I had a few options, but in the end I couldn’t pass up the excuse to crack open a jar of homemade jam to make these adorable bite-sized versions of Bakewell Tart, a quintessentially British concoction of a pastry shell filled with a thin layer of jam and sweet almond frangipane, and finished with a thin layer of white almond-scented glaze.Continue Reading
Can I be honest for a second here? I just don’t get why everyone makes such a fuss about chocolate desserts.
Sure, chocolate is delicious and wonderful, but there aren’t enough witty fridge magnets in the world to convince me that it’s a) worth killing over, b) a cure-all for PMS or c) better than sex. (A deeply discounted pair of gorgeous shoes, on the other hand? Yeah, all of the above.)Continue Reading
If apple and walnut were teenaged girls, they’d probably spend hours on the phone each night talking about absolutely nothing, and have regular sleepovers so that they can braid each other’s hair and talk about boys. They’d be, like, BFFFs… because just one Forever isn’t enough for this kind of friendship.
Then, along came dulce de leche. Apple was immediately smitten, leaving poor walnut feeling a little left out. With dulce de leche being so lusciously rich, smooth and sweet, is it any wonder that apple fell head over heels for this South American dreamboat? This twosome is almost as good together as apple and walnut are, albeit in a totally different sort of way… dulce de leche’s unabashed sticky sweetness is a perfect match for tart, crisp apples.
I know they say three’s a crowd, but when it comes to this rustic little galette, I think walnut and dulce de leche can learn to get along… for apple’s sake, anyways. Mind you, it probably helps that there’s a little whiskey in there to encourage everyone to mingle.
It’s sweet, it’s sticky, just a little bit nutty, and not fussy at all. It’s got all the deliciousness of an apple pie, but with only half the work. Perfect to finish off a simple supper for your BFFs.
FYI: The crust recipe makes enough for two tarts. This way, you can divide it in half so that you can have one galette right away, and then freeze the second half (tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and a zip-seal baggie, natch) to make another galette anytime within the next month. My prediction? You’ll probably end up making that second galette within the week.
Apple Galette with a Walnut Crust
Crust adapted from Eating Well
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 tbsp walnut oil
6-7 tbsp cold water
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp whiskey or bourbon
3 tbsp dulce de leche
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine walnuts, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the walnuts are very finely chopped. Add butter, and continue pulsing until the mixture looks crumbly, like coarse meal.
Turn out into a mixing bowl. Stir in the walnut oil, then begin adding water 1 tbsp at a time and stirring until the dough begins to come together. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Gather each half into a ball, then flatter into a disc. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Once the dough is well chilled, unwrap one of the discs and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll out into a 12″ circle.
Preheat the oven to 450F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour and whiskey. Stir until combined.
Spread out the dulce de leche onto the prepared crust, leaving a 3″ border untouched around the edges. Top with the apple filling, spreading out into an even layer to cover the dulce de leche (if you want to be fancy, you can also fan out the slices in concentric circles over the dulce de leche to make it look prettier).
Using the parchment paper as an aid, fold in the edges of the dough to encase the apple filling, pinching any gaps or tears closed to keep the filling contained during the baking process. Gently transfer to a baking sheet. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash, and sprinkle with demerara sugar and cinnamon.
Bake the galette in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Or, as I’ve affectionately nicknamed it: Lights, Camera, OMIGOD-I-have-to-make-a-video.
Back when I wrote my first entry for Project Food Blog, I said: “I’ll probably end up regretting this if I end up having to film a video at some point.” At the time I figured there was zero chance I’d ever make it to this point in the competition, so I decided to totally ignore the possibility I might actually have to follow through with that.
I’m pretty sure that Murphy laughing himself silly somewhere, because he’s taught me a lesson (once again) about the inevitability of his Law. Phooey on you, Murphy.
Unfortunately, I’d already promised myself I wouldn’t chicken out on any of the challenges, so there was no backing out of this one. So once I was done kicking myself, I decided I’d do something so completely and utterly silly that I’d have too much fun to remember how much I hate the sound of my voice, how awkward I feel in front of a camera, and how enormous my rear end looks when shot from behind on a wide-angle. And it worked. It’s incredibly silly, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d thought it might be.
Thankfully, I was able to find a style that actually benefits from my complete lack of budget and acting skills – a 1950s-style educational film, to be more specific. Most of these films are now in the public domain, which means there are dozens of them kicking around on YouTube for your viewing pleasure (including this particular gem of home ec advice that you must watch). I watched quite a few while in pre-production, which means I’m now fully versed on how to be popular, how to stay well-groomed, how to make chocolate cake for my husband’s lunch, how to say no to drugs, how to protect my country from the Commie menace, and how to ask a girl out to the sock hop on Friday night. Exactly the kinds of things a girl ought to know to survive in the modern world, right?
Even with all that homework, there’s no way I could have made it through this challenge without my Gemini-nominated team… err… I mean, The Boy. Aside from acting as cameraman, film editor, consultant, producer and sound guy, he’s also the only thing that stood between me and a nervous breakdown. I foresee a lot of homemade chicken soup and chocolate cakes in his near future in exchange for his services.
Once it was all said and done, the end result of all that kitchen-scrubbing, pie-baking, hair-pulling, audio-recording, video-editing and music-selecting is this short little video about a housewife and an apple pie. It’s by far the goofiest thing I’ve ever done for the sake of this blog. And it doesn’t totally suck. Hurray!
Okay, so we did actually end up with just a little more than just a video… there was pie, too.
And let me tell you, this is the platonic ideal of apple-pie-dom. The filling is not too sweet, not too tart, and not too spicy. I used a blend of juicy fresh-from-the-orchard Northern Spy and Spartan apples, both of which are mighty fine pie-making varieties, but any tart apple that holds its shape when baked will do just fine. As for the crust, I dare you to find a richer, flakier, tender-er crust recipe. I’d happily eat a bowl of this crust, all by its lonesome.
Sure, it may look relatively humble and uninteresting compared to some other desserts, but there’s something to be said for straightforward simplicity at this time of year, when the apples are at their absolute best.
I guess what I’m trying to say, in my usual long and roundabout way, is that I’ve made my peace with this video challenge. No regrets, even if it turns out this is the end of the road. After all, anything that ends with pie can’t possibly be that bad, right?
So there you have it. My first (and most likely only) video post. Promise you won’t laugh. At least… not too hard, and only at the bits I meant to be funny.
Classic Apple Pie
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chilled butter, cubed
1/2 cup chilled shortening, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp white vinegar
3-4 tbsp ice-cold water
8 cups peeled and thinly sliced tart apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp water
Start by preparing the dough. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt and cinnamon until combined. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until the mixture is crumbly, like coarse oatmeal. Stir in the egg yolk and vinegar, then add water by the tablespoon until the dough just starts to come together. (You should err on the side of caution, here – the dough should still be ever so slightly crumbly, but hold together when you squeeze a handful)
Divide the dough into two equal halves. Wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap, shaping into a flat disc. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a large mixing bowl, all of the filling ingredients and stir until the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
Once the dough is thoroughly chilled, preheat the oven to 425F.
Dust a work surface generously with flour. Unwrap the first piece of dough, and roll it out on the prepared work surface into a 13″ circle. Transfer into a 9″ pie plate.
Spoon the filling mixture into the pie shell, mounding slightly towards the center.
Unwrap the second piece of dough, and roll out into a 10″ circle to make the top crust. Use a small cookie cutter or a knife to cut out vents for steam. If desired, you can save the cut-outs and set them aside for decoration.
Drape the top crust over the apple filling. Using a sharp knife, trim off any ragged edges, leaving a half-inch overhand all around. Press the edges tightly to seal, then crimp decoratively.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg and water to make egg wash. Brush onto the top of the pie, adding reserved cut-outs for decoration if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling hot, covering with foil if the crust starts to brown too quickly.
OK, it’s kind of dorky to get excited about Pi Day, but you have to admit that it’s rather nice to have an excuse to spend a whole day thinking about pie, baking pie, eating pie and doing other pie-related things.
If only everything math-related was this yummy, I might have gotten some half-decent marks in high school algebra. Besides, it’s also a perfect excuse to post a recipe I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while – a traditional French-Canadian tourtiere.
Tourtiere is a meat pie prepared from a combination of ground meats (usually pork, beef and veal) that’s usually served on Christmas Eve in French-Canadian households during the big holiday feast we call the réveillon.
If you ask me, though, something this delicious really deserves to be served a lot more often than just once a year – especially since it’s actually much easier to make than you’d think. So this Pi Day, I’m starting a new tradition of my own.Continue Reading
a) crack open a can of spray cheese and a package of Ritz crackers, and call it a day
b) run frantically around the kitchen, waving your arms and babbling incoherently for the next hour
c) casually whip up a nice little snack using staples from your pantry, since you’ve got some foolproof recipes set aside for just this sort of thing
OK, I’ll admit, only Martha Stewart can probably manage option C without throwing in at little bit of option B, but the point I’m trying to make is that every good cook should have a small repertoire of trusty go-to recipes for last-minute emergencies like these. It’s what separates the real cooks from the mere dilettantes.
When it comes to desserts or afternoon snacks, this simple tart is my disaster recovery plan. Using the same technique as the old-school Bisquick Impossible Pie, it takes less than 5 minutes to whip up, uses basic ingredients that should usually be on hand in any well-stocked kitchen, and is presentable enough to serve to company. It ought to leave you with just enough time to tidy up the kitchen and greet your guests with a Martha-like serenity.
“Impossible” Lemon-Coconut Tart
1 cup milk
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup biscuit mix
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan or flan dish, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, lemon juice and zest, sugar, biscuit mix, eggs and melted butter until smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared pie pan, and sprinkle evenly with the coconut.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until centre of tart is set and coconut is golden brown. Serve at room temperature with a few fresh berries (or a raspberry coulis, if you can spare the time to make some).