Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cherry Hand Pies

Sitting around on a Saturday morning, Richard and I are trying to decide what dessert I should make for the weekend. I am having a serious sweet tooth attack and everything from cookies to cakes to cupcakes sounds good. So we head to the store to just pick up a few baking staples that we need: chocolate chips, cherries, nuts. Having these things in the house means we'll have what we need to whip up a tasty treat once we decide what that is.

I wanted to make something familiar but that would give me a new challenge and BOOM! It hit me. Hand pies!

Although Americans didn't invent pies, we certainly are the country that has most embraced the concept. Hand pies used to be the go-to food for many American field laborers and travelers. But homemade pies became rarer after WWII and convenience foods took over. A recent resurgence in pie popularity has brought some lovely innovations to the most beloved favorites. But today's pie recipe is simple, classic and freaking delicious! I did have about a cup of filling left over, but we're going to use that as a tasty ice cream topping. Genius.

3 cups jarred pitted sour cherries, reserve 1 tbsp cherry juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp butter, unsalted, cubed
5 tbsp ice water

1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
granulated or turbinado sugar

In a stand mixer, combine flour and salt. Add butter and mix on high until crumbly (about the size of small peas). Using a spatula add one tablespoon of ice water and toss into mixture. Continue until a soft dough is formed. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten into 2 inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

In a large saucepan, heat cherries, sugar, cinnamon and salt over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to gentle boil and lightly mash cherries with a wooden spoon. In a small bowl, combine reserved cherry juice, 1 tbsp of cooked cherry juice and cornstarch. Stir to dissolve then stir cornstarch mixture into cherries. Simmer gently for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Allow to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and water.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut chilled dough into 6 equal parts. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface. Cut each piece into and 5.5-6 inch circle. I used a small saucer and cut around it with a butter knife. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of cherry mixture into the center of the circle. Using a pastry brush, brush the edge of one side of the circle with egg wash. Fold the other side over and crimp with a fork. Repeat for each circle. Arrange pies on cookie sheet and brush with egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sugar.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes then 350 for 5 more minutes.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Your Midweek Dinner Menu

I'm on a big peanut butter kick right now. I have always loved peanut butter, but this week I'm really feeling the PB love. So I've put together a meal menu using peanut butter in every course. You might think this could be peanut butter overload. But it's not! It's the perfect showcase of how versatile this pantry staple can be.

Salad Course is the genius behind this delicious peanut salad dressing. If you are a big fan of Thai food, you're going to love this! Pair it with crisp romaine, grated carrot, sliced cucumber and chopped nuts.

Main Course

Over at Kitchen Confidante, Liren is busy putting together recipes that are definitely drool-worthy. This Indonesian Pork Tenderloin is just one of them. Serve it with some grilled veggies and rice for a perfect meal.

Dessert Course

Fresh & Simple Kitchen is killing me with these super simple and fantastic peanut butter coconut truffles. They only have three ingredients and almost no prep time. Just don't eat them all before dinner starts!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that these little beauties started on a whim at 9pm on a Friday. They would probably be amazing with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips or a smear of raspberry preserves but since I didn't plan ahead I worked with what I had. 

These bake at a high heat so I would not recommend substituting the peanut oil with something like butter or vegetable oil. They may breakdown under the high temperature and cause your muffins to brown too quickly.

We grind our own peanut butter because I think it tastes better. If you use store-made peanut butter, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar since store-made peanut butters contain a good amount of added sugar. 

½ cup Peanut Oil
2 Large Eggs
½ cup Granulated Sugar
2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/4 cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 2/3 cup Unbleached Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line a muffin tin with liners or lightly grease with oil or butter and set aside.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

3) In a large bowl beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, peanut butter and mashed bananas.

5) Add the dry ingredients and mix them in to combine well but making sure to not over mix.

6) Fill your muffin tins 3/4 of the way and bake them for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.And it's time to eat!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lobster rolls!!!

When I was a kid I always thought that if you were able to eat lobster then you were rich. I really thought that. And after a night of singing fervently into a hairbrush in my room, I would imagine I was being interviewed by some fabulous magazine. They would always ask me about my wonderful life as a superstar and of course I would tell them that "I'm just a normal girl like you. Except I eat lobster every night and drink fancy, bubbly drinks."

Well, dreams do come true! I eat lobster more often than I should, but I really don't care. You can judge me all you want as I sit happily with a belly full of lobster meat and butter running down my chin.

Preparing lobster:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put live lobster in the water head first. Boil for 10-15 minutes depending on size. While lobster is cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water.

Submerge cooked lobster in ice bath immediately after removing from the boiling water. Allow to cool in bath for 5 - 10 minutes. Crack shell and remove all meat from tail and claws. Be sure to rinse any green gunk (bile) from the tail. Pull lobster meat into bite sized pieces.

We mixed together some mayo, lime juice, old bay seasoning and tabasco and then tossed it with the lobster meat and scallions. You could also skip the mayo and use butter or olive oil.

Preparing the rolls:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap rolls in foil and place on top rack of the oven for about 0 minutes. Carefully remove from foil and brush insides with melted butter.