Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, I know. it’s about time that I wrote another post. I’ve been just plain lazy and busy with work and life. So just in time for thanksgiving I am baking a good ole’ apple pie. I had an apple pie party with a friend and we planed to bake three pies but instead made four with the extra dough left over and more than enough apples. I overestimated the amount of apples needed but its ok since I boiled down the apple and the juices then turned it into an apple sauce.
Also, Have a wonderful thanksgiving with all of your family and friends!
Image
get all those ingredients together.
ImagePea sized butter
Image
Image
That’s a lot of dough (no pun intended)
Apple Pie Crust
Adapted from Mark Bittman
The recipe in the link will only make one pie crust and this one will make two, one for the bottom and another for the top.
After making this pie crust many, many times I noticed that the amount of water needed was much more than recommended. Sometimes, ok most of the time, I would add a tad bit too much water, making the dough very sticky and watery, but not to worry I would add more flour till it wasn’t sticking to the sides of the bowl.
I wrote next to the butter to cut it into pea sized pieces only because I don’t have a big fancy food processor, just a small one which can’t fit it all in, I use a knife to cut the butter into smaller pieces and then mix it together with the flour with my hands.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
16 tablespoons (2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pea sized pieces
13 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to a couple of days or freeze, tightly wrapped, for up to a couple of weeks.)

Sprinkle a clean counter-top with flour, put the dough on it, and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.

When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than that of your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling (if you’re in a hurry, freeze for a half hour or so).

Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes).

When you’re ready to bake, either fill it or prick it all over with a fork for prebaking.
Image
Apples for days
Image
Granny smith apples with sugar and spice.
Image
Granny smith, Golden delicious and Fuji apples.
Image
Roll that dough out!
Image
pie designs (apple and a cat). don’t mind the feet and other bodies.
Image
Lattice and heart design.
Apple Pie Filling
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook
I have a jumble of apples that I use since I usually go to Asian supermarkets and they don’t have the same variety as American supermarkets. I pick a few that are sweet and sour.
I put corn starch and flour since I get paranoid that the apple pie will get all soggy from the excess juice but then I learned, the hard way, to NOT put all the excess juice that accumulates when you first mix it together with the spices and sugar. Maybe its because I leave the mixture out too long and the lemon juice, sugar and apple get a chance to mingle then all the juice appears.
What happens to that lovely sugar and spice juice? well I’m glad you asked, instead of using an egg white to get the crust to brown I use the excess juice to get that lovely shine and color.

3 Fuji apples
2 Golden delicious apples
2 Granny smith apples
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
2/4 cups, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

Adjust oven rack to the middle and oven to 425°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 2/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, with some of the juice, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bring the temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours

Image
four pies all baked. lovely!
Image
my apple pie baking partner, spying on the pies!
Image
An extra pie from another day that I couldn’t resist showing. I bought a fancy new ceramic pie plate from Williams-Sonoma with a gift card from my lovely aunt, thanks!

Berry Crumble

One day I watching Ina Garten on her food network show, Barefoot Contessa, she was baking a peach blueberry crumble and I thought oh my goodness, that looks so delicious! I have to make it! Actually almost everything that she makes I also want to make because it looks delicious, even a simple fruit platter or antipasto. Ina Garten is by far one of my favorite cooks because she always looks happy, relaxed and easy going, then again who wouldn’t when you live in the Hamptons. Plus, she has all these fabulous friends that come over and help her cook or decorate. awesome! Speaking of fabulous friends, I have a friend (J.Z.) that also loves Ina Garten as much as I do. My friend has a few of her cookbooks, sadly I only have one but that one has her signature in it!
I realized that I haven’t really talked about music in a while, the songs I am listening to now are by Lana del Rey. Her music has a more low and slow, sometimes a sadder, tone to her tunes but I guess her music grew on me and I like it. Some of her more popular songs are blue jeans, blue velvet (this song was played in an H&M commercial with her in it) and young & beautiful (this song was on The Great Gatsby soundtrack and trailer). Now on to the food!

Berry Crumble
Adapted from Ina Garten
Instead of using peaches I used frozen raspberry and strawberry along with the blueberries, just because I didn’t have peaches. Also I found that the recipe asked for a lot more flour than I thought it needed or it could be because I didn’t have enough fruit. It’s a bit of both, to remedy that I would add on two more cups of any berry of your choice and lowering the amount of flour (which is done below).
If there is anyone out there that is following a gluten-free diet then instead of using flour you can use cornstarch and you don’t have to make the crumble, this is great over other things such as gluten free ice cream or banana bread…..Hi Amy!
In the original recipe the dessert was plated in ramekins but if you don’t have those you can put it in a baking dish or casserole dish.
DSC_3692
Colorful ingredients.
DSC_3696
Berries combined with the flour mixture.
DSC_3709
The crumble and fruit mixture.
DSC_3712
Ready for the oven.
DSC_3716
DSC_3724
Top it off with some ice cream and its ready to eat!

For the fruit:
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cup raspberry
1 cup strawberry
2 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)
For the crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour in a large bowl. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries, strawberry, raspberry. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or baking dish.For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas, or if you are like me then use a knife to cut the butter into itty bitty bits. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

Happy Birthday Mom! Banana bread with chocolate.

Wishing my mother a Happy Birthday and Hello July!
Poor bananas. In my house they either get eaten quickly or slowly, or I forget them in the brown bag because I am waiting for them to ripen (It really works, just put an apple inside too). This time it was because the bananas were being eaten slowly, so slow that I had to put them in the refrigerator, but lovely for me to make banana bread!

Banana bread with chocolate
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg
This recipe came from her book A Homemade Life, which has quite a few recipes with a great story behind each one.
The butter and flour can be substituted for a healthier option. The banana and yogurt in the recipe can substitute the butter. Bananas can substitute the full amount of butter or, if you are skeptical, half the amount and the yogurt can substitute half the amount.
As for the flour, get yourself some ground flax seed and substitute about half or quarter the amount. This substitution can be put into use with just about any recipe. Another nifty tip, when you don’t have any baking soda just use double the amount of baking powder.
DSC_3502
getting ready to bake!
DSC_3509
mushy bananas, not a very appealing color.
DSC_3512
Pouring the mushy banana mixture into the dry ingredients. again not the most appealing color or action for that matter..oops.
DSC_3517
poured out the batter into the greased loaf pan and smoothed the top of the batter as best I could.
DSC_3520
Then out of the oven and the loaf has turned a beautiful golden brown. It smelled delicious! I had to restrain myself from eating it because I had to save it for a family gather the next day.

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter (optional because of the bananas)
2 cups all purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cup flour & 1/2 ground flax seed)
2/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas)
1/4 cups of  whole milk plain yogurt or greek non fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F. Grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.

In a small bowl, microwave the butter until just melted. (Be careful and do this over medium power in short burst because it can explode or splatter and that is a big mess.) Or melt it in the preheating oven. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and whisk well to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not over mix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.

Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 mins. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing (if you can wait that long).

The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn.

Carrot cake pops

These were baked as a request from one of my best friends, she said that she had never seen anyone make carrot cake pops. So I made it with my god sister, it was really fun to make. I think if anyone has a party or kids, they will love this cause kids get to wreck the cake and its a bite size piece of cake that you don’t have to feel super guilty about.

DSC_3372
DSC_3382
DSC_3387
DSC_3389
butter up and flour the baking pan.
DSC_3401 DSC_3402
DSC_3409
DSC_3418
DSC_3424
mixing the cake to crumbly blob
DSC_3426
DSC_3434
DSC_3436

Carrot cake pops
I used a recipe from my previous post Carrot cake.
The great things about this recipe is it can be easily adapted to any type of cake.
The icing will have to be doubled in amount, although the powdered sugar could be cut down since you will have to use more of it in this recipe.
Once you have the ingredients for the carrot cake then all you need is the lollipop/cake pop sticks. I would suggest to cut the sticks in half.

Cake pop assembly
After you have baked the cake and let it cool. Then use a fork to mix the cake till its all crumbled.
Add the first portion of icing to the crumbled cake, this is done to help the cake adhere to each other.
Mix the icing and cake together, it will look crumbled blobs.
Use your hands to shape the cake into a ball, roughly the size of a ping pong ball and place them on a cookie sheet or container.
Place sticks in the middle of cake balls and then put them into the freezer for 15 mins or refrigerator for 30 mins for the cake to firm up and form.
Make the icing while you wait for the cake pops to harden. You want the icing to be more liquidy than the previous icing made, therefore adding less powdered sugar or heating the icing up before usage would allow that to happen.
Take out the cake pops from the fridge and dip them in the icing then place them back on the cookie sheet. Once done with icing put them back into the fridge to harden the icing.
Voila, you have cake pops!

French apple tart

A Happy belated Mother’s Day!! I hope everyone celebrated with their loved ones.
Now I did not forget my blog I have just been busy studying and studying for yucky tests and sadly I still have more. But today, and yesterday, I am taking a break. So on with the baking! This French apple tart is a dainty simple dessert that I saw Ina Garten make on tv and my oh my did it look delicious!

French Apple Tart
Adapted from Ina Garten
Don’t have a food processor, not to worry. I use a knife and cut them into tiny pieces then add them into the flour.
I find that the water you need to add in the pastry dough is never enough. Add more water till the dough comes together and if you add too much water, put a bit more flour to make it less sticky and watery.
If you have some oddly shaped sliced apples don’t worry about it, just place it in the same pattern and if there are tiny spaces left on the pastry, just make your own shape out of the apple slices. No one will notice because they will be too busy enjoy it!
When making this I suggest you sprinkle the sugar at least one inch away from the border of the pastry because the sugar and apple juices will melt and burn the edges of the pastry. Burnt sugar tastes kind of good but its no fun trying to pry it off the baking sheet.
DSC_3325

DSC_3331

DSC_3335
Apples, apples, apples…I think I cut too many but its okay, more for me to work with.

DSC_3339

DSC_3341
Rolled out that dough.

DSC_3343
Apples laid out nicely in a type of fish scale pattern. Sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter.

DSC_3346
Out of the oven and into my tummy.

Pastry dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar 1

2 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup ice water

Apples

4 Granny Smith apples

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, small diced

1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam

2 tablespoons  water

For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices.  Sprinkle with the full 1/4 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper or foil. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my father’s birthday! I made cheesecake with a slight lemon flavor. This is what what I think a New York style cheesecake is suppose to taste like, thick slice and creamy consistency, yum! Don’t feel too guilty for eating it since I cut half the amount of sugar in the recipe. I had a mango and strawberries in my fridge, used those to make a pretty flower design.

DSC_3196
all the ingredients and tools you need. Vanilla extract is optional, I accidentally put it there, it’s for a sour cream topping in the original recipe.

DSC_3193
Once again if you are feeling stressed use that meat tenderizer to crush those graham crackers!

DSC_3205
The egg, cream cheese, sugar, lemon and flour. A bit lumpy buts it’s okay, keep going!

DSC_3206
Added the egg whites and folded it into the batter. Do not stir the egg whites or else all the work you did to make the egg whites peak will be for nothing. To fold the egg whites you should use a spatula and gently lift the batter from underneath to “fold” the batter over its self.

DSC_3214
When you take off the springform you are left with a lovely plain cheesecake. Mine did not brown on top but its okay.

DSC_32203
Sliced up the mango and strawberry and make this flower design. I thought about this design all day and had a little day dream about it too.

DSC_3224
Added sliced strawberries to the side of the cheesecake to make it more colorful.

Lemon Cheesecake
adapted from Mark Bittman: How to cook everything.
For this recipe you need a springform pan and put it in a water bath. What I learned is to wrap the pan in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent the water from seeping into the cake. Now you don’t have to do this but for my own sanity I had to do it cause who wants a damp crust.  Although, once you put the cake into the fridge to let it cool you will not notice it.  If you do take the aluminum foil route, the water level will stop just a little under the lowest edge of the aluminum foil.
If you do not have a large baking pan to put the springform pan into, don’t fret, use a aluminum foil pan. When using that aluminum foil pan I suggest that you pour the water in when you put the pan in the oven since the foil pan might be wobbly when moved to the oven.

1 double recipe Graham cracker crust (see below)4 eggs, separated
24 ounces (3 [8-ounce] packages) cream cheese, soften
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks until light; add the cheese, lemon zest and juice, and 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour.

Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks; use a rubber spatula or your hand to fold them into the yolk-cheese mixture gently but thoroughly. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan in a baking pan or aluminum foil pan large enough to hold it comfortably.

Add warm water to the baking pan, so that it comes to within an inch of the top of the springform pan. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake until the cake is just set and very lightly browned, about an hour.

Graham cracker crust
You can line your springform pan with parchment paper to make it easier to transfer the cake and not scratch the bottom of the pan.

6 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces crushed graham crackers, about one package ( 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°
Crush the graham crackers with a meat tenderizer or food processor.
Melt butter in a saucepan or microwave for 35 seconds.
Combine graham cracker crumbs with melted butter in a bowl.
Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes till browned and let it cool.