Mother nature usually is the dominate feature of my decoration. Fresh fruits, nuts and pine cones are clustered around these good looking wooden pheasants I found on line. The pheasants were very inexpensive but are not the least bit garish– and I like how they looked good in front of a beautiful painting by Jean Baptiste Oudry. The pheasants come in pairs which makes a much more graceful setting as the birds are postured in two directions. I used nuts and pinecones to enhance the woody feeling.
A close up of the table: I mounded piles of fruit like one might find in a dutch still life painting. If you notice the sprinkling of snow —I decided to add this at the last minute as the weather report is calling for a nor” easter on Thursday. But you see how easily this could be adapted into a Christmas dinner decoration as well.
I think the fake pheasants work because they are left natural and not ” gussied up” with bright coloring. Materials for the table are: grapes red, green, and black. Apples clementines, miniature pineapples, pears of all colors, pomegranates, Meyer lemons, persimmons, plus nuts and small pinecones . A few of the last Japanese maple leaves are scattered about.
The table decoration and color palette inspired gift wrapping of small presents that I give—I think this works well for both Thanksgiving as well as Christmas presents. The natural color of brown paper bags mixed with acorns-or nuts or pinecones becomes very rich when the deep orange velvet ribbon is added.
Through out the years I have tried different pumpkin pie recipes but this is now my favorite I think it is the maple syrup and the spiced rum that I like in the pumpkin filling. The crust is also very tender.
I find that my pie edges never look like the plump rich ones that both my grandmother’s could make so I take extra pie dough and cut small shapes–in this case a simple circle to cover the edges of the pie crust. In the past I have used small leaves but I seemed to have sold those in some tag sale and so improvised and used these little circle cookie cutters to provide a finish. I baste the circles with an egg yoke mixed with a small amount of water to give the pastry a nice golden glow. I make two pie crust because I will need extra dough for the decoration.
Dough recipe: this is sooooo simple just make sure not to over process. This makes one 9″ pie crust.
1 and 1/4 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons of ice water
Put flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3 times to blend
Add butter pieces, pulse processor 8 times to cut flour mixture into butter. Dough should resemble corse corn meal and the butter pieces should be the size of small peas. Add ice water gradually by tablespoons through the feed tube pulsing at the same time, dough will begin to form a ball. Remove dough from the food processor shape into a flattened disk, sprinkle lightly with flour, and wrap in wax paper. Chill until ready to use–this can be over night or an hour. If dough chills over night it may have to warm slightly to easily roll out. Sprinkle with four as you roll it out. Line pie pan and then fill with the pie filling.
One can of unsweetened pumpkin puree. ( yes I have done this with fresh pumpkin but just find it is too much work for the small benefit —many will disagree but that is that is my take) you just need 15 ounces of puree.
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
and if you wish 2 tablespoons -or a shot glass of spiced rum
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees, roll out pastry 1/8 ” thick –or a bit thicker if you prefer—but not as thick as a 1/4″
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into the pie shell
Baste the edge of the pie crust and then after cutting out a small leaf or circle place them around the crust edge to make a finished crust. Now baste them as well. See pictures below
Bake at 425 for 15 min. and then reduce heat to 350 and bake another 30 to 35 minutes until the filling seems set. Sometimes–depending on your oven the nice crust will start browning too quickly , take stripes of foil and cover the crust so it does not burn ( sorry–I should have taken a picture of this as I was doing it!) when the filling is firm–test with your finger or a knife or small skewer and if it pulls out clean after being inserted into the filling it is done. Remove from oven and let cool.
I could only find one leaf cookie cutter so just made due with that. These leaves will be baked separately for the pumpkin pie but if you were doing a double crust pie such as an apple they would be baked with the pie.
Baste the pastry with a mixture of egg yoke mixed with water and brush over the dough to give it a golden glow.
Some times I do individual tarts. Here I rolled small balls of pasty by hand to disguise the edges of the tart; basted both the raw edge and the small balls with the egg and water mixture; bake that all together and then topped the tart with an already baked maple leaf after the tart has cooled. I use the 19th c. blue and white turkey plates for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. And probably my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal other them my Grandmother’s homemade noodle recipe is a cold slice of left over pumpkin pie the next morning for breakfast!
I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. I know I have so much to be grateful for and one of those many things that I am thankful for is your interest and support of this small and infrequent blog. Sincerely, carolyne