Pie Month — Bonus Post

Pink Pearl Apple Pie November is Pie Month at Pied­mont Gro­cery, and we have been posting a pie a day to our social media feeds. Here is the com­pi­la­tion of the pies so far. We will update the list again at the end of the month.

Happy feasting!

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Autumn Salad with Apples, Comté, and Hazelnuts

SaladThe Big Cheese

Cheese is good. I have always been a big fan of cheese in many forms, though I DO draw the line at spray cheese. ( My sister, on the other hand…)And don’t forget the Earth­quake Vel­veta  buried in the back of my Mom’s  pantry. Uh, no thanks. I would rather perish!

Around the hol­i­days I find that I eat much more cheese than usual. (Of course I am eating a lot more than usual of a lot of things, but it’s the hol­i­days, who am I to fight tradition?)

Cheese is one of the eas­iest things to nibble on at par­ties, and since there are numerous par­ties during this time, the chances of finding one­self in front of a cheese plate or creamy baked brie are pretty good. In fact a cheese plate with an assort­ment of inter­esting and not your everyday cheeses is my easy,  go-​​to potluck con­tri­bu­tion. (It’s also a great way to get a con­ver­sa­tion going, ”This cheese is awe­some!” “Oh, what is it?”)

There are plenty of ways to incor­po­rate some really good cheese into your hol­iday meals. Cheesy dips are a no-​​brainer and cheese balls are always fes­tive. (The real ones. Not the neon orange things, and not your Uncle Bob.)

One of my favorite ways to enjoy a little cheesy deca­dence is in a salad. Most people add goat cheese, or feta, or even crum­bled blue to their salads– which is great, but don’t under esti­mate the power of a good, nutty Par­rano Gouda or Emmen­thaler. When cut into match­stick sized pieces and tossed into mixed greens with some dried cran­ber­ries or cher­ries, these hard cheeses are darn good.

A favorite salad with cheese is this Autumn Salad with Apples and Comte. The Cider vinai­grette alone is straw worthy. This dish would make a great addi­tion to your Thanks­giving table or any other cel­e­bra­tion.
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Deconstructed Holiday Turkey with Sage Gravy

Deconstructed Turkey To Brine or Not To Brine….

Growing up, my mother did not brine our turkey for Thanks­giving. She did it the old fash­ioned way: slather on the butter, stick it in the oven, and tor­ture the family for hours with the scent of roasting bird.

Our turkey always tasted good, but then again we ate Thanks­giving dinner which means we didn’t eat until 6:30 or 7:00, so we were all about to chew our arms off. I don’t recall the turkey ever being super dry, but I was a kid. All I cared about was how many mashed pota­toes I could stuff in my mouth at one time. And then there’s gravy, the other food group.

Nowa­days there is a national dry turkey emer­gency. There are so many ver­sions of Thanks­giving Turkey Brine that it can be hard to choose—especially when you con­sider “trying” a brine means you have to cook a small turkey or a turkey breast. Not everyone wants to take time to do that unless you’re psycho, like me.

We go through a lot of turkey in my house. My sons will only eat turkey sand­wiches for school lunch. Roasting a turkey or turkey breast can be better overall than buying a pound of the sliced turkey from the meat counter: not only can it be more eco­nom­ical, it just tastes better.

I have roasted turkey both ways; I have brined, and I have gone rogue and just thrown it in the oven. I must say I prefer the brine espe­cially for sand­wiches. And let’s face it, the meal is good, but it’s all about the left­overs. I am par­tic­ular about which brine I use. Some are too sweet, or too cit­rusy, or just plain weird. I like a brine that will enhance the flavor it and keep it moist, not change the taste of the turkey too much.

I have two favorite brines. The first one is a mix that we sell here, at the store (which makes life that much easier). It is made by a local com­pany, KL Keller Food Ways, and the 1 lb. pack is enough to brine a 14–18 pound turkey. The blend con­tains sage, coriander, bay, black pepper and a little bit of chili flakes but don’t worry, it’s not spicy. It IS very good and is avail­able in the meat depart­ment for $8.99.

My other favorite is a sage brine recipe I found in Bon Appetite for a Decon­structed Hol­iday Turkey with Sage Gravy. I don’t usu­ally do the whole recipe but I do use the brine. I think it is the most “tra­di­tion­ally turkey” tasting brine if that even makes sense. Try it out on a turkey breast if you don’t want any sur­prises on the 27th. Read more…

Cornmeal-​​Crusted Crayfish Pies

Crawfish PiesHavin’ Fun On The Bayou…

It’s that time again. This week is the annual Chef of The Month Dinner that I have cooked for the past three years as a prize for our school auction.

The first year I was an uber excited over-​​achiever and all about making the entire meal from my garden. Well, except for the pork. (I’m not about to raise actual pigs. I have three who live with me, and I accuse them of being raised in a barn. That’s good enough.)

Last year was an elab­o­rate Moroccan feast. I may have gone over board on. (Seri­ously? I poached pears and made the bread from scratch. ‘Nuff said.) I thought it was awe­some but I am also a bit of a nut when it comes to Moroccan food. I made too many dishes in my attempt to make others enjoy the cui­sine as much as I do and I killed myself doing it. I drooled in the corner for a week.

This year I’m keeping it within the con­ti­nental U.S., and I’m not going as crazy. I’m makin ‘em take a trip down on the bayou. This close to Thanks­giving, I want some­thing that they aren’t going to eat again in the next few weeks. I figure cajun is a good way to go for a sat­is­fying Fall meal.

I con­sider any gumbo to be com­fort food, and there are so many dif­ferent kinds to choose from. When I think of cajun cui­sine this is the first thing that comes to mind, so I had to do it. I am going with the less tra­di­tional Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo.

Pecans are big all over the South, but Louisiana is crazy for them. So, I am making a Caramel-​​Pecan tart that is almost better than my Grandmother-in-Law’s Pecan Pie. Almost. She’s from Louisiana, she knows her pecans and she makes a MEAN Pecan pie.

Craw­fish Pie is a no-​​brainer. It is just SO Louisiana. Hank Williams even sang about it. Since November is our Month of Pie, I am sharing the recipe as a savory alter­na­tive to the obvious.
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