A really fun project I tried…creating a Cinemegraph (a video underlying a photograph)
After a full day of cooking, baking, chopping and stirring, and finding just the right playlist of soft comforting holiday music to accompany our many hands at work in the kitchen, I finally sat down in the late afternoon with a mug of strong coffee topped with steamed milk and several molasses cookies to unwind from the busy day. The kids and Patrick drove over to Concord to see the movie, Thor. I’m holding out for Goodbye Christopher Robin …so I lit a candle and curled up with Polly and let the aromas of the house swirl all around me as I relaxed for the first time since early morning.
That’s when I heard it. A very loud crashing bang followed by screeching tires that seemed to never stop. The completely out of the ordinary noise jolted us both upright from our deep repose in my old cushy orange floral chair by the fire. Just as that mug of hot coffee and freshly baked cookies was about to be enjoyed, I knew that coffee and cookies were not to be enjoyed. I knew instantly it was a crash. Something dreadful happened and it was right up the road from our farmhouse. I didn’t even hesitate…I called 911. The entire time I spoke with the dispatcher my heart raced faster and faster. It was them. It was Patrick and the kids coming home from the movies. It is so inky black way out here at night and the turn off to our home is a scary one. Often, when I have to make that final turn onto our road, I peer into my rearview window willing the car closing in behind me to see my blinker light and not to crash right into me.
I peered out anxiously into the completely black night. I could see through the woods several red car tail lights blinking. It was so quiet. No voices. “It’s them” I thought. My heart rate beat faster and faster as I flew to the door, pulled on the nearest wellies, threw on a raincoat, turned on my cell phone light, and made my way to the crash site. It was so dark. I could barely see but I just followed the blinking car lights. And then I saw smoke. Is it an orange Jeep? There’s another car…Is it an orange Jeep? Is it them?
One SUV was completely mangled in the front. The air bags had all gone off. Smoke was making rasping sounds and oozing out of the hood. Three maybe four cars seems to all be in different states of wreckage. I started to frantically call out, “Is everyone ok? Does anyone need help?” My voice sounded so weird. Is that my voice calling out? One woman whizzed by me and yelled that a driver of one car was going into shock and then she disappeared into the night somewhere. I saw two young looking boys standing shivering against the cold so I ran over to them. I looked around at all of the cars and none of them were pumpkin orange. None of them was our pumpkin orange Jeep. I looked at the two dazed 20-something year old boys who were shivering violently against the cold. I told them over and over again it was going to be alright. I had no idea who they were but at the same time I felt as if I knew them. They were around the same ages as my kids. One was in tears but fighting hard not to let it show and had a gash across his eyebrow. I knew they would take him to the hospital. I gave them each a hug, had them sit down and take deep breaths, and told them again and again, everything would be alright. One would think my mind had decided they were my own kids. Mother’s instinct I guess. One kid said he was the driver. He was headed home from college to Wilton and his friend didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving so he was coming home to his house with him. They wanted me to understand they were not at fault. I told them everything will be alright. “Don’t tell me the details.” I advised. “Only tell the details to the police but everything will be alright.” One called his mother. Can you imagine…getting that phone call…on the eve of Thanksgiving? For a moment, I certainly could imagine.
The police arrived, flashing lights pierced the dark night and the entire rural road was now lit up. Ambulances arrived. Tow trucks arrived. Many concerned citizens stopped and asked if they could help. The boys were shaken and dazed. I stayed with them until eventually, there was nothing more I could do. I turned on my cell phone light again and shuffled myself back home through the woods.
In that one split second that I heard that crash my entire world felt like it turned upside down. In that second split second when I heard those horrible screeching tire sounds rasping on the pavement, I thought it was my three most beloved people on this planet who had crashed. In the minutes it took to stumble my way over to the crash site, all I could see where pumpkin orange jeeps everywhere. But they were safe. In the next instant, my phone pinged. That ping sounded like a small miracle. They texted that the movie had just ended and they were making their way back home from a couple of towns over. I recalled the looks in those boys eyes. They were so scared and shaken. My heart went out to them. My heart went out to the mother one of the boys called to say he had just totaled his car. My heart went out to the other smashed cars whose occupants I wasn’t brave enough to make my way over to.
My family was safe. They are all home now, fed, hugged, and nesting somewhere in this old farmhouse. In those few moments…no spiced goose, no scratch made pie, no homemade cookies counted for anything. The word “thankful” etched itself in my head on a whole new level. The meaning of thankfulness became crystal clear, like never before, in those moments. I’ll carry that fear with me from now on…whenever I need a good dose of thankful mindedness again. We are so blessed. But, there are many who are not. And we must never stop finding different levels of the meaning…of simple thankfulness.
- 5.5–6.5kg oven-ready goose
- 2 oranges, finely grated zest and fruit cut into wedges
- 2 lemons, finely grated zest and fruit cut into wedges
- 2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tbsp good-quality sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4–5 tbsp runny honey, to drizzle
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7 (425 F) and place a deep roasting pan fitted with a rack in the oven to heat up. If the goose is ready-trussed, remove the string and gently tug and loosen the legs and wings a little – this helps the bird to cook more evenly. Remove the giblets from the body cavity and trim off any excess fat from the neck and cavity.
- In a small bowl, mix the orange and lemon zest with the five-spice powder, salt and pepper. Lightly score the skin of the goose in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut into the flesh. Rub the seasoning all over the skin and inside the cavity of the goose. Put the orange and lemon wedges into the cavity. (You can prepare to this stage a day ahead and refrigerate the goose.)
- Place the goose on the rack in the preheated roasting pan, breast side up, and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the setting down to 170°C/Gas 3 (350 F) and roast for another 30 minutes.
- Take the goose out of the oven and pour off some of the fat from the roasting tin (save for roasting potatoes). Drizzle the honey over the goose, put back in the oven and roast for another 30 minutes – 1 hour, basting once or twice. Cover loosely with foil if it is browning too much towards the end of cooking. For medium-rare meat, the flesh should feel firm with a slight spring when lightly pressed; a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh (but not touching a bone) should register 70°C (160 F) Also, bear in mind that the bird will continue to cook in its own heat during resting.
- Remove the goose from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Carve the goose and serve with the sauce and accompaniments.
Potato Gratin Recipe:
5 garlic cloves, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 medium shallots, quartered through root ends
2½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, plus more
4 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
3 ounces Gruyère, finely grated
1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated
Preheat oven to 325°. Cut 1 garlic clove in half and rub the inside of a 3-qt. shallow baking dish with cut sides. Smear butter all over inside of dish. Bring shallots, cream, salt, pepper, 1 Tbsp. thyme, and remaining 4 garlic cloves to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat; cook until shallots and garlic are very soft, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender; blend until smooth.
Arrange potato slices in prepared dish, fanning out a handful at a time and placing in dish at an angle (this ensures every scoop will have tender potatoes from the bottom and crisp edges from the top). Shingle as you work until bottom of dish is covered. Tuck smaller slices into any gaps to fill. Pour cream mixture over potatoes and cover dish tightly with foil. Bake potatoes until tender and creamy, 60–75 minutes. Let cool.
Place rack in highest position; heat broiler. Remove foil and top potatoes with Gruyère and Parmesan. Broil until cheese is bubbling and top of gratin is golden brown, 5–10 minutes. Serve topped with more thyme leaves.
Do Ahead: Gratin can be baked 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before broiling.
Buttery Pull Apart Fan Rolls:
- Makes 12 rolls
¾ cup warm milk (110 degrees)
¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 ½ cups (17 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened, plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Do not over flour the counter when rolling out the dough in step 3, and use a bench scraper to square off the edges of the rectangle. Make sure to plan ahead: This dough takes about 3 hours to rise before baking.
1. In bowl of stand mixer, combine milk, sugar, egg and yolk, and yeast and let sit until foamy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and salt. Fit stand mixer with dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until dough is shaggy, about 2 minutes.
2. With mixer running, add softened butter 1 piece at a time until incorporated. Continue to knead until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to greased large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. Grease 12-cup muffin tin. Press down on dough to deflate and transfer to lightly floured counter (do not overflour counter). Divide dough into 2 equal balls (about 1 pound each). Roll one dough ball into 15 by 12-inch rectangle with long side parallel to counter’s edge.
4. Using pizza wheel, cut dough vertically into 6 (2 1/2-inch-wide by 12-inch-long) strips. Brush tops of 5 strips evenly with 1 tablespoon melted butter, leaving 1 strip unbuttered. Stack strips squarely on top of each other, buttered to unbuttered side, finishing with unbuttered strip on top.
5. Using sharp knife, cut stacked dough strips crosswise into 6 equal stacks. Place stacks, cut side up, in each of 6 muffin cups. Repeat with remaining dough ball and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover tin loosely with plastic and let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle-position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Brush rolls with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Let cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes. Remove rolls from muffin tin and transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Green Bean Bundles with Bacon and Brown Sugar (Williams Sonoma)
8 thick bacon slices
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 lb. (750 g) green beans, trimmed and blanched
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large nonstick fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon in batches until the slices are just beginning to brown along the edges but are still very underdone and pliable, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool, then cut each slice in half crosswise.
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, salt and garlic powder.
Divide the green beans into 16 equal portions, about 6 beans each. Gather each portion into a neat bunch and wrap a half slice of bacon around the center to hold the beans together. Place the bundles on the prepared baking sheet with the loose ends of the bacon underneath. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the bundles and drizzle with the butter mixture.
Roast until the bacon is cooked through and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the green bean bundles to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 8.
Classic Chess Pie with Coco Crust and Brulée Topping
Coco Pie Crust: (Bon Appetit)
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Pulse cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt, and 1¼ cups plus 1 Tbsp. flour in a food
processor to combine. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse
meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk egg yolk, vinegar, and ¼ cup ice water in a small bowl. Drizzle half of egg mixture over
flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently just until combined. Add remaining egg mixture and
mix until dough just comes together (you will have some unincorporated pieces).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarters. Stack
pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated dry pieces of dough between layers,
and press down to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be
incorporated at this point). Form dough into a 1”-thick disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1
DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 3 months.
filling and assembly
Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round. Transfer to a 9” pie dish.
Lift up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1” overhang. Fold
overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.
Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°. Line pie with parchment paper or
heavy-duty foil, leaving a 1½” overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust
is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface
of crust looks dry, 5–10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return
to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes longer. (Brushing crust with egg and
baking will prevent a soggy crust.)
Filling: (Serious Eats)
4 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 ounces (about 5 tablespoons) whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
14 ounces (about 2 cups) granulated sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) melted butter, cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line the chilled pie shell with foil or parchment and fill it with pie weights (I like to use dried beans for this purpose). Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for an additional 3 minutes. Remove the weights and liner and bake the pie shell until it is light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla together for 30 seconds, until they are well combined. Stream the sugar into the bowl, whisking as you go. Add the butter, salt, cornmeal, flour, and vinegar, and whisk until the filling is smooth and there are no visible lumps. Pour the filling into the cooled shell and place on the lower rack of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the filling has set up but still quivers a bit and is slightly puffed at the edges. Allow the pie to cool completely. Either serve warm or cover and refrigerate for a chilled filling.