Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Walnut Brownies

I made some deliciously fudgy brownies last week in lieu of pie. Hard to believe, but I needed a break from pie.

Dark Chocolate Walnut Brownies
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. dark chocolate (I used 1 slab + 1 row from a Sirius brand 70% extra-bitter chocolate bar; available at Whole Foods)
4 large eggs
1.75 c. sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. vanilla extract (optional)
2/3 c. shelled walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 x 12" baking pan (I use ceramic). Melt butter and chocolate together in a double boiler (can also use a metal mixing bowl atop a medium or large pot of boiling water). Set aside. With electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until thickened and lemon yellow in color. Add vanilla. Fold in chocolate liquid mixture. Stir to mix. Sift flour into batter and gently fold in. Mix only until just blended. Fold in walnuts. Pour into prepared baking dish and rap the side of the dish with your hand a couple times to release air bubbles. Bake for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 30 min. before cutting and serving.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Leftover Veal Roast Pot Pie

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Making a basic pot pie is not that hard and it's a great way to use up leftovers. Granted, you'll need to feel comfortable making a pie crust and homemade gravy, but the rest is easy. You just take a bunch of cooked meat, a bunch of cooked vegetables, and a bunch of gravy and mix it all together for the filling. Also, as an added tip, my mom says you can use a can of cream of mushroom soup instead of gravy in a pinch. She made us the tasty veal pot roast used to make this pot pie.

Herb Crust (top and bottom crust)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. chopped fresh thyme
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
10.5 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4.5 T. ice water (or more if dough is still too dry)

Blend the dry ingredients and herbs in a food processor until well-blended. Add butter and process until mixture looks like coarse meal. Add 3 T. of the ice water. Pulse. Add more water in 1/2 T. increments, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture just starts to clump together. Gather dough into 2 balls. Place one ball in the refrigerator. Roll out the other ball and place in pie dish.

Leftover Veal Roast Pot Pie
1 lb. leftover veal roast (or beef pot roast), cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 T. olive oil
2 medium-large red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 c. frozen peas, thawed
2 c. of beef gravy (use the drippings from the roast, add some beef broth, and thicken with butter and flour while stirring)

Boil carrots and potatoes for about 10 min. in a medium-size pot. Vegetables should be tender. Peas can be thrown in just before taking off the burner to expedite thawing. Strain and transfer vegetables to a large bowl. Saute onion in oil over medium heat until soft. Add to bowl of vegetables. Add veal and gravy and mix well. Place ingredients in prepared crust.

Roll out top crust and place over mixture. Crimp and seal edges; cut a hole in the top crust for steam to escape. Bake mine at 425 F for 20 minutes, then 350 F for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden and it looks like the filling is bubbly.

Current Pie Tally: 22

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Can't Ruin a Good Thing

Another Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from the freezer arsenal. Made the same as the last one of the same proportions. I think I could have cooked it a bit longer. The bottom crust could have been a bit firmer. But a success overall.

Current Pie Tally: 21

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cherry Rhubarb Pie

When you have a new baby, the house guests just keep on coming. I like to keep them well fed and happily plied with pie. This is one of two pies I made last week. I didn't add quite enough ice water to the crust, so it was difficult to work with (tearing and falling apart all over the place when I rolled it out and tried to transfer it to the pie dish). However, crust that barely holds together and fresh-frozen crust come out the best. Despite its ugliness, the pie was delicious. The other pie I made was another rhubarb strawberry version that used garden produce. That one will probably be summoned from the freezer in about a week. As I write this, I am also currently cooking the strawberry rhubarb pie that I made for the freezer the day before Caleb was born. I'll post about that one in a few days.

Cherry Rhubarb Pie (for 9" pie):
pastry for 2-crust pie (Dimock's recipe)
1 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 lb. cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 c. sugar, heaped
5 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. vanilla

Mix the fruit, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl. Roll out the bottom crust and place in pie dish. Pour fruit filling in. Roll out top crust and place over bottom crust and filling. Trim overhang; crimp, and seal edges. Cut one or more vents in the top crust. Bake at 425 F for 15 min, then 350 F for 40 min. When filling is visibly bubbling vigorously under the vent in the crust or some of the filling erupts onto the crust, the pie is done.

Current Pie Tally: 20

Friday, June 4, 2010

Post-Baby Pie Update

And then there were three pie-loving mouths to feed. My son Caleb Richmond was born on May 23rd, so pie time is precious time these days. However, I have managed a few. First off, the chicken pot pie that I froze was excellent. Freezing definitely "cured" the crust to perfection. Very flaky, flavorful, and filling. Just what we needed after a long delivery. Here is a recap of how to cook a frozen pot pie: DO NOT THAW IT. Put it directly in a 425 F oven for 20 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 350 F and cook it for about another 50 min. It's done when the crust around the center looks dry and cooked.

Second, the day before Cal was born, my nesting instincts (which manifested mostly in obsessive gardening) inspired me to pick a bunch of our rhubarb and make a strawberry rhubarb pie for the freezer. It's still there, waiting to be called into service.

Lastly, there's the story behind this post's photo. My boy is less than two weeks old and I made a pie today. From scratch. With filling ingredients solely from my garden and a neighbor's garden. It's a rhubarb strawberry pie, made the same way as the strawberry rhubarbs I've made, except that the fruit proportions are skewed in favor of the strawberries. I maybe used 1.5 - 2 quarts of strawberries and 1 c. less of the rhubarb.

Current Pie Tally: 19