Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TWD: All American, All Delicious Apple Pie

Apple pie is just about my favorite dessert ever. Top it with some vanilla ice cream, and you'll reach Nirvana. Ok, I will. I have a couple of tried and true recipes that I make every fall. One uses a double crust, and one has an oatmeal/apple cider crust and a streusel top.

Truthfully, Dorie's recipe wasn't so far off the "traditional" recipe. It calls for apples, cinnamon, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and tapioca. The tapioca is used as a thickening agent. I didn't want to buy it just for this recipe, so I used corn starch. Worked like a charm. I'm sure that Dorie's Good for Everything Pie Crust is just that, but I refuse to use anything other than the one from Cook's Illustrated. I've had success too manytimes with it to use another.

Does anything smell as good as an apple pie baking in the oven? This one turned out lovely and delicious.

The only drawback for me was that I needed more apples. I used my deep dish pan, and the apples did a magic shrinking trick. There was quite a cavern between the crust and apples. I didn't use Granny Smith apples this time, and that could be part of the problem.

Flaky flaky crust. This one is just waiting for its best friend, vanilla ice cream.

Will this recipe drag me from my standard version? Probably not. Was a I happy to have a reason to make apple pie? Of course!

Thank you to Emily of Sandmuffin for getting more pie into my house.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coolest thing around

There is a very special day coming up. It's Dorie Greenspan's birthday! Dorie of Tuesdays With Dorie and French Fridays With Dorie. (FFWD is a cook-along with Dorie's fabulous new book, Around My French Table) To celebrate this wonderful event, some of us created a multi-course meal that we are (virtually) sharing with Dorie.

I made an appetizer from her book. While tzatsiki is not, strictly speaking, French, this wonderful Greek treat can be found at many markets in Paris. (Mind you, I'm taking her word on this. Or perhaps I need to go to Paris to find out for myself....)

Tzatsiki is very versatile. It can be used for a dip, dressing, or as a lovely snack. I often just eat it with a spoon. It's made from simple ingredients, so it's important that they be high quality. The good news is that Greek yogurt can be found at almost any supermarket these days. It comes together very easily.

My food styling is not quite up to par, but the tzatsiki is wonderful!

Happy birthday, Dorie! I hope you enjoy the tzatsiki and the rest of the meal.

Holly at Phenomenon has the whole menu. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TWD: Caramel Pumpkin Pie

This was not a recipe that called out to me. I'm not a fan of pumpkin pie. Although I've lately come to enjoy pumpkin baked treats (whoopie pies, blondies, and quick bread), I'm not a pumpkin pie girl. I skipped last week due to totally forseen circumstances (helloooo cruise to the Bahamas), and I wasn't about the skip again. That meant pumpkin pie. Or did it....

I am going to fully cop to not being organized enough to make this recipe well. First off, I didn't have heavy cream.I did have evaporated milk, which I'vesubstituted before, so I was willing to try it. I didn't fully read the recipe before I started baking, so I was in a bit of a tizzy gathering and getting ingredients ready. I also didn't want to deal with pie crust. I know. It's not hard. I make it often enough not to be afraid of it. Mostly I was lazy. And, you know, the whole "pumpkin pie" thing. I was thrilled to see another baker post an idea for pumpkin custard in ramekins. I'm in!

But back to why I needed the heavy cream. We had to make caramel. Just melted sugar caramel. That scares the bejeezus out of me.It goes from mahogany to black likethat. Plus, Dorie tells us to use a non-stick skillet. Mine has a black bottom. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to judge the color when the background is black. So I rebelled and used a regular saucepan. Rebel. It actually got to the necessary color and everything! I stirred in the butter, milk, and rum, and stirred until smooth. I was nervous because mine was pretty liquidy. But I didn't see an instruction to cook until it thickened.

I finished out the recipe, combined all the ingredients,poured the mixture into the ramekins, and hoped for the best.

I decided that a little crunch would be good, so I crumbled up some ginger cookies and sprinkled them in the bottom of the ramekins.

Here is a finished custard. Not a very appealing photo for sure.

Here's the dark inside with a hint of the Cool Whip that we ate with it. Yes. Cool Whip.

Well, I have to say that I am not a big fan. Perhaps I cooked the sugar too long and the caramel not enough. There is a bitter edge that I don't like and the rum flavor is pretty pronounced. This could all be user error. I really like the concept, and once I got going, it wasn't hard. I haven't decided if this is a keeper or not. The substitution didn't seem to effect the texture, so that was good. Ah well. There's always next week.

Thanks Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs for getting me to try something new!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

TWD: Double Apple Bundt Cake

There are so many things to love about Bundt cakes. They have a fun design that help you cut the slices nice and even. (Big pieces for me - little pieces for everyone else) They look really cool when you drizzle glaze on them. And, especially in the case of this cake, they taste wonderful. We recently went apple picking, so I've made a bunch of apple recipes in the past two weeks. I was very happy to add this to my baking list.

This was a great fall cake to make. The "double apple" idea isn't two apples (really, it was more than that for me) but apples and apple butter. It's also full of seasonal spices. Yum! This came together really easily. The original recipe called for raisins and pecans. I said no to the raisins. I only like them in oatmeal cookies or cinnamon raisin bread. I used half pecans and I subbed one of my favorite ingredients (maple flav-r-bites**) for the other half cup.

The cake was very moist and so tasty. I made it the day before I planned to serve it to let the flavors blend. A few days later, the little bit that was left tasted just as wonderful. I would absolutely make this again. Though, I would use fewer of the bites. The maple flavor almost overwhelmed the apple. Not that it was a bad thing, mind you because I love maple. But I really wanted the apple to shine through.

Not a very photogenic cake. But it is tasty!

Photogenic children, though! Also, a bit goofy. Please ignore the mess at the breakfast table.

Thank you Lynne from Honey Muffin for choosing this recipe.

** Flav-r-bites are these little nuggets bursting with either cinnamon or maple flavor. They are wheat based, so unlike chips, they don't melt. I highly recommend them!