Just in case you’re scrambling for last minute recipes, here are a few favorites from past posts that work perfectly in the Thanksgiving palette. We’ve also included our recipe for quick, practically foolproof, freeform tarts made with fall fruit such as apples, pears or plums (plays on Tart-O-Matic: Improvising Fresh Fruit Tarts that we posted last summer).
An Easy Method for Roasting Chestnuts, which make the perfect hors d’oeuvres.
Recipe: Rustic Apple Tart
We often make this tart using fresh rosemary instead of cinnamon for an unusual herbal underpinning.
1 1/2 pounds apples, such as Golden Delicious or another good pie apple, peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown or granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon OR 1 1/2 teaspoons minced FRESH rosemary
Flaky Butter Pastry (below) or 8 ounces of your favorite pie dough or prepared, refrigerated or frozen pie dough (if the dough is already in a pie pan, carefully
remove it and roll as directed below).
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour plus more for rolling the dough
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400′. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and the cinnamon.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the Flaky Butter Pastry to a 14 -inch round. Transfer the round to a baking sheet.
Combine the 2 tablespoons flour with the remaining 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the apples over the flour-sugar mixture.
Fold the edge of the dough over the apples. Moisten your fingers lightly and gently press the creases together so that they hold their shape. Dot the apples with the butter.
Bake the tart in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Cover the tart with foil half way through if it’s browning too quickly. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and sift the confectioner’s sugar evenly over the crust.
Rustic Apple Tart Variations (follow the recipe above with the following changes)
Shaker Rosewater Tart: Traditional Shaker flavorings — rose water and nutmeg – make an unusual and somehow poetic apple pie. Replace cinnamon in the recipe above with the 1 1/2 teaspoons rosewater and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Pear Tart: Use pears instead of the apples and only 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Replace the cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Plum Tart: Because plums need no peeling, this makes for an even quicker tart. Instead of apples, use 1 1/2 ripe plums cut into 1/4-inch slices. Use 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pure vanill aextract and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.
Flaky Butter Pastry
This is a great dough for people who are intimidated by pie crusts. It is virtually foolproof, easy to make and handle, yielding a buttery pastry that is tender yet sturdy enough to accommodate the abundant fruit.
The recipe can be doubled or tripled and can be frozen well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 1 month. To defrost, thaw in the refrigerator several hours before using.
Makes 8 ounces dough, enough for one tart
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ bits
3 tablespoons sour cream
In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the butter and cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter or use a pinching motion with your fingers until it makes a very coarse meal. (If you have time, chill this mixture in the refrigerator 15 minutes). Add the sour cream and blend with a fork to combine, then, using your hands, squeeze the dough 7 or 8 times to incorporate. To make the dough in a food processor, process the dry ingredients to combine. Add the butter and process to a coarse meal; chill if time. Then add the sour cream and process until the mixture looks like sand.
Flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before rolling.