Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rustic Fruit Pies

One of my favorite things to make is Apple Pie.  Some members of my family expect one at every turn.  This is an infinitely easier and faster way to make a pie, and is very traditional in Italy.  Pasta Frolla is a common pastry to use, Bu I have my favorite pastry that I have used for years and years.  I have updated the method however.  So, Here it is.

This pie can be made with all sorts of fruit, But it should be fresh fruit.  frozen will have a lot of liquid, and that is death to this pie.  The ingredients must be dryish right up to the time it gets into the oven.
I use my old favorite pastry.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour.
3/4 cup shortening.  (Butter or butter shortening blend will work but will crisp up faster.)
1 t salt
1T sugar
1/2 cup very cold water, iced preferred.

Put half of the flour in a bowl along with the sugar and the salt.
Cut up the shortening into small cold pieces.
Drop into the flour.  pinch the fat into the flour over and over till all the shortening is coated with the flour and is completely absorbed into the fat and resembles very chunky crumbs.
add the rest of the flour and toss thoroughly with a fork till incorporated with the first mixture.
add the water a tablespoon at a time tossing as you go with the fork
When all the water is incorporated and the pastry is wanting to hold together, gather it all up, gently pat into a large oval.  place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour.

Roll out on parchment paper or floured board to the largest circle you can get or till your nerves give out.
It will be about the diameter of the 15 inch  parchment paper or just hanging over the edge.

Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet, rimmed being preferred.

Mound sliced apples, dry berries , or other sliced fruit, tossed with spices of your choice, about 2/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 T tapioca or other thickener that you are used to.

Raise the edges of the crust and fold to the center.  working around the tart till it is nearly closed up like a change purse.  A hole will be in the middle.  Any overlapping folds should not be pressed down as the doubled up pastry should have some heat get to is to cook.  Put a large piece of butter on the hole at the top.

Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with plenty of sugar or the sugar crystals usually found on muffins.

Bake at 475 for 10 minutes then reduce to 350 and bake till golden brown and the fruit is tender, and the juices are thickened. Probably 40 to50 min.  Cover with foil if it is browning too fast.

If the fruit looks dry as it cools brush delicately with melted apple or apricot jelly that has been melted.(not on the pastry.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Alternative Pizza Sauce

I have always made my pizza sauce very simply.  Pizza sauce is not pre-cooked.  It is just tomato.  In fact, if you go to Italy you may find the sauce with salt and pepper, but basically it is just plain tomato.  You can blanch whole tomatoes, peel them, cut them across on  the horizontal, squeeze out the seeds and puree the flesh.

You can use crushed tomato.

They usually just spread the sauce and sprinkle with a few basil leaves and mozzarella slices.

Sometimes, I have people who like rather sweet tomato sauce on their pizza.  Sicilian pizza is this way.  In this case I dilute a can of tomato paste  with water, after adding salt, pepper, 2 parts Oregano, 1 part Basil, garlic or garlic powder and red pepper.

After thinning, it should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

Smell the finished sauce and give it a taste before using it.
You may also just use the thinned paste, salt and pepper.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Tim Kelly's Apricot Chicken

4 chicken breasts, thighs or one cut up fryer on the bone.
8 oz red Russian dressing
I envelope dry onion soup mix
8 oz apricot preserves
 mix together and marinate the chicken one hour
Use salt and pepper only as needed.  It is a bit sweet without being overpowering.  Salt and pepper will not be necessary for most people as the onion soup is salty already.

Bake at 325 for 90 min if using the chicken on the bone
Bake at 350 for 60 min for chicken breasts or thighs

This would work nicely for pork tenderloins, pork chops or even salmon.

Tim is my nephew from my last marriage.  Working in a city facility feeding the elderly.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I Hate Fish Baked fish for those who don't like it.

I think that it is widely known in my family that I hate fish!
So, to eat it without distress, I really have to gussy it up to cover it.  I cannot say that I truly hate all fish.  I can tolerate Haddock, sometimes a little salmon.  I can tolerate most anything if it has enough hot sauce, cayenne and dry mustard.
So, Here is one way I actually like fish.
Oil a baking dish just large enough to hold the fish.

Mash one, or if adventurous, two cloves of garlic with salt to form a more liquid paste. 
Spread a little of the garlic on each fillet or steak, then drizzle olive oil over the fish in the pan.
  Garlic can really take over here, and it has little time to cook, so be careful.  For me all this is a plus!  I do this mashing because I really like the garlic, but also because the mashed garlic does not have to be cooked as long as chunks or even minced garlic.  some people can do all this by just rubbing the pan or fish with the cut end of a clove of garlic, but that is too insipid for me.  I live alone...what can I say?

  Chop a few small, very ripe tomatoes over the entire layer of fish. Salad or cherry tomatoes are perfect for this.

Sprinkle with scallions or minced onion.  Do not over do the onion. I use chopped greens from Grammie's walking(Egyptian) onions.

Chop 1/4 cup of black olives( the better the olives the better the dish, so the olive bar is great, but canned are OK) and sprinkle over the fish thickly.
Sprinkle capers(the little ones in the jar do not need to be washed, but be careful to wash large ones to remove much of the salt)  Contrary to many peoples' opinions, fish needs salt, and the mashed salted garlic and the capers are a good source, especially as the salt is often sea salt from the islands.

Sprinkle with black pepper and a few red pepper flakes and a very light sprinkle of dried oregano.

Drizzle the toppings with oil.

Cover the baking dish with foil or a cover, and bake at 400 till desired doneness...maybe half an hour.  Just check it a few times.

Uncover and serve with oiled pasta, or pasta with ROMANO cheese and black pepper.  Parmesan is too nutty flavored.
 Sicilians do use cheese with fish sometimes, but you are not making Fish Parmesan with melted cheese on top.

You can sprinkle the fish with a bit of red wine vinegar, or lemon if desired.

Pasta is often served in restaurants with just oil, with salt, with lemon or black pepper and grated cheese. Pasta con cacio e pepe is on many menus.

Tarte Tatin as I see it in France.

Make a single recipe of Pate Brisee:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 stick butter
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
3T water
Chill till the apples are cooked.

Peel core and quarter 7-8 apples.  Cortland, Granny Smith or if you like them,
Golden Delicious.
I cast iron frying pan, 10 inch a similar heavy bottomed pan will work but best not
to use something that is too thin as the apples will turn to mush if too much heat
melt 6 tablespoons of butter(real butter, probably unsalted is best)on med heat.
Add 1 cup sugar when the foam subsides but before it colors.
Cook until the sugar melts in the butter(try not to stir, but it will be OK if you
must)and continue till it turns a nice amber color.  Add extra butter if it refuses
to melt.
Arrange the quartered apples VERY tightly in the caramel in a pleasing pattern with
the nice side facing down into the pan. Shingle them in if you must.
Continue to cook the caramel and apples till the apples are tender but not soft. 
Caramel will bubble up around the apples.
NO Spices, but if you cannot live without, use some cinnamon.
As the bubbling subsides, roll out the Pate Brisee till it just overlaps the top of
the pan by 14 inch.  It does not have to be neat! Or round!
Lay the pastry over the top of the apples and press down till it makes full contact.
 Tuck the excess down around the apples into the pan edge slightly...do not fuss,
it should be a bit rustic. Do not poke holes in it.
Bake at 375 in mid oven for 30 min. 
Turn over onto a platter to unmold before the caramel has time to cool...within
three minutes or so.
Serve hot or cold.  If you have Creme Fraishe so much the better.
Does not taste like apple pie.  Fresher, more appley, so choose an apple you like
the taste of.
Do not substitute pastry type if you like to be authentic, but others will work.

You can also make this by pouring the caramel in the cups of a muffin tin, putting in a piece of apple and covering with small rounds of pastry...you will have to experiment as I have never done this, but I have eaten plenty!  Put them in paper pastry cups to serve or carry.

Whip cream with a tablespoon or more of brandy, dark rum or something of that ilk.

There is no reason not to try this with pears or peaches, apricots etc.  Just to not overcook them till they turn to mush!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Mildred Stevens Cafarella's Raisin M-m-m-Mumbles


2 1/2 cups Raisins
1/2 cup sugar
2T cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3T lemon juice

Combine and stir over low heat till thickened.

The Crumbs

3/4 cup soft margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 soda
1 1/2 cups rolled oats

mix butter and sugar, add dry ingredients.  then add oats.

Press half of the crumbs into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.
Spread the filling on the crumb base.
Pat on the rest of the crumbs.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
Cut in squares as it cools.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fondant Potato

Cut the ends off three Russet potatoes.  Cut down to remove the skin around the edges of the potato to form a cylinder with the cut ends as the ends.  Cut the cylinders in half.  you are left with three short cylinders like enormous Scallops.  Place the cylinders in vegetable oil in a cast iron Pan, flat end down.  Fry till medium golden brown.  Turn over to the opposite ends. sop up all the oil with a paper towel.  replace the oil with three tablespoons of butter.  Add fresh thyme(or dried) to the butter.  Baste briefly.  Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and baste again.  Place in 425 degree oven for about half an hour, or till tender in the middle. 
You may add more broth if they dry out completely while cooking.