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Showing posts with label pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pie. Show all posts

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pear Streusel Pie

 


The fruits of summer are bountiful and sweet! There's nothing quite like the summer in the city, except when you are in your 30s and you live in the American Midwest or South. Then, it's just awful, especially if you are an *ahem* ample person of the feminine persuasion, such as myself. (Sweat happens to humans with bosoms and thick thighs in a way that I wish not on others.) Summer sucks. It's hot. It's humid. I'm going to tell you that I hate humidity, so I count the days until fall occurs. I relish the changing leaves, and I mark days off my calendar until I can go apple picking. There is, however, the wonderful fruit that ripens just before the apple does, and I can get my crisp fruit pie fix...the pear. 

Pears are wonderful fruits that don't get nearly enough love. They're crisp and cool, they have delicious varieties that are vastly varied, and they grow on trees so you can pick them while imagining your perfect life in the south of France as you do it! They are not always as sweet as the apple, so therefore you can use them in savory and sweet applications. A grated pear in a marinade for a Korean-style beef marinade will add a note of freshness and sweetness without being overwhelming. How wonderful! 

I'm sure you've seen pears with cheese plates and your parents will remember poached pears with ice cream in fancy restaurants in the late 80s to early 90s. Heck, I myself am guilty of putting the retro-classic poached pear on a modern dessert because I love it so much! There's just something about the pear that heralds in the changing of the seasons for me. It bakes in a wonderful end-of-summer pie.  Here's how to make it!



End-of-Summer Pear Pie

Pie Dough

  • 4 oz vegan butter
  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz raw sugar
  • 1 oz dark rum, more as needed
Pear Filling
  • Four medium-sized local pears, peeled and sliced thin
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3.5 oz raw or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp good Mexican vanilla
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  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese long pepper, ground
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Honey Streusel
  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 1 oz local honey
  • 3 oz vegan butter, cold

This is my standard pie dough, and I absolutely love making it because it's suitable for decorating as well as tasty eating. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl along with a fat pinch of salt. Roughly chop the butter into cubes and rub into the flour-sugar mixture with your fingertips, almost as if you were snapping your fingers. You only want to combine the flour until it looks like cornmeal, and then add in the rum. Turn all of this out onto a cool, marble surface and smear together, folding all the dough back on itself over and over again until everything is smooth and combined. Scrape together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight. 

Take your pears in a large bowl and toss it with the lemon juice and zest first before adding the sugar and spices. Cover this beautiful stuff and let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. The sugar and spices will draw pear juice out, and this beautiful liquid is going to make your pie taste delicious! Why don't you go ahead and turn on your oven to 350 F while you wait?


Meanwhile, lay more plastic wrap on your counter turn your dough out onto the surface. Rolling out your dough on plastic wrap or greased parchment paper will save you a lot of cleaning time! The idea is that you want to sandwich your pie dough between the parchment or plastic wrap and roll it out this way, so you don't have to add excess flour. Roll this out nice and thin and line a glass or ceramic pie dish and press into the corners so it's well-set. Let it hang out on the counter for about five minutes so the pie dough can relax a little before you trim the edges. This will prevent excessive shrinking! Once the dough has relaxed, trim the edges with a sharp paring knife and pinch around the edges to make a pretty scalloped finish. Take this opportunity to think about what kind of decorations you'd like to have on your pie! I chose feathers. 



I have this wonderful set of teardrop-shaped cutters that I discovered at a garage sale some years ago. All you have to do to make feathers is to take the excess dough that you've cut off, roll and cut out the shapes, and then use the back of the knife to make your cuts and indents. You can get really creative with what you put on your pie, so feel free to let your imagination run wild! Remember, any sort of decorative pie crust touch you make will need some egg wash to stick.

To make the streusel simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon. You'll be chopping and stirring the fat until everything sort of comes together in a kind of loose and lumpy sand, which shouldn't take long at all. Streusel is ready once it comes together when you ball it in your fist and it keeps its shape but quickly crumbles apart when tapped with a spoon.  

When you're ready to bake, brush your pie shell, edges included, quite well with egg wash. Add the flour to your pear pie filling and stir well to coat. You can use cornstarch if you like, but flour works just fine. Scrape your pie filling into the dough shell and arrange so that the slices are generally flat. Sprinkle your streusel all over the top to cover it, and decorate your pie as you so desire to. I really love the random look of these feathers strewn here and there! You can do whatever shapes you like; this is your pie, so you choose!

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and everything's golden-brown and delicious-looking. Your house is going to smell amazing! Turn off the oven and crack the oven door, and let it cool in the oven for about half an hour. Remove from the oven and let sit on the counter for at least 3 hours. Why? Pectin!

Pectin is this wonderful stuff that's found in high amounts in apples, citrus fruits, and - you guessed it - pears! It's a natural thickener and is essential for making homemade jams and jellies. The only thing about pectin is that it needs to set on its own, so that means you shouldn't cut this pie until it's cool to room temperature and the pectin is set. This way, you'll get much cleaner slices and you'll be able to enjoy that picturesque view of a non-soggy-bottom when you go back for a second, third, or fourth slice of pie. If you cut this pie before the pectin sets, the liquid will burst out and soak up your crust from the bottom, and it'll never set again. 

But what if I want warm pie??? 

Easy! Once it's all cooled, you can reheat it by the slice in the oven or - if you must - the microwave, and serve with some ice cream or sweetened ricotta cream. My general rule is that fruit pies should be served plain with coffee, but if you absolutely must indulge in some sort of ice cream, then I simply cannot stop you. Let go and let G-d, I say!

I love this pie because it's not too sweet but satisfies my sweet tooth in a much lighter way than an apple pie does. Pears are quite fragrant in a sexy, sophisticated way. I like to think of apple pie as your cute neighbor that just loves to wear bright patterns, whereas pear pie is that sexy stranger at the end of the bar wearing just enough of that expensive cologne or perfume...but when you get to the bar you see it's your neighbor, all along, in a new light. 

Thanks so much for reading along and spending some time of your day with me. It means so much to me to be able to pass on these awesome skills I've acquired over the last decade to you. I hope I inspire you to make this delicious pear pie. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pandan Custard Pie


Do not adjust your screens! This pie really IS that green!

If you didn't find me on Instagram I applaud you. If you did, you probably saw my little precursor on what pandan is and why you should be getting it for yourself to try. If you don't have it already at home, you're going to have to get it delivered, but there are a LOT of options for that! Even better, I can assure you that - as someone who's been shopping at Asian grocery stores for a fair portion of her life - that they've been using gloves, sanitizing, and wearing masks long before this whole pandemic nonsense started. In fact, I would say that I shop at the Asian markets more than I tended to shop at the western markets before this all happened. Where else am I going to get my 50 lb bag of rice and canned coconut milk and all those dried and preserved veggies that have kept me inside and healthy?

To sum up before I get into the recipe: pandan extract as we know it comes from the leaves of the pandan plant, which grows in southeast Asia. It has a gorgeous fragrant coconut-like flavor and colors everything bright green. I love a pandan angel food cake, or pandan macarons. You can use the leaves as wrappers for steamed cakes or cook and blend them for your own extract. I personally find it way easier to just have a supply of the extract in my baking pantry. Anyway, here's the recipe, since I promised I'd do my best to put the recipe at the top of the page and not go on a 30 paragraph rant on what pandan is and what it means to me.

Pandan Custard Pie

  • 1 Pie Crust, blind baked
    • 4 oz (1 sticks) vegan butter
      • of course use dairy butter or shortening, if you like
    • 7 oz all-purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp cane sugar
    • Enough vodka to pull it all together, usually an ounce or two
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 160 g (about 3/4 cup) cane sugar 
  • 2 tsp pandan extract
This pie truly couldn't be easier. The hardest/longest part of the process is the crust! You'll see that I included a pie crust recipe up there, but if you have your own pre-made pie crust or a favorite crust that does well, I highly encourage you to use it. I've made a lot of pie on this site, and that's not even touching all the stuff I don't document. The point is I understand the value of a good pie crust that you've come to like and trust. So use that as a single-crust and decorate the rim however you like.

If you don't know how to put a pie crust together, it's easy:

Simply combine butter, sugar, and flour in a bowl with your fingers, rubbing the tips into the butter as quickly as possible, sort of like you're trying to snap your fingers with the butter in between. The idea is you want to push the flour into the butter as quickly and as cooly as possible. Once the butter is looking piece-y and pea-sized, add vodka. Yes, vodka. You're not going to get a gluten-y crust with vodka! And since it's vodka, it's likely that you're already chilling it, so bless. All you must do is add enough of it for the dough to come together to a single mass and then cool, roll out, and lay in your pie dish of your choice. I have collected a plethora of tiny cutters over the years (at least half of which I bought in culinary school when I was obsessed with garde manger) so I always have fun decorating my pie crust. With this one I used a fork on the whole rim and then added tiny leaves around halfway, mostly because I think asymmetry is visually interesting.

Please note that you can freeze a pie crust and keep it for up to 3 months before using!

When you blind bake something, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and gently prick the bottom and sides of your pie crust before lining with either parchment or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a gorgeous golden brown. I like to use ceramic pie weights to fill the inside, as they hold heat well, but you can use rice or beans. I wouldn't recommending eating the baked grains or legumes, however, so just let them cool once done and save them in a jar for later blind-baking purposes. 

Once baked, please remove weights and allow to cool, then fashion a pie crust shield out of aluminum foil. Simply take a long-ish-sheet of foil and slice longways into thirds. Press gently and easily around the rim of the pie to protect the crust from burning during that second bake, so that way the filling can do its thing without ruining the look of the whole pie. 

As for the filling, simply combine the coconut milk, sugar, eggs, pandan, and a little pinch of salt in a blender, running on the lowest setting for 30 seconds before pouring straight in to your baked crust and then baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes. (Don't forget that  You'll want to watch for the stage at which it's still a hair loose in the middle - it should be jiggly without being slosh-y. (Yes, those are technical terms.) When it reaches that stage, simply turn off the oven and let sit with the door cracked for an additional 10 minutes. Evacuate and let sit, undisturbed, for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before cooling in the fridge. I like this pie bruleed, so it really does need to be quite cool before I torch it. If you don't have a torch, just enjoy as is, with a cup of hot coffee or tea. 

While you eat it, remember that you're one of the lucky few that gets to sit at home while our healthcare workers fight for us and die for us facing this pandemic. Show love and respect to them by staying home, washing your hands with hot soap and water, practicing social distancing, and keeping yourself sane and occupied enough to help them survive this. I know that there's a group of people out there protesting the stay-home orders, but please know that they're just a very small, very loud group of people that are sick of not getting what they want to get when they want to get it. As far as I've seen, these are people that don't want to go back to work but want others (namely us) to go back to work so they can get their hair cut, eat a burger at a restaurant, etc. 

I know it sucks. I want to go back to work. I know a lot of my friends want to go back to work. But trust us, it's not safe. There are so many other people looking at the bigger picture and there are so many people out there that are out there and being responsible about it. The sooner we all hold on, the sooner we can all get on with our lives. So hang on, bake on, and carry on. 




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Do not adjust your screen! I repeat, do not adjust your screen! 😋 This gorgeous Pandan Custard Pie is hundo P Pinterest worthy, and couldn't be easier to make. What's pandan, you ask? . . Pandan is an extract that comes from these fragrant leaves found in southeast Asia. It's beloved not just for it's yummy flavor, but it instantly turns anything a GORGEOUS verdant green color. 💚💚💚 You can make your own at home by cooking and blending your own pandan leaves, but it's just as easy to get the good extract at the Asian grocery store. (Here in Kansas City, I prefer Pan-Asia Market for baking supplies!🤫) It tastes like a mild, young coconut - so it's a gorgeous twist on a coconut custard pie. You can use the extract to make pies, cookies, cakes, waffles, and more! I personally love a pandan angel food cake. . Look for the recipe on Wannabgourmande.com later today at 11 am CST. Because you may as well create something new today while you're staying home and saving lives! . . . #wannabgourmande #piesofinstagram #instafood #baking #kosherbaking #coconutmilk #dairyfree #dairyfreerecipes #green #piecrust #pie #pastrychef #culinaryarts #discoveringchefs #chefsofinstagram #quarantinelife #stayhomesavelives #pandan #foodphotography #kansascity #kcinfluencer
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It's always been such a comfort to me to know that no matter what your day has in store for you or what the world has in store for you, you can come home and know with absolute certainty that if you add eggs and sugar to coconut milk, it'll get thick and custardy when you cook it. If you can use your cooking as a little bit of therapy, I invite you to do so.  Chin up, guys. Happy cooking and happy eating!

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!




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Happy cooking and happy eating. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Move Over, Cupcake!

Sorry to my faithful readers(all two or three of you) for not posting more often; finals are upon us at the AI-International in Kansas City, and the seniors did their final Capstone projects. It was a big turnout! And everybody did fun little hors d'oeuvres, either in sweet or savory form.

So I have something to say to all of you. Some might be upset, and some might be relieved...but the Era of the Cupcake is dying. Time for a new Hero: a multi-dimensional hero with endless possibilities for sweet and savory, flaky and tender...I'm speaking, of course, about pie.
Cupcakes, I'm leaving you.

Pie???

Yes, pie!

Pie is the new cupcake, and not just in its big 9" form, either. My friend Thomas did phyllo dough pumpkin pies for his Capstone project, and LOOK AT HOW FUCKING CUTE THEY ARE.

When I picked one up to taste it, it was buttery and flaky - like pastry made of paper! The custard itself was rich and velvety, like an old love affair. And the best thing about it is that cupcakes can go bye-bye!

Pies have so many more possibilities than cupcakes do. With crust infusions and custards, with shepherd's pie and mini-trifles...everything is new and fun again! Just like Car Radio Pie, or Jenna's First Kiss Pie.


Okay, just watch this trailer. Or see the movie. Or both.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm totally and completely 100% thrilled that cupcakes are out and pies are in. Pie is awesome!

And if you'd like to meet another pie enthusiast that's twice as hilarious and three-times as obsessed as I am, head on over to I Eat Butter.Tumblr.com. She is amazing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Recap

So Thanksgiving was amazing. Like, historically so. Those of you who saw my twitter posts(if you're not following me, you can do so here at Twitter.com/WannaBGourmande), I made a gravy so awesome that my dad thought it was soup(and he recently went vegetarian). I also made a beautiful Fennel Vichyssoise(which I will be posting the recipe for in a future blog(probably tomorrow, but most-likely later today)), a slew of pot de cremes, and the turkey.

There were about 20 or so of us in Grandma Janie's house, so we made two turkeys. Dad said it was the best turkey he's ever had(but he's my dad so he has to say that), and the family of mine that had some said it was amazing, too. My aunt even asked what my secret was. Well, the secret is brining, and it's in my previous blog, which you can find it here.

At 9 am, after two or three turns in the brine overnight, I took the turkey out and patted it dry. A little trick to browning meat is drying it properly, so remember that. Then I roasted:

  • 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 gala apple, quartered
  • 1 garlic clove
...all in the oven at 400 degrees on a sheet pan for 5-7 minutes, or just until it got a little soft. I wasn't looking to cook it, just soften it a tad to get the flavors released. Then, take a container of whole cloves and stick each piece of apple with two. So you should have 8 cloves. That's ALL YOU NEED. Stuff the garlic, onion and apple into the cavity of the turkey(DO NOT STUFF IT) along with two sprigs of tarragon.

Once that is done, set it in your roasting pan. Then rub a palm-full of rubbed sage powder all over the bird, and crack some black pepper over the surface. THEN(here comes the cool part) take a large, relatively square piece of tinfoil and fold the corners together to form a kind of triangular shield. Mold the shield to the turkey breast. If you have to, make another triangle shield to cover the breast portion entirely. We want to create a barrier because, let's face it, the dry turkey breast on Thanksgiving is one of the things that we don't have to deal with anymore.

With the oven still at 425, pop your turkey in and let it hang out for 30 - 45 minutes, just until it's browned on the surface. THEN(here comes another cool part) we open the oven door and slide out the turkey to place our shield on the breast. This will keep it moist without having to sacrifice the beautiful and iconic browned turkey color that we all adore. Slide it back in the oven and lower the temperature to about 325 degrees and continue roasting for the duration of the cooking period.This dual-temperature cooking method will allow us to keep the bird moist and cook it all the way through.

We had a 20 lb bird, so it took about 2.5 hours to get it to the sweet spot of 140 degrees in the thigh meat, which is really where you want to check. Always use a thermometer when checking for meat doneness. There are actually super-neat probe thermometers that can go inside the oven with a long wire, while the gauge sticks outside on the oven or countertop and goes off with a beep when its at the right temperature. You can find them at Bed Bath & Beyond for about $20. This is a good model right here.

Anyway, once the thermometer reaches about 150 degrees, simply turn off the oven off and leave it for another 20 minutes. The residual heat in the oven and in the bird will continue to cook the bird, and will leave it so moist. It will look like this once its done.

it's like ZOMG perfect an' stuff!!!!1!
To make the gravy, remove the bird from the pan and set it on a cutting board lined with aluminum foil(to catch extra juices), and pour all the drippings in a sauce pot. Use a ladel or a soup spoon to skim off all but a few tablespoons of the fat. Mix the fat with an equal amount of flour and drop that in the drippings. Cook over a low simmer for about 6-8 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Add about two cups of room-temperature milk once that's all done and let simmer longer to develop more flavor. It should simmer for about 10 minutes with the milk, but never boil. Taste often for seasoning, but you shouldn't really need any, since the turkey is seasoned already. Whisk often.

Anyway, once everything was all done, we packed up and went over to Grandma Janie's house. Here's what we ate:

  1. 2 turkeys(one was mine, one was Grandpa Jim's)
  2. 2 stuffings(one was Grandma Janie's, one was Aunt Evonne's)
  3. Roasted squash with pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinager
  4. Mashed potatoes
  5. Green bean casserole
  6. Sweet potatoes
  7. Grandma's homemade rolls
  8. 2 different kinds of gravy
  9. Fennel vichyssoise
  10. Ambrosia
  11. Cranberry relish
  12. Kale salad
  13. Wild rice dried fruit pilaf
  14. Roasted cauliflower
  15. Pecan pie
  16. Pumpkin Pie
  17. Pot de Creme
  18. Sweet Potato Pie
So there you have it. Thanksgiving at my Grandma's house. A. was with us and said it was probably one of the best Thanksgivings he's ever had. I couldn't really move much after that. I'm pretty sure they had to carry me out. Or at least assist. Anyway, we're going over there in a few hours for leftovers. It will definitely be awesome, especially considering there was a lot of gravy and my turkey is still going to be super moist after the brining.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Date with a Pressure Cooker

My dear friend and esteemed photographer in the greater Kansas City area, Jani Bryson, called me one day to talk about a canning project she had.

"I just bought a pressure cooker!" she said. "And I need to know if you know how to use it."

I'm a Culinary student at the Art Institutes International in Kansas City, and I've also modeled for her on several occasions. It makes sense that she'd call me for it. So I was all too ready to help out when she mentioned the need for some people to can some produce for her. I asked why and she said "People are all about preserving and fresh foods and the big farm to table movement right now. I could really use some good stock photos."

Well how could I refuse? When we planned a date to get over there, I couldn't help but be excited for it. I was so excited, however, that I forgot to wash my hair, so I had to find an old tie in the back of my car to push it back. Oh well, I thought to myself. Culinarians looking good is only secondary - it's all about the food, today!



Anyway, lots of fun things were on the agenda: green beans, fingerling potatoes, red onions, jalapenos, strawberries and apples, tomatoes and peaches, and lots and lots more.

I guess that potato didn't want to be canned
Earlier in the month, Jani had gone on location to a place where several families went and picked fruit and veggies together. Now the time came to preserve what they had picked, to show the whole process of Farm to Table. It was really a fun project and I was absolutely thrilled to be involved.

Admit it. You want to try it.
There were lots of things to do with the ingredients, but only a limited amount of time since I still had to come home and cook my man some dinner. So we decided on a menu/schedule:

  1. Green beans
  2. Fingerling Potatoes
  3. Onions
  4. Onion/Jalapeno/Garlic compote
  5. Stewed tomatoes
  6. Apple pie
  7. Peach pie
Granted, this was all done over a span of several days, but we got at least all the vegetables done in one night, which is good because I needed another whole night just to work on the pie crusts and dough alone!


Contrary to popular belief, canning isn't just for Grandma anymore. It's a simple thing that one can very easily do in an afternoon. Canning your own food has great benefits - not only does it cost less, but it's a great family bonding activity, and you can also control EXACTLY what goes in your canned goods. The best part about this, from a health standpoint at least, is that you can control the salt content which goes into your food. High sodium intakes cause a fair amount of problems in your system when not addressed, so why not take this simple step to prevent and control it?
The beginnings of a pie

Canning and preserving is actually very simple. All you have to do is follow these simple steps(and you don't even really NEED a pressure cooker):

  1. Sterelize your jars and lids in screaming hot water. 
  2. Sterelize your tools as well, including your canning funnel and a thin spatula(an offset spatula will work) or a few bamboo chopsticks, still attached at the top to each other will do as well
  3. Prepare your food accordingly, be they cooked or raw, steamed or flashed
  4. Get the big solids in first. Arrange potatoes, pop in tomatoes, pack in green beans, etc. 
  5. Fill the jars with the liquid it was cooked in, usually water-base
  6. Use your thin spatula to get into the sides of the full jar and press in towards the center, so all the air bubbles escape. Get out as MUCH air as humanly possible.
  7. Wipe the tops of the jars dry as well as the insides of the lids. Screw on the lids tight as you can, and prepare your preserving vessel
  8. Using either a pressure cooker or a very large stock pot, boil water and set the jars in them. The jar's tops should be coming out of the water. Cover and let boil for 45 minutes, depending on what kind of produce you are preserving. Most pressure cookers nowadays come with guides for preserving and canning foods, so be sure to follow the instructions on this one.
See? Not hard at all! And I'm just a 23-year-old Culinary student! Isn't it amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it?
Did you know that if you cut an apple crossways you see a star?