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Winner of Your Best Non-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert

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Congratulations to drbabs, whose Ginger Apple Torte won this week's contest for Your Best Non-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert -- earning her a $200 gift card from Williams-Sonoma, plus big prizes from Viking and OXO, and a spot in the next food52 cookbook!


drbabs  Ginger Apple Torte

Q&A with drbabs

Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
When I was growing up, my mother cooked regular meals, but it was my father who cooked the special ones. Fresh-caught catfish filets soaked in milk and dry mustard, dipped in cornmeal and fried to golden deliciousness; steak that he would inject with pureed garlic (and God knows what else) before grilling; beef and chicken marinating for hours in spicy liquid. He made cooking look fun and special and wonderful.

What's your least favorite food?
Definitely liver. It's a texture thing.

What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
The best thing I made this year (and maybe ever) was ENunn's Shrimp and Grits Style Risotto, which I was testing for food52. It was an enormous amount of work -- and I'm a person who likes to cook simply -- but it was so worth the extra effort. It was incredible.

Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.

Not so spectacular, but here's what comes to mind. I make a wonderful apple pie. It's a pie that I've made so many times that I can make it in my sleep, and it always gets raves. My husband loves it and brags about my pie to his friends. Last year we had a dinner party and he asked me to make the pie. When I cut into it, the apples had turned to mush and the pie ran all over the place. It still tasted good, but it was nothing to rave about. Here's what I learned: when you make apple pie, you need fresh apples if you want them to hold their shape.

What is your idea of comfort food?

Fried eggs on toast, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a runny grilled cheese sandwich… food that is soft and warm and, well, comforting.

Apron or no apron?
I actually bought an apron this year after I ruined yet another brand new shirt. But I never remember to wear it. So no apron.

What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
Recently, the two that come to mind are the scene in It's Complicated in which Meryl Streep's character teaches Steve Martin's character to make croissants. And Julie and Julia -- everything that demonstrated Julia Child's joy in learning to cook. (Interesting that Meryl Streep is in both…)

If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
My family is spread out all over the place and we are rarely together at the same time. I would love to cook a meal for all of them (but they would have to stay out of the kitchen).

You prefer to cook: a. alone, b. with others, c. it depends on your mood
Alone. Definitely alone. As in, get out of my way.

When it comes to tidying up, you usually: a. clean as you cook, b. do all the dishes once you've finished cooking, c. leave the kitchen a shambles for your spouse/roommate/kids to clean.
I clean as I cook. Can't stand messiness in the kitchen.

  • Mardi Gras  drbabs & family
  • Drbabs with a King Cake at Mardi Gras (left) and with her parents and daughter Allie