Sunday, December 23, 2018

Lucky Charms Pie

I think I was supposed to be a stoner. I think whatever deity made me just
sculpted 90% of a stoner and forgot to flip the final switch. 
I have no idea what this is and I frankly don't even want to talk about it. I have no idea why it worked out or how in the world it even crossed my subconscious, but it did. Strap in, my tchotchkes, because you're going to learn how to make one of the craziest pie recipes I've ever made. It's not really crazy because it's got some wild technique that I've invented - it's just....wild. Like, who in the world would ask for a Lucky Charms Pie? My subconscious, that's who.

Several days ago I woke up thinking of a Lucky Charms Pie. Somehow, it was in my dream the night before. It was such a weird dream, but I didn't tell my husband about it because I couldn't recall the actual plot of it. Fast forward through the day and it was easily one of the worst days at work in memory. I don't want to talk about it, so don't ask, but just know that I was already emotionally drained from returning home from Tucson after my great-grandmother's funeral. I basically didn't have it in me... And more and more was happening, even after the work day had technically ended. I was throwing things at this point and my husband asked me if he could do anything for me. I was so mad I couldn't think, so I just asked him to go get me a soda or a crunch bar or some kind of sweet, textured thing while I cooked dinner. He came back with sodas, a crunch bar, some OJ (for him) and a box of Lucky Charms. Naturally, I burst into tears.


via GIPHY

It was like a sign. The Gods of the Good Kush wanted me to make this stupid pie. I was already up to my elbows in tortellini, though, so of course I wasn't going to make it tonight. I did, however, have the perfect opportunity to do it the following Sunday when I was having a brunch/dinner with my friends.

See, my friend had never had mimosas before. As a Crowned and Anointed Basic Bitch I couldn't let this stand, so I bought some cava and some pulp-y orange juice for the mimosas. I thought about making french toast but since we'd be meeting around dinner time I figured I'd make a quiche. And since I was making pie dough already...

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

I made a whole wheat pie crust to work with both the savory and sweet...and because I wasn't really doing anything truly healthy at dinner and we were having booze after, it somehow made me feel better to do a whole wheat crust on this thing. I kept it neutral in flavor so it would work for both. You can obviously use store-bought pie crust but feel free to use my recipe below.

Lucky Charms Pie
yields one ungoldly horror of a pie, 9" across, serves 8

Pie Crust
  • 350 g AP flour
  • 150 g whole wheat flour
  • 150 g vegan butter substitute (or dairy butter, whatever you like)
  • 150 g vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Rum, as needed
Lucky Charms Cereal Milk
  • 475 ml (or 2 cups) soy milk
  • 1 cup lucky charms plus more to garnish, divided
  • 1/2 c (100 g) granulated sugar + more later...you'll see
  • 1/4 c (31 g) icing/confectioner's/powdered sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Blue food coloring, if desired
First thing's first, you're going to make the pie crust. Start by rubbing the fat into the flours and salt using your fingertips. You can also place your flour in the bowl of a standing mixer with your paddle attachment and adding in all of your fat, stirring until everything is sort of incorporated and the fat looks to be about pea-sized. You can also pulse your pie ingredients in a food processor. Whatever. Everyone has their own way to make pie dough, you can use yours. 

I like to use rum in my pie doughs because it has a genuinely nice flavor and alcohol won't form gluten like water will. I like to have my doughs be rather short, so I kind of like to take every precaution I can to have a nice short crust. Yay! 

Either way, bring your dough together and allow to chill for at least one hour before rolling out. This will make enough dough for two pies plus plenty for decoration, so feel free to cut this recipe in half. I just always make this amount in case I need to make two pies. And hey! It's great to have extra on hand. 

While your pie dough is chilling, make the cereal milk by pouring a whole cup of this yummy marshmallow cereal into your soy milk (you can use dairy milk, if you want - it's your pie) and stir. Get everything wet and let sit for about 30 minutes in your fridge.You don't want to bring your milk to a boil and then infuse it in the hot way, like you would a tea. Just be patient and do it this way. In the meantime, separate your eggs and let them come up to room temperature. You can use all six egg whites, but I only used three since I didn't know how much of a sugar coma I wanted to put my friends into. Besides! You can freeze egg whites perfectly to make an excellent macaron later on.

Use cutters, use braids...use whatever you like! This is your pie.
Once the dough is chilled and rested, please feel free to go nuts with the decoration. You'll be par-baking this crust at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes before baking the custard in with it. This way, no soggy bottoms. We don't like soggy bottoms. I did end up using parchment paper and some baking beads. You can use rice, dry beans, and more - just PLEASE make sure to use parchment paper to line it with first, and poke some holes in the bottom of the crust to allow some steam to vent. Otherwise, this could turn into a big gloopy gross mess. 

After it's baked, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and place the pie pan on a cookie sheet. Then take the cookie sheet and place it in the middle rack of the oven. Go ahead and open up the oven to let the heat come out and pull the rack out about halfway so that the pie is sitting in the oven already. Trust me on this because you'll thank me later. You won't have to walk to the oven with a slippery and hot pie crust with sloshy liquid!

Using a spatula, mix the egg yolks with both the powdered and granulated sugars. I like a spatula instead of a whisk because I don't want too much air in this. Basically, I stir and press to make a smooth sort of custard-looking texture, and this way I won't get a foam on top. I then strain the cereal milk liquid into the eggs, slowly, and stir in until everything is incorporated. Make sure you scrape from the bottom and try not to agitate it too much! Next, add your salt and - if you like - the food coloring. I noticed that the dyes from the cereal turned my milk a faint blue color, and I just felt like going fully psychedelic with this. Again, you don't have to! I just chose to. 

Discard the soggy cereal and strain this entire mixture into a pitcher. Push the rack back, the pie shell directly in to the oven, while sitting on the tray, and pour your custard into the shell. Now simply bake for about 40 minutes, or until the custard is just barely set. My oven took about 40 minutes, but yours might take more or less time. I'd say just check it at 30 and then see.

When the custard shows a slight wobble, in the middle, turn your oven off and open the oven door a crack. Let the custard sit in the oven for another 20 minutes to gently carry-over cook. This will give you a smooth-as-silk finish. If you had bubbles or foam on the top, it might have browned slightly. This is okay, as we're covering the whole pie with meringue later.

Once it's all done with it's pre-cool, remove your pie from the oven and pop it straight in the fridge. I'd let it cool for at least an hour, but give it two if you can. When you're ready to serve, get your mixer ready.

Using a very clean bowl and a very clean whisk attachment for your standing mixer or hand mixer, pop in as many egg whites as you like. The rule for me is that a perfect meringue is about 1/4 c granulated sugar per large egg white. This means that, for three egg whites, I used 3/4 c of granulated sugar. To make a perfect meringue, make sure your equipment is super clean and super dry. I like to have a pot of simmering water at the ready, and set my bowl - egg whites inside - over the heat. Using a whisk, I like to stir in the sugar by hand, whipping gently to foam and dissolve the sugar. Once it's a fairly warmer than body temperature and all foamy and dissolved (I think 160 degrees F/71 degrees C if you want to be precise) remove it from the heat. Then use your electric mixer to bring it up, on high, until the peaks are stiff, glossy, and about tripled in volume. The meringue shouldn't slide out of the bowl at all and should hold its shape. Delicious!

This is another way you can get really creative. Once my cooled pie was ready, I heated the oven to 350 again. I used a piping bag to make the designs around the edges for mine, or at least for half of it, and then dumped the rest on in a pile just to cover the top of the custard. You can really just go nuts on how you want to decorate this, so long as at least half of the meringue is baked. I baked mine for about 5 minutes in the oven, just until the tips were lightly brown. You can also use a torch, if you like! Either way, I baked the custard, piped on some fresh meringue to help stick the garnishes, and then topped my pie with a big fat handful of the Lucky Charms cereal. You can add some white chocolate bits, some chocolate candies, and even some rainbow sprinkles, if you like! Just please don't go too crazy with other flavors. You want to have the real flavor of this crazy cereal as much as possible!

Serve to your friends and watch them begin to giggle like schoolgirls at the taste of this crazy thing...which is straight-up cereal. Hilarious and fun! It's a great treat for a party or for your holiday fun. Speaking of which, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I might just make this crazy thing again for Tuesday. We'll see!




A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

Happy cooking and happy eating. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies



There aren't going to be any cute anecdotes about these cookies. These are good and I like them.

I'm going to be short here. I've lost my great-grandmother yesterday. She was 101 years old. I'm going to spell that out for dramatic effect: one-hundred and one years old. I had a grandmother that lived for more than a century. She saw the rise of social justice, she saw the revolutions of the time, she saw segregation end, she saw the rise of the global internet, and she saw approximately 75 grandchildren be born and grow up. It's okay that she's gone. Her funeral is next week so I'll be flying back to my  home town to see my family there and say our final goodbyes. It's unsure if I'll blog next Sunday.

I remember her teaching me how to play chess and then throwing the board away after I beat her for the first time. I remember her playing rummikubs. I remember her showing me how to embroider and cross-stitch. She showed me how to knit once but she really preferred to crochet. I sewed all of my prom dresses and homecoming dresses with her help. I don't remember her baking much, but I do know she had a sweet tooth.

These cookies don't have much to do with her, other than the fact that I developed and perfected the recipe the other day and they brought me some joy. I hope you all feel joy today and I hope you like these cookies, too; because they're good, and I like them.

Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies
yields about 24 cookies
  • 125 vegan butter
  • 110 g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 150 g flour
  • 120 g pistachios, ground
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • Pistachio paste** as needed or strawberry jam as needed
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a half-sheet pan with a silicon liner or parchment paper. 

Grind your pistachios in a coffee grinder in pulses along with the salt. You want to make sure that you shake your grinder about a little bit to make sure it doesn't turn into paste or  butter. You can also grind these in a food processor with a few spoonfuls of your flour; it all really depends on what kind of equipment you have. 

Beat the butter and sugar together using a whisk or the whisk attachment of your standing mixer, and add in the egg and vanilla. Use a spatula to add in the flour and ground pistachio mixture, stirring until everything is just incorporated. 

Using a 1 oz scoop/disher, scoop out small balls of dough and place them on your prepared sheet pan. These don't really spread, so don't be afraid to put them close together. You can roll these in your hand, if you like, and press them down just a bit with the bottom of a drinking glass to make them smoother, but I like them to be a little craggy. 

Protip: instead of using your thumb to push the indent into the cookie, use a grape. I took this red seedless grape and pressed it into the dough to make an indentation, and each cookie was uniform because of it. Neat!



Next comes the fun part: filling the cookies! You can either use pistachio paste or strawberry jam. I like both of them, but you can decide what's easier for you. You may also use raspberry but please don't use grape. What's pistachio paste? It's a paste made from pistachios! You can find it at most specialty food stores, but I hear that grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's might even carry the stuff nowadays. You can, however, make your own!

Pistachio Paste

Simply soak a cup or two of pistachios in water overnight and drain and reserve some of the water. Grind it in a food processor with 2-3 tablespoons of cane sugar and a pinch of salt. It should be a little runnier than hummus. You can store this in the fridge, covered, for about 2 weeks. It can be used to fill cakes, make creams and custards and mousses, ice creams, and - of course - fill cookies. 

It only takes a small spoonful for each well, but you don't want to overfill it either way, especially with jams. If you don't have homemade, store-bought is just fine. 

Bake these cookies at 350 for 10-12 minutes, but try not to let them brown too much, otherwise their glorious green color is dulled. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before consuming - that jam is HOT and will burn the roof or your mouth. And you will scream. And your husband will come up from the basement, running at full speed, and stub his toe on the refrigerator. And he'll fall and you'll both end up on the kitchen floor. It will not be cute like those stupid rom-coms that lied to us when we were little. It will be chaos and will hurt a lot. 

These cookies are great for a quick something to snack on. You'll want to double or even triple the recipe, as you'll eat most of them yourself. Seriously they didn't even last a full 24 hours in my house. They're, like, really good. You can use regular butter if you like, but I use Earth Balance, which is my favorite vegan butter that acts and tastes very much like the real thing. Up to you!


Thanks, all! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Easy Challah for Hanukkah

"Challah" at yo girl!
Happy 1st night of Hanukkah, my tchotchkes! I won't go into the whole history of the holiday, nor will I go on a long tangent on why it's the best. I'll just give you the important thing that you need to know to have a successful Hanukkah:

Deep. Fry. Everything.


The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil in that sealed jug meant for their lanterns was only enough for one night, but it ended up lasting enough for eight nights, thus giving the Maccabees time to make more oil. There's actually a big long story along with it, but if you want to have a little fun while learning, watch this.



Yes, I did just show you a clip from "The Meanie of Hanukkah." As far as I can tell, it's all we have in the ways of popular culture. The point is that oil is important, and that's why we eat lots of deep-fried foods.The only real rule is to not mix meat with dairy.

A meat menu will often consist of a brisket or a roasted chicken to go along with the latkes and often a green vegetable. A dairy menu can have grilled salmon along with goat cheese and beet risotto or an egg dish with lots of cheese...and don't forget the kugel! Spruce Eats actually has a great selection of ideas for you. You can find my favorite latke recipe right here. If you're feeling fancy, I like to add dried dill. You can also find my easy vegan doughnut recipe right here, which I'll be making tonight to go with my fried chicken. Yum!

Challah is a traditional loaf of braided bread, made with eggs. This is my own version that's super easy, very flavorful, and relatively quick.


Challah
yields 1 loaf
  • 500 g AP flour
  • 6 g yeast
  • 1 fat pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g warm water
  • 30 g kosher wine (a splash or two)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil or vegan butter substitute
Combine everything in the bowl of your standing mixer and bring it together using a dough hook. You'll knead for about five minutes, or until it's nice and smooth and is gently crawling up your hook. If you'd like to add anything to your challah, such as sesame seeds or dried herbs, now would be the time. Just let it run for a few turns, just enough to mix them in. Oil a bowl and set your dough in a warm place to double in size. This is call prooving, because you prove that the yeast works. Hah!

Once that time has passed, divide your dough into thirds and braid. When you get to the end, turn - 

Eh? What's that? You don't know how to braid? Oh, dear. Well, here you go! Here's a tutorial on how to braid different kinds.



Now that that's all sorted, pop your bread loaf on a baking sheet and cover gently with a clean tea towel. While it's rising, let your oven come up to 400 degrees F. Prepare an egg wash of 1 egg plus a touch of salt and sugar, and maybe a tsp of water. Let that hang out until that has doubled in size, usually 30 to 45 minutes depending. Gently brush with your egg wash to give that glorious color and bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees F.



Let your challah cool on a rack and serve with your dinner. Enjoy playing with your dreidels and have a great night! Happy cooking, happy eating, and happy deep-frying!