How to Roast Salmon

Easy Salmon Recipe via Dear Martini Blog

You’ve just brought home a piece of wild-caught King salmon fillet that cost you an arm and a leg…now what do you do with it?  Roast it!  Quick and easy.  You can dress it up with your favorite herbs, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or if company is coming slather it with a little compound butter and your protein is done in 30 minutes (20 to come to room temp, and 10 to cook.)

how to select the best salmon via Dear Martini blog

Tips for Purchasing Salmon Fillets

  • Buy wild salmon. Go for the best you can find/afford.
  • Fresh is better than frozen and will have a firmer texture. Frozen is okay if you can’t get fresh.
  • Choose salmon that is fresh from the seafood counter and not wrapped in plastic. It should smell slightly sweet, and salty like sea air.
  • Choose center cut fillets (pieces will be thicker and harder to over cook) as opposed to tails.
  • How much do you need?  We usually allow 6 ounces per person.
  • Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app to your smartphone.  A fantastic resource, you can checkout their recommendations on the go– at the market or deciding what to order at your favorite restaurant.

 

Roasted Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard and Brandy

Serves 4

1-1/2 pounds center cut wild-caught salmon fillet (skin-on)  

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Mustard Brandy compound butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Drizzle salmon with olive oil and coat on all sides. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and set aside to come to room temperature, 20 minutes.   Transfer salmon to a sheet pan lined with foil.

Place salmon in oven and roast until cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove salmon from the oven and while still hot, spread 2 tablespoons of butter over the salmon.  The butter will melt creating a simple sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Simple and delicious salmon recipe via Dear Martini Blog

Looking for some flavor ideas to go with that salmon?

Hit the thumbnail to jump to a technique video for inspiration!

aioli steam artichokes Trim asparagus saute bacon saute mushroomsmince parsley mince shallots mince thyme peel and grate ginger thumbnail pomegranate thumbnail microplane lemonblanch asparagusblanch green beansblanching peasflash roast asparagus

 

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!

IMG_0916

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

How to Survive Thanksgiving

Dear Martini Thanksgiving

Woohoo, you made it to the main event!  Now we all just have to survive tonight and tomorrow.

How to Survive Thanksgiving–Our tips for surviving tonight and tomorrow… (in no particular order):

1.  Don’t freak out — at this point whatever gets done, gets done.

2.  Don’t stay up too late tonight.

3.  Don’t forget to eat a good breakfast tomorrow morning.

4.  Sip a glass of wine as you go.  Make the mood festive and relaxed.

5.  Don’t announce your mistakes... whatever you are obsessing about that you think everyone will notice— if you don’t say anything they probably won’t notice.

You’re gonna do great.  The food is going to be great.  Even if the worst happens (insert whatever that means to you), it’s all about having a good time with family and friends tomorrow so whatever happens won’t matter.

Don’t forget if you run into trouble tomorrow you can search the technique videos on our site or go straight to our youtube channel for help.  Be sure to watch the Carving Club video for a glimpse of both Mia and Terri’s family Thanksgivings over the years.

If ya wanna be a real-card-carrying-member of Carving Club you gotta spread the word…like it, share it, reblog it, pin it!

For step by step instructions how to carve the turkey watch How to Carve the Bird.

Thanks so much to all of you for supporting our little blog and videos.  You are the reason we continue to do what we do — we give thanks for all of you EVERY day!  Wishing you all a wonderful day with your families.

Happy Thanksgiving from Dear Martini!

Cheers,

Mia and Terri

Thanksgiving Planning: Countdown to Turkey Day!

Tips to preparing for thanksgiving | via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The Cook’s Guide to Preparing a Thanksgiving Feast

Woohoo– only 6 more days to Thanksgiving!  Here is the Cook’s Guide to the Final Countdown to Turkey Day (or How to Keep Your Sanity and Have Fun Doing It!)   Our goal as we prep this week is to try to get as much done before Thursday as possible.  Here’s how we (really) do it…

To make the shopping more manageable, we divide our shopping into two trips.  Friday or Saturday:  Shop for ingredients you need to get started on recipes  through Monday.  Tuesday: Shop for remaining perishable items like fruit, salad greens, flowers, AND anything you forgot to pick up on your first trip. Dividing the list makes the first shopping trip easier and the second trip gives you the opportunity to pick up forgotten ingredients and perishable produce items that won’t last till the end of the week (and still look and taste their best.) Remember…avoid going to the store on Wednesday as if the Zombie Apocalypse has happened.

If, after reading this you still need some extra advice and have some more specific questions, consider signing up for the Dear Martini Holiday Hotline!  We’ll be on-call all week long right up through T-Day to answer your questions, fix kitchen emergencies and offer advice and encouragement!  Sign up for it here:  The Dear Martini Holiday Hotline.

Browse through our Dear Martini Thanksgiving Playlist on YouTube.  It’s chockfull of every how-to technique you’ll need to know for preparing your feast including how to carve the turkey!

Saturday (before Thanksgiving)

If your bird is frozen pick it up today –Check thawing times and start process and based on how much your turkey weighs.  Refer to our previous post if you need a review on how to properly defrost a frozen turkey.

Turkey Thawing Times | via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Sunday (Thanksgiving week)

Make pie shells if making pumpkin or pecan pie and freeze ( if you are feeling overwhelmed– delegate the pies now!).

Make Cranberry Sauce and Vinaigrette.  Refrigerate until ready to serve on Thanksgiving (woohoo– you don’t have to think about these again).

Do any of your recipes call for toasted nuts?  Toast the nuts, cool and freeze today.

Planning on serving a soup?  Make it today and freeze.

Monday

Make stock for gravy and refrigerate (or freeze if you are tight on fridge space!).

Pro tip:  Chop all the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, shallots, leeks, etc. that you will need for every recipe and place in separate resealable plastic bags.  Store in your crisper drawer in the fridge.  This step really saves time– as you prepare your recipes for the rest of the week you will scoop out what you need and not have to stop to chop these ingredients.

If you are using the Dear Martini Dry Brine recipe.  Start the process tonight.

Double check the roasting guide for how many hours your bird will take to roast.  Write yourself a reminder note and post it on fridge so you are already looking ahead to your timing for Thursday.

Turkey Roasting Guide | via www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Tuesday

Don’t forget to turn the bird over in the brining bag if you are using the Dear Martini Dry Brine recipe.  If you are picking up your bird today you can do an abbreviated dry brine: follow the instructions for brining without turning the bird.

Shop for produce and forgotten items.

Make cornbread (we love Jiffy) or cut bread for stuffing.

Clean the house and bathrooms.

Wednesday

Pro Tip:  Don’t even think about going to the store today! Imagine that all the roads and stores are crammed with zombies (… because, they are).  We usually take the day off work and we order take-out for dinner.

Follow brining instructions for Wednesday.

Bake off pies — Pumpkin Pie or Pecan Pie.

Make stuffing and refrigerate.  If you are short on oven space, you can make, bake, cool, and refrigerate stuffing today.  On Thursday, you take the stuffing out of the refrigerator about 40 minutes before the bird is done (to allow it to come to room temperature) and then reheat it in the oven once the turkey is out.  If you have enough oven space that you can bake the stuffing from start to finish on Thursday– don’t worry about baking it today.

Wash and trim salad greens , Brussels sprouts, greens, herbs, and any other vegetables.  Wrap in paper towels and place in plastic bags.  Refrigerate until needed.

Make any side dishes that can be made in advance.  Even if you can’t make the entire dish ahead look for steps you can do today — blanch green beans, seed pomegranates, sauté aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, garlic, etc.

Set the table.

Place serving dishes and serving utensils out on your sideboard.

Set up coffee and set out coffee cups, dessert plates,  and utensils.

Set up wine and beverage station.

Thursday – Thanksgiving!

Pro Tip:  Wake up early and have a good breakfast!

Get the turkey in the oven. and follow the roasting instructions for our Roast Turkey.

While the turkey roasts:  Prepare side dishes.

While the turkey rests: Make the gravy, assemble the salad, bake or rewarm stuffing and casseroles.

Pro Tip:  Show off the turkey on a platter, take your pictures, but carve it in the kitchen.

As soon as turkey has been carved– serve everything immediately.

Have fun! Post your family photos and fabulous food on Dear Martini Facebook page.

After dinner… Dishes can wait, everything else can wait, but leftovers need to be refrigerated IMMEDIATELY following dinner.

Friday

You survived!  Relax and eat yummy leftovers.

Whew!  This list can be a little daunting, but remember you are preparing a feast.  Ask for help — don’t be shy about asking your family members for help!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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.