Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pies with a Rye Crust

I'm back in the game people. My photography may have taken a bit of a hit, but I can still cook. Promise. It only took me six something months to get back into the blogging, just as I'm packing to move, going to Thailand and starting graduate school. This all happens in the next like month and half. Blogging is a good way for me to feel productive while I procrastinate. At a certain point I'm going to have to give in and pack up my kitchen.

I have about two weeks to pack up three years of crap. A lot of junk. I don't like to get rid of things. You just never know when you might shrink (I'm an pretty tall lady) a little bit and that dress you accidentally put in the drier might be appropriately long enough to wear again. These are the things I tell myself.

The kitchen is the easiest place for me to get rid of things. Lots of brilliant plans to clean out the pantry and liquor cabinet. Food and booze is what I am good at. And you can consume it and easily replace it again, unlike your dress that you can no longer even sit down in with out showing the world your business.

Today I decided I'm going to have a I'm moving less than two miles down the road party. There will be lots of rice, beans and punch. I have a ridiculous amount of liquor with maybe a few shots left in it. Some sort of punch will be delicious. I'm really proud of this idea, if you couldn't tell. You're all invited.

Now onto these hand pies. These are perfect for a picnic, pie on the go or when you are out of clean dishes. These come out being not to sweet. If you aren't into desserts, you may enjoy these. If you like your pie sweet, add more sugar. You will also have a little extra filling left, but that is okay. Put it on some ice cream or just eat it. It made me very happy to do that, so I can only imagine it will do the same for you.

The addition of rye flour adds a nice earthiness to the crust. You don't have to use rye, its just a fancy twist. This crust also is pretty amazing. Everything about its texture is perfect. All sorts of flaky goodness. The crust also is not overly sweet, again add more sugar or replace the rye flour with all-purpose. You will get a more sweet and less savory-esque crust. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and hopefully I will be back with another post before September!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 cup water, cold, separated

1 pound rhubarb, diced
2 cups strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 large egg beaten with a splash of water (for the egg wash)
Granulated or turbinado sugar


  1.  In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, rye flour, sugar, salt and cardamom, pulsing to combine. Add the butter cubes to the food processor and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas. Add 1/2 cup of water; pulse the dough together until it just begins to clump together. The dough will be shaggy. Add one tablespoon at a time until it starts to come together.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and place it on a lightly floured counter. Knead the dough a few times until it comes together and shape it into a mound. Shape the disc into 2 discs and wrap them in plastic wrap; transfer them to the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour or overnight.
  3. While the dough is chilling, make the filling! To a medium saucepan, add the strawberries, corn starch, sugar, salt, cardamom and nutmeg. Over medium heat cook the mixture for 5 minutes, until the fruit has softened. Depending on your fruit, there may be a bit of liquid and this is okay.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove one of the discs of dough from the refrigerator. Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking, to a 1/8-inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut circles out. Repeat the process with the second disc of dough. You should end up with about 12 circles of dough.
  5. Spoon a small amount of the fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving about 3/4-inch space around the edges. Brush egg wash along the edges of each of the dough circles. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges to seal. Using the tines of a fork, sealing the edges. Repeat the process until all of the hand pies are made. Transfer the pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake the pies for 15-17 minutes, until the tops and edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Eat warm or room temperature.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spicy Turkey Lasagna

I just recently discovered HBO Go and Showtime Anytime. I can watch all of my favorite shows, any season, anytime I want. Obsessed. Naturally this discovery deserved a good marathon accompanied by a bottle of wine and food. Since I chose Sopranos, lasagna was the natural choice.

I'm not normally a huge fan of lasagna. There always seems to be a  unpleasantly dry and somewhat tasteless layer of ricotta, which is a big turn off. The noodles always seem to be off on their own, sliding around as you try to eat. Like the whole layered thing immediately falls apart when in hits your plate. Recently I had some lasagna at my favorite Italian place. There was none of that happening. Everything was all happily getting along, being delicious and moist.

Part of it may have been the homemade noodles and the way it was layered. The homemade noodles aren't necessary  but do make this dish. Everything else comes together really quickly, but the noodles take a little work. You'll get a good arm workout though. Can't complain about that. The noodles come out perfectly al dente. They aren't pre-cooked, cooking instead in the sauce and filling. Perfectly melded sauce and noodle situation.

If you have a pasta machine, go ahead and use that instead of a rolling pin. The difference with really be arm workout or not. The sheets also won't be as wide, but most of mine weren't anyways. Don't panic when your sheets aren't a perfect 9 x 13 rectangle. Just think rustic lasagna. Cut them up to fit appropriately.

I'm not sure what the "normal" way of layering lasagna is because I've never made it. The majority of recipes I looked at had layers of ricotta all by its lonesome. Easy solution was to not do that. It worked. No dry ricotta bits in this lasagna. Ricotta is sort of bland too, which doesn't help its situation. Mixing the ricotta with the mozzarella  Parmesan and basil, I like to think also made a big difference. All together it is a little piece of heaven.

Homemade lasagna noodles:
2 1/4 cups flour
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, eggs and salt. Pulse several times until the dough resembles medium crumbs (if the dough seems too moist, add a 1/4 cup flour).
  2. Turn out the dough onto a clean, dry, flour-dusted work surface. Gather the dough together and knead it until it comes together and is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove from fridge 5-10 minutes before rolling out, into your desired form.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 large onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon (generous) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 28-ounce and 1 14-ounce crushed tomatoes

3/4 ounce package fresh basil leaves
1 15-ounce container plus 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

  1. Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, garlic, oregano and red pepper and saute until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper.
  1. Using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in a food processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan  egg, 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.
  1. To make the lasagna noodles, divide the dough into 3 equal balls. Using a rolling pin, flatten the ball out from the center to the outer edge. Keep rolling out the dough, rotating the dough one-quarter turn as you go. Flip the dough over once or twice and be sure to lightly flour the surface to prevent sticking. Continue rolling out the dough until it reaches a 1/16-inch thick, or until it becomes transparent enough to read through.
  2. The sheets of pasta should be roughly large enough for a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, if not cut them to cover the whole area of the pan (it doesn't need to be pretty, mine wasn't).
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread 1 1/4 cups sauce in 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange one layer of noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 cups cheese filling and 1 1/4 cups sauce over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Repeat layering of sauce, filling and noodles 2 more times (3 layers of noodles). Top the final layer of sauce and filling with mozzarella and Parmesan. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.
  4. Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400F. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn

My brother and sister-in-law had there "wedding" last weekend. Really it was a vow exchange. There is this goofy thing you can do in Colorado, where only one person needs to be present. Proxy wedding for the win! Lucky for them, the family knows people in Colorado. That person being my dads BFF and grooms man from back in the day. So needless to say they wanted to exchange their vows and throw a big old party, two years into marriage.

I had the great pleasure of cooking the rehearsal dinner, which was more like a cocktail part-ay, for 30 some people. There has never been a meal where I have put so much thought or planning into. Despite all the thought and planning, it wasn't until the week before the rehearsal that panic struck. Sitting in my apartment, surrounded by cookies (so many cookies), that I started to think about how much food I was making.

The fact that I chose to make deviled eggs and then the realization that I'd be hard boiling, peeling and filling a couple dozen eggs, caused a serious moment of panic.Then that I would be making 60 mini empanadas, blue cheese cookies, red velvet cake balls, whiskey weiners, prosciutto wrapped pear, endives with blue cheese and walnuts, and cheese board. Yup, my panic snow balled so far I worried about constructing a cheese board.

My brother's response to the panic was order pizza instead then, which was not received well by me. The look on my face was something like "I will kill you if you say that again". He said it many more times, which makes him lucky he lived to see the rehearsal dinner. Luckily I'm confident in my food and great at talking myself down.

Plus 2/3 of the desserts were complete close to a week in advance. The millions of compost cookies that sparked the panic snow-ball were in the freezer and caramel corn is my jam. I've spent a good amount of time finding the perfect recipe.

The process is simple, especially if you excel at popping pop corn (I still usually burn the first batch). The ingredient list is small. There is no thermometer involved, just time and color judgement. You're looking for a caramel corn color essentially. Which, the above doesn't quite to justice to the color you're looking for.

A lot of recipes have you pour the caramel over the pop corn and bake it, for even caramel distribution. That seems like a waste of time to me, when I can just stir the hell out of it and get the same results. Wear a oven mitt. Be careful. I do more of a folding approach than stirring. Cutting down the middle.

When there are no more caramel clumps, distribute it between two baking sheets. Spread it out into one even layer and break up any large bits. Let it cool. It shouldn't take terribly long to reach a edible temperature. Its hard to resist the sweet and salty goodness.

The next party you have make this and be confident that if nothing else turns out, this will, and people will not complain about eating only this. If you don't have a party just bring it to the next one. It makes a good drinking snack too, home and bar snack approved.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup, plus 1/8 cup unpopped popcorn kernels

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

  1. Heat oil with 3 popcorn kernels, in a large pot over medium heat. When kernels pop, add remaining 1/2 cup of kernels. Cook, covered, shaking pan occasionally, until popping stops, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let stand, covered, 1 minute. Transfer popcorn to a clean bowl, checking for any burnt or unpopped kernels and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan heat sugar, butter and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is golden brown (don't stir the mixture, only swirl the saucepan). Add the salt to the mixture (still not stirring, give the pan a good shake instead).
  3. Add the popcorn to the saucepan, stirring until evenly coated. Transfer to two baking sheets, spreading it out and breaking up any large chunks. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Truffle Mac & Cheese

I'm back! It has been a shamefully long time since I have posted on this here blog and a lot has happened in that time. My senioritis procrastination situation really came to bite me in the past two months of my absence. Despite my heightened procrastination, I made it through my last semester of college with flying colors. That is right, I'm a UW-Madison Alumni now, which is weird to think. It is true though, no big deal.

It is a new year and everyone is trying to hold onto those new year resolutions to eat healthy and get organized. Not me though. I shoot for moderation in my eating all year round. It has worked for me thus far, mostly. A good resolution would probably be to cut back on the procrastination, but it works for me. Did I mention this recipe came to be for Thanksgiving. So it is a few month late, but equally delicious. Case and point: procrastination works for me.

So for those of you looking to break your new years resolution, have already done so or don't make them, this recipe is for you. This bad boy mac & cheese has over a pound of cheese. Tons of whole milk. Although  a combination of whole milk and skim milk works too.

Instead of adding the truffle oil to the cheese sauce, I toss it with the pasta right after I drain it. The steamy hot pasta, cooked al dente, will soak up all that yummy flavor. Plus, there is already plenty of fat, dare I say grease, in the cheese sauce. No need to dump the truffle oil right into the sauce. Plus, I imagine the oil separating from the cheese mixture like water and oil, yuck.

There is more cheese in the topping, along with panko bread crumbs and truffle oil. Never tried panko bread crumbs? You should, they can be found in most grocery stores and make for a perfectly crunchy topping for any casserole. Beats store bough bread crumbs or grinding up your own.The end result is a decadent and elegant macaroni & cheese, with the addition of the truffle oil. It will impress your next dinner guests for sure, because truffles are always impressive.


1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups (4 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon truffle oil

Macaroni and Sauce:
1 stick unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 1/2 cups whole milk
6 cups (1 lb) extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup (2 oz) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
3/4 cup (3 oz) fontina cheese, grated
2 tablespoons truffle oil
1 pound elbow macaroni, twists or penne pasta


  1. Preheat oven to 400F, with rack in middle. Combine the butter, panko bread crumbs, truffle oil, cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano, in a bowl, until well combined.
Macaroni and Sauce
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted whisk in the flour, continue whisking for 3 minutes, until the mixture is a light golden color and thick, then whisk in the milk. 
  2. Increase the heat and bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, about 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Stir in cheeses, until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente (a few minutes shy of what you normally do). Drain macaroni a colander, placing the drain noodles in a large bowl. Toss the noodles with the truffle oil, until well coated. Combine the noodles and cheese sauce, until evenly coated. Transfer to a 9 x 12 baking dish, sprinkling topping over the pasta evenly. 
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden.
Slightly adapted from Gourmet


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...