Turkey day!

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How do you feel about Thanksgiving?

Are you one those people who dreads it? Who hates the idea of eating food until you feel as though you might burst? Or are you one of those people who loves it? Do you love spending time with your family and relish in the act of stuffing your face?

I am definitely the latter. We had 3 Thanksgivings this year. One last weekend combo birthday party with my husbands mother, on the day itself we went to my aunts and the Saturday after my parents came over and I cooked. I love Thanksgiving. Love, love, love. I love turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing. I love pie and I have even learned to love cranberry sauce..

20111129-201618.jpgAs a child I hated cranberry sauce. My father and my brother always loved it but I couldnt stand the stuff. It was tart and gooey and never tasted quite right to me. In my adult years I’ve learned to love cranberries. It all began with a bottle of cranberry vodka. It was the first infused liquor I ever made. I used a recipe from Michael Chiarello and presented my father with a bottle of it for Christmas. When I tried it I was amazed. It was sweet and tart and not too boozey tasting. It led me to trying cranberry sauce again. And really, really liking it.

My husband loves the canned stuff. He likes the way it sloshes out of the can and the little ridges in its gelatinous surface. He likes how sweet it is and the way you can cut perfect slices out of it. Personally the canned stuff creeps me out. I like to cook down real cranberries, born and raised in Wisconsin. I like to add orange zest and juice, and then some brown sugar and spices. I like how it almost burns my nose when I’m cooking it. I like how it’s still a little tart when it’s done.

This year I put it in a dessert. I spread a tart crust with a bit of frangipane custard and then topped that with my cranberry sauce. Then the cranberries got a gorgeous blanket of sliced pears. Everyone was sprinkled with sugar and then baked. I topped it with brown butter gingersnap ice cream (can you tell I’m a little obsessed with brown butter ice cream right now?). The sweetly spiced ice cream perfectly balanced the tart cranberry. While it baked the cranberries stained the pears a beautiful merlot. This was one pretty dessert. And it wasn’t even difficult. At all. I had so much frangipane left over from last weekend that it was a super simple. I did it all lazily Thursday morning while the ice cream froze and I waited to leave and stuff my face full of turkey. I can almost taste it now. This may be one of my favorite new fall desserts for its ease and elegance. It would wow at a dinner party and dazzle at a bake sale. It slices easily with a sharp knife and holds together well.

For the second round I made some gorgeous short ribs. I’ll tell you all about that meal later. It was simple and amazing. Call some friends, have a cocktail and make them something beautiful.

20111129-202101.jpgPear Cranberry Frangipane Tart

Ingredients

1 recipe tart crust
1 recipe Frangipane
1 bag fresh cranberries
2 oranges, juice and zest
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pears
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

1. Make tart crust and bake 10 minutes without filling. Set aside.

2. Make Frangipane and spread about 1/4 cup along bottom of tart crust.

3. Make cranberry sauce. Put cranberries, orange juice and zest, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until berries cook down and sauce is reduced, about 30 minutes over medium heat. Set aside to cool.

4. Quarter and core pears. Slice pears thinly. Spread cranberry sauce over Frangipane. Arrange pears on top and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until crust is golden brown and sugar is caramelized. Serve with

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