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Posts Tagged ‘crust’

Surprise! Welcome to my Northwest Territories Kitchen. I’ve somehow found a new place to call home, amidst the tail-end of the boreal forest treeline, on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. I think this is going to be a great year for Gourm(eh) on my end – I’ll be exploring Canadian food from the Northern perpective, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are still a few weeks of fishing left (hopefully) before we break until the ice can hold us safely. The rose-hips are lonely without their leaves, just waiting to be picked and turned into jelly. The days are getting shorter at an unbelieveable rate – and although I’ll miss the sun, I’m really excited for the northern lightshow, with a mug of hot chocolate.

I’ve been here for a week now, and while I was hoping to share a traditional dish right away, I’m going to start with this tarte la francaise, in hommage to all the wonderful francophone people I’ve met in the community. Without an internet connection of my own, I’m dependent on the public library, and neighbours around me, who have generously offered me their internet connection. Tired of going up to see them for their internet, I decided to pay them back with a warm little apple pie tonight, like my Grandmother makes in Normandy.

1 shortcrust pastry

1-2 tart apples, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced

1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 egg

Make the short crust pastry at least 30 minutes in advance, and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 400f. Slice apples finely with a sharp knife. Dip in a dilute lemon juice solution and drain so they don’t brown.

Once oven is ready, roll crust out to 3cm wider diameter than a tart dish (or a pie dish). Place in dish, and press edges down to have a nice thick outer crust. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Freeze for about 10 minutes.

Arrange apples on cooled crust in a thin layer. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until apples begin to soften and crust becomes lightly golden on edges.

Meanwhile, whisk the cream, egg, sugar, and spices together, and refrigerate until apples are softened.

Spoon cream mixture over apples and bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until set and slightly golden.

Enjoy with vanilla-infused whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bon appetit,

-Sitelle

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I’m sure that most will agree with me when I say crust is key to the success of pies and other delicious treats.  The crazy thing is, it only takes 5 minutes to make (well, once you’ve done it a few times).  I swear it is no more efficient to buy it in the grocery store ready-made, and it is definitely tastier home-made.  Plus, if you like making things in doubles, you can freeze half the dough in a ziplock and use it a week or two later.  Just take it out 1/2 an hour before rolling it out!

There are few ingredients in crusts, so the key is less them and more how they are handled.  Too much work and/or heat results in a rubbery mess that can be very disappointing.  To avoid this, use the coldest ingredients possible (if I use the food processor, I like to freeze cubes of butter 1/2 an hour in advance!), and I use water that I chill in the freezer while preparing the rest.  I’ll give both my machine-free and my food-processor variations so that everyone can indulge!

Ingredients

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp granulated sugar (*OMIT For savoury crust)
-2/3 cups cold cold cold butter, cut into 1-2 cm cubes (put them back in the fridge or freezer after cutting them if it gets soft before being incorporated in the flour)
-1/2 cup cold cold cold water
-pinch salt

Directions

By hand

Cut butter into cubes, then refrigerate or freeze.  In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.  When ready, cut butter into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Cut the butter quickly, mixing it into the flour, until it forms pea-sized lumps.  At this point, add 1 Tbsp of water at a time as you try to form a ball with the dough.  Do not overwork the dough.  At the first real signs that it can form into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

By food processor

Cut the butter into cubes and place in freezer, as well as water.  Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse to mix.  Add the butter, and pulse several times until pea-sized lumps remain.  Turn this out into a bowl, and add water 1 Tbsp at a time, until a ball can be formed, without overworking it.  Place the ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Then, the easiest method I find for rolling the pastry out is between 2 sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin (or, as was often the case in the first years of university, a wine bottle).

Some recipes require blind baking, which is just cooking the pastry alone before filling it.  A simple blind-bake can be done by preheating the oven to 375F, rolling out the crust, and placing it into a greased pie dish.  Then, just prick the crust, and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper (make sure there’s at least 1 inch of overlap all around).  Place baking weights, or, if you’re like me and don’t happen to have any of those you can just as easily substitute uncooked rice or beans or lentils, onto the parchment paper.

Cook it for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment paper (carefully, because you can reuse the weights an infinite number of times if you don’t spill them), and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered.  This allows the crust to be extra flaky in recipes like lemon tarts.

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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