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Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Cranberry Pie Whole
You guys!  I made this pie because I was looking for a double crust pie so I could revisit my pie crust tutorial (a few things have changed in my go-to technique since the last one I posted), and most of my fruit pie fruits are not in season, but now I’m kind of obsessed.  Fresh cranberries!  In pie!  Why is this not a thing?  Cranberries might be the perfect pie fruit — they’re tart and juicy, but have a pretty high pectin content, so your pie filling doesn’t run all over the place.   The flavor is a lot like fresh sour cherry pie, but fresh sour cherries are only available one week of the year, in very small parts of the US, and cranberries can be gotten EVERYWHERE for at least two months when most pie fruits are out of commission.    And just LOOK at the color:

Cranberry Pie Slice

It’s great, is all I’m saying.

Now on to pie crust. I like to walk my readers through making pie crust, because I feel like so many people are like “Pie crust?  Who has the time for that!  It’s too hard!” and I want to pat your head and say, “No, it’s OK – you can do it.”  You don’t have to own a walk in freezer or live in the arctic to make your pie dough (though it is a bit tougher on a warm day.)  You don’t have to source special kinds of lard or NOT TOUCH IT OR IT WILL BE OVERWORKED.  Pie crust is pretty forgiving.  If it cracks? Patch it.  If you can’t roll it out in a perfect circle?  Nobody cares.  At the end of the day you will have pie, and people will love you.  This is the way I’ve been making my pie crusts, and it works pretty darn well.

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Squash Stuffed with Delicious Things

Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Part of my focus on vegetables for this year is going to involve salads and side dishes – things to add to my standard meat and potatoes fare (though in actuality, we rarely eat potatoes). But I’m also looking for main dishes in which vegetables play a starring role. Ideally I’m looking for something which won’t cause my five year old to reject it out of hand. I’ve tried to tell her that nothing mommy makes is yucky, and I don’t ever want her to say yuck, though she may politely express that this is not her favorite dish. Of course, only dessert is her favorite dish, not for any lack of trying on my part. And ham sandwiches. And since I refuse to subsist on a diet of ham sandwiches and ice cream, we are at something of an impasse. Bacon helps.

This recipe, which is adapted from Dorie Greenspan, may not pass the five year old test (until she TRIES it) but it is one of my favorites. Dorie calls it “Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good” and it really is stuffed with, if not everything good, many good things. Things like bread and cheese and bacon and cream and garlic, and just to up the vegetal quotient, I added red chard, which only added instead of detracted. Since it’s nearly impossible to find an edible pumpkin outside the months of October and November, I make it with Kabocha Squash, which I prefer to pumpkin anyway. This dish also looks better in person than it does in photographs, and tastes better than it looks (I must convince the five year old of this). (As an aside – raw vegetables are BEAUTIFUL to photograph, but the second they’re cooked they look far less appealing. C’est la vie.)  You can also omit the bacon the make it vegetarian, but please don’t leave out the cheese.
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Fennel, Apple and Pear Salad

Apple Pear Fennel Salad

I know when I promised vegetable recipes, you were not thinking “salad.” Salad is boring. Salad is easy. We’ve already thought of salad. Well, salad IS easy, but it doesn’t have to be boring. The universe of salads is huge, and if recipes for salads are more ideas than recipes, well, couldn’t we all use some more ideas?

We eat salads a lot. This one takes a little more hand work than the most rushed “open a bag of lettuce, throw on some dressing” (though those feature heavily in our rotation as well), but it’s also delicate, and appealing. The Nuni loved it, the husband loved it. It’s neither all sweet nor all savory, but a lovely both/and.
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Spiced Cocoa Buttermilk Pie

Spiced Cocoa Pie
Let me tell you a tale – a tale of four five six pies.

My family’s Thanksgiving philosophy is that you can never have too many pies. We often have 3 or 4 types of pie, which is a lot when you realize that we only have about 12 people. Last Thanksgiving, I decided to make a recipe for a spice pie I found in one of my cookbooks. The flavor was good, but the pie was too sweet and didn’t set. That was pie 1. Undaunted and not a little crazy, I remade the recipe with the rest of the pie dough I had stuck in the freezer. I upped the eggs which helped the set and replaced the milk with buttermilk. The result was a dream – a layered pie with a crust on top of an almost translucent custard, all deeply flavored with spices. I thought it was a hit. That was pie 2. (my family preferred the chocolate pie I made, which we will call pie number 3.)

Fast forward to this year, when I decided to share pie 2 with you, my lovely and deserving readers. I checked my favorite dessert cookbook, and made the buttermilk pie contained therein. It was pale, tangy with a hint of lemon. Good, but not the pie I remembered. That was pie number 4.

I looked in my journal, where I had helpfully noted not only the pie recipe I used, But also the modifications I made (like adding buttermilk.). “AHa!” I thought. And made that one. What I got was a firm, custard like pie, not unlike a good pumpkin pie. It was good, but I wanted that layered effect. This was not what I remembered. That was pie number five.
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Cornbread, Leek and Bacon Stuffing in the Crock Pot

Crockpot Cornbread Stuffing with Bacon And Leeks #Thanksgiving

If there’s one dish that I must have on Thanksgiving, it’s stuffing. I like sweet potatoes, but don’t need them. Mashed potatoes always seem a bit superfluous to me. Even turkey is negotiable. But stuffing, with its play of textures and flavors — is the heart of Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year I told you about the sacred sage stuffing that my family makes every Thanksgiving. I stand by that recipe. But if, for some reason, you need another stuffing recipe — like you’re going to two Thanksgivings, or your aunt Patricia is already making that stuffing and you need to bring a second one, or you’re having an all-stuffing Thanksgiving meal (what? It could happen!) — I came up with this one for you.

I have heard that some people prefer cornbread stuffing, so I thought I’d offer that as an alternative to the sacred stuffing. If you make it yourself, you can vary the sweetness – I took the lazy sane way out and bought some from the bakery section of the local market. Since cornbread is often on the sweet side (don’t shoot, southerners!) I thought it would be nice to balance out the sweetness with leeks (probably my favorite member of the onion family) and bacon (because, really, why not?) And then, just to get all crazy on you, I cooked it in the crock pot. Why the crock pot? Because I don’t know about you, but my oven is often full on Thanksgiving day of things that cannot be cooked in the slow cooker, like pie and the aforementioned turkey. And the slow cooker is a wonderful invention for keeping things moist, which stuffing must be (to get a crisp top, run the cooked stuffing under the broiler for a minute or two.
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