Cranberry and Pear Pie

This pie has become a Thanksgiving staple. It has even (gasp!) replaced my pumpkin pie. It’s the perfect amount of tart but not too sweet compliment to ending a rather filling meal. 

I know that it’s January but I didn’t get a chance to post this in November. I did see cranberries at the grocery store. If not for this month of gluten-free trials, I would be making this right now. Oh, and it’s delicious for breakfast the next day!

  
Cranberry and Pear Pie (recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

* 2 rolled-out rounds Pie crust

* 5-8 pears, peeled, cored and cut into slices 

* 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

* 1/4 cup  granulated sugar

* 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

* 1/4 tsp salt

* 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

* 1 tsp. grated orange zest

* 1/4 cup cornstarch

* 1 TBS Brandy

* 1 TBS grenadine (cherry or pomegranate)

* 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

* 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

* 2 tsp. turbinado sugar

Fit 1 dough round into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press into the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim. Prebake for 10 mins with pie weights in a 400 degree oven. 

Using a ruler as a guide, cut 10 strips of dough of varying widths from the remaining dough round. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

   
    
 To prepare the filling, in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stir together the pears, the brown and granulated sugars, the cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, orange zest and cornstarch. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are just tender but not mushy, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their ripeness. Uncover, stir in the brandy and grenadine and let cool to room temperature.

Stir the cranberries into the pear mixture and pour the filling into the prepared pie dish.

To create the lattice, lay 5 strips of dough spaced evenly apart on top of the pie filling. Fold back every other strip halfway and lay down a strip perpendicular across the unfolded strips. Repeat to place 5 strips of dough evenly across the top, folding back the alternate strips each time. Pinch the lattice strips onto the dough on the rim of the pie dish to make sure they bake together. Brush the lattice crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Place the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling has begun to bubble, 45 minutes to 1 hour; check the pie after 30 minutes and cover the top and edges with foil if they become too dark. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for at least 2 1/2 hours before serving. Serves 8.

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No Fail Pie Crust

Did you know that with an extra 30 minutes, you could have the most flaky and delicious pie crust for your creative self to add any kind of sweet or savory goodness to? I still think buying a pie crust is the easy option but there’s something extra in your pie when you make the crust. Maybe somehow, a little extra love gets into the pie during the kneading and rolling  process. Maybe it’s the massive amount of butter. Whatever it is, people always comment on this crust recipe when I make our pies. 

   
 No Fail Pie Crust (recipe from Williams-Sonoma)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

* 2 Tbs. sugar

* 2 tsp. salt

* 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

* 6 to 8 Tbs. ice water

* 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tbs. water

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (I don’t have a food processor so I just use a bowl, pastry cutter and fingers to combine everything) Add the 6 Tbs. ice water and pulse twice. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water, 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Place 1 dough disk between 2 sheets of lightly floured waxed paper and roll out into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish pie dish and press the dough into the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold under the excess dough and, using your thumb, decoratively flute the edges. Roll out the remaining dough disk in the same manner. Cut into long strips for the top of your pie. Or save if your pie doesn’t need at top. Place the piecrust and strips in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven. Place a baking sheet on the rack. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the edges of the crust with the egg mixture. Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and weights and bake until the crust is light golden, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. 

Makes enough dough for one 9-inch deep-dish piecrust plus decorative top and a little extra or two pie crusts. 

Fruit Roll Ups – 1 ingredient 

Its strawberry season! The smell of ripe strawberries is intoxicating. I just can’t resist buying a whole flat…weekly! This week’s batch made popcicles and fruit roll ups. Next week’s will make jam (see last year’s post). 

   
 Strawberry Fruit Roll ups & Popcicles

  • 4 baskets of ripe strawberries

Cut off the tops of your berries. Blend them. 

Pour about 1/2 – 2/3 cup of the mixture on silicon mats and evenly spread across the entire surface. I just tip the mats around until it’s even. The process is super relaxing. (Note: my mats are made for my dehydrator but I’m sure those silicon mats will work too). Then dehydrate on 135 degrees for 3-4 hours or until the center is no longer wet. 

Pull the fruit off the mat into strips and wrap in wax or parchment paper. Roll them up and tie them with a string. Store in an air-tight container. They should last about a month – though ours don’t last that long because the kiddo loves these tart little snacks. 

You’ll have mix remaining. Pour them into popcicle molds and freeze. Delicious!!

Thanksgiving Leftover

What did you do with your leftover turkey?

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We boiled the carcass with some water, carrots, parsley and half an onion for 2 hours. After draining the stock, we were left with 3 and a half quarts of roasted turkey stock.

Two of those quarts went into the freezer and the other one and a half went into a pot of turkey posole.

I just diced an onion and sauted it in a TBSP of olive oil. Then I added half a can of tomato paste, 5 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp of cumin, oregano and chili powder along with a bay leaf. I sauted this until the tomato paste got a bit of brown coloring. Then I added the stock and cooked it for 30 mins. I added a drained can of hominy (29 oz) and shredded turkey. Salt to taste and then serve with diced avocado, sour cream, sliced cabbage, diced white onion, cilantro, lemon and tortilla chips.

This was a perfect leftover meal for our rainy day today.

Shrimp Ceviche

After living on the islands for two weeks, I came home a pescaderian. Not really but I feel so good when I eat fish. And I was craving something summery and fresh. Sooo, why not try ceviche?

Note: this being my first time cooking with lime and shrimp, the shrimp don’t necessarily turn pink like when you cook them in the pan. I waited and waited and waited for them to turn pink and it never happened. They were cooked after about 20 mins. But I waited like 5 hours. Ha!

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Shrimp Ceviche

* 1/2 lb prawns, shelled and deveined and cut into 3-4 pieces
* 2 limes (squeezed to make 1/2 cup lime juice)
* 1 lime to squeeze at the end
* 1 celery stalk diced
* 1 ripe avocado cut into 1″ cubes
* 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
* 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
* 1/2 jalapeño diced
* pinch of salt

Put shrimp and lime juice in a non-reactive bowl (basically a glass one) and put in fridge for ~ 20 minutes. The shrimp will be firm when done.

Drain lime juice and mix shrimp with other veggies. Squeeze up to a whole lime in the mixture (I only used 1/2). Add salt to taste. Serve chilled with some corn chips (Have’A Corn Chips are our absolute favorites).

Enjoy!

Old Fashioned Potato Salad

Along with the chili (below), mac and cheese (recipe to come) and pulled pork (see”Carnitas”) sammies, we’re making potato salad for the 60 or so people coming over on Saturday for the kiddo’s 3rd birthday party. I know! We’re bonkers. But it’s fun because I have the best team of Nanas and Papas and Daddies helping with the cooking and prepping.

I have to document the recipe so Papa and Nana can follow it while we run some errands. I’ll let you know how it tastes on Saturday.

Old Fashioned Potato Salad (hopefully feeds 30 adults)

  • 8 lbs red new potatoes
  • a couple handfuls of green beans, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 4 stalks of celery, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch of italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP pickle juice
  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 3 TBSP fresh dill, leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Fill a couple pots with cold water and add the potatoes (and maybe a pinch of salt too). Cook (slight boil) until fork tender (but not like you were making mashed potatoes). They should be just soft enough to easily run your knife through without falling apart. Remove the potatoes from the water. Add your green bean pieces to one of the boiling pots.

Cut your potatoes into quarters or eighths depending on the size of the potato. (This is when you start yelling, “hot potato, hot potato”). You’ll want them bite sized. Add the vinegar, pickle juice, olive oil and a bit of salt while the potatoes are still warm.

Remove the green beans from the water and add them to the potatoes. Now, fold in everything else. Salt and pepper to taste. Now, refrigerate.

Enjoy at your next picnic or massive kid party 🙂 Wish me luck.

 

NinaLee’s Chili

Do you have lots of people to feed and want to give them something scrumptious and filling? Check out my BFF’s recipe for veggie chili. It’s a hit every time.

NinaLee’s Chili

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • a large handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bottle of beer (preferably something amber or darker)
Preparation
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add sugar and remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer on low for 45 minutes or until desired thickness (I usually cook it for about an hour).
You could add meat (during the saute step) if you like but it’s really not needed.
Enjoy with sour cream, cheese, diced white onion, cilantro and avocado. Perfect for Super Bowl or a big party.