Thursday, December 17, 2015

No-Roll Pie Crust

PHIL'S AUNT SHAYNA'S NO-ROLL PIE CRUST

Sift directly into pie pan
      1 1/2 c. flour
      1 1/2 tsp. sugar
      1 tsp. salt
In measuring cup, whip with fork
      1/2 c. oil
      2 T. cold milk
Pour liquid over flour. Stir and toss with fork (careful, it will seem like there is a lot of flour) until all the flour is dampened.

With finger tips, make an even layer on the bottom, up the sides and on the rim. Flute/pinch the rim crust with your fingers. If one place is too thick and one too thin, you can patch, but try to be even as you go.

Bake
      unfilled: 12-15 min at 425 deg. Before baking, place
           circle of parchment paper on top of crust and fill
           with pie weights or dried beans
      filled: 15 min at 400 deg, then 30 min at 350 deg.

      P.S. At the end of the 30 min., I've been turning off the
      oven but leaving the pie inside for another 30 min.-1 hour
      (because I forget to take it out or I'm taking a nap and
      tell Phil to just turn off the oven when the beeper beeps).
      The crust texture has been perfect every time. I have yet
      to see what it is like if I actually remove the pie when
      the baking time is over.

      P.P.S. Now that I've tried removing the pie on time, I
      think it is a better idea not to, especially when the fruit
      is very juicy. So whether it's accidentally or on purpose,
      leave the pie in the cooling oven to dry out a bit.

FILLING
Phil's Aunt Shayna mostly made this crust for her fabulous lemon meringue pie. But that may be more ambitious than you want. You can just make any old fruit pie using this crust. What fruit? Really, any of the usual: apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or a mixture of two or more. I tend to make apple or peach myself. Here's an R3A2 recipe from Joy of Cooking.

Joy-of recommends
     5 cups of fruit
This seems like a lot to me, but it depends, literally, on how you slice it. If you use apples or pears, peel and core them and then slice them thinly so they cook down faster. If you use peaches or other stone fruit, you don't have to peel them unless you really want to. In that case, use the boiling water trick*. Leave the sliced fruit in a bowl, and in a smaller bowl mix together the SUGAR MIXTURE:
      1/2 to 2/3 c. sugar
      1/8 tsp. salt
      1 to 1 1/2 Tb. corn starch
      1/4 tsp. cinnamon
      1/8 tsp. nutmeg
You can toss the sugar mixture with the fruit and then put everything in the unbaked crust, or you can put a layer of fruit in the crust, top with some sugar mixture, and repeat until everything is used up. Or, if you happen to have put all the fruit in the crust before making the sugar mixture, don't worry. Just pour the sugar mixture all over the fruit. It will sink in and be fine. I often sprinkle some other things on top, such as
      1/8 tsp. allspice or
      ground walnuts (ground unto flour, if I happen to have
           ground too many for Vegetarian Epicure
           Eggplant (recipe on request))

Joy-of says to add lemon juice if the fruit is dry or if you like a little lemon. (I'd squeeze on the juice from 2 wedges of a medium lemon.) Joy-of also says always to dot with butter before baking. I routinely forget to do the butter and have never noticed the lack.

Phil's Aunt Shayna, may she rest in peace, taught Cooking in a middle school in Detroit for many years - which meant that she also taught the kids math, geography, science, nutrition, civics and everything else. I don't know if she invented this recipe or found it somewhere, but it is definitely perfect for middle-schoolers. And for everyone else. It's like making mud pies.

* Boiling Water Trick for Peeling: Fill a small pot about 2/3 full of water and bring to the boil. Have a pyrex cup or bowl half-filled with ice water standing by. Throw in (one at a time) whatever it is that needs peeling (can be a tomato as well as a peach or other fruit). Do _not_ turn off the heat. Leave the thing in the pot for 30 seconds, then remove it with a slotted spoon and plop it into the ice water for about 10 seconds. Take it out and the peel should come right off without any implements. If it needs help, use the tip of a knife to start the removal process. Repeat for the rest of the things in need of peeling. Add water to the pot or the bowl if you need to. Don't worry that the boiling water gets colored by whatever it is you're trying to peel. When you're all done, toss the water - into your garden during a drought.
rjm 8/25/93; 11/13/14;12/17/15

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lemon Bars (R3A2 Version)

LEMON BARS from Totally Lemons Cookbook

THE MORNING/DAY BEFORE
Bring to room temp
     1/2 c (1 stick) butter, cut into 1T pieces
     3 eggs
See this Note if you are concerned about room temperature butter or eggs. Also, if you forget to do this step, or still prefer not to bring these things to room temperature, that's OK. But you should still pre-soften the butter by microwaving it for 30 seconds at power level 4 (medium-low).

THE DAY
Grease 8" sq. pan and preheat oven to 350.

Grate zest from 1-2 lemons to make
     1 T + at least another 1/2 tsp grated zest, divided

CRUST: In large bowl, combine
     1 1/4 c flour
     1/4 c confectioner's sugar
Add in
     1/2 tsp (or more) of that ZEST
     that BUTTER
and cut in the butter using two knives crosswise (or your fingertips) until butter is in small bits, none bigger than a pea, and mixture holds shape when pressed. This takes several minutes. Press flour mixture evenly into pan.

Bake 20 minutes. Crust should be golden along edges and may pull away from pan a bit. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325.

THE LEMON LAYER: While the crust is baking, juice
     ~2-3 lemons (the one(s) used for zest are fine for juicing)
to make 1/2 c. (I used 2 Eurekas and one Meyer. The bars were tart and delicious.)

In a large bowl, lightly whisk
     those EGGS
Then add in and whisk some more
     that LEMON JUICE
     1 T of that ZEST
The original recipe says add all the dry ingredients to the big bowl. I think it will be easier (and result in fewer or no clumps that you have to break up by pushing them against the side of the bowl with the back of the spoon), first to mix in a small bowl
     1/2 tsp baking powder
     2 T flour
and then to stir in a spoonful of the egg-lemon mixture to make a paste. Thin the paste with a little more egg-lemon and then stir the thinned paste into the egg-lemon mixture.

Pour over cooled crust. Back at 325 for 25 minutes. Original recipe says top center should be set when pressed, but it is very hot and I don't want to try pressing it, even wearing an oven mitt. The edges were a little cracked at 25 minutes, and I figured that meant it was ready.

Cool on rack. Dust top, by pushing through a tea strainer,
     ~ 1/2 tsp confectioner's sugar

Cut into ~20 bars (they say 20 squares but 20 is not a square number) and, if you have the time before serving, refrigerate to set the lemon layer and because the bars taste good cold.
rjm 1st made and typed 2015.0717-19

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CUCUMBER-YOGHURT SOUP

ROBERTA'S REVISED, REORGANIZED AND ANNOTATED
MOOSEWOOD'S CUCUMBER-YOGHURT SOUP
a good day-before recipe

I make the soup in two batches because Moosewood's amounts are too big to fit in my blender.

Prep time: Moosewood says 10-15 minutes. It took me more like 30.
Refrigeration time: A few hours or overnight.

Take out of the cupboard or fridge or tap
     HONEY
     SALT
     PEPPER (not in Moosewood but a little white pepper or, for
          contrast, black, is nice)
     2 c. YOGHURT
     2 c. WATER

Later, when ready to serve, if you like garnishing, you will need
     CHIVES or SCALLIONS

Prepare
     CUCUMBERS, (2 x) 1.5 cucumbers, about 2.5 lb total: peel, seed and chop coarsely. I slice the cucumber vertically and use an apple corer to remove the seeds. For the whole recipe, I use 3 largish cucumbers, 12-15 oz apiece, to get the 4 c total specified by Moosewood. The reason to chop is so that you can measure your cucumber by volume and so that the blender doesn't overheat during the pureeing.
     MINT LEAVES: remove tough stems and tear the leaves into blender-friendly size. Amount? I use (2 x) 1-3 leaves, depending on how big they are. The soup is quite minty if the leaves are too big. Moosewood said "several" leaves for the whole recipe.
     FRESH DILL: remove tough stems and pull apart larger sprigs to blender-friendly size. Amount? Moosewood said 1/4 tsp dill for the whole 2 x. I assume that meant dried. I prefer fresh dill. For the first batch I used 2 small sprigs. That didn't seem dilly enough. For the next batch I used 3 medium-large sprigs. The dill taste was faint but pleasant. (2 x) 3 average sprigs is probably good.
     GARLIC (optional; I omitted it): mince (2 x) 1/2 clove

To make the soup, puree in blender in TWO batches, each batch having
      2 c CUCUMBERS
      1 c YOGHURT (I use whole milk or low fat, not nonfat)
      1 c WATER
      MINT see above
      DILL see above
      HONEY 1/2 T (or a little more)
      3/4 tsp SALT (original full amount was 1 1/2 - 2 tsp)
      GARLIC (unless, like me, you omit)

Put soup into a bowl or pot with a cover. Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Serve cold, garnished (optional) with chives or scallions chopped pretty fine, maybe about 1/4 tsp per person. Very refreshing and tasty.

Makes about 8 cups. Serves 6-8.

Prints on 1 sheet at 60%.
rjm 5/24/15

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Carrot and Ginger Soup

R3A2 VERSION OF THE ANN ARBOR NEWS'S CARROT AND GINGER SOUP

Note 1: When we first moved to Ann Arbor in 1990, the Ann Arbor News regularly printed this recipe in the weekly food section (oh! the glorious days of daily local newspapers), always attributing it to the Silver Palate Cookbook. Later I bought that cookbook. It does have a recipe for carrot soup, but it is different. I have never made it because the differences make me think this one is better.

Note 2: I've made this for vegans and to go with a meat meal for people who keep kosher. The substitutions for vegan/parve are in {italics}.

      1. Prepare
2 oz ginger root, peeled and chopped
     (A2News said 1/4 c. I prefer going by weight.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
     (garlic cloves are so huge these days; 2 or even 1 giant
     one may be enough)
1 large onion (~9 oz.), cut in half and then sliced ~3/8"
Since everything gets pureed in the end, chopping affects cooking times but not ultimate quality.

      2. In Dutch oven or other large pot, melt
6T butter (A2News said unsalted but I always use salted)
     {canola oil}
     and saute for 15-20 minutes
the GINGER, GARLIC and ONIONS.

      3. Meanwhile, get ready
1.5 lbs carrots (6-7 medium/large carrots)
     A2News said chop into 1/2" pieces. I slice the fat part of
     the carrot about 3/4" and the skinny part 1 1/4" and if
     any piece looks too big, I slice it vertically.)
1 c. dry white wine
7 c. chicken stock (=4 cans Swansons)
     {vegetable stock and/or kosher chicken-style
      dried soup mix and water, 1 tsp for 1 cup. Commercial
      veg broth is bitter, so I cut the edge by using some soup
      mix or adding a bit of kosher apricot jam at the end.
}
     My own chicken stock is less salty and has more celery
      flavor than Swanson, but I don't always have any on hand.

      4. When ginger mixture is ready, add
those CARROTS, and the WINE AND STOCK
     and bring to boil. Then simmer uncovered ~45 minutes
     until carrots are fork-tender. When done, puree in blender.
I puree in batches of about 1 1/2 c. at a time, because blenders overheat and splash if they have too much liquid. I use a small coffee cup to move a mix of broth and vegetables to the blender. Once pureed, I put the pureed soup in a new pot. The soup is a gorgeous bright orange.

      5. Stir in
2 T lemon juice (~1 lemon)
1/8 tsp curry powder
     A2 News said "pinch" but I use more or less than a pinch
      (=1/8 tsp) depending on the freshness and heat of my curry
     powder.
1/8 tsp white pepper
     I think the original called for black pepper but that
     messes with the color.
salt (I use none if I use commercial stock and salted butter)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom (A2News said optional, but I say
      necessary)
{Vegan/Parve: 1-2 T kosher apricot jam if broth is from commercial vegetable stock}

6. Serve immediately -OR- If you plan to serve the soup within a few hours, leave it with cover tilted on the counter or cold burner -OR- If made a day or more before, refrigerate covered. Reheat uncovered (because covering wrecks the color) over low-medium heat starting about 15-20 minutes before time to serve.

The Ann Arbor News said that you should top each bowl with chives or parsley. I almost never do. Neither flavor seems like it would enhance this soup. My cousin John thought a dab of cranberry sauce would be better as to both flavor and color. He is probably right but I've never done it. I serve my soup unadorned. I suppose you could slice some of the carrot into 1/8" circles and contain them in a bit of cheese cloth during cooking so that you don't puree them, then float them on the soup - if they'd float - for decoration.

A2News said "Serves 6." I get 3 qts = 12 1-c servings. But even when people know that there is a huge wonderful meal to follow, they ask for seconds. The soup is that good.
rjm - first typed 11/10/99; rev 11/18/01; 10/9/09; 1/3,10/30/11; 3/14/15 for web.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Poached Pears

R3A2 DAY BEFORE COOKBOOK's
POACHED PEARS IN WINE

This is for 2 pears.  Can be multiplied.  I use 6 pears for New Year's Eve with ~30-40 guests expected and half a dozen other desserts available.

1.  Peel and slice vertically into 8 wedges (or 12 for bigger pears), removing seed part and any hard stem sections:
     2 D'Anjou pears (best if they're not totally ripe; ripe ones get
     slimy when cooked)
          Notes on other pears:
          Bartlett - too mushy
          Bosc - maybe OK
          Starkrimson - too soft

2. [Do _not_ do step 2 before step 1 because the wine boils very quickly.]  In saucepan, bring to boil
     1/4 c red wine
     1/4 c sugar
     1/2 cinnamon stick (or a whole small one)

3. Add pears, reduce heat, simmer 25 minutes covered, or until pears are soft but not falling apart.

4. Remove pears with slotted spoon. Reserve syrup.

5. [I don't always do step 5. My neighbor Delia did it and it does look nice, however. I often just serve the pears with a little unthickened syrup for color and moisture.]   A few hours (or a day) before serving, bring reserved syrup to boil stirring occasionally. Let simmer a few minutes to thicken and reduce for a glaze.

6. Arrange pears on platter and drizzle on the syrup. Refrigerate until a few hours before party. Overnight is OK. More than a day is fine if the syrup hasn't been thickened. 

first made, printout 12/31/06 (e-version lost)
1/2/11; 11/13, 12/24/14

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Apricot Bars

LIBBY'S APRICOT BARS

1.  A FEW HOURS BEFORE:  If your jam has been in the refrigerator, bring  to room temperature
      12 oz. jar of apricot jam
   Amount: Libby said 1 cup.  A 12 oz jar is much more than 1 cup.  My advice is to start with what you've got and use it as sparingly or as generously as you like.  I've made these bars with as little as 1 1/3 cup of jam and as much as almost an entire 18 oz jar.  Experiment!
   Kind:  Libby said  "cheaper is better."  I buy the supermarket's house brand.  Nobody seems to carry jam any more, only preserves. Because the pieces of fruit in preserves aren't spreadable, sometimes I pull them out beforehand. Other times I just use them as is.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 pan. 
I use glass except when I use two 8x8 vintage Wearever aluminum pans.  The advantage to using two 8" square pans is that you can serve one batch and freeze the other for another occasion.

3.  Melt and then set aside
     3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks: yes, it's a lot of butter)
I use a pyrex measuring cup and microwave for about 90 seconds at power level 5 or 6.

4.  In a big bowl, stir together
     1 1/2 c. flour
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/4 tsp salt
     1 c. brown sugar, tightly packed
     1 1/2 c. quick oatmeal
           ("NOT instant," said Libby, probably because instant
           is cut too small and will get mushy.  I once used
           old-fashioned and it was fine, although some oatmeal
           pieces were rather chewy.)

5.  Moisten dry ingredients with
     THAT BUTTER

6.  Remove about 1/4 of oatmeal mixture to a separate bowl for topping.  Press rest of mixture into baking dish.

7.  Drop by soupspoons
     THAT JAM
onto the pressed oatmeal mixture and spread jam gently with the back of the spoon to cover without breaking the pressed oatmeal.

8.  Sprinkle over top
     THAT RESERVED MIXTURE

9. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares or bars.
***
This is a great finger dessert without nuts or chocolate.   It can be stored on the counter for a few days, or in the refrigerator or freezer if you want to make it ahead.  Serve at room temperature.

Possible but untried variations:  plum jam, raspberry jam.  Use non-dairy margarine or maybe Crisco, to make vegan/ parve/lactose-free.

rjm 4/23, 5/1/01; 12/31/07; 8/23, 11/20/14
font problems fixed 5/24/15

Friday, May 23, 2014

Romaine - Nectarine - Havarti Salad

R3A2 BUSCH'S SUPERMARKET'S ROMAINE - NECTARINE - HAVARTI SALAD
When I lived in Ann Arbor, I loved the local supermarket chain, Busch's. From time to time their recipe creator would come by the store near my house with one of her latest creations. One summer featured this salad. I fell in love with it. I made it so often that summer that I became tired of it. Now I know that if I limit it to once or twice a season, it is always a big hit.
     SALAD INGREDIENTS
1 head romaine, sliced into narrow strips.
I cut the big leaves vertically into thirds, then slice them to make strips about 2" x 1/8". I usually use less than the whole head or else the result has too much lettuce.
3-4 nectarines, diced ~1/4".
I leave the skin on. If they're big, 3 is enough. When I can't find nice nectarines, I use red grapes (half a pound? a whole pound? I'll have to check next time), sliced in half, or ~2 big oranges, peeled and diced. Peaches are fine, too. I peel the peaches but I don't peel the nectarines.
1/2 lb havarti, diced ~1/4"
Busch's said "lite" but my view is that 1. when they reduce the fat (and the sugar, when there's sugar, not relevant for cheese, of course): A. the result is less favorful, and B. they add things that may be worse than fat or sugar, and 2. if you don't want to eat any fat or sugar, eat celery. Plus it is my understanding that you need some fat to digest and to extract the nutrients from raw greens. The dressing for this salad does not use much fat so you get it from the cheese.
1/3 medium red onion, diced 1/4 "
Busch's said 1/2 Vidalia onion, sliced, but I like the red color and I think matching the size of the cheese and nectarines looks nicer.
      DRESSING INGREDIENTS
  Amounts in original:
1/4 c. apricot fruit spread (I use Smucker's)
3 T cider vinegar
2 tsp walnut oil
1 tsp Tabasco
salt and pepper (utterly unnecesary with the Tabasco)
  My daughter says that this is not enough dressing so I ~double it:
     1/2 c. jam
     ~1/3 c. cider vinegar
     4 tsps walnut oil
     2 tsp Tabasco

      INSTRUCTIONS
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Or forget the whisk and put them all in a jar, cover it, and shake to blend. Add to completed salad or serve on the side.
Put the lettuce in the bowl. Sprinkle on the nectarine, cheese and onion. I do them in sort-of layers. They won't cover the surface so they're always be places where you see all three. WARNING: DO NOT TOSS. If you do, the havarti, which is heavy, ends up on the bottom. Instead, convince the diners to dig down with those salad tongs. I suppose the best thing would be to serve the salad in individual bowls and pass the dressing. Maybe next time for company, I'll do that.
rjm 2003? original lost, re-typed 5/22/06, rev 5/5,23/14