Sunday, November 10, 2019

Classic Apple Pie

This is the first and only apple pie recipe I have ever used, from one of the first cookbooks I ever bought: Mrs Fields Cookie Book. It turns out great results every time, so I never bothered looking for another one. People like to complain about making pie crust, but I have literally never had a problem with this recipe. Note that like other recipes in this book it calls for salted butter.

Crust Ingredients

3 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 c salted butter, chilled
6-8 Tbsp ice water
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sugar

Filling Ingredients

4 cups thinly sliced apples (4-6 peeled apples; you can use Granny Smith, Cortland, Macintosh, or other sturdy baking apples)
1 c white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c salted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

Crust Steps
I use a food processor to make pie crust and always have. Cut in the butter using short pulses, and after you add the water let the processor run until it starts to come together.  
  1. Mix flour and lemon zest together with a wire whisk in a medium bowl. 
  2. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal. 
  3. Add ice water and blend until the dough can be gathered. 
  4. Divide dough in half and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill for 1 hour or until firm. 
Pie Steps
  1.  Combine sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a large bowl. 
  2. Add the apples and stir until they are well coated with the sugar mixture. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F. 
  4. On a floured surface , use a floured rolling pin to roll out one piece of pie crust into a circle 11 inches in diameter. Place the crust in a pie plate. Trim excess dough if needed, leaving about 3/4" over the edge of the plate. 
  5. Spoon in the filling. Sprinkle butter pieces on top (I have lately started skipping this step and can't taste any difference). 
  6. Roll out the second piece of pie dough and place over the filled pie. Fold overhanging top crust over the bottom crust and crimp together (make it pretty if you want). 
  7. Brush the top crust with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar (you can use white sugar or demerara). Cut steam slits in the crust. 
  8. Place pie on center rack of oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove and allow to cool on a rack. 
Goes great with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Aloo Gobi

An easy, mild dose of Indian flavors that cooks quickly enough to make on a weeknight. I got this from Pinterest somewhere and made a few adjustments.

Ingredients

2 1/2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 1/2 lbs cauliflower florets; you'll want them fairly small so they cook evenly
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup red onion finely chopped
1 inch of ginger root, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can small diced tomatoes or equivalent fresh
1 Tbsp tomato paste 
1/2 tsp Salt 
1 tsp chili powder  (will make a mild dish; use more if you want heat)
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp whole cumin seeds 
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp Garam Masala 
3 Tbsp plain yogurt 
4-5 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a heavy pot. Add diced potato and saute for 5 minutes on high heat. 
  2. Add cauliflower and cumin seeds, and cook until cauliflower is little tender (5-7 minutes) Remove from the pot and set aside.
  3. To the same pot, add the remaining Tbsp oil, onion, ginger, and garlic. Saute until onions are lightly browned (3-4 minutes).
  4. Add all of the spices and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt, and cook until the oil separates. (5-6 minutes on high heat.)
  6. Return the potatoes and cauliflower to the pot, add a half cup of water (or as needed to provide enough liquid for the vegetables to cook), cover tightly and cook until tender. (10-20 minutes depending on how big you chopped things). Check once or twice to make sure the pot hasn't dried out. 
  7. Remove lid, add yogurt and chopped cilantro. Stir a few times so the yogurt doesn't curdle; cook until the cilantro wilts, which might take less than a minute. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Cinnamon Scones

I don't know how long I've had this recipe or where it came from originally; I grabbed it from the old Cooking Light community forum. (RIP, my favorite Internet sites of the 00s.) I do know that it has been a favorite here ever since it debuted. These are so good that I very rarely make other scones. I make them in a food processor up through adding the cinnamon chips; it makes cutting in the butter very easy.

They have whole wheat flour and oatmeal; they're practically healthy!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter - cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the dough is crumbly. Fold in the cinnamon chips. Add the buttermilk and stir lightly until the dough comes together to form a ball. Don't overwork the dough.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough into a large circle about 2 inches thick. Cut the dough into wedges with a knife; do not separate the wedges. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. (Or you can do what I do, and just form the circle right on the baking sheet, because moving it afterward is a huge pain.)
  4. Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  5. After cooling, separate wedges with a serrated knife.
makes 8 scones

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Tilapia Tacos

I wanted to make fish; I was tired of salmon; I vaguely remembered making this a long while ago. This is a quick and easy dinner, relying on the mild-flavored, easy-to-find, and budget-friendly tilapia. As written the recipe fed the two adults generously (the kids are not at a point where they'll countenance fish tacos). Source blog is here.

Ingredients
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
olive oil
2 limes
2 6-ounce tilapia fillets (or other mild white fish)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 6-inch flour tortillas
Toppings such as chopped tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, salsa, avocado, whatever.

Instructions
  1. Mix the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and the juice of 1 lime in a small bowl. Arrange the fish fillets in a glass baking dish or on a nonreactive platter. Brush fillets on both sides with spice mixture and season with salt and pepper. Let marinate at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over a medium flame. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom and sauté the fillets until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and break into bite-sized chunks with a fork.
  3. Heat a large dry skillet over medium-high flame and slightly brown the tortillas one at a time, about 30 seconds per side. 
  4. Divide fish among tortillas and add your favorite toppings. Cut the second lime in wedges and serve with the tacos.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Chicken Tikka Masala

A new recipe we tried this week, this is easy as advertised and absolutely delicious! Note that you can adjust the amount of cayenne to taste; I used 1 tsp, and it was about as hot as I find comfortable. Great on a cold Boston night.

Ingredients
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large white onion diced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup heavy cream
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Combine all spices together in a small bowl. 
  2. Add the diced onion and butter to a large pot over medium heat and cook until onions are translucent, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently so as not to burn. Add more butter if needed. 
  4. Add half of the spice mixture and stir to combine. 
  5. Add tomato sauce, heavy cream, and the remaining spices and stir to combine.
  6. Continue to cook over medium-low heat until sauce thickens, stirring frequently,10-15 minutes.
  7. While the sauce is cooking, slice chicken breasts into two filets each, creating four equally sized pieces, season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  8. Add vegetable oil to a large pan and cook the chicken breasts over medium heat until golden brown on both sides and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 
  9. Chop the chicken into chunks and add it to the sauce, then let lightly simmer for a couple of minutes. 
  10. Serve over basmati rice with naan.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Cookie Kisses

Another of holiday stand-by, these are always some of the quickest to go. There are many recipes for these out there; this one is my favorite. It comes from Maida Heatter's Cookies. Her printed version includes variations for food processor and more finicky details than I ever bother with. (Who in the world pre-divides their cookie dough?)

One note about the number of Kisses called for -- I like to make these smaller than the recipe recommends, in order to achieve what I consider the correct balance of cookie to chocolate. Although it's not a large recipe by the ingredients, I have gotten up to 60 cookies from this. Plus, of course, any nearby "helpers" will probably eat a few Kisses before they can be used in a cookie. So have some extra on hand.

Ingredients

48 (or more) Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped
1 3/4 c AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp milk
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c smooth peanut butter

Additional granulated sugar for rolling the cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. (But see step 6.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix the egg, vanilla, and milk. 
  4. Place the butter and peanut butter in a mixer bowl and beat until soft.
  5. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar to the butter mixture, and beat until well combined. 
  6. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then the egg mixture, then the remaining dry ingredients. Beat until thoroughly mixed. 
  7. (The recipe does not include this, but I find it helpful to chill the dough a bit before trying to handle it--it can be very sticky. So cover the bowl and chuck it into the fridge for an hour or so if you have the time. Don't leave your oven on the whole time. :) ) 
  8. Place additional granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. 
  9. Scoop out rounded teaspoons of dough and roll them into balls, roll them in the granulated sugar, and place them on a cookie sheet. Leave a couple of inches between cookies. 
  10. Bake 12-13 minutes, until the edges are just showing a bit of color. 
  11. Immediately upon removing from the oven, place a chocolate kiss (point up) in the center of each cookie and press down firmly. Then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. The chocolate will stay soft for quite a while, so make sure they are quite cool and solid again before packing them. 
These cookies freeze well. I make a batch early in the holiday season every year and pack them a dozen or so to a freezer bag, and usually have to make another batch later in the month. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Maryland Crab Cakes with Quick Tartar Sauce

I'm no longer up to date on recipe blogging etiquette -- this recipe is from Jenn Segal, and I hope it's all right to reproduce it rather than just a link (she's got great pictures, too). I made these for our New Years Day dinner last night. They were entirely worth the price of the lump crab meat, with a bonus of being easy to make. I followed her suggestion and served them with steamed green beans and fresh corn bread. Could hardly imagine a better start to the year.

Ingredients

Crab Cakes:
2 large eggs
2-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely diced celery, from one stalk
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lump crab meat (see note below)
1/2 cup panko
Vegetable oil, for cooking
Tartar Sauce: 

1 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's or Duke's
1-1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.
  2. Combine the eggs, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, celery, and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; using a rubber spatula, gently fold the mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. 
  3. Shape into 6 crab cakes (each about ½ cup) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This helps them set.
  4. Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with canola oil. When the oil is hot, place the crab cakes in the pan and cook until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Be careful as oil may splatter. Serve immediately with tartar sauce or a squeeze of lemon.
  5. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.