Monday, March 13, 2017

π  Day March 14th = Pie Day at work!

So, Beast and I set out to make a unique pie today for the feast tomorrow in celebration of π day!

We made a Sour Cream Rum Raisin Pie...a twist on the old Norwegian favorite I grew up with.

First I prepared the dough for the crust, made it into a disc and refrigerated it overnight.  I used my friend, Amy, the pie aficionado's recipe,with butter instead of shortening, and pastry flour instead of APF, and the dough rolled out like silk:
1.5 cups pastry flour
.5 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
and a few Tbsp ice cold water
I mix mine in the food processor, pulsing the flour and salt before adding the diced butter and pulsing again before adding the water.  How much water is a few Tbsp?  Well, that depends how humid the weather is.  This time I think it worked out to about 4 Tbsp, but I was eyeballing it, adding about a Tbsp at a time then pulsing the dough until it started to come together then I transferred it onto plastic wrap, shaped it into a disc and refrigerated it overnight. 
I think this recipe is enough for a two crust pie, but I only made one with it...rolled it out larger than my pie plate, then trimmed the edges to about 1.25" past the edge and crimped the edges.  I then took the remainder of the pie crust that had been cut off and basted it with heavy cream and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar for pastry leftover treats.  I messed that up...I should have basted with melted butter, it would have been even more buttery!  

I poked holes in the dough and then baked the pie crust with beans on parchment in the crust to keep the crust from puffing up.  Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes.  I know it's not the most gorgeous crust, but it's got a rustic feel to it...lesson learned, don't buy the pie plates with the handles...your pie crusts always turn out funky shapes!

Next I prepped the filling:

2 cups sour cream
1.5 cups sugar
3 egg yolks (from large eggs)
1.5 cups raisins soaked in rum (you should really soak them all day or overnight but I only soaked mine a couple hours before making the filling)
3 Tbsp pastry flour
Mixed all this together in a Wolf Gourmet sauce pan and heated over medium until it was heated through and a nice thick consistency.  This does not take very long, maybe 10 minutes with stirring occasionally once the ingredients are well mixed.
Then I turned it down to simmer while I made the meringue:
3 egg whites (from large eggs)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar - don't skip this part
3/4 cup sugar

I had reserved my egg whites from the filling and kept them in the fridge while I was doing everything up to this point, and I had pre-chilled my mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer so the tools would be nice and cold when I whisked the egg white mixture for the meringue.  I do this when making whipped cream as well- it works great!
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until they form soft peaks (about 4 minutes) then turn up the speed to high and add the sugar about 1 tbsp at at time and whisk until stiff peaks form (about 3 more minutes).
Here's what the peaks look like when stiff, very stiff!


Next pour the custard mixture into the pie crust then top with the meringue and into the oven it goes at 350°F for 15 minutes

Let it rest on a rack for one hour, then refrigerate at least four hours before serving with some fresh coffee!  The rustic crust shape doesn't look so bad after all, does it?  Can't wait to see how it tastes!
Happy π  Day!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fall is in the air, and it's time to fire up the Wolf ovens for some more bread baking!

It's hot today, but cooler fall air is coming, which means more comfortable temperatures for baking.  Beast has been lying around like he's about to die from heat exhaustion, but as soon as the nights get cooler, he bounds into the kitchen eager for the next baking adventure with me.

Recently we participated in the King Arthur Flour Bake Along and made Pane Bianco, which turned out great!

We also made these Lemon Raspberry Cupcake Beauties

And then over Labor Day we made Cinna Buns from King Arthur's recipe, and used some sourdough starter in the mix: 

More to come soon!  

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Strawberry Season

It's Strawberry Season in Wisconsin!

Thankfully the weather is mild and the humidity low for this Independence Holiday weekend so yesterday Beast and I made some strawberry jam.  It's a love-hate relationship much like canning tomatoes in the heat of August.  I love the end result, but can live without the tedious process which keeps me indoors when I would rather be outside.

The berries are beautiful and sweet.  One of the best parts of processing day is coming up with adult beverages to enjoy during the processing adventure.  This time I made a Strawberry Mint Basil Cocktail with Vodka, Mint, Basil, SanPelligrino Limonata, and a little mint simple syrup.

Sometimes the jam turns out a bit runny but this year it is perfect.  It set well and has great flavor.  Step one of holiday gift canning complete!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sourdough Starter

Beast and I have taken a break for a long time from blogging, but we have not stopped cooking and baking!  During the winter a customer of mine sent me some of her 8 year old sourdough starter and I have hosted a few Sourdough Bread Classes at work to share the starter with others and teach them how easy bread from scratch with starter can be.

There are so many things to do with sourdough starter and much of it is ridiculously easy.  Besides awesome bread we have been making the most delicious tortillas, biscuits and incredible pancakes.

Here's the recipe I have been using for the tortillas.
Flour Tortillas Recipe Link
You will not believe how velvety smooth they turn out, soft and melt in your mouth delicious!

The first time I made them I was not sure if they were supposed to rest at room temp or in the fridge.  I made them for Cinco de Mayo and mixed the dough the day before.  I left the dough in a plastic bag overnite then looked at it in the morning and thought I had ruined it because it was so moist.  I chucked the bag into the fridge for the day and took it back out after work and decided what the heck, I'll try anyway and see what they are like.  After preheating my cast iron pan I floured my hands and grabbed a gooey handful and mixed it with some more flour then rolled it out.  I knew as soon as I started rolling that I had something here.  The dough rolled so easily and was great to work with.  They turned out beautiful and you could taste the sourdough in every bite.  AWESOME!

I have struggled with flour tortillas for years because they always get too dry from the flour and cooking in the pan.  These were not dry at all.  New favorite recipe!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Savory Tomato and Herb Scones

Last weekend I made some fresh ricotta cheese, and this week I have a bunch of tomatoes.  Besides some great pasta and pizza ideas for these I thought it would be fun to make a savory Sunday breakfast scone.

2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I quarter each Tablespoon)
1 large clove garlic minced
2 Tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used basil and parsley)
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup ricotta cheese (you could substitute sour cream, Greek yogurt or cream cheese)
1 egg plus one yolk (reserve extra white for brushing on top)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F
Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and mix until butter is pea sized or a bit larger.
stir in ricotta, tomato, garlic and herbs.  Beat buttermilk into eggs and add to mixture, mixing gently just until incorporated.  Place dough onto a generously floured surface and knead or fold 4-6 times until the mixture is smooth, but don't work it too long or the scones will be tough.  Form into a circle.  I like my scones puffy, so I only made my circle about 6-7 inches in diameter, then cut into 8 scones, place on a parchment lined pan and brush with beaten egg white, then top with parmesan cheese.  Bake 20-25 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cranberry Chutney

Just in time for we're finishing the initial stages of the kitchen remodel and awaiting installation of the oven and cooktop, I'm busy thinking about what I'll cook this weekend!
My cranberry chutney is a family favorite at the holidays, so I'll likely whip up a batch of that.

I thought I would share the recipe in case anyone else would like to try it instead of or in addition to canned cranberry sauce...hmmm...I seem to have momentarily lost my recipe...

Well, try some of these links:!,-Sides---Salads/Cranberry-Chutney-(1).aspx

Don't know what to do with chutney?  It's great served on the side with meats, or on sandwiches, or in salad dressings...whatever you can think of, it's great!

Enjoy and Happy Holiday Cooking!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Beast's Kitchen Remodel Progress Update

The framework for the tower is complete and the counter is close and will be done by Monday.  The electrician comes on Wednesday to run the wiring, and then we're just waiting for the face trim before the oven and cooktop can be installed.

We found a countertop today, FINALLY, at Menards...a birch butcherblock...Birch likes that idea.
The cats are freaked out the range, cabinets and counter went away and now there's a new Cat Climing Structure.  Wait till they find out it's not for the cats!
They keep walking into the room, climbing in the tower and crying WHAAAAAT HAVE YOU DONE!

The counter is longer than we need so we'll have an extra piece for my dough counter when the time comes for that sometime in the spring.

Here are some pics of the progress. - Thanks Tim!

Tower Skeleton

Beast in the tower

What, Mama?  I'm not doin' nothin'
Framing the counter
Counter Frame