as american as apple pie

So the other day when I posted a photo of a pie I baked on my Facebook page, I had NO idea I would get so many requests via e-mail for the recipe.   I baked an apple pie with raisins soaked in Calvados and a sweet cinnamon crust and an oatmeal crumble topping. Yes my own recipe and no, not written down – in my head – so here is I hope good enough to work with….

This recipe was inspired by a pie I had almost 20 years ago at the Brinley Victorian Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. The man who used to bake these crazy good double crust apple pies worked at the B&B (maybe he was a manager, I can’t remember).  And he soaked his raisins in booze (don’t remember what, whiskey I think).

I prefer a crumbly topping on my fruit pies, so anyway, here it is, hope it is proportionate enough that a bunch of home chefs don’t complain something was off  ( it is hard to write down something your hands can pretty much make for themselves on auto pilot)

Soak 3/4 cup of dark raisins in 1/4 cup of Calvados (French apple brandy – if you don’t have that a good bourbon will do as well.)

 Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups  flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 teaspoons sugar

8 tablespoons or 1 stick unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into little dots

4 tablespoons ice water

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

Using pastry cutter, cut butter into flour, sugar, salt, spices.  Add ice water.  Form dough gently, do not overwork.  Wrap tightly in saran wrap and toss in refrigerator at least a couple of hours.

When sufficiently chilled roll out your dough and line a deep dish pie plate. My pie plate is like 9 inches in diameter (I *think* – it is vintage pyrex – so I do not recall exactly)

Gently rub bottom of crust in plate with soft butter.  (I saw it on a cooking show once)

Filling:

I use 8 to 10 apples of medium size. (I do not like red delicious apples so I will not use those) I peel them and slice them very thinly.  I toss into a mixing bowl with 1 cup of sugar (2/3 cup white 1/3 cup dark brown), 1/4 cup of flour, 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, and 1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom.  I juice one medium to small lemon over mixture and toss. Fold in raisins that have soaked up their booze.

Topping:

3/4 cup oatmeal (Quaker quick oats, not the instant or steel cut or flavored)

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon

Blend all together with pastry cutter in small bowl and set aside.

Toss your apple mixture into your pie crust.

Evenly spread crumbly sugary topping over top of pie

Place in an oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake at 425 for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 to 45 more minutes depending upon your oven.

Hopefully my proportions are o.k.  This is as close as I can get – again – have been making this pie out of my head for years.

roasted butternut squash soup

October = Fall = start of soup season.  I like butternut squash soup.  Mine is different because I roast my squash (roasted vegetables add more depth to soups) and I add garam masala, mace and ginger, instead of just nutmeg.  I will be making this later today, thought I would share the recipe now.

I was over at Sugartown Strawberries yesterday afternoon and was inspired to make soup due to the perfectly beautiful squash fresh picked by Farmer Bob. (And as a related aside, Sugartown Strawberries starts hay rides next weekend I think)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1       medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and seeded (mine today is about 3 pounds)
  • 4      tablespoons   butter
  • 1      large white onion, minced
  • 2      carrots minced
  • 6      cups chicken stock
  • 2      tablespoons corn starch
  • 1      pint light cream or fat-free half and half
  • 6      fresh sage leaves chopped fine
  • celery salt and ground pepper to taste
  • mace and ground ginger to taste
  • small  dash of garam masala to taste

Directions

Halve your squash and remove seeds.  brush with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper and place face down on a sheet pan lined with non stick foil or parchment paper and roast skin side up about 40 -45 minutes at 350 degrees (you want squash to be roasted and cooked to be able to easily slide out of the skin.)

When squash is done, remove from oven and leave to cool

Place butter in dutch oven or soup pot and melt.  Add sage leaves to pot, followed by onion, carrots and a little celery salt. Over lowish heat gently cook onions down to the point just before they caramelize. Remove from heat.

By now your squash should be hopefully cool enough to handle.  Remove from skin and put small pieces into your soup pot with the onions and stir. Fully incorporate your squash (yes, there will be an unattractive mush in your pot at this point) and next quickly whisk in corn starch and incorporate.  Slowly and gently whisk in light cream or fat-free half and half – do not boil but bring the heat up almost   so all is incorporated.

Add the broth. Stir, stir, stir until all is incorporated and blending together and broth is heated through.

Reduce to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes covered.  Next take a hand blender (you know one of those little blender wands and puree your soup right in the pot.

Check salt level and adjust accordingly.  Add ground pepper and additional salt to taste and add a good shake of both ground ginger and mace and a judicial  pinch of garam masala.  A lot of people do this with just nutmeg, I think the garam masala, mace,  and ginger taste better.

Keep on simmer/warm stirring occasionally until you serve.  This is a soup you can serve the same day or heat up the next day.

This is a soup that does NOT freeze well, so make it fresh and finish in a couple of days.

Additional serving suggestions:

Garnish with rough chopped flat leaf italian parsley and  a smattering chopped toasted pecans and a teaspoon of crème fraîche in the center of each soup bowl  or serve plain.

 

 

 

do you dream in buttercream?

Well I don’t actually  dream in buttercream, but it makes for a jazzy sounding post title.

So I have been working and working on a buttercream frosting worthy of posting and I accomplished it with a birthday cake I baked last weekend.

So here it is:

Dreamy Vanilla Rosewater  Buttercream  Frosting

(frosts a 9 inch layer cake and 2 -3 dozen cupcakes depending on how frosted you want things)

1 cup of butter softened (1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted)

4 cups of sifted confectioners sugar

7 teaspoons of half and half (maybe a smidgen more, maybe a smidgen less depending on what you want)

1 Teaspoon of rosewater (as in used for COOKING)

1 1/4 Teaspoons of a good vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon of salt

Combine butter, sugar, and salt until well blended and smooth (use a mixer and use a large bowl and don’t splatter)

Add half and half and vanilla and rosewater and beat until smooth – between 4 and 6 minutes.

Come on people, how easy was that?  Why use frosting in a can?

You can add a couple of squares of unsweetened baking chocolate melted to turn this frosting chocolate.  You can add about 2/3 cup of shredded sweetened coconut to make coconut dream frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the best mac & cheese….ever

Yesss….comfort food season is upon us. 

How would you like my macaroni and cheese recipe?

If you are on a diet, or can’t eat rich oooey cheesy goodness, DO NOT make this recipe.  And this is not your mama’s mac and cheese, it’s a special occasion make once in a while kind of deal.

And oh yes, as a related aside, I love these old vintage Dansk Koben Style Dutch ovens from the 1950’s and 1960s?  I picked a couple up in sunny yellow at different tag sales years ago.

Dansk is reissuing them and selling through Crate and Barrel.  Boy am I glad I scored mine at $5 a piece quite a few years ago.  They are quite the tasty price now if purchased new in 2012 (the pricing is a bit ridiculous I think). I have a 4 quart and what I make the Mac & Cheese in, a 6 quart.  They also reissued the baking pan from the Koben Style line.  Save your money on that one – everything sticks to the enamel on that particular pan, so unless you want to be a dishwashing slave, skip it.

Anyway…These Dutch Ovens (Dansk Kobenstyle) do show up often on Ebay and at tag sales.  The prices on Ebay can get a little rich for my blood on them. But if you can score one of either size for $20 or under, you got a great deal.  Mine were a steal, but I collected them before they became collectable – my original impetus was my mother had a 6 quart Kobenstyle Dutch Oven and I loved cooking with it and wanted one of my own. I ended up with two. And seriously, I use them ALL the time.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese…Ever

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups low-fat half and half

1 3/4 cups light cream

8 oz cream cheese (block not in the tub)

1 box of elbow macaroni or small pasta of your choice (16 oz)

5 cups of grated/shredded cheese (I buy the mix – Cheddar and Monterey Jack, or the “macaroni and cheese blend” which also has  American)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 a medium onion minced

Healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce

Healthy dash of Tabasco sauce

Small dash of ground mace

8 slices of cooked and crumbled thick bacon

Melt butter in dutch oven. Add onion, cook a few minutes until translucent. (4 minutes on my stove on a medium flame I watch like a hawk so not to burn butter.)

Reduce heat to low and whisk in flour and salt and mace. When it all comes together like a white paste you are finished with that step.

Slowly add half and half.  Add Tabasco and Worcestershire.

Slowly add light cream.

Bring it up to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

Add grated parmesan cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth, add cream cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth slowly add the other cheese (cheddar blend see above).

Stir, stir, stir so nothing sticks and turn off burner and move sauce off the heat. (Here’s a tip – I remove a cup of the sauce to a separate container – I usually cook this a day ahead, so when I reheat I add the extra sauce as it heats up – some people just heat up with extra milk – I find this thins it out)

Cook your pasta as per the instructions on the box. Drain but do not rinse.

Fold into your cheese sauce in the Dutch Oven.  Add the crumbled bacon and gently fold a little more until all incorporated. Check your mac and cheese and add additional salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste.

You can either serve as is, or throw Dutch Oven into the fridge and eat a day later.  If you choose the eat a day later option, reheat slowly on stove top on very low and add back in the extra cheese sauce which you put in a separate air tight container and refrigerated along with big batch of mac & cheese.

If you don’t use the extra cheese sauce in the re-heating of the mac and cheese, you can store for a few days and use on other things (like broccoli)

This is very rich, but super yummy.  This recipe will serve a crowd easily as you won’t want to dish up honking huge portions.

And hey, if dishing up to grown-ups give a rough chop to some fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and toss on top when serving as a garnish.

chocolate peanut butter madness

Enough of politics and development for the week, let’s get back to cooking!

So….you know I have a thing about “magic” or “seven layer” bars…they are easy to make, look much fancier than they really are…and kids (of all ages LOL) love them.

So can you stand yet another variation??

Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness

1 package Devil’s Food Cake Mix (or dark chocolate or even German Chocolate will do)

1 egg

1/2 cup of butter melted

1/2 cup of peanut butter (smooth) melted

1 bag of Reese’s peanut butter chips (they are usually about 10 oz)

1 1/3 cups of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I like those 60% dark cacao ones)

1 1/3 cups of shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans or peanuts

1 can of Eagle brand condensed milk (unless you are buying say the Goya equivalent use Eagle, it is the best)

Mix the cake mix, butter, and egg.  It turns into a dark, slightly uncooperative play-doh.

Take a greased and lightly floured 9″ x 13″ cake pan and smush the cake mixture into bottom of pan evenly- you might wish to try to smush down with the back of your hand (as if your hand were in a fist and you have the flatness of your fingers all four together).

Next sprinkle on evenly over cake mixture in the following order (do not deviate):

1. shredded coconut

2. chopped peanuts or pecans

3. shredded coconut

4. peanut butter chips

5. chocolate chips

Next drizzle melted peanut butter evenly over top.

Next drizzle condensed milk evenly over top.

Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 25 minutes (today I think I baked them for 28)

Cool at least an hour before cutting.

Enjoy!

 

 

just bananas/just desserts

Ok, what happens when I am supposed to be resting on a sprained ankle? I get restless.

The result: Banana Cake with Banana Buttercream Frosting. (I had leftover bananas to use up )

Banana Cake:

350 degree oven (pre-heat)

Grease and flour two round cake pans (mine are 9 1/2 inch) and line bottom with parchment or brown paper (cut out a circle just like your mom used to do.)

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk powder *

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (regular not large crystal sea salt)

3/4 cup sour milk**

1 cup smushed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white raisins

1/2 teaspoon EACH of cinnamon, green cardamom powder, ground ginger

* = sour milk is regular milk with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar added. Stir in vinegar to mix, let sit 5 to 10 minutes

**= buttermilk powder can be gotten at baking supply places or online.  It must be refrigerated when opened.  You can use buttermilk powder AND sour milk OR regular buttermilk.

Take nuts and raisins and toss in a tablespoon or so of flour and set aside in small bowl.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Add bananas.

Add buttermilk or sour milk.

Add vanilla

Add butter

Beat everything on a low speed until blended and then pop up the power to medium high for about 2 minutes

Split batter evenly between prepared pans. Sprinkle nuts and raisins evenly over both plans (split in other words)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick or skewer comes out clean.

Cool in pans on rack for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove cakes from pans and cool thoroughly.

When cool remove parchment or brown paper from bottom. Carefully or you will take chunks of cake away

Banana Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup butter

1/2 smushed banana

4 cups confectioners sugar

scant 1/4 cup meringue powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons soft cream cheese

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon EACH of ground ginger and cinnamon

First cream butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla and spices and banana.  Add sugar. Add milk.  Beat with hand mixer until frosting is smooth and creamy.

Frost the cake.  I will note that after I frost this cake I place four evenly placed wooden skewers in the top and place cake in refrigerator for frosting to harden.  This is a cake that has to have leftovers stay covered and refrigerated. I will also note that I decided to add the meringue powder (also available at specialty food/baking supply or online) to this because the banana makes the butter cream frosting too soft I think.  The meringue powder which I generally keep on hand for royal icing stiffens the frosting up nicely.

I don’t think I left anything out.

Enjoy!

good news/ouch news

So yesterday I took a tumble down the stairs and ended up in the E.R. of Chester County Hospital.  It was a somewhat full moon kind of crowd, and there was a run on sprained ankles.  I had never been inside the hospital or to the hospital, truthfully don’t do much E.R. time.

Can I just say that hospital is amazing and what a good experience I had?  The last time I had been near an E.R. was to pick someone up at Bryn Mawr Hospital and it was not like this.  At Bryn Mawr, the staff was testy to say the least, and more concerned with personal calls on their mobile phones that caring for patients.  And the place was dirty and smelled.  Chester County Hospital was the opposite of that.  The staff from checking in to checking out were so nice, and that hospital is the cleanest hospital I have ever been in.

Now that ouch is out of the way (I am o.k., just a sprain!) I got cool news today.  The people that do Bon Apetit online (epicurious.com) are indeed publishing a recipe of mine in a cookbook being released this fall !!!  You will have to wait to see what recipe it is precisely as it is now in the book but it is called “Kitchen Sink Frittata”, but I am so excited!  They tell me I will also be featured in some little online write-up September 12th too.

The book is available for advanced ordering at a discount from Amazon.com and here is what it is about:

The Epicurious Cookbook: More Than 250 of Our Best-Loved Four-Fork Recipes for Weeknights, Weekends & Special Occasions
By Tanya Steel, The Editors of Epicurious.com

Product Description

For home cooks hungry for make-again recipes, here is an impeccably curated collection from Epicurious with more than 250 of their “4-fork” recipes, conveniently compiled in a book with new photography, new headnotes, and informative user tips. Epicurious is, undisputedly, the most respected website for people who like to cook. In their first-ever cookbook, the Epicurious editors have culled their extraordinary database of 180,000 recipes and selected their most popular recipes.
Organized seasonally and by meal type, The Epicurious Cookbook offers everything from 30-minute weeknight dinners to weekend warrior show-stoppers.

Also included are comfort food favorites, small dishes perfect for parties and plenty of repertoire-building mains and sides, plus breakfasts, breads, and desserts.

All new stunning four-color photography shows Epicurious at its most irresistible. Throughout are Epicurious member suggestions for tweaking recipes, ideas for menu planning, smart substitutions, and homespun recipes from dozens of Epicurious members newly tested for this cookbook.

Recipes include: Easy comfort foods: Chicken and Fall Vegetable Pot Pie, Beef Short Ribs Tagine, Spicy Mac and Cheese with Pancetta, Deviled Fried Chicken, Chili con Carne with Chili Cheddar Shortcakes

Fast Weeknight Dinners: Quick Paella, Wild Rice with Pecans, Raisin, and Orange Essence, Brussels Sprouts Hash with Caramelized Shallots, Rosemary Lamb Chops with Swiss Chard and Balsamic Syrup, Pan-Fried Spicy Orange Tilapia

Please-Everyone Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes: Chilled Soba with Tofu and Sugar Snap Peas, Spiced Lentil Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream, Roasted Eggplant Salad

Special occasion show-stoppers: Tom Colicchio’s Herb-Butter Turkey, Beef Brisket with Merlot and Prunes, Wine-Braised Duck Legs

American Classics Updated—Burgers, Pizzas, Salads, Pastas, and Grilled Cheese: Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburger with Texas Barbeque Sauce; Hearty Asparagus, Fingerling Potato, and Goat Cheese Pizza; Lobster Pasta in a Roasted Corn Sweet Bacon Cream; Grilled Cheese with Onion Jam, Taleggio, and Escarole

Breakfast and Brunch Stars: Extreme Granola with Dried Fruit, Kitchen Sink Frittata, Crème Brulee French Toast, and Ultimate Sticky Buns

Decadent Desserts: Double Layer Chocolate Cake, Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce, Frozen Lemon Ginger Snap Pie, Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

Destined to be that classic you’ll turn to daily, The Epicurious Cookbook enhances the very best online content in a gorgeous cookbook.


Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #284871 in Books
  • Published on: 2012-10-30
  • Released on: 2012-10-30
  • Original language:      English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .0″ h x  .0″ w x  .0″ l,   .81 pounds 
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 400 pages

Editorial Reviews

About the Author:

TANYA STEEL is the Editor-in-Chief of EPICURIOUS.COM. Winner of a James Beard award for restaurant reviewing, and a member of the Digital Hall of Fame, Steel was previously an editor at Bon Appetit, Diversion, Food & Wine, and Mademoiselle. She is the co-author of the award-winning Real Food for Healthy Kids.
Launched in 1995, EPICURIOUS is the most award-winning food site on the web, which has received 64 awards, including two James Beards, an Emmy, eighteen Webbys, and three from the American Society of Magazine Editors.

So, how cool is this?  To be in a real cookbook?  FUN!!!! YAY!!!!!  I love Epicurious.com and am so thrilled to be part of a cookbook they produce.  As a home cook this makes me feel really good.

happy 100th julia child!

Julia Child would have been 100 today.  PBS Digital Studios did this fun tribute.

In celebration of her 100th birthday, Julia Child Remixed by John D. Boswell,  for PBS Digital Studios. Please support your local PBS station as they have many cool programs!

Visit pbs.org/food to join in the celebration, check out  recipes and more. You can leave your own tribute to The French Chef by cooking a Julia recipe and sharing it on Facebook and Twitter with #CookForJulia.

Special thanks go to the Julia Child Foundation for their support. The French Chef episodes used courtesy of WBGH/Boston. For more, go to http://www.wgbh.org/JC100

Follow them on Twitter: @pbsds.

I keep wondering what Julie Powell will say today – she is the author of the Julie/Julia project which I loved. It is a shame all the links are broken to what was her original Salon blog – I guess the original is gone now?   Her book was turned into a lovely movie with Meryl Streep. After the movie, she came out with another book called Cleaving.

Anyway, I grew up watching Julia Child on TV in black and white and I also have a couple of her books, including a vintage copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her memoirs My Life in France.

Incidentally if you can master a few Julia classics, you can cook.  She gives you bones.  Her roast chicken recipe is still the best on the planet.  My own roast chicken recipe uses hers as a base. – where my recipes are my own that I share, the basic techniques for my roast chicken recipe were learned from her basic roast chicken recipe.  You see, a lot of chefs forget the basics, which as a related aside is why I love Ina Garten so much (The Barefoot Contessa). Like Julia Child, she is a big believer in basics. And in order to develop your own recipes, professional or home chef, you have to master some basics.

Happy Birthday Julia ChildBon Appétit!

clucking right along with greek yogurt marinade

Well, today we need something simple that can be cooked quickly and has little clean-up.  I have incredible looking tomatoes from Sugartown Strawberries, and I was feeling like grilling chicken.

But I am tired of all the regular types of marinade.  Someone was telling me about using plain yogurt to marinade chicken, so I thought why not use plain Greek yogurt?

Here’s the marinade:

2/3 cup plain greek yogurt

Lemon juice – maybe 4 tablespoons or juice of one good-sized lemon

Juice of one orange

4 Tablespoons oil – olive, vegetable, whatever

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons mild or sweet Paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala ( I get mine from a little Indian grocery store I visit once in a while)

1/2 teaspoon Tandoori Masala  (I get mine from Jayshree spices you can find them online)

1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (I get mine from Zamouri Spices you can find them online)

I mix it all together with a whisk and some fresh herbs – sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano and fresh mint (mine is curly mint which is technically a spearmint I believe).  You can either rough chop the herbs or just sort fo tear up the mint leaves and strip the rest from their stems.

Toss into a ziplock bag to marinade for a while and grill.

I will end with that is my favorite cooking tip of the summer: using ziplock plastic bags for marinades.  Easier clean up and so not a problem to mush your meat, poultry, or seafood around *gently* in a ziplock bag.

 

 

 

not your mama’s pasta salad

When it is hot, even I don’t want to cook as much.  So today I was feeling like pasta salad, but I wanted something different from spiral pasta or say, tortellini.  I opened the freezer and grabbed a bag of mini ravioli.  Why not?  If you can make a tortellini salad, why not use mini ravioli?

So I created a vinaigrette and added a bit of fresh lemon juice, some mustard and a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise and whisked it together.  If you wanted to you could use a store-bought salad dressing.  I would suggest if that was the case, an  Italian or Caesar or Balsamic vinaigrette.

I cooked the mini ravioli to the minimum of cooking time as per the package.  I drained them and put them in a bowl to cool.

In another bowl I took a Vidalia onion, cucumber, a couple of tomatoes, fresh green beans blanched and chopped, half a jar of roasted peppers chopped up, fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and dill), a cup or so of chick peas (“ceci”), and a small jalapeno pepper (seeded, cored, and diced), tossed it in the dressing, and then gently folded in the cooled mini ravioli.

I adjusted for salt and pepper, et voila!  Not your mama’s pasta salad.

I may toss some fresh crumbled queso fresco on it when I serve it. Or I might just leave it as it.  I love queso fresco.

*Important to note is to NOT overmix this or the ravioli will literally rupture.  Do NOT over dress this or the ravioli will fall apart from that too.

I think it tastes pretty good!

Hmmm I just realized about a year ago, Conde Nast contacted me to use another one of my everything but the  kitchen sink recipes in a cookbook being published in the Fall of 2012.  I need to follow up about that – I do not even know what the cookbook is to be called…..