Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Perfect Pie Crust

I've never really been good at making Pie Dough and I know that it's very intimidating for many people. My wife happens to be a pro when it comes to Pie Dough and believe me, she makes the perfect Pie Crust. I could never re write her recipe because I think it requires the Moon to be in 7th House and Mercury has to align with Mars. You get the idea!  It's never easy to make Pie Dough until now! You really can and so can I!

For those that struggle, here is the Perfect Pie Dough Recipe.

This recipe makes enough Dough for:
1 - 9" Double Crust
2 - 9" Single Crusts
10 - 3" Individual Crusts

2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
12 TBS Salted Butter, Chilled and Cubed into small pieces.

In a Food Processor:
Pulse to combine well

Slowly Add:
Pulse after each small addition.
It should resemble Coarse Meal texture.

Continue pulsing adding the Cold Water in a slow stream.
Process until it comes together into a ball.

Remove the Dough.
Place on a Floured Surface.
Knead until fully combined, adding a small amount of Flour if needed.
You'll know when it feels like Pie Dough.

Divide in half.
Wrap in Plastic Wrap.
Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the Dough and allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
It should be slightly softened but remain cold.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface, 1/8" thick.
Place it in the size of the Pie Pan you've chosen to make.

If you're making a Non Baked Pie, Meringue Pie or Cream Pie you'll Pre Bake the Crust according to the following directions, otherwise you'll fill your Pie and Bake it according to the recipe directions.

Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees.
Cut out a Circle of Parchment Paper to fit into the Pie Shell.
Fill it with Pie Weights or Dried Beans.
Bake for 15 minutes.
The edges should just  begin to turn a  light golden brown and it should begin to pull away from the
edge of the pan.
Remove the Weights and Paper and continue baking for an additional 5 - 10 minutes.
Remove the Pan to a rack to cool completely.
Fill according to your chosen Pie recipe.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ghirardelli Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate Cheesecake

This is a very indulgent and decadent Chocolate Cheesecake!
Whenever I need Chocolate for a recipe I always use Ghirardelli.

Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate Cheesecake:

Here's what you'll need:
1 - 8" - 9" Springform Pan brushed well with Pan Release Mix. (equal parts of Crisco, Vegetable Oil and Flour) I start with 1 C of each mixed well and refrigerated in a jar. I always have it available for all of my baking needs.

1 Box of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
1 1/2 C Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips
12 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 C Granulated Sugar
8 TBS Butter, room temperature
2 C Frozen Cool Whip, thawed
3/4 C Miniature Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips + additional for Garnish.
1 Jar of your favorite Hot Fudge Sauce for Garnish.

Make Brownies in the Springform Pan according to the package directions.
Remove pan to a rack and cool completely.


In a small glass bowl:
Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips
Heat in a Microwave until melted and creamy smooth.
Stir often.
Set aside.

In a Stand Mixer with a Paddle Attachment:
Cream Cheese
Beat until Creamy Smooth.

Melted Chocolate
Mix until incorporated.

Cool Whip
Mix on Low just until incorporated.

Miniature Chocolate Chips
Mix just until incorporated.

Spread filling over the Brownie Crust.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes up to 1 hour.

When ready to serve:
Heat Hot Fudge Sauce and transfer to a small pitcher.
Drizzle over individual servings.
Garnish each serving with additional Miniature Chocolate Chips.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Autumn's Italian Potato Soup

I love Soup and I make a lot of it when there's a chill in the air and the leaves begin to change color and fall from the trees.
In this case, Autumn does not refer to the Season of the Year. It's from my friend Autumn.
I've adapted this recipe to make it Vegetarian. You can certainly use ingredients that are not vegetarian.

Autumn's Italian Potato Soup

1 lb. of Gimme Lean Vegetarian Sausage, crumbled
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced 1/2" thick, boiled and drained.
4 C Vegetarian Chicken Stock (I use a powdered vegetarian chicken base) 1 TBS per C of boiled water.
2 1/2 C Whole Milk
1/2 C Half and Half
Salt and Pepper to taste.
1 1/2 TBS Mrs Dash Original Blend Seasoning
1 1/2 TBS Herbes de Provence
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 small Onion, diced
1 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
4 Stems of Kale Leaves

In a large Soup Pot on Medium Heat:
Add all ingredients except the Kale and mix well.
Heat for 15 minutes.
Lower heat to Simmer.
Add Kale and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve hot accompanied by a  Fresh Loaf of French Baguette Bread.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tex - Mex Holiday Cranberry Spread

This is a great Holiday Appetizer.
Serve with your favorite Crackers.

16 oz Cream Cheese, softened.
2 C purchased Red Pepper Jelly
1 can of Whole Cranberry Sauce
1/2 C chopped Pecans

In a small, shallow Gratin Dish:
Evenly spread the Cream Cheese into the dish.

In a medium mixing bowl:
Cranberry Sauce
Whisk well.
Pour over the Cream Cheese.
Sprinkle evenly with Pecans

Serve with your favorite Crackers.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cinnamon Chess Pie

Here's another great recipe from Duff Goldman. I shared the link to make it easier to post on the Blog.

Cinnamon Chess Pie

Peace in the Kitchen!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pumpkin Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Rum Cheesecake Topping

Wow! I just saw Duff Goldman make this decadent Holiday Pie. I made it simple by sharing the link.
This looks amazing and I'm sure it tastes as good as it looks. This may become a Best of the Best recipe in my collection. I have my favorite recipe for Pumpkin Pie made from Scratch and it's the only Pumpkin i.e. I make every year. The addition of the Rum Cheesecake Topping on this Pie takes it to another lever........ a decadent level!

Pumpkin Cream Pie with Gingersnap Crust and Rum Cheesecake Topping

Peace in the Kitchen!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Texas Christmas Macarons!

Here's a twist on the traditional French Macaron. I've crossed it with a bit of Texas seasoning. I decided to call it a Texas Christmas Macaron. There are so many options you could add to this. I would finely dice some Roasted Hatch Chiles and add it to the batter or sprinkle it on the top just prior to baking them. You could also add red coloring to the batter. I add red to half of the batter and green to the other half and put the cookies together with 1 of each of the colors. They're a great addition to the Christmas Cookie presentation when they're red and green.
There's also a variety of fillings that you could make. I have an incredible recipe for Jalapeño Jelly and I pipe the Chocolate Ganache around the perimeter of the bottom cookie with some Jalapeño Jelly piped in the center.
You can be creative and add a variety of combinations. Once you get past the fear of making Macarons, the variations are endless.
I've tried to write the recipe so anyone trying these for the first time, can make them!
The more you make them, the more you'll be familiar with the technique and bake some really delicious Macarons.

Texas Christmas Macarons

Here's what you'll need:
Sheet Pans with Parchment Paper Macaron templates drawn on them. If you're familiar with the process then you know that you put the template on the Sheet Pan. The circles should be 1 1/4" in diameter. Cover it with a plain piece of Parchment. Pipe the batter and then slide the template paper out.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

3/4 C Almond Flour ( I use King Arthur)
1 C Confectioner's Sugar
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Large Egg Whites, room temperature.
1/4 C Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
A Pinch of Cream of Tartar

Sift the Almond Flour and the Confectioner's Sugar together 4 times on to a large piece of Parchment Paper and set aside. Discard any pieces left in the Sieve or Sifter.

In a Stand Mixer with a Whisk Attachment:
Egg Whites
Whisk on medium speed to Soft Peak.
1/4 of the Granulated Sugar
Whisk for 10 seconds.
Repeat with the remaining Granulated Sugar, adding it gradually.
Cream of Tartar, scrape down the sides of the bowl. (At this time you would add Food Coloring if you choose to add color to the Macarons.)
Increase speed to High.
Whisk until Stiff, Firm, Glossy Peaks form.

Sift the Flour mixture over the Meringue.
Fold it in with a large Silicone Spatula until completely combined, smooth and shiny.

The Batter should be fairly firm, glossy and drop slow from the Spatula when held over the bowl.

Spoon the batter into a Pastry Bag that's been fitted with a #12 tip. I place it in a drinking glass and fold the top over the glass.

Pipe the Macaron Batter onto the templates.
Slam the Sheet Pan onto a flat work surface to release any trapped air.
Allow the pans to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
They should form a thin crust and should not stick to your fingers when lightly touched.

Bake the Macarons 1 Sheet Pan at a time.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes.
Depending on your oven, you may have to rotate the pans half way through baking. If you have new ovens that won't be necessary.
Remove the Pan and slide the Paper with the Macarons onto a flat surface to cool.
When they are completely cooled, begin pulling the paper away from the cookies and don't try to pull the cookie away from the paper.

Prepare the Chocolate Ganache Filling.

4.5 oz. Chocolate, chopped
1/2 C Heavy Cream

Place Chocolate in a small mixing bowl.

In a Saucepan on medium high heat:
Heavy Cream
Heat until just before boiling. Do not allow to boil.
Pour over the Chocolate and whisk until creamy smooth.
Refrigerate just to reach a consistency to easily spread.
Transfer to a piping bag with a #12 tip and pipe one half of the cookies with the Ganache, top with another half.
See the beginning of the post for options with Jalapeño Jelly.

Peace in the Kitchen!