A tablecloth with evergreen, pinecones and red ribbons meant Thanksgiving was beginning. When it hit the table, you knew china and lavish amounts of food would follow. When I say, “you,” I mean my birth family. You, meaning you, gentle reader, have your own way of identifying Thanksgiving. It’s your tradition and when you deviate, the repercussions can be loud and un-thankful.
“You know I hate nuts in the stuffing. Why did you put them in? I look forward to stuffing all year and now I can’t eat it. Thanks a LOT – not.”
I didn’t actually hear that one because I know better than to try and slip something as insidious as toasted pecans into the stuffing, at least while the kids are here. And now witness the positive side of divorce — the parenting plan. Every other year they are off to their dad’s house and I can play with tradition because the British don’t celebrate Thanksgiving other than maybe a fleeting wisp of, “thank goodness we got rid of the daft buggers.” Steve has no tradition which I must not violate.
I love pumpkin. Steve doesn’t like pumpkin. Steve is generally not fond of pie, anything chocolate or anything sweet. This year, prompted by “The Pioneer Woman Cooks,” I decided to make Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding with a spiced apple caramel sauce. The bread pudding had bourbon as an ingredient, and apple schnapps was found in the apple caramel sauce. I knew I had a fighting chance of him eating it. I won, he ate and it was declared delicious.
So why the dislike? It was tongue in cheek, although only a little. The Bread Pudding was so deliciously rich we never got around to the Cranberry Sugar Pie. That had to wait till the next day.
I’m going to recommend it to you because 1) it was good and 2) because I’m a rotten pie crust maker.
I can see you’re not following. Let me explain! I don’t make piecrusts well because I don’t like piecrust, so I never bothered to learn. When it came time to make this one however, I had seen Alex Guarnaschelli whip it together on her program and it struck me when she said, “I like a nice thick crust.” To me that roughly translated to – My recipe makes enough that you don’t have to spend ages piecing together the split sides of the crust where you rolled it out funny. I’m all about easy.
To my utter amazement, I actually liked the pie crust. It tasted good, not like dry flaky stuff on top of the filling, which is all I really wanted anyway. Alex made me a pie crust convert in one fell swoop!Alexandra Guarnaschelli – The Food Network
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups shortening
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 Anjou or Bosc Pears, peeled, cored, and cut into thin
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
- 1 bag (24 ounces) fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Vanilla or nutmeg ice cream (optional)
For the pie crust: Grease a pie tin with the butter. Clear and clean off a large, flat surface. Lightly flour the area. Combine the 5 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a metal bowl. Work the shortening in with your fingers until the mixture is almost smooth. Add the ice water and continue to mix with your fingers. Place the dough on the floured surface and cut in half. Reserve the second half. Using a rolling pin, roll out the first half so it is at least 4 to 5 inches wider than the pie tin. Gently place the dough into the pie tin and press it into the bottom and the sides of the tin. Pinch any excess at the top. Place the pan in the refrigerator to rest. Roll the second half of the dough for the top of the pie. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate.
For the filling: Heat the butter in medium saute pan. Add the pears and saute until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and the cloves. Toss and remove from the heat to cool in a bowl. Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, 1 corn syrup, cornstarch, and orange zest and mix. Add the cranberries and toss to coat the fruit. In the same saute pan and add the cranberry mixture. Saute quickly, 1 to 2 minutes, until the cranberries soften slightly and the ingredients meld together. Combine the pear mixture and cranberry mixture in a bowl and refrigerate, uncovered, so it cools.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pour the filling onto the bottom pie crust. Remove the top crust from the refrigerator and fold it onto the rolling pin. Roll the dough over the top of the pie. Pinch the top to make the edges fluted and sealed all around the pie. Use a pastry cutter or small knife to cut an opening in the center of the top. Fold back the dough so it looks like open pages of a book. Place the pie in the center of the oven. Cook, undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F. Cook for an additional 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 325 degrees F and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven to cool. When cooled, sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top of the pie, cut into slices, and serve with ice cream, if desired.