© Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Tiffany MacIsaac's Holiday Pie Bar
Showstopping desserts can outshine buttery mashed potatoes and perfect stuffing on Thanksgiving. That's the opinion of Tiffany MacIsaac, who oversees the pastry program for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group
, which operates Birch & Barley and Tallua in the Washington, DC, area. MacIsaac likes to put holiday sweets—in particular, pie—on mouthwatering display from the start so guests can admire dessert from the moment they arrive.
At Buzz Bakery in Alexandria, VA, she's now offering a DIY Pie Bar package that comes with two pies (like Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan and Classic Pumpkin), house-made ice cream, cinnamon whipped cream, caramel sauce and candied cranberries. Since Buzz doesn't ship its baked goods, MacIsaac shared these tips on how to set up a DIY Pie Bar at home.
1. Make it a group project. Guests usually ask the host how they can contribute to the holiday meal. You can plan a cohesive, pie-centric menu for Thanksgiving and delegate specific components to invitees. If one guest brings pumpkin pie, others can take on gingersnap cookie crumbs and caramel sauce, and non-cooks can be in charge of bringing beautiful cake stands. The display will grow into something fantastically unexpected as the guests arrive.
2. Don't pay for props. MacIsaac repurposes items from around the house for the display. A stack of books works as a pedestal; fallen leaves make an easy accent to scatter around the table; an old frame refines the look of a printed menu. Lighting is especially important. Everyone looks good by candlelight and the same goes for food.
3. Incorporate traditional fall flavors. During the holidays, people look for familiar foods. If you experiment with something new like salted-caramel cream pie, you can also offer a super-old-fashioned option like double-crust apple pie or upgrade a classic, as in a meringue-topped sweet potato pie.
4. Consider textures. You don’t want all mush or all crunch when it comes to a pie or the toppings you set out for guests. With the pie bar, everyone gets whipped cream, nuts, cookie crumbs, sauce.
5. Master the pie crust. Besides the logistics of setting up a dessert display, the most basic rule of a great pie bar is to make delicious pies, and that starts with good crust. MacIsaac likes a nice amount of salt in the dough to balance the sweetness of fillings. And she says you might want to add vodka, not to your glass, but to the water as you mix the dough. It evaporates more quickly, so you’re left with less moisture, which makes for a more tender, flaky crust. In a dough recipe calling for water, MacIsaac subs vodka for about 1/6 to 1/4 of the water.
Related: Thanksgiving Desserts
5 Easy Ways to Ruin the Thanksgiving Turkey
© © Con Poulos
You’ve reserved a beautiful bird, found a big enough pan (that fits in your oven!) and purchased an instant-read thermometer to roast your Thanksgiving turkey to a perfectly moist 160–165°F—but there's still room to go wrong. Here, F&W’s Senior Recipe Developer Grace Parisi reveals the biggest turkey mistakes made by home cooks.
What Not to Do:
1. Overstuff the cavity. By the time the stuffing reaches a safe temperature (165 °F) in an overstuffed bird, the white meat will be totally dried out. Parisi’s rule of thumb: Cook no more than five cups of stuffing in a 15-pound bird and bake the rest in a separate dish. She also stuffs the neck, which won't increase overall cooking time.
2. Crowd the oven. Like a teenager, a roasting turkey likes privacy and space. Baking casseroles and other foods with the bird disrupts oven temperature and alters your turkey’s expected cooking time. Also, if the bird is placed too close to the top of the oven, the breast will dry out and the skin will burn; you should remove some of the higher oven racks to make room.
3. Check the bird obsessively. Opening the oven door cools down the oven so much that you’ll end up increasing the cooking time by a lot.
4. Carve the turkey immediately. Turkey needs to rest for at least 30 minutes to keep the juices from flowing out of the bird and drying out your meat. Resist the urge to carve right away and go freshen up. If guests aren't already waiting for you, they'll certainly be there soon.
5. Brine a kosher turkey. Since a kosher turkey has already been treated with salt, brining it will yield an overly salty turkey.
Related: Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes (pictured)
100 Fast Thanksgiving Recipes
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
© Jacques Torres Chocolates
Chocolate maestro Jacques Torres
will debut his latest Halloween offerings in New York City stores and online
today. On a recent tour of the Hudson Street facility, we previewed (and participated in) the creation of chocolaty haunted houses, spiders, Jacques “O” Lanterns and these skulls—not quite creepy enough to scare away chocoholics. Torres also showed off his first batch of bean-to-bar milk chocolate made with beans sourced from the Dominican Republic that are roasted, ground and refined in lower Manhattan. The bars go on sale later this fall.
Related: Chocolaty Recipes from Jacques Torres Super Spooky Halloween Recipes
Chicken Dance spotlights a fantastic Food & Wine chicken recipe every day.
© Ngoc Minh Ngo
Tonight’s sunset marks the start of Rosh Hashanah
, the Jewish New Year and first of the High Holidays. Among the traditional celebratory foods, round challah bread
represents the cyclical year, lamb
(primarily the head) symbolizes the "head" of the year—and, most importantly, honey
is meant to infuse the new year with sweetness. Whether or not you’ll be celebrating tonight, Honey-and-Spice-Glazed Chicken Breasts
make a delicious and fast weeknight meal.
Related: More Recipes for Rosh Hashanah
I’ve always believed that South Americans are the ultimate hedonists. Talk about a culture that knows how to live well. For example, in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, today, July 20, is Friend’s Day (El Día del Amigo). Locals celebrate by gathering friends around the table to eat and drink. That’s my kind of holiday. In honor of Friend’s Day, I’ll be drinking Bodega Elena de Mendoza Malbec (a fantastic wine from Mendoza that’s newly imported to the States), eating empanadas and watching the COPA semifinals soccer game being played in Mendoza. Here, some other ways to celebrate Friend’s Day:
1. Have an asado (barbecue) with friends. Try these recipes from South American grillmaster Francis Mallman.
2. Host an Argentinean wine tasting. Try these bottles.
3. Host a dinner party and make our delicious empanada recipe.
You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.
So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.
Wines Under $20
There are people out there—and they know who they are—who missed Father's Day. You forgot to call, you were traveling, the gift got eaten by the dog; whatever the case, now's a good time to make it up to dear old dad. In fact, speaking as a father myself, it's always a good time to give gifts to fathers. Nothing warms the cold cockles of the heart more than a thoughtful present from a dutiful child, except maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to a Caribbean island plus a speedboat-driving butler, but hey, that's hard to come by. In any case, should dad be a wine-lover, here are some handy gift ideas, good for any occasion whatsoever.
Affordable: 2010 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Joven Campo de Borja ($8)
This robust Spanish red is a great partner for burgers off the grill.
Sky’s the Limit: 2007 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
A benchmark Napa Cabernet. Velvety, rich and deceptively powerful, it’s drinking great right now—especially with some sort of troglodyte-size T-bone.
Affordable: 2009 Fetzer Valley Oaks Zinfandel ($9)
A juicy red from one of the world’s largest farmers of organic grapes.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 SokolBlosser Estate Cuvee Pinot Noir ($50)
Sokol Blosser farms organically, participates in salmon-safe run-off programs, uses biodiesel fuels and has solar panels in its vineyards. Plus, its Pinot Noir is terrific.
Beach Dad (no glass bottles)
Affordable: 2008 Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon ($8)
Dark fruit and lots of flavor in a one-liter cardboard Tetra Pak.
Sky’s the Limit: 2009 Wineberry Chateau du Chatelard Bourgogne Blanc ($45/3 liter box)
New York–based Wineberry packages small-production French wines in cool wooden three-liter boxes.
Affordable: 2009 Arnold Palmer Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
A straightforward and appealing red from a golf great.
Sky’s the Limit: 2008 Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon ($85)
Former NFL star Drew Bledsoe grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, with Chris Figgins, whose family owns one of the state’s top wineries, Leonetti. They reunited to create this structured, intensely flavorful Cabernet.
Affordable: Mionetto Il Prosecco ($9)
A lively Italian sparkler from one of the best-known Prosecco producers.
Sky’s the Limit: 2002 Dom Pérignon ($140)
Dom Pérignon lives up to its reputation, especially in the terrific ’02 vintage. Plus, dad will definitely impress his friends with his bottomless wallet (well, your bottomless wallet, but who’s counting?).
35 Fantastic Father's Day Gift Ideas
The Best Barbecued Ribs Recipes
Chef-Dad Mario Batali’s Best Grilling Recipes
20 Great Brunch Recipes
Whether intentionally or not, I may have stumbled upon the next big thing-with the help of F&W's Kristin Donnelly, editor extraordinaire and creator of a fabulous new line of all-natural lip balms, Stewart & Claire.
As of today, she offers five ready-made balms, four of which are lightly scented with, among other things, basil, peppermint, tarragon, lavender, coconut and mint. I've sampled the Spring (scented with tarragon) and Bare (unscented). Though absolutely luscious on the lips (and remarkably restorative in minutes), Bare interested me a bit less than Spring because of Spring's bright, green tarragon fragrance.
I broke out the tube on my subway ride home (always a tactical move to have something pleasant to smell on a crowded subway car, especially in summer) and immediately felt a bit calmer. Then I popped an Altoid and had an epiphany. Wow—olfactory overload in the best way! Minty, herbaceous, soothing yet energizing, it was a day-spa in my handbag. Flavor geek and hard-candy freak that I am, it only seemed logical to try different hard candies, too: greenapple Jolly Ranchers: good (grape: awful); La Vie raspberry pastillines: better; La Vie lemon pastillines: best!
I can't wait to try Stewart & Claire's three other ready-made scented balms: Summer, Coconut and Mint. But I'm especially excited about the custom (bespoke) balms they can whip up for you based on your scent and texture preferences-cinnamon, ginger, rose, coriander, etc. Imagine a whole new world of candy-balm parings.
I had the pleasure of appearing on the 4th hour of Today this morning with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and my good pal Leslie Sbrocco, doing a fun 'he-said-she-said' Valentine's Day wine segment. Leslie and I each presented our picks in four categories—for a romantic dinner, for popping the question, for lounging around in a bathtub (!), and for pairing with chocolate—and Hoda and Kathie Lee chose a winner in each one. Check out this clip to see whose choices got the nod...