Monday, November 23, 2009

Stay Tuned...

I am attempting my first Turkey this weekend! It will be an adventure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Apple Pie Success!

I don't know what it is about pie making, but I have not had very much success with it. I think I prefer the zen that is mixing cake batter. But, in the tradition of my Grandmas, I feel compelled to keep attempting pies. I used some of the remaining apples to make an apple pie on Sunday, following the instructions from my Cook's Illustrated Baking Cookbook. As usual, they did not let me down. I made my most successful apple pie ever!

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the pie with the apples. Hopefully, I will get around to that later tonight.

I attribute my success to a tupperware pie guide that my MIL recently passed down to me. It really helped when rolling out the dough to keep it in a circular shape, and size it correctly.

Thanks, Cook's Illustrated and Tupperware pie guide!

Pie Before Oven (check out those pretty dots of butter)!

Pie After Oven (pretty, flaky crust)!

Bye Bye Apples

At the end of fall, it has become a tradition in our house to make applesauce to use up all the apples we didn't get around to eating after apple picking. My Dad gave us our very own Squeezo, so we didn't have to borrow his this year. I can't wait to use it for berry jam next spring/summer!

To make the applesauce, I added a cinnamon stick and a few tablespoons of lemon juice to a large stockpot of water. I brought the water to a simmer and added the halved apples. After about 10-15 minutes, I transferred them to the Squeezo and processed them. I don't like to add sugar to my applesauce until serving.

After the applesauce is cooled, transfer to labeled, quart-sized freezer bags and freeze.

If you like making applesauce, I highly recommend a Squeezo over a food mill. You don't have to core the apples, and they are processed in just a few seconds! There are tons available on ebay or you can travel to the Amish Market in Lancaster, PA.

Some of these will be applesauce, some will be pie!

Apples in Bowl!

Apples on stove!

Generic Squeezo!

Applesauce in Bowl!

All finished!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Biggest Stage Ever

I had the pleasure of seeing U2 and Muse at FedEx field and never posted about it. This stage was immense. I don't think I'll ever see anything like it ever again.

I think I was the only person in our section cheering for Muse. I was sad that Bill Bellamy only played the piano for one song. What is that about? Do they think they need to be all about guitar playing for an American audience? Disappointing.

U2 were wonderfully over the top and fantastic. I had never seen them before, even though they'd been on my list for some time (20 years).

Massive stage!

Halloween Cupcakes

This year, for Halloween, I decided to spend less time on my Utz Girl costume, and more time making festive cupcakes. I tried Martha Stewart's Yellow Buttermilk cupcake recipe and her vanilla buttercream icing for the first time. These recipes can be found in her Cupcake Cookbook, also known as my new favorite cookbook. I thought the cupcakes themselves were a little dry, and will probably use extra large eggs instead of large next time.

This was my first time working with fondant, and I loved it. I made little ghosts and mummies.

Here's the results!

Girls Night=Pizza Night

This weekend, some girlfriends and I got together to sit around a table, drink wine, and eat. We thought a pizza night would be a good idea. I made the dough and my friends brought the fantastic toppings. Here are two of the lovely pies which came out of the oven. I am also trying to make a better effort to post recipes to go with these photos. You can find them at the end of the post!

Our first pizza was a re-creation of the roasted butternut squash pizza I made in Phili over the summer. This time, we cubed the squash, and I think it made a better pizza.

Dough before topping!

Roasted Butternut Squash pizza with Gruyere, fried sage leaves, garlic and rosemary olive oil, and fresh lemon juice.

For the second pizza, my friend Meri had the genius idea of making a carmelized onion, pear pizza with both goat and gorgonzola cheeses. Perfection.

Pizza before pear!

Pizza after pear!

Here are the recipes we used for the dough and the butternut squash.

Wheat Pizza Crust (taken from the NYT article "Healthier Pizzas" published this summer)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
1 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary for kneading
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1. Combine the yeast and water in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the sugar, and stir together. Let sit two or three minutes, until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil.
2. Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove from the processor (the dough will be a little tacky; flour or moisten your hands so it won’t stick), and knead on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary for a smooth dough.
3. Shape the dough into a ball, pinched at bottom and rounded at top. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will stretch when it is gently pulled.
4. Divide the dough into two equal balls. Put the balls on a lightly oiled tray or platter, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, the dough balls can be placed in a wide bowl, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to three days. Alternatively, you can wrap them loosely in lightly oiled plastic wrap and refrigerate them in a resealable plastic bag. When you are ready to roll out the pizzas, you will need to bring the balls to room temperature and punch them down again.
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven. Roll or press out the dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle. Lightly oil pizza pans, and dust with semolina or cornmeal. Place the dough on the pizza pan. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza with the toppings of your choice.
6. Place the pizza pan on the stone. Bake as directed.
Yield: Two 12- to 14-inch crusts.
Advance preparation: The pizza dough can be refrigerated after the first rise for up to three days (see step 4). The rolled out dough can be frozen. Transfer directly from the freezer to the oven.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza (from my lovely friend, Chinwe)

pizza dough
olive oil
a decent-sized butternut squash
4-5 cloves garlic, slices fresh rosemary (say, 2 tsp minced?)
about 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
fresh sage leaves (20)
half a lemon

Preheat oven to 400.

Peel squash and cube (about 1/2 inch cubes) Toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in one layer on a baking sheet until soft. Approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice garlic and mince rosemary and put them into a little bowl with 1/3 cup olive oil and let that sit for a while.

Once squash is ready, increase oven heat to 450 or so. Roll out dough and brush it all over with the oil/garlic. Then put down squash, then sprinkle grated gruyere all over. Bake about 12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned.

While pizza bakes, fry the sage leaves in a skillet in a thin layer of oil until kinda crispy but not too brown or burned (keep an eye on them -- they can go fast!). Drain them on paper towels.

When pizza's done, brush the crust with a bit more of the oil/garlic stuff, then put the sage leaves on top. Squeeze the half lemon all over it (it will seem like a lot, but it works!)

I have to say that I was skeptical about squeezing 1/2 a lemon over the pizza, but it really does bring out all the flavors.