Monday, November 23, 2015

My Mother's Apple Pie

Everyone always loved my mother's apple pie and so she made lots of them. Her great pies were something she was known for and apple pies were her best. I have her recipe on a card in her handwriting but it is getting pretty tattered and so to make sure that I don't lose it someday I am adding mom's recipe to the blog. My mother, Leona Felder, passed away 8 years ago at age 95, but her cooking lives on in the memories of her friends and family.

Apple Pie
Pastry for double crust 9" pie,
6 large Gravenstein apples. About 8 cups cut-up apples. If Gravensteins are not available use another tart cooking apple such as Pippins or Mutsus
1 cup sugar  (I reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flour (you may substitute 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, more if desired
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Peel and chop the apples. Mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Roll out the bottom crust and place it into the pan leaving slightly wider than the rim. Sprinkle about half of the sugar mixture into the bottom. Pile in the apples. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Top with the rest of the sugar mixture. Dot with butter. Roll out the top crust large enough that it overlaps the bottom crust. Trim, fold under the edge of the crust and crimp the edges. Cut some slits in the crust to allow steam to escape as the apples cook. Sprinkle a little sugar over the crust. Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350ºF. Bake for 45 to 60 more minutes until the crust is browned and you can see the apple mixture bubbling through the slits. If the crust is browned before the filling is cooked, cover the pie loosely with foil.

My mother would freeze the apples in pie dishes during Gravenstein season. She would do this without a crust, lining the dish with freezer wrap and removing the apples from the dish once they were frozen. When she wanted to make a pie later she could just pull the frozen apples out and put them in a crust, adding the sugar mixture at that time. When she baked the frozen pie she would set the oven at 400ºF and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the crust was browned and the filling bubbling.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Lovely Buttery Cookie From My Grandmother Josephine

I never met my grandmother Josephine because she passed away in in 1923, when my mother was only 11. One of my mother's memories of her was of a special cookie she would make that she called gaufres. They were made on the stove top in an iron. If you were to look up gaufres you would find that usually they are Belgian waffles but that is not what my grandmother made. My mother couldn't find a recipe for a cookie like her mother made, so she developed a similar recipe. This is the recipe that she devised. To make these cookies you can use a pizzelle iron.

1 cup butter
1 5/8 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
Cream the butter and the sugar. Sift the dry ingredients. Stir together the vanilla, eggs, the creamed butter and sugar and the dry ingredients. Drop one spoonful at a time of the dough into the pizzelle iron and cook until golden. You will find that the dough is very buttery and you will have to wipe up the extra butter as it melts out of the cookies. Cool on a rack flat or roll the cookies.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Cake.

This is not a cake at all in the traditional sense. It is more like a frittata than a cake, but it is not a frittata either. It is delicious whether you eat it just after you have made it or the next day. Once you have made the original cauliflower version feel free to riff on it. You can make it with other vegetables and it will still be good. I have not had the chance to do that myself but a friend of mine has done so with very good results. I have only made one change to Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from his book Plenty More, I roasted the cauliflower rather than simmer it in water.

Cauliflower Cake
serves 4 to 6

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed and broken into small florets. About 4 cups.
1 medium red onion, peeled
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
7 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan cheese or other aged cheese, about 6 ounces or more if you are feeling generous. The original recipe calls for 220 grams which translates to almost 8 ounces
melted unsalted butter for brushing the pan
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds (or 1 T sesame seeds and 1 tsp nigella seeds. I have never seen nigella seeds but that is what Ottolenghi calls for in his original recipe. They would be prettier.)
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 425º.  Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2" springform pan with parchment and brush with melted butter. Cover the sides with the sesame seeds.
Toss the cauliflower florets with some of the olive oil and some salt and roast until tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven down to 400º.
Cut 4 slices from one end of the red onion and separate the rings. Chop the rest of the onion and sauté until soft in the rest of the oil with the rosemary. Let the onion cool. Meanwhile whisk together the eggs and basil, then whisk in the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and plenty of pepper. When smooth, stir in the onion and cauliflower. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan and lay the onion rings on top. Bake in the center of the 400º oven for about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and set. A knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. When the cake is done allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. It is best not to serve it hot. When it is completely cooled you can wrap it and refrigerate to serve the next day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Revised Tartine Cherry Clafoutis

It is hard to believe that it has been 6 years since I first had cherry clafoutis. If you have never had clafoutis, it is not only delicious but extremely easy to make. Yes, cherries are a pain to pit, but you can do as the French do and leave the pits in or if you don't even want to think about pits, you can make it with another sort of fruit. Apricot clafoutis is very good and I think olallieberry would be outstanding.
The recipe I have used previously was straight from the Tartine dessert cookbook. I have now made a couple of changes and even so they deserve major credit for the recipe I now feel it is mine.

Cherry Clafoutis
2 cups whole milk (I used Jersey milk, which is richer than milk from other cows. You might want to add a bit of cream.)
2/3 cup sugar (I used organic)
1 vanilla bean, split
pinch salt
3 whole eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons kirsch
2 cups cherries, pitted or not. If the cherries are pitted add a few finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 425º. Butter a 10" ceramic quiche mold or pie dish.
In a small saucepan, combine milk, 2/3 cup sugar, vanilla bean, salt, and butter. Place over medium heat and stirring to dissolve the sugar, heat to just under a boil. While the milk mixture is heating, break 1 egg into a heatproof bowl, add the flour gradually and whisk until free of lumps. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and slowly ladle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean into the mixture and add the kirsch. Pour into the mold and add the fruit, making sure that it is evenly distributed. Place the pan on a shelf in the middle of the oven.
Bake the clafoutis until it is just set in the center and slightly puffed and browned around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove it from the oven, turn up the temperature to 500º. Evenly sprinkle the 1/4 cup sugar over the top. Return the clafoutis to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to caramelize the sugar. Watch carefully as it will darken quickly. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Serve the clafoutis warm or at room temperature.
The clafoutis is at it's best by far the day that it is made, but it still tastes great the next day. It makes a wonderful breakfast if you are the type of person who enjoys pie for breakfast.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Pupusa is Loose-a

I grabbed a pupusa recipe out of a stray NYTimes Magazine and made it for the second time last night. It's pretty easy, take two parts masa harina, mix with a bit of salt and one part (hot!) water. Mash it together, divide it into balls somewhat larger than a golf ball. Then somehow get cheese (about 6oz per cup of masa) inside of them and press them flat.

The last bit is perhaps the most tricky bit, and I haven't quite mastered it. The NYTimes has a technique that you can study more closely here. Mostly just mash the ball flat in your palm, insert the cheese, and then squeeze the masa around the cheese and seal in the cheese. Then squish the final result flat and cook it up on a griddle.

It's a nice Sunday recipe here because halloumi goes very nicely with these and can be found at the local place that is open on Sunday.

The NYTimes serves a curtido with them, but we're more likely to have sauerkraut around, so we use that instead.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Flour for European Bakers and a French Sugar to Search Out.

I have to start this post with a big thank you to David Leibovitz and his blog for providing me with the information I needed to bake a good pie crust in France. The first time I made a pie there, last Christmas, I had no idea that the standard all-purpose flour in French supermarkets was not basically the same as American all-purpose flour. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I made a pie crust with my standard recipe it was soft and super sticky. It ended up baking up better than I expected but I knew that I wanted to educate myself about finding an equivalent flour to American AP in France before I baked another pie there. I now know French AP flour is milled more finely and has less gluten. If you read the package label it is type 55 or type 45. The French flour that is equivalent to American AP flour is the organic flour type 65. I found it at an organic chain called Naturalia. DL says that organic type 65 can be found at supermarkets but I did not find it at the store near my son's home in Lyon.
I tried making rolls with type 55 flour because I was curious how it would be for bread. The dough was soft and sticky and I ended up having to knead in more flour to get the proper texture. In France at least when you are working from an American recipe for baking you will have to search out type 65 flour or plan on adjusting the recipe.
One of the pies I made for Thanksgiving in Lyon was pumpkin using the recipe I posted in January 2012. It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever made. Because I was in France I had to use a different sugar and couldn't use canned American pumpkin. Instead of the dark brown sugar found in the US, I used a very dark sugar labeled Daddy Poudre a Maurice Cassonade Coursée. If you should search for it, it comes in a yellow plastic bag. There is another sugar from Maurice sold by Daddy that is in a blue bag which is not as dark. The pumpkin I used was a potimarron which is called a kuri squash in the US. I wanted to bring some of the dark sugar home with me but when I returned to the store they were out of it. I looked for it at a couple of other stores and they didn't have it either. I could only find the lighter sugar in the yellow bag. That means I won't be able to figure out if the better pie was a result of the sugar, the squash, or the combination of the two. Quel dommage!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Banana Bread

My favorite way of using up overripe bananas is to bake banana bread and this is the recipe that I have come up with. If you are baking this in France, like my son who requested the recipe, my favorite food blogger, David Lebovitz, has sources for the buttermilk and baking soda:  He also tells you which French flour will give you the best results when baking from an American recipe.

Banana Bread 
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
butter and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan
Cream the butter and sugar. Sift and measure the flour. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk until mixed. Add the eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, and banana to the butter, sugar, and eggs. fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350º F oven for about 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove from the pan.