2019 plans: also Coleslaw, Pumpkin Pie, and Hoppin’ John

Happy New Year to all. I hope to write more, play Solitaire less, Facebook even less, and maintain Faith, Hope, and Love for all.

My sister had an idea a few years ago to cook through a cookbook in a year. I never could choose which of my 50+ books to use, but this year I will use Betty Crocker as my go-to book. This does not mean I will cook each and every recipe, nor each recipe exactly, but will use this standard American Cookbook as the first source of inspiration. For example, if I want to make to make pork chops I will peruse this book’s recipes to determine how to fix them. So I did make a breaded pork chop and Betty instructed to bake them on a rack in the baking pan in the oven.  I did and they turned out nicely. I failed to take a picture so you must take my word for it.

Hubby was grilling ribs. Cole slaw is a nice side dish. I bought a package of broccoli slaw to use. I made a combination of Betty’s Coleslaw and her Old-Fashioned Cabbage Salad from page 138, plus ingredients from a variation.

  • 1/2 package broccoli slaw
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • pinch of celery salt
  • a few grinds of black peppercorns

My go-to pumpkin pie is Betty’s. I have made it before https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2017/03/14/pi-day/. The problem I had this time is that the crust did not seem to bake through on the bottom. The edges were beautiful. What did I do wrong? I have never pre-baked the crust for pumpkin pie.

Hoppin’ John is on page 226. I did not use this recipe because this traditional New Year’s Day meal is made of rice, black-eyed peas, and pork in many different proportions and variations. I used bacon and added onion and spinach. The sprinkling of red pepper flakes was the only real thing I took from Betty.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I have posted on making a lemon meringue pie before Birthday pie: lemon meringue. This is a different recipe. I baked this pie for the same purpose as this year our favorite Airman is home with us for her birthday. And again she requested a lemon meringue pie. This year’s pie is from PCV Emily, now RPCV. I make her pie crust as my go-to crust and you will find that one here. The apple cider vinegar and egg pie crust is fabulous. Each batch makes three nine inch crusts. I made two batches. I use my food processor for easy mixing.

When Emily sent my son the recipe for the pie crust she also sent recipes for some pie fillings, one of which was Lemon Meringue. I went with that this year. It calls for 6 eggs. The ingredients were not as clear as I had hoped. But I figured them out and the pie was a big hit. And turned out better this year than two years ago.

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice and zest of those lemons (how many lemons is this? I used 4 and had to add a bit of bottled lemon juice to make 1/2 cup. The lemons were small and I got tired of juicing them!)
  • 3 whole eggs (save the whites for the meringue): this is understandable
  • 3 egg yolks (this makes it confusing: is this from the above eggs? or is it a total of 6 egg yolks?)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 Tab butter cut into pieces (this is one stick=1/2 cup)

I decided to use 4 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs, saving the 4 egg whites for the meringue. Mix all the ingredients into a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat so nothing sticks to the bottom and the eggs don’t scramble. Do this until one boil bubble comes to the top. This will take awhile. You could strain this through a sieve to remove seeds and zest but I like zest and there were no seeds in my lemon juice.

Now make the meringue. This turned out really well. I was very pleased.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (whirl the sugar in a food processor to make it superfine)

In a bone dry and very clean bowl beat egg whites and tartar with a mixer until very foamy. Slowly add in sugar as you continue mixing. Mix until stiff peaks have formed.

Now here’s where I wasn’t prepared. The pie crust needed to be pre-baked. This would have easily been done while I was preparing the filling, but I didn’t think to do this. So I now have stiffly whipped meringue in my mixer bowl and fully cooked and hot lemon curd in my saucepan. And I had used a pyrex 8-inch pie dish and still have no pie beans for pre-baking! And I had deliberately placed the pie crust in the dish in the freezer to prevent shrinkage, but had it out at room temperature while I was preparing the curd and meringue, and now I have to pre-bake. I end up with a little shrinkage and a bit of soggy bottom at the end. Life goes on.

Spread the curd into the pre-baked (mine was half-baked) pie crust. Pile the meringue on top. I had lots of meringue. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes until meringue is lightly browned.

Happy Birthday Val!

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This was cut while slightly warm. The curd firmed up the when completely cooled.

 

 

Apple “cup-pies”

 

I have made mini apple pies in a cup cake pan. The recipe is http://www.livewellbakeoften.com/mini-apple-pies/. I found this by googling apple pies looking for tarts.  The only adaptation I made is to brush the tops with water and sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar. I also used 3 cups of chopped apples instead of 2 1/2. I used Macoun apples. If I make these again, and it is likely I will, I would reduce the sugar by half and increase the amount of apples to 4 cups.

  • 2 9-inch pie crusts (I used store bought because I haven’t gotten around to making my own.)
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar (in the future I would use 1/8 cup)
  • 2 Tab flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Cut the pie crust into 12 circles about 3 1/2 inches. I used my Pyrex custard cups as the cutter. Press these circles of dough into your regular sized muffin pan. Use the leftover dough to make strips for the lattice tops. I found that four strips are needed for each mini pie.

Mix apples and other ingredients all together and spoon even amounts into the dough cups. Fashion the lattice to each. I then brushed the tops with water and sprinkled with a tiny bit of cinnamon sugar. Bake in 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes or so and then carefully remove to a cooling rack.

 

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“good bake”

Apple Crunch Pie

I made an apple pie with a crunch topping. I was trying to make a crumb topping but it was very crunchy, tasty but very crunchy. I had a bunch of apples that needed to be made into a pie or a brown betty. Hubby voted for pie. There were some Empire, some Gala, and some Granny Smith apples. I sliced up about eight of them which made 4 cups. I had a pre-made, bought pie crust, just one so I had to make a topping.

I made the Cinnamon Add-a-Crunch topping from my handy-dandy Quaker Oats cook booklet. Thinking on it now, the “add-a-Crunch” should have given me a hint as to the outcome! I love crumb toppings that use melted butter. Makes it so much easier to mix than “cut together with fork until resembles…”

  • 1 1/4 cups quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ (I actually have this! It’s great to sprinkle over the waffle batter before you close the lid on the waffle iron.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

The actual recipe says mix this together and cook in skillet for 5-7 minutes and then spread on cookie sheet to cool. I figured it would cook on the pie so I just mixed it all together and added 1 cup of chopped walnuts as well.

Make your apple pie. Spread this topping on top. Bake your apple pie. Voila! Very pretty.

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My pie was tasty but the apples did not meld together in any fashion. I had to serve this in bowls. I may have forgotten to pat the top of the apples with butter, but that can’t have been the problem. I never cook my pie fillings first and other apple pies have turned out like pies. I don’t make apple pies frequently enough to experiment like America’s Test Kitchen. I have had this same problem once or twice before which I attributed to the type of apple and/or size of the apple slices. But I sliced these apples in thin slices.

We ate the pie. We enjoyed the pie. It just wouldn’t have won any prizes!

I made a Green Grape Pie!

Why, might you ask, and what? I had bought one of those supermarket packages of green grapes and found the the quality was not very good for eating fresh. But what should I do with all those grapes? I could throw them all in the compost bucket but that seems like a waste. I found this recipe on the internet and adapted her adaptation for my own pie: Green Grape Pie

I had two refrigerated ready pie crusts in my refrigerator. Sometimes I buy these instead of making my own. I did not have elderberry flower syrup but the rest of the ingredients were all ready. I gathered them all together and baked a pie.

I think there were about 3 pounds of green grapes. I pulled them off the stems. I did not weigh them. It looked like enough for a pie.
1 cup white sugar, plus extra for top crust
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg; I had Hubby grate the nutmeg while he was waiting for his Kindle to charge.
1 lemon, juiced; I had just sliced a bit off of a lemon for my tea, so I juiced the rest of it.
1/4 cup elderberry flower syrup; substituted light corn syrup with real Vanilla!
1/4 cup dark honey; my honey was not particularly dark. Actually I combined the corn syrup with the honey to equal 1/4 cup as 1/2 cup sounded like it would be too sweet.
1/4 teaspoon salt; who measures this? It’s a generous pinch.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425 F. put one pie crust in the pan and put in freezer while making the filling. This is because you will put boiling hot grapes in the crust and you want the crust not to melt.

Put grapes, sugar, nutmeg, lemon juice, and honey/syrup in a large saucepan and heat. This will eventually need to be brought to boil. Before that boils stir in the cornstarch and salt. Stir frequently until it is boiling and thickens.

With slotted spoon remove grapes and place them in the frozen pie crust. Then add a bit of the syrup to fill the pie. I did not. In fact, there seemed to be enough syrup attached to the grapes already. The recipe has said it was a very juicy pie anyway. Dot the grapes with the butter. Place the top crust and pinch the edges together. I used my pie bird so did not need to cut additional slits. Sprinkle the top generously with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.

 

Looking good! It is supposed to cool completely before serving. This should let the juices set up a bit.

And then we ate a slice. I’m sorry to say that it is “nothing to write home about”. Hubby declared the crust wonderful but the pie “bland”. It was an interesting texture, mushy-like. The flavor probably did need that elderberry flower syrup.

I took the remaining pie to work to see what my coworkers thought. It was declared “interesting” but was not a hit. It was just not appealing. I will not be making this again. Next time I have a bunch of green grapes that are not the best, I will cook them down into a sauce for chicken or pork. I have to admit the sauce idea was Hubby’s first suggestion.

Two years blogging!

This was a perfect day for baking.  The weather was downright chilly after a week of sweltering heat. I had printed this recipe earlier in the month and this was the day to use it. So for the anniversary blog I have made the July Bake Along Recipe from King Arthur Flour: Blueberry Hand Pies. Now I have made hand pies before: Pork Pies. But this is summer and the berries are in season and blueberry pie is so good! I had anticipated changing the recipe when I got down to making these, but I followed it exactly! That’s probably a first. I had recently bought some tart pans and thought I would make these into individual tarts and I was even thinking of making my own standard pie dough or using store bought: oh my!

I gathered the ingredients for the pastry and got out my food processor with its brand new blade that I waited 6 months for Cuisinart to replace for safety reasons. This is the part of the recipe that I did not follow. The food processor makes making pie dough simple. I never liked making it by hand.

PASTRY

  • 2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour; I had exactly two cups; I thought I might have had to use some whole wheat pastry flour, but I had just enough.
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold sour cream

I pulsed the dry ingredients and then added the butter and finally the sour cream. It does come together in clumps as described in the recipe. When I dumped that onto my lightly floured board and read the description of rolling this out, it dawned on me that this is a puff pastry. Most likely a rough-puff as it only has two turns: rolling out, folding over, rolling out again, repeat, fold over, and chill for 30 minutes. My cutting board block is marked in two inch squares so I measured it to the 8×10 inches both times.

FILLING

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse berries and put in saucepan. Mix the dry ingredients and pour over. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. My filling began to thicken in about 3 minutes over medium-hot heat so that is how long I cooked it. I don’t usually cook the blueberries before putting in pie. But this does help hold the filling together for the small squares of pastry. Let cool. I let the filling cool but not quite to room temperature. And I have leftover filling. This could be good on pancakes or to top ice cream. I will use it to top Brie cheese!

Preheat oven to 425 F and get that pastry out of the fridge and get ready to roll!

Here again I found the markings on my cutting board block helpful. Roll the pastry into a 14 inch square. Then cut it into sixteen 3 1/2 inch squares. My squares were not squared completely nor were they cut to the exact size. Put a heaping tablespoon or two on eight of the squares. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Oh yeah, make a vent in the other eight squares. Then put together and press the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the rest of the egg yolk on the tops and sprinkle with sugar. And they are ready for the oven.

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Looking good so far…

Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. When I took these out I was in awe…

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And they taste great. I am not sure how to share this with the King Arthur website for the bake-along so I will be content sharing it with you who read this.

Many blessings to all!

Fresh Fruit Tart

Okay, folks, I really, really, intended to follow the recipe to the “t” but just didn’t. What can I say?

Cook’s Illustrated July/August edition has a test-kitchened version of the fruit tart, you know, the kind you see in the bakeries each summer when the berries come into season. The kind on a layer of pastry cream or pudding. This new and improved version is supposed to stay together when cut in filling and crust. Hubby thinks this type of fruit tart is a great thing so I intend to make this. It has a pat-in-the-pan crust and a no-cook filling. Sounds easy to me.

I traipse off to the store to buy mascarpone cheese and white baking chips. Yes that’s what is in this, along with lime juice and zest. I’m cheap and just was at my local chain grocery so bought blueberries and strawberries which were less expensive (by a lot!) than raspberries and blackberries. No fresh peaches so I didn’t use those either. I forgot that kiwi makes a nice edition too, so just blueberries and strawberries for us.

The recipe is simple enough. It calls for using freshly sliced peaches to make an edible slicing guide. Good idea. It added lime to the filling to give it oomph. And the white baking chips hold the cheese filling together without cooking.

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I read this wrong and used 1 1/2 cups.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (can be browned in a skillet, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully as it can burn.)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons water (apparently browning the butter cooks off a lot of liquid which is needed for the flour to hold the crust together.)

So I make the crust, almost exactly. I did not brown the butter to give it a nutty taste. I melted the butter, added the water, the flour mixture, and patted it into a 9 inch Pyrex pie pan. The tart pan I have does not have a removable bottom and is about 12 inches in diameter. I thought that would be too big. Now, thinking about it, it might have worked anyway. And I may not have needed to add the whole 2 Tablespoons of water.

The crust gets baked in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes, turning half way through. It is also baked on a wire rack placed in a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely. Note to self: this may be the way to bake pies in the future.

I cored then cut supermarket strawberries in half and washed 1/2 pint of blueberries. The glaze is supposed to be made from apricot preserves but when I opened the jar, I found that the little bit left was not fit for human consumption. Into the compost bucket with it! All I have now is dark jellies. I consult with Hubby and we agree that I can use the dark jelly for a glaze since I am using berries anyway. We have a wonderful berry preserve from a local farm and it is made from blackberries and blueberries. Cook’s calls for 1/3 cup. I use about 1/4th.

Meanwhile for the filling.

  • 1/3 cup white baking chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I bought and used whipping cream because I would have more uses for the remainder in the pint carton.)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 7 teaspoons juice (This supposedly needs two limes. Well, the zest from one lime was a tablespoon and the juice was a few teaspoons at best. I figured the extra zest would make up for the juice and only used one lime. After all, one needs them for Lime Rickeys and G&Ts!)
  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature. (I used 8 ounces because that was the size of the small tub that I found at the grocery store.)

I really did have every intention of following the recipe exactly. But as you can see from my notations above I did not.

Melt the baking chips with the zest, a pinch of salt, and the cream. Do this in the microwave for ease. It took less than a minute to melt it to a smooth consistency. Now add 1/3 of the mascarpone and whisk. Then add the 6 teaspoons of lime juice and the rest of the cheese. Whisk til smooth and pour into the completely cooled crust. Arrange fruit as desired.

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Melt the preserves with a little lime juice (this teaspoon came from a jar) and carefully glaze the fruit avoiding the crust. Well, this is easier said than done. As mentioned above I had a dark glaze and there were gaps between the fruit. This is to be put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

 

So did this new improved tart meet its goals? Yes it did. Life is too short not to eat dessert when it looks like this. I admit it is not as pretty as the ones in the bakery or the picture in Cook’s Illustrated. But it is in my kitchen ready to eat. And the crust and filling did not break apart or ooze out when cut. Yay! I see no need to let it sit out for 15 minutes before cutting, either. Also farm fresh strawberries will be tastier than supermarket berries. I will have to look out for some next time I pass a farm market or stand.

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