours and it’s almost gone. Eli is having a hard time restraining himself.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake
continue reading for the Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake recipe!
Schatzi: There are myriad pumpkin pie recipes out there, but I usually just rely on the recipe on the Libby’s can label. If it’s not broken, and so on. I do alter it slightly, however. For one, I prefer some brown sugar in my pies, and tend to use it in conjunction with or instead of white granulated sugar. I also add a few more spices, such as ginger and allspice. Some might feel the allspice redundant since it is generally equated to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, but it’s got more depth than that, and should be used more often, I think. Use whatever pie crust you feel best here; most people have one they prefer, after all. But I do suggest using metal pie pans for custardy pies like pumpkin.
I generally bake the pumpkin pie a couple of days ahead, so that it can be eaten for breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. That’s how I was raised, and I love the taste of pumpkin pie in the morning, smothered with whipped cream. As Bill Cosby once famously pointed out about chocolate cake, it’s got eggs, butter, and milk–plus, pumpkin is a vegetable! click here for the Pumpkin Pie recipe!
Posted in comfort food, dessert, fall, pies, pumpkin, Recipes, thanksgiving, vintage recipes, winter
Tagged libby's, pumpkin pie, pumpkin recipes, thanksgiving desserts, thanksgiving recipes
Schatzi: Like many people, I sometimes like to experiment with my Thanksgiving (or any holiday, for that matter) desserts. I tend to keep mine thematically pumpkin, because we rarely had anything else when I was growing up, no apple pie or sweet potato. I meant to do a sweet potato pie this year, but I’ve got so many pumpkin themed requests that I don’t think I’ll be able to fit it in. For my mother’s last Thanksgiving, I made this Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping from a recipe I found at the Maker’s Mark website. It was my first cheesecake, and it came out perfectly. Anything warm and spicy goes well with bourbon in my book! If your family or friends aren’t inclined to try something completely different at Thanksgiving, a pumpkiny cheesecake like this might be a nice way to ease them in; one Thanksgiving years ago, my friend Catriena wanted to make her family enjoy cheesecake instead of pumpkin pie. I suggested a pumpkin cheesecake as the best of both worlds, offering them the comfort of the familiar and a taste of something new, but she was adamant that they would have a regular cheesecake. I don’t think it went off very well. I won’t be making cheesecake this year, since I had forgotten all about it til today, but I’ll add it to next year’s expanding list.
continue reading for the Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe!