Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If it's Tuesday, it Must Be Flaky Apple Turnovers

I love a good apple pie, and this certainly qualifies--why buy a goop-filled fried hunk-o-dough from some unnamed fast food joint (you guys all know which place I'm talking about) when a few minutes of work can yield these treats?

I'll tell you why: the dough (although I'll tell you why NOT again in a minute). I feel like I had just mastered Dorie's perfect pastry crust on page 442 or 443 of the book (so much so that I keep frozen butter and shortening in the freezer at all times now). Then I get thrown a curve ball with this dough. It's got sour cream in it. Dorie's warns us that it's soft, but I didn't have too much trouble until actual filling time.

The filling is simple: chopped apples, a touch of flour and sugar and butter...But I worked assembly line style and rolled and cut both halves then filled, by which time the dough was so soft, it fell apart a bit when I folded it over. I also overfilled and had to take about half the filling OFF each dough round (bec. I like a lot of filling)...With hindsight, I should have rolled, filled and started baking one sheet of turnovers, leaving the second half in the fridge until I was ready to roll and fill quickly.

It was a mess.

Fortunately, they taste fabulous and made me look good at a Sunday afternoon football party, so that is always a good thing. I egg-washed them and sprinkled them with raw/turbinado sugar, which gives them a great glaze and nice crunch.

Notes on this recipe?
  • Work with only half the dough at a time. 
  • For a 4 1/2-inch round, use one tablespoon filling (I used a very heaping tablespoon and had to take about half off)...
  • and for efficiency's sake, make these rectangles or triangles instead of circles: no wasted dough.

The other note? (And why not to make the dough?) I live in South Florida where you can buy flaky empanada rounds in the freezer (and I think if you look for them, you can probably find these in most places)--they are marked "hojaldrada."
I have made apple turnovers in a jiffy in the past by chopping some apples, filling a few of these empanada rounds, brushing them with egg wash and sprinkling with sugar...No, not homemade, but for the effort and the result? More my speed.

Check out all the other blogs on the blog roll at Tuesdays with Dorie. The recipe was picked and is listed over at Someone's in the Kitchen with Jules Someone.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Inspiration Spread: Dumpling Party!

So. Throwdown inspired me inspired Origami Mommy to have a make-your-own-gyoza party with her kids.

What a great idea.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inspiration? Throwdown with Bobby Flay

That title is totally true. One of my daughter's favorite shows is Throwdown on Food Network. (They SO should have picked me to at least BE on their Next Food Network Star. But I digress...)

Did you know I cooked with Bobby once? Oh, that's right, I am SO going to name drop here. I also cooked at Union Square Cafe in NYC, worked for Danny Meyer, who is still the best boss I ever had. At one point the entire lunchtime kitchen was female and we rocked it out. I was an expediter extraordinaire. That was AFTER I worked my way through every single station in the kitchen. I could COOK. Hmm. Where was I going with this?

Ah. Then I moved to Philadelphia. I actually called Danny to ask him what he heard around town about where to cook in Philly. One place was Jack's Firehouse run by fiery-tempered Jack McDavid, with whom I ultimately became friends...in fact if he ever yelled at me...Oh, no..THAT is where I was going with this, because he totally yelled at me the night Bobby Flay came to cook at Jack's Firehouse to introduce his first cookbook, a beautiful book called Bold American Food. (Nice styling.) We were banging out a menu based on recipes from the book. I was carefully picking cilantro, when Bobby came over and said, No, just Grab it and go! Then we were lining up plates to serve some other dish and Jack scah-REAMED at me for being too slow (we were FINE. Bobby was fine...) I think earlier Bobby had asked if I ever missed NYC...I said diplomatic things about no, I had kids now, Philly was easier...(truth was I missed NYC desperately)...blah blah blah...but when Jack decided to yell, I just muttered under my breath: I miss New York NOW. Made Bobby laugh, made Jack even madder at me...but like I said, we parted friends. And I still get to say I cooked with Bobby Flay.

ANYWAY. So the other night, Bobby has a throwdown with Shohui Kim of The Good Fork in Red Hook, NY, doing Chinese dumplings. I LOVE dumplings. LOVE them. When I asked Bryn what she wanted to eat the next night? Dumplings just like they made on Throwdown.

I pulled out Blue Ginger by Ming Tsai, a book full of recipes that have never steered me wrong.

I'd made dumplings at my first restaurant job, Stringfellow's in NYC with Peter Hoffman (who has that video? Remember the song: Peter Hoffman, Peter Hoffman, there's a telephone call for you...Or in the video, Roger in the walk-in? Socks-with-Sandals Roger...heh..) but that was...(coff coff) decades ago. (I made shumai more than these....but still)

It looked simple..even the dough. I altered it some...chopped chicken instead of pork, savoy cabbage (no need to soak it)--my tweaks. The recipe made 50 (that's right, FIFTY) dumplings...for a cost of about $4 or $5...A plate of these costs $6 around here. You make them, saute them, add water to steam them, then let that water evaporate...They. Are. Perfect.

 My Chinese Dumplings adapted from Ming Tsai's.

1 to 11/2 cups boiling water
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound ground chicken
2 eggs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablepoons sesame oil
4 cups finely chopped cabbage (savoy)
5 scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

To saute and steam:
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1. Make the dough. Bring water to boil. While it heats, place flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, whisk together. Add about 1/4 cup of boiling water to flour, mix in slowly. Drizzle water in with mixer on lowest speed. When all water is added, increase speed to medium and knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

2. While dough rests, mix filling ingredients--all of them--together in bowl.

3. Divide dough in two. Flour board or counter lightly. Roll one piece of dough into long "snake" about 1-inch in diameter. Slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Roll each round out into approx. 3-inch circle. You should get about 25 circles. Place bout 1/2 tablespoon filling in center of each dough circle. Fold dough in half and tightly pinch and pleat edges together. Press each one down slightly to get flattened bottom.

4. Heat oil in large, cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add dumplings to skillet (I crowded mine and it worked...) and cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes (be careful not to burn). Add water all at once and cover skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low, keeping it simmering. Cook without disturbing for another 7 to 8 minutes. Dough will swell and cook. Uncover and cook until all water is evaporated. Serve hot.

Dipping sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha (more if you really like heat; this was just enough for me)
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Souffle

Organized me decided to make this Saturday for dessert just for us..just because I could--and also because I actually had everything on hand.

Souffles are deceptively simple. A few ingredients handled just so yield this magic. Of course that magic is pretty ephemeral, eh? Puffy souffle to fallen souffle cake in minutes. It doesn't dilute the deliciousness of it all, though.

All by way of saying that by the time my souffle made it to the table, it had fallen--but we loved it just the same.

I don't have the right dish at all, so I divided it into two--I have two pretty, nearly straight-sided bowls from Ikea. I followed Dori's intstructions to be generous when buttering and sugaring. I filled them about 2/3 full each, and that just didn't get them to puff beautifully above the rims, but never mind..we were still eating dinner when they came out of the oven, so I quickly snapped a photo...then another when we actually dished some out..fallen heaven, if you ask me, and that is just fine.

The chocolate flavor is strong, there is no eggy flavor I can detect and I love that the sugar on the bowl comes off and gives each bite just a tiny bit of sugary, crunchy texture. I did not make creme anglaise, although I do love it: that just seemed like gilding the lily a bit in this instance. Powdered sugar suits this just fine.

Dorie says leftovers taste great...and she's right.

Head over to She's Becoming Doughmesstic for the recipe (and a read...she's working her way through Julia--good read..)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What I'm Reading: Rick Bayless

If you know me a bit you know I am a HUGE fan of Top Chef. I even text back and forth with my buddy Kumiko (who left and moved to NYC, which is okay, since now I have another person to visit when I go) about the highs and the lows of the show as it happens

I recently really really enjoyed the Top Chef Masters show and (SPOILER ALERT) loved loved LOVED it when Rick Bayless won. (Honestly, I could have gone with Hubert Keller, too, he was also a great chef with a giving personality. I couldn't get on board with Michael C. Sorry, Michael. You lost me with the "What is my name?" episode--but I have a funny feeling you know that already.)

ANYway. Back to Rick Bayless, who I also started following on Twitter after that (follow me at BarbFreda. Follow Rick at Rick_Bayless)--it was fun to see his Top Chef nerves play out on Twitter through his tweets.

I've been a Bayless fan for years. I bought the first edition of Authentic Mexican but was so sure--and so disappointed in my lack of foresight--that I'd donated it when I moved house four years ago. But there it was on my shelf when I went to double check. I also bought his Mexican Kitchen last year when I worked on some Mexican recipes for Boca Raton Magazine. (And can I say I walked through the snow (in April in Chicago) at the IACP conference to get to Frontera Grill, where they asked if I were there for the conference and was presented a little bite in honor of IACP--I had a killer margarita, a great lunch and another walk back to the hotel (snow had stopped by then, no worries...)

His win, the four dishes they had to make, with each course reflecting something about their lives, really was spectacular. And now I've become obsessed with the Black Mole (for you non-Mexican food folks: say mo-lay. It's a sauce.). I think the recipe in the first book, Authentic Mexican, the one for Turkey with Dark and Spicy Mole, is the black mole he mentions. So one day soon, I'm going to assemble that long long long list of ingredients and make it. It may please no one but me in this house (I'll do homemade tortillas, too, which I blogged about here when I was working on those recipes for BRM)..but that's okay. I think I need that black mole.

Rick, thanks for that great win, done with with such class and such great food--and a great cause--on Top Chef Masters. Well done.

Pick up the books. Learn about Authentic Mexican.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hooray for Tuesday with Dorie! Hooray for Espresso Cheesecake Brownies.

I open with a Cheesecake Brownie Abstract.

And hooray for hitting the gym, but that is so not what this post is about.

You know, my good friend Rachel moved away (you know who you are, Rachel). I blame her. Because when Rachel moved, her whole family moved with her (umm, of course). At least I knew Mike and Michael (husband, son) would eat my Tuesdays with Dorie goods. But now? Guess I'd better call Brady (my one "young" friend). He's been known to enjoy a dessert or two at my hands.

It's tough, you know? I could eat the entire pan. No, really, I am SO not joking.

But I won't. Eat every last brownie, that is. One, sure. Two? Probably a bad idea.


It has been way too hot to cook this summer and I've been running around a bit, but the truth is? I really miss cooking when I find myself too busy to do it. I've finally dug my heels and and refused to eat out. It's mediocre. REALLY. So...let's take the time to do something fun. Tonight I did two somethings fun:
1. Tuesdays With Dorie
2. Ming Tsai's Dumplings from Blue Ginger cookbook (more about that in another blog post).

These brownie's were oh-such-a-nice-way to return to baking. Brownies are reasonably easy for someone as baking challenged as I am and these are incredible (okay, truth be told, I haven't actually eaten one yet, because they are cooling for 2 hours in the fridge before I top them with even. more. sour. cream. But the coffee flavored cheesecake batter went really nicely with a dollop of the brownie batter! Love me some raw eggs...)
When I DID finally get around to assembly? Oh, heaven. The coffee flavor is there and the consistency of the cheesecake part is silky and smoth. Cut these into very small square because they are RICH. Enjoy with un cortado. And savor every crumb. Then share with as many people as possible: you will make them very happy.

(Final aside. I think I'd stop before the sour cream next time. It had an almost fake taste to it--so much so that I double checked and made sure I used full fat, good stuff...but hey, thems the breaks, right? If I make this again, I'm thinking a drizzle of chocolate over all. This is the kind of cheesecake they cut up, dip in chocolate and freeze on a stick. Decadence.)

(Really the final aside--after this sat overnight and the sour cream firmed up it lost that odd taste that made if fakey. I love it super chilled and firmer. That said, I still think I might forego it in the future, if for not other reason than the espresso cheesecake part of this is so fabulous.)

Recipe is up at Melissa's Life in a Peanut Shell. And check out TWD for the blog roll and all the other bakers.