Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Laisser les bons temps rouler- Let the good times roll!

Fat Tuesday came and went. What was I doing? Well, my 35 year old bad self was hanging with my pups, enjoying a glass (or maybe two) of wine, and lamenting that American Idol was not on until Wednesday.

When I was in my (mostly early) 20's, Fat Tuesday was a fantastic excuse to party downtown, collecting beads over harmless innuendos, maybe "wooing" (you know like a cheerleader wooooo!) one too many times because it was just TOO much fun! That was when I could actually handle a little something we like to call liquor. And even multiple nights in a row!! During the week!!

Well, my excitement over holidays has shifted to excitement over preparing a dish that goes with said holiday. And enjoying the wine. This seems like a good introduction to my recipe, Cajun Chicken Pasta. Seriously, so easy.

This week, I've felt very Rachel-Ray-ish (not because I'm using complicated words like EVOO, stoup, sammie, and delish- it's cool Rach, you're still my girl), but because I've been making dinner in 30 minutes or less, for real. This pasta easily falls into the 30 minute category.

Ingredients:

2-3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)

1/4 cup lime juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 tsp ancho chili powder

1 tsp salt

2 T olive oil

1 lb farfalle pasta

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

1 chipotle pepper + 1 T of adobo sauce, minced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup half and half

Directions:

1- Cut chicken breasts and cut into bite-size pieces. Combine lime juice, 1/2 of minced garlic, 1/2 of cilantro, chili powder, and salt and mix together. Pour over chicken to coat and marinate chicken about 30 minutes.

2- Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add generous amount of salt and add pasta. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3-Meanwhile, add olive oil to large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Add chicken, bell peppers, onions and remaining garlic and cook about 6-8 minutes until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are softened.

4- Add chicken broth and chipotle pepper and adobo sauce and cook until stock is reduced by about 1/3.

5- Reduce heat to low and add cream. Stir to combine and return pasta to sauce pan and toss to evenly coat with sauce. Cook about 5 minutes and top with remaining cilantro and serve.


I guess it would have been more appropriate to give Sandra Lee a shout out for Fat Tuesday- I'll bet she could get a LOT of beads... 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Did you miss me?

Baby, if you've ever wondered, wondered, whatever became of me....... Well, I'm not the love child of Herb Tarlek and Jennifer Marlowe, living on the air in Cincinnati, delighting in the misadventures of the staff of a struggling fictional radio station. 


Nope, I've just been busy I guess. And uninspired. This doesn't mean I haven't prepared/eaten/experienced incredible culinary delights of recent, it just means I haven't shared them with you! HA!

The re-cap of said delights includes everything from eating a bacon cookie (bacon in a cookie), taking a lovely class on "mastering meats", successfully making Bonefish Grill's Bang-Bang Shrimp at home (sooooo good), and of course, peanut sauce. MMMM. Peanut sauce.

This past weekend, with the fabulous weather which graces Seattle (and I'm sure Cincinnati) in February, we were in the mood for winter comfort. For me, comfort food means it's hot, and either carb-y, cheesy, meaty, or starchy. Or if you are lucky, a combination of two or three. Well, you can have your cake and eat it too with the recipe I settled on. "Healthy" Shepherd's Pie. I found a recipe which calls for the leanest ground beef (94% lean), with a sweet potato topping.

Directions

For the filling:

Ingredients


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped 
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped very small
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 level tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh beef stock
  • Salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the crust:

  • 2 pounds Sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup scallions, cleaned and chopped
  • 3/4 cup white Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or deep saute pan. Brown the beef. Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the onions to the pan and saute until the onions are opaque. Add the chopped carrots and celery and cook for 10 minutes. Add the, tomato paste, thyme, parsley and crushed red pepper. Stir and saute for 2 minutes. Next, stir in the flour, which will soak up the juice, then stir in the wine and the beef stock. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Return the meat to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Peel the potatoes, cut them into large even-sized pieces and place into a pot of cold, salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook potatoes until they are tender, about 10 minutes.

When the potatoes are done, drain off the water, return them to the saucepan, add the butter, sour cream, milk and mash them to a puree. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the green onion.  Then stirl in 1/4 cup of cheddar, and 1/4 cup of gruyere until well combined. When the meat is ready, spoon it into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and level it out with the back of the spoon. After that, spread the mashed potato evenly all over. Scatter the cheese over the potatoes and bake the pie until the top is crusty and golden, about 25 minutes.

"Signing off" until the next post! (which WILL be sooner than later)

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie!

I'll be the first to admit it:  I'm obsessed with all things Martha.  How can you not be-- she's THE female version of MacGuyver. Instead of saving people from dangerous car explosions at just the opportune time using creative genius, she is saving us from ourselves in our kitchens.  Pie crust flat? Chicken too dry? Missing a key ingredient? Martha to the RESCUE. 

I've mentioned it before, but I'm a bit of a Sirius satellite radio addict.  And there is just the ONE station I listen to:  yep. Martha Stewart Living Radio.  I recently participated in another of Mario's weekend cooking challenges (he's the host of Living Today on MSLR radio station).  This time the challenge:  The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Now, I consider myself more of a cook than a baker.  Basically because I cook more than I bake.  Why is this? 
A) I'm a messy, messy cook, and a baking mess is exponentially worse. 
B) I may be scarred for life from making a wedding cake 7 years ago, which for the record totally turned out amazing. 
C) I'm not the MOST patient person, and I'm also not the MOST particular person when it comes to measuring "stuff". 
D) I kind of would rather have a glass of red wine than dessert. 

But, now and again, I put on my baking "cap", and hit the ground running.  I'm always up for finding a great cookie recipe, and who doesn't like chocolate chip?!  So, here is the recipe, courtesy of David Leite:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (Buy it)
  • Sea salt 
    Directions

    1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

    2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

    3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

    4. Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.


This is a fantastic recipe.  Being the Martha/Macguyver improviser that I am, I used regular flour instead of cake and bread flour.  I don't know how this changes the scientific structure, or texture of the cookie, but I don't really care since they turned out AWESOME anyway!! 
My oven is funny too.  Not like a comedian oven (what do you call a peanut in space?  An Astro-Nut!).  No, that was my last oven.  This oven is "funny" because the thermostat is all over the place, which isn't funny at all, kind of like that space peanut joke.  So, I had to adjust the cooking time by a few minutes less than the recipe directed.

Here is the link to the cooking challenge page with the recipe.  My photo made it onto Marth's blog!  It's pic #5, Laurie.




Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fancy Birthday

I just celebrated a birthday, it was the 6th anniversary of my 29th birthday!  How about that?!  Well, I'm not feeling too bad about being smack in the middle of my mid-thirties, especially since the oh-so-sweet 19 year old worker girl at "Game Stop" informed my husband and I yesterday that we are going to be "hot" old people.  YEEEESSSS!  Life is full of little victories...... 

Another victory is that I have an amazing husband that totally gets me, and my obsession/fascination/appreciation for really really good food.  He surprised me with dinner at the..... drum roll please.... Salish Lodge!  For those of you unfamiliar with the Salish, it is a beautiful northwest lodge that sits just above Snoqualmie Falls, in Snoqualmie, WA and it is very fancy (in the style of "northwest fancy", not like NY fancy).  He reserved a window table, and arranged for rose petals, and a rose to be placed at the table upon our arrival.  So sweet. 

There was a newly engaged couple sitting behind us, and I really wanted to be like "wish you had a window seat, huh? And roses? My hubby is better than your new hubby... "  Just to brag about my awesome other half. 
So I ordered Snoqualmie wine (so fitting for the occasion, and it also is the wine we had on our first official "date"), and we got the menu:

http://www.salishlodge.com/assets/PDF/salish_diningroom_dinner.pdf

I ordered the Roasted Beet Salad:


Mark ordered the Washington Apple and Chestnut Bisque:


I had the Anderson Farms Oregon Lamb Loin:


Mark had the Fennel Pollen Dusted Halibut:


The fabulous food, the service, the atmosphere, the sunset, the company, all of it added up to the most special birthday dinner I have ever had. 



“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”


-Virginia Woolf














Sunday, August 22, 2010

For the Love of Cooking

Listening to my favorite radio program recently, this question was posed: 

Where does your love of cooking come from? 

Callers were citing their moms, grandmas, aunts....  Telling stories of learning family dishes from homelands far away, passing on tricks and tips through generations, preserving hand written recipes by great great so-and-so to keep traditions alive.  It was all so romantic.

So I was digging deep, trying to remember that moment, the meal, the person. Visions of hamburger helper, instant mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and TV dinners popped in my head.  As a child of the 70's, and 80's, and a mother who, bless her heart, just doesn't have a passion for the kitchen, I concur that my love of cooking has just come from within.  

I am basically an entirely self taught home cook.  There is a cooking "gene" in the family, it's just that the other gene-carriers live at least 2 states away, and always have.  But being free from the confines of culinary traditions does have it's rewards:  I can cook with abandon!  Whatever I want, how I want, with no old-school grandma telling me: you're doing it wrong.

Recently, I participated in another of Mario's Weekend Cooking challenges, and this was my favorite so far:

This recipe is courtesy of Chef Jamie Gwen:

GRILLED PIZZA with FONTINA, CHERRY TOMATOES & BASIL
  • 6 ounces Pizza Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 containers cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Pizza Toppings: Grilled and raw vegetables, prosciutto strips, sausage, pepperoni, pesto, pineapple, basil leaves, fresh Mozzarella cheese, crumbled goat cheese, red pepper flakes, fresh basil leaves

Fire up your outdoor grill or stove-top grill to medium-high. In a mixing bowl combine the shredded mozzarella and Fontina.

Cut the pizza dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each ball of dough flat on a floured work surface. By hand, stretch each ball of dough into a 5-inch round, as thin as possible. Layer the floured pizza crusts on a cookie sheet, in between layers of parchment paper until ready to use.


Brush the top side of the dough rounds with olive oil. When the fire is hot (when you can hold your hand over the coals for 3 to 4 seconds at a distance of 5 inches), drape the dough onto the grill. Within a minute the dough will puff slightly, the underside will stiffen, and grill marks will appear. Using tongs, immediately flip the crust over, onto the coolest part of the grill. Brush the grilled surface with olive oil. Scatter the garlic and cheeses over the dough and top with cherry tomato halves and your toppings of choice.


Using tongs, rotate the pizza frequently so that different sections receive high heat; check the underside often to see that it is not burning. The pizza is done when the top is bubbly and the cheese melted, about 6 minutes. Serve at once, topped with the basil leaves.


Makes 8 Individual Pizzas (or 2 good sized pizza's)


Chef’s Tip: Fontina is one of my favorite, flavorful melting cheeses.

Try using it in your next lasagna, baked pasta dish or melted on a sandwich…Delicious!


PIZZA DOUGH (or your can get ready made dough at your favorite pizzeria, or grocery store)

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 6 cups high-gluten flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
Sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup warm (105 to 110°F) water and allow it to dissolve and activate, about 5 minutes.


Combine the flour and salt and mound it onto a cool work surface creating a high walled well in the center. Combine the yeast mixture with 1 1/2 cups of cool water and pour into the well. Slowly begin to mix the water and flour, a little at a time, moving your fingers in short, counter clockwise circles around the border of the water. When the dough is firm enough to hold it's shape, scrape the remaining flour over it and knead until the mass is smooth and shiny, approximately 7 minutes.


Transfer the dough to a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil to prevent a skin from forming, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead once more. Let the dough rise again for about 40 minutes, punch down again and form dough into 4 balls.


 FOR OVEN-BAKED PIZZAS


Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.


Lightly sprinkle your pizza peel (or a flat baking sheet) with cornmeal. Transfer one prepared flattened dough to the pizza peel.


Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.

Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (be careful, the oven is hot!). Slide the pizza off of the peel and on to the baking stone in the oven. Bake pizzas until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes.

http://www.chefjamie.com/

Delicious!  And my pizza made it on Martha's radio blog:
My pictures are 13, and 17. 
Enjoy!  Go forth, and cook with abandon!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring Has Sprung!

Is it me, or does this year feel like it's flying by?!! No complaints here, other than the weather in Seattle. I think our January and February were actually nicer than April and May! It may be cold, a little rainy, and way too windy, but it is light out until 8:30 pm. This makes it acceptable to grill and eat spring fare, even if we are bundled up in down coats, and that extra pair of gloves is still in the car!

The farmer's market in my neighborhood of Edmonds, WA just opened a couple of Saturday's ago. After perusing my latest copies of Cooking Light, Everyday Food, and Coastal Living, I was inspired to put together menus for the next couple of dinners.

Yesterday, I headed to the farmer's market first, with my list of ingredients. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the produce was less expensive than the grocery store, locally grown, and mostly organic. I picked up asparagus, arugula, tarragon, green onion, and basil. It is so fresh and fragrant, I can't wait to get cooking! I finished out my shopping at the local Trader Joe's, and I'm ready for the week! These are all new recipes to me:

Menu #1: Grilled steak with poblano relish, and black bean salad

Menu #2: Chicken skewers with orange basil sauce, and rice salad

Menu#3:Spring green salad with Italian tuna and white beans, and grilled kalamata olive ciabatta bread

Menu#4:
Pasta in a light sauce with spring veggies and chicken


MENU #1:

Grilled Steak (courtesy of the latest issue of Everyday Food Mag, although I substituted a few ingredients due to what the store/market had):

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lbs tri tip steak
  • 1/2 lb poblano chiles
  • 1 small white onion, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for the grill
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
  • course salt and ground pepper 

1. In a large glass dish, combine orange juice, and soy sauce. Add steak, turning to coat and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

2. Heat oven broiler, with rack in top position. Place poblanos and onion on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until charred, 7 to 10 minutes. When poblanos are cool enough to handle, rub with a paper towel to remove skins. (I run them under cold water and remove with my hands). Remove stems and seeds, and discard. Roughly chop poblanos and onion and place in medium bowl. Stir in oil, lime juice, and cilantro, season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat grill to high heat. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Remove steak from marinade and grill 5 to 7 minutes per side for medium rare to medium. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain. Serve steak with poblano relish.

Black Bean Salad (courtesy of the April issue of Food Network Magazine, subbed a few ingredients once again):

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained rinsed.
  • 1 1/2 cups cucumber, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • salt
  • 4 cups arugula, watercress, or spring greens

1. Heat olive oil over low and add garlic, jalapenos, and cumin, cook 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl toss black beans, cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, lime juice, cilantro and salt.

3. Mash the garlic mixture and add to the bean mixture.

4. Just before serving add greens to the bean mixture and toss.




MENU #2:


Chicken skewers with basil sauce:
  • 1 Orange, squeezed to extract 1/4 cup juice
  • 2 Cups basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and pepper


1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat

2. In a mini food processor, combine orange juice, basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until mixture is finely chopped.

3. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper over chicken. Evenly thread onto 4 (12 inch) skewers. Grill 5-7 minutes per side of chicken, until cooked all the way through.

4. Drizzle Chicken with sauce, or serve separately as a dip for the chicken


Rice salad:
  • 1/2 pound white basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • A handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt 
1. Cook rice according to package directions.


2. Melt butter in the pot over low heat and combine with feta. Add cooked rice to feta butter and toss with basil and tomatoes, season with a little salt and pepper.


MENU #3:


Spring greens salad with Italian tuna and white beans (courtesy of the June issue of Cooking Light)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained and broken into chunks
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby arugula, spring greens, or watercress
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved


1. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add tomatoes and next 4 ingredients (through arugula); toss. Top with cheese.

Grilled kalamata olive bread:
  • 1 loaf kalamata olive ciabatta bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Heat grill to medium-high. Cut bread into 2 inch wide pieces, and brush exposed sides with olive oil. Grill bread with the olive oil side down, two minutes or so per side. Remove from grill and serve with salad.


MENU #4:

Pasta in a light sauce with spring veggies and chicken (adapted from an Everyday Food Mag recipe, March 2009)




  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound linguine (I am using Penne since I prefer it, but you can use any pasta)
  • 1 pound asparagus (tough ends removed), cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise (quartered if large) and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces sugar snap peas (stem ends trimmed), halved
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves


1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 4 minutes short of al dente; add asparagus, zucchini, and snap peas. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta mixture, and set aside.



2. In the same pot, bring cream and butter to a simmer. Toss in pasta mixture and enough pasta water to create a thin sauce (it will thicken as it stands). Season with salt and pepper, and top with tarragon.


Happy Spring Everyone!




Sunday, May 16, 2010

American Pie

“I would never let a woman kick my a**. If she tried something, I'd be like, HEY! You get your b**ch a** back in the kitchen and make me some pie!"” Eric Cartman



For those of you unfamiliar with South Park humor, you:


A) Have been living under a rock
B) Have no social contact with anyone under the age of 50
C) Have some semblance of class
D) Probably thought watching The Simspons was "crossing the line"

I did make pie last weekend, not because I unsuccessfully kicked Cartman's a**, but because my mother requested it as her gift for mother's day. She knows I don't know how to knit a sweater, or anything else for that matter, so, pie it was.

In 8th grade Home Ec, I "sewed" a rad Ghetto Blaster pillow. Not good.

My Grandma, Janet Parker, just turned the big 9-3 on Friday. She is the one that taught me to make apple pie. She came to visit from California every year, and I am sure formed some opinion of me based on the Ghetto Blaster pillow, circa 1988. I don't think she approved of my neon orange Gotcha t-shirt either. So I couldn't "sew", or wear the right thing, but that woman was going to teach me how to make pie! Boy am I thankful that she did!

My mom says my pie is even better than hers after years of practice. Don't tell JANET. Grandma even gave me her original Betty Crocker cookbook, and it's sitting on my kitchen counter. It gives me inspiration, and it's a special bond between us. At least I like to think so-- she may not give a rip, but SHE could totally kick Cartman's a**. Now there's a South Park episode I'd like to see. I'd prefer if my cousin Kenny did not make a cameo-- we know how that would turn out.

I made two pies for my mom: Apple Pie, and Frozen Key Lime Pie.

Apple Pie

Crust:
Combination Butter and Shortening Crust

Ingredients for one double-crust 9 inch or 10 inch pie:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
  • 6-8 Tablespoons ice water


Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse 4 times. Add shortening in tablespoon sized chunks, and pulse 4 more times. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture. Pulse a couple times. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.

Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4 inch wide disks. Do not over-knead the dough! Dust the disks lightly with flour, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 2 days before rolling out.

After the dough has chilled in the refrigerator for an hour, you can take it out to roll. If it is too stiff, you may need to let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out.  Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. Every once in a while you may need to gently lift under the dough (a pastry scraper works great for this) to make sure it is not sticking. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie tin or pie dish upside down on the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all around.

When the dough has reached the right size, gently fold it in half. Lift up the dough and place it so that the folded edge is along the center line of the pie dish. Gently unfold. Do not stretch the dough.
If you are making a double crust pie, roll out the second disk of dough. Gently place onto the top of the filling in the pie. Use a kitchen scissors to trim the overhang to an inch over. Fold the edge of the top piece of dough over and under the edge of the bottom piece of dough, pressing together. Finish the double crust by pressing against the edges of the pie with your finger tips or with a fork.

Use a sharp knife to cut vents into the top of the pie crust, so the steam has a place to escape while the pie is cooking. Optional Before scoring, you may want to paint the top of your crust with an egg wash (this will make a nice finish).

Egg Wash

A lovely coating for a pie can be achieved with a simple egg wash.
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream, half and half, or milk
  • 1 large egg yolk
Beat egg yolk with cream and brush on the surface of the pie with a pastry brush.

Filling
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (Granny Smith)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 


Heat oven to 425°F.
 
In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over filling. 

Cover edge of pie with 2- to 3-inch strip of foil to prevent excessive browning.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Serve warm if desired.



Frozen Key Lime Pie: 

Courtesy of Ina Garten

Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature  (see cook's note below on tempering)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)
For the decoration:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Thin lime wedges  
Directions


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.


Chef's note: I tempered the egg yolks by cooking them over a double boiler. I brought 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium pan, then placed a glass bowl on top (it will be a couple of inches above the boiling water). Put the egg yolks in the glass bowl, and whisk until they are thick, coating the back of a spoon. Since it is indirect heat it will not scramble the yolk, but will kill any harmful bacteria before putting into the pie.




"We'll just tell your mother that... we ate it all." American Pie