Better Butter

Better Butter | Dear Martini Blog

Better butter…what could possibly be better than butter?  Compound butter!  Compound butter is a combination of softened butter and flavorful aromatic  ingredients.

From savory to sweet versions, compound butter is versatile and a great way to add a little creativity to your cooking.  Use them as a finishing step to add glossiness and flavor to sauces, enhance a piece of fish or add flavor and moisture to cuts of meat that tend to be a little drier. Add a tablespoon to plain rice or pasta, melt it for popcorn, make a sweet version for waffles and pancakes, or simply slathered on a piece of toast.  They freeze well and can be made in advance, so we always have a log or two tucked away in our freezer.

6 compound butters to try | Dear Martini Blog

The beauty of compound butter is that you really don’t need a recipe for compound butter.   The basic ingredients are unsalted butter (no margarine) and a tablespoon or two of  your choice of ingredients.  Try chopped fresh herbs or dried spices, citrus zest, garlic and shallots, fresh or dried fruits, wine or liqueurs; whatever compliments your dish and your mood.  Here are 6 to try:

INGREDIENTS

1.  Pucker Up
1 stick unsalted butter
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of half an orange

2.  Cherry Almond
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup fresh or frozen cherries, minced or chopped
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar (more if you like sweeter butter)

3.  Mustard & Brandy
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

4.  The Classic
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

5.  Spicegirl
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon minced red onion

6.  Verde
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 green onions, white and green finely minced
zest of 1 lime
1 serrano chile, minced

You don’t have to be precise with the ingredients…mix it up, use what you have.

Savory and Sweet | Dear Martini Blog

A little is all you need. 1 tablespoon added to a sauce or on top of a steak amps up the flavor immensely.

HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the butter is very soft and all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Remove butter from the bowl and spread on a piece parchment paper or plastic wrap.  Roll into a tight log.  Tie with string or twist the ends of the paper to seal.  Place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Butter will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days or freezer for up to 2 months.

Look here for some aromatic inspirations!  Click on the thumbnail to jump to the video:

Dear Martini how to zest orange microplane Dear Martini How to toast a spice blend Dear Martini How to Mince Thyme Dear Martini How to Mince Shallots Dear Martini How to Mince Parsley Dear Martini How to Mince Jalapeños and other Chiles Dear Martini How to Slice Green Onions and Scallions Dear Martini How to Make Garlic Paste Dear Martini How to Cube Butter Dear Martini How to Chop Cilantro

We’d love to hear which ones you try– and about your own creations!

Colcannon and Champ

Colcannon  and Champ:   Sounds like the name of a rock band or a law firm?  Think again!

Colcannon Recipe | Dear MartiniColcannon is a rustic country dish of potatoes, cabbage (or kale), green onions and sometimes leeks.  If you make the same mash using only potatoes and green onions then you have champ. In many Irish recipes white cabbage is always used, but we’ve substituted the white cabbage with Savoy cabbage because it is our favorite (And when you cook at your house you get choose your favorites too!).  The two things you cannot substitute are the butter and cream.  Of course, you can vary the amounts to make the dish lighter to your preferred tastes, but please:  always use the highest quality unsalted butter you can find… and the best cream available.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

Simple and fresh ingredients are the key.

We were inspired to post this video and recipe after reading our dear friend Michael’s blog on colcannon.  We hope our version meets his standards!

As always, we bring these recipes to our blog with bite-sized technique videos you can find on our YouTube channel. Please click the ingredients in blue to see the videos!

Colcannon – Irish Mashed Potatoes and Cabbage

Serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 stick unsalted butter

3 cups shredded Savoy cabbage (about 1/2 a head), white cabbage or kale

1 medium leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced

3 green onions, minced

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Put potatoes in a pot large enough to hold them no more than 2 potatoes deep.  Cover the potatoes with at least an inch of cold water.  Add the salt, and bring just to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.   Simmer potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes.

In a separate pan over medium-high heat melt 3 tablespoons butter and add the leeks.  Sauté leeks until they are tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the cabbage and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the green onions and sauté 1 minute more.  Stir in the heavy cream and remove pan from the heat.  Set aside.

Drain potatoes in a colander.  Shake the colander to make sure the water has completely drained out. Return the potatoes to the hot pot and allow them to completely dry.  Potatoes will look crumbly and white around the edges.

Add the cream and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until thick and creamy.  Season colcannon with salt and pepper.  Serve with a knob of butter melted in the center of your piping hot potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

How to Make Colcannon with Dear Martini

Baked Alaska – A flaming dessert for Valentine’s Day

Dear Martini Baked Alaska

Q:  What’s sweet, frozen and yummy… and set on fire?

A:  Baked Alaska!

Originally, the chef of New York’s Delmonico’s Restaurant created this show-stopping flaming dessert in 1867 to honor the United States acquisition of Alaska.  Though the chef didn’t invent the flambéed ice cream cake, Delmonico’s is credited for coining the name “Baked Alaska” to the delight of generations of ice cream cake enthusiasts.

If you’re in the habit of making a special dessert for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, chances are sooner or later you’re going to run out of ideas that have to do with chocolate.   We’ve found Baked Alaska usually wins over even the diehard chocoholics.  All you need to do is assemble your favorite ice cream (we love strawberry!) on top of your favorite cake and slather or pipe the entire thing with fluffy meringue.  Then, when it’s time to serve, ignite an ounce of your favorite eau de vie (any flavor that pairs with your ice cream, as long as it is at least 40% alcohol by volume or higher) and carefully drizzle the flaming liqueur over the dessert.  If your sweetheart hasn’t fallen for you by now, this flaming dessert will definitely seal the deal.

Baked Alaska

Makes 6-8 individual servings

1 recipe Yellow Cake, baked into a 9X13″ pan (or, you can use any cake you like – even frozen pound cake!)

1 quart of your favorite ice cream

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup water

8 large egg whites, brought to room temperature

1/4 cup Kirsch (or any of your favorite distilled eau de vie – must be at least 40% alcohol by volume) 

Special Equipment:

Round cookie cutter, 3 inches in diameter

Large ice cream scoop

Piping bag fitted with star tip

Kitchen torch

Small, long-handled saucepan

Long reach (fireplace) match

Punch out rounds of cake and arrange on a sheet pan.  Freeze for about 30 minutes.  Scoop out the ice cream and place one mounded scoop on top of each cake round.  Return to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the meringue by first cooking the sugar and water together until the sugar reaches 240ºF.  Whip the egg whites until soft peaks and slowly pour the syrup in and whip until stiff peaks.

Pipe the meringue in decorative swirls around each ice cream cake.  The fluffier the better. Return the cakes to the freezer and freeze for 1 hour or overnight.

Just before serving, lightly torch the surface of the cakes with a kitchen torch.  Transfer a cake to an oven-proof plate. Pour the kirsch into a small long-handled saucepan and heat over the stove for a few moments, just until the Kirsch is hot.  Carefully ignite the Kirsch in the pot with a match.  While the Kirsch is flaming, drizzle over the cake and allow the liqueur to flame out on its own before enjoying!

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Here are some helpful videos – just click on the photo and jump to the video:

Dear Martini How to Make Italian Meringue VideoDear Martini How to Fill a Pastry Bag VideoDear Martini How to Use a Star Tip Video

Thanksgiving Planning: Time To Start Cleaning and Clearing

We’re almost one week out from Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Planning Tips | via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

To be prepared for the upcoming weekend preparations, it’s time to start clearing and cleaning!  Begin by imagining what the day of Thanksgiving will be like.  Your guests will arrive at different times, bearing dishes, gifts or beverages.  Now is the time to plan for their arrivals.  If you’ve delegated folks to bring a side dish or dessert item for dinner, it’s best to have a landing place where they can be safely put out of the way from your work area.  If some guests bring wine or other beverages, designate where they can place their bottles — a cooler, ice bucket or extra fridge space in the garage.  Inevitably, without a plan for where things go, your guests will awkwardly hand you something just as your hands are stained from peeling and slicing beets.  Or, better yet, they find a place to set down their special bottle of wine hoping you find it… which you do, the Saturday after Thanksgiving when you’re putting the house back together.

Start with clearing space.  Every surface area has the potential to serve as a landing pad for pot-luck dishes, hostess gifts, floral arrangements or bottles of wine.  Remove as much clutter from your dining room sideboards, side counter tops in your kitchen and make as much room as possible.  Put the decorative jars and baskets away.  Put. Them. Away.  Leave out one vase in case someone arrives with flowers.  We promise:  someone will arrive with flowers.

Clear out space in your fridge and freezer.  If your cousin Patty says she’s bringing apple pie for dessert, you can count on someone wanting to bring ice cream.  Save yourself the hassle and make room in the freezer now.

Clear out the clutter.  Piles of magazines, miscellaneous mail, or unfinished projects have no place in the kitchen, dining room or family room during Thanksgiving Day Prep.

Once you’ve cleared as much work space as possible, it’s time to clean.  You’ll be surprised at how efficient and organized you’ll be if you start with a clean kitchen and dining room.   And, if it makes you feel any better… we are doing the exact same thing this week at our houses!

Amazing Apples: The Secrets to Apple Pie

Apple Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The Secrets to Apple Pie

Apple Pie.  Just hearing those two words spoken together makes us rub our hands together with happy anticipation.  It’s a standard dessert option on our Thanksgiving menu.  Just imagine: A flaky crunchy crust… giving way to tender sweet buttery apples spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg… if we’re lucky, there’s a cool hit of silky vanilla ice cream in the mix…  But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

The secret to a deliciously sweet-tart apple pie is all in the apples. Apples are amazingly diverse in flavor with some super sweet and others so tart they make your mouth pucker!  We use a combination of tart Granny Smith and sweeter Braeburn for our pies. They taste great and retain their texture when they bake so they don’t turn into a gloppy mush. Also delicious are Pink Lady and Honey Crisp.  These are also our favorite out of hand and salad apples these days…. The perfect balance of sweet-tart-tangy and crisp not mealy apples. So really, as long as you use a combination of your favorite apples, you’ve got it made.

Our favorite pie apples

To make our 9-inch double crust apple pie, you need about 8 to 9 medium apples.  If just the thought of peeling, coring, and slicing all of those apples makes you reluctant to make a pie, here’s a quick tip to speed up the process.

The old-fashioned hand crank! turn the handle and the machine peels, cores and slices the apple simultaneously.  Preparing the apples has never been easier.  We’ve pressed this into service in our pie-making classes and the students (adults) actually fight over who gets to use the crank!  “My grandmother had one of these… but I never got to actually use it!” Folks would exclaim, clutching it close to them keeping it away from grabbing hands.  Great for  pie-making, salad-making and any time you need sliced apples. Can be used on firm pears and potatoes too.

Double-Crust Apple Pie

Makes One 9-inch double-crust pie

Nonstick cooking spray

2 pounds Braeburn or Fuji apples (about 4 medium-sized)

2 pounds Granny Smith (about 4 medium-sized)

Juice of ½  a lemon

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

1 recipe Basic Pie Dough

1 large egg

1 tablespoon whole milk

Special Equipment 

9-inch deep-dish pie pan

rolling pin

pastry brush

cooling rack

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a deep-dish pie pan with nonstick spray.

Peel and core apples, and cut into ¼-inch slices.  Toss apples as you go with lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, salt and flour.  Toss apple slices with the sugar spice mixture.

Roll out half the pie dough on a lightly floured work surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round.  Brush off excess flour; roll dough around rolling pin, and place it over your prepared pie pan.  Press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that the dough hangs over the pie pan by about 1-inch.  Roll out remaining dough to a 13-inch diameter circle.  Cut a couple of small vent holes with a paring knife or cookie cutter.

Mound prepared apples in the center of the pie shell.  Dot with butter. 

In a small bowl whisk the whole egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the edge of the dough (this will act as your glue).  Center the remaining rolled out dough over the apples.  Tuck edges of the top crust between the pie pan and bottom crust.  Using your fingers, gently press crusts together along the edge, and crimp.  Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.  Brush pie a second time with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake approximately 45 to 50 minutes more until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles.  Remove pie from the oven and cool COMPLETELY before serving.

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Creative Additions:

Add one or more of the following

½ teaspoon anise seeds

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup diced crystallized ginger

Thanksgiving Planning: Time to Make a Plan and Stock Up!

Thanksgiving Countdown with Dear Martini

When planning our Thanksgiving feast sometimes the “to do list” can seem a little daunting even for us.   We try to spread out as many of the chores over the next couple weeks to avoid the last minute Thanksgiving panic.  We ordered the turkey last week, if you haven’t done so already now is the time.  This week is all about making lists, writing down a game plan, and stocking up.  Yep, we take the time to write ALL this stuff down (so we don’t forget anything) and post it on our fridge and delegate tasks (so everyone else in the family can help.)  We can’t stress this enough– make a plan!

1.  Take a deep breath.  Open a bottle of wine or make a pot of tea.  Put on some nice music and sit down in a quiet spot.

2.  Finalize your recipes and write down a plan:  create columns for the following:

a) Stuff that can be made ahead of time.   For example, you can make cranberry sauce the minute you see fresh cranberries at the market.  Toasting any nuts you’ll be needed ahead of time… pie dough,  Store the made-ahead items in your freezer, in air-tight containers and clearly labeled.

b) Stuff that needs to be purchased/ordered or re-stocked

c) Non-food tasks that need to done (i.e. taking linens to the dry cleaners, getting the dog groomed, cleaning the house, pulling service utensils, etc)

Thanksgiving Countdown and tips from Dear Martini

3.  Make a shopping list.  Organize the list into 2 categories:  fresh ingredients and non-perishable ingredients.  Buy all non-perishable items this week when you do your regular grocery shopping.  Any of the shopping you can knock out now will mean less to pick up at the store the closer you get to the Big Day.  If you’ve ever gone through the agony of shopping on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving… you’ll never make that mistake again!!

4.  Double-check your kitchen and table setting supplies.  Do you need a roasting pan?  Don’t have a platter large enough for your turkey?  Now is the time to borrow or buy any supplies you need.  Do you need to wash or iron a tablecloth or napkins?  How about polish silver (ugh)?  These are all tasks we do this coming weekend while watching our favorite movies.

5.  If you are really ahead of the game– make your pie dough and pie shells this weekend and freeze.  Better yet, ask one of your guests  (the one you trust the most) to bring the pie!

Perfect Pecan Pie

Rich and delicious a perfect pecan pie is a study in contrasts… nutty crunchy pecans on top with a layer of silky-not too-sweet filling underneath.  Chef Mia is our pecan pie purist (she’s been making pecan pie since she was knee high!) and insists that this contrast between gooey filling and the pretty concentric circles of whole nuts on top is what pecan pie is all about.

Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream | Dear Martini

Her secret to the perfect filling is resisting the urge to whisk the filling.  Unlike many other pie fillings, you DO NOT want to incorporate air in the filling.   To make it look as good as it tastes, we take the time to place the nuts in concentric circles in the bottom of the shell before pouring in the filling.  Many cooks just toss them in with the filling.  Using our preferred method as you pour the filling over the nuts they are coated with the filling and magically float to the top (creating the two distinct layers!)  Top off the pie with a dollop of Bourbon Chantilly Cream and it’s heaven.  And, before we fall into that sugar coma after the Thanksgiving meal we usually head outside for  an after dinner walk (or as Mia’s dad likes to say “the pre-amble to a second piece-o-pie”!)  Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Check out the video to see for yourself the pecan magic.

Pecan Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Yep, you read that right… the recipe calls for a pinch of finely ground black pepper!  Just as with savory dishes a little salt and pepper brings out and enhances the flavors in a sweet dish too.

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup dark corn syrup

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch finely ground black pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 ¼ cups pecan halves

1 recipe Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and corn syrup; stir to combine.  Add sugar, salt, pepper, and vanilla, and melted butter.  Allow filling mixture to rest while you place the pecans in the pie shell.

Remove your pie shell from the refrigerator.  Place pecans in concentric circles on the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour filling gently over the pecans following the concentric circles as a path.  Once all of the pecans are floating, continue to pour the remaining filling around the edge trying not to disturb the circles.  If you have left over pecans, you can fill in gaps and or slide them gently underneath the top pecans.  Bake pie in the center of the oven 40-50 minutes or until center is firm.  Remove pie from oven and cool on a baking rack for at least 1 hour before serving.  Do not even think about cutting this pie before it cools — the pie needs the cooling time for the filling to set — if you cut it hot the filling will ooze all over the plate.  

Cut pie into wedges and serve with a generous dollop of Chantilly Cream.

Cook’s note: Pecans have a tendency to go rancid quickly (as do all high fat nuts.)   Store nuts in the freezer for best results.

How to Make a Pecan Pie | Dear Martini

Bourbon Chantilly Cream

Makes 2 cups

Chantilly Cream is the  cooking term for any lightly sweetened whipped cream that includes a liqueur.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon bourbon

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with bourbon and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cook’s note:  Substitute 3 teaspoons of vanilla if you’d rather skip the bourbon.  

Thanksgiving Planning: Time to Order the Bird!

It’s the first week of November, and you know what that means… time to order your bird!

Time to Order the Bird |Dear Martini|What you need to know about ordering your turkey

The Thanksgiving Turkey is the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving Feast.  It’s the main course, the entrée… the piece de resistance… the real deal… the Big Kauhuna…  so don’t treat purchasing the turkey like it’s an afterthought!  Take a few extra minutes to decide on what kind of bird you want, then pick one out that’s the best you can afford.  Starting off with the right bird – you’re halfway there to a delicious Thanksgiving!

Picking Out a Bird:

Here are some questions to think about  that might help you choose the right bird.

1)   How many people are coming to dinner?   

The general serving rule is 1 pound of turkey per person.  This factors in for bones, too, so if you’ve got 12 people coming over, choose a bird that’s 14 – 16 pounds so you’ll get to enjoy some leftovers and second helpings.

2)   How are you cooking the turkey?

Are you doing a traditional roast turkey?  Deep-frying?   Split-roasting or  grilling?   For most cooking methods, it makes little difference between fresh and frozen.  A frozen bird, however, requires extra time for thawing.  So keep that in mind.

3)   Do your guests prefer white meat or dark meat?

Lucky you!  You get to be the provider of all things delicious and bountiful!  In some households (well, maybe just ours), the majority of folks prefer dark meat… which means there is never enough dark meat carved right off the turkey.  Consider buying a few extra turkey legs so there will be enough of the succulent dark meat to go around.  Conversely, if the household prefers white meat, buy an extra breast to make everyone happy!

4)   Fresh or frozen bird?

There is no shame in purchasing a frozen bird, as long as it’s from a good-quality producer.   Just keep in mind you will need time to thaw the bird.  It will take a 10-pound turkey 1 day to thaw if kept in a refrigerator at or below 40°F.  For every 5 pounds of frozen turkey, add another half day.   See the Turkey Thawing Chart for more information.

Turkey Thawing Times Dear Martini 

5) Natural? Organic?  Kosher? Help!!!

Regular — Plumped (or pumped!) with anything including: water, salt, chicken fat, broth, and or BUTTER.

Natural — Minimally processed and contains no artificial ingredients or colors.

Organic — Must follow strict USDA standards for organic production and processing including access to the outdoors, no antibiotics or growth hormones, and fed organic feed.

Kosher —  Slaughtered in accordance with strict kosher law (Jewish rabbinical dietary laws) then soaked in water and salted inside and out (great if you don’t want to bother with brining.) 

6)  What the heck is a Heritage Turkey?
Ah, the Heritage Turkey….  Remember back to the illustrations from your schoolbooks depicting people dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians enjoying a  Thanksgiving feast?  Think about how that turkey look in the picture:  smaller breast, larger wings, legs and thighs in equal proportion to the breast.   Now think about the commercial ads you see for Thanksgiving Turkey in your local newspapers, magazines and television ads.  Commercially-raised turkeys today have been bred to yield larger breasts, and smaller wings and legs.  They are raised to be grown quickly, then processed to be available in the frozen bird bin immediately after Halloween.

Heritage Turkeys, however, are farm-raised more naturally and slowly in the exact opposite way industrially raised birds are.  Heritage birds might actually be specific breeds with names like Bourbon Red or Standard Bronze and are more similar to wild turkeys.  According to chefs, the meat from Heritage turkeys is tastier, a little gamier, and healthier given the ways they are fed and raised.  They can also be more expensive to purchase, but since the bird is the star of the meal we allow ourselves to splurge a little more to get a better quality bird.

The Dear Martini Thanksgiving Playlist and Hotline

This week, we are announcing TWO essential tools to get your Thanksgiving Holiday off to a great start.

Dear Marini’s Homemade Thanksgiving Playlist

Our YouTube Channel is bursting with plenty of great videos that highlight every technique you need to know to cook your Thanksgiving dinner – from boiling potatoes, to making cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie… all the way to carving the roasted turkey!  Be sure you subscribe to our channel so you’ll get immediate updates when we add new videos!

 

Classic Pumpkin Pie

Classic Pumpkin Pie | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

When they coined the phrase “easy as pie” they must have been referring to a classic pumpkin pie.   All you need are a couple of minutes and a few simple ingredients  — eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin puree,  and a little cream are whisked into a quick custard and poured into a pre-made shell. Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!)  and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.

Pumpkin Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

We use grated freshly ginger in our pie because we love the depth it adds to the spicy flavors of the pie.  If you aren’t a big fan of ginger you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger or simply omit it.

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon kosher salt

One (15-ounce) can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

¾ cup heavy cream

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 recipe Whipped Cream

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl with a whisk or in an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugars, spices and salt.  Mix in pumpkin and cream.   Mix until well incorporated.  Pour pumpkin mixture into pie shell.

Place pie pan on and baking sheet and place sheet on the middle rack of the oven.  Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer until top is firm  or a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.  Remove pie from oven and cool on rack. The pie will continue to set as it cools and deflate slightly.  Serve cool or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cook’s Notes:  We welcome you to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch, but we all know that the Thanksgiving feast is a kitchen marathon so we usually make an exception to our do-it-from-scratch mantra and use canned pumpkin.

Whipped Cream

Makes 2 cups

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream.  Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Perfect Pie Crust

We admit it, we’ve gone a little overboard in recent years in search of the perfect pie crust.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

We’ve experimented with the food processor, resorted to adding vodka instead of water to our dough, all in the quest for perfection.  We’ve come full circle back to a humble basic pie dough.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The method relies on a hands-on approach to work the butter into the flour and hand patting and turning the dough to create layers without over working the dough.  The results are a tender-tasty-flaky crust — every time.  And, importantly to us — it’s a method that is as friendly to first time pie makers as those of us looking to return to a simpler method with consistent results.  No fancy gadgets required.  All you need is a bowl and a plastic scraper.  Easy cleanup (woohoo!)

Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

Dough Tips:

Always use cold ingredients — ice cold butter and ice water are your friends in pie dough making.

Don’t skimp on the refrigerator time required in the recipe before rolling out.  While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.

To make pie making easier, we usually make the dough the day before we plan to make pies to spread out the work.  Dough tightly wrapped in plastic wrap will last in the fridge up to 2 days (after that it becomes an unappealing gry color) or throw it in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Want to get a jump on the Thanksgiving feast madness?  Make pie dough this weekend and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Allow dough to thaw in the fridge before rolling.

Ready to Roll?

Rolling Tips

Less is more when it comes to the amount of flour used to roll out the dough.  You need just enough so the dough doesn’t stick to your board or your rolling pin.  Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush (or your hands)  before placing your dough in your pie pan.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

If dough becomes too soft and floppy to work with while you are rolling out (first time pie makers sometimes have this problem) put the dough on a baking sheet and return it to the fridge until it becomes firm enough to work with.  The butter in the dough needs to remain firm (not melted and completely incorporated into the dough) for flakiness.

Keep the dough moving!  After every couple rolls give the dough a quarter turn.  Every quarter turn is an opportunity to make sure the dough is not sticking to your work surface.  Dough stuck to the rolling pin?  Rub off the stuck dough with a little flour until it is clean and then add a light sprinkle of flour to the top of your dough.  Your dough is stuck to your work surface?  A long metal spatula is a pie rookie’s best friend.  Using short strokes run the spatula between the dough and the work surface until it releases.  Dust the work surface with flour and continue rolling.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Scraps!

Hey, don’t throw away those leftover bits of dough.  Here’s a fun delicious Pastry Cookie you can make from the scraps!

Happy pie making!  Don’t forget if you like our videos please LIKE them on YouTube and/or SHARE them with your friends!