Tag Archives: Alton Brown

Red Light Green Light

There are TWELVE days of Christmas – all of you ever so eager to put those lights UP in November, don’t be in such a hurry to take them down – keep ‘em around at least until the 6th of January, the Feast of the Epiphany. That’s the day the Three Wise Guys, um, I mean Wise Men, finally get to the party. And let’s face it – January could use some low key good times, not to mention a little more light.

As for the red light….

Beets.

beetroot

Can’t beat them, so just enjoy them.

Last summer I used fresh tomatoes in salads and uncooked sauce for pasta. Once I found one recipe for uncooked tomato sauce, it seems as if there were thousands.

Or at least several.

Lidia!

lidia_bastianich_2014

Lidia Bastianich

Marian Morash!

vgcb

 

Total stranger from somewhere else!!

Newspapers and magazines…..

So when I got a new Italian cookbook (much of the Italian being American chefs in Italian restaurants…and the Italian cooking was restaurant cooking too.)

italian_intermezzo

 

AND

It came with music. To cook and dine with Italian music. The music was the deal-breaker.

As I was listening to Ciribiribin

– not to be confused with Chili Bean

 

I found yet another variation on the uncooked tomato sauce, but this one had a twist.

The variation called for beets.

RED LIGHT

That were cooked. For 1 1/2 hours.

Which is very different from uncooked. Or tomatoes.

So I really don’t know how this qualifies as a variation and not a whole new recipes.

BUT

I had beets….

GREEN LIGHT

So I scrubbed them, tossed them with a little olive oil and roasted them in a 350 oven for 90 or so minutes until they were tender.

I took them out of the oven and put some water on for the pasta…..

Alton Brown has embraced the cold water method for cooking pasta….

abeverydaycook

 

Cold water pasta is another post.

Anyhow,

While the pasta cooked

farfalle_pasta

Farfalle – butterflies!

I peeled the beets and cut them into a dice. Tossed with some olive oil wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Also some minced parsley and a little rosemary.

Added with the now cooked pasta and some ricotta, a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water. Stir, taste, adjust, EAT.

It was pink…..and it was good.

It was NOTHING like the uncooked tomato sauce.

But it was delicious.

It was also good re-heated the next day.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Dinner, Italian, Recipe, winter

Stations of the Crust

A walk through the making of a pie.

Pastry Station

The beginning  and the end of pie…the crust, the dough, the very pie-ness of pie. Contrary to all sorts of nonsense, pie dough is easy. Easy as Pie.

Three ingredients – flour, fat, liquid. Infinite variations.Change the flour, change the liquid, change the fat…The basic of basic: a 3:2:1: ration of  flour:butter :water. In Ratio (Michael Ruhlman precise by weight measurements; or in more eyeballing, not quite so scientific throw together school (mine) :  2  1/2 cups flour, 2 sticks butter, 1/4-1/2 cups water. You might also want a teaspoon of salt (not quite so necessary if you’re using salted butter) and perhaps a spoonful of sugar, but if  you don’t know if you need sugar, DON’T PANIC, don’t fret – leave it out and after you eat this pie, know more, know better for the next pie.

Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it in, letting some of the pieces remain the size of pease.Sprinkle the 1/4  water on top, stir it together until it comes together in a ball. Add a little more water if it’s still too crumbly. Don’t over-mix – you don’t want to wake up and excite the gluten. When it holds together, divide in half and make into 2 disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour, or even a full day. This waiting time lets the water molecules mix with the flour molecule and all be evenly hydrated. These 2 disks are enough for a top and bottom crust.

This is the outer gold of the pie.

pie_crust

Apple Station

5-10 apples, depending on their size, how high a pie you want to make and how patient you are with peeling and coring and slicing.If you don’t like slices,you can chop the apples….but in the end you want them to fit on a fork with some crust and then fit into your mouth. Or roses….you can make roses from apples instead of slices or chunks….

MA101146_WHOLETART01

Martha Stewart Living Feb 2005 – there are YouTube videos galore about this, too.

Any apple can make an apple pie – what are you looking for in a pie? Old Farmer’s Almanac has an Apple GuideApple Guide if you don’t want to trust your own taste.You can also mix apples…really, it’s your pie.You can mix otehr fruit in, too, but then it isn’t an apple pie, it’s and apple and____pie. Apple make good company. Cranberries. Squash slices. Pears. Onions (caramelize them first). Sweet Potatoes. Regular Potatoes. Bacon. Cheddar Cheese. Etc.

Spice Station

Sugar and spice  and everything nice…

Sugar – white or brown? A little to enhance the other flavors or is it a flavor in an of itself? Maple sugar? Maple syrup will make it drippy….

Cinnamon – a little or a lot? Ginger? Nutmeg? Let your nose lead you…

Lemon juice is often added to keep the slices from browning – News alert : Cooking the apple is ALSO going to brown them, so add the sugar, add the spice and add the lemon juice if you like the taste.Or add a little of another juice. Apple juice/cider is good. Lemon juice is  very 20th century flavor in apple pie; a spoonful of lemon liquor would work, too. Grated orange peel is another option.  Caraway, dill seed or fennel seed add nice flavor. A spoonful of rosewater or orange flower water. Cinnamon and rum…lead with your nose!

barbieri_paolo_antonio_-_the_spice_shop_-_1637

Paolo Antonio Barbieri. The Spice Shop – 1637

Rolling Station

Now the component pieces start to come together as a whole. Before you gather together the pie pan, the rolling pin, the dough and the filling, there’s another decision – Is this pie to be bakes now, or is it to be assembled and frozen to be baked later? If you want to bake the pie now – turn on the oven to 425°F. If later – get rolling!

Sprinkle a little flour on a clean flat surface. Unwrap one disk of dough. With a rolling pin

rollingpin_japanese

One kind of rolling pin

 

roll one disk into a circle about 2 inches wider around then your pie pan. There are lots of rolling out videos and magazine hints. In the last few months both Christopher Kimball in his new magazine Milk Street has a new no-shrink dough

and – just about everyone else has a pie rolling video out. Apple Pie alone could entertain you on the internet for weeks on end…..

Roll out one disk, put it on the pie plate.

Roll out the other disk.

Put the Apple in the bottom crust. Dot with butter. Maybe sprinkle with sugar.

Put the top crust on.

Almost pie.

julia6

The other kind of rolling pin

Crimping Station

In pie, crimping is good. It holds everything together.It can be pretty, too. Remember that that oven is heating up, and the longer the filling sits in unbaked crust, the soggier your bottom will be. And a little venting in the top. Even a pie has to let off some steam.

 

Baking Station

Now is the time to pass this pan, with apples and butter and flour  through heat, where it will be transformed. It’s not really pie until it comes out of the hot oven.

Start at 425°. After 10 or 15 minutes take a peak – is it browning up? Is it smelling good. A good pie crust is golden brown, not pasty palely white. Let it cook! Turn it down to 375° when you see color on the pastry, and let it continue baking until juices are bubbling.Let the fruit cook, too. 30-45 minutes – don’t rush it.

Cooling Station

If you REALLY want to eat pie hot – even though pie is not at all it’s best then – use spoons and dish it up like like a baked pudding. Forget all pretense of slices.

As it cools, contemplate – whipped cream, ice cream, cheddar cheese?

pie-science2

 

Henry Ward Beecher on Apple Pie

[B]lessed be the unknown person who invented the apple-pie! Did I know where the grave of that person was, methinks I would make a devout pilgrimage thither, and rear a monument over it that should mark the spot to the latest generations. Of all pies, of every name, the apple-pie is easily the first and chief.

Apple-Pie should be eaten while it is yet florescent, white or creamy yellow, with the merest drip of candied juice along the edges (as if the flavor were so good to itself that its own lips watered!), of a mild and modest warmth; the sugar suggesting jelly, yet not jellied; the morsels of apple neither dissolved, nor yet in original substance, but hanging, as it were, in a trance between the spirit and the flesh of applehood.

Not that apple is no longer apple! It, too, is transformed; and the final pie, though born of apple, sugar, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon, is unlike none of these, but the ideal of them all, refined, purified, and by fire fixed in blissful perfection.

Enjoy!

 

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Filed under Autumn, Pie

Susie’s Brownies

Susie loves to bake and she bakes great cakes. Susie makes some pretty awesome brownies, too, and since her sons are grown and live away, she doesn’t bake as often as she used to. Often when she does bake, she brings in plates of things to share with all of us at work because otherwise it’s too much. We do not object.

Susie makes a mint chocolate brownie that is simply divine – fudgy, rich and just a hint, a whiff of mint. So often mint overpowers the party, but not on this plate.

Susie has been making brownies with the Ghirardelli’s sweet ground cocoa.

Ghiradelli sweet ground cocoa

She also adds chocolate chips and Andes crème de menthe baking bits to thoroughly gild this lily. The Andes bits are fairly fantastic because they’re not too mint, encased as they are in chocolate.

Andes creme de menthe chips

The recipe is on the back of the Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa bag. Susie left me a bag full of ingredients (talk about your Merry Christmas) with a note that said she didn’t use the baking soda.

I started getting ready:

Oven to 350° (open it and make a quick check that nothing besides the racks are lurking there….)

2 eggs; ¼ cup sugar; 1 tsp vanilla;

½ cup butter

……and it needs to be melted – this is a job for the new mini-saucepan! Don’t throw that butter wrapper away – use it to grease the pan [I have a baggie in the freezer for saving butter wrappers].

¾ cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Cocoa (note: this is on the bag, too:Unsweetened Cocoa Substitution: For each ½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa, use 1 cup of Sweet Ground Cocoa and decrease the amount of sugar the recipe calls for by ½ cup.” In short, the Sweet Ground stuff is equal amounts of cocoa and sugar, adjust accordingly.

2/3 cup unsifted flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder*

(*When Susie left me a note that she said doesn’t include the baking soda,  I went through and as there was no baking soda, I put the baking powder in. Later, I realized she must have meant baking powder; the brownies from the batch I put it into were still good and squidgy…you’re on your own here. I’m sure Alton Brown has a video somewhere of the difference between leavens in the brownies or not, probably called “Welcome to the Dark Side: The Brownie Apocalypse”….but I digress.)

AB

¼ tsp salt; ½ cup of walnuts, chopped; ½ cup chocolate chips and ½ cup creme de menthe bits

  • Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla, add butter.
  • Mix the cocoa, flour and salt together.
  • Add the drys to the wets, stirring well.
  • Stir in the nuts and then the chips.
  • Spread into the prepared pan.
  • Bake 20-30 minutes.
    • From bag: for extra chewy brownies, use 9” pan and longer baking time.
  • Cut into squares. Makes 16-20 brownies. Serves 2 (or more if they insist….)

Adapted from the back of the Ghirardelli’s Sweet Cocoa Powder bag, notes and technical assistance from Susie Walker.

 

PS – Alton Brown HAS covered the brownie…..

ABbrownie message

Here’s the link to his website

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Filed under Cake, Recipe