Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Pie Time. Cherry Pie With Cherry-Infused Whipped Cream.


Cherry pie is on the menu today.
You'll need at least a quart of fresh cherries.

 Whenever I make pies, I'm always working on the pastry dough for the crust and trying different recipes and different combinations of ingredients.  Just making small steps that might make a big difference in the finished product and figuring out the reasoning behind it.

Today, instead of regular all-purpose flour, I used cake flour.  (Actually, I used both, but I only had
1 3/4 cup of cake flour so I used that up plus a cup of AP flour.)  The reason I'm trying the cake flour is because cake flour has a lower protein content.  The low protein flour allows you to get the light and airy structure of cakes.  Cake flour doesn't develop as much gluten as AP flour, which means I should end up with a more tender crust.  Gluten helps create structure and density and determine texture in your baked goods, so it's great for making bread, which is why bread flour has a high protein content.

FYI, here are the approximate protein contents of common types of flours:
Bread flour  14-16%
AP flour       10-12%
Pastry flour   9%
Cake flour     7-8%

Exact protein contents will vary by brand, region, and also by country, although the name of the flour is a fairly good indication of how it's supposed to be used.   Generally, pastry and cake flours can be used interchangeably. (I've never even seen pastry flour in the stores.)  If you want bread flour, but only have AP flour, you can bump up the protein content by adding a few tablespoons of vital wheat gluten (although if you don't have bread flour on hand, I find it hard to believe you would have vital wheat gluten lying around).  If you only have AP flour and want a lighter cake or pastry flour, you can approximate this by adding a tablespoon corn starch to each cup of AP flour to lower the protein content.

I'm also using both butter and shortening in my dough.  I like the combination.  Crisco shortening will produce a tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pie crust and the butter, as always, gives you the flavor.  Both fats should be kept cold during the crust-making.  This produces a flakier crust.
Using ice water as your liquid to add to the dough helps keep those fats cold during processing.

For mixing your pastry dough, I recommend either using your fingers, a pastry cutter, or using the pulsing feature on your processor.  You do not want a perfectly homogeneous dough.  You want those crumbs and you want multi-sized crumbs. This is what gives you a flaky pastry.  Work the fat into the flour to create flour-coated pellets. The fat is cut into the flour to form different sized crumbs - a very coarse meal - and then just enough ice cold water is added to get the mixture to hold together when you squeeze it by hand.  Ice water keeps the fat pellets distinct.  Room temperature or warm water would soften and melt the fats.  The dough is then formed into a ball and allowed to chill and rest.  When the dough is rolled out, the fat is flattened into flakes.  When the crust bakes, those different sized flakes of butter melt, creating steam pockets, which is what gives you a flaky texture.

The addition of vinegar inhibits gluten production, helping to tenderize the crust and keep the dough soft.  And don't worry - you don't taste the vinegar in the finished product.

That said, let's make PIE!

Rosie's Pie Crust
(Makes 2 pie crusts)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup Crisco, cubed and chilled
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 TB white vinegar, cold
3 TB ice water

Combine flours and salt.  Using pastry cutter, or pulsing with food processor, work cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture until crumbly.  Do not over-process.  Slowly add in cold vinegar and water, pulsing until mixture can just be squeezed together into a ball.  Working quickly on a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a pliable ball, then slice in half and pat into two disks.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.

This is the crumbly mix of flours, Crisco, butter, and salt.

Slowly, add in the liquids, pulsing a few times.

Place the scraggly mixture onto a lightly floured surface
and quickly work it into a ball.

Divide in half and flatten halves into disks.
Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Now that I have a basic pie crust, I'm making cherry pie, with the lovely fresh cherries that are available now.

First off, make the most of your cherry-pitting efforts and save those pits!
I'm making cherry-infused whipped cream using the pits.  This will give my accompanying whipped cream a lovely blush color and a delicate cherry flavor.


Cherry-Infused Whipped Cream

Steep 1/2 cup cherry pits in 1 1/4 cups heavy cream at least four hours.  I let mine sit in the fridge, covered, overnight.

Drain cream, discarding pits, and whip.  It helps to have cold beaters and a cold bowl.  You get a better volume with cold.  Beat cream until soft peaks form, then beat in about 1/4 cup sugar, or more to taste.  Taste test and you might want to enhance the flavor with a 1/4 tsp almond extract.

To pit cherries, I place the cherry on top of a wine bottle and poke it with a chopstick.  The pit falls into the bottle, leaving the cherry intact.

Like I said, save the pits.

I ended up with 1/2 cup pits which I steeped in 1 1/4 cups heavy cream overnight in the fridge.

Drain pits and discard.

Make whipped cream out of that pretty cream.
Start beating the cream on high speed and when soft peaks form, whip in 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar. (To taste.)
Keep whipping until you get ... whipped cream.  Taste test and add a little almond extract, if desired.  Maybe 1/4 tsp and taste test.

Now, I've got my pie dough made.
I have my pitted cherries and steeped cherry cream.
I'm ready to make cherry pie.

Cherry Pie Filling
4 cups pitted cherries
juice of one orange
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup tapioca
3/4 cups sugar

Combine all ingredients and let sit at least 15 minutes.
Pour cherry mixture into prepared crust.
Roll out the second pie dough disk and cut into lattice strips.
Weave the lattice strips over top of pie.
Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TB cream).
Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top.
Chill for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° and rotate.  Bake another 30 minutes, covering if crust is browning too much.
Let sit at least an hour before slicing.
Serve with cherry-infused whipped cream.

While the cherries are sitting, roll out the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of dough into a round about 1/8-1/4 inch in diameter.
Lightly flour the surface and roll the dough up over the rolling pin.
Just like this.
And unroll it over a deep dish pie dish.

Press dough into pie dish.

Cut off excess, then decoratively crimp edges.

Those cherries are waiting for you.

Pour cherry mixture and any juices into the prepared crust.

Now, take the second disk of dough, roll it out, and cut into strips for the lattice.
And weave it!

Brush with egg wash.

Sprinkle lattice work with turbinado sugar.

Ready for baking.


 Serve with that pretty blush whipped cream.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

More Fried Shrimp.

I got an itchin' for fried shrimp today and I just gotta scratch that itch.

As you know, I make a mean coconut fried shrimp.  See here.
Really.  Would you just look at that?

But today, I wanted something simpler.
Just plain, fried shrimp.
First, I peeled and cleaned my shrimp.  Then I let them have a soak in a bath of buttermilk and Texas Pete Hot Sauce.  That's the pretty pink color you see above.

Today, I'm using a dry batter to coat the shrimp in.  I add all the ingredients in a tupperware container, then throw in the shrimp, cover, and toss to evenly coat.

Shrimp Batter
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Mix all together.
Toss shrimp to coat.

Drop shrimp, one by one, into 350° peanut oil.  You want to maintain the temperature of the oil.  Frying in too low a temperature gives you greasy, yucky shrimp.  Fry too hot and you have crisp, overdone batter and underdone shrimp in the middle.  You want it juuuuuussssst riiiiiiight.
I use a heavy, deep pan, with 2-3 inches peanut oil at 350°.  Fry about 60 seconds.
Drain and serve with cocktail sauce.

Rosie Note:  If you do any frying at all, or if you don't fry because you're scared of it, invest in a laser thermometer.  It makes things sooooo much easier.  I used to test the oil temperature by sticking the end of a wooden spoon into my hot oil and watching the amount of and the intensity of the bubbles bubbling out of the wood.  Although it worked, that's really not an exact science.  Get a laser thermometer!

Most excellent fried shrimp!

For the cocktail sauce:
You can make this as hot or not as you like.  Recipe below is fairly mild.  I prefer a sinus-searing concoction.  Also, I don't stir it until it's completely combined.  I prefer "pockets of flavor."  (See that little pocket of horseradish up there?) 

1/2 cup ketchup
2 TB horseradish (or more)
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mr. Hawthorne Makes A Quick Bean Salsa.

Mr. Hawthorne makes this dish a lot.
It can go from a dip to a soup.
Just depends on your mood and appetite.
Personally, I like it with tortilla chips as a dip.

It's got beans.
And tomatoes.
And spices.

And there's no set recipe.
It's one of those "add-in-whatever-you-feel-like dishes."
Mr. H. usually starts out with dried beans -
kidney, black, great northern.
Singly or a combination thereof. 
(If you're in a pinch for time,
you could use canned beans.
Rinse them off and drain them first.)
 Throw in some stuff from the pantry.
Adds in a few cans of this and that -
diced tomatoes, corn, those Rotel tomatoes with diced chiles.
Throw in some stuff from the freezer -
  lima beans, corn, or whatever.
Throw in some stuff from the garden -
onions, peppers, jalapeƱos, more tomatoes.
And then spice it up.
Oregano, cumin, cilantro.

And a special treat if you happen to have it growing -
raw, green cilantro seeds (coriander) -
to top it off.

Here's Mr. Hawthorne's "recipe."  And this is the quick one, using canned beans, not dried.

Mr. Hawthorne's Bean Dip
In a medium saucepan, combine the following:
1 can Northern beans
1 can diced tomatoes (With juice, then swish out the can with a bit of water and add that in too.)
1 can corn, or fresh from a cob, or frozen
handful of frozen lima beans
chopped bell pepper (Multi-colored for the pretty.)
chopped onion

Heat over medium low heat.  Bring to a simmer and let it stew for a bit, until anything frozen (limas) are tender and cooked through.  Maybe 30 minutes.

Add seasonings and continue to cook over low heat so flavors can have a meet and greet.

1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 granulated garlic
1 tsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste
1 tsp minced jalapeƱo, or more, to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, to taste
pinch kosher salt, to taste

Serve with tortilla chips and fresh cilantro.

Now, if you don't happen to have a bag of Tostitos on hand and want something to scoop up the bean dip with, you can make your own "scoopies" with regular flour tortilla rounds. 

Here are some homemade wedges that I made to go with my homemade hummus.  And don't ever buy store bought hummus, unless you just want something to compare homemade to and know how NOT to make it.
Here's my hummus recipe, in case you're interested.

Homemade tortilla chips:
For homemade tortilla chips, simply take the round flour tortillas, stack them, and cut into wedges.  Heat oven to 300° and pour a thin layer of oil onto a baking sheet and throw in a couple tablespoons of butter.  Let the butter melt as the oven heats.  Then take each wedge and dredge both sides through the oil and butter.  Arrange triangles in a single layer on baking sheet.  Make that baking sheetS.  Plural.  These are so good, you're going to want to make a bunch of them.  Next, lightly sprinkle some cumin and red pepper flakes or cayenne over the wedges.  If you happen to have some Togarashi seasoning, go for it!  Togarashi is a quite versatile Japanese seasoning with ground chile peppers, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, orange and lemon zest, and nori (seaweed).  Bake until the wedges are light golden and crisp.


Friday, August 3, 2018

Rosie Makes A Smooth-As-Silk Chocolate Pie.

Oh my...

This is it.  This is the ultimate.  This is the best.  Look no further.  

Now when Rosie tells you she has the "best" of something, she means it.
There is no reason to argue with her.  She knows what she's talking about.
And this? This chocolate pie???  This is THE BEST! 
Bar none.  
And I'm giving you the recipe.
You may thank me later.
And, you're welcome!

The chocolate is sublime.
The texture is silken.
It is heaven in a pie shell.  Trust Rosie on this.  She's never led you astray.

One of the wonderful things about this pie, besides its plain awesomeness and fabulosity, is that you can make one big pie out of it, or several smaller pies.  Simply bake the pie crust in whatever shape pan you want - round, square, rectangular, oval - in whatever size you want - big, medium, small- and just spoon the filling into the pie crust.  And refrigerate.  And it's done!

Here's the recipe:

Smooth-As-Silk Chocolate Pie
1 cup heavy cream, chilled (Bowl and beaters chilled too.)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 TB water
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 TB vanilla
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 TB) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
1 9-inch pie shell or either a bunch of smaller pie shells, already baked

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  It helps to have both beaters and bowl chilled.  The reason for this is it makes for more volume in the whip.  (It's the opposite of whipping eggs.  Always have the eggs at room temperature for higher volume.)  Refrigerate whipped cream while you finish pie filling.

Combine eggs, sugar, and water in a large bowl and set bowl in a saucepan over low heat, filled with 1/2 inch simmering water, without bowl touching water.  Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until mixture thickens and registers 160°.  Takes about 12-15 minutes.  Be patient!  (Another reason for an instant-read laser thermometer.  If you don't already have one, get one.  Comes in quite handy, especially for frying.)  Remove bowl from heat and continue beating, until mixture is fluffy and room temperature - about 5-6 minutes.

Add melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla to egg mixture and beat until well-combined.  Beat in butter, a piece or two at a time, until incorporated.  Gently fold in whipped cream until there are no white streaks.  Spoon filling into baked pie shell(s) and refrigerate until set.  About 3-4 hours.

Now, for the step-by-steps:
The chocolate has melted and is cooling.
The butter is softening.
The heavy cream is whipped and ready to wait in the fridge.

Next, combine the eggs, water, and sugar in a medium bowl and set the bowl inside a medium saucepan.  With water simmering in the saucepan (but not touching the bowl with the eggs), beat the egg mixture constantly...  Until...

... until the mixture gets foamy and gets up to 160°.

Remove from heat and keep beating until glossy and smooth and slightly cooled.

Give it some chocolate lovin'!
Until chocolate is incorporated.

Beat in the softened, room-temperature butter.

Beat until well-combined.


Fold in the whipped cream.

Fold until there are no streaks.

Pour into prepared pie crust.
I'm using a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan with a baked, homemade crust.
You can make your own pie crust, or use one of those refrigerated crusts and bake it before filling.
Spread filling into crust.
You can spread the filling smooth or taptaptap to make peaks.
Ta daaaaaaa!

Now if you like, you can make it all healthy with some fresh fruit...

Or you can take the preferred route and go decadent,
adding vanilla ice cream and some homemade chocolate sauce.

It really doesn't get any better than this.