Tag Archives: Martha Stewart

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

Oatober

Make that #Oatober….someone at Quaker Oats is pretty genius.

Could it be this guy??

quaker-1877

This is the first Quaker for Oats – trademarked in 1877. They’ve been working the genius marketing for a while.

And in 1891, Quaker put the first recipe on the back of the box – for Oatmeal Bread…A few years later Fannie Farmer had a Quaker Oats Bread in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Coincidence? I think not!

QUAKER OATS BREAD (1896)

Ingredients
2 cups boiling water.
1/2 cup molasses.
1/2 tablespoon salt.
1/2 yeast cake dissolved in
1/2 cup lukewarm water.
1 cup Quaker Rolled Oats.
4 3/4 cups flour.

Directions
Add boiling water to oats and let stand one hour; add molasses, salt, dissolved yeast cake, and flour; let rise, beat thoroughly, turn into buttered bread pans, let rise again, and bake.

By using one-half cup less flour, the dough is better suited for biscuits, but, being soft, is difficult to handle.

To make shaping of biscuits easy, take up mixture by spoonfuls, drop into plate of flour, and have palms of hands well covered with flour before attempting to shape.

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook
By Fannie Merritt Farmer (1896)pp.59-60.

This makes a pretty dense loaf…and pretty is the wrong word, too. But it makes great toast. Maryetta’s Oatmeal Bread is a lighter brighter oatmeal bread option.

My other oat adventure today was thanks to Martha Stewart.

martha_stewart_2011_shankbone

Martha Stewart, probably kicking herself for not coming up with Oatober.

In the September issue of Martha Stewart Living she had a tip and recipe for quick cooking steel cut oats.

mslsept2016

I eat oatmeal for breakfast pretty much every morning and have for years. I believe that oats truly brought my cholesterol levels down, down and fast, and frankly eating breakfast is pretty easy, pretty inexpensive and has far fewer side effects then most of those little pills…. not to mention more pleasant and easier to remember in the fog of morning. Oats are the base, the only choices I have to make are what to put in them. That choice I usually make at the market, and do the same breakie all week. Ah, blueberries and cinnamon! Oh, Parmesan and pepper!  Dropt egg and rooster sauce; cranberries and honey….The Gracious Pantry has some pretty inspired oatmeal toppings. Back to oats –

Steel cut out are nubbly and more textured then rolled outs.

rolled_oats

Extreme closeup of rolled oats – the roller goes over them and they get very very thin

 

bowl_of_dry_steel-cut_oats_with_full_spoon

Steel cut oats – are chopped – chunky – chewy

Steel cut oats take longer to cook and are not zippy quick or mindless in the morning. I do not want to spend my dawn’s early light time at the stove stirring porridge.There’s always a slow cooker option, but then I’d be making lots, and have to repack to re-heat…not easier.

BUT

soak them the night before, and then 5-10 minutes in the pan – easy peasy! I made enough for one – so 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt in my littlest sauce pan and pop the lid on. It sat on the stove overnight, so was there to greet me when I put the coffee on, and after the first cup I remembered why it was there….

lecreuset-pot

This look very much like my little yellow pot, which pretty much lives on top of my stove.It’s that kind of workhorse.

After the second cup, awake and ready to rejoin the world, I brought the oats and water and the pinch of salt to a boil. I then lowered the heat to a fairly active simmer and stirred it from time to time until the water was gone and it was just oaty goodness and no longer liquid. A tooth test – firm, some give, but not hard, not little pebbles. Done. Under 10 minutes, maybe 7 or 8.

Rolled oats take 5 minutes at 50% power in the microwave. The new directions on the box say 3 minutes at 100%, but this just make them pasty. Take the 2 extra minutes!

Martha eats her oatmeal with golden raisins and currants and a slash of low fat milk. Sweet and milky are not my cup of tea. I had some butter and a little cheddar cheese.

There is a really great oatmeal muffin recipe lurking in one of my cookbooks…apples or was it apple sauce? Fortunately, I have all of Oatober ahead of me to find it.

bowl_of_oatmeal_cover_art

My Bowl of Oatmeal was not a movie…and I not on speaking terms with my breakie.

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Filed under Autumn, Breakfast/Brunch, Pantry, Recipe

Sweet Dreams

Sweet dreams…

are made of these

indexCWand

whipped cream

Whipped cream – make your own. Easy peasy. It’s cream and you whip it. Whip it good.

You and I can disagree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These work really well, too, if you don’t like chocolate or don’t want to run to the store for one thing.

Graham crackers are also very good - Today is National Graham Cracker Day, too

Graham crackers are also very good – July 5th  is National Graham Cracker Day, too. Who knew?

Travel the World and the Seven Seas

Everybody’s looking for something

This month Rachael Ray tackles

ice box cakes.

ice box cake  or Zebra Cake  or Famous Wafer Cake or - it doesn't matter what you call it, it's just as goods

Ice box cake or Zebra Cake or Famous Wafer Cake or – it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s just as good.

Among other things.

RRJuly2015cover

My sister in law brought Zebra Cupcakes – Famous Chocolate Wafers sandwiched with whipped cream between and stacked into cupcake papers –  to a recent family gathering.

Finger lickin’ good.

There are a whole range of cookies and even crackers that can be creamed, as it were, and left to sit for a while so that it become neither cream nor cookies, but

DELICIOUS

This is more of a concept then a recipe.

Martha Stewart has, of course, improved all  this in the past

icebox275-0711md107295_vert

Notice that this is no mere stack of store bought cookies. These are homemade chocolate chippers with whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top. In circles. Fancy.

Did you know you can flavor whipped cream?

Use a different then vanilla extract, or a spoonful of a liquor or some spice – cinnamon, for instance  is fantastic – and for that I must thank Martha, with Everyday Food.

EverydayFoodMay 2005Every Day. Everyday Food. Whipped Cream and Cookies.

Good Things.

Speaking of Good Things……

The Oxford English Dictionary recently added the word

EARWORM

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Gingerbread. Man

A confectionery tale

Once upon a time, in a time not so very long ago, a messenger or two brought glad tidings of great joy.

“Oh, Yoo-Hoo, Oftabakin! In a village nearby The Historical Society shall soon choose the best gingerbread. Send your gingerbread as the best.”

Man, oh man, replied Oftabakin. Cakewalk.

And over the clatter of baking pans in and out of the oven, much like the clatter of hooves of twelve tiny reindeer on the roofs, Oftabakin heard ‘historical’ and ‘gingerbread’ and as these were great words, among her favorite words, she smiled with delight. For like ‘chocolate’ and ‘peanut butter’, some great words are even more great together.

So she cleaned up the kitchen and got out the historical books and the gingerbread books and made a study of historical gingerbread.

She discovered all sorts of strange and wonderful ways to spell gingerbread:

Blah blah blah

She found that honey was very common and then – like magic – sugar replaced it, only to later be replaced by molasses. Except that sugar never went completely away and in some places and cases came back stronger than ever.

That not all gingerbread had ginger in it.

Whodathunkit.

That gingerbread was pressed and rolled and cut and caked and iced and frosted and gilded, served hot and cold and could be crispy/crunchy or soft and even gooey.

The more she studied gingerbread the more fascinating it became.

And so Oftabakin made lists and notes in margins and scribbled on different colored sticky papers and stuck the papers out of the books and on the sides of the fridge, and had to re-write several of the things she wrote for she could barely read her own handwriting.

And she slept on it and dreamed sweet angel dreams.

Gingerbread angel mold - 17th century

Gingerbread angel mold – 17th century

 

She made charts and lists and other charts….and then she saw the time, and it was time to bake.

So she shopped, for she had a mighty list.

Oftabakin checked and double checked the bowls and mixers and pans, and removed boughs and boughs of holly to clear the decks.

Boughs-of-Holly-Border-Roll-12.99

Decks cleared, she commenced a-measuring and a-mixing. Stirring, folding, warming, cooling, dropping, spreading, smoothing, timing.

A-baking. A-humming. Fa la la la la la la la la.

The kitchen was alive with the fragrance of sugar and spice and everything nice and the sound of angelic harps, very Celtic it seemed, but then they would be.

Oftabakin tasted the gingerbread and the gingerbread was good.

When Oftabakin said Cakewalk, she thought that the Historical Society wanted plates of gingerbread, to judge the gingerbread and choose the best gingerbread. Like a real cakewalk.

So she went to their magical website to get an entry form and directions and to see if she needed particular plates to serve it on, and would they need a copy of the recipes, for she had decided to make FOUR gingerbreads, to demonstrate Four Hundred Years of Gingerbread History on one plate. History you could eat.

What The Historical Society wanted was….

GINGERBREAD HOUSES.

(Duh duh DUUUHHHHH)

Oftabakin was many things, and when not a-baking could be a-gardening or a-cleaning or even a-humming, but Oftabakin was not a carpenter.

Oh, sure she knew the difference between a thwart saw and a sawzall, a screwdriver and a screw, timber framing and balloon framing – although that there were no actual balloons involved in balloon framing was the source of perpetual disappointment for her and a real shortcoming for carpentry in general she thought.

So she sharpened her knives and disinfected a T-square and covered the correct sized base with tin foil and made gobs and gobs of royal icing and got a pastry bag with different tips and cutters in different shapes and candies in different colors and went to work.

Hard hats were now required in the kitchen.

This is a Martha Stewart Gingerbread House. It bears no resemblance to any house in this story.

This is a Martha Stewart Gingerbread House. It bears no resemblance to any house in this story.

The list of things that Oftabakin was not continued to grow.

Not a construction worker.

Not an engineer.

Not an ice cubes chance in you-know-where for a career in fancy pastry work, either.

gingerbread house

This is not the actual house under construction. It is a re-created facsimile….minus the royal icing and gumdrops – and it is standing up straighter…..

 

And when it was done, she took some photos of The Little House, made with 4 kinds of gingerbread. And copious amounts of royal icing. And gumdrops. With a little Gingerbread Man.

The G-Man

The G-Man

“But the lightening isn’t very good,” Oftabakin said to herself. “I can’t find the good side of this house.”

“It’s not the lighting, Toots”, said the Gingerbread Man. “It’s the House. It doesn’t have a good side. Well, it does – INSIDE…someone’s mouth

Great. Of All the Gingerbread Men in All the World, Oftabakin managed to make one who was also a Wise Guy.

But daylight was burning, delivery had to be made, so the house and the icing and the gumdrops and the mouthy G-Man were all packed up and maps came out and it was time to roll.

On the highways and byways, the roll came to a sudden stop – there was an accident ahead. “Hey, Toots,” said the G-Man, “That’s not the only accident on this road – look in this box.”

Before Oftabakin could answer, she saw a sign, a sign that had colors and shapes that spoke of the Sunrise and the Sunset, and she was drawn to it, so she pulled off the highways and closer to the sign. “What would you like?” asked the Sign, and Oftabakin told the Sign.DD drive thru

Oftabakin had a Gingerbread Coffee and it was good. Oftabakin liked her coffee with cream, and no sugar, for she was sweet enough just the way God made her. Sometimes a little sugar on the side made coffee even better. So she reached to box with the Little House and picked up the G-Man and dunked his head into the coffee.gman headless

And it was good. And he was quiet. At last and for always.

And then she went home, for she realized the gingerbread was never meant to go away, but was something she could share with her own Village.

And so she took apart the house and made plates of the four different gingerbreads and shared them.

And the Villagers said, “This is Good.”

 

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday, Perception ways

Do the Mashed Potato

mashed potatoes perfect MSliving Nov 98

When I was growing up, mashed potatoes were a regular feature of supper.
But regular, I mean several times a week.
Every week.
Every single week.
Even at a young and tender age, I knew how to make mashed potatoes. Or Smushed Potatoes. Or Smash.
You took the potato pan down cellar to where the – was it 10 or was it 20 pound? – bag of potatoes was. The bag was really heavy paper and had a little netted window in the front, and was secured by a twisted metal clip. Sometime the potatoes had sprouts, but not usually. You put potatoes in the pan to the place where the screws that held the handle on came to, that was the potato line. Then you took them upstairs and emptied the pan, and rinsed it out because potatoes are dirty.russet potato
Then the potatoes needed to be peeled with the potato peeler, and then they needed a good rinse, because potatoes are dirty because they grow under the dirt, don’t you know, and THEN they had to be cut into like size pieces so that they’d all finish cooking at the same time. Water to cover, a little salt, and then the lid goes on. All on the back burner and the heat on high. When they start to boil, the heat is turned down so that the lid rattles at just the right rattle for the potatoes a-cooking and all is right with the world way.
When the rattling has gone on long enough, time to test a potato to see if it’s down. A fork should go in easily. The whole thing gets dumped out into the colander in the sink. A good size piece of margarine (we really didn’t use that much butter – it was oleo. Nana used butter, so we had butter when Nana visited or when we went to her house, otherwise margarine) went into the pan, the hot potatoes in after, and then the masher came out.
And while the masher was mashing, a little milk, and then a little more milk. Because it was the olden days, milk was just plain old milk – no 1% or 2 % or fat-free or even whole – milk was milk and the milkman brought it.
Salt and pepper, maybe a little more milk and when it was just right, swooshed into the serving bowl, graced with a serving spoon, the pan lid placed on top to keep it warm and on the table it went.

MashedPotatoes
Except the parts where it was too heavy for me to lift with both potato and water in the pan, and I couldn’t reach the knobs to actually turn on the stove, and I’d have had to stand on a chair to reach into the pan with the masher, which was too dangerous and so it was not done, I had totally mastered the art of mashed potatoes when I was 7 ½ .

By the time I was  10, I was totally bored with mashed potatoes. I would hang out as they were cooking to pull a few pieces out of the colander so I could have plain boiled potatoes with salt and pepper.

How many mashed potatoes I felt had eaten by the time I was 8. Please remember, I'm only half Irish.

How many mashed potatoes I felt had eaten by the time I was 8. Please remember, I’m only half Irish.

Fast forward to when my son was 6 and he wanted mashed potatoes, because I had never made them for him. I realized that I only knew how to  make mash for a crowd, and 2 was not a crowd.And then my potatoes kept coming out pasty, not mashed….what to do? Where to turn?

Why Martha Stewart, of course.

She called them

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

of course. But they are very good directions for very good mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4-6 or 2, when one is a growing boy.

2# Russet, Yukon Gold or long white potatoes

1 Tbl salt

1 cup milk (or cream or a mix)

4 Tbl butter

¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Peel, rinse and cut potatoes into 1 ½ inch thick slices
  2. Cover with cold water in a pan, add salt. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Keep potatoes at a simmer until a knife slips in and out easily.
  4. Drain potatoes in a colander.
  5. Heat milk in another, small, saucepan.
  6. Mash until lumps have disappeared.
  7. Stir with a wooden spoon for one minute.
  8. Incorporate butter.
  9. Drizzle in hot milk, mixing and whisking.
  10. Add seasonings, continue whisking.
  11. Serve immediately.

Martha Stewart Living November 1998.p.96.

MSLiNov98

Finally – potatoes that come out smushed and not wallpaper paste!

 

And as for Doing the Mashed Potato  

dances-the-mashed-potato 1965

Dancing with Dick Blake

I didn’t realize that Nat Kendrick and the Swans was really James Brown.

A young James Brown. Who knew?James BrownOne last note – I managed to misspell potato almost every single time it appeared in this post. Thank you spellchecker!

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Filed under Eating, Recipe, The 1960"s

Smoke and Ginger

Smoke and Ginger would be a great name for a Rock Band,or a cocktail….. it’s also the taste of the change of season.

The Days are still somewhat Summerish, but some of the Nights are downright Autumnal…..it’s interesting that as the traditional burning of leaves has been curtailed as environmentally unfriendly, the number of fire pits that people gather around has grown – is there less smoke now or is woodsmoke better then leaf smoke? There’s government money to spent on that study somewhere.

Anyhow, the taste of smoke to me always speaks more to the cooling weather then the heat of summer. It makes no logical sense; many more summer meals cooked over fire, but was that really fire taste or lighter fluid/charcoal briquette taste?
Could it be that I started at the Plant in September and wood smoke became the flavor of the season?
Could it be the many years of Charcoal Burn at work that has shaped my perception that smoke is autumnal?

Making charcoal - you thought it made itself? It takes a lot of smoke to make wood become charcoal

Making charcoal – you thought it made itself? It takes a lot of smoke to make wood become charcoal Photo by Sally Rothemich

 

Jack and Ginger, jack-whiskey-ginger-alenot to be confused with Fred and Ginger,

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Flying Down To Rio

 Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Flying Down To Rio

….in terms of zingy names a Gin and Ginger would be a natural, which is also evidently called a Ginger Rogers, not the dancer sort, just to make he whole thing a little confusing
Liquid smoke is made from actual smoke….I just try to work this factoid into all sorts of conversations
But, here in real time, Norah brought in pears, pears from her Sainted Smudder’s pear tree. A 5 gallon pail of pears, with a note to take them. So I ate one. It was small, so I ate another. I put a few aside for lunch, but I’m not a greedy gobble guts. I ate one at lunch with my salad and other with some blue cheese. There were still some that need a home, so I took a few home to make Pear and Ginger Soup … but the next thing I knew there weren’t any left…they just disappeared like magic . They were fragrant and soft and juicy…all the good pear things.
If any had survived I would have made the soup. The beauty of this soup is that it is a great improver of pears. Now if you have a Farm Stand or a Farmer’s Market or a Tree, and you have lovely pears, they really need no improvement. The real challenge is to let their simple beauty shine though. BUT if you’re buying pears through the supermarket, chances are you’re getting pears that are tough enough to stand up to some pretty rough handling. In short, pears that could use a little improvement.

Pear Ginger Soup

6 ripe pears, peeled and cored

3 ½ cups water

¼ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 2/3 inch thick slice fresh ginger

Powdered ginger to taste

  1. Combine the water, sugar and vanilla bean, cinnamon stick. Sliced ginger and cloves in a pan. When it comes to a gentle boil, add the peeled and cored pear bits and poach them 30-40 minutes until they are soft.
  2. Drain and reserve the liquid. Remove the vanilla bean, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. Puree the pears and the ginger slice in a food processor or blender. Pour back into the pan.
  4. Add 2 cups of the poaching liquid or enough to make a soup consistency.
  5. Heat over medium heat. Sprinkle with powdered ginger and serve.

Serves 4

Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook. Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1983 (1994) p. 140.

MS Quick Cook

Smoked Turkey and Stilton Sandwiches

What? You need more direction that this? Smoked Turkey. Stilton Cheese. You can buy both of these things sliced at the deli counter. Mustard is good. A little lettuce or watercress is not amiss. Sprouts – not to overwhelm but to give a little green with the rich also works. Arugula? Easier to get then watercress these days and just as good. Now you see it.

I always cut this sandwich into 4 triangles, and turn them out like butterfly wings. I don’t know why, I just do. Some sandwiches aren’t meant to be eaten in rectangular form.

 Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook. p. 141.

pear, singleAlexander_Lucas_

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Filed under 1990's, Influencers, Summer

Making a hash of it

RED FLANNEL HASH with DROPPED EGGS

It’s the addition of beets that makes this red flannel – If you think beets taste more like dirt then ‘earthy’   leave them out and you’ll have basic/regular/plain old fashioned hash.

It's the red of the beets that makes it red flannel hash - without them it's merely hash... as if hash were mere,

It’s the red of the beets that makes it red flannel hash – without them it’s merely hash… as if hash were mere,

Hash means to chop (think: hatchet) and you can do this with a knife or in small batches in a food processor – leave bits, don’t make it into a mousse –  but we used the hand crank food grinder at its coarsest setting.  You want range of sizes in the various bits to create texture and interest.

Manual Home Meat Grinder - some things never change

Manual Home Meat Grinder – some things never change

If you use a non-stick pan, you won’t get a crusty bottom. This is a case where you want a crusty bottom.

 

1 pound cold cooked corned beef cut into small pieces

1 pound cold boiled potatoes, rough chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Butter (or bacon grease if you’ve got it)

4 eggs

2 cooked beets, peeled and diced. (Open a can of beets, drain and take out 2 to use here; put the rest of the beets in a bowl, slice them. Add a spoonful of sugar and cover with cider vinegar. Serve these quick pickled beets with the hash.)

  1. Mix the meat with the roots.

  2. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Melt the fat in the pan, and when it is foaming, add the hash.

  4. Spread evenly across the pan.

  5. Cook on low heat, pressing down with a spoon or spatula for about 10 minutes. A crust should be beginning to form.

  6. Use the spoon to make 4 indentation in the hash.

  7. Break an egg into each indention.

  8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  9. Cover the pan and cook another 5-10 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. (I like mine essentially hard boiled without the shell, but with hash, runny works, too.)

  10. On a good day, you can slip the whole thing from the pan, cut into four wedges….or you can scoop about with a serving spoon, making sure to get some of the crusty bit that are holding the whole thing to the pan at exactly the moment you want it on your plate and do the same, looking  more rustic/less Martha Stewart

mk_hash_banner

If you’re craving hash, but used all your corned beef for sandwiches, there’s always the can.

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Irish Breads

There’s more than one way to loaf around in Ireland…..

Soda breads

White and Brown

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread in farls - a griddle cake

White Soda Bread in farls – a griddle cake

Oatcakes

Irish Oatcakes (they're not just in Scotland or Wales)

Irish Oatcakes (they’re not just in Scotland or Wales)

Blaa

Waterford Blaa - in the Irish Food Guide

Waterford Blaa – in the Irish Food Guide

and Cakes.

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but really it's tea cake, even if it shows up in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say bread - it's cake

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but it is really not bread, even if it shows up by that name  in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say it’s bread – it’s cake.

Most of what will be passing for Irish bread this week is actually cake – tea cake and seedy cake. If it has sugar, butter, seeds or raisins in it – it’s a cake and not a bread. It’s delicious and delightful, please enjoy,  allowing  me my Marie Antoinette moment by letting you all eat cake, but bread is bread and all that added stuff is cake.

Oatcakes have morphed into a kind of biscuit – or cookie – for the most part and are probably the most traditional bread of Ireland, although not the most famous. Oats and griddle baking go back to the medieval period when Ireland was saving civilization for the world. Don’t believe me? Read Thomas Cahill.    How_the_Irish_Saved_Civilization

Blaa is a sort of yeasted white bread roll, perhaps named from the Norman ‘blanc’ when they stopped in to conquer  Ireland. Recently it was a headline in a New York Time travel article, Dining in Dublin from Boxty to Blaa ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/travel/dining-in-dublin-from-boxty-to-blaa.html?_r=0 ) which includes  In November, I spent a week in Dublin eating my way through some of these restaurants, most of which opened in the last few years. It was my fourth visit to this stately city of Georgian townhouses and lively pubs, and I’ve never eaten better.”  a sentence I hope to make my own some day.

Soda Bread is the kind of bread that screams “Irish Bread” in the month of March around here. It is a bread that is leavened with baking soda and not yeast. Commonly referred to as “quick bread” they go together quickly – no rising time – and are ready as soon as they come out of the oven. Many of them are best warm….and are improved the next day by toasting, because they do stale up almost as quickly as they cook.

Because milk is an important part of the Irish diet – it’s called the Emerald Isle because of all the grass that grows there, which I great fodder for cows, so the butter and beef of the country is not a cliché, but an important part of the culinary landscape for centuries – Soda bread is often made with sour milk or butter milk. The slight acidity level of this liquid actually makes the soda work better.

The classic Soda Bread is a pound of flour and a pint of sour milk, a spoonful of soda and a little salt. Mix together, form into a rough ball, slash a cross into the top to allow the steam to escape the middle so it bakes all the way inside OR to divide it into quarters, or farls, for griddle baking.  The cross  has no religious significance, or if it does I’d like to see a reference from someone who isn’t a detractor about the superstitious Irish. But in typical Irish fashion, we accept the venom of our detractors into as compliments. thus confusing them, and then start to believe our own press. Sigh.

And now for a recipe that isn’t particularly Irish in it’s origins, but turns out a really nice loaf in American kitchens.

Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour (four cups of flour is roughly a pound – measure it by weight if you have a scale…..)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double acting baking powder

1 ½ -2 cups buttermilk (2 cups is a pint, and a pint’s a pound the world around….)

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Make sure there are no lumps in the soda, it’ll leave dark patches in the bread. I toss it into a bowl and use a whisk to combine everything.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough.
  3. Knead it until it comes together, maybe for a minute or two. It should be firm, velvety and able to hold it’s shape.
  4.  Form into a round loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet (or on a silpat on the cookie sheet). IF the dough is a little slack and starts to schlump on the sheet, butter a 8-inch cake pan or casserole dish and bake in that to give the bread it’s form. (How do I know this? You know how I know this)
  5.    OR in a genius move from the current Martha Stewart Living Good Thing: form the dough into 16 equal pieces and place on a lined cookie sheet – YES – Irish Bread in Individual Loaf Form!!!! I’m planning to freeze it at this point, and then making as much bread as I need at any given moment. (Marthastewart.com/soda-bread http://www.marthastewart.com/1055131/pull-apart-soda-bread)Or divide into farls and bake on a griddle and let me know how it works for you.
  6.    Bake in a 375° oven for 35-40 minutes. The loaf will be brown and have a hollow sound when rapped with your knuckles. 
  7.   James Beard let the loaf cool before slicing….let it cool at least a little, it makes it easier to slice. Slather with butter…maybe some marmalade….with bread like this who needs cake?

From James Beard. Beard On Bread. Alfred A. Knopf. 1973. pp.164-5

James Beard

James Beard

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Filed under Bread, Holiday, Irish