Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Singing the Blues" Blueberry Pie

I know...I know...I know... it has been forever since I posted on here. Sorry to all my readers who have checked and re-checked to see if I had cooked up any interesting post-worthy dishes. I have been cooking but alas have not had the gumption to get on here and post, mostly due to the lack of photos...when cooking "a la moment". And...maybe due to the fact that I am 3 months pregnant! Yay!

So here I am making a stab at a come back. I hope you too will follow me around on a bit of a cooking spree.

Well it has been so hot here...we are really into the days of summer. I have been wanting to make a Blueberry Pie since before the 4th of July. Meant to make one for the 4th...but got caught up in my first trimester pregnancy exhaustion and disappointed my poor family terribly. They all actually sat around the patio table after we enjoyed a lovely BBQ dinner and looked at me and said "What NO dessert". I am the family appointed "Queen of Dessert" in our clan. We always have more than one dessert offering ...not this time...there was not a sweet item to be I got to work and quickly baked up a batch of brownies that were cooled down and ready to eat when we returned from watching fireworks. The perfect way to end the evening. I had slightly redeemed myself...enough to quiet the grumbling down to a low roar.

So 3 weeks later I am finally getting down to business and making my favorite summer berry pie.

You will need a top and bottom pie crust. Use your favorite recipe or store bought.

For the blueberry filling:
6 cups fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbls instant tapioca, ground (in a spice grinder)
pinch of salt
2 tbls unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water

Roll out the bottom pie dough and lay into pie pan. Leave dough overhang. Put in refrigerator to chill while making filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, adjust oven rack to lowest setting. Place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack.

Place 3 cups berries in saucepan over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berried several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until half of berries are mashed and mixture has thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Let cool slightly.

Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest and juice, sugar, tapioca and salt. Toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie pan and scatter butter pieces over filling.

Roll out top disk of dough. Using any shape 1 1/4 inch cookie/biscuit cutter cut out 6 or 7 holes from the center of the dough. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll over pie.

Trim dough over hang to 1/2-inch. Fold dough under itself so that it is flush with the rim if the pie plate. Flute edges using fingers or with the tines of a fork. Brush top and edges of pie with egg wash. If dough is very soft, chill for 10 minutes.

Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake another 30 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature at least 4 hours.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brigadeiro aka PIFPAF aka Peefy Puffy

In the past few weeks thanks to "Time Waster 101" aka Facebook, my sisters and I have reconnected with a family that we grew up with. If ever there was a family that matched ours spot for spot, it was the their's. Both our families had single mom's doing there best with three daughters a piece. Our mom's were best friends, daughters all best friend's. It was all fantastic until the summer that they moved to their mother's homeland BRAZIL! Yes...far... far...away to Brazil. We lost touch. My sisters and I have thought about them many times and reminisced. But however hard we searched we could never find them.

They left us with many happy childhood memories. But there is one food memory that left an indelible mark on my family. If anyone ever says the magic words..."Peefy Puffy" we all swoon to our knees. This is a delicious Brazilian chocolate candy...that they used to make for us. I never saw a recipe. My friend would just grab a few items out of the cupboard, dump them into a saucepan, stir religiously, and in no time at all we were all eating "Peefy Puffy". Foolishly I never thought to ask for the recipe...and then our dear friends were gone and our favorite sweet delight gone with them, never to be enjoyed by our family again....until...

We found them!!! And don't you know that the first thing I wanted to know was the recipe for what we all lovingly refer to as "Peefy Puffy".

Well it turns out if you actually write it down it is informally called PifPaf. The informal term is used in Brazil when you make this, let it cool on a plate and then simply dip in with your spoon and eat it up. Ohhh... so good. And what stomach aches I had as a girl eating way too much of this chocolate-y goo!

It is referred to as "Brigadiero" when you actually take the cooled down chocolate and roll into little balls, (looks exactly like their distant cousin the French chocolate truffle) and cover in either chocolate sprinkles or roll in cocoa powder.

Brigadiero ~ PifPaf ~ Peefy Puffy
Yields aprox. 24
adapted by M. Edgar

2 heaping tablespoons
cocoa powder
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 stick of butter

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add condensed milk and stir continuously until starts to thicken. Add cocoa powder (sift if you do not like the look of tiny lumps) add more cocoa if desired. Stir constantly until you see the bottom of the pan and thick. Pour onto a flat plate and let cool. Or...just grab a spoon because you have to have some now! But be very careful because it is very hot!!

When cool scoop up portions with a teaspoon and roll in chocolate sprinkles or cocoa powder.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing

Life is twist and turns and all of the sudden y0u end up where you started.

Let me start at the beginning, well not of time, but maybe...the beginning of my time. When I was a little girl my paternal grandmother, was a milliner. She made hats for some of the most fashionable ladies, actresses and designers in Los Angeles. She never learned how to drive a car. She traveled almost every weekend to downtown Los Angeles to purchase her millinery supplies at wholesale houses. When we spent the weekend with grandma we rode the bus with her from 4th and Serrano to downtown. Let me define we a little better...we; being myself, my two sisters and grandma.

She would do her shopping and then we always had lunch. Sometimes it was at the top of the Broadway Plaza, which at that time turned. More often than not it would be a cafeteria, those were her favorite haunts. Clifton's Cafeteria was always a sure bet. The best part was choosing your dessert...all those little dishes with single servings, covered in plastic wrap...Jello - in a rainbow of flavors, chocolate layer cake, pumpkin cake, German chocolate cake (Grandma's fav), carrot cake, fruit pies, pudding...oh what choices for a nine year old to make.

Well let's jump ahead oh lets say three decades to last weekend when my maternal grandma, who noticed that I had started a blog, gave me a recipe for Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing from Clifton's Cafeteria. Now my maternal grandma is a very good cook and where I think I get most of my cooking passion from. She has apparently been making this cake for us for years and I never knew that it was a recipe she adapted from Clifton's Cafeteria. Another tidbit of information that I unearthed about grandma was that she also has a penchant for clipping recipes from newspapers and magazines. Well she clipped this old-y but goody a little over twenty years ago. I received a copy that she had typed...yes I said typed and I mean typewriter, folks.

So I have adapted the recipe slightly... don't really want to mess with a good thing but..I added a few extra spices and the recipe calls out to make three 9-inch layer cakes and then pile them up and frost with the delicious Cream Cheese Icing. Well I decided to make cupcakes instead of a layer cake. I also halved the recipe and made 21 medium size cupcakes.

Clifton's Pumpkin Cake
adapted by A.M.H.
Yield 3 9-inch layer cakes

3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oil
3 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Blend sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt at medium speed with a mixer until well mixed.

Add oil and continue to beat until dry ingredients are moistened. Add pumpkin and mix again until well blended. Add lightly beaten eggs and blend one minute longer. Do not over mix.

Turn batter into 3 lightly greased paper-lined 9-inch cake pans. Smooth batter in pans so it will be level when baked. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until done. Cool on racks, then turn out and fill and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (1-pound) box powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped raisins or currants (optional)

Combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and butter. Mix until blended. Add raisins (if using) and mix until blended. Refrigerate until needed.

I could not resist! Yum it was good!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ratatouille ~ Squeezing the last drops of summer from my Farmer's Market

This past weekend we dashed in the first sprinkling of rain to our local farmer's market in La Canada. It is a modest affair...but somehow my week would not feel complete with out a visit to this parking lot turned market on Saturday mornings. We had on our "Southern California" rain gear a.k.a. a hat, a vest and yes flip flops... come is kind of raining but not really more like spitting. Mother Nature was having a good time with me as well, because whenever we were in the rain...and then every time I got out of the car to dash about for the next errand...rain.. or spit! Anyhow I digress...

It has been over 100 degrees for what seems like months now and the thought of heating up my kitchen/house with the oven is a no brainer...aaaahhh let me think about that for a second...hummmm..NO! But then this week the weather has somehow shifted, there is a breeze blowing and today Mr. Forecaster actually said 72! I looked at D this morning...did he say glorious 72? The perfect temperature...especially for cooking in the oven.

I felt like cooking something hearty, something warm, something dripping with yummy olive oil. So I looked in my crisper drawer and found the last bits of our late summer farmer's market bounty. Small purple eggplants, white zucchini squash, a rainbow assortment of, yellow and orange...and I thought ratatouille! I actually had never made it before. So I searched around my cookbooks for a recipe. Who knew there were as many variations on ratatouille as there are fingerprints.

After much deliberation I settled on Mark Bittman's recipe in "How To Cook Everything". I did make a few adjustments. This recipe does not include zucchini , I added mine for good measure. It also calls for 10 garlic cloves, which I am sure would be wonderfully delicious. Side note ~ I have a two year old and a English man in the house...and honestly...that is just so not going to fly! So I reduced the garlic cloves to 4. We were all happy. I also added a few more herbs than called for. I added a tablespoon of rosemary and a tablespoon thyme freshly cut from my herb garden. My chives were also begging to trimmed so I also added probably a tablespoon of chives. Maybe that's why my picture looks so herby. But it was yummy and not overpoweringly herby at all. Is herby a word?

Here is the recipe with with my small changes noted...

Oven-Baked Ratatouille
Tian of Vegetables
Makes 4 servings
Time - 1 1/2 hours

10 cloves garlic (4) Peel and cut in half
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large eggplants, about 2# total, sliced 1/2 inch thick and salted ( I used about 6-8 small eggplants)
4 red or yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, sliced into 3 or 4 pieces each (I cut into smaller pieces)
4 ripe red tomatoes, cored, skins ans seeds removed and cut into thick slices
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, rosemary or savory leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil, or chervil leaves for garnish
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350

In a casserole, make a layer of onion, followed by one of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Repeat. Drizzle the ratatouille with the olive oil and place in the oven. Bake for about an hour, pressing down on the vegetables occasionally, until they are all completely tender. Garnish and serve.

Mise En Place = Mess In Place

Mise en place

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Mise en place" (pronounced [miz ɑ̃n plas], literally "put in place") is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place", as in set up. It is used in U.S. kitchens to refer to the ingredients, such as cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components that a cook requires for the menu items that they expect to prepare during their shift.[1]

Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.

It also refers to the preparation and layouts that are set up and used by line cooks at their stations in a commercial or restaurant kitchen.

The concept of having everything in its place as applied to the work in a kitchen is likely to have become a staple around the time of Auguste Escoffier[citation needed], who is well known for his development of the brigade system of running a kitchen.

Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain has often referred to Mise en place as his religion.