Archive | November, 2010

Daring Baker’s: Crostata

28 Nov

Happy Post Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your weekend and holiday was fabulous. I spent the weekend at home with friends and family which means posting late for Daring Baker’s. Oh, and forgetting my camera and only having my point and shoot with me, so my apologies for the less than stellar photos.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

This challenge sounded like a fun way for me to prepare something for the holidays without making just a boring pie. I was originally going to make an apple pie crumble so the fact that this month’s challenge was a crostata was perfect.

I really liked this dough and it tasted delicious. I would love to make a more traditional crostata the next time around because they just sound delicious.

I also got a chance to use this precious bottle:

I recently got to attend a food blogger event at Cambridge 1 in Fenway and we were given the opportunity to try this fabulous brand of hard cider. And let me tell you, their Solstice hard cider tastes EXACTLY like caramel apple pie. So when I found a bottle of this stuff at the local liquor store I snatched it up quickly.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of my leftovers!


Apple Crumble Crostata


For the Crostata:

  • 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon 
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbles (You can use a food processor for this, or use your hands if you want to get some aggression out). Make a well in the center of the mound and pour in the beaten eggs then add the lemon zest. Use a fork to start to incorporate the flour mixture into the eggs and then knead lightly until it forms a ball. Shape the ball into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I did overnight). Once the dough has been properly chilled unwrap it from the plastic wrap but don’t remove it. Place on a floured surface with the plastic wrap on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch. Put some muscle into it.

Now I didn’t have a tart pan, so I used a regular 9″ pie dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray and flip the dough onto the pie plate so the plastic wrap is still facing you. Using your fingers, press the dough into the pie dish. There will be excess dough on the top.

Since the crostata dough is a little shorter than traditional pies, I used a sharp knife to trace a line all the way around, cutting to just below the pie plate. Then take the remaining dough and roll into a pipe and add that to the sides of the crostata, to make the edges thicker. Then, using a fork, poke the bottom on the dough withe the fork to make some air bubbles in the dough.

Apple Filling

  • 2lbs granny smith apples, sliced into 1/8″ strips (do not remove the skin!)
  • 1 cup of your favorite hard cider
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

In a heavy saute pan line the sliced applies around the pan and pour the sugar, cinnamon and apple cider over the apples. Cook on medium heat, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Turn them once or twice. Remove the cover and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated, again, turning the apples gentlyto cook evely on both sides. Remove from pan and cook completely (Again, I did this the night before)

Crumble Topping

  • 4 tbsp butter, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon in a food processor. Slowly add the butter and pulse until coarse crumbles form.

Now it’s time to assemble your crostata!!!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Carefully line the dough with the apple slices. Spread the crumble topping over the top. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top is crispy. Make sure to place the crostata on a baking pan in case and juices flow over.

Well there you have it! Delicious crostata! The dough was flaky and delicious and very sturdy (which I like). I can’t wait to make it again!





Old Fashioned Pierogi

22 Nov

Wikipedia just told me that sour cream is served with sweet perogi while savory pierogi are served with bacon fat or bacon bits. I knew it was a good idea to marry a Polish boy. I asked said boy one weekend that I wanted to make pierogi. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. I asked him what kind he wanted.


“Anything else?”


“Oh, ok.”


I was surprised at how easy they were to make. I was scared for some reason that they wouldn’t come out right, but I get scared a lot when I cook or bake.

Traditional Potato & Cheese Pierogi

Source Recipe Here

Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water


  • 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (I didn’t peel them in this recipe and I should have. Whoops)
  • 3oz (or more, I’m not looking, promise) grated cheddar cheese
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried chives

To make dough combine flour and salt. Add beaten eggs and water. Mix dough until it comes together and can form a ball. Wrap ball in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Hello Mr. Dough Ball

Next, make the filling. Boil potatoes until soft. Mash with grated cheese, chives and salt/pepper. Take a big spoonful and immediately consume. Add more cheese. Lots of cheese.

Try not to eat all of it

Here comes the fun part. If you have a Polish (or Eastern European) husband, make sure he helps you with this part. Generously flour a cutting board or counter top with flour. Roll ball of dough into a cylinder. Cut it in half and roll them both out so you can make 12 dough balls from each cylinder. Just keep cutting the dough in half until you do that.

Pillowy goodness

Flatten the little dough balls with the palm of your hand. Husband can do this part. Then, using your fingers, spread the dough out, like you’re making a mini pizza. Repeat with all the dough balls. Then place an extra large tablespoon of the potato mixture and place in the middle of your mini pizza. Fold pierogi in half and using a fork crimp the edges. It’s ok if some of the mixture leaks out, it’s not fragile like other types of dumplings.


To cook the pierogi bring a big pot of boiling water to boil. Again, spousal support is needed here. Place saute pan on another burner and add a lot of butter to the pan. Boil 4-5 pierogi in water until they float to the surface then place in the saute pan and cook on both sides until golden deliciousness. Repeat with the rest.

Serve with some sauteed onions and in this case, German mustard. Bacon fat optional.

Vanilla Bean Spiced Pork Chops

18 Nov

So one day I was perusing Twitter when I saw that Katie over at Good Life Eats and Jamie at My Baking Addiction were hosting a Holiday Recipe Exchange with a different ingredient every week and a chance to win some fabulous prizes. I thought, Hey, I can do that! Sounds like fun!

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Beanilla.


When I was thinking about what I wanted my submission to be for this week I wanted to think outside the box. There was a good chance almost everyone would be submitting baking recipes, and there was no rule stating that it HAD to be something sweet, even though the first thing you think of with an ingredient like vanilla is something sweet, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, you get the drill. So I started thinking about what I could do with a vanilla bean.

Then I did a Google search (Where would we be without Google? Lost, that’s what) on vanilla dry rub and came up with A LOT of good ideas. I decided to make a dry rub for some pork chops that I was planning on buying.


Vanilla Bean Dry Rub

  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped, with the actual bean chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • salt and white pepper, sprinkle or two

I took two thick cut pork chops (it equaled just under a pound) and cut then in half. Combine the dry rub ingredients together, I find using my hands to mix everything together works best. You can really smell the vanilla as everything comes together.

Apply liberally to the pork chops, making sure to get all sides. The chopped pods will probably fall off, so just put them back on after. Either make immediately or store in your refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Once your ready to cook with them preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then grab your cask iron skillet and put it in medium high heat on the stove top. Cover with olive oil and once the oil is hot add your pork chops. Cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes, remove from pan and then set aside.

At this point I made an apple/onion mixture which involved 2 apples, cut into chunks, and half a medium onion, sliced along with 1/4 cup of apple cider, and a dash of the following: garlic powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Mix together thoroughly and add to the skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until slightly soft. Add the pork chops to the top and put it in the oven for about 15 minutes.

I also made some roasted red potatoes to go along with this lovely concoction.

It came out really delicious and very different from what I normally do with pork chops. You can clearly see the vanilla bean and there is an essence of vanilla that compliments the pork in a great way. And the juices from the apple/onion mixture also taste great on the pork.

So hopefully in my attempt to be original you’ll ALL vote for me (voting opens on November 21st!), so I’ll win the fabulous swag gift from Beanilla.

Daring Cook’s: Souffle Time

14 Nov

My first foray with foamy egg whites ended in disaster. So much disaster that I basically had to throw away a bunch of failed egg whites. So when I found out that this month’s Daring Cook’s challenge involved making a souffle let’s say I wasn’t excited. However, I was determined to not let it happen this time.

So let’s just say when I saw this:

I win this time egg whites

I may have pranced around the house yelling, “I DID IT! I DID IT!”

I decided to do a savory souffle instead of a sweet one and found a good reference for figuring out how to make a souffle from here:

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

Ham & Cheddar Souffle

  • 1 cup ham, sliced
  • 1 cup cheddar, shredded
  • 3 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

First we’ll need to make the souffle base. Melt butter in a small saucepan and then add the flour. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes. Heat milk in a separate pan or put in microwave for 2 minutes. Add milk to flour/butter mixture. Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for a few more minutes, until thick.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks together. Add a small amount of the flour mixture to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Then pour the egg mixture back into the flour mixture. Add the ham/cheddar/chives into the sauce.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment add the egg white and beat on medium high speed. Once small peaks start forming add the cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Slowly fold in the egg whites into the egg mixture until fully incorporated.

Preheat oven to 350. I used 4 mini souffle ramekins as well as a large muffin tin for the souffle. Spray and flour the ramekins/tin. Pour even amount of mixture into the tins, making sure not to overfill as you need to give some space for the souffle to rise. Bake until puffy and slightly browned, about 30 minutes.

The souffles will start deflating almost immediately, so if you planning on serving the souffles to guests, make sure to get it out of there ASAP.

I was really happy with the way this turned out. It made me more confident about dealing with foamed egg whites that I don’t think I’ll be scared to try out more recipes for stiff peaks. Lemon meringue anyone?


Orange Chicken

6 Nov

Before I knew how to cook properly my culinary expertise extended to Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken. Mr. Kitchen Misfit and I thought we were fancy. Real fancy. We loved that orange chicken from Trader Joe’s. We ate a lot of Orange Chicken back then….

Well, now I feel I have enough culinary prowess to take on making my very own orange chicken, from SCRATCH.

So I was delighted when I found this recipe, and not only was it Orange Chicken from SCRATCH, but it was actually not very bad for you! (Unlike the Trader Joe’s version I might add)

Orange Chicken

From Cordon Pink

Orange Sauce

  • 1/3 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 2.5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Orange Zest
  • 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tsp Corn Starch
  • 1 Tbsp Red Pepper flakes (more or less depending on your preference for heat)

Mix Orange Juice with corn starch until smooth. Add corn starch mixture and the rest of the ingredients to a small sauce pan over medium heat until mixture coats a spoon.


  • 1lb skinless/boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • Salt  & Pepper to taste

Add flour, salt and pepper to a ziploc bag. Add chicken and mix until chicken is completely covered in flour mixture. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil to saute pan. Cook chicken until browned throughout, about 3-4 minutes per side. Add Orange mixture and coat chicken.

I like to serve mine with steamed broccoli and white rice. Sometimes I whip up a double batch of orange sauce if I was to coat both the chicken and the rice.

Time for A Challenge!

4 Nov

So, as if my life isn’t hectic enough, with studying for MTELs, applying for my teacher prep program, working, training and dealing with everyday life I’ve decided that I want to participate in this:

Iron Foodie 2010 | Here's Why that will be me: -- Fine Bulk Foods The Foodie BlogRoll

So in order to OFFICIALLY enter the contact we have to answer the following questions:

1. Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
– As a newb in the foodie blog world I really want to see if I can push myself and prove to myself that I’m past the days of boxed mac and cheese and Orange Chicken from Trader Joe’s. That and because I’m literally salivating over the products at

2. Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
– As a HUGE fan of the Muppets, I would totally pick the Swedish Chef. Because who wouldn’t want to do this?

I rest my case.

3. What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
– Pretty much anything. I have a habit of finishing my husband’s plate, BUT, I suppose if I were to pick one thing it would be anything dessert related. Or pork. Definitely pork.

4. Sum your childhood up in one meal.
– My Mom’s homemade Portuguese bread. She would make about 20 loaves of bread, and we would have fresh bread with butter and maybe some cheese for dinner the same night. It was magical.

5. The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
– Meatloaf. Never liked it. I usually like everything my Mom makes, but I just can’t get past meat shaped like a loaf of bread. Just doesn’t do it for me.

So there you have it! Wish me tons and tons of luck!

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