Crazy! I haven't met another Claire before, that's awesome!
I know, I know! Well, good to meet you.
Good to meet you as well.
Well, my first question is what kind of pie are you doing with your family and how do you keep it down to five ingredients? Especially if you're keeping it down to five ingredients.
Apple pie is actually the easier of the pies to keep down to five. Last year I did a ginger pumpkin tart. Pumpkin pie, pecan, pie, apple pie, they all can be done in under five, and I have done them. This year, this thanksgiving special, I think you'll love, I did pecan bars. I took what I did in the pecan pie. And then I though, you know what I love about Thanksgiving? That we eat so much food. But by the end of the meal, after eating an appetizer or two, plus a cocktail, and then getting through this massive dinner, you know, I'm not ready for dessert right away. And I find that most of my guests aren't ready for dessert right away, but they've been there for five hours, and it's like, great, are we all going to sit around and wait another hour? And everybody's tired, everyone's talked out, they've all caught up.
It's funny but when I do Thanksgiving, I invite all of my friends and family up and we do Thanksgiving early. Like way early. Like it was random to have Thanksgiving when we did, but it was a way for me to test a full finished menu. How am I going to serve it? How are my friends and family really going to enjoy this? And this was the first year I did a pecan pie in a bar, so I could gift wrap it and send it home with everybody. It's a shortbread crust, a typical pecan pie filling, and you'll see that there's a lot of ingredients reused: it's a brown sugar/butter short bread crust. Now that brown sugar and butter is reused in the pecan filling. And then that bakes beautifully. It tastes incredible, it's delicious, it's better than just plain pecan pie and the crust is fool proof. Instead of telling people to buy store bought crust, it's finding ways to reinvent crust so people can really make it from scratch and have a fully made from scratch dessert. Look up my ginger pumpkin tart too; that one is delicious. I use those thin Moravian cookies, and thats if you want the more classic, "cut the pie and serve it" dish.
But this pecan bar is delicious, because not only can you do it in advance, you can have them cut into bar shapes in advance. If you want to serve that actually as dessert and have people stay and sit down, you can do that and it's all ready to go. It's literally have those already on a platter in your kitchen, and just bringing those out. So there's really no prep for your dessert. But what I did was I bagged those in those plain cellophane bags and put a ribbon around it, you know, I bagged like three bars in each little bag, and everybody was able to take dessert home with them. And then what I did was cut what was left over in small bites so it was like petit fours of pecan bar, and served that with a cup of coffee. So people got a cup of coffee, they got one bite of pecan pie for dessert, and then they had the bars so that when a few hours had passed you could nibble something again. And if you didn't have thanksgiving at your house you always want something "thanksgiving" in your home, they were able to go and unwrap their bars and actually have a real dessert later. All of my friends who had this dinner with me were texting me a few hours later, saying, "Man, it was so awesome to have this bar at my house, and I just got through nibbling it!" It was funny, about 3 hours after everybody left, I started getting texts from everybody at the same time.
Yeah, so it really showed that people were tackling it later in the day, and it was a good thought, so I now realized, rule of thumb, I'm sending everybody home with dessert. It's a good to also kind of move people. Like, "Thanks for coming! Here you go!"
I love that idea. It's so fun that it's dessert and a party favor at the same time.
Exactly, exactly. And a little something for them to have Thanksgiving, food-wise, at their home.
Exactly, you sort of have to beg for the left overs from your friends and hope for the best. Well and I guess my next question sort of ties in with "Dear Food Network." Have you ever had a Thanksgiving crisis? And how did you work through it?
Oh, absolutely. I think that anybody who's ever been in a kitchen has had a crisis at some point. And Thanksgiving for sure, because for some reason, no matter how much we know better, we tend to tackle things that we've never done, and we tend to make it bigger and grander than it really has to be. Because the truth of the matter is, people just want the basics and classics, and we're all so food centric around Thanksgiving we really try to attempt something new and grand. And I did that when I was in high school and I was making my Grandma's green bean casserole for the first time. And I'd never made it before; my Grandma sent me the recipe, and I said, "I want to bring it this year." And the funny thing was, I had been cooking since I was a little girl, and I would watch these shows, and attempt berry muffins from scratch, and for a little girl that's a big feat, especially when it's Martha Stewart's recipe, because that a detailed dish. So I though, "Oh, I'll be able to nail this no problem."
Well, what I didn't do was really read the recipe closely, so what was supposed to be 1/4 cup chopped onions I saw as 1 1/4 cup chopped onions, and I chopped onions for I think and hour, trying to measure out 1 and 1/4 cup chopped onions. It was gross because the onions don't really cook a whole lot, you just sweat them a little bit, and they don't fully cook in the casserole. A little bit of them is nice, but not that much. And it was like raw onion casserole, basically. And this was the one dish my whole family expects to have and I was the one who made it and brought it and it was awful. I was in high school and thought I was so excited to be lucky enough to make a dish for the family. So when it was awful, my Grandma smiled and winked at me and we were sitting at the table and we quickly ran into the kitchen. She actually had made one because she was worried that one casserole wouldn't be enough anyway, but she said, "It doesn't matter," and I never forgot this, she said, "It doesn't matter, there's always enough food. The thing about Thanksgiving is that there's lots of dishes, so if one dish doesn't work, don't you worry." So even though she had made another one and I was grateful because I certainly wanted a green bean casserole, she was absolutely right, and I to this day have never forgotten that and tell people all the time, "Do not worry about a dish going wrong! There's always more food. Thanksgiving isn't a one pot meal, it's lots of different sides. You know, half of the people are there for the sides, and the other half are there for the turkey. No matter what there's always something there that's edible and delicious. So if one dish goes wrong, don't fret."
And there's always pie!
There is always pie! Or, pecan bars in my case.
Well thank you so much, and I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving!
Thank you! Same to you, happy Thanksgiving!