Hello My Foodie Friends!

What is your favorite holiday food? It is difficult to think of the holiday season and not think of all the holiday food with the alluring treats, both sweet and savory, that accompany all the celebrations. Many of us celebrate the holidays with unique foods that have been passed down for generations. We may serve them at a special occasion or on special days of the season. What is better than family and friends coming together to eat something delicious that you have eaten together for years? The bonding comes in the preparations, eating of the food, and the magic of bringing friends and family together. 

Holiday foods create familiar scents. Think about the aroma’s that trigger that holiday feeling for you; wafts of fire-place smoke, pine needles, sugary cinnamon, roasted turkey, pies baking in the oven, and sugar cookies, all that mingle together in your nose. These fabulous aromas create feelings of nostalgia that quickly turn the corner to the holiday scene. 

We all most likely have a holiday food that makes us smile. I know this is true for me. I probably have at least ten or more! Most of my favorite holiday foods take me back in time where food traditions were made at my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins’ homes. My mother had the unenviable task of making all this magic happen almost by herself. My father would leave for work every day at about 4 a.m. and return at 7:30 p.m. six days a week. This would leave my mother to go about her day trying to keep five children motivated to be nice instead of naughty. Her day started at the same time as my fathers and ended well after he went to bed. In earlier stories I referred to my mother having a super power which included cooking and baking. Her baking powers would come into play during the holidays when she would use baking to wake three little boys named John, Danny and Billy. She would start with apple pies and then begin her pumpkin pies. My mother’s apple pies were my favorite. However, the pumpkin would be a close second. When those aromas entered our room, we would awaken with big smiles and wide eyes. We would sit right up in bed, inhale deep and proclaim “mom is baking pies!” Then there was a race for the bathroom to get cleaned up and dressed for breakfast. The problem was, how do you eat oatmeal or cream of wheat while pies are baking? My mother would then tell us if we ate all of our breakfast then we’d get a taste of her pie. At that point, we were “easy as pie.” 

With the holidays, people travel to that place in their minds where the first words that pop out are almost always food related. The idea of food evokes memories. The traditions that have come before now meld with my own family food memories that take me to my own home; the place where my wife and I cook into the late evenings preparing holiday treats and meals with holiday music blaring really loud.  I love these feelings and memories.  It is part of the magic of the holiday season which enforces the point that holidays and food go together. 

During the holiday season, the frantic pace of work, school, and life slows temporarily and we settle into the celebrations of the season. We toast the successes we have had in the preceding months, reflect on the life we have lived and rejoice with our loved ones. Create your holiday traditions. Stop by Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store, located at 33 Railroad Place for the holiday supplies you need to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends. This season, create the magic of the holidays. Stop by and share your holiday food memories with us. Let us help you find the culinary treasure that will make the perfect foodie gift. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.” 

Brûléed Bourbon-Maple Pumpkin Pie


Chocolate Pie Dough: 

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Filling and Assembly:

  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Special Equipment: A kitchen torch


For Chocolate Pie Dough:

1. Blend cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt, and 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour to combine. Add butter and shortening and blend until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Transfer to a large bowl.

2. Whisk egg yolk, vinegar, and 1/4 cup ice water in a small bowl. Drizzle half of egg mixture over flour mixture and, using a fork, mix gently just until combined. Add remaining egg mixgture and mix until doug just comes together (you will have some unincorporated pieces).

3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten slightly, and cut into quarter. Stack pieces on top of one another, placing unincorporated dry pieces of dough between layers, and pressdown to combine. Repeat process twice more (all pieces of dough should be incorporated at this point). Form dough into a 1"-thick disk. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 1 hour.

DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 3 months.

For Filling and Assembly:

1. Roll out disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14" round. Transfer to a 9" pie dish. Life up edge and allow dough to slump down into dish. Trim, leaving about 1" overhang. Fold overhang under and crimp edge. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.

2. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line pie with parchment paper or heavy-duty foil, leaving a 1 1/2" overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is dry around the edge, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and weights and bake until surface of crust looks dry, 5-10 minutes. Brush bottom and sides of crust with 1 beaten egg. Return to oven and bake until dry and set, about 3 minutes longer. (Brushing crust with egg and baking will prevent a soggy crust).

3. Whisk pumpkin puree, sour cream, bourbon, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, mace, if using, and remaining 3 eggs in a large bowl; set aside.

4. Pour maple syrup into a small saucepan; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve pod for another use) or add vanilla extract and bring syrup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and small puffs of steam start to release, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream in 3 additions, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until smooth. Gradually whisk hot maple cream into pumpkin mixture.

5. Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in filling. Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until set around edge but center barely jiggles, 50-60 minutes. Transfer pie dish to a wire rach and let pie cool.

6. Just before serving, sprinkle pie with granulatedsugar and, using a kitchen torch, brulee until sugar is melted and dark brown.

DO AHEAD: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead (do not brulee). Cover and chill.


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