Chocolate Pecan Filo Pie

This is one of those desserts that your guests won't forget. I promise they will ask you for the recipe. TIP: Be sure to use really good quality chocolate; this will add to the success of this crowd pleasing dessert recipe. 

George Hirsch Pecan Filo Pie
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image: Hirsch Media

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Thanksgiving Countdown: Favorite Sides

This is the part of the Thanksgiving menu that does it for me. Steamy whipped mashed potatoes with flecks of caramelized garlic- my absolute favorite, especially with a side of Honey Grilled Acorn Squash. Don't get me wrong, I won't pass up on the sweet potatoes and cranberry dressing. But if my plate is too full, then I might wait on the Wild Rice Stuffing until my next serving, then pair it with some Savory Herb Gravy.

George Hirsch Lifestyle Mousseline Potatoes
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Pumpkin Ravioli

Ravioli, a pasta whose name derives from the verb "to wrap" (ravvolgere).

George Hirsch Pumpkin Ravoli

A century ago stuffed pasta with vegetable-based fillings were eaten on Fridays and during Lent. The meat-stuffed varieties, on the other hand, were a day-after treat made with the leftover meats from Sunday dinners or festive meals. Autumn is the perfect time to stuff-it with fall squash or what has become a viewer favorite from my TV series - pumpkin.

TIPS: 

Uncooked ravioli will freeze well for a two months, when stored flat in single layers.

Make mini ravioli for soups.

Ricotta Pasta Dough

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour, variable

10 ounces ricotta, well drained

2 whole eggs, beaten

1 egg yolk, add to beaten eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt 

To Mix By Hand:

Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in the center of a large wooden cutting board or use a large deep bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the ricotta and eggs. Begin to mix all ingredients by hand folding the flour round and round. 

The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. 

Once the dough comes together, remove the dough from the bowl and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. If too sticky add a little more flour.

Wrap the dough in plastic, refrigerate overnight or allow to rest for at least one hour. Because of the eggs, the Ricotta Dough should be cooked or frozen within three days.

Roll or shape as desired. 

From here you can prepare ravioli, fettuccini, pappardelle, or endless variety of shapes. 

Divide the dough into four pieces. Lightly dust a large wooden board with flour and roll slightly by hand, repeat dusting with flour flipping dough over as you make it thinner and thinner. The trick is to use just the right amount of flour, too little it will stick, too much and the pasta will become tough when cooked. 

A pasta dough machine with metal rollers and cutters is ideal to give you variety of options. But with a little practice by hand, you’ll roll the dough like a pro. 

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George's Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe
Makes four-six servings
chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

4 pre-made pasta sheets or 1 recipe George’s Ricotta Pasta Dough

For the Pumpkin Filling:
1/2 cup can pumpkin
1 cup fresh ricotta, well drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
Pinch fresh nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
Optional,  1 Tablespoon dried bread crumbs if filling is too moist

To Fill Ravioli: 
Lay out pasta sheet on a lightly floured board. Cut into two inch squares with a knife or pastry cutter. Put 1 Tablespoon pumpkin filling in the center using either a pastry bag or a small spoon. Leave a 1/4-inch border all around the filling. Moisten borders with water and top with remaining rounds of dough. Press all the air out and seal firmly by pressing all around with fingertips. Place raviolis on a lightly floured board or baking sheet and lightly sprinkle the tops with fine corn meal to keep from sticking. Repeat until you run out of dough and/or filling. 

Prepare the sauce, then cook the ravioli, by boiling in lightly salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. 

Butter & Sage Sauce:
6 Tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
3 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup pecan pieces
Parmesan cheese to taste 

Heat a sauté pan and melt butter. As butter begins to brown add garlic clove, pecans and sage leaves. Remove ravioli directly from water and place in sauté pan to coat with butter. Add about 2 Tablespoons pasta water to sauce. Serve on a warm platter with  with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. 

classic apple pie

Looking forward to a wedge of mile high apple pie at your Thanksgiving dinner? Make your own. I have included my winning flaky pie crust recipe in addition to the ultimate traditional apple pie recipe. I'll be using a mix of local tart and sweet apples. I will be making a few apple pies since one is never enough. Enjoy!

George Hirsch Apple Pie as featured in Celebrate Magazine

Q & A with George: 

Why do you consider pies a strong technique of yours?

My mother and grandmother were both excellent bakers. Plus, the early stage of my professional cooking and baking practical experience required baking a pie to perfection. Most European chefs I trained with were not about giving a second chance if it did not come out well.

 Why are people hesitant to make their own pies?

Baking can be intimidating. If someone has experience with set baking skills, sometimes it just comes down to available time one has to spend in the kitchen. Mixing the dough, allowing it to rest, preparing the filling, assembly, and baking all take time. And the hardest part of all is the after-baking waiting, letting the pie cool down so the filling sets. Have you ever stared at a well-baked pie and not wanted to dig in? 

Premade pie crust versus homemade pie crust?

Acceptable to use a premade crust for efficiency on time, and for someone who is just beginning to bake because it’s a good way to gain pie-making experience. However, I do encourage giving from scratch a try, as making a pie crust is very easy and should be attempted. The worst thing that can happen—you eat and start again.

What is the most common mistake people make when making a pie?

–Underbaking the bottom crust. 99% of pies have a bottom crust that is not baked. 

–Tough and chewy pie crust.

–Runny fillings. 

What are the must-have tools for pie baking?

A good rolling stick, a heavy-gauge metal pie pan—and I love rolling dough on marble to keep the crust cold. 

as featured in Celebrate Magazine

Apple Pie Recipe

Makes 8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 recipe pastry for George’s Favorite Pie Crust, see below
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 medium size Granny Smith apples; peeled, cored and sliced
2 medium size Rome, gala or a sweeter apple; peeled, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer two minutes. Cool and mix with sliced apples.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a top crust or a lattice crust. To add a richer color to a double-crust or lattice-topped pie, brush the top crust with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with teaspoon of water) before baking.

Bake 15 minutes at 425, reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

For a nice shine, as soon as the pie is removed from oven, mix a quarter cup of light corn syrup with a couple Tablespoons of water. Boil for 3-5 minutes. When the pie is done, brush the thinned syrup over the top of the crust.

Optional: 
Add 1/4 cup plump raisins, cranberries or walnuts to apple filling

*George’s Favorite Pie Crust

Makes 1 pie or 2 bottom crusts

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup cold milk

Chill the butter and milk before you begin. Chilling keeps the pie crust flaky and prevents the fat pieces from melting into the flour and becoming tough. 

Next, mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Cut the chilled butter into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The mixture should have fat lumps no larger than the size of raisins. If making pie crust in the summer time cool off the flour by measuring your flour and refrigerate one hour before making dough.

Pour in the chilled liquid just until the milk is absorbed, mixing gently with a fork. You should be able to gently press the dough into a ball. Mix the dough as little as possible: you don't want to cream the lumps of butter into the flour. A crust without lumps of butter will be dense, not flaky. Note that humidity will affect how much liquid the flour will absorb.

Split the dough into two parts; 2/3 and 1/3 (2/3 for the bottom and 1/3 for the top). Pat them into balls, flattening them slightly, and wrap them in plastic wrap. The dough needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is preferred. Chilling lets the flour absorb all of the liquid, lets the dough relax and become more elastic, and keeps the fat in separate pieces which will give the crust a lighter texture when it is baked.

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