Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blueberry Pie Filling

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Here is the blueberry filling for the pie crust I posted yesterday. I was going to post it near the end but forgot. No worries, here it is now!

Blueberry Pie Fillings
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  1. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg into a sauce pan on medium high heat. Mix together until the sauce thickens.
  2. Set it aside and let it cool completely. Once it is cooled mix in the blueberries and lemon juice. The filling is now ready to go into your pie crust.

Pate Brisee - The Perfect Pie Crust

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This may sound crazy but I've heard some people say they're not really a "pie person". I'm not sure I quite understand that, but obviously they have never had REALLY good pie.

REALLY good pie, and listen carefully because it's part of the meaning of life (I am watching Monty Python's Meaning of Life right now...brilliant) does not need ice cream on the side.

Also, there seems to be an obsession for really flaky pie crusts. Although this flakiness is ideal, I think this has led people to use shortening in their pie, which I refuse to do. Yes, I am going to be a food snob here. The thing is, when you use shortening, you are sacrificing the flavour of the crust for flakiness, when you can actually attain it with butter. The flakiness of the pie is in the technique and not so much the ingredients.

When I make pie crust I like to prep everything so I can work quickly, all your ingredients must stay cold (that is part of the flakiness technique). Also, you do not want to over work your ingredients.

And yes, this kitchen has retro green counter tops. So what? Retro and vintage is in! I really shouldn't complain, I have barely any counter space in my Toronto kitchen and here I have space galore.

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Your pie crust tools.

Pate Brisee
Makes: Two 9-inch pie crusts (for one 9-inch pie crust half the recipe)
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice cold water
  • 3 tbsp of sour cream or crème fraiche
  1. Prep and measure: This may seem obsessive but it is how I get the flaky crust. First cut up the butter into small cubes and put it in the freezer to chill. Measure out your four, salt and sugar into a large bowl and chill that as well. Mix together your sour cream and water, and again that goes in the freezer. Let that chill for about 15 minutes. Obsessive? Yes.
  2. Once your ingredients are chilled whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. You can also do this in a food processor. I have chosen to use a pastry blender so I don't end up overworking the dough, but I've used a food processor before and they work fine. Once whisked throw in your chopped butter. pie1.jpg
  3. Use your pastry blender to mix the butter into the flour and use a spatula to make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Combine the ingredients until the butter is no smaller than peas. You don't want to over mix the dough, the chunks of butter create the flakiness. This is where you have to be careful with a food processor. pie2.jpg
  4. Now take your water and sour cream mixture out of the freezer and mix it into the bowl, 1 tbsp at a time, while you mix the batter.pie3.jpg
  5. Mix everything until the dough starts to clump together. Again don't over mix it.pie4.jpg
  6. Bring the dough out onto a floured counter top and form a ball that you can cut in half. pie5.jpg
  7. Then take that dough and cut it in half. Create two discs and wrap in plastic wrap. This dough needs to be chilled in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.pie6.jpg
  8. Once chilled, you can begin to roll out your crust. Depending on the dryness of your dough, you may want to let the dough sit for a few minutes before rolling our the dough. Also at this point you should have your filling made. Flour your counter top and begin rolling out your dough from the center out. Roll out a few times, then lift the dough and turn it a quarter. Lifting it will also ensure that the dough is not sticking to the counter, if it is, just throw some flour underneath the dough. Roll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch. Of course, make sure you roll out your dough big enough to fit your pan.pie7.jpg
  9. Now to get that dough into your pan roll up your crust onto the rolling pin...pie8.jpg
  10. And unroll the dough onto the pie pan. Fill the pan will your filling and throw this in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.pie9.jpg
For the top crust you can simply roll out the dough the same way you did for the bottom crust, sealing the top crust to the bottom and cutting slits on the top of the pie. But we like to wow people here, so I am going to show you how to create the lattice crust.
  1. Roll out your dough using the same technique for the bottom crust. Then cut 1/2 inch strips using a knife, pizza cutter or one of those fancy edged cutters. pie11.jpg
  2. Now take every other strip and lay it down on the pie at 1/2 inch apart.pie12.jpg
  3. Now on the pie lift up every other strip half way and take the middle strip that is on the counter and place it in the middle of the pie, laying it down perpendicular to the rest of the strips. pie13.jpg
  4. Unfold the strips so they lay on top of the new strip. Take the other strips (that are now underneath the new strip) and fold them up.pie14.jpg
  5. Take the strip on the counter that was to the left of the first strip you took and place it on top of the vertical strips beside the last strip and unfold the strips again. pie15.jpg
  6. Repeat this weaving step until you get to the end of the pie.pie16.jpg
  7. Once you get to the end of the pie continue this process on the other half of the pie...pie17.jpg
  8. Until your pie crust looks like this:pie18.jpg
  9. Now at this step most people tell you to trim the pie. Believe me when I say this: You do not want to trim this pie. You want all the crust you can get. So fold the bottom crust over the top strips. pie19.jpg
  10. Once you have gone around and sealed the pie, give it a pretty trim by crimping the pie with your fingers. Now again for the obsessive part. Chill the pie in the fridge for another 30 minutes. The contrast between the coolness of the pie and hot heat of the oven create rapid air expansion which will cause the desired flakiness of the crust. Make sure you preheat your oven to 375 F. pie20.jpg
  11. Once your pie has chilled brush an egg wash over the pie to get that golden crust and sprinkle with sugar. I like to use turbinado sugar just so you can get that crunch. To prevent the crust of your pie from burning wrap tin foil over it. You will take this off when you change the temperature to 350 F. pie21.jpg
  12. Place the pie in the oven with a sheet underneath in case any filling decides to come out. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes then turn down the temperature to 350 F for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remember to take the tin foil off once you have turned down the temperature to 350 F. pie22.jpg
  13. Now for the HARDEST part of this whole process. You need to wait till the pie cools completely or else your filling will go everywhere. Wait at least an hour... seriously I was going to say 3 but I know you can't wait 3 hours. GUTEN APPETIT! pie23.jpg

Monday, June 27, 2011

a little ogre

My friend Mhairi, who is a brilliant painter, drew me up a little ogre for my blog. She's a fiery red head with a fantastic sense of humor and can paint up pretty much anything you can think of. Say... a juicy steak or a cup of raw eggs (which happens to be hanging in my kitchen), you will ooo and ahh at everything she does. If you would like to enjoy more of her work you can check out her site here.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Snickerdoodles

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Snickerdoodles. The simple cookie that is sweetened with cinnamon and sugar, and who can turn down cinnamon and sugar? Ahhh.. of course the French can. For some reason the French don't use cinnamon as much as Canadians and they seem to think that we put it in everything. So what? Cinnamon is damn good! But then again, what do I know? The cinnamon that we eat in North America is actually a spice called Cassia from Indonesia. So if you live in North America it is possible that you have never had true cinnamon before.

Cassia and cinnamon are easier to distinguish in their whole rolled up bark form. True cinnamon from Sri Lankan is thin and brittle with several thin layers of bark. Cassia, however is thicker and hollow inside. Once they are ground up it is hard to distinguish the two.

Cinnamon or cassia, I will enjoy the flavour of either spice! And I encourage my friends in France to try this recipe and not to discriminate so much against this wonderful spice.

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Snickerdoodles
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter and sugar together until it looks like a thick frosting. Add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients together and then add half of the dry mixture into the creamy batter. Mix well and then add the rest of the dry ingredients.
  3. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour. This will make rolling the dough into a ball much easier.
  4. Once the dough is chilled unwrap the dough. Use a spoon to scoop a small amount of dough and roll it into a 1" ball with your hands.
  5. In a small bowl mix together 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 tbsp of Cinnamon. Take your 1" ball of dough and roll it in the cinnamon and sugar mix and place the ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. I bake mine for 9 minutes but it really depends on your oven.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pizza Margherita with Arugula

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After making the delicious garlic shrimp rotini with the arugula sauce I thought I could use the rest of the arugula to top off a Pizza Margherita. This simple pizza has few toppings but the basil and arugula make it a flavourful dish. It also makes a great meal for any vegetarian.

Pizza Margherita with Arugula
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 can of 231 ml pizza sauce
  • 6 to 8 large basil leaves
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups of lightly packed arugula
  • pizza dough
  1. Take the garlic and crush it with the side of your knife. Combine the 4 tsp of olive oil with the garlic in a small dish. It is best to do this before you make the dough so the garlic can sit in the oil.
  2. Take the pizza dough and stretch it out to your desired crust, thick or thin. Lightly brush the inner circle of each pizza with the garlic olive oil. Toss the rest of the garlic oil with the arugula. Lightly spread dough with pizza sauce, sprinkle a bit of mozzarella for a base, top with chopped basil and the rest of the mozzarella. Top each pizza with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Using a cutting board, slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, or baking pan and let it bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Sprinkle each pizza with arugula. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Food and Drink Magazine

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rotini with Garlic Shrimp and Arugula Sauce

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The summer always makes me think of fresh pasta dishes, and this arugula pasta sauce is as fresh as it gets. The baby arugula adds a peppery, nutty flavour to this uncooked sauce and it is filled with vitamins C and A. Since the sauce is uncooked you benefit from all the nutrients in the vegetables. Once vegetables are cooked they began to loose nutritional value. Of course cooked vegetables are still very nutritious, so there is no need to go on the raw food diet.

Since the arugula sauce is uncooked make sure you have all your ingredients prepared, as you will use the cooked pasta to heat the sauce once you toss it all together.

Rotini with Garlic Shrimp and Arugula Sauce
Serves 4

Garlic Shrimp
  • 1 lb of jumbo black tiger shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
Pasta Sauce
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 4 cups of lightly packed baby arugula
  • 1 cup of lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of whipping cream
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 450 grams of rotini pasta
  • 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add all the ingredients of the garlic shrimp into a bowl and mix together well. Set aside.
  2. Seed and dice tomatoes; there should be about 2 cups. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pasta pasta pot half filled with salted water to boil; cook rotini according to package or until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile place the shrimp onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes or until pink and firm.
  5. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by adding arugula and parsley in a blender jar with olive oil, salt and pepper. Combine broth, cream and garlic and heat on high in a microwave for about 60 seconds or until very hot but not boiling. Pour over leaves in the blender; whirl, stopping to scrape down side until a somewhat thin sauce forms.
  6. Once the rotini has been cooked and drained add the arugula sauce and toss until coated. Add the tomatoes, about half the cheese and all of the pine nuts. Toss and serve in warm bowls or plates and top each plate with about 7 or 8 pieces of shrimp. Pass around the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Recipe adapted from Food and Drink Magazine
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