A foie secret

Foie biteI have a terrible secret to reveal: ever since Battle Foie Gras, the smell of foie gras grosses me out! I thought it was just temporary, owing to too much handling of the liver during the four day preparation of the torchon. It does have a strong scent that really permeated my kitchen, and the dishtowels I used smelled so bad that even after two washes, I ended up chucking them in the trash! When I ate the torchon, I had a little trouble with the smell, so I tried not to inhale and just attempted to enjoy it as usual. It mostly worked. And I figured it would pass.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving afternoon, when my family and I stood around the appetizer table to enjoy veggies and dip, shrimp cocktail, and some lovely terrines of foie gras from Bouchon Bakery. (I wasn't going to make that torchon again so soon!). As I lifted the first beautifully spread bite to my mouth, the scent hit me. And it wasn't good. After two bites, I was done. Can it be my love affair with foie gras ends thusly? Or will time heal all wounds and soon I'll crave it again? At this point, I don't know. But I'm sad.

Post-Thanksgiving Pie Report

Pumpkin Pie going into its shell

Placing the crust on my pieEvery Thanksgiving, my grandmother and I make two pies: apple and pumpkin. This year I wanted to try something a little different with the apple pie. Much reading and eating has led me to conclude that a great way to get more complex flavors out of an ingredient is to blend varieties. E.g. pureeing butternut and acorn for a more robust squash. Several pie recipes recommended using two fats (I'd always used just one) to achieve a depth of flavor and flakiness for the crust. So after I spotted Karen Barker's Basic Pie Crust at Ed Levine's site, I knew I had one to try.

Folks I am here to report this is THE BEST PIE CRUST EVER!!!!!

Unbaked Apple PieAs a Former Professional Pie Baker, I have made many many pie crusts, using lard, Crisco, and butter. And Karen Baker's Crisco and butter combination produces the nicest crust I've ever had the pleasure to work with. The magic started long before I ate it. Simply combining the ingredients (she said to use the food processor but I just used my hands), I ended up with a crumbly mixture that pulled together almost instantly when I added a small amount of water. After chilling, I rolled it out and was astounded at how easily and quickly it rolled into a perfect round. No tearing. No breaking or crumbling. It rolled out, I lifted it up, and I put it in the pie pan. After I added some apples, I did the same for the top. Did I say it didn't even break a teeny tiny bit?

I can't really explain how well this crust worked — it was a pleasure it was to make a pie with it! And then the taste: flaky and light, almost melt-in-the-mouth. While I've tasted better crusts in my day (not that this wasn't really good), it was the ease of preparation plus crust flavor that makes this a hands-down winner. I will never use another crust recipe again. And I'm going to be making a lot more pies from now on. No more once-a-year pies for me. More like once-a-week!

http://www.shakeshacknyc.com/countdown_ss.swf Sadly it's that time…

http://www.shakeshacknyc.com/countdown_ss.swf

Sadly it's that time of year again. At some point in the next few days, I'll be making my final trip of 2006 to the Shake Shack for my last Shack burger and black and white shake. With the weather being as warm as it is, perhaps they'll consider staying open longer? That could be a plus of global warming: a longer Shack Shake season.

Lauren from New York writes…

Lauren from New York writes to report:

Just wanted to send a feedback report on the White Castle stuffing recipe. I just tried it for Thanksgiving and served it to my husband and in-laws. They loved it! It really was delicious – kind of like a sausage-style stuffing, but without the complex spiciness. My husband's now asking me when I plan on making it again! Definitely give it a try!

Excellent, I'm glad to hear it was successful!

And so ends the Thanksgiving…

And so ends the Thanksgiving Spectacular of 2006. I didn't get in all the links I could have — heck, I neglected nearly every major newspaper's coverage of the holiday! The New York Times will probably have more stuff tomorrow in their Dining & Wine section, to cap off three weeks of Thanksgiving coverage they're doing this year. And I didn't even discuss wine choices for your meal. But there's only so much one gal can do in a week. Next year I'll get started sooner (maybe) so that I can provide more coverage. I hope you found something useful in all of it.

I'll be off for the rest of the week, enjoying time with my family out in the country. I'll be making an apple pie and a pumpkin pie with my grandmother tomorrow. I'll be taking walks in the woods, and hopefully I'll make a nice wreath out of dried vines and berries. And I'll be eating turkey and stuffing and lots of tasty sides, and enjoying shrimp cocktail. That's our family's traditional appetizer on Thanksgiving, and boy am I look forward to it. I hope you have a wonderful day with your family and friends, and I'll see you back here next Monday. Safe travels to all.

An Ex-Pat Thanksgiving

I've written a lot during this Thanksgiving Spectacular about cooking for yourself and your loved ones. But what if you find yourself in a far-off land for the holiday? How do you enjoy an ex-pat Thanksgiving? The much-loved and sorely-missed R.W. Apple, Jr. writes about Thanksgiving in Paris. I spent Thanksgiving in Paris in 2002, but now searching for my write-up, I discovered I never wrote about it. So you'll have to make due to with There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, or my Thanksgiving in Saigon last year.

If you find yourself far from home this Thursday, I hope you find a way to celebrate wherever you are. Usually an English-language bookstore will have information about ex-pat get-togethers and ways to celebrate the holidays. Of course, you don't need to eat turkey to be thankful. It's really about taking the time to pause and reflect, and you can do that just about anywhere in the world.