Category: apples

Pie 101 —  Apple Pie              (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Pie 101 — Apple Pie (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Kathy’s pie

Why my Pie 101 — Apple Pie is called “Kathy’s Apple Pie”

My hairdresser works about a half-a-block from my house.  Her name is Kathy.  I chose her because… she works about a half-a-block from my house.  When we moved here, I cried at leaving Jen, my hairdresser of 13 years in Colorado.  So I didn’t even look for anyone special; I just chose the closest “girl” and tried her.  I mean, you’ve seen my hair.  What could go wrong?  And, if it did, how much time would it take to grow a bit?  Luckily, everything has worked out fine.  My hair’s just right.
When Kathy did it the first time, I sent Jen a pic on my cell phone.  “She’s got the color spot-on, but it’s a wee bit short,” said Jen.

My hair’s been the same for…let’s say for a while.  (With Britta last March.)

Outside Kathy’s shop is a sign that says, “Curl Up and Dye.”  Underneath:  “For Hair.”

Kathy and I hit it off right away.  We’re both “of an age,” though she still has a couple of kids running around sometimes at home.   She also has lots of dogs–more than I do.   There’s tons of great stuff about her, but I like her because you can just talk about anything when you’re in her chair:  houses, food, kids, husbands, church, jobs, horses, dogs, clothes, shopping, shoes, ETC.   She’s given me the info on great places to find and do all kinds of things, but mostly helped solidify my forever dedication to the lovely institution of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where her family has a bagel breakfast sandwich and coffee stall.  (Dave and I frequent that hot spot.)  Sometimes we talk about whether or not it’s worth it for them to start baking their own bagels.  Having watched Dave make bagels (I don’t make them!), I lean toward buying them from the great bagel maker down the street–just like they have been.  Why mess with a good thing if you’re still making a tidy profit?

One time, in a whimsical voice, Kathy said, “Ah, gee.  In fall, I really miss apple pie.  My Mom always made great apple pie.”  She was sad.  I don’t think Kathy bakes apple pies, but I think she was missing her mom as much as anything.  So I figured next time I went to get my hair cut, I’d bring her a pie.  I make a lot of pies, though I rarely eat them.  In fact, pie makes people so happy that I don’t know why I don’t eat them. (Naturally, I eat the great coconut cream pie in the cafe on the square in Santa Fe… or my own cherry pie from our Colorado cherries.  I’m more of a chocolate woman overall.)

Late this morning, I started Kathy’s pie.  I had no idea how her mother made pie, but my pie wouldn’t be like Kathy’s mom’s no matter what, so I just baked the pie.  Pretty much like I always do, but with a little bit of a twist all around.  Lots of butter, great Honeycrisp apples, Penzey’s cinnamon right on top of the unbaked bottom crust.  Cream brushed top crust.   A recipe I’ll share.  You might like it for Thanksgiving.  If you make it now and don’t bake it, you can wrap it tightly in foil, freeze it, and bake it frozen (on a foiled sheet pan) early Thanksgiving morning.  It’ll take longer to get done, but done ahead is done ahead.

Kathy’s Apple Pie  makes 1 9″ pie; serves 6-8

2 9-10″ pie crusts (recipe below)

5-7 medium Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thinly+
2t fresh lemon juice
3/4 t Chinese cinnamon, divided (some for crust and some for the apples)
1/4 t grated fresh nutmeg
1/8 t salt

3T flour
2/3 – 3/4 c granulated white sugar  plus 2 tsp for bottom crust and top crust (use 2/3 for sweeter
apples and 3/4 for tarter ones like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
2T cold butter, diced
1t heavy cream, half and half or milk

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place one pie crust in the 9″ glass pie pan, trim, and crimp (pinch) edges.
3.  Use about 1 tsp of the sugar and mix with 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  Dust the entire bottom crust with the cinnamon-sugar  mixture.
4.  In a large bowl, mix apples and lemon juice.  Add flour,  3/4 cup of sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt.  Toss gently, but well.  Carefully pour or spoon apple mixture into the crust.
5.  Drop the diced butter evenly over the apple mixture.
6.  Place top crust over the pie and trim so that there’s about an inch overhanging the pie.
7.  Pinch together the crust and either press edge of crust into the pie plate with the tines of a fork or crimp.
8.  Using pastry brush, brush top crust with cream or milk and dust evenly with the last teaspoon of sugar.
9.  Make several small slits (evenly spread) through top crust for venting the filling as it cooks. You can make a design; I made a “K” for Kathy and a few “arrows.”
10.  Bake 15-20 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake another hour or so until pie is golden brown and juices are bubbling out of the slits. *  Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

+Honeycrisp apples, developed at “The U” here in Minnesota, hold their shape well.  Because of that, I slice them thinly.  They won’t get terribly soft and break down.  If you’re using a softer apple, cut them in larger slices.  Also, some folks like the skin left on their apples for pie.  Do as you like.

*If it’s getting too brown, carefully lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the pie.

Prep note:  I usually prep the apple mixture and put  that aside.  Then I tackle making the crust.  I roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie pan.  In goes the apple mixture and I set the whole thing aside while I take the second crust out of the frig and roll it.  I next roll the second crust loosely around the rolling pin (or you can carefully fold it in half and then in half again) and gently lay it on top of the buttered apples. Trim, crimp, and it’s ready for the oven.

Here’s the pie before baking.
I had enough for a coffee cup pie for Dave.

Double Pie Crust Recipe — Pâte Brisée*

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup iced water  (Use a 1 cup measuring cup and pour in 1/2 water; add ice and use quickly.)

*In food processor, place flour, butter and salt. (This may also be done with a pastry cutter or two knives.)  Pulsing, cut butter into the flour until there are 1/2″ sizes pieces (and some smaller and some larger) of buttered crumbs.
*With machine running, pour in water slowly.  When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the machine, stop the machine, and turn dough out onto a well-floured board or counter.
*Gently and quickly pat dough into a ball and divide ball evenly in half.
*Wrap one half and refrigerate it.  Take the other half and press it into a flat disc.  Dust the dough with flour, and, with a floured rolling pin, roll from the center out to the edges moving clockwise around the dough until the dough is about 10″ in diameter.  Move the dough every few rolls of the pin so it doesn’t stick.  You may need to keep putting a bit of flour sprinkled underneath.
*Remove dough from frig and repeat for top crust.

All baked up with somewhere to go.

*The recipe for this dough is from an old CUISINART cookbook–one of those thin, small books that came with my first CUISINART in the early ’80s maybe… This was the first Pâte Brisée I ever used and I’ve been using it ever since. Thanks, Cuisinart!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood…..

Next Monday, November 21, I direct a pick-up choir at St. Frances Cabrini Church,  1500 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN,  for an Ecumenical Thanksgiving.  Want to sing?  Show up at 6pm for rehearsal of easy anthem,”Simple Gifts” for worship service that begins at 7pm.  Hope to hear you!

This is up on the blog next–a braised leg of lamb with vegetables.  Perfect alternative Thankgiving.
The start of a neighborhood birthday/wine-tasting dinner….I did the lamb above.  It was potluck.
Friend Mac at the table Friday night.
Long night, eh, buddy?
We have a monthly concert series at Prospect Park–Here’s SHOUT! from Lake Harriet U Methodist
Today’s cardinal + flowering geraniums still living in neighbor’s window boxes!
Floor’s done and I’ve been painting.  The color, appropriate to the season, is “Pumpkin Pie.”
Gorgeous trees still golden ’til just a few days ago.
Last roses of summer….

We haven’t had any really cold weather yet and that’s unusual.  Several days ago, I finally cut the last of the roses and brought them in for a vase.  I rarely cut my flowers, thinking they look best where God placed them.  But when it’s going to be 22 degrees F, I cut them all!

Still blooming the second week of November

A foil packet salmon done in 20 minutes I wrote for Examiner.com.

Dave said, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.” I couldn’t believe how tender it was.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Curried Cauliflower Soup or The Rite of Spring on Bach’s Birthday

Curried Cauliflower Soup or The Rite of Spring on Bach’s Birthday

Hot lunch on a cold spring day

 Outside the window in the new/old (1915) St. Paul house, it’s fairly gray.  Everything’s gray, in fact.  Melting snow, sky, sun, trees…even the birds appear kind of gray.  But spring it is!

Jack Sparrow and Friend

When you’ve moved, the chores are myriad.  It seems you’re always running to the hardware store for a light switch cover or to Target for garbage bags and peanut butter.  If you’re not running, you’re on the phone with the phone company or recycling folks.  If you’re not on the phone, you’re looking at paint samples or asking where the post office is.  (What happened to phone books?)

Sooner or later, plates seem to be on shelves and towels are clean and folded in the bathroom.  You know where to turn the light on for the basement and have figured out what that horrible sound is between the floors or in the walls. (Hot water pipes.)  You have the turn to your house memorized and don’t have to count houses from the corner anymore.  And one day, you start making meals again–hardly noticing the skipped nights or that you’re in a different kitchen.  Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  I am definitely in a different kitchen, though I’m feeling the similarities as I get things squared away.

I had things to do this morning like

  • clean the back porch
  • scrub the basement stairs (honest-to-God linoleum)
  • wash rugs and bathmats
  • bleach down the bathrooms, one of which has an old-fashioned claw-foot tub

 Cool thing was, these are typical house chores–not moving chores.  We’ve been here long enough for the bathrooms to need a scrub.

So when I got done with the morning work-out, I wanted real food for lunch.  I was sure my hard-working husband wanted some, too.  Scouting out the frig and pantry (still not full, of course), a big cauliflower reared up its head called me by name.  A quick look around the counter and I located onions, shallots, garlic, apples and one lone pretty ripe pear.  I thought I’d throw most of it in the oven to roast while I did one last chore and then puree it all with some chicken stock and curry powder.  Here it is just for you.

As Dave and I sat down to eat, Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (1913) came on the local NPR and the day just came together.  A spring-like light, but warming soup with a kick.  I just couldn’t figure out how Bach’s birthday figured in, but it’s today, too.  Happy Birthday, Johann.  And thanks for Bach, God.

Curried Roasted-Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 apple, peeled and cut up into eighths
1 large onion, same drill
4t olive oil, divided
Sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 shallot, cut in large pieces
1 garlic clove, same drill
1 small carrot, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1 ripe pear, peeled and cut up
1 t curry powder, divided
Pinch each cinnamon and crushed red pepper

1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c each white wine and water (or 1 c water)
1/3 c parsley, chopped
1/8 t cinnamon
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t white pepper, ground


  Preheat oven to 350 F. On a large baking sheet, place cauliflower, onion and apple.  Drizzle with  2t oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place sheet in oven and roast for about 30 minutes.

 Meantime, in a small soup kettle (4qt),  saute shallot, garlic, carrot and celery in the other 2t olive oil about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care to not burn the shallot and garlic.  Add pear,  1/2 t of the curry powder, parsley, cinnamon and crushed red pepper.  Stir and saute another minute or so.  Add stock, wine and/or water, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir.  Bring to a boil and lower heat to a bare simmer.

When cauliflower, apple and onion are roasted, add them to the stockpot and stir.  Bring soup up to a boil and lower heat to a slow boil.  Add rest of curry powder.   Let cook 5-10 minutes.  Puree with immersion blender or in batches in the food processor (carefully).  Taste, adjust seasonings and serve hot with a piece of buttered whole wheat toast.

 Easier yet:  Roast everything, add to stock and puree.  Leaving out fruit, celery, carrot, etc. will produce a more pronounced cauliflower-tasting soup, but also makes things simpler.

Now I’m off to Ace to buy a mesh strainer for the end of the washing machine hose.  Oh well.

Sing a new song or warm up your fingers and give Bach a whirl,
Alyce

Coleslaw Reinvented Or Packing the Kitchen is #*99%%$$

Coleslaw Reinvented Or Packing the Kitchen is #*99%%$$

Still naked coleslaw

Before

 I’m awfully stuck-up about this, but I have always liked my coleslaw better than any other.  Better than any deli in NYC and better than any of my friends’ or family’s.   I have made a lot of coleslaw in my day.  It was a go-to as a side for brisket, burgers, you-name-it for my kids.  I made it in the food processor (after I got one) and it contained grated cabbage, a bit of red onion, most of whatever apple was in the frig, mayo, white vinegar, ground cayenne pepper, table salt and freshly-ground pepper.  I love it and it’s mine.

But last week, before I started packing the kitchen for the move,  I just started making it differently and that just went on.  I hope I can document it because it was capital W Wonderful and I want it again.  Dave said it was the best coleslaw he’d ever eaten in his life (ah, gee), but the thing was, the stuff KEPT WELL.  It was crispy and piquant and sweet and hot a day later and then two days later.  It didn’t know it should have wilted.  And that’s worth alot.  I’m thinking it was the brining. To  have a veg salad, dressed, ready to go for three days.  I still liked it better the first day, but that’s me.  I’m picky.

 

Later

Brined Coleslaw with Apples   serve 3-4

4 c shredded green cabbage
1 apple such as Gala or Honeycrisp, cored and sliced thinly (don’t peel)
1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
2T kosher salt (for brining)
2T white sugar  ”       “
1t freshly-ground black pepper ”     “
1T olive oil
3 t apple cider vinegar
3T olive oil mayo (or your favorite)
1/2 t sugar or more/less to taste
1/4 c raisins
1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4t freshly-ground pepper, or to taste
Pinch of Cayenne pepper

In a very large bowl, place cabbage, apple and onion.  Cover with water and a cup or so of ice cubes.  Add 2T kosher salt, 2T white sugar and 1t freshly-ground black pepper.  Set aside for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. 

Brining the cabbage, apples and onions

  
Drain cabbage mixture well and remove ice from the colander.  Shake colander repeatedly to remove as much water as possible.  Pat cabbage mixture with paper towels to further dry.  Return to large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and white vinegar.  Mix well.  Add mayonnaise and raisins and mix again.  Season with sugar, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You may need a bit more vinegar or sugar, etc to suit your taste.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

I’m working on a lemon tart from Dorie Greenspan’s PARIS SWEETS. This is the first try.  It uses a whole lemon-all of it.

  Out to breakfast; out to lunch…

Very watchful as the kitchen gets packed…
 

 And then again ……………….

View of “new” kitchen

Meantime, if you’re keeping up with or reading more about what’s happening to the Presbyterian Church, USA, you might be interested in Wilson Gunn’s (The Presbyterian Outlook) response to “The Deathly Letter.”  John Huss (Clerk of Session, Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta) has also responded in The Presbyterian Outlook on behalf of that church. There are, in fact, a few back and forths by now; you might want to read them.  Adam Walker Cleaveland in Pomomusings includes a clip of Jim Singleton (Senior Pastor at First Pres in Co Springs) explaining the new vision…and responds here. I have prayed this church might find its way peacefully and intact through the current (and former) quagmire; other denominations have done it.  Witness the UCC church where Dave and I currently happily worship.  During the last year, another local UCC congregation became open and affirming.  The church we attend went through that process maybe 15 years ago.  Perhaps it isn’t necessary to be all together on everything all the time; some things require years of patient hope, education and loving prayer.  I’ve always found it one of the beauties of being Presbyterian that we do have the latitude for varying ideas, interpretations and beliefs.  I am grateful we aren’t cookie cutter Christians, but it seems to me the unhappy churches ought to acknowledge their unhappiness and……just leave. There is a process within the PCUSA for just that.   Thanks, God for giving so many of us the ability to agree and disagree; I know we all have this in common–You are God of our lives and the love that we so badly need in our world.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Bacon for Breakfast; Bacon for Lunch

Bacon for Breakfast; Bacon for Lunch

My sweet husband adores bacon.  God love him.
I like bacon.  Why not?  It’s great with eggs and it’s an incredible UP when you need a taste boost for the start of a soup, chicken salad, tomato sandwiches, et al.  And, oh, the scent of it.
But I don’t adore it.    I adore chocolate.  I adore Pinot.  (Oregon Pinot Noir)  I am a Pinot girl, in fact. 
At 57, I enjoy being able to say that.  I have a couple of girlfriends who feel the same way.  I have guy friends who certainly feel that way. 
But back to bacon.  I only have to SAY, “Bacon.”  I don’t even have to cook it.  And Dave is entranced.  Hanging around.  If I actually start cooking the stuff, he is in the room and doesn’t leave.  So, there you go.  If you want to attract someone to the nth, fry bacon.  No one ever told you? Ach.

I think this is common.  I posted a note on fb last Friday that I was cooking a pork tenderloin with bacon twisted around it, fixed with toothpicks.  I had more interest in that than anything I’ve cooked in months.  Loved ones, think about making this.  Soon.  Simple?  Pretty much so.  Fragrant?  Ahhhh.  Earthy?  Mmm hmm.  Easy to harmonize?  I thought so.  A couple of Granny Smith apples, a bulb of fennel (go ahead and get one–ask the produce guy) and a big onion.  Some green beans on the side.  A light Pinot; you don’t need a great big heavy one, I don’t think.  Maybe a little bread.  I did some pears poached in port for dessert; you can do what you want.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Fennel and Onions

1 pork tenderloin
Kosher salt; freshly-ground pepper
3-4 slices thick bacon

2T olive oil

1 fennel bulb, fronds removed, end cut, sliced into half-moons about 1/3″ thick
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, sliced
1 large onion sliced

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Salt and pepper well the pork tenderloin and wrap it with the bacon pieces, securing ends with toothpicks.

  Meanwhile, heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil.  Place bacon-wrapped pork in the center of the pan and surround with the fennel, apples and onion.  Salt and pepper well the vegetables and apples.  When the meat is very-well browned, turn and let brown on the other side.   Stir the vegetables and apples.  When that side is looking crispy, move the pan to the oven to finish cooking.  It may take another 10-15 minutes or so.  Using an instant-read thermometer, remove the skillet from the oven when the meat registers 150F.  (Others will tell you 155; I like it a bit rare; it will continue cooking)  Cover with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.  Slice meat in 1/2″ p ieces.  Place cut meat at the center of a large platter and surround with fennel, apples and onions.  Serve with green beans or whatever vegetable you like.

Poached Pears in Port  (from FINE COOKING)

In a 4 qt skillet, pour 1 cup port wine.  Add 1 cinnamon stick and a few peels each of lemon rind and orange rind.  Peel four ripe, but firm Barlett or Bosc (or your choice) pears and slice off a tiny bit off one cheek to make a flat side.  Place the pears in the wine mixture and heat over medium-high heat.  Cover and reduce to a simmer, cooking for an hour or so until pears are tender when pierced with a knife.  Eat warm, at room temperature or cold with a little of the thickened port sauce spooned over.  You can add a little heavy cream if you like.

Sweet      

 Did you wonder about an appetizer?  Of course I had one.  And I was testing it out for my Cooking with Music class, which was the very next day!  Here it is: 

This is a Ricotta Pine nut dogoodie that is served with crostini (grilled bread).  I’ll blog it with the cooking class, but if you have to make it soon…..

Mix one cup ricotta with 3-4 T torn fresh mint and season well with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Lottsa pepper.  Heat over medium heat a small saucepan with  1/2 c honey and 1/4 c pine nuts.  (Amounts negotiable.)  When quite warm and gooey, pour over the cheese mixture and serve with crostini or crackers.  (I heard Tyler Florence talk about this once and committed it to memory.  Yummy.)

Ok, folks…there ya go.  Make it and tell me about it.  I have to know!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood, Including Fitness


It’s been a busy week, but the pups have been happy as clams; Dad was home for three days in a row!

Tucky-Bucky letting it all hang out one morning.


Why God gets me up early.
The light on my backyard when the dogs go out for the first time.
First dusting of snow…early in the light.

Why I have dogs: I need tennis balls in the dishwasher, of course.

 Fitness update:  This last week, I skipped the gym all but one time.  Life got crazy.  Did I let it all go, though?  Nope.  I did Denise Austin on the DVD.  I hiked the ‘hood with Gabby.  I lifted weights at home.  I did my stretching routine.  I watched what I ate–mostly.  Or ate what I wanted, but not too much.  Teaching an Italian cooking class could have done me in (and the crostata almost did), but we made the ricotta starter, a roasted vegetable soup, pizza margherita, and a veal stew as well.   Took all afternoon Saturday and the students stayed for dinner to eat and see what wines fit where….  (Another blog.)  But I was sensible and remembered how strong I long to be.  That’s the crux.

Meantime, I’m applying for  new jobs as my job winds down at The Church at Woodmoor.  We are getting ready for Thanksgiving in St. Paul, as well.  Good thing I have a dog sitter; an SUV ran into my old vet/kennel today!  At the same time  THAT was happening, I was driving up to a staff meeting at work in Monument,  where there was a 40-car pile-up on I-25.  I saw zip.  Thank you, God.

Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

Baby, it’s cold outside…  Well, not toooooooooo.  But the wind is swaying the trees and the tall flowers in the front berm are bent all the way over, kissing the ground with nearly-dry blooms.   The potted herbs made their way in from the front deck and are now fighting for space in the south dining room window, knowing that they’ll need to stand up tall and throw themselves south for sun in the morning.  It’s a bit sad to watch them come in, but it’s also gratifying to know I tended them lovingly all summer long so that I’d have them to bring in now.  I just never figured on it being the tenth of October.
There’s a bit of snow on the Peak.
Yesterday’s AF-CSU game brought home all that’s best about fall sports, which for me is usually great marching bands.
Look at that sky!
Go CSU Band!
Of course, as an AF wife, I was delighted to see AF beat CSU…but I’ve known a bunch of kids that played in that CSU band after having either sung or played with Dave or me.  It’s a thing of beauty.
A lot of the fun of the usually broiling or freezing AF games is in the tailgating.  Is there anything better than a picnic in perfect weather with the Front Range in the background?  We went with old college friends, which makes for a really easy day of being with people who knew you before you could cook and when you looked a whole lot better.    We had a rather Texan food theme with chicken enchiladas, a new salad of beans, rice and lots of vegetables with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette ( I promised to blog this later), and totally out of character, crostatas for dessert.  Oh, and of course we had sangria and margaritas.  It was, after all past 10 in the morning. 
But, back to the crostatas.  I have to make them in the fall, and this time, they’re coming up in a fall Italian cooking class I’ll teach October 30.  I thought it best to run through the recipe ahead of time.  So….
I made them for book club on Thursday…just a trial.  One apple with orange peel for perk and the other pear with lemon and almonds.  Just to see.  Took a vote and it was split.  By the time Saturday came, and it was time for another test, I had only one ripe pear and so made two combination apple-pear, one orange-scented and the other lemon.  Vote was split again.  Still.  It was fall; it was pie time.  And I guess I’m ready for the pastry portion of the Italian class.  I hope.

Option a (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to the baking sheet.

Option b (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to baking sheet:

Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.



My own winner was the pear with lemon and almond.



The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I am pretty sure got it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING.  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine (You can pick apples at Happy Apple Farm in Penrose if they’re not all gone.)  As neither one of them made pear, I feel I’ve contributed to the development of the recipe and hopefully to the happiness of your tummies.  This is tres easy, and if you’re afraid of pastry, this is a great start.  There’s no form-fitting into pie pans or making a crust look “P” for perfect.  This is a free-form, rustic pie baked on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  If it spills over or runs through, it’s just crusty-gooey and even better.  Don’t hesitate.  Pretty for Thanksgiving, too.  Oh, in France, this is a galette.  Here’s how I did it:
LEMON-SCENTED PEAR ALMOND CROSTATA
4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
Parchment paper needed for baking
pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later)
  • 2 c white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2# (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 c ice water
In the food processor, fitted with the knife blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is the size of peas.  Slowly add iced water through the feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Remove carefully from processor and divide in half.  Press each into a disc.  Wrap one in foil and freeze it.  Refrigerate the other for an hour is best, but you can roll it right away if you must.  Dust the counter very well indeed with flour and roll the disc, using a rolling pin, into an 11″ circle.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet until you have the fruit ready.  (Check out the pics above where I give you two options for getting the pastry from the counter to the pans.)  You can  a. fold it up gently and  quick like a bunny pick it up, and centering it over the baking sheet, place it carefully down and unfold it or, b. loosely roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and move the rolling pin over above the baking sheet, lowering it and loosening the pastry down flat onto the pan.   This is not easy to describe; I apologize for lack of prowess as a technical writer! 
Filling
  • 1-11/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1-2t grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c ea flour and sugar
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 4T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450 and place rack at center.
In a large bowl, mix cut-up pears with lemon rind and most of the almonds, reserving 1T or so for the top of the crostata.  In the food processor, make a crumb topping for the crostata by pulsing together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.  Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and, using fingers, pinch together the crumbs until they hold together. 
Place pear-lemon mixture onto the pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edges.  Crumble topping on the pears evenly and sprinkle with the last of the almonds.  Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the fruit, gently pleating the dough at the corners.  You’ll be leaving most of the fruit covered by only the crumbly topping; the pastry just comes up around the edges of this pie.
Place baking sheet in oven and bake 25-30 minutes (use the longer time above 5,000 feet) until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before sliding pie off the paper onto wire rack to cool completely.  Will hold at room temperature a day or so and in the refrigerator for several days, though it is best fresh.
Note:  If you’d like to make an apple crostata with the other crust, it’s made almost like the above pie, but you’ll need 1 1/2 # (3-4 large Granny Smith) apples, 1 t orange peel and no nuts unless you choose to add some one your own.  If you do, toasted walnuts might be best.
Sing a new song; bake a new pie– It’s fall, isn’t it?  (FINALLY),
Alyce
If you have a heart for prayer, please pray for Rowan Carr, three-year old niece of our neighbors, who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.
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2-Dog Kitchen has been off the air for a couple of posts.

Here are a few updates.  Skippy Jon Jones, share cat, has been here about two months and just returned “home.”  Seems a bit quiet without him around.

Thanksgiving-An Intimate View

Thanksgiving-An Intimate View

Thanksgiving by Walt Waldo Emerson

For each morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything thy goodness sends.

Visiting my friend Sue last month, we talked a little about Thanksgiving.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I don’t know; I haven’t decided. I would so like something really simple,” said she.

“I know exactly what you should make,” said I.

Well, of course, I had the idea and, truthfully, had done something like it before, but I had to flesh out the menu and, naturally, try it all out. And, while I adore Thanksgiving, I know it can get out of hand. You don’t know it’s gotten out of hand until you start the dishes and are still washing glasses the next day. Mostly, it’s worth it. Occasionally, though, you want a holiday to BE a holiday for everyone, including you. Well, you and one other person, a special one.

This menu is for that Thanksgiving. I include directions for a Thanksgiving for two, which is delectable. To be two, I mean–and, yes, the food, is, too. I’d say it’s more for two with plenty of leftovers, so perhaps I’d say there’s enough for four people. The whole thing easily doubles to serve eight and so on. I began cooking this meal at 6pm and we sat down (after taking boocoo pics) at 8:15. I had time in there to have a glass of wine and a couple of teensy starters, though I did have to set the table earlier in the day. I think it could have been done more quickly if I had had the recipes worked out ahead; I was improvising and writing as I went. If you try it, let me know the time!

I had so much fun doing this meal. Isn’t that what it’s about? Hope you do, too.

MENU

  • Starters:Olives and Pistachios–set out in small bowls with wine
  • First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (bought from deli)
  • Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
  • Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
  • Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
  • Bread: Corn Muffins from the bakery
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
  • Drinks: Wine: A to Z Riesling and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have both! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream

Cook’s Hint: Get the turkey and root vegetables in the oven and then make the brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce. Set the coffee up to be ready to push the button as soon as the meal is done. If you had no time to set the table, get your friend to do it while you cook! He or she is in charge of the wine, too. Why not?

RECIPES——

OVEN-ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES W/ ROSEMARY

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
5 new potatoes, cut into fourths (don’t peel)
2T olive oil
1t Kosher salt
1/2 t freshly-ground pepper
3T fresh rosemary, minced

Place all vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet, mixing them well. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Using your hands, toss. Bake about 40 minutes until tender. You can cook these at the same time you roast the turkey; times are similar. Put these in the top oven rack and put the turkey in the bottom of the oven.

TURKEY ROULADE, STUFFED WITH PROSCUITTO/SAGE/ONIONS
1 boneless turkey breast 3-4 pounds
6 slices proscuitto
3T olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T fresh sage leaves, sliced very finely
Kosher Salt
Freshly-ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a small skillet, cook onion for five minutes in 1T olive oil. Add garlic and sage and saute until onion is limp. Set aside.

Lay turkey breast out flat and roll with a rolling pin until breast flattens out a little. You might need to pound it lightly. Salt and pepper the turkey well. Lay the proscuitto on breast, one piece at a time to cover, and top with the onion-sage-garlic mix. Using both hands, roll breast up gently to form a roll @5 ” thick, placing seam at bottom. Cut four 15″ pieces of kitchen twine. Slip each piece of twine under the turkey roll and tie roll together gently in four places, spacing the ties out evenly. Salt and pepper well.
Place other 2T olive oil in roasting pan and warm over medium heat on stovetop. Gently remove turkey roll to the pan and brown for 4-5 minutes, searing meat. Turn over and salt and pepper that side as well. Brown again for 4-5 minutes.

Place in bottom third of 400F oven and bake another 35-40 minutes until thermometer registers 160. (Your root vegetables are in the top of this oven) Remove from oven and let rest five minutes or so. Slice into about eight slices or as you desire.

If vegetables are done, you can still leave them in to keep very warm while the turkey rests.

PAN-ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PARMESAN AND PUMPKIN SEEDS

12 fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (Take l layer of leaves off and
cut off bottom tiny core) and cut in half
2T olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in long pieces with a potato peeler
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add brussel sprouts. Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook brussel sprouts for about 10 minutes. Add parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook until sprouts are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the parmesan; it should be quite brown. Salt and pepper well.

Homemade Spicy Cranberry Sauce with Lemon and Apple

1 package fresh cranberries
Water
1/2 c brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 lemon, cut into fourths
1/2 large apple, diced, leaving peel on
1/8-1/4 t red pepper flakes to taste

In large, deep skillet, place cranberries. Add water to cover well only. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Let boil 2-3 minutes and lower heat to simmer. Cover and simmer until fruit is tender and liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room-temperature. Also good cold.

–Cook’s Note:

Easy to serve the meat and all the vegetables on one big platter:

Very easy!!! Here are my pumpkin custards…. Pie without crust.

“There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy:
When they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie.”
(well, almost!)
Some Thanksgiving Books You Might Enjoy (in no order):
CRANBERRY THANKSGIVING, by Wende and Harry Devlin. (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 1971; also Aladdin Paperbacks, 1990)
This book contains a great cranberry bread recipe….
GIVING THANKS: THANKSGIVING RECIPES AND HISTORY, FROM PILGRIMS TO PUMPKIN PIE, by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver and Plimoth Plantation. (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2005)
THANKSGIVING 101, by Rick Rodgers. (New York: William Morrow, 2007; also in 1998 by Broadway Books)
HAPPILY GRATEFUL, compiled by Dan Zedra and Kristel Wills (Seattle: Compendium, 2009)
THE FIRST THANKSGIVING by Jean Craighead George; illus. by Thomas Locker. (New York, Putnam, 1993)
Some random thoughts about Thanksgiving——
Thanksgiving as a spiritual discipline or as a way of life is something quite interesting and lovely on which to meditate. Try it; I’d love to know what comes up.
Here are a couple of my thoughts:
I think thanksgiving is a way of living responsibly…
As a faithful person, I know I am healthier when I have a grateful heart. To not be grateful in all circumstances introduces the possibility of becoming a victim– to which there is no solution or cure.
When I live thankfully, I then live in a better place in all ways.
We all just keep working on it!
Thanksgiving, it’s not just for dinner anymore.
Sing a new song as you give thanks,
Alyce