For many of us, Thanksgiving looks different this year. There will be fewer faces around the table and we cannot celebrate with everyone the way we have in years past. As Noah noted in his last blog post, he and Leigha are staying put in Wisconsin and we will miss them terribly. I love having Noah in the kitchen with me and this is the one holiday we always count on enjoying together. (When he first started dating Leigha, he informed her that Thanksgiving is nonnegotiable.) But then I see the news footage of the long lines at food pantries and I think about the folks who have lost their jobs and their lives and I realize this falls pretty low on the list of pandemic grievances.
So gratitude will still define my Thanksgiving this year. Gratitude for all that I have – rather that what (and whom) I don’t – will be what fills my heart.
So just in time for Thanksgiving, here is one of my faves (to make) and Hannah’s (to eat) with all credit going to Ina Garten. If you have anyone in your household who loves pecan pie as much as Hannah does, then this recipe is for you. I like it because it has everything you like about pecan pie but is much less fussy, and – best of all – you can make these squares ahead of time and freeze them.
I am also including my recipe for cranberry sauce, since Noah mentioned it in his post and requested the recipe for his own Thanksgiving spread (some staples you just have to keep). It is simple but delicious, especially if you are liberal with the ginger.
Enjoy your feast – whatever it looks like this year – and Happy Thanksgiving!
Katya’s Cranberry Sauce
Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar and bring to a boil. Add 3 cups fresh cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat (not a simmer but a low boil) and minced fresh and candied ginger (to your liking), the zest of one orange and the chunks (peel, pith and seeds removed) of 1 or 2 oranges. Also add 2 cinnamon sticks, but remove those before serving. Stir to combine and boil gently for 15 minutes or so, or until most cranberries have popped.
(I usually cut this recipe in half and make them in a 9×5 inch pan)
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.