Monday, November 28, 2005

Thanksgiving pies

Thanksgiving in the U.S., of course, is defined by its food. Although the details tend to vary from region to region (e.g., cranberry sauce in New England, collard greens in the south), one thing that seems pretty consistent is that dessert consists of pies. In our case on Thursday, it was pumpkin pie made by my wife and apple and pecan pies baked by my aunt.

I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie. I think it's something about the spices, which probably explains why I don't like gingerbread, spice cake, and other similar desserts, too. However, by all accounts, my wife's pumpkin pie, based on her grandmother's recipe, was excellent.

The apple pie had a lightly-baked, doughy crust. Pie purists would say that this is an affront, as pie crust is supposed to be flaky, not doughy. I, however, love anything doughy, and the filling (made with the last New England apples of the season) was great, so I thought it was terrific.

My aunt substituted maple syrup for Karo corn syrup in the pecan pie, and it turned out great. Evidently, this is a fairly common practice in Vermont, which makes sense considering all the maple syrup produced there.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went up to our friends' house in New Hampshire and had another round of pie. I had another decent slice of apple pie (made by my friend's mom), some chocolate pie that looked like it was store/bakery-bought (pretty good, nothing special), and some ricotta pie that we brought from Arthur's Pastry Shop. The latter isn't really a Thanksgiving kind of pie in my mind, but it's good, so who cares?

All in all, a successful dessert weekend. And, with Christmas approaching, visions of sugar plums (well, sugar cookies, anyway) are dancing in my head.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Oatmeal-chip cookies and butterscotch bars

When we were invited to a party this past weekend, my wife and I were (appropriately enough) asked to bring dessert. We made two recipes: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from The All-American Cookie Book and Dagwoods (butterscotch bars) from a Rosie's Bakery cookbook.Rosie's Bakery cookbook.

The cookies were very good and very popular. Our only complaint was that they ended up slightly harder than we would have liked (they were not really crispy, more like chewy but too stiff).

The butterscotch bars were really tasty, though if you are following the recipe, cut the cooking time by 10-15 minutes (we learned that the first time we made them). We made them without the walnuts, as my wife doesn't like them and the host of the party is allergic. We did think they suffered without something to supplement the otherwise plain batter. I think butterscotch chips would work well, and nutty guy that I am, I think the walnuts would be good, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Desserts at Blue Ginger

My wife and I had been wanting to go to Blue Ginger, run by the star of PBS's Simply Ming , for a long time. We finally used our anniversary as an excuse, and we weren't disappointed. After appetizers and a delicious dinner of orange-marinated lamb shank for me and ribeye steak with asian mole and cilantro cream for my wife, we settled in for dessert. I had the sesame pecan caramel nut tart with roasted banana ice cream and hot fudge (I passed on the coffee caramel, as I dislike coffee). All I can say is Yummmmmmmm. My wife had the pineapple-upside down cake with a fruity sauce and fennel-vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream. Yummmmmmm again. The fennel-vanilla ice cream had just a hint of fennel, so even my fennel- and licorice-disliking wife found it delicious.

Blue Ginger is a bit pricey, but well worth a trip for a special occasion if you live in or visit the Boston area.