There Will be Tarts….and Potatoes — Thanksgiving

Again this year our friends RO and SRO invited us for Thanksgiving…a feast for 18.

Yesterday, I picked up C and her friend T from the train.  This morning with some of their help, I’ve been making my dinner contributions for tomorrow.

I started with tarts for desert.  These mini-tartlets are only 2-3 bites each.  This is a recipe from Fine Cooking from long ago.  I made three varieties: pumpkin, pecan and cranberry-pear.                                                                                                               

My desert contribution is complete.  Maybe I’ll whip some whipping cream for the pumpkin tarts tomorrow.

Next, the girls peeled the 6 pounds of potatoes for Melissa Clark’s 

mashed potato casserole.  I made this last Thanksgiving  It was a hit, and an easy way to have mashed potatoes without the last minute work.  Great to bring  when someone else is hosting the feast.

It’s not beautiful in the photo.  The specks are chopped chives.  No crumbs on top, and it hasn’t been baked yet.  It’s waiting in the fridge till tomorrow.  It will finish at SRO’s —  baking for about 30 minutes.  

For today my work is done!

Thanksgiving 2011

We’re had dinner at our dear friends, SRO & RO with their family.  Lots of people around a big table — wonderful.

I brought mashed potatoes and a dessert. 

 For the potatoes I used Melissa Clark’s  recipe from the November 16th New York Times. Mashed Potato Casserole

Mash Yukon Gold potatoes with sour cream and butter.  Add chopped chives and put into a casserole dish.  I made it on Tuesday.

Ready for the oven Thanksgiving day.  Just before serving time, I topped it with bread crumbs, butter and parmesan (all mixed together when the butter was soft) and then put it into a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

 

Next on my list — pumpkin tarts.

I used the pie filling recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, The Pie and Pastry Bible.  The basics of canned pumpkin, spices, brown sugar are first cooked on the stove.  This step changes the flavors and texture of the pumpkin. 

 

Put that mixture into the food processor and add milk and heavy cream, eggs and vanilla. 

Ready the tart shells. For the tart dough, I used a pastry dough that has 1 egg and 1 egg yolk.  This makes it tougher, but in good way.  The recipe is from an older issue of Fine Cooking.

I shaped the dough into a 6x6” square.  Then I scored it at every inch to later cut into 36 pieces of dough.  After  the dough rests in the refrigerator,  I cut each cube, and rolled each into a ball.

 

A dough ball goes into one muffin spot in a tin.  Then I used a salt shaker (round and smaller that the muffin) to push the dough into a tart shape with sides.  Easier than rolling each one!  

Baked and cooling but still waiting for the final touch.

For fun, I got small fall cookie cutters to cutout pastry dough to bake and then top each baked tart.

 

 So, one idea led to another.  The little cutters inspired me to make sugar cookies – tiny bites — several leaves, an acorn, apple and a pumpkin.

I don’t have a great sugar cookie recipe.  At Foodnetwork.com I found Alton Brown’s sugar cookie recipe.   One thing he does that is interesting is rolling the dough in confectioner’s sugar rather than flour. 

 

Yikes!  There’re too cute.  And too small for some of my cooling racks, some fell through. They taste good – light sugar flavor and crisp. 

Rolling the dough in the confectioner’s sugar really helps with the flavor and tenderness I think.  I’m not sure of all the chemistry, but the sugar-cornstarch mix of confectioner’s sugar may reduce the tendency of a flour-rolled dough to become tough.

I melted chocolate with heavy cream, a ganche, and grated orange rind into it. Then I drizzled it over the cookies from a plastic baggie with a corner snipped off.   I tossed on color appropriate decorations and am done.  I just need to let the chocolate set.

 

 So, these were my Thanksgiving dinner contributions.

The potatoes were a hit.  I highly recommend them not just because they taste so good, but because they can easily be made so far ahead.

Pumpkin tarts were a nice size for just a taste.

 And tiny cookies.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.