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.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Nothing Says Loving Like Something Deadly From The Oven.

I thought I had discovered something new and awful in my food today, but in researching it I found that it has been in use since the 1950s.  Interestereified soybean oil was in the cookies I just ate.  Why Oh Why don't they check out the ingredients at the store!!!??? (There has to be something wrong with an ingredient whose name has a homonym for terrified in it.)  This was in a care package sent to me from a cousin.
These oils are chemically modified versions of old familiar trans-fat oils and fats.  They do not actually fit into the same category as TRANS-FATS which are absolutely horrendous for our health.  So, they are no longer mentioned as trans-fats, but are seemingly much worse.  These will lodge themselves in Male arteries, inflame them and promote plaque adhesion.  In women, they lodge in fats of the body and so promote cancer such as in the fat of the breast.  There were a number of other issues surrounding them, but too many for me to list here.  Sooooo....just avoid them!
I hope that all of you are already looking for and avoiding labels that say Trans-fats, Saturated fats, Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated...for that matter...why not just avoid all fats, but if you cannot, go for Olive oil, Butter and mono-unsaturated fats.
Now, I really want to avoid butter....good heavens what a bad choice, but if you are making something that requires shortening, Butter is a much better overall choice. 
Here is the real kicker...these fats may not even appear on the ingredients list!

Here is a health tip to top all health tips:

Make as much of your food from scratch as possible!

Butter vs shortening

I remember the taste of rolls in big pans...wonderful...and baked goods of all kinds, made with shortening.  I guess it is made out of vegetable fat, and that has to count for something, but it is Hydrogenated...one of the great watchwords for foods to avoid. Butter on the other hand may be high in calories, and full of fat, but at least it is not hydrogenated.  If you are baking, shortening makes the baked goods much more tender, and butter tends to crisp the baked goods up a bit, sometimes unpleasantly so, but it is clearly the better choice if you must eat fat in baked goods.
Here is a compromise...I give you permission to eat butter instead of shortening....but eat much less just to please me!
Margarine too is hydrogenated and though it may work in your baked things, is not a good choice for your health.  To be fair though, you should read the label on your brand of margarine to look for the words Hydrogenated, trans-fat and saturated fat.  If they appear, you should avoid them.
Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat.  It is a good oil, as are others, but it may not be satisfactory for baking.  There are some fine recipes in the Italian repertoire for baked goods with Olive Oil, but traditional recipes do not work well with it because of the liquid state of the oil and because of the pronounced taste of the oil.
If you are Italian though, you probably enjoy the taste of Olive Oil on your bread, vegetables etc., so please try this instead of butter or margarine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Apple Tea in the Turkish Style

    2-3 average sized red apples, leave unpeeled and quarter them
    1 unpeeled orange, quartered
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 litre water
    2 cloves – whole


1.    Add all the ingredients together into a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once at boiling point, leave the ingredients to simmer and  to soften.
2.    Squeeze the remaining juice from the fruits and strain all the liquid into a jug.
3.    The tea is now ready to be served and can be sweetened with sugar cubes, as in Turkey, or honey if you prefer.

Alternatively, grind red unpeeled apples finely and spread them to dry on a hard surface, or dry in a very low oven till no longer moist, store sealed and brew like regular tea.