Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin pie

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving and I baked my first ever pumpkin pie for the occasion!

As a French national, pumpkin pie is a very foreign concept to me, so I had to research how to go about this. It turns out there are a gazillion recipes. Some use sweetened condensed milk, some use cream, the spice blend varies from baker to baker… I chose to use sweetened condensed milk because, well, I just LOVE the stuff! I also made it my own by adding some cloves, vanilla extract and allspice.

Here's how you can make it.

INGREDIENTS (one 9" pie)
- 1 can condensed sweetened milk
- 1 1/2 cups pumkpin puree
- 2 jumbo eggs
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 1/8 allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- a dash of vanilla extract
- 1 single pie crust (click here for recipe)

- preheat your oven at 350F
- roll out the pie crust and place it in a pie dish, trim to size, line it with parchment paper, baking weights (I used rice that I keep and reuse especially for this) and blind bake crust for 30 min 350F

Note: keep the trimmings, they may come in handy to doctor the crust back into shape if the dough shrinks during blind baking!
- when the crust has baked for 30 minutes, let it cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling. - to make the filling, mix all the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth

- pour into pre-baked crust, lower the oven to 320F and bake another 60 min

Note: the pie is ready when a toothpick comes out of the filling dry
- serve at room temperature with freshly whipped cream and enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Parsnip, barley and mini-meatballs stew

The weather is getting crisp and it is soon time for hearty stews and soups.

Last week, I was inspired by a bag of parsnips in my fridge and a can of crushed tomatoes, staring at me from the back of my pantry. I knew I had ground meat in the freezer, so I made mini-meatballs (click here for a recipe) and whipped up an easy stew. Or soup? Stoup?

Here's how you can make it.

INGREDIENTS (4-6 people):
- a large handful of mini-meatballs (click here for a recipe)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 6 to 8 cups beef broth
- 1 cup of barley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 to 1 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
- 2 shallots, sliced finely
- 2 to 3 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, grated
- 1 lb bag of parsnips, peeled and diced finely

- in a large, deep stockpot, melt the butter and saute the meatballs over medium-high heat until golden but not fully cooked and reserve on the side

- in the flavored butter, saute the shallots, celery and garlic over medium heat until soft

- add the crushed tomatoes and beef broth and bring to a simmer, the add the diced parsnips and cook until soft (20-25 minutes)

- about 15 minutes in, add the barley to the simmering liquid and cook for another 10 minutes, or following your barley's cooking instructions

- a few minutes before you are ready to eat, add the precooked meatballs and heat up until completely cooked through

- enjoy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Perfect mini-meatballs

Those versatile, delicious little balls of meat perfection are my favorite!

They are so easy to make, freeze beautifully and never get dry. You can use them in hearty soups and stews or on top of pasta lathered in tomato sauce. The mix can also be used in a meatloaf format.

I tell you: versatile and perfect.

Here's how I make them.

INGREDIENTS (for ~100 mini-meatballs):
- 1 lb ground beef (I used 80-20 mix)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp granulated onions
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- some flour to dredge
- 1/2 cup chopped blanched kale (you can use 1/4 cup chopped parsley instead, I just happened to have this leftover frozen blanched kale and wanted to use it).

- in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the flour and mix until well combined

- form into small balls (this batch yielded about 100 mini-meatballs for me)

- dredge in the flour and either use immediately or freeze.

Note: freeze the meatballs in a single layer, and transfer in a ziploc bag once they are frozen. This way they will not stick together.
- enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sour cream pie crust

The idea behind this recipe came from the fact that I needed to make pie crust for my apple-cheddar pie and I had leftover sour cream I needed to use.

After doing research on google, I found a recipe on Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch and decided to use her recipe as a base for mine. Check out her wonderful blog for the original recipe and other delicious treats!

Here's how I made mine.

INGREDIENTS (for a double crust):
- 2 1/2 cups of AP flour
- 1 stick of butter, very (very!) cold, diced
- 1/2 cup of sour cream, cold
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup ice-cold water
- a large pinch of salt

- in a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients, the butter and incorporate the butter quickly with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the flour looks like fresh bread crumbs and the butter is the size of a green pea

Note: you want to work really quickly here, with very cold butter. The butter should stay solid as much as possible so that those little nuggets can melt when the crust bakes. That will ensure a flaky crust!
- add the cold sour cream and mix with a spatula

- add ice-cold water by the spoonful (not all at once!) until the dough can hold when pressed together
Note: the dough should not be sticky here. You just want enough water so you can form a ball.

- shape the dough into two discs, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use

Note: you can absolutely freeze the dough at this point
Note 2: if you will use this batch for a double-crusted pie, make one of the two discs slightly larger than the other one (the top disc should be a bit bigger)
- after the dough has rested, roll out on a floured surface and make your favorite pie!