Friday, October 17, 2014

Apple Slab Pie

If you have made it out to any apple orchards this season (or if you are just buying big bags of apples from the grocery store) and are wondering what to do with the abundance of fall, this is a delicious and easy fall treat you can make: Apple Slab Pie. You don't have to get caught up in making a perfect looking pie crust, just take some pie dough (or good frozen puff pastry if you are feeling lazy) roll it out a little bigger than the size of a sheet pan, fill it with some of your favorite fall apples (or pears) a little sugar if you want, some spices and a few pats of butter. Bake and you are done. It makes a wonderful dessert for a crowd, and has a great fruit/crust ratio. I served this up with maple sweetened whipped cream, but greek yogurt, ice cream, or cheddar cheese are all great too. Happy Fall!

Apple Slab Pie
Some people consider a slab pie to have a top crust, and some might call this a gallette, either way, it is a rustic free-form pie and easy to make...enjoy!

Full recipe pie dough (recipe below)
10 apples (about 4 pounds) -a mix of sweet and tart apples are great
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove or cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated if you have it)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or other sweetener that you like)
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg - beaten
coarse sugar for sprinkling

  1. Make pie dough (below) and chill for one hour or over night. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 1 inch bigger than the size of your sheet pan. It shouldn't be more than 1/4 inch thick in any spots. Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Peel and slice apples into 1/2 inch wedges. Toss with spices and sugar. 
  4. Remove dough from fridge. Spread apples evenly over the crust leaving a 2 1/2 inch border all the way around the edge. Using your fingers, dot the apples with the butter.  Fold the edge of the crust over the edge of the apple filling, crimping a bit in the corners if necessary. 
  5. Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with coarse sugar (regular granulated will work fine if that is what you have).
  6. Place pan on the bottom or middle to bottom rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes in the 400° oven until dough starts to brown slightly. Turn heat down to 350, continue baking until apples are tender,  and the crust is dark golden brown about 40 minutes more. Check the bottom of the crust using a spatula if possible to see if it is browning (and not burning). If needed, move to the top rack of the oven to cook apples and not burn the bottom of the crust. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

My Favorite Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or part whole wheat flour or wheat germ)
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)
  1. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure and sift all of the dry ingredients. In a mixer, food processor or using two forks,  cut the butter into the dough until it is the size of larger peas or small grapes. Some larger sized piece of butter are good, just pinch them flat. 
  2. Add the ice water and vinegar and mix dough till combined, dough should be tacky, but not sticky. If the dough is crumbling apart, it is too dry, add a spoonful more water. Gently form the dough into a rectangle, about 1 inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour or over night longer until well chilled. Dough can be frozen and then thawed as well. 

If you have tons of apples (or pears) and want some other ideas, check out this delicious
Apple Crisp with Cider and Spiced Prunes.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pizza from the Garden

When I pass pizza dough in the Italian market or even the whole wheat ones at Trader Joe's it is often hard for me to resist. I love making my own dough, but this bag of pre-made dough makes for a super quick weeknight dinner and is so much cheaper than ordering pizza.

Pizza From the Garden
To make Pizza, put the cold dough onto a well oiled sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap. let sit in a warm area until it is very soft and has risen considerably. Press the dough out to the edges of the pan with your finger tips. Top with whatever you like and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven.

The pizza pictured is rubbed with olive oil, dotted with fresh ricotta cheese, herbs, finely chopped kale, and sliced tomatoes from the garden (big red onions and tiny sun gold cherry tomatoes) and sprinkled with some Pecorino Romano cheese.  Bake until golden on the edges, rotating pans to different racks in the oven as needed to cook the bottoms and tops evenly.

Do you make pizza at home? What else do you do with pre-made pizza dough?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The End of Summer: Meals from the Garden


First I must apologize that it has been a long while since I have written anything for my blog. I have missed it, and missed sharing food and thoughts with you all. I have been trying to create more balance and joy in my life and staying off my computer and spending more time with family and doing things like art and dance have been key to that shift. Writing and blogging about food also bring me so much joy, so now, I am getting started again so stay tuned for more posts and let me know if there is anything you are wanting to hear/learn about. 

Since it has been a while, I thought it would be nice to share what has gone in my garden all summer. As usually it is an over crowded and weedy (but productive) bunch of raised beds and a beautiful tangle of tomato plants I generally refer to as the "Tomato Forest". In spring I can never believe that the tomato plants will actually get as large as they do, and want to plant as many of them as possible. 

Mostly we eat copious amounts of salad from our garden, fresh greens, cucumbers, numerous kinds of tomatoes and herbs, but there are occasional zucchini heavy cooked recipes and many kinds of raw or cooked kale dishes like the Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta below and the Pizza from the Garden here. I hope you all have had a rejuvenating summer and gotten to eat some delicious food along the way. It is nice to be back. - Tagan

Dinner on the front stoop: in the summer our dinning table grows into a family game table/paper collection spot, and all meals take place outside. At dusk the backyard often has too many mosquitos (yes there are mosquitos in the city) so we often eat on the front stoop, dragging out big bowls of food and cold bottles of water, on occasion our cutting board makes it out there piled with fresh sliced deliciousness from the garden, making us feel rich in it's abundance. 

Sliced Tomatoes with Crispy Onions and Garlic: cook onions over medium low heat in plenty of oil and salt until light golden, add garlic cook until tender and onions are nicely browned, drizzle over fresh cut tomatoes, serve with anything.




 Pumpkinseed Pesto (below with Kale and Pasta): Finely chop or puree toasted pumpkin seeds, good olive oil and a little salt, add basil and any other greens you have (kale is good but has a strong flavor, spinach is great as it has a mild flavor and makes a bright green pesto), pulse or chop until you have a fine paste. Add either finely grated cheese (Romano is my favorite) or miso if you don't want dairy, add a little lemon zest and adjust the salt and pepper and you are done. Obviously pesto is great on pasta, but it's also great with eggs and on toast.

One last gem are the little pumpkins and gourds that volunteered themselves from our compost this year. We spread the seedlings around the garden in spring and wondered what kind of squash would appear, amazingly we got little oval pumpkins, ghost white gourds and carnival squash.

A gift from the garden, and pure joy for the family. When I look out the window onto my backyard garden I am overcome with gratitude for the food it provides and the blessing of this little piece of land in my life. 

If you have a garden or dream of one, please share your favorite foods...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pie Contest & Block Party Benefit Friday August 1st!

The 2nd Annual Pie Contest & Block Party to raise money for CitySeed's Food Stamp Double Value program! Friday August 1st  6-8pm, Orange St @ Crown St. New Haven CT!


Get your tickets HEREAdults $15, Kids $5 
All proceeds to benefit the Food Stamp Double Value on fruits and vegetables at the CitySeed farmers markets and Mobile Markets in New Haven.
Register your pie and get your FREE PIE MAKER TICKET HERE

Check out all the pie making details on the website as well as some pie recipe inspirations

Last year we had 86 pies and an amazing party with DJ Tootskee, free Ashley's Ice Cream, activities for kids and great cocktails by 116 Crown! 



See some pictures from last year's event HERE

Sound like fun? Want to help by volunteering to serve pie, ice cream or do set up? email: mastercooks@cityseed.org







And, Blueberries and Peaches will be in season, so get picking, and then baking!!!

Can't wait to see you there!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Delicious One Ingredient Ice Cream

I have a distinct memory from when I was about 12 years old of being in my neighbors third floor apartment, a large white heavy duty juicer on the counter, frozen bananas going in the top frozen and transforming into the most amazing soft serve looking ice cream out the front. I have always thought of that moment as magic, and wondered for years if my brain was tricking me, and that it wasn't really just frozen bananas and a juicer, that there must have been some other ingredient, or it was some special machine. A few years ago at the Brooklyn Flea Smorgasburg food market, I came across a tent with nothing but frozen banana treats, and I stood transfixed as my memory was played out in front of me exactly as I remembered, bananas and a juicer = banana soft serve. I bought a bowl, and the cool, silky yet almost fluffy ice cream was as delicious and thrilling as I remembered. 

Now the type of juicer you need for that is a Champion Juicer, which I do not happen to own. A quick search online will uncover lots of folks making banana ice cream with a food processor, so I tried it and it worked great. I had to keep scraping the bowl of the mixer down until the bananas melted ever so slightly and started to truly blend. What we were left with was an incredibly creamy delicious treat that we scooped into our three slightly stale ice cream cones left over from last summer....the first ice cream of this season. 

Next time around I would probably try some fun additions like cardamom, ginger or cocoa or even peanut butter....just for fun.






 One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream

3 to 6 Bananas
Food Processor
  1. Peel and slice bananas into 1 inch pieces. 
  2. Place bananas on a tray or plate to freeze in a single layer for at least 2 hours,
  3. Put frozen sliced bananas into a food processor, plus or blend until the mixture is very creamy, scraping down the sides as needed to get the mixture going round. This may take a few minutes and a lot of scraping, but it will eventually become smooth and creamy. 
  4. Scoop and eat immediately.
Variations: you can add any spices or mix-ins you like to this. A few nice combinations are: cardamom & ginger or cocoa & honey, a little liquor like Kahlua or Bailey's might even be good, although I haven't tried that yet. Below is a version we made recently: Burnt Sugar Banana Spice Ice Cream... (banana, coconut milk, burnt sugar caramel, cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg).


Do you have any favorite unusual summer treats? Please share below! 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gougéres




Before it gets too hot to turn on the oven, you might want to make these delicious treats....
Gougers are like huge savory cream puff pastries, crisp on the outside, custardy and eggy on the inside. They are made from a cooked pate choux dough which is one of those recipes french people think is difficult, but it is actually pretty simple, so don't be intimidated. This recipe does require a stand mixer, although if you are up for a workout, you could probably do it by hand.

Gourgéres are often made small, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter for an appetizer or snack, but I first came across these huge ones at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco in 2009. They were about 5 inches in diameter with crisp melted cheese adorning their tops. I went home, got the cookbook (as a gift from my wonderful mother in law) and made them, and they didn't disappoint. This batch I baked last summer and stuffed like a sandwich, inspired by an incredibly red tomato from my garden. I didn't have nearly enough cheese in the house to replicate the ones I saw at Tartine, but they were still delicious. I also made a tray of small puffs for us to munch on while we prepared lunch, as I knew we wouldn't be able to keep our hands off them.


Gourgéres with Gruyere & Thyme

Adapted from Tartine

Choux Pastry
1 1/4 c nonfat milk or water
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
5 large eggs
3/4 Cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

Topping
1 large egg
pinch salt
grated Gruyère for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or silpat.
  1. Combine, milk or water with butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Wait for the butter to melt. Turn off heat. Add flour all at once. Stir, stir, stir. Lumpy mush will become a nice smooth ball after a minute or so of stirring.
  2. Transfer dough to a stand mixer. Add paddle attachment. Add egg one by one at medium speed. Make sure to incorporate egg before adding the next. After all the eggs have been added, mixture should be thick, smooth, and shiny.
  3. Add Gruyère, pepper and thyme by hand using a rubber spatula.
  4. Using a piping bag or a scoop make 3 inch rounds of batter on a lined baking sheet spacing them at least 2 inches apart as they will puff when they bake. To make small ones, pipe or scoop 1 inch rounds onto a separate pan as the cooking time is shorter. 
  5. To make topping, whisk 1 egg with pinch of salt and brush over each pastry. Lightly sprinkle each pastry with a little cheese.
  6. Place pastries in the oven immediately and bake until they are puffed and browned...around 35-45 minutes (25-30 minutes for small ones). As soon as you remove them from the over, poke each large pastry with a toothpick a few times to release some steam to avoid them collapsing. Serve warm if possible. Or let cool completely and place in an airtight container. Recrisp the puffs at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Tartine Bakery Website Here
This recipe is from the Tartine Cookbook #1 which is an all around wonderful book.
The third cookbook Tartine Bread was released not too long ago and also has some incredible recipes.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sunday Supper Remixed w/Bryant Terry April 13th 3-5pm






































Hope you can join us for this exciting event! The talented Chef, activist and artist Bryant Terry will be with us to launch his new book AFRO-VEGAN- Farm Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed. There will be a fabulous community pot-luck, a cooking demo, music, a Feast For the Future Visioning activity and so much more. It's s chance to gather and build positive community, celebrate culture, eat, learn and be together!!! Bryant will be cooking up his Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens, and there will be lots of great dishes from community members to share. I'm planning to make Bryant Terry's Cocoa Spice Cake (probably a mini cupcake version), and maybe an Afro-Brazilian Moqueca (coconut milk stew).  The Fabulous Nadine Nelson of Global Local Gourmet will be making some Black Eyed Pea Caviar from Afro-Vegan as well.

Photo credit to Paige Green, all pix from Afro-Vegan. From top right, clockwise: Cocoa Spice Cake, Glazed Carrot Salad, Summer Kebabs with Pomegranate Peach Sauce, and Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens.
The photo above is from Bryant's Feast for the Future installation at the Chicago conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. We will be building our local Feast for the Future altar. If you are planning to attend on Sunday, you can contribute something personal that connects to your culinary history or traditions, a cooking tool, or even a blessing or wish that you are inspired to add when you arrive (all items will be returned to you at 5pm). It will be beautiful. 

New Haven area folks, if you plan to attend and would like to cook one of Bryant's recipes, I'll post one below, and you can also google many of his recipes online!

For local folks, see you Sunday!
For those of you around the country, Bryant Terry is on a book tour and may be headed your way, check out his schedule here.





From AFRO-VEGAN by, Bryant Terry
All-Green Spring Slaw: 
green cabbage, green peas, sugar snap peas, celery, pumpkin seeds, parsley, chives

Soundtrack: “Mobius Streak” by Hiatus Kaiyote (Dufrane Remix) from TAWK TAKEOUT (Tawk Tomahawk Remixed)

This dish is my modern take on classic coleslaw. The delicate flavor of the green peas and sugar snap peas make this an exceptional dish, and the crunch from the celery and pumpkin seeds is extremely satisfying. The tangy dressing is top-notch too, so reserve any extra to use on another salad.

Dressing
1/4 cup silken tofu
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Slaw
3 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/2 cup shelled peas (about 8 ounces peas in pods)
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 stalks celery, strings removed and thinly sliced diagonally (see note)
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted (see sidebar, page xx)
1/2 cup packed chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest

To make the dressing, put the tofu, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, garlic, and salt in a blender and process until somewhat mixed. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil and process until creamy. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

To make the slaw, put the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. With clean hands, massage the cabbage until soft and wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse the bowl. Put the colander in the sink, put a plate atop the cabbage, and weight it (a 28-ounce can of tomatoes works well). Let sit for 1 hour.

Rinse the cabbage under cold water, then squeeze with clean hands to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer back into the bowl and add the shelled peas, sugar snap peas, celery, and pumpkin seeds. Pour in enough dressing to lightly coat the vegetables. (start with 3 tablespoons). Toss with clean hands, then taste and add more dressing as desired (reserve any extra for another use).

To serve, with clean hands transfer the slaw into a serving bowl, leaving any juices behind. Garnish with the parsley, chives, and lime zest.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

SO EXCITED FOR SUNDAY!! 
SEE YOU AT BEULAH HEIGHTS CHURCH 782 ORCHARD ST 3-5PM!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Buttermilk Scones

This is definitely the messiest batch of scones that have ever come out of my oven, but truthfully, what does mess matter when they taste so good? Crisp sugared edges, buttery, slightly sweet interior with fragrant steam of anise and orange mixed into the batter. Scones are deceptively luxurious, as really, they are so easy to make. It's the same process as making biscuits, cutting cold butter into flour until it's broken into little pieces, adding liquid, mixing only enough to pull the dough together, cutting and baking. Once upon a time every mother, grandmother auntie and even a few uncles knew how to do this. It's a skill that has been replaced with refrigerated cardboard tubes barely containing the dough ready to burst from inside, filled with five times the number of ingredients needed, leaving the average shopper feeling there is some mystery to making a biscuit, something you can't just do at home. 

And so we are here. Like so many other culinary skills I savor, a totally basic recipe that once you make a few times, will vanquish the fear and open up a world of possibility, a food that's quick, versatile, and delicious; a gift you can whip up to treat your family and neighbors who have yet to walk behind the velvet curtain revealing the simplicity that is scones and biscuits. 

This scone recipe comes from a great cookbook from Julia Child that came out in the 90's when I was just entering the professional culinary world. It is among the early wave of photo rich cookbooks that helped to birth the realm of celebrity chefs and cookbooks of today, those books you want to pour over nearly as much as you want to eat the foods described within. Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan is a collection of recipes from great bakers across the country, and some of the base recipes, like these buttermilk scones are gems. My standby favorite additions are anise, lemon or orange zest and currants, but really you can add nearly any combination of flavors you like: citrus, dried or fresh fruits, ginger, spices or shredded coconut. You could even go savory by reducing the sugar to 1 tablespoon and adding cheese, olives or herbs. 

This batter is very wet, so flour your counter well before turning out the dough, handle the dough as little as possible, leaving the small chunks of butter to melt in the hot oven resulting in flaky pockets of rich steam and deliciousness. A simple pleasure you will now be able to enjoy more often.  






Above: unbaked scone, bits of butter layered within the dough are what make the final product so tender and flaky.


BUTTERMILK SCONES   

Recipe by Marion Cunningham 
from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (with my notes and adaptations)
3 cups all-purpose flour (part whole wheat, corn meal or oat flour is great too)
⅓ cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup)
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (approximately) buttermilk*
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest (optional)
½ stick unsalted butter, melted, for brushing (I generally use a few tablespoons of cream or 1/2 & 1/2)
¼ cup sugar, for dusting (I use turbinado sugar or  "Sugar In The Raw")


Other additions might include:
1 tablespoon anise seeds 
1/4 cup dried fruit like currants, raisins or shredded coconut
1/2 cup small or diced fresh fruits 
candied ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg or other spices

savory additions work to, just reduce sugar to 1 tablespoon and add things like cheese, fresh or dried herbs, olives, curry or other things you like. 
* If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute 1 cup of any kind of milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar or 3/4 cup milk with 1/4 orange juice.
  1. Preheat oven to 425°, and position the racks into thirds in the oven.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium size bowl. Add the cold butter and mix it with your hands until it resembles coarse cornmeal. You could also use a pastry cutter, but your hands are really the best option. (I use my electric mixer with the paddle attachment.) It's OK if there are a few bigger pieces of butter remaining because they add to the flakiness of the scones.
  3. Pour in the buttermilk and the zest and mix with a fork or rubber spatula until it is just combined. Do not be tempted to mix it until it looks pretty! The original recipe says to knead a few times, but I just scrape the dough onto a floured counter and gently pull it together. If it is too dry, you can add 1 tablespoon more milk. 
  4. Shape the dough into a long rectangle about 3 inches from front to back of counter, 1 inch high and about 18 inches left to right. Using a chefs knife or bench scraper, cut from front to back across the 3 inch length of the rectangle angling from right to left in a zig zag resulting in triangular scones.  
  5. Place the scones on a baking sheet, lined with parchment, brush them with melted butter or cream, and sprinkle with a little bit of coarse sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms are golden rotating in oven if necessary. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. 

For freezing: you can make these up until the point of cutting them into triangles. Freeze on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a air tight bag or container. To bake place scones on a baking sheet while oven is preheating. Bake following instructions above, but increasing baking time slightly (time will vary). 



Do you have a great scone or biscuit recipe? Please share!