Obama calls troops on Thanksgiving before digging into White House feast of 6 pies

Pie, oh, pie. The White House will offer six different pie varieties at Obama's Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, down from the nine pastry options at the 2013 meal. This year guests will enjoy banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie and cherry pie. In 2013, the White House had offered huckleberry, peach, chocolate cream and sweet potato pies, but they didn't make the cut in 2014. Cherry pie wasn't on the menu last year. The downsizing may be due to the new White House pastry chef, Susan E. (Susie) Morrison, named the successor to departing chef William Yosses in November. President Obama, the First Lady and first daughters Malia, 16, and Sasha, 13, will be hosting their Thanksgiving meal at the White House and will "be dining with family," an official said. Before digging into the food, a casually clad Obama stopped by the Oval Office in the morning to telephone five deployed members of the military. Obama expressed his thanks to the troops, noting that their missions "from supporting the effort to stamp out Ebola on the frontlines to helping to prosecute the campaign against ISIL" was vital to national security, the White House said. The menu for the main meal includes turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing (cornbread and oyster), mac & cheese, sweet and mashed potatoes and green beans. "On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha, Bo, and Sunny – I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Like many of you, we’ll spend the day with family and friends, catching up, eating some good food and watching a little football. Before we lift a fork, we lend a hand by going out into the community to serve some of our neighbors in need. And we give thanks for each other, and for all of God’s blessings," the President said in his holiday address. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

White House Thanksgiving dinner to have 9 types of pie…but what will President Obama choose?

First Lady Michelle Obama is saying "let's eat!" this Thanksgiving, offering up a choice of nine pies for the food fest which should satisfy the pie-loving President. Lucky guests at the White House will have their pick of huckleberry, pecan, peach, apple, chocolate cream, sweet potato, pumpkin, and coconut and banana cream pies. President Obama's favorite pie is a topic that has been up for debate during his presidency. Some media outlets report he has a fondness for sweet potato pie, but others claim coconut cream is his true heart's desire. Yet others point to apple and Boston cream pies as Obama's top preferences. His college roommate from Occidental College, Paul Carpenter, said in 2012 that Obama joined the Carpenter clan for Thanksgiving in 1983 and the future President declared the Carpenter family's coconut chiffon pumpkin pie was his favorite. With nine pies available at the 2013 feast, the President should be satisfied. The menu for the meal Thursday also included turkey, honey-baked ham, cornbread stuffing, oyster stuffing, greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner rolls, the White House Press Office revealed. The Obamas opted to stick around the White House for their holiday celebration, though many Presidents have celebrated the festivities at Camp David. A guest list wasn't released of who will be joining the President, First Lady and daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, around the table for the day. On a mobile device? Watch the video here. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Pie expert shares her slice of secrets

​Kate McDermott has never sold a pie in her life, but she’s taught pie making to thousands of bakers across the country. Most Sunday mornings she can be found on Facebook, answering questions about all things pie.She didn’t start making pie until she was in her mid-40s, and after baking her first blueberry pie she spent more than two years on a quest for the perfect crust. To say she’s become obsessed with pie might be an understatement.Lucky for us, she shares her knowledge, recipes and lessons in life in her new cookbook, “Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life” (Countryman Press, $35).Every month, McDermott holds classes at her Pie Cottage in Port Angeles, Wash., where she recently started working on her next book. Q. Tell us how you got into making pies. What’s the first thing you learned? A. Actually, the first thing I learned was to bake without a recipe. I started baking when I was a little girl, without measuring equipment and recipes. I was taught by someone who that’s how they learned to bake. I was fortunate. There was never any failure involved. It was either amazing outcome or a creative outcome, always something to be learned.My grandmother was the pie baker in our family. I would watch her. She never wrote a recipe down. I write about how I was with her when she made her very last pie. Q. Do you remember the first pie you made?A. It was a blueberry pie. In my mid-40s I was working on a blueberry farm and the farmer asked me to make something for The Grange sale. I went to the store and bought crust because I was not confident. Years later, I was asked again to make pie. It started a 2½-year quest to make the best crust. I became obsessed. Q. What have you learned about making pie crust?A. I have such a wide range of pie crust in the book because I really wanted to have a pie crust for everybody. All of them are easy.I wanted to be Continue Reading

Where to go apple picking

Autumn is synonymous with back to school, leaf peeping and, of course, apple picking. The Lower Hudson Valley had a fruitful growing season, says Julia Stewart, a spokesperson for the New York Apple Association, so consumers should have no trouble finding plenty of high quality apples in many varieties.Check out our list of local apple growers who have opened their orchards to crowds wanting to pick their own. Many also offer goodies such as hayrides, homemade donuts and apple cider. Before you head out, though, call each orchard or check its website to find out which varieties are available and to make sure they’re still picking.For more growers, apple varieties, recipes and other information, visit nyapplecountry.com. Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard, North SalemThroughout September, they’re picking McIntoshes, while from late September to early October, they’re picking Golden Delicious and Crispin apples. Other varieties are available at the farm store. Already-gathered gourds can be found at the pumpkin patch starting on Sept. 17. Stay for fall festival weekends, which are in full swing and run through October. But take note: Festival weekends attract big crowds. A great excuse for a family outing, festival weekends include music, hayrides and face-painting, pony rides and food vendors.Go: 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem. 914-485-1210, harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com.Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day and fall festival weekends. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $5 for fall festival weekends. Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, Yorktown HeightsThe farm is open daily through mid-December and offers pick-your-own apples starting in September and pumpkins starting in October. Check out the three farm markets for a variety of fall goodies including the farm’s own pressed apple cider, freshly baked pies, apple cider donuts and gift items. Walk to the picking orchard or, on weekends, ride the Continue Reading

Time to order Thanksgiving pies

The cast of "Rent" sings about “seasons of love.”For those of us who measure our lives in pastries, November is an exciting time of year. Even though National Pie Month isn’t until February, pie season kicks off now. Here are our top picks for pies in the area, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or just a regular Thursday.  From coconut custard to southern pecan, there’s something for everyone on Grandma’s extensive pie menu. All pies are also available by the slice. The bakery is closed Mondays and open from 8 a.m-9:30 p.m. every other day. Call or stop by to order; the shop will be open Thanksgiving Day until 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.  3525 Crompond Road, Cortlandt, 914-739-7770.    Best of Westchester’s 2016 winner for “Best Pies,” Baked by Susan has been slinging delicious pies using vintage equipment since 2010. Watch the magic happen through the shop’s large glass window. A new offering this year is a sampler trio of the bakery’s most popular pies, apple, pumpkin and pecan, for $30. Thanksgiving orders can be placed online and must be in by November 12. Gluten-free pies are available upon request. 163 Grand Street, Croton-on-Hudson, 914-862-0874. Bakedbysusan.com.Deborah Tyler first made pies on her back porch in Nyack. Then she turned her home commercial kitchen into a full shop in 1996, serving up tasty pies that come in three sizes. (Tyler, the “pie lady,” does the baking, while her son manages.)  Try the apple cranberry pie for a bright twist on tradition for the table. The deadline for Thanksgiving orders is Tuesday, Nov. 15. Orders can be placed on the website and picked up from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at the shop or at the farmers market the weekend before Thanksgiving. 366 N. Highland Avenue, Nyack, 845-535-3290. pielady.com.Everything here is gluten-free, dairy-free and Kosher. It’s your one-stop, worry-free shop for all your sweet needs. The ginger Continue Reading

List: Where to go apple picking in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Fall is prime time for apples, pumpkins, hayrides and corn mazes, too!With our colleagues at the North Jersey Media Group and the Poughkeepsie Journal, we’ve put together an extensive list of destinations. All are great for a daytrip with kids in tow — many farms have playgrounds, hayrides and petting zoos — a few offer wineries and craft beer if you want to make it an adult getaway. PICK YOUR OWN: Best places to go apple picking outside NYC Dr. Davies Farm, CongersOpen for apple picking beginning Sept. 2 and then daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (weather permitting). There are over 4,000 trees and 15 different varieties of apples on 55 acres. Picking poles are available to rent and friendly, leashed dogs, are welcome. To find out what varieties the farm is picking, call that day. 306 Route 304, Congers, 845-268-7020. The Orchards of Concklin, PomonaApple picking begins Sept. 17 and is on Sundays only, and Columbus Day Monday, when the season is scheduled to end, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weather permitting. The farm stand also offers fresh baked goods and cider. 2 S. Mountain Road (off Route 45), Pomona, 845-354-0369. orchardsofconcklin.com Harvest Moon Farm & Orchards, North SalemApple picking every day, picking hours 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. One $30 bag (which can hold 25 pounds of apples) admits five people to the orchard. Farm store open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem, 914-485-1210, harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com. Outhouse Orchards, North Salem Choose from two size bags: $20 gets ½ bushel; $30 gets you 2/3 bushel. $5 parking fee on weekends. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, 139 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem, 914-277-3188, outhouseorchardsny.com. Stuart’s Fruit Farm, Granite SpringsApple picking is already underway and and runs daily, 10 a.m-5 p.m. through November. There are over 20 different varieties to choose from so go to the farm’s website and see what is Continue Reading

Take your pick: Where to find apples

Fall is synonymous with back to school, leaf peeping, and of course, apple picking. The peak harvest season has begun with loads of orchards offering Honey Crisps, Macouns, Golden Delicious and many more varieties. If you're wondering when to go pick and how the crop will be this season, Jim Allen, president of New York Apple Association, says this year’s apple harvest has been about average, with dryer conditions in Southern Hudson Valley making for sweeter crops.Check out our list of local apple growers who have opened their orchards to crowds looking to pick their own. Many also offer hayrides, homemade donuts and apple cider, too. Before you head out this weekend, call or check each orchard’s website to find out which varieties are available and to make sure they are still picking. For more growers, apple varieties, recipes and other information visit nyapplecountry.com. WESTCHESTER Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard, North SalemIn late September and early October, they're picking Ida Reds, Crispin and Northern Spy apples (other varieties available in the farm store), and already-gathered gourds at the pumpkin patch. Stay for fall festival weekends which are in full swing and run through October, but take note, festival weekends attract big crowds. A great excuse for a family outing, festival weekends include music, hay rides and face-painting.Go: 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem. 914-485-1210, www.harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day and fall festival weekends. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission fee is $5 for fall festival weekends. Wilkens Fruit Farm, YorktownThe farm is open daily through mid-December and offers apples starting in September and pumpkins in October – all of which you can pick yourself. In addition to apples, check out the three farm markets for a variety of fall goodies including the farm’s own pressed apple cider, freshly baked pies, apple Continue Reading

Best places to go apple picking outside NYC

When it comes to apples, this is a good time to be living in New York, the largest apple-growing state east of the Mississippi — and second only to Washington in the country.“The big story in apples today is flavor,” said Julia Stewart, spokesperson for the New York Apple Association. “Consumers have made it clear that they want varieties that taste great, and our growers are all over that.”So you’ll find a lot of new varieties and lots of apples to pick this year. LIST: Where to go apple picking in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut CRAFT BEER: The Hudson Valley craft beer tour FALL FOLIAGE: New England destinations EARLY PICKING: Apple plentiful at Wilklow Orchard in Highland “The apple category is exploding, and there is a big shakeup in the variety production throughout the country,” said Stewart. Two new varieties from Cornell, SnapDragon and RubyFrost, can only be sourced from New York, and the state also grows some of the best Honeycrisp and Gala in the country, she added.Heirloom varieties are also popular, as are the traditional ones, such as McIntosh and Empire (named for NYS).“Our state has the perfect apple-growing climate and geography,” she added. Cool nights and warm days have created the ideal conditions for a bountiful crop of apples with the best color and crunch, especially if they are fresh from the farm.There’s also been a big boom in hard cider production. “This trend reflects consumers’ interest in local foods and beverages, and follows on the heels of the popularity of microbrew beers,” Stewart said.If you want to pick your own, here are a few suggestions; see an extended list at lohud.com, or go to nyapplecountry.com for a listing of farms and pick-your-own near your zip code. Check websites or call first to confirm available varieties, hours and fees. MORE APPLE PICKING: An Continue Reading

The ultimate pie perfection at Ditto’s Grill

Dominic Serratore and his fiancee were biking over the Rocky Mountains when they had to cut their trip short so she could accept a position with GE, in Louisville.Serratore remembers asking, “Louisville, where is it?”Not only did he find the city on the map, he landed a coveted position in the city he now calls home. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he had worked in four-star restaurants in New York and Miami. That experience catapulted him to the top spot at Louisville’s historic Casa Grisanti.When he and Grisanti colleague, Frank Yang, ventured out on their own to open Ditto’s Grill, 1114 Bardstown Road, in 1990, they envisioned a menu that blended Italian, Asian and Southwest cuisines.“We wanted interesting food at reasonable prices, somewhere you didn’t have to dress up,” Serratore said. “Ours is not a bizarre menu but it has a certain amount of creativity. Rather than being revolutionary, we have been evolutionary."Over the past 25 years, Ditto’s has become a revered Highlands dining spot for selections such as Thai wings, crab meat quesadilla, citrus cod and pork chop with Port wine sauce. And pies. Chocolate pies, fruit pies, about every type of pie you can imagine.“I have made a lot of pies in my day,” Serratore said. “I was working in a restaurant before I was to begin culinary school. One day the pastry chef didn’t show up. I spent the summer teaching myself. It was quite an experience. I grabbed magazine articles and 'The Joy of Cooking.' I was a sponge.” ►DITTO'S RECIPES: Summer berry pie | Peach Melba pie | Key lime pie Later, in the library at the CIA, he found "The Pie Marches On," a book from the 1940s.“It was highly collectible. Reading it was how I learned to make pies," he said.He makes about 15 pies a week and features two types of pie each day at Ditto’s. The best seller is old fashioned coconut cream. His personal Continue Reading

Where to buy Thanksgiving pies

Give thanks that pumpkin's not the only pie on the plate - and for the abundance of places around town where you can order magnificent Thanksgiving desserts like banana cream with macadamia nut crust, bourbon-pecan, organic apple crumb and chocolate cream. One caveat: Order early. And here's a little secret: many bakeries still have a great selection on hand at the last minute, so not to worry if you totally spaced and forgot to place an order. Here's where to shop: At Belli, a Brooklyn-based dining and events company, 10-inch organic pies come in flavors like maple pumpkin, honey ginger pear crumble, Williamsburg pecan pie with Knob Hill bourbon, and lemon meringue. All double-crusted pies are baked with a pie bird. Prices range from $20 to $25, and Belli will deliver anywhere in Manhattan for a $5 charge. With orders of $50 or more, there's free delivery. To phone in an order, call 1-646-701-7047. You may also order on line by emailing [email protected] The website is www.bellinyc.com. 543 Clinton St. on the corner of Nelson St., Brooklyn. Baked, a bakery in Red Hook, is offering three fall pies for the holiday: autumn apple with plenty of warm spices, pumpkin spice in an oat crust, and chocolate bourbon pecan. Orders must be placed by Tuesday, Nov. 20. Call 1-718-222-0345. The website is www.bakednyc.com. 359 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn. Blue Smoke's holiday dessert selection features a couple of pies that are a cut above the rest: a banana cream pie in a walnut vanilla wafer crust and a key lime in a honey graham crust. More traditional pies such as bourbon pecan, pumpkin, apple crumb and cranberry walnut round out the selection and cost $27 for a nine-inch pie. Order deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 20 by 6pm. Pick them up anytime on Wednesday before 11 pm. Closed on Thanksgiving. 116 E. 27th St. bet. Park and Lexington Aves., (212) 447-7733. Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant is taking orders now right up until the Monday before Thanksgiving. Pick up Continue Reading