food

post33 // melting berry pie

IMG_1120

there was a lot to celebrate this past month, most notably my big brother rob’s move up to the big apple. i’ve been hoping he’d make the move since, well since i moved up here, and on saturday april first it came true! i was glad it wasn’t an april fool’s joke. he showed up with my brother jake and i showed up with the best thing i could think of: pie.

pie, pie, pie. we really love pie in my family. probably because i really love making it. on summer weekends together, pie is my baking project of choice. i run out of hands when i start counting the number of friends and family i’ve made pies with.¹ so it seemed only right that upon rob’s arrival, a pie would be a nice treat. not to mention, a really good mid-move snack.

fullsizeoutput_75fi had planned to make the pie saturday morning and bring it over to my brother’s new place that afternoon when they arrived. butttt my plans got a bit meddled after a night out on friday, spent very wisely at my favorite place in nyc: sid gold’s request room, which led to sleeping in on saturday.  who can blame me? needless to say, pie making was pushed a bit later in the day. and my brothers’ plans? they were actually arriving *earlier* than expected. not exactly what i wanted to hear. i got to baking right away.

two hours later and the brothers had arrived in brooklyn as i was just pulling out a hot berry pie from the oven. wow it looked good. but how the hell was i going to get this thing over there? i live seven stops away in manhattan requiring two trains to get to my brother’s new place. would i bring the pie on the subway? i thought about this. for like a second. hell no i was not taking a warm pie in the subway. how would i swipe my subway card and hold it? this pie was still hot so i would have to carry it on a cookie sheet. nope.

the pie didn’t make it on the subway. instead, i went with uber. i was already late anyways so hopefully a car would get me there faster.

fullsizeoutput_760my uber driver was not happy with my entrance. i had to ask a random man on the street to open the car for me and i didn’t really think through driving on nyc streets in a car with a liquidy, bubbling pie. as i sat clutching the pie plate so hard, the dessert spilled and leaked onto the cookie sheet. one big pothole and that pie would’ve leaked all over my uber driver’s car. and boy was he noticing. “is that going to spill??” he kept asking me. “everything okay?” came out of his mouth at each stoplight. i felt terrible, but what could i do! i needed to get the pie there! and i did. a few sticky fingerprints were left on my uber man’s car (sorry sir), but i made it and greeted my brother with a “welcome to new york city” shout and a pie shoved right into his face. a warm welcome right there.

IMG_1120

¹s/o to some special folks i’ve made memorable pies with: this thanksgiving apple w/ my mom, this lattice beauty with stella, this strawberry cream version w/ my dad, this low-res pie w/ yarbs (from my ig’s days of infancy), and this berry number showing off pie process with avh.


berry melt pie

makes 1 double-crust pie

fixings

pie crust:

2½ cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter

filling:

1 1/2 cups sugar

5 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 cups fresh berry medley (i used strawberries blueberries, and blackberries but cherries, peaches, plums, and any other fruit will be delicious.)

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons sugar

special tools

rolling pin (or wine bottle!)

pie plate

instructions

pie crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):

  1. fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 3/4 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prep the following steps.
  2. in a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt. drop 1-tablespoon pieces of butter into the flour and toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  3. place your palms up and curl your fingers back to scoop up the flour and fat. rub, rub, rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. make sure you reach into the bottom and around the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. it should be chunky—mostly cherry-size pieces, the smaller bits resembling coarse cornmeal.
  4. take the water out of the freezer. pour it (slowly!) in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. toss to distribute the moisture. as you add a bit more water and toss, the dough will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. if it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. if the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done.
  5. gather the dough in 2 balls, one slightly larger for the bottom crust. quickly form the dough into thick disks using your palms and thumbs. wrap the disks individually in plastic wrap. refrigerate for an 30 minutes to 3 days before rolling.

filling: 

  1. heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. in large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups sugar, the cornstarch and salt. gently toss with all the berries and let stand for 15 minutes. dump into the bottom crust-lined pie pan. fold the top crust over the pie plate and arrange strips in a lattice if desired! crimp edges and brush crust with milk, followed by a sprinkle of sugar.
  3. place pie in the middle oven rack and put a cookie sheet below it in case of leakage. bake 20 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. cover edge of crust with foil strips to prevent burning. bake 40-45 minutes longer or until middle part of crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. recommended: let stand 2 hours before serving (we know I didn’t do that…).

photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post31 // sweet potatoes with thyme

DSC_0193Thyme-Infused Sweet Potatoes

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, floats, the list goes on and on and on. However, recently I’ve been trying to substitute these cravings of mine with smaller portion sizes and sugar I can benefit from. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that should be added to your grocery list ASAP. Low in grams, one sweet potato contributes an extensive amount of nutrients for its percentage of the recommended dietary allowment (RDA). Also beneficial, sweet potatoes are high in amylopectin, a digestible type of starch.

If those scientific benefits didn’t lure you in, then this taste will. Littered in thyme leaves and a kick from red pepper flakes, these sweet potato rounds are full of flavor. I promise they’ll keep you full for a long time and if you make the whole recipe at once, you’ll be able to add them to meals throughout the week!

DSC_0173

Thyme-Infused Sweet Potato Rounds

Adapted from Kathryn Matthews, Epicurious

Materials:

Large bowl to mix

Cutting board

Knife

Vegetable Peeler

Cup/spoon measurements

Baking sheet or baking dish (13X9)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Extra butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease your baking sheet or dish with butter or oil.
  2. Combine all ingredients and toss in large mixing bowl.
  3. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet or dish.
  4. Place on middle oven rack and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

post18 // giada’s eggplant timbale: where meat, cheese, pasta, and eggplant reach an apex

Image

Stepping away from my traditional posts on Latin cuisine, I couldn’t resist writing about one of my favorite dishes of all time. As a big fan of many Giada recipes, this delicious Italian meal will leave you washing plates that have already been licked clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Giada de Laurentiis, I’m sorry. Then again, I’m not the sorry because you’re reading this post, which means you at least now know who she is.

Image

Look, there she is! Fitting that she’s holding an eggplant (wow, what a perfect transition into talking about the eggplant timbale!). Anyways, she’s got some great recipes, this one in particular coming from her book Giada’s Kitchen. For the past four years, my Dad Tom—who first inspired me to start cooking alongside baking— and I have cooked an eggplant timbale, fixing our previous errors each time and stuffing our faces together. I love cooking with my Dad and some of our recipe nights have been my greatest memories with him. But as any familial relationship goes, there are ups as tall as Kimye’s soon-to-be wedding cake and lows as low as the burnt bottom of a cookie pan that you just can’t quite scrape clean. While we struggled to agree on the pasta quantity that fills the eggplant covered pan, which then led to a time out for the two of us, I eventually won the portion squabble using my baking background as ammo for how to fill a spring-form pan. If this is the worst thing we’re fighting about, I think we’ve got it pretty good.

In terms of what this eggplant timbale actually is, let me explain. Tucked between the eggplant layering and the sprinkled pecorino cheese seen in the above photo is an outrageously delicious meat pasta made with Italian sausage, ground beef, onions, green peas, and mozzarella cheese. Despite two brothers who are not enamored with eggplant (unlike my Dad and I, self-trumpeted eggplant worshipers), the pasta makes up for what they perceive as a veggie distraction. I on the other hand, can’t help but enjoy every bite of my timbale helping, a tasteful blend of vegetables and cheesy meaty goodness.

Image

If you’re going to undertake this recipe, and it is an undertaking, please make sure to give yourself three hours from start to finish. Do not plan to do anything after you eat the meal because all you will want is your bed. Stick to the instructions! I cannot repeat these guidelines more to people I’ve shared this recipe with. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with a poor ratio between the different ingredients. With any extra pasta that doesn’t fit in the timbale, you can store it in a tupperware container for up to five days. That time period is the same for storing the eggplant timbale.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick *I suggest buying the largest eggplants you can find
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan *You can use an 8-inch too, just be aware that you might not need as much eggplant

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/eggplant-timbale-recipe.html