Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip - LowER fat version



Ok, so take that title with a grain of salt...its lower fat, but not lowfat.
If your thighs know what I mean.

what you'll need:

~ 8 oz. spinach, chopped (I use the frozen, loose kind in the bag NOT the solid block)
~ 8 oz. cream cheese, neufchatel or lowfat, room temperature
~ 1 c. sour cream, light or lowfat
~ 1 c. monterey jack, shredded
~ 4-6 cloves garlic, chopped
~ 14-15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into quarters
~ cracked black pepper (to taste)
~ dash of sea salt
~ 1 c. mozzerella, lowfat is fine here, too
~ 3 T. parmesan, grated

Stir together the spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, jack cheese, garlic, artichokes, pepper and salt and layer in a greased baking dish, something approx. the size of an 8" or 9" cake pan.
But, I like to bake this in glass or ceramic.
A glass pie dish would work well, too.
Top off with the mozzerella and parmesan.

Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes, till the edges are golden and the middle is bubbly.
I like to serve this with slices of baguette that have been drizzled with a fine olive oil and toasted under the broiler for a couple minutes.
enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Iron Skillet Apple Pie


or Gargantua, whichever.

My only iron skillet is just over 10 inches across, so it holds 10 large apples, two very large pie crusts and serves about 80 people. lol

Of course, you may adapt this recipe for larger or smaller skillets.

What you'll need for a 10" skillet pie:

~10 apples, chopped
~1 T. lemon juice (sprinkle over apples and toss)

~2/3 c. sugar
~1/3 c. brown sugar
~4 T. cornstarch
~1 T. cinnamon
~1 t. nutmeg
~1/2 t. ginger
~1/2 t. salt

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside for later.

Also, 2 crusts of my oil pie crust:
now, please note that I heaped all the measurements in this recipe for 2 crusts since I was making such a ginormous monstrosity.

~2 c. flour
~1 t. salt
~1 t. sugar

mix these dry ingredients up and add:

~1/2 c. oil, use a light one like canola
~1 t. vinegar
~5 T. cold water or low-fat milk (you may or may not need all of this, I think I had a tablespoon left over. The dough came together just fine and I felt it didn't need it.)
Just mix it up like a cookie dough.

Before laying the bottom crust in, put your skillet on the stove over a medium heat and add a half a stick of butter to melt and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
Whisk together and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and ready your pie crusts.

Now, to roll them out you'll need two good sized pieces of wax paper that you have sprayed with non-stick spray.
Divide your dough in half and roll out between the greased wax paper.
Roll it thinner than you would a typical pie crust.
Peel off the top piece of wax paper, then you can use the bottom piece of wax paper to lift the crust, invert it and center it over the pan, lay it down then carefully peel off the other piece of wax paper.

Layer in half your apples then half your sugar mixture, then the remaining apples followed by the remaining sugar mixture.
Then that other half stick of butter just sitting there looking lonely...cut it up and lay it on top of it all.
Then top off with the other crust, make some vents with a knife.
I don't crimp the edges, I just tuck everything in like a little bed.

A sweet, appley, cinnamony bed of perfection.

Put your bed...err, pie in the oven at 400* for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
You might wanna put it on a cookie sheet covered with foil, it tends to bubble, bubble toil and trouble.
Cool to room temperature before serving with vanilla iiiiiiiiice cream.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Musings on a Horror Flick



So, the end of Halloween H20 is on one of the cable channels, FX, I think?
It got me wondering...so, this supposed to be like 20 years after the first murdering spree? How does this guy spend his non-killing time?

Like, what was he doing the last 20-odd years?
I mean, he's had to have money to eat, buy new hockey masks, shop on Amazon, etc.
Look at him, its not like this chap could blend into a crowd or anything.

How does he handle this plight?
Yes, even psychopathic serial killers have plights.
Not that Im going to start a charity or anything, but you know what I mean.

So, what does he do for a day job?...cuz, I can't see him asking, "You want fries with that?" whilst scratching his bum behind the counter with
a rusty machete.

Maybe he's "Chuck" from AT&T customer service.

_________________

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ending the Debate: Oil Pastry vs. Cold Butter Pastry



Oil in your pastry? Are you kidding me?! No thanks...
That was my first response when I read a very old recipe for pie crust using Wesson oil.
But, after exhaustive research and my forever questings for sublime noshings...I figured I owed it to myself and my readers to at least give it a try.

The experiment:

Part 1:
I made a batch of butter/shortening pie crust in the traditional way.
Cutting the fats into the flour, sugar and salt with a pastry blender and lightly mixing in ice cold water and lemon juice until the dough was just wet enough to hold together when I pinched it, but not too wet...too wet and you'll get rubber.
The dough was then gently pressed together and wrapped up in plastic wrap and chilled.
This is the chilled dough. See the blessed little bits of butter?
...*sigh...


Here is the recipe I used, and have used for quite a while, its very good.

~11 1/4 ounces flour
~1 T. sugar
~1 t. salt
~1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
~1/4 c. vegetable shortening
~2 t. lemon juice
~3 oz. cold water, approx. add 1 T. at a time

We had some apples from the local orchard, so apple pie it is!


Part 2:
...the oil pastry.
excuse me, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Mix this up right before you use it, no chilling necessary.
This isn't that old recipe I mentioned before...this is my rendition.
I just couldn't make pastry without butter, so I improvised.

~2 c. flour
~1 t. salt
~1 t. sugar

mix these dry ingredients up and add:

~4 T. butter, melted
~1/4 c. oil, use a light one like canola
~1 t. vinegar
~5 T. cold water or low-fat milk (you may or may not need all of this, I think I had a tablespoon left over. The dough came together just fine and I felt it didn't need it.)

Yep, its that easy. Like a cookie dough.
Pfft...
I did roll it out a titch thinner than normal pie crust.
If you find it a pain to roll out, spray some non-stick spray on two sheets of wax paper and roll it between those. Then, all you have to do is peel off the top piece of paper, invert the crust, center it and place it while attached to the other piece of wax paper then peel it off. voila!


Another apple pie...made fork marks so I could remember which one is which.
I kinda suck at making pie crust pretty.


Both pies where baked at 400* for approx. 40 minutes.
These were mini pies, since I REALLY don't need two full sized pies in my kitchen.
So, for the good of mankind, I bought two pot pies so I'd have tiny pie tins.
Each held 2 apples, cut, chopped, sugared and spiced.

Here is the cold butter/shortening pie baked:


...and the melted butter/oil pastry pie baked:


Now, the final test.

The cold butter/shortening pastry pie sliced:


and the melted butter/oil pastry pie sliced:


As for the taste test, you ask?
Um...I honestly liked the oil pastry better.
It was crisp, tender and flaky.
The cold butter pastry was good, don't get me wrong. It was perfect as far as cold butter pastry goes.
But, it was not as tender, nor did it have a flake as crispy as the oil pastry.

So, after eating two pies (geez...the things I do for you people) ...my final conclusion is that oil pastry is good, great actually, especially with the melted butter substitution. So great, in fact, that I will probably never go back to the muss and fuss of cold butter pastry.
Against all odds, physics and good sense, it was excellent.
So, throw all caution to the wind, don't mind your grammy and make up a pie with my melted butter/oil pastry recipe.
I'd love to know what you all think!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Scones



Step aside Starbucks.
There's a new scone in town.

What you'll need:

~2 c. flour
~1/3 c. brown sugar, packed tightly
~2 tsp. baking powder
~1/2 tsp. salt
~1 tsp. cinnamon
~1/2 tsp. ginger powder
~1/2 tsp. nutmeg
~1 tsp. orange zest

Mix with a fork and add:

~1/2 c. unsalted butter, (1 stick) frozen and grated with a cheese grater into flour mixture.
You may work the butter in with a pastry blender, but I like the above option better.

~1/2 c. pumpkin puree
~1/2 c. heavy cream

Mix the pumpkin and cream together and pour into flour/butter mixture. Stir to moisten then dump out onto lightly floured board and knead gently a couple times.
Pat into a circle about one inch thick.
Divide into 8 sections like pie wedges and place them onto a baking sheet.

At this point, I like to put the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes to make sure the butter is cold and the gluten is relaxed.
Yes, even gluten gets stressed sometimes.

Bake at 400* for about 25 minutes till just firm and golden around the edges.
Let cool to room temperature.

Icing:

~1 c. powdered sugar
~1/2 tsp. cinnamon
~1/4 tsp. ginger powder
~2 tsp. corn syrup, I'll admit that I didn't measure this, it was more like..."squirt, squirt"
~1 tsp. vanilla
~tiny pinch of salt
~enough heavy cream, adding small amounts at a time and stirring often, to let icing reach the consistency of honey.

~1/2 c. toasted, chopped walnuts

With a large soup spoon, spoon the icing over the cooled scones and sprinkle nuts over the top.
Let the icing set a bit before putting away under some plastic wrap.
I think they are even better after they've sit a bit.

there you go!
You can thank me with flowers or better yet, money is nice too.

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