With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we're kicking off a chef-driven recipe series leading up to the big meal. Since turkey (roasted, smoked, or deep-fried) is a given, this series focuses on periphery dishes and drinks. Make sure you check out part one in the series, Green Russell's Punch , and in part two, learn how to make Pizzeria Da Lupo's Brussels sprouts salad .
Part Three: Dessert
To top off the big feast, Tamara Brink, chef-owner of Humble Pie  in Baker, recommends making one of two pies: her can't-go-wrong spiced pumpkin or a decadent chocolate-bourbon pecan. Better yet, make both.
Brink's pie crust recipe is unconventional but it produces worthwhile results.
(makes enough for two 9-inch crusts)
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed
½ cup cold vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
¼ cup cold vodka
½ cup cold water
Cut  the first five ingredients together, until butter and shortening are pea-sized. Mixing by hand, slowly (one tablespoon at a time) add the well chilled water and vodka (vodka, initially adding moisture, evaporates during baking, creating the flakiest of crusts). Separate into two dough balls. One at a time, roll out dough between two sheets of large Saran wrap (this eliminates the need for extra flour, which dries out the crust). Remove top layer of plastic wrap, flip crust over into pie plate, press into pan, remove second layer of wrap, fill crust (recipes below), and bake accordingly.
Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Each year I feign disinterest in pumpkin pie—until I take a bite. Brink’s version, which is airy, nicely spiced, and topped by sweetened whipped cream, reminds me why the dessert is so beloved.
(makes one pie)
2 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 ½ cups pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not pie filling)
1 ½ cups whole milk
Set egg whites aside. Mix yolks with all remaining ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until fluffy and merengue-like. Gently fold whipped whites into pumpkin mixture and stir. Pour into prepared, unbaked, pie crust. Bake at 350° until center is set, at least one hour.
(makes about three cups)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer pour, beat on medium for three to four minutes until the cream begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla, continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Top whole, cooled pie with homemade whipped cream. Slice and serve.
Tamara’s Famous Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
Brink's pecan pie gets a modern makeover with toasty pecans, melt-y chocolate, and a gooey bourbon-scented filling. The final result is reminiscent of a perfectly under baked chocolate-chip cookie. Seconds? Yes please.
(makes one pie)
3 large eggs
¾ cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups pecans, chopped
½ cup chocolate chips
Mix eggs, corn syrup, butter, light brown sugar, bourbon, flour, and vanilla in large bowl until well combined. Add chopped pecans and chocolate chips; mix well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake on bottom rack of oven at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, bake for 45 more minutes. Allow pie to cool for one hour before slicing. Best served slightly warm.
Bonus: If the thought of baking gives you heart palpitations, order desserts directly  from Humble Pie and pick them up before the big feast.