It's hard for me to wrap my head around, but Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. I don't know about you, but I'm totally unprepared. I'll be having both family and friends over, and this year I'm consulting a cute new cookbook called The Friendsgiving Handbook for inspiration. Instead of the traditional photographs, this cookbook has charming illustrations that give it a little quirkiness that I personally love, and the 25 recipes cover everything one needs to host the meal or bring a little something to someone else's table.
Honestly, all the recipes in this cookbook look delicious, including one for a stuffing with sausage and saltine crackers that I'm definitely going to try. And while there are many "best things" about this holiday of gratitude and overeating, drinks and dessert rank pretty high up there.
Below are two recipes from The Friendsgiving Handbook for a beautiful beginning and end to a Thanksgiving feast. Both are twists on a classic, in this case a cocktail and a pie,and like all good Thanksgiving cookbooks you can do most of the prep ahead.
*Check back next Thursday for a gorgeous--and simple!--board to accompany a batch of these tasty drinks.
Rosemary Old-Fashioneds for a Crowd
MAKE SYRUP AHEAD: 3 months
MAKE COCKTAILS AHEAD: 1 day
PREP TIME: 1½ hours
ROSEMARY SIMPLE SYRUP
½ cup [100 g] sugar
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
One 750-ml bottle bourbon
20 dashes Angostura bitters
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
TO MAKE THE SIMPLE SYRUP: In a small saucepan, mix the sugar with ½ cup [120 ml] water and add the rosemary. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, so the sugar dissolves into the water. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Discard the rosemary and cool to room temperature. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container or use right away. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months. Makes ¾ cup [180 ml].
TO MAKE THE COCKTAIL: Pour the bottle of bourbon into a large pitcher, add the bitters, 4 oz [120 ml] water, and 5 oz [150 ml] rosemary simple syrup, and stir to combine. Taste and add more simple syrup if you like. Refrigerate the cocktail until ready to serve.
To serve, cut the orange crosswise into thin slices and quarter the slices. Cut the 5 rosemary sprigs into 1 in [2.5 cm] or so pieces. Add a few ice cubes to each glass, pour in 2 oz [60 ml] of the premade cocktail, and garnish with a rosemary sprig and two orange slices. Serve right away.
Spiced Caramel Apple Pie
SERVES: 8 to 10
MAKE CARAMEL AHEAD: 3 days
BAKE AHEAD: 1 day
PREP TIME: 3 hours (plus making pie dough)
TIME TO COOL: 4 hours
1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar
½ cup [110 g] unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup [120 ml] heavy cream
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp salt
Juice of 2 lemons
2½ lb [1.2 kg] Granny Smith apples
½ tsp salt
1 recipe Pie Dough (page 102)
¼ cup [50 g] lightly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
TO MAKE THE CARAMEL: In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and ¼ cup [60 ml] water, and stir so the sugar is completely hydrated. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, add the butter, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the mixture is the color of maple syrup (depending on your pan this could take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes; go by the color to know when it’s ready). Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the cream. Add the cardamom and salt, and whisk to combine. Let cool completely.
TO MAKE THE PIE: Put the lemon juice in a large bowl. Working with one apple at a time, peel it, cut around the core, and thinly slice, adding the slices to the bowl as you go and tossing with the lemon juice so they don’t brown. When you are finished, add the salt and toss to mix with the apples. Let the mixture macerate, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Lightly flour your work surface. Cut the dough in half and form both halves into rounds; wrap the half you’re not working with, and keep it in the fridge. Starting from the center of the dough, push the rolling pin away from you in firm strokes, rotating the dough 45 degrees every two strokes (and adding flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking), until the dough forms an even circle that is about 13 in [33 cm] in diameter. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9 in [23 cm] pie pan and gently press into place. Roll out the remaining dough to the same size.
Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour off any excess juices from the apples, add the sugar mixture, and toss to coat. Pile the apple mixture high into the prepared pie pan and pour 2/3 cup [160 ml] of the spiced caramel over the apples. Carefully drape the other dough round over the pie and fold the excess dough up and in to make the edge. Crimp in whatever style you prefer. Brush the dough with the beaten egg, and then sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, carefully cut four or five vents in the top dough. Chill for 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C].
Put the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is beginning to color, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F [180°C] and continue baking until the crust is well browned and the juices are bubbling and syrupy, 50 to 60 minutes longer.
Cool completely on a wire rack (at least 4 hours) before cutting and serving. The pie can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.