Sunday, November 28, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Savannah High Apple Pie

By Paula Deen

If you want to test your baking skills...and patience, then look no further (and block out a good 3 hours).  This pie is no doubt, a work in progress recipe for me!  I've baked this pie twice in the last year.  Notably, only for occasions with important guests - meeting the parents and Thanksgiving with my family.  I am looking forward to my next occasion to bake this pie.  Bring it on!

For the Deep Dish Pie Crust:
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups butter-flavored solid shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup cold water

For the Filling:
24 apples, preferably Golden Delicious or Granny Smith, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced*
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the streusel:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons sugar
1 recipe Caramel Pecan Topping, recipe follows

*The number of apples depends on the size of the pie.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

For the Deep Dish Pie Crust:  Cut flour into butter-flavored shortening. Add salt and stir in enough water to make stiff dough. Knead slightly together. Chill dough before using.  Use 1/3 of pie dough for bottom crust. Roll bottom crust. Lay in pie pan.

For the filling:  Combine apples, flour, sugar, and cinnamon and mix lightly with spatula.

For the streusel:  In a small bowl combine together butter, brown sugar, flour, pecans and cinnamon. Layer this mix every so often between apples.

Using stainless bowl, begin layering apples slice by slice, slightly overlapping starting at the outside circle of the bowl and working towards the center. Push firmly as the layers build. Round off top layer of apple slices when you reach the top. Put a single layer of sliced apples in the bottom crust.

Take the pie pan with the bottom crust in left hand and the stainless bowl of sliced apples in right hand and invert. Put finger tips under edge of bowl to release the air and gently lift off. Press and firm apples and straighten. Add slices of apple to take away sharp edges (so as not to puncture the pie dough). Add slices of apples to top of pie to round off.  Add 4 tablespoons of butter pats on top of pie.

Roll out top crust using remaining pie dough. Gently place top crust over the mound of apples. Smooth the sides of pie crust towards bottom of pie pulling out on extra crust. Pinch down to seal 2 layers together. Crimp pie for first time. Cut extra crust with the back of a sharp knife. Re-crimp the edges and push towards the pie.

Brush with milk and sprinkle sugar rubbing your left hand from the bottom up to evenly spread your sugar.  Put 5 steam vents with a small knife towards the upper part of the pie. Do not vent at the top as it will cause the pie to split open as it bakes.

Bake between 350 to 375 degrees F for 1 hour, 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Let cool for at least 1 hour.  Spread warm Caramel Pecan Topping on top of crust beginning at the base of the pie above the fluting and working towards the top.

Serving suggestions:  Drizzle caramel pecan topping with semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate.

Cook's Note: To add candied pecans to pie recipe, use 2 cups of candied pecans, 1 cup towards the bottom, 1/2 cup towards the middle, and 1/4 cup towards the top.

Caramel Pecan Topping:
2 (12-ounce) cups melted caramel
3 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup chopped pecan pieces

Melt caramels completely in microwave. Add evaporated milk and stir until smooth consistency. Add chopped pecans and stir. Spread over pie starting at base and working in.

As you can tell, I have many more pies to prepare before I reach the upper echelons of bakers such as Paula.

As Paula would say, Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stolen Shrimp and Rice

Stolen.  Yes, completely stolen.  I am a recipe thief!  This weekend, my sweet parents came to town.  They were here to be with their lovely daughter.  And help me steal a recipe.  No, no.  I kid.

We spent Saturday shopping for TVs, ipads, clothes, you name it.  We even dragged my Dad into Target.  And he picked out a dress for me....pause to reflect on this shocking moment....

But we spent the majority of our time in Barnes and Noble.  It pleased the entire family.  Amelia was ripping through a Dylan's Candy Bar book and oohing and aahing over all the candy.  Mom got lost somewhere in the art section.  It was getting dark, and Dad and I heard our stomachs growling.  We debated dinner as we salivated over the pictures in Rachel Ray's Look and Cook recipe book.  And the next thing you know, I'm reaching for the iPhone.  Snap, snap, snap. Got it!  We placed the book back on the shelf and fled the store!

Ok, it wasn't that dramatic.

This is a feisty shrimp dish, for the brave.  If you do not care for hot (I mean spicy) dishes, then go light on the hot sauce and jalapeno. Otherwise, enjoy!  Hint:  It is more flavorful the next day.

By the way, I asked for this cookbook for Christmas, so I'm technically only a thief until December 25, ok?

4 garlic cloves, minced
6-8 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh thyme
4 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups enriched white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 red jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 pint small cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 limes
2 tbs EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
3 lbs large, deveined shrimp
1 tbs Old Bay seafood seasoning
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 bottle of beer
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine garlic, celery, bell pepper, red onion, and thyme.  Heat a medium pot with 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add half of the vegetables to the pot and cook for 3 minutes to soften, then add rice and toss for another 3 minutes.  Stir in the chicken stock, cover the pot, and bring to a boil.  Simmer the rice for 15 minutes until tender, then fluff with a fork.

Combine the remaining vegetables with the jalapeno pepper and tomatoes.  Dress with the juice of 1 lime and season with a little salt.

Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and season with the Old Bay, worcestershire, and hot sauce.  Toss the shrimp around for 2 minutes, add the beer, reduce the heat to simmer and braise for 5-6 minutes.  Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into small bits, add the green onions, and melt the butter into the sauce.  Squeeze the juice of the second lime over the pan.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Funfetti Friday

Well, I have a sweet tooth.  What can I say?  I was craving something sweet on the way home from work yesterday, but wasn't up for putting forth much effort.  I stopped in the grocery to grab a cake mix and spied the funfetti box.  Funfetti cookies, yes!  They certainly satisfied my sweet craving.  Have a fun Friday!

Funfetti Cookies
funfetti cake mix
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
2 eggs
vanilla icing
pink food coloring
Mix funfetti cake mix, oil, and eggs.
Roll dough into balls and flatten to 1/4 inch.
Place on cookie sheet and
bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool and ice!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nanny's Gravy

Consider yourself blessed today.  Blessed because I am sharing my Italian grandmother's spaghetti gravy recipe.

My grandmother, Viola Agostinelli, lived four blocks from me as a child.  I remember the smell that poured out of that large, rustic silver pot on her stove.  The simmering scent of garlic, parsley, onion, and tomatoes lingered all the day long.  It was simply how her house smelled.  The pot itself looked as if it had been through a war. It was thick and sturdy like a kettle, burned on the bottom, and the handle was broken.  My mother now owns this pot.  It is the only thing she wanted when my grandmother passed away, at age 99.  I wish it to be mine one day.

Nanny's gravy was just a regular part of my childhood.  Just like placing pennies on the railroad track beside her house before the train came to flatten them.  Her small two bedroom house was the prime location for family Christmas Eve dinners.  It was where we played dominoes, bocce ball, and enjoyed afternoons on the patio.  The secret wizard who called to perform card tricks for the grandchildren only called Nanny's house.  It was where I learned to make homemade biscuits and ate my fill of salami and white bread sandwiches.  It was where you went to receive honest advice, whether you wanted it or not.  She was the matriarch of our big family, the reason we gathered together.  Cooking this gravy takes me back to her.

But you see, the thing about Nanny and her cooking is she did not use measurements well.  It was "a little of this" and "a lot of that".  I remember my mom saying she would get a different version of measurements and ingredients each time she called Nanny about a recipe.  I've heard my dad and cousin argue over what type of vinegar she used in certain italian dishes.  Who really knows exactly how to make Nanny's spaghetti gravy?  Probably no one, but we can try.

Nanny's Spaghetti Gravy

3-4 lbs ground chuck
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion
2 whole garlic bunches
1 bunch of fresh parsley
8 stalks of celery
36 oz tomato paste
2 tblsp black pepper
4 tblsp salt
2 tblsp oregano
4 bay leaves
3 green onion stem bunches

Place onion, green onions, garlic pods, parsley, and celery into blender.  Blend together and pour into 2 gallon pot with oil.  Add bay leaves.  Saute about 10 minutes on medium.

Kneed meat, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Brown meat.  Drain and stir into pot.  Stir in tomato paste.  Add water to make approximately 3 quarts.  Cook on low and cover to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Miss Safety Cook

I know one rule at least!  I am keenly aware of not sharing my meat cutting board with other food items I use for dinner.  But what else can I do to ensure I am preparing a safe and healthy meal?  Eating Well's 10 Commandments article is a good checklist.  Click here to find out what food-safety rules you follow.  Have a safe dinner tonight!  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Channeling Julia

Ever since watching Julie & Julia and reading the book, My Life in France, by Julia Child, I have wanted to hold a helpless chicken in the air.

Meryl Streep playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia
And oh, what fun it was!  Enjoy this simple roasted chicken recipe that includes a host of  tasty vegetables.  Bon Appetite! as Julia would say.

1 (5-6 lb) roasting chicken
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons
1 can chicken stock
fresh green beans
2 red bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  
Chop thyme, rosemary, and garlic.  Blend together herbs with 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small food processor.  Add salt and pepper as desired.  
To prepare vegetables:  Rinse vegetables and chop carrots, squash, and bell pepper.  Toss blended herb mixture with vegetables (save some for chicken).

To prepare chicken: Gut the chicken.  Then rinse the chicken, and dry it well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.  Place chicken in roasting pan.  Liberally sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then coat chicken with herb mixture.  Halve lemons and stuff 2 lemon halves in chicken cavity.  Pour can of chicken stock in bottom of roasting pan and arrange vegetables around chicken.  Lay other lemon halves in roasting pan with vegetables.  

Then you must truss the bird.  When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Roast the chicken for 1 hour. Continue roasting the chicken for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.         
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