Apple Pie

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Continuing in the holiday food that I should have posted about earlier series…

I’m sure many have a deep and abiding love for apple pie. Actually, for a long time apple pie was the only type of pie that i could stand to eat. Most commercial pumpkin pies taste too much like baby food, and even our state’s famous key lime pie was too artificially enhanced for my liking.

On the other hand there was apple pie. I guess the thing is, apples are so abundant and so resistant to spoilage there isn’t much of a point in trying to use “apple flavoring.” Also, once the pie crust is cooked, there is not much left to making an apple pie except throwing some apples in there. Perhaps that is why even McDonald’s apple pies held an allure for me (not anymore though, too sweet!).

So, while Thanksgiving and Christmas normally only brings thoughts of Christmas Cake to my mind, I realized for many other people in the US apple pie was the thing to bake.

Oven Temperature: 425 F
Yield: 1 pie

Ingredients

  • 7 Apples
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cardamom

Directions

  1. Make pie crust according to this post.
  2. In a bowl, peel, core. and slice apples
  3. Cover apples with lemon juice, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cardamom. Mix.
  4. Set aside for about an hour, this helps the flavors to mix
  5. Place filling in crust
  6. Cover with either a plain crust with holes poked in or a lattice (tutorial!) crust.
  7. Brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle on some sugar for style
  8. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. It should be nice and bubbly.
  9. Let pie cool completely about an hour before serving.

Nothing to it!

By the way, check out this gorgeous pie from Parade! Doesn’t it look scrumptious?


Pie crust for Newbs

January 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so making pie crust isn’t that hard.

It just takes patience and lots of cool dough.

What is difficult is making croissants, which makes me think of how insane people must have been when croissants were invents because of the copious amounts of butter it involves. Seriously, what kind of food requires you to “laminate” it in butter? Of course it is totally worth it, but that is some unhealthy indulgence right there.

Anyway, making a pie crust isn’t like that. It is relatively simple, and just requires a lot of patience and cool dough.

I know this because I made my first pies this holiday season and they came out light, and flakey, and just perfectly saturated with the pie filing. So since I don’t consider myself a master chef, I know that you too can be good at pie making.

Oven Temperature: 450
Yield: 2 crusts

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter

Directions

  1. Place 1 cup of water into the freezer just before beginning your pie
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt
  3. Cut up butter into small pieces and add to the flour-mixture
  4. Using a pastry blender, two knives, two forks, or your hands, cut the butter into the flour. This means you are mixing the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are the size of peas and the mixture is very shaggy and crumbly. The mixture should not be totally even, but make sure to turn the mixture over as you cut the butter. I use my hands because I don’t own a pastry blender and I learned the old school way from my mom, but if you don’t have experience with cutting butter this way you can end up melting all of your butter. You want your butter super cold and visible, melted butter leads to a tough pie crust.
  5. Take your water out of the freezer, and make sure there is no ice in it. Drizzle 1/2 cup over the butter and flour.
  6. Begin gathering the dough together (preferably not with your hands, remember we want to warm it up as little as possible, plus that water is cold!) and add small amounts of water as needed to help the dough stick together.
  7. Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap.
  8. Chill dough for 2 hours or overnight.
  9. Flour your surface and your pin.
  10. Take out your chilled dough and flour that too. Don’t skimp or it will stick and oh man you don’t want a broken pie crust. If it does stick, use a dough scraper or a metal spatula to scrape it off of your rolling surface.
  11. Roll your dough slowly and gently. Roll out a few times, lift up the dough, and then turn it 90 degrees. Add flour. Repeat. This will take a while. If you are a weakling like me, your arms will hurt and you will wonder why you needed to make so many pies. Endure and think of the deliciousness your oven will deliver you.
  12. To trim the dough, I use a pizza cutter and add about 2-3 inches to the circumference of my pie pan.
  13. Let crust rest for 10 minutes before baking to help prevent shrinkage.
  14. To transfer, fold the pie dough into quarters loosely but first folding in half and then folding that in half again. Let it loose in your pan!
  15. Press the dough gently into the bottom of the pan, centering the dough as you go.
  16. There should be some overhang of dough over the edge of the pan. This will be your pie crust. If this is a single crust pie (like pumpkin pie) you will crimp the edges by pushing the dough into the knuckle of your pointer finger on one hand, with the thumb and pointer knuckle of the other hand, If it is a double crust, you put the top layer on after filling and crimp it then with an egg wash to help it stick.
  17. Let crust rest in the fridge 20 minutes before baking.

Blind Baking

Blind baking a pie is when you baker the pie crust before putting in the filling. Why would you do that? Well, it is mainly done when you are going to make a pie with a liquid filling that might make the crust too soggy, like pumpkin pie. You can also do it just to store the crust for later.

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pie. Try to get an even distribution since this helps prevent the bottom from poofing up.
  3. Weigh the pie done with pie weights. Some people use commercial pie weights, some people use beans or pennies (ewwww). I used rice since it was what I had on hand. I put wax paper over the crust and then poured in rice. This is now my pie baking rice and it is chilling in the freezer.
  4. Bake pie for 30 minutes, until the crust is a light brown.
  5. If you are worried about burning the crust when baking the filling, use a pie shield or cover the crust in foil to protect it.

Woo, that was a long post!

Relax and enjoy your pie! You deserve it!

P.S. Check out Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Tutorial for awesome pictures and step by step help!


Sorrel

December 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

What is sorrel?

You probably know the plant as hibiscus. What Trinis call sorrel is not the sorrel plant, but a drink which is produced from steeped hibiscus fruit or flowers and spices.

The drink is a brilliant red color,sour, sweet, and spiced. Also, it will stain anything forever.

For Trinis, it isn’t Christmas without sorrel! I can’t remember a year without it. When I was little I couldn’t wait to smell sorrel on the stove and drink some Poncha de crème with my Christmas Cake.

We are lucky enough to have a West Indian market nearby so that we can pick up sorrel whenever we want, but during this season, the shelves are empty. I know that in nearly every West Indian house nearby someone is getting out the big sorrel pot and steeping some flowers.

Obviously, that’s what’s going on at my house.

Ingredients

  • 10z dried Sorrel (if you don’t have a West Indian market you can get it here, or if you prefer organic, here
  • 330oz Water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 5lbs granuated sugar
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 liter Strawberry syrup

Directions

  1. Boil water in large pot
  2. Remove pot from heat and add dried sorrel, cinnamon, and clove
  3. Cover and leave overnight
  4. The next day, add sugar, bitters, and syrup to pot
  5. Stir to mix
  6. Strain sorrel and pour into container
  7. (optional) Flavor with rum for an alcoholic kick


Roasted Pepitas

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I know about this only because of a video game.

Before I made these, as a by-product of making pumpkin pie, I had never eaten a pumpkin seed before.

In the game Glitch, recently there was a holiday called Zille-o-ween which was an in game version of Halloween. Players grew pumpkins and got to make jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ale, and other pumpkin based foods. When you cut up the pumpkins to make these foods, you got roasted pepitas!

So, when I was cutting up some pumpkins to make pie and pulled out the seeds, I thought “Hey! I got pepitas!”

So anyway these are amazingly delicious and super duper healthy for you. Just don’t eat them all at once!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup of pepitas
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  1. Scoop seeds out of pumpkin
  2. Rinse with cold water to remove as much membrane as possible
  3. (optional) Boil with salt water for 10 minutes, this gives it a flavor more similar to sunflower seeds
  4. Place on paper towels in a single layer and let dry overnight
  5. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  6. Mix seeds, oil, salt, and pepper together
  7. Spread seeds out in single layer on foil lined baking sheet
  8. Cook for about 25 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Try to wait for them to cool before eating!


Giving thanks

November 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

  • I am and always will be thankful for being blessed to have such a wonderful immediate and extended family
  • For my friends who still talk to me even though I fail at life
  • For health and shelter in a time where many even in this rich nation have none and could only dream of above minimum wage jobs and health insurance

Happy Thanksgiving everyone


Cranberry sauce

November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

I will never forget my one and only “real” Thanksgiving.

Even though my family has lived in the USA for over a decade, we never quite acculturated all the way. No Thanksgiving, no Halloween, no Fourth of July. I think when we moved to the suburbs we bought a grill in an attempt to be “all-American” and it was used once and never again.

So… I never had a “real” Thanksgiving so much as a mini pre-Christmas.

My first Thanksgiving was my second year of college. I wasn’t going home for the fall break and my friend invited me to come to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner since she lived nearby.

It was like I was in the home of those people on TV!

Turkey and tons of people and children running around. Stuffing and “yams,” and cranberry sauce.

Now, the only exposure to cranberry sauce I had up until then was the canned kind that they served in the dining hall before fall break. So I was amazed when I saw my friend make this, and it was so simply and delicious!

So, when this year I was asked what I would bring to dinner, I immediately volunteered to bring cranberry sauce.

It is the easiest thing. It is almost not cooking, but it is so great!

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of Cranberries
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Wash cranberries and remove any that look too old and squishy
  2. Add cranberries, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice to large pot
  3. Cook until cranberries burst
  4. (optional) strain, but I love the taste of cranberry skins
  5. Cool and eat


Homemade Pumpkin Puree

November 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ok, so I’ve never carved a jack-o-lantern. I’ve never even made a pumpkin pie. I’ve never even made a pie before, unless galettes and pop-tarts count.

I don’t know why I volunteered to make pumpkin pie from scratch, but I am simultaneously super excited and super scared I will poison my whole family.

Lets see what happens!

So, of course, you need pumpkin purée for a pumpkin pie.

Ingredients

  • 2 small pumpkins

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Cut pumpkins in half from top to bottom
  3. Place pumpkins face down in baking pan on top of a cooking sheet
  4. Cook for about 1 hour
  5. When pumpkins are removed they will be browned and soft, allow to cool slightly (unless you are impatient like me)
  6. Scoop out the flesh ( I used one of those ice-cream scoops with the mechanical release to make it easier)
  7. Blend the scooped out flesh
  8. Store in fridge or freezer once thoroughly cooled

 

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