As I was trying to elbow my way through the masses of people in the supermarket and getting out of the crowded parking lot yesterday, I was pondering that not many people actually seem to be very thankful on Thanksgiving. Everyone just looks… grumpy. Stressed. Maybe it’s just the sheer amount of work involved in making the food that will then be gone in twenty minutes. The mountains of dirty pots and pans that will follow. Or the anticipation of mandatory family visits with more than a few uncomfortable questions from nosy relatives. The day just doesn’t exactly mirror peace and contentment.
And yet I feel this day’s important. Even if we don’t think about these things very often, buried under tons of day to day responsibilities, I found that when you just start thinking about what you’re thankful for, the things just keep flowing. And it’s not just the big, obvious stuff, like good health, family, friends, and roof over our head. It’s also countless small, silly things that make life enjoyable. Such as… Driving. If you’d tell me fifteen years ago I’d love zipping through town in my small (red!) electric car one day, I’d think you’ve lost your mind. But I love everything about it: the road, me time, the music, all of it. GPS. Admittedly, the driving would be much less enjoyable without it. I have absolutely no sense of direction and quite possibly wouldn’t find my way back home. Sleeping in. There is nothing better than to be able to burrow under covers on Saturday morning for some extra zzzz-s. Big kids. Yeah, there would be no sleeping in if the boys would still be little, I’m afraid. Life with teenagers is no picnic, that’s for sure, but on the upside, I don’t have to potty-train anyone anymore, they’re able to cut their own food, and on good days they even put their dirty plate into the dishwasher. Speaking of which… Dishwasher! There would be much less cooking/baking going on in this house without that magical box in which one puts dirty dishes and from which they emerge clean. Wine and Chocolate. An absolute must when trying to survive the teenage years of your kids. If you have teens of your own, you know what I mean. If your kids are still little, you’ll find out what I’m talking about soon enough. Boots. A wonderful pick-me-up during those cold and dreary winter days. I’m still searching for that perfect pair of leather boots in burgundy red. Fireplace. A substitute sun between November and March in the Pacific Northwest! Facebook. I know everybody says social media eat up way too much of our time, yadda, yadda… but to me Facebook is an absolute godsend. It makes me feel connected to my family and friends I’d otherwise get to see only rarely, and be a part of their lives. I could go on and on, but since this is a food blog, I’ll finish with Good Food and the big warm kitchen to make it in.
And this is what I made in my kitchen for our Thanksgiving dessert this year. I admit we’re not big fans of pumpkin pie, and would pick cheesecake over it any day. So that’s exactly what we did. The cheesecake tasted great, and the cinnamon-scented apples made it look very Fall-appropriate. It was also gluten-free, very easy to make, and since it needed to chill overnight, I made it the day before and had the oven free for the bird on the Thanksgiving day.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and are enjoying your time together. The turmoil and sadness going on around the world is putting all things into perspective for me. I’m blessed with all the cooking, dirty dishes, know-it-all teenagers, and a freezer that broke week before Thanksgiving. Let’s make the best of this day, this weekend, next week, and the next. Because we can.
Apple Cheesecake Tart
(adapted from Southern Living 9/2014)
- 200 g (7 oz.) gingersnap cookies
- 1/2 cup walnuts/pecans
- 55 g (4 tablespoons, ¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 450 g (16 oz., 2 packages) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 kg (2 lbs.) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons apricot jelly mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F ( 190 °C).
- Make the crust: In a food processor, finely grind the gingersnap cookies and the walnuts. Add in the sugar and butter and combine. Lightly butter 9 inch (22 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. Evenly press the mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.
- Make the Cheesecake Filling: Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
- Pour the filling into the crust and smooth out the top with a spatula. Put the tart on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until almost firm, but still a little jiggly in the center. (If the filling browns too quickly, cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil.) Cool the tart on the rack and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- When the tart is chilled, prepare the apple topping: In a large skillet, melt the butter. Combine apples with sugar and cinnamon, and cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes, until softened. Don’t overcook, you don’t want the apples to turn mushy. Drain the excess liquid from the apples and let them cool.
- Assemble the tart: Arrange the cooled apple slices in a concentric pattern on the top of the chilled cheesecake. Heat the apricot jelly and water mixture in the microwave, strain it, and brush the apple slices with the glaze. Put the cheesecake tart under the broiler for couple of minutes until the apples brown up a little (watch them closely so they won’t burn.) Alternatively, use the torch to brown the apples. Chill the tart until serving.