Thanksgiving 2014: The Day After

WOW. Last night was pretty awesome. SO MUCH FOOD! We shook up this year’s menu a bit from last year’s. Like I mentioned on Wednesday, we aimed for a little more of an American Thanksgiving. I feel bad saying it but I try really hard to Americanize our food and household. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t because my culture is important to me and it’s something I want to keep going but I can’t help it.

Anyway, the table was pretty much half our traditional menu and the other was American.

On the menu we had:

Thanksgiving2014_TURKEY

Turkey, obviously! (regular green salad in the bottom right corner that literally no one ate. Thanksgiving is not the time for “healthy” things)

Thanksgiving2014_2

Parker House Rolls from Bon Appetit. So fluffy and so good! Spotlight may be coming soon!

Thanksgiving2014_Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese. SO AMAZING. We added bacon and made the full recipe. This is that one time I am SO happy we have leftovers!

Thanksgiving2014_Pastelón

Pastelón de viveres. This is my mom’s ~thing~; I don’t eat this at all. It’s basically a starch heaven casserole made with two kinds of taro root, green bananas (not to be mistaken with plantains but those can be used too), and kabocha squash. In the middle, there’s a layer of cooked pork. If you’ve ever had Dominican (or Puerto Rican? I’m not sure) pasteles en hoja, this is similar to that minus the leaves and the boiling part. It’s a weird culmination of things but my mom likes it and has been making it for the holidays lately, so I guess it’s here to stay.

Thanksgiving2014_Salads

Salads and rice. On the left is my mom’s yellow rice with peas, below that is our potato salad, and next to that is macaroni salad.

The potato salad contains boiled and diced potatoes (duh) and carrots, diced hard boiled eggs, mayo, white vinegar, chopped cubanelle peppers and onions. The macaroni salad is almost the same as the potato salad; instead of potatoes, carrots, and eggs, it’s just tri colored macaroni.

Thanksgiving2014_Mashed Potatoes

Behind the salads was my sister’s mashed potatoes. She made this on her own, without a recipe! Very proud of her efforts, and they were delicious.

Thanksgiving2014_Pastelitos

Pastelitos or empanadas! These were filled with ground beef and diced hard boiled eggs. Some were just cheddar cheese. Crowd favorite!

For dessert, we had this Apple Cranberry Torta from Cooking Channel TV. I made several changes to the recipe but it was a moist and delicious little cake. I feel like it was maybe a cross between a pie and a cake. I’m still trying to edge that in, obviously! Recipe will be posted below.

Overall, we had a tasty Thanksgiving. I can see mac and cheese in my future! I’m ready to get my tree up and move on to Christmas! Can’t wait to see what’s on the menu then 😉

Thanksgiving2014_Table2

Full spread. And my mom’s arm.

 

Apple Cranberry Torta – adapted from Giada’s recipe on Cooking Channel TV

Makes one 8″ round cake

  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liquer)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of diced apples

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the orange liqueur just until warm. Turn off the heat and submerge the dried cranberries and golden raisins. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the four eggs and add the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix in the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.
  5. Gently stir in the apples, cranberries and raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for up to 30 minutes. Cool slightly in the pan before inverting to peel off the parchment. Serve slightly warm.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I took the walnuts out of this and replaced it with golden raisins because half my family is allergic to nuts. 
  • I used one large Granny Smith apple but use any kind you’d like. 
  • I also soaked my dried fruit for quite a while, which helped them sustain the orange liqueur flavor. 
  • Technically the recipe didn’t state to line the pan with parchment but I don’t trust recipes that rely on just buttering the pan. /skeptic

Recipe Roundup: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is finally here! Well, tomorrow officially but the wait is basically over. Even so, I don’t have a very clear idea of what’s landing on my dinner table tomorrow. It’s a struggle every year but this year feels different.

We try our best to combine both Dominican and American cultures on the table but I think this year, we’re leaning more on the American side. I guess I’ll see just how much we’re leaning tomorrow! Just know that no matter how far into the American side of things this family will lean, pie will never be a part of it (for shame:()

Anyway, I don’t have a recipe for today. Instead, I decided to do a little link roundup of recipes I’ve made or I’ve seen on the internets that I like and are on theme for tomorrow’s dinner. I’m including a few Dominican recipes that we’ve had for the holidays for those that want an idea of how to make some of those dishes. They’re not my recipes but we’ll get there one day! There will also a recap post of my Thanksgiving on Friday, so be on the lookout for that.

Treat House Salted Caramel Turkey

Salted Caramel Crispy Treat from Treat House NYC

 

Mains/Sides:

Bread:

Dessert:

Missed last year’s Thanksgiving recap? Check out what I had for dinner last year here.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Apple Galette

Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on me this year. I’ve been anticipating it since early October but I’m still shocked it’s actually next week! I’m even more shocked because I have nothing planned yet, which is SO not me. By now, my mom and I usually already have our game plan down, with only last minute things on the grocery list. We don’t even have a turkey yet! What makes it worse is that I’m already getting ready for Christmas, which totally goes against the traditionalist in me that doesn’t skip over holidays. I don’t know, but the holidays so far have thrown me for a loop.

Besides the fact I have nothing planned, I at least have a quick and awesome dessert option for you semi-traditionalists. This isn’t your traditional apple pie, but is delicious in its own right.

Apple Tart 1

Part of what attracted me to making a galette, aside from it being an apple dessert, is its simplicity. If you can make pie crust, you can make this galette. Even if you can’t make pie crust, you can still make this galette. No fancy equipment is needed to make this, which is awesome, and is super quick to put together.

The other thing that attracted me to this galette? The fact that it’s free form. I don’t yet own a pie dish (gasp!). It’s true, I don’t have one. I’ve mentioned it before but we’re just not pie people. No matter how hard I try to get my folks to appreciate pie, it just won’t happen. I guess that’s just one of those American things that’ll never stick at the table at my house. Sad because pie is awesome but there’s not much I can do there. The only thing I own relatively close to a pie pan is a tart pan. The issue there is that it’s pretty big, which is hard to use when most pies and tarts are usually 9 inches in diameter. This is where the galette saves the day. After making the crust, you just roll it out as far as you can, place it on a lined baking sheet, pile the apples on top and fold up the edges. That’s it! No matter how ugly you think it looks, it will come out beautiful and rustic looking. I love it when desserts aren’t intentionally pretty; makes the homemade factor look even more appealing.

Apple Tart 4

Speaking of the crust, it’s super easy to make. No food processor required at all. Sure, it’s handy but you can easily make this crust without it. To cut in the butter, you can either use a dough cutter, a pair of forks, or your hands. I opted for my hands but any of the above works fine. I also subbed half the flour with whole wheat for some nuttiness and pseudo healthiness.

Now, let’s talk about the apples for a minute. For this galette, your apples need to be thinly sliced. You don’t need fancy equipment to make this happen but if you want all slices to be even, break out your mandoline (or handoline, like we did last week) for slicing. I freehanded the slicing this time, because I don’t think evenness is necessary here. You can also artistically lay the slices onto the crust to make it look even fancier, but I just piled them in.

Apple Tart 3

The result is this lovely and rustic dessert that didn’t take too much time or effort to make. The crust is nutty and crunchy against the soft and tart apples. A dessert this simple is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Not much thought or effort goes into it, and it looks super pretty and like you spent a ton of time on it. No one has to know it was that easy 😉

Apple Tart 2

Apple Galette – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough: 

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

Filling:

  • 2 pounds apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • Cores and peels from sliced apples

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer, using a dough cutter, with forks, or your hands until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter and mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
  2. Drizzle in the water, stir, then drizzle in more until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and let sit out for a couple of minutes, until the dough is malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
  4. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heat oven to 400°F. Toss sliced apples with 4 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon.
  5. Place the apples on dough, either rustically or in a ring 2 inches from edge; continuing inward until you reach the center. Fold over the dough edges back onto itself, at about one inch intervals until the galette is ‘closed.’
  6. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge.
  7. Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown, about 45 minutes, making sure to rotate galette every 15 minutes.
  8. For the glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth or sieve.
  9. Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes before glazing, slicing, and serving.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I originally sprinkled the sugar (as per the original recipe) onto the apples, but will toss them in sugar in the future. I found it wasn’t sweet enough but if you like your galettes on the tart side, stick to sprinkling. 
  • The galette is best served slightly warm. Even better with ice cream and a side of whipped cream. Just sayin’.

 

Kitchen Experiments: Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips

So far, I’ve been all about apples this fall. Besides the two awesome recipes I’ve posted thus far, this one is a favorite: the simple and delicious baked apple chip.

It all started years ago, when I bought a bag of apple chips that brought like, three in the bag. I loved them but was outraged by the fact that the bag was practically empty. As usual, I uttered an “I can probably make this myself but way better” and started planning. After I figured it out, I made so many and so often, I got sick of them. It’s been quite a minute but I decided to bring them back; for old time’s sake.

Apple Chips11

For apple chips, you don’t need many tools and they aren’t as fancy as you may think. First, you need your apples (obviously), a cutting board, and knife. You can use any apple you’d like but I’m very partial to the Granny Smith. For you lucky ducks who have a full sized mandoline, you can skip this step. I cut them so it’s easier for me to core and slice but if you have an apple corer, this is the time to use it. For those like me who don’t have a full sized mandoline, it’s time to cut the apples. I like quartering them to remove the core. That, and a quartered apple is easier to slice once cored.

Now that the apple is quartered, let’s core. Place an apple quarter on one of its flat sides. Introduce the knife to the apple at an angle (like maybe 45 degrees?) and slice out the core. Sounds weird to explain it like this, so I hope the pictures helped! Once that’s done, we can move on to slicing.

Apple Chips Prep3

At this point, if you’ve got the knife skillz, you can do it by hand. I do not, so I use a hand mandoline. I call it the ‘handoline.’ Catchy, right? I love slicing with it because I get kind of uniform slices every time. I say ‘kind of’ because depending on the amount of force used when slicing, the end product can end up either too thick or thin. Speaking of which, if free handing, make sure they’re all about the same thickness. This is crucial to the apple chip’s chippyness. And for safety’s sake, use the hand guard. Yeah, I know I’m not using mine but do as I say and not as I do. SAFETY FIRST.

Now that all the apples are sliced, let’s talk toppings. If you’re a purist, you can lay them out on the baking sheet and bake them as is. I’m not, so I like topping mine with cinnamon sugar. I use about two tablespoons of sugar to 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon per apple. The amount of cinnamon varies, depending on how festive I’m feeling. You can pretty much go either way here, and top them however you like. Toss the slices in the sugar and cinnamon, making sure they’re all somewhat coated. On prepped baking sheets (prepped = lined with parchment), lay out your slices carefully. Make sure they’re as close as possible without touching. This isn’t one of those recipes where you can get away with throwing everything on the pan all haphazardly. Take the time to line them up.

At this point, you should’ve had your oven preheating before you even started. For those keeping score, it’s at a whopping 250 degrees fahrenheit. I know what you’re thinking; “does my oven even go that low?” Yes it does! Believe me, I thought mine didn’t either. Now, place your apple soldiers into the oven and bake for AN HOUR AND A HALF. Why so long? Well, apple chips get their chipyness from being dehydrated in the oven. The low temperature and long bake time makes it so the dehydration is done carefully and evenly, so the apples hold their shape and are crisp when done. You really can’t crank the oven up with shorter times to speed up the process. It won’t work, and your apples will burn. Patience, grasshopper. You shall be rewarded.

Midway through baking, flip the slices over and rotate the pans in the oven. Also, watch the apples as they can burn if you don’t. Believe me, I know. After that painstaking hour and a half is over, it’s time for the slices to cool. This is also crucial because out of the oven, the slices are still floppy and not very chippy. We don’t want that. Let them sit on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes, and watch your previously floppy apple crisp with delight. The apples turn into chips that still taste very much like apples, with a slight sweetness from the sugar and a hint of spiciness from the cinnamon. They are extremely addicting, so make a lot!

Coolin' chips

Coolin’ chips

I’m glad I brought these back from the mental grave I dug them into. It reminded me of why I started making them (and also why I stopped). I can’t hate them though; they are the perfect snack.

Apple Chips10

Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips

Makes about four cups

  • 2 large apples (I love using Granny Smith)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. On a cutting board, quarter and core the apples. If you have a full sized mandoline, feel free to core the apples (with a corer) before slicing. Or, you can slice them without coring.
  3. Once quartered and cored, begin slicing the apples. You may do so with a knife or with a hand mandoline (handoline!).
  4. Place the apple slices in a large bowl and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar. Gently toss the apples to evenly coat. Carefully place the apple slices on the prepped baking sheets as close as possible without touching.
  5. Bake the apple slices for an hour and a half, flipping the slices over and rotating the pans halfway through baking. The apples are done when they look a little wrinkly and are dry to the touch.
  6. Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before devouring. Any leftovers keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Please watch them while they bake! Multitasking while baking this batch caused me to burn half. Again, do as I say…

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Chocolate Ganache Filling

For the first time ever, I went to a Halloween party. Well, to be fair, it was more of a “get together” than a party. There’s a difference. My CO*OP family and I got together at our founder’s house for snacks, games, and super intense discussions on rousing topics.

As the self proclaimed class baker, I knew I wanted to bring something awesome. Two of my CO*OP friends requested chocolate cupcakes with black frosting. I’m all about pleasing people, even if it meant coloring some buttercream black (not that visually appealing but whatever). Regular chocolate cupcakes seemed so passé, so I went a slightly different route.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 3

If you know me, you know that I LOVE putting booze in things. Sometimes, I put it where it doesn’t belong. I can’t help it! Liquor is every baker’s secret weapon, whether they admit to it or not. There’s just something about putting liquor in stuff that makes things awesome. It might be the liquor itself or the devious feeling I get from secretly putting it in things. Tomato, potato; same thing.

These cupcakes are extra boozy and special because it has not one, but two different liquor components. The cupcakes themselves are made with Guinness. Now, I know what you’re thinking; “beer in cupcakes?! NO WAY.” YES WAY! Guinness and chocolate are actually secret BFFs. There’s something about the dark richness of stout that pairs so well with chocolate. Not only that but the beer also helps the cupcakes stay super moist. Double bonus!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 1

The second introduction to booze in this recipe is through the ganache filling. At first, I thought adding a filling was a little extra but the more chocolate, the better! It’s just an ordinary chocolate ganache but with a couple teaspoons of whiskey. Here’s the part where I tell you I wish I had put more whiskey in this. I wish I had put more whiskey in the ganache. Do yourself a favor and add more liquor in there because what doesn’t kill you, ends up making you a little tipsy.

I swear my goal was not to get my friends drunk. Well, maybe considering I also brought rummy bears with me. Not really because the cupcakes couldn’t do it. Even so, they were fantastic. This was my first time dealing with beer, so I was skeptical but then surprised with the results. The cakes were super rich and chocolatey, with a slight taste of hoppyness (I guess?) from the beer. That was the only indicator that there was any beer in the cupcakes, unless I told you beforehand or you’re some type of beer wizard that just KNOWS when you taste things. The stout helped keep the cupcakes moist and make the chocolate taste more like chocolate. I guess it works a little like how coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. Then the ganache. Not too sweet with that hint of whiskey. It almost tasted like caramel. I don’t know what kind of sorcery the whiskey did in there, but I was all about it.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 2

Let’s talk about the frosting for a minute. This isn’t your typical buttercream. I have been hearing on the internets about this awesome method for frosting that required less butter and sugar, but still had the buttercream taste. Intrigued, I decided to go for it. Initially, these cupcakes were supposed to have even more booze in the frosting, per Deb’s original recipe. Like I said above, I wasn’t about to get my friends drunk off cupcakes, so I refrained from adding more.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 4

My sister’s a hand model

Either way, the recipe is just as easy as regular buttercream. Basically, you make a roux out of flour and milk on the stove, until it’s thick like cake batter. Yes, there’s flour in here. I know, I was like “whaaaaa” when I saw it  but trust; it works. Let that cool completely before proceeding to the next step, which is creaming softened butter and some sugar. Just one cup of butter with a cup and a quarter of regular granulated sugar. WAIT. Granulated sugar? I was skeptical about this too, considering you can feel the sugar even after creaming the crap out it. After joining the cold roux and the creamed butter, magic happens because it turns into a light and fluffy dream. It’s lighter than traditional buttercream but still has the taste. You can’t feel the sugar granules at all. Like MAGIC.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes 5

I must say, for a bunch of firsts in one batch of cupcakes, they came out extremely well and very much on theme. They so looked the part for Halloween. If anything, this success is just making me wonder what else I can put booze in. I guess I’m just going to have to figure that out with some trial and error 😉

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Whiskey Chocolate Ganache Filling – barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 22-24 cupcakes

  • 1 cup stout, such as Guinness
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1-4 teaspoons Irish whiskey, or any whiskey (the more the merrier!)

Directions:

  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
  2. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
  4. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way.
  5. Bake the cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 17-22 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
  6. For the ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.
  7. Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. Alternatively, you can spoon the filling into the cupcakes. Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter, an apple corer, or a paring knife with skilled hands, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way.  Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. Or use a teaspoon to spoon the filling into the cupcakes. You can put a “lid” on the filling, by adding the tops of the cut centers back on the filled cupcakes but that’s optional.

Cooked Whipped Frosting – adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner?

Makes enough to generously frost all 24 cupcakes, and have leftovers

  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk over medium heat. Keep whisking and cooking until the mixture has thickened and resembles cake batter; about 7 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let mixture cool completely.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light, pale, and fluffy. This can take anywhere from three to 10 minutes, depending on how long you can go. You basically want the sugar and butter to be really incorporated. Don’t be afraid to beat it more!
  3. Add the completely cooled flour mixture to the creamed butter, and beat until completely incorporated, making sure to periodically scrape the bowl. Add food coloring, if using.
  4. Place the frosting in a piping bag and frost cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder in the cupcakes for three reasons; it was the only Dutch processed cocoa in the supermarket, it’s my favorite, and it tastes good.
  • I don’t have a small circle cutter, so I used a paring knife to cut out the circles freehanded. Use what you have!
  • I also skipped the piping bag for the ganache, and opted for a teaspoon to fill the cupcakes.