Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Morning Magic Pancakes

This morning I entered my parents room with the usual question: What would you like for breakfast. They'd agreed to cereal, but I wasn't done rattling off their options yet: cereal, eggs, toast, pancakes, oatmeal.. The pancakes caught them by surprise (it is a Wednesday morning after all) and they went for it. Little did I realize that it would take me only 20 minutes to have the first 3 pancakes cooked-and I'd told Dad he had 45 minutes. But I slid into my seat a minute before the bell (and left mom with the dirty dishes, regretfully).

I decided to tweak the recipe I used on Sunday even more, and so adding my magic ingredient (you know a pureed banana makes everything better.)

Spongy Buttermilk Pancakes
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 very ripe banana
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons mild oil (such as walnut or canola)
1 large egg

toasted walnuts, honey, and banana slices, to serve if desired (or just good ol' butter and syrup)

Lightly grease (if needed) and heat a griddle or large pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk together to mix.

In a blender or food processor, combine banana and some buttermilk. Blend until smooth. Add remaining buttermilk, oil, and egg and blend together.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and mix together until smooth.

Pour or scoop approximately 3-4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of batter onto the griddle and spread out to about 1 cm thick with a spatula. When bubbles appear, about 2 minutes or so, flip and continue cooking until springs back to the touch, about another 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve while warm, topped with walnuts, honey, and banana slices.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

After Weeks, My-Oh-My I've Made Pie

I'll admit it. I can't help but fall in love with Pie-Oh-My. So I've been wanting to make something like them since they're kind of expensive. And there's nothing like homemade. (Except sometimes it turns out nasty.) So after contemplating different things like the Cherry Turnovers in the April issue of Everyday Food, Lara's Cran-Rasberry Hand Pies, Unfried Apple Pies, and some fruit turnover recipes that I can't link to (one in a pie book at Michaela's house, and another in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook) By Sunday I'd given up on finding a recipe that was exactly what I wanted. I finally got down to business last night. Starting on Sunday, I got all my ingredients after spending an hour trying to find a dough recipe to use (I ended up taking one for empanadas and playing with it, praying for something that would work, and it did.)

There's a myriad of names that would successfully name these little things, and none would be ambiguous as to what they are. So I'm having trouble debating what to call them.
Since I set out to make hand pies (I was first inspired by Alton Brown's A Pie In Every Pocket pocket pies on Good Eats, and he did refer to them in the episode as hand pies when I saw part of it months ago), which are essentially what Pie-Oh-My's are, that's what I'm going to call them.
Note: When I don't do things all at once, I lose interest or patience. One thing I don't like doing is rolling out dough. If I get into a zone, I can handle it. But I failed to do so today, so as soon as I ran out of my first filling (which I made only a little of because I wasn't sure how the dough would be) and didn't feel like making more, so I sauteed some spinach to stuff inside of some to make some appetizers for dinner. Then I just stopped. I only used about half of the dough. But the filling was good, and if the amount was more, it would have been enough. Maybe sometime when it isn't a school day I'll make a WHOLE batch of these.

Pear Hand Pies
Makes 12

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into little pieces
1/3 cup ice water
1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 large egg

3 pears, cored and diced
3 tablespoons corn starch
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoons nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Egg Wash:
1 large egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons milk

To make dough:
Sift flours and salt through a sieve. Dump the bran that remains on top in with the flour (yes, I realize that sort of defeated the purpose of sifting...) Blend in the butter with fingers or a pastry blender until it resembles a coarse meal with only pea size pieces of butter remaining.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together water, vinegar, and egg
with a fork. Then mix into the meal with the fork until it comes together.
Gather the dough together and turn out onto a floured surface and knead once or twice with heel of hand. Form into a flat rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for an hour.

For filling: Mix ingredients for filling together in a small bowl.

To assemble:
Place racks in top and bottom thirds of oven. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Divide dough into twelve pieces. Roll one piece out to about 1/8" thickness while keeping others covered. Fill with 2-3 tablespoons filling. Fold over and crimp with a fork. Place on baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining. Brush with egg wash before placing in oven.

Bake for about 17 minutes, switching placement of sheets within the oven halfway through baking.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Food & Wine: Calling All Foodies In Training

Food & Wine has a contest for kid chefs - though of course my parents have to fill out the stuff. You have to submit your child's favorite recipe, and that's where my problem is: I don't have a favorite recipe. I like most that I make, except for some that have problems that I try to fix. Some of the better one are the apple-oatmeal muffins, which I've altered from the magazine recipe to make even tastier and eat with peanut butter to make the perfect combination. But I'm still not sure.

What do you think that I've ever made that looks the best? Any suggestions. The contest form must be mailed by the 14th (this Saturday!)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Dinner Pudding for Two

Before embarking on my weekend of terror (okay, not terror for me, more like terror for those who are unfortunate enough to be around me) I wanted to make dinner for mom and me. In part because I have not made dinner in a long time, and because I enjoy trying out recipes from magazines. Otherwise I feel like I've spent $5 to look at pictures when I could do that for free (or I guess the monthly fee for the connection) online. I suppose the glossy pages and articles about gadgets and restaurants and markets (like the article about La Boqueria in Bon Appetit the day after we returned home) are the real reason.
But I digress.

Valentine's Day is traditionally a couple meal, so I figured finding a plan from Valentine's Day, with the weather about right for that occasion, would give me a recipe that would require little altering.
I was wrong, but at least the grocery list was simple (8 ounce container of this, 5 ounce bag of that). The recipe was for a Spinach-Mushroom Strata, but I made it so shallow I felt like it should be dressing. Or possibly pudding. Because pudding sounds tastier. Or more like dessert. (Though I did find a definition of pudding that this dish would fit: any of various soft thick unsweetened baked dishes).

But maybe I should get on with the food. Like I was saying, despite choosing a recipe for two people so I could follow it to a "T", I still ended up changing it. Due to liquor laws and the lack of sherry in the liquor cabinet, I decided to do without (I couldn't have paid someone at the store to buy it for me, but that would make the dish unsavory.) The recipe also called for grated Swiss cheese and I'm not a fan of Swiss cheese, so I had to do something about that as well. Also, since I'm lazy, I had to do away with the French bread with the crusts removed and went for a softer bread instead. And it turned out delicious, unlike the broccoli rabe recipe that I followed much more closely (though I did accidentally end up boiling, not blanching, the greens; I think I just like citrus with broccoli rabe).

Spinach-Mushroom Dinner Pudding
Serves 2
adapted from Spinach-Mushroom Strata in Feb. 2007 issue of VT (p.42)

1 Tablespoon olive oil (and/or spray to grease dish)
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (or sliced mushrooms, but I had time to slice them and save 50 cents)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
5 oz. spinach
2 1/2 cups cubed whole-wheat bread (from a baguette or loaf with soft crust)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 large egg
2 1/2 ounces mild gouda cheese (grated or cubed), such as Roomkaas Aniekaas

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 2 qt. shallow baking dish. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over high heat. Sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and thyme, and cook one minute. Stir in vinegar and cook until liquid evaporates. Season with pepper (and possibly a bit of salt) and tranfer to a bowl.

Place pan over high heat (same pan would be nice). Add spinach and a tablespoon of water or broth (but not from the 1/2 cup) and cook a minute, or until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper (only pepper if you used broth). Squeeze out liquid.

Toss spinach and bread with mushrooms.
Whisk broth and egg together in a small bowl. Pour over bread mixture, add cheese, and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed by the bread.

Spoon into prepared baking dish and press down lightly. Bake 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Let stand 5-10 minutes to set, and then serve.