Apple pie – with priceless tips from Anna Olson

Apple pie – with priceless tips from Anna Olson

After baking several apple pies over the years and not quite getting the one that my palate would scream on wows, I decided to try yet another recipe, after watching Anna Olson on TV this fall. I am not sure if this recipe features on her new book but it was very nice to watch the video with all her tips. You can watch it here . It was quite revealing to me to learn some new directions towards that “blue ribbon” quality!

Ingredients:
1 cup diced unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
3 tbs oil
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp lemon j uice or white vinegar

Filling:

6 cups of sliced apples of 3 different varieties*
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown packed sugar
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbs oats
egg wash (1 egg with 2 tbs water)
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling

* It seems the perfect Blue ribbon pie always has 3 varieties of apples: at least one for tartness, like honey crisp and one for body like granny smith.

Directions:

If you are baking this pie in the fall when apples are so fresh and juice, start by taking 1/2 of the sliced apples and cooking for 10 min to let all the excessive moisture out. If you end up with lots of liquid, cook it down a bit and then add the nice apple concentrate to the filling. Let it cool before adding to the uncooked apples.

For the dough, cut the butter in squares and let it sit on the counter for half an hour. I know, totally opposite of other instructions where you can’t barely touch the cold butter!

Start blending the flour with the oil (in a mixer for better control – a processor would also work but everything goes too fast) so the flour gets nicely coated, which will facilitate its mixing with butter. Add the butter mixing until you have a coarse dough, the butter doesn’t need to be fully incorporated at this point. Add the water and the lemon juice. The lemon juice will help the dough to stretch nicely later on. Roll up into 2 discs and put in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It freezes very well too.

For a vegan version using coconut oil, for example, reduce the amount to 20% and add more liquid (butter has 80% fat and coconut oil has 100% fat).

For the filling, mix all ingredients together.
At this point pre heat the oven to 400F.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit for a while before rolling it up, it is easier if it is not so hard.

Use a glass pie dish if you can which will distribute the heat more evenly when baking.
Sprinkle the oats on top of the dough before poring the filling, it will prevent excessive moisture when baking. You can also use crumbled cookies for this purpose.
Add the filling, top it up with the second dough, brush the egg wash and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. Poke a few holes to let the steam out.

Bake for 10 min at 400F and then at 375F for about 40 to 50 min until golden and bubbling.

Yes! I loved the result!

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Hot and sour mushroom and tofu soup

Hot and sour mushroom and tofu soup

For the cold days ahead of us, this soup fills all the requisites: light and filling, packed with protein from the tofu and egg that go along so well  with the 2 varieties of mushrooms. A rich broth made with chillies, ginger and garlic adds heat and a spicy oriental flare to the soup. The original recipe calls for bamboo shoots instead of my second type of mushroom. It is from Jamie Oliver and you can find it here .

Ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilly
sea salt
ground white pepper
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger peeled and diced
250 g shitake mushrooms , cleaned
250 g buttom mushroom, finely sliced
vegetable oil
3 tbs low-salt soy sauce
3 to 4 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp honey

1.5 litres hot vegetable stock
150 g firm tofu cut in 1 cm cubes
2 green onions chopped
½ bunch of chives chopped
1 large egg, beaten

Directions:

Peel the garlic and deseed the chillies, then roughly chop and place into a pestle and mortar, adding a pinch of salt. Peel, finely chop and add the ginger, combining it well.
Finely slice the buttons mushrooms and separate the threads of the shiitake mushroom.

Heat a tbs of oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the mushrooms and fry for 4 minutes, or until lightly golden. Stir in the chilli paste and mushroons and fry for a little bit.
In the mean time mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, the honey and the white pepper. Stir the mixture into the pan and cook for a minute, then pour in the hot stock and bring gently to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until slightly reduced.

Add the tofu, the spring onions and chives.
Once reduced, remove the soup from the heat. Using a chopstick, stir the soup in a clockwise direction until you get a little whirlpool, then slowly add the beaten egg, stirring continuously to form thin ribbons. Stir in the tofu and return to the heat for 1 minute to warm through. Season to taste with soy and vinegar, then serve immediately with the spring onions and chives on top.

Sweet potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce

Sweet potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce

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Gnocchi may seem difficult to make if it is your first time. But believe me, it is not! Specially if you are not feeding a big crowd, around 45 min for this recipe for 6 – 8 portions.
If you are a vegetarian that’s the entrée for any occasion, if you are not, add some grilled chicken or fish and make the gnocchi as your good and healthy carb side, as I did.

For better results with the texture, bake the sweet potatoes and then mash it, instead of boiling them.

Pure comfort, this gnocchi has a firm but light texture, with a very subtle sweetness from the sweet potato. Best part is to know that is healthy, or healthier than the gnocchi made with regular potatoes.

Sweet potato gnocchi with mushroom sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 onion thinly sliced
8 oz (225 g) care mini mushrooms thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme or basil
3 tbs fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg

For the gnocchi

2 cups puréed cooked peeled sweet potato (about 2)
1 egg
1 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Start with the gnocchi: in large bowl combine together sweet potato, egg, salt and nutmeg. Using wooden spoon, stir 2 cups of flour and slowly work your way on adding the remaining flour. The dough will be soft and sticky, pulling away from the sides of the bowl but still sticking to spoon and fingers. Resist to the temptation of adding extra flour.
On well floured surface and floured hands, roll dough into log, divide into quarters. Gently roll and shape each quarter into 3/4″ (2cm) diameter rope. Cut each rope with a sharp knife, into 1/4″ pieces. The dough is soft and the pieces will not have the same shape, but do the best you can. I really think I could have done a better job.
In a large pot boil lots of salted water. Start cooking the gnocchi ( in 2 batches or more if necessary) : gently get them in the water (do not throw them all at the same time like we do when cooking pasta), give it a stir and wait until they float. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to your pasta drainer. Wait for the water to be boiling again to cook the next batch.

In large skillet melt 2 tbs of the butter over medium heat, add onion, stirring and cooking until softened. Add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 2 min. Set aside in large bowl.
In the same pan melt remaining butter over medium heat, stirring until nutty brown. Add gnocchi, cook, tossing, around 5 min and finally add the mushroom and onion mixture, combining well.
Serve with fresh chopped parsley and a few curls of Parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

Brown rice with bacon and green onions

Brown rice with bacon and green onions

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It has been a while already that there is no more white rice for my family, which is a shame since as Brazilian, I am crazy for a fluffy, simple white rice. There are some exceptions but brown rice is the norm at our home now, with our diabetes friendly diet. It gets boring though… And I am always looking for new ways to boost the grain up.

Then I stumbled upon this Michael’s Smith recipe that brought some much needed variation on the brown rice theme. Easy and super tasty, I love the way the bacon is cooked, which I had never done before. Allow a good 50 min. to prepare it, be patient cooking the bacon and you will be very pleased with the end result. Fluffy, tasty and well cooked brown rice that goes well with any kind of meat or veggies.

It is from Michael Smith’s book, the same one I have mentioned a few times already.

Brown rice with bacon and green onions

4 to 6 slices of bacon, sliced or chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups of brown rice ( I used a mix of brown and wild rice)
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
lots of freshly ground pepper
4 or 5 green onions thinly sliced

Set a saucepan over medium high heat. Toss in the bacon, then pour just enough water to barely cover it. Bring o a simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. As the water simmers, the bacon will begin to cook. Then as the water evaporates, the bacon will render, releasing fat. Lastly, it will crisp as the fat left behind heats past the boiling point of water into the flavor zone. Keep stirring until ever piece is evenly crisped, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and rice and continue cooking until fragrant.Pour in the water and add the bay leaf. Bring it to a steady simmer and then lower the heat to a very low, slow simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, let it rest for full 10 min. and the rice will be cooked just to perfection. Resist to the temptation to skip this step, believe me, it is time well spent. Season with freshly ground pepper and sprinkled with the green onions.

Enjoy and share!

Crunchy veggie mousse salad

Crunchy veggie mousse salad

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If I start talking about how much I love this recipe I will be here forever. Maybe is because I normally make it just once a year, or maybe is the perfect combination of these fresh veggies and fruit that turns this side dish into a dinner star.
The story is that I would always make it for Christmas dinner, of course, the perfect salad type of side dish for the tropical holidays in Brazil. What happens now is that I make it sometime in December – January, which is not really important. lol
Anyway this is a dish to impress your guests that can be made (and it should) one day ahead the day you will be serving it and it doesn’t last more than 2 days in the fridge, so 4 days in total.
The gelatin brings the beautiful shape and consistency and the mayo and cream mixture enhance the crunchiness of cucumbers, carrots and celery. A touch of perfection? A few raisins, almonds and white pepper. So worth the time!

Crunchy veggie mousse salad

4 to 6 portions

1 3/4 cup finely diced celery
1 green apple peeled and finely diced
1 3/4 cup finely diced carrots (use the processor in pulse to avoid to get the carrot grated)
1 3/4 cup cucumber finely diced
1/2 cup shaved almonds
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 medium onion finely diced

1/2 cup thick cream (Carnation) or sour cream for a lighter version
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup hot water
2 tsp gelatine
1 envelope of green jello

1/2 tsp white pepper
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS wine vinegar
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt

Get a loaf pan wet and ready.
Chop and dice all veggies in a big bowl. Mix in almonds and raisins.

In a different bowl dissolve the gelatin in 1 tbs of cold water, by sprinkling it on top of the water and then add the 1/2 cup of hot water to it. Mix in the green jello envelope and stir well.

Combine the mayonnaise, cream and spices in the veggies bowl and add the gelatin mix whisking it well.
Pour the mixture (that will be liquid) in the loaf pan and put it in the fridge for one day.

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When ready to be served removed it from the pan by dipping the pan for a few seconds into a bowl with hot water. Mine didn’t turn out so well, my pan was quite heavy and I should have waited in the hot water a bit longer.

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Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

You might also like:

Light creamy chicken salad

Arugula and papaya salad with ginger dressing

Fennel salad, cauliflower slaw and green beans salad

My 2012 in pictures – Food I could eat every day

My 2012 in pictures – Food I could eat every day

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2012 was a special year for me, when I started venturing in the blog world with my food. Feeding those I love and sharing it! Learning and exploring, creating in daring new ways, making new friends and eating the food!
For me the one who cooks in the house works a chemistry that has the ability to bring the family together. By being generous in the kitchen we teach our kids precious lessons about feasting in an abundance together, sharing our loaf, humble or scrumptious.
We teach the balance about planning life and then living in the moment, chopping and keeping it whole, kneading hard and tossing gently, squeezing, but then letting it go.

I put together 12 recipes of foods that I could eat every day. Literally, some of them are not healthy, some of them are very much so, but all of them are a true nourishment of senses for me and I had lots of fun preparing them and posting it.

Starting from the top left:

Chicken pot pie with a puffy crust

Parmesan oven baked tilapia

Tabbouleh crunchy salad

Festive quinoa salad with cranberry and apricot salad

Chocolate crackle cookies

Zuccini and orange loaf – healthy and carb conscious

Avocado healthy dessert

Cream of papaya dessert

Tomato soup my grandpa style

Pastel – deep fry pastry with beef filling – a Brazilian treat

Healthy blueberry muffins

Delicate escarole and fruit salad

Thanks for stopping by and a happy and healthy 2013!

Delicate escarole & fruit salad : Weekly photo challenge post

Delicate escarole & fruit salad : Weekly photo challenge post

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I love the word “delicate”. I think it applies to almost anything that is nice, pretty and grand in life. It adds the exact texture to uncontrolled emotions, surprising events and violent tragedies. In these last decades when being aggressive and competitive has become the “raison d’être” in western society, delicacy might be an alternative path that will eventually and certainly lead to any goal we have in life. Yes, I am thinking of the horrible shooting in Newtown… Where a mother not only buys guns for protection (in one of the safest towns in the country) but also is ok with her sons enrolling in shooting classes…

I loved this WordPress photo challenge this week which has inspired me to post this recipe for my delicate salad, created specially for the purpose. Thanks for the inspiration!

In these weeks before Christmas, when rich food is one of the main excuses for the holidays get together, a simple, fresh and easy salad is the best way to balance out the endless indulging we dive in.
This delicate salad will do this job for you along with some much needed detoxing. Escarole is a green leaf that has a twist of bitterness, yet mild and gentle, specially if you don’t use the dark green part of the leaves. The white balsamic dressing brought to this salad a perfect combination of sweet and tangy, without any overwhelming ….Then I added my ultimate favorite dry figs, fresh papaya and cantaloupe. It made a great side for our fish dinner today, along with some cold white wine and some candles on the table to light the senses in a serene feast of flavors.

Delicate escarole & fruit salad

1 escarole head washed and dry, roughly chopped (discard the dark green leaves if you wish)
1/4 cup dry figs thinly sliced
3/4 cup papaya chunks (or small balls if you have the time)
1/2 cup cantaloupe chunks or small balls

White balsamic dressing
4 or 5 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
3 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp mixed salad herbs ( or dry parsley)

In a small bowl combine all the dressing ingredients and set aside.
In large salad bowl mix escarole, figs, papaya and cantaloupe.
When ready to serve, add the dressing to the salad, mixing well.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

You might also like:

Festive quinoa, cranberry and apricot salad

Tabbouleh salad

Quinoa Caprise salad to go

Avocado, quinoa, almond and white light cheese salad

Light creamy chicken salad

Arugula and papaya salad with ginger dressing

Fennel salad, cauliflower slaw and green beans salad