Tanya Sergey cupped her hands around the pale, powdery ball of dough. She kneads and rolls, and occasionally she stops to sprinkle in flour.
“I prefer to use a tart pan for my pie crust because it makes it easier to take out,” she says, eyes focused on the task at hand. “And I like to do a braided crust, because it helps your pie be the star of the show, which it deserves to be.”
In Sergey’s kitchen, however, it’s hard to really pick a star, as everything is fresh, and quite frankly, fabulous. Since she opened the doors of her restaurant, A Moveable Feast, 1178 Chapel Crossing Road in Brunswick, offering up a selection of healthy “super foods” has been her niche.
But, come the holidays, Sergey, like many of us, is ready to splurge.
“I think that everyone is excited to get back to normal of course and having a normal holiday season. I think the food can go a long way in helping with that,” she says. “Of course, it’s a lot of really carb-heavy stuff.”
As the Thanksgiving and Christmas season approaches, many will start dreaming of creating the kind of bountiful tables they remember from their childhood. Sergey says these memories are the reason so many people recreate grandma’s pumpkin pie or squash casserole.
“It really is about nostalgia. It’s really satisfying and comforting. You have all of those connections,” she says.
But while some enjoy recreating holiday dishes from days gone by, others are equally content to relinquish control of holiday meals entirely. For the past few years, Sergey has been offering an option for those who would rather pick up and reheat than slave and toil.
“Certainly, with the pandemic, that was a big thing. We did 130 Thanksgiving meals last year. I usually start getting calls in mid-October,” she says as she arranges several eggs. “It’s $35 per person. It comes with everything you need ... soup, salad, turkey, gravy. There are seven choices for sides. Then, you get dessert.”
And, of course, one of the choices is — pumpkin pie. The bright dish is quintessentially fall and proves classic in every sense of the word.
“It’s tradition ... it’s the color too and the fact that it’s always ready to harvest around this time of year,” she says.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress it up a bit.
Sergey loves jazzing up her version to create something a bit more ...
“... sexy,” she offers with a laugh. “Pumpkin pie doesn’t have to be boring. You can do so many things with it. And you can get your kids involved too, which is a lot of fun. I topped it with some candy pecans, walnuts, dried cranberries, candied almonds, golden raisins, and chocolate ganache.”
Sergey also likes to incorporate other seasonal vegetables into her Thanksgiving table. Not only does she embrace pumpkin, she also welcomes another longtime fall favorite — squash.
“There’s so much you can do with squash,” she says, gesturing to her soup and casserole. “It’s just got such a beautiful color.”
Read on for Sergey’s own favorite recipes for these autumn favorites.
Butternut Squash Soup
4 small or 2 large butternut squash, sliced in half longways, seeded with a spoon
2 large white onions
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 12 oz cans coconut milk or 1 quart heavy cream
Dash of cayenne to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, coat a baking sheet with nonstick pan spray, and place squash face down. Bake for 30 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy bottomed pan with olive oil. Sauté onions on medium high until translucent and wilted. Add stock and stir to incorporate. Scrape flesh from squash into soup mixture. Add all spices and liquids, and bring to low boil. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, blend in batches on high. Return to pan and reheat. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
4 large zucchini squash
4 large summer squash
¼ cup fresh thyme
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
This super simple recipe is made even simpler with the help of a mandolin — a sharp kitchen slicer that provides consistent shapes and sizes when slicing is required.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray. Ready squash by cutting off stems and slicing uniformly in ¼ inch rounds. Lay squash rounds in rows until first layer of pan is filled. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, fresh thyme leaves, and cheddar cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Slowly pour heavy cream into casserole dish. Place into oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and bubbly.
1 cup flour
1 cup chilled butter, cubed
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
½ cup chilled water
Here is another holiday favorite made easier with the help of an indispensable kitchen appliance — the food processor, Sergey notes. Place flour, butter, salt, and sugar into food processor cup. Pulse on and off until a fine crumb is formed. With processor running, add cold water a few drops at a time until crust starts to pull together. Turn out onto a floured surface and form into a 1 ½ inch tall disk. Press together and wrap in plastic and chill at least an hour.
On a well-floured surface, roll crust out, alternating directions and sides until it meets the size of a pie tin or dish. Sergey likes to use a tart pan with removable sides for added visual appeal.
For the pie filling
¾ brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin puree
Whisk all these things together and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Top with whatever suits your fancy — whipped cream, nuts and dried fruits, caramel, or creme fraiche.