cranberry hand pies


If I may, I will now bore entertain you with the list I wrote to my grandmother six years ago of the things I love about my family’s Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

1. The traditional football game between the boys and the girls.
2. Wearing a sweater – even if it’s 73 degrees.
3. Getting out of the car in your driveway holding some kind of food.
4. Walking to your front door and smelling the food cooking.
5. Getting inside and being told it isn’t ready yet.
6. Washing my hands before dinner with 15 other people in the bathroom and only 1 sink.
7. Lisa’s (my aunt) potato salad.
8. Sweet tea.
9. Walking in the living room and seeing all the men and LaLa (my cousin) sleeping on the chairs, couch, and floor.
10. Smelling cinnamon and apples.
11. Going outside when the sun is just going down and feeling the Autumn wind blow.
12. Seeing the brown, yellow, orange, and red leaves.
13. Walking on the grass with leaves crunching under my feet.
14. Taking pictures of everyone preparing the food.
15. Listening to Brandon (my cousin) say the blessing before we eat.
16. And really being thankful for God and what He has given us.
17. Being able to say across a huge table, “Hey, can you pass the ____?”
18. The actual process of passing around each dish of food.
19. More football.
20. And simply spending time with family that I feel like I haven’t seen in months.




cranberry hand pies
adapted from Cynthia Wong’s recipe, as seen in bon appétit
yield: 16 servings

dough
ingredients
3 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), frozen
ice cold water

filling
ingredients
1 pound fresh cranberries (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten to blend
natural cane sugar

create
For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and toss together, rubbing any big pieces of butter into the flour with your fingers. Add ice cold water to the mixture one tablespoon at a time until the mixture just comes together. Turn onto a floured surface and knead just a few times until smooth and even. Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a ball and then flatten slightly to form a disc. Tightly wrap each half in plastic. Chill for 2 hours.
For the filling, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice, cornstarch, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Let stand for juices to accumulate, about 10 minutes, then cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken, 5-6 minutes. (Some cranberries will have burst.) Let cool completely.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until very thin, about 1/16-inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles.
Brush edges of 8 circles with beaten egg. Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center of each egg-washed circle. Top with remaining circles to form 8 pies. Using a fork, crimp 1/4-inch around edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, egg, and filling. Divide pies between prepared sheets; chill for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°. Working with 1 baking sheet of pies at a time, score dough, forming a small X in the center of each pie. Brush tops of pies with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake pies until crust is golden brown and filling bubbles out of Xs, 17-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining baking sheet of pies.



Happy Thanksgiving!

pumpkin chai pie

Happy November, my friends! This is a rather important month. I was married in this month. Some kind of national election is in this month. Carolina plays Clemson in this month. And, not to place any discredit by placing it last, Thanksgiving is in this month. When I was in high school, I sent Gowie a rather lengthy e-mail giving her a very detailed list of all of the things I treasured about this holiday. I can’t remember the whole thing, nor do I know if she even still has the list, but I remember a couple of them being simple, yet beautiful things like, “I love Thanksgiving because the whole family sits around the table and we pass the food to the right” or “The cousins leave with grass stains from our annual front yard football game” or “I get to wear a sweater.” That last statement, however, can be translated into a forced sweater wearing on my part, mainly because Thanksgiving in South Carolina is usually still in the 70s. Oh, well.


But Thanksgiving is one of my favorites because of its simplicity. I can picture people screaming, “Simple? What? WHAT?!” I get it. There’s houses to clean. There’s casseroles to prep. There’s turkey to photograph and tea to brew. But in the midst of all that craziness is a reminder to ourselves that we are doing these crazy chores and checklists because we are anticipating the arrival of family. We’re doing these things for others. And it’s beautiful. Holy cow, when did my blog become a motivational blog? Well, now you know how I feel about Thanksgiving. Thank you, Jesus, for a time of year filled with such intense beauty.


Perhaps we can talk about food now, no? I suppose we’ll finish off this year’s pumpkin series (and I’m not promising that I won’t use pumpkin in any more recipes before next year. It’s a good possibility that I will) with the cornerstone of most Thanksgiving tables: pumpkin pie! Pie and pumpkin, pumpkin and pie, the combination is perfect and irresistible. I decided to amp the traditional pie up a little bit and add a bit of chai, another one of my favorite flavors.

pumpkin chai pie
prep time: 90 minutes cook time: 90 minutes yield: 8 servings

pie crust (this is the recipe for my favorite pie crust, from Smitten Kitchen)
ingredients
1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces

filling
ingredients
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 cup natural brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups roasted pumpkin purée (I used a white pumpkin, but any baking pumpkin will work)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chai latté concentrate

create
For the crust, fill a small bowl with water and drop a few ice cubes in. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle the very cold pieces of butter into the flour mixture and quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles little peas. Add ice water (no ice cubes!) one tablespoon at a time until the mixture just comes together (I think I used almost 1/2 cup of cold water). Gather it up and turn it onto a floured surface. Knead gently and very quickly until it all comes together (Don’t let that butter melt. Those pieces of butter are gonna make a beautiful, flaky crust). Shape into a dish and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350º. For the filling, stir together the sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the eggs and then the pumpkin, milk, and chai. It will be a little thin.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand until malleable. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle. Transfer the flat dough to a pie plate (I usually roll it around the rolling-pin and then unroll it over the pie plate. This way, it doesn’t tear and stretch). Gently ease the dough into the plate corners. Tip the pumpkin filling into the pie crust and bake for 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely and allow it to set before serving.


I told y’all last year that I was going to buy a prettier pie plate than the glass gas station one I have now. Oy. Still haven’t done it. I’m sorry I had to subject you to that once again. But pie plates fall to the bottom of the list when you’re trying to buy a house. Whoops. Secret’s out. Another time, another post, you guys.

white chocolate cranberry cookies

When I was at Carolina, we spent a lot of our time in the GMP. GMP, short for Grand Market Place, pronounced gimp. I feel like I could dedicate a whole week to USC/Russell House inspired posts. Chicken Finger Wednesdays. Fried chicken and mac + cheese Fridays. Grits and biscuit early kick-off Saturday mornings. The GMP had horrible/amazing music (you know, the old Britney Spears you hate, but secretly love singing), hit or miss food, and a little bit of every type of person. The collegiate watering hole.

One thing I remember loving was their cookies. They had the norms, you know, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin. But then they had this special cookie, a white chocolate cranberry cookie. All year round. I loved it. We were like cookie monsters up in there. They had a slight crunch on the outside and a chewy, soft center. The perfect cookie, really. Now, I have no idea what was in those. I have no idea whether or not they actually made the batter. They were probably filled with shortening and diesel fuel. So, this is what we’re gonna do. We are going to make that cookie with yummy, natural ingredients. And every bite will be filled with Gamecock goodness.

white chocolate cranberry cookies
ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup natural cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (made with natural cane sugar), packed
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

create
Preheat oven to 375º. Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt together until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Stir the flour and baking soda together and gradually add it to the butter mixture. Beat until well combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drop tablespoonfuls of batter a couple of inches apart and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the middle is set and the edges are golden. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack, a platter, or your mouth. This recipe will make around three dozen cookies, depending on how large or small you make them.

These cookies are neat because every once in a while, you’ll get a pretty tart cranberry and your mind says, “Okay. Halt. Sour.”, but then your thought is interrupted with the buttery sweetness of the white chocolate. It’s a wonderful combination.

Russell House, this cookie post is dedicated to you. Thank you for hosting me for so many doggone tired, hungry hours and for dealing with my friends and me laughing at ridiculous things while we ate turkey wraps, vegetarian chili (cheaper, eh?), and, of course, cookies.