Saturday, February 24, 2018

Double Crust Deep Dish Apple Pie and a Book Review

The folks over at the The Book Club Cookbook send out email newsletters each month that contain news about new novels people are reading in their book clubs along with their reviews and recipes. They then offer raffles for these books that are being reviewed.

I usually enter these raffles and occasionally I am lucky enough to win.  Such was the case a couple of months ago and I was surprised with a package containing The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller.

Image result for the city bakers guide to country living

This novel arrived as I was getting ready to go on vacation.  Having started another novel, The Gauguin Connection , I finished that up on the flight to California and then began reading this one, finishing it on the flight home.

This is the story of a young pastry chef, Olivia Rawlings,  who has already had a pretty drastic life in her short 26 years. Her mother left when she was an infant.  Her father was a wonderful, caring parent who loved her immensely but was forced to leave her on her own much of the time as he struggled in a single parent home.  He passed away when she was only 16, leaving her with a savings account and alone.

Olivia wanders aimlessly for a while before ending up in New York where she attends the Culinary Institute and becomes an excellent pastry chef.  The novel starts as she is working for an exclusive Boston Dinner Club and carrying on an illicit tryst with a prominent member and her boss who is married and much older than she.  Olivia is carrying out a flaming Baked Alaska when she suddenly loses her balance and sets the club on fire.  

We find Olivia fleeing to the safety of the only person still in her life from her childhood, her best friend, who now resides in the small town of Guthrie, Vermont, where her husband works as the resident surgeon.

At her friend's insistence, Olivia, finds herself competing for a job at the Sugar Maple Inn, owned by the cantankerous Margaret Hurley, who is judging the applicants by having them bake their best Apple Pie.

What follows is a fun, lighthearted, easy read that is pretty predictable but, none the less, enjoyable.  If you are looking for a novel that you can just curl up with and enjoy without having to think too hard, this is the book for you.  The characters are all loveable and make you want to shake their hand, grab a cup of coffee and sit around a table getting to know them better.



At the end of the book is the author's recipe for a Two Crust Apple Pie.  I followed it completely.  Like Miller, I too always use an assortment of apples in my pie and that assortment always included McIntosh.



I made this to serve this evening.  We had our  neighbors,  from across the street, in our little town, over for dinner.  I love small town living and enjoyed Miller's portrayal of how life often is when living in one.



My usual apple pie is this Apple Crumb Pie.  It is a family favorite with a bottom crust and a crumble topping.  I have also shared this Skillet Apple Pie that has no bottom crust but does have a top crust.  This is the first time I have made a Two Crust Apple Pie.  It was a big hit.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.



I will be sharing this post over at Foodies Read.  Take a look at what others are reading and creating this month.

Double Crust Deep Dish Apple Pie
adapted from Louise Miller

3 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
3 T. vegetable shortening
Ice water
2 T. butter
4 lbs. asst. apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
3/4 c. sugar
4 T. minute tapioca
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 egg white, beaten

Place the flour, sugar, salt, 1 1/2 sticks butter and vegetable shortening into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until mixture resemble coarse corn meal.   Remove to a bowl.  Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, and work in with your fingers until the dough begins to come together.  This should take about 6-8 tablespoons.  When the dough clumps together when squeezed, turn onto a lightly floured service and form it into a ball.  Divide the ball in half.  Press each half into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Remove from refrigerator to counter when ready to make the filling, so that the dough has time to become pliable.

Melt the 2 T. of butter in a large skillet, over med high heat.  Add the apples and cook stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Remove to a bowl.  Add sugar, tapioca, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Toss to coat and set aside to cool while you roll out the dough.

Roll the dough into two crusts on a lightly floured surface.  Place one crust in a deep dish pie pan and brush all over with the beaten egg white.  Add the apples to the bottom crust.  Layer the top crust over the apples and trim the edges of the pie. Pinch the crusts together using your thumb and fingers. Brush the top of the pie with the remaining egg white.

Place pie onto a cookie sheet and place in an oven that has been preheated to 400*.  Lower the oven temperature to 375* and bake for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.  Print Recipe

Friday, February 23, 2018

Begone You Pesky Virus!!! and the Weekly Menu

I am finally feeling back to almost normal.  Well enough that I can start thinking about seeing my family and friends that I have been ignoring for over a week.  When you add into that equation that I had been on vacation the week before that....you can see how badly I am missing everyone.

So tonight I am going back into the land of the living and attending a party where we make signs with my friend, Kirsten.  Frank is meeting our son, Tony, to go to a comic con and will have dinner with him.  I will probably have a tuna or peanut butter sandwich before the party.

Tomorrow our neighbors are joining us for dinner and Sunday we are having family dinner with our great niece, Lil, Amy, Doug, Nic and Pierre.  We also are finally getting to spend the day with our Angel Face who we haven't seen in over 2 weeks.


I did, however, get this video of her helping her Mama grocery shop.  She is a girl with a mission!!!

The rest of the week will be life back to normal.  Meetings at church, food pantry, taking care of Mel, visiting Aunt Irene, choir, etc.  Well one thing is new....On Thursday, my husband is unretiring and going back to work part time for the same agency from which he retired a couple of years ago.

So here is what's on our Weekly Menu.  Please stop by and visit each day as I share A Day in the Life on the Farm.

Saturday
Guacamole & Chips
Chicken Enchiladas
Tacos
Green Rice
Beans
Apple Pie

Sunday
Salad with Apples/Fennels/Roasted Beets
Roast Pork Loin
Applesauce
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Mushrooms
Brownies ala mode

Meatless Monday
Mac and Cheese

Toddler Tuesday
Chicken Stir Fry
Steamed Rice

Wednesday
Take out over at Aunt Irene's

Thursday
BBQ Pork Sandwiches (with leftover roast)

Fish Friday
Crab Cakes-moved from last week
Sweet Potato Fries
Cole Slaw


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Celery Soup #FoodnFlix

Our film for this month's FoodnFlix was Guess Who's Coming for Dinner, chosen by Evelyne over at CulturEatz.  You can find out more at Evelyne's Announcement Post.

This movie came out in 1967.  I was 9 years old and living in a suburb of Detroit.  The Detroit riots also happened in July of 1967.  I was oblivious to all of it.  The school system to which I belonged was pretty evenly divided between black and white students.  While we didn't really comingle outside of school, we were all pretty friendly in school and I can't recall any animosity.

Of course, I was in grade school.  My brothers who were in high school had a different experience.

Why am I talking of the Detroit riots in a post for FoodnFlix?  This movie, starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, is all about their daughter, played by Katherine Houghton,  making a surprise visit home to introduce them to her fiancé, played by Sidney Poitier.

See the source image

It is a film about how life is very black and white until something happens that forces you to see the gray in the world and to acknowledge your own prejudice, bias and belief system.  Not only is Sidney Poitier black but he is also 14 years older than their daughter, widowed and they had only known each other less than 2 weeks.

I watched this movie very early in the month.  I have sat down to write this post, I don't know how many times.  Each time I was moved to tears and had to stop writing.  This film hit me square in the face with my own faults and shortcomings.

My daughter did not come home with a man of a different race who was much older than she.  My son, however, did blurt out to me, during an argument when he was a young teenager, that he was gay.  I would like to say that I handled this news with as much tact and diplomacy as Katherine Hepburn in this movie.  I would think that the news she was given in the late sixties was much the same as that given to me in the late 80's.

I did not handle it gracefully.  I did not give my son the unconditional love and support that is required when you take on the role of being a mother.  I was scared and that fear came out in anger and hurtful words and accusations.  I actually said these words "You may as well have painted yourself black.  You are choosing to live a life where people will treat you with disdain and disgust.  At least black people don't have a choice."

I cringe as I write those words.  I am ashamed that I was so ignorant about others who might be different than I, whether that difference was skin color, religion, race, or sexuality.  It took me years to forgive myself for the way I treated my son.  Many more years than it took him to forgive me.

My son is a fine, good man.  He has so many wonderful qualities of which I am so proud.  Not the least of these fine qualities is his empathy and understanding for his mother who was unable to show empathy and understanding for him.

I'm going to stop writing now because I am blubbering all over my keyboard.  Suffice it to say that if you haven't seen this movie, you should.  I can't believe how little we, as a country have grown in the last 50 years.  I am proud to say that I have tried my very best to learn about others, their beliefs, cultures and traditions without judgement or preconception....it was a hard lesson but a great gift given to me from my son.

Let's talk food......there was not a lot of food in the movie.  At the very beginning, the daughter requests sandwiches from their longtime cook and asks what she is serving for dinner.  The cook, played by Isabel Sanford, replies Celery Soup.  The daughter says "Oh no, we need turtle soup, tournedos and one of your famous pies".



Other food mentioned or spotted were: coffee, steaks, lettuce, peas, mandarins, ice cream, a Japanese restaurant, and lots of cocktails.

I decided to make Celery soup, using this recipe from Bon Appetit. I adapted it only slightly, halving the recipe as I was only serving 2.  Frank still had enough to enjoy seconds.  This is a delicious, fast and easy soup that will be appearing again as a first course at an upcoming dinner party.




Thank you Evelyne for choosing this film.  It was especially poignant to me during this Lenten season of introspection. I found it interesting that in 1967 marriage between a black and a white person was still illegal in 16 or 17 States.  We find this mind boggling now but same sex marriage has only been legal for a few years and there are constant threats to change that.

One last word about this matter.  I was proud to see a Catholic priest portrayed in this film as a sensible. loving, caring person who refused to condemn or judge others.  Unfortunately the GLBT community hasn't had a lot of support from the church, Catholic or Protestant.  I am proud of the stand that our Pope has taken in regards to this matter and I pray that one day our children will look back at the movies of this time and shake their heads in wonder at our ignorance.

Here's my soup.....I should have made a cocktail....I need one after this post LOL.

Celery Soup for Two
adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 head celery, cleaned and chopped, a few leaves retained for garnish
1 medium golden potato, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 T. butter
1 3/4 c. chicken stock, divided
2 T. fresh baby dill
1/4 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper to tasted
The best olive oil you have

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over med high heat.  Add the celery, potato and onions.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.  Add 1 1/2 c. of chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until vegetables are fork tender.

Pour into a heavy duty blender or food processor.  Add the dill and cream, puree until smooth.  Add the remaining 1/4 c. stock for a thinner consistency.  Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Pour into individual bowls, drizzle with some good olive oil and garnish with reserved celery leaves.  Print Recipe

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Next month's film is Runaway Bride.  We would love have you join us.  Just watch the movie, create a recipe inspired by the movie and stop by Fix Me a Little Lunch and let Ali know that you would like to join us.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Wine Braised Potatoes #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

This week our Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project group is sharing Braised Potatoes as inspired by Mark Bittman's cookbook.


Bittman offers numerous ideas about how to cook just about anything and then invites you to run with it. I served up these potatoes alongside Roasted Chicken with a Five Spice Rub, also inspired by this cookbook.  

You do not have to own Mark's cookbook to join us. Most of his recipes can me found online from the NY Times website.  We would love to have you join in the fun.  Just comment below and I will invite you to our facebook page


These potatoes were easy to make and were a tender, creamy and delicious accompaniment to the roasted chicken.  The recipe below will feed 4-5 people.

Wine Braised Potatoes
inspired by The Kitchen Matrix by Mark Bittman

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. chicken stock

Heat the olive oil over med high heat in a deep skillet.  Add the onion, garlic and potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes start to brown.  Deglaze the pan by pouring in the wine and bringing to a boil, scraping any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and liquid is reduced.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for half an hour or so, until liquid is absorbed and potatoes are creamy and tender.  Print Recipe

More Braised Potatoes







Sausage and Cinnamon Roll Muffins #CrazyIngredientChallenge

Welcome to this month's edition of Crazy Ingredient Challenge, a fun little group led by Kelly of Passion Kneaded and Lori of Lori's Culinary Creations.  It is kind of like the Chopped of the blogging world.  Two ingredients are chosen by vote each month and the members of the group are sent to create the best recipe they can using said ingredients.

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This month's ingredients are Breakfast Sausage and Cinnamon. Pretty easy ingredients to incorporate.  I was looking forward to making a savory dish, perhaps something Asian but then I went on vacation during the month.

Luckily, I was staying at my brother's house so I did have access to a kitchen and was able to make the recipes for 3 blog posts while I was there, including this one.

I took over the kitchen on a Saturday, making these tasty little "muffins" for breakfast before we headed out for a day of sightseeing and a lunch date with a friend.  I filled the crockpot with Chicken Cacciatore before we headed out to serve along with Fish Vera Cruz for a family dinner of about 20 people that evening.

That family dinner is one of the reasons I chose to make this challenge an easy peasy one.  Not to worry though, it is still very tasty and the perfect breakfast to hand your family as they are walking out the door on a busy day.


I simply browned up some pork sausage, flattened refrigerated cinnamon rolls and rolled the sausage up inside.  I had originally thought to just bake them like that but then I thought perhaps they would be more aesthetically pleasing as Monkey Bread.  Unfortunately there was no bundt pan available.


So instead, I cut each individually wrapped sausage into thirds and placed them into a muffin tin.  Then I baked them according to the package directions.


They were simple and delicious.  They make a compact, complete meal in themselves or they would be perfect served with a plate of tender scrambled eggs.  Whether you grab one as you walk out the door or have a leisurely weekend breakfast with family, these little treats are sure to be a huge hit.


Sausage and Cinnamon Roll Muffins

8 breakfast link sausage, cooked (I used pork)
1 pkg. refrigerated cinnamon rolls with frosting included

Remove the cinnamon rolls from the package and flatten with the palm of your hand.  Place a sausage on top of each and roll the cinnamon roll around the sausage.  Cut each into thirds, placing them into the cups of a muffin pan.  Bake per package instructions (400* oven for 15-20 minutes).  Remove from oven and spread with the frosting.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Print Recipe

More Breakfast Sausage and Cinnamon Creations






Monday, February 19, 2018

Gauguin Gnocchi, served up with a Book Review

Quite a while back, I ordered up one of the Nook deals that occasionally pop up on my e-reader.  This deal gave you the first three books in a series by Estelle Ryan.  The novel I'm sharing with you today is the first in that series, The Gauguin Connection.

See the source image

These novels sat on my e-reader for nearly a year (maybe longer) before I finally got around to opening this one.  Now I am kicking myself for waiting so long and for wasting so much time.  I read this on the airplane while traveling to California.  The trip went by in a flash, so engrossed was I with this well written novel and the characters portrayed.

The protagonist is Genevieve Lenard, an extremely intelligent woman who suffers from high functioning autism.  Doctor Lenard is an unparalleled expert at reading non verbal cues and as such has been hired by an insurance company to study footage of clients who are making multi million dollar claims.

The novel starts with Dr. Lenard meeting a police detective who is a friend of her boss and mentor, Phillip.  Phillip is the closest thing to a "friend" that Genevieve has.  There is mutual respect and trust so when Phillip asks Genevieve to work with this detective, Manny, she forces herself to listen and agrees to work with him in a limited capacity.

The best laid plans......Dr. Lenard soon finds herself surrounded by "criminals" who insinuate themselves into her life.  There is Colin, the handsome and charming art thief and forger.  Vinnie his huge, intimidating and loveable body guard and Francine a fashion model type beauty who can hack into any computer system around.

This unlikely crew all end up working together to solve the mystery of who is having forgeries of great works of art created and then killing those young artists that they have hired to paint the forgeries.  

Vinnie, as big and as intimidating as he is, has a very maternal streak in him and spends his time, while guarding others, cooking and cleaning.  One of the meals he served was his grandmother's recipe for Gnocchi.



I had never made Gnocchi before but this scene in the book made me want to give it a shot.  I found this recipe over at Taste of Home and served it up today for Meatless Monday.  This is also a great recipe if you are abstaining from meat the Lenten Season.


Every nationality has it's version of dumplings.  These "little pillows", as tenderly referred to in Italy, are their version.  I thought they were very similar in technique to Pelmini that I have made with my Russian daughter, Marina.  They are even more similar to Lazy Pierogi, that we make using Frank's Mom's recipe.

I learned a couple of things when making this tonight.  First, I needed about a cup more flour than the original recipe to make my dough able to be worked.  Second, the smaller dumplings were tastier than the large, so I will take better care next to use consistency.  

I used pesto to dress my gnocchi but you can use a marinara sauce, ragu or just toss it with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper.

I am linking up with Foodies Read where my friends and I meet up to see what the others are cooking, reading and eating.  Stop by and find some great reads and recipes.

Gnocchi
adapted from Taste of Home

4 large, waxy, golden potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 c. flour
Sauce of choice

Place the potatoes into a pot and cover with water.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and spread onto a baking sheet to dry and cool a bit.

Mash the potatoes.  Place 2 cups of the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Reserve any remaining potatoes for another use.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place the dough hook onto the mixer and stir in the egg and the flour, a half cup at a time, until it is firm and elastic.  Let knead for a couple of minutes and then turn onto a floured surface.

Using a pastry knife cut the dough into pieces and roll into ropes.  Cut each rope into 1" pieces. Place each piece onto a fork, time sides up, and press with your thumb, creating little pillows with ridges on one side and an indentation on the other.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi in small batches and cook until they float to the surface, about 7 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a wire rack placed over parchment.  When ready to serve, toss with heated sauce of your choosing.  Print Recipe









Saturday, February 17, 2018

Spice up your Love Life with some Shrimp Etouffee #SoupSaturdaySwappers #Winophiles

Since February is the month of Love, Lynn of Savor the Harvest arranged for our French Winophiles group to be gifted some samples of French wines that speak of L'Amour.  She sums it up in her preview post.


We each received 4 very nice bottles.  I will be sharing my own thoughts, impressions and feelings about these wines in the posts that I write.  I received no monetary compensation for this or any post featuring these wines.

I have previously posted a pairing with the Cote-Rotie from Vidal Fleury when I paired it with a Perfect Baked Potato stuffed with Ropa Vieja.

The wine I am sharing in today's post was enjoyed at an early Valentine's Day Dinner that Frank and I celebrated before we left for our California vacation.   Knowing that we would be spending all day on Valentine's Day in airports and on planes, not to mention that we would also be observing Ash Wednesday, we spent the week before our trip having several quiet, romantic dinners at home.

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This particular dinner was my personal favorite.  I cooked up a Shrimp Etouffee from a recipe I found in my Cuisine at Home magazine.  I had never made Shrimp Etouffee before but when my friend, Kathy of A Spoonful of Thyme, volunteered to host our Soup Swappers group this month, choosing Cajun or Creole as a theme, I knew that this was what I wanted to make.

Isn't that a gorgeous graphic that Kathy made for this event?  Soup Saturday Swappers post on the 3rd Saturday of each month based on a theme chosen by one of the members.  If you would like to join in the fun just leave a comment below and I will be happy to add you to our group.


This was the most amazing dish!!  I couldn't believe how wonderfully rich and comforting it was.  I was concerned because Frank doesn't care for too much spice so I adjusted the measurements accordingly.  It was, in our opinion, perfectly spiced and Frank loved it as much as I.

Since Creole cooking has such wonderful French Influences, with those influences being very pronounced in the origin of Etouffee, I chose to pair it with the Savoie Cuvee Gastronomie.

While I liked the crisp acidity of the Savoie, I think that this particular dish needed a more fruit forward wine.  Perhaps a softer, more buttery white or a light red wine would have been a better match.



Oh well, I still have the Rose and the Saint Amour to pair and I loved this dish enough that I can't wait to serve it again.  I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, please enjoy the other Cajun/Creole Soups/Stews being shared today.  You will find links to these recipes following mine.  You will also find links to the other Winophile's L'Amour pairings at the bottom of this post.

I hope that you and your Valentine had a wonderful celebration.  I'm beginning preparation for our Chinese New Year Celebration.  See my menu here.

Shrimp Etouffee
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #127

1 T. butter
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
1 small rib celery, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
4-5 c. chicken stock, divided
2 t. paprika
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. thyme
1 t. oregano
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
4 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/2 medium Vidalia onion
1 rib celery, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (I used yellow)
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, flavored with garlic and onions
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the reserved shrimp shells, small diced onion, small diced rib of celery and the bay leaf.  Cook and stir until shells turn pink and vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.   Add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Strain the enhanced stock into a 4 cup measuring cup.  Discard the solids.  Add additional chicken stock to the enhanced stock to make 4 cups.  Set aside.

While stock is simmering, combine the paprika, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Melt 4 T. of butter over medium heat in the same saucepan used for the stock.  Stir in the flour.  Cook and stir constantly until the color of peanut butter, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the medium onion, large rib of celery and bell pepper.  Cook and stir occasionally until vegetables start to soften, about 15 minutes.  Stir in half of the spice mixture and the seasoned diced tomatoes with their juices.  Stir in the reserved stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  

Toss the shrimp with the remaining spice blend.  Add to the Etouffee and cook until pink throughout, about 3-4 minutes. Taste and season with salt as needed.  Serve over steamed white rice.  Print Recipe

More Creole/Cajun Soups and Stews







More L'Amour Wine Pairings