Friday, March 23, 2007

Michael Savage Is An Idiot, a Hypocrite,

and a motherfucker of the first order. That there are people out there sick and stupid enough to listen to a single word he says makes me want to walk around administering slaps of outrage.

Friday Random Ten

Getting the kids gathered up for a trip to the Japanese berry farms of South Phoenix. These are hold overs from the Internment camps of WWII. Many of the Japanese citizens realized that their holdings in California had been looted in their absence so, being industrious and determined citizens they settled where they had been exiled. The strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and other produce that they grow is of exquisite quality. My immediate plan is to turn the kids loose in the you pick section, browse around myself and maybe buy some cut flowers (it being newly spring and all) then turn myself loose on what ever treasures we get home with. In the meantime, this is what's on the old iPod.

Come Monday - - - Jimmy Buffett
Let the Good Times Roll - - - Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder
He Moved Through the Fair - - Sinead O'Connor
Seven Bridges Road - - - Emmylou Harris (live bootleg while she was with Spyboy)
Tumbling Dice - - - Linda Ronstadt
Shelter From A Storm - - - Joan Armitrading
Crazy - - - Patsy Cline
Big In Japan - - - Tom Waits
Born Under a Bad Sign - - - Willie Dixon
Heart Like a Wheel - - - Kate & Anna McGarrigle

bonus (hit random twice, take the top)

Three Little Fishies - - - Andrews Sisters

recipes to follow later tonight.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Shoo-Fly Pie

For most of this week my place has been totally infested with kids. I love it. My niece and nephew have had the week off from school while both of their parents are at work and they have been spending the days with me. Today my nephew had a couple of his buddies over and my niece had about half of her soccer team. Being a good and doting uncle I pretty much let them have the run of the place. My niece wanted to do some more baking so we went to "The Pie and Pastry Bible" and found this. I was inspired to look for it from the comments left on Shaker Lemon Pie and, sure enough, there was a great looking recipe.

Another thing I've started doing is keeping a canister of pastry flour made up and ready to go. This makes a big difference in the texture and flakiness of the crusts. Trust me, when you're talking about pie crusts, texture and flakiness are the whole game.

Ingredients for Pastry Flour

4 cups bleached all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups cake flour

Make a half recipe of the cream cheese pie crust from the Shaker Lemon Pie for the bottom shell of the pie. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

This is also a great time to teach the kids that great old Dinah Shore song.

If you wanna do right by your appetite,
If you're fussy about your food,
Take a choo-choo today, head new england way,
And we'll put you in the happiest mood. with:
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy
Makes your eyes light up,
Your tummy say "howdy."
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff.
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy makes the sun come out
When heavens are cloudy,
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy,
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!
Mama! when you bake,
Mama! i don't want cake;
Mama! for my sake
Go to the oven and make some ever lovin' sh,
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy
Makes your eyes light up,
Your tummy say "howdy,"
Shoo fly pie and apple pan dowdy
I never get enough of that wonderful stuff!

Pie Ingredients

1 teaspoon Medaglia d'Oro® instant espresso powder
3/4 cup boiling water (if you have an espresso maker you can substitute 3/4 cup of made espresso coffee)
1 1/4 cups bleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup baker's sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces and chilled
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup dark unsulphured molasses (I use Brer Rabbitt® )
***HINT TIME*** if you lightly grease the inside of your liquid measuring cup before you measure the molasses you will be able to get the full measure into your recipe and will have a much easier cleanup later.

Take the pie crust disc from the refrigerator, allow it to come to room temperature for about 10 minutes for easy rolling. Roll it out to make at least a 13" circle. Transfer that to a 9" pie pan fold the excess under and crimp with a fork. Cover the shell loosely and return to the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 425° with the oven rack and a baking stone on the lowest rung.

In a small mixing bowl mix up the instant espresso, or if using made espresso put that in. You want the end result of either method to be warm, not hot.

In a food processor with the metal blade, process the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt for a few minutes to mix well. Add the butter and pulse mix until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

In the small mixing bowl dissolve the the baking soda and the molasses into the warm espresso. Pour this into the pie shell.

Take the flour mixture and sprinkle this evenly into the molasses mix. At first, it will just sink in but there will begin to be a fine layer of the crumbs across the top.

Bake for 15 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 350°, protect the rim of the pie with a foil ring to prevent overbrowning and continue to bake for another 30 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Cool on a rack and serve warm with coffee ice cream or coffee whipped cream (make your normal whipped cream but toss in a tablespoon of the instant espresso powder)

The kids went totally apeshit over this one. It made the entire house smell marvelous. During the baking and cooling process every single kid in the house came by at one point or another and asked when they would be ready. I would tell them "twenty minutes or so" and they would instantly check the clock.

The traditional Pennsylvania Dutch way to serve this is for breakfast. I'm a big time pie for breakfast guy. I don't think that the two I made today will survive that long. I'm going to the Sun's game later tonight and once my son and his girlfriend are done with their teen age raid I don't expect to find much left for the morning.

Shoo fly pie, and apple pan dowdy. . .


Monday, March 19, 2007

And The Winner Is (in case you forgot for the copy of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel)


Use the email up under the picture of my harp to give me your shipping information and I will get your book to you ASAP.

To all the other entrants, outstanding stuff. You know PoP, you are exactly the same type of woman as Ms. Ali. She didn't have strong models as she grew. She had to invent the whole thing of a strong, independant woman. You would recognise a kindred spirit instantly as you read this.

Again, thank you all for participating.

a separate post will announce this over to big brass blog

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Shaker Lemon Pie

I got a wonderful gift from oddjob this week. It's "The Pie and Pastry Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It is a beautiful volume. She takes great care to explain the science and reasoning behind her techniques. She also gives weight measurements in her recipes, which, when dealing with things like flour is very important. Understanding the process, the reactions and interactions of the ingredients can make a huge difference in successful cooking.

So, yesterday I'm idling around the house. Half watching the NCAA tournament and half beginning to stress out over the St. Patrick's Day performance I let myself get bullied into. So, there I am, leafing through this gorgeous cookbook when this recipe catches my eye. For those of you who are not regular readers of Shakespeare's Sister then I must explain that the term she uses to describe the regular readers and commenters there is "Shakers." So, when I normally am talking about Shakers I'm not talking about the 19th century cult that pretty much doomed itself with a commitment to celibacy, I'm talking about denizens of a delightful progressive blog.

I'm reading through the ingredients, and there, right outside my window I see my neighbor's Meyer Lemon tree heavy with fruit. I don't know about anyone else, but lately I've been trying not to argue with the happy confluence of events.

I decide to distract myself from fretting over the show by cooking. I send MedschoolGirl and her buddy Aruna next door with a bucket to cadge some lemons from the neighbors (they know they will get their issue of any good products coming out of their donation to the cause).

Just like the book suggests I divide the cooking of this pie over the course of two days.

In honor of the original Shakers, I was humming Simple Gifts.

Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be

And when you find yourself
In the place that is right
It will be in the valley
Of love and delight

For when true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend
We shan't be ashamed
To turn and turn
Will be our delight
Till by turning, turning
We come round right

Tis a gift to be simple
Tis a gift to be free
For the proud are cast down
Deeper than the sea
The first shall be last
And the last shall be first
And the meek shall inherit
All of God's earth

For when true. . . "

Which, come to think of it, is an excellent reminder to not overcomplicate this recipe.

Day one tasks

Make crust dough
Slice and macerate lemons.

Crust Ingedients

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold)
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 1/2 ounces cream cheese (cold)
2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon chilled apple cider vinegar

Cut the butter into small (3/4" ) cubes. Wrap in plastic and freeze until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze that for at least 30 minutes.

Put the flour mixture in the food processor with the metal blade attachment and pulse a couple of times to mix the dry ingredients well and bust up and little nuggets that might have formed in the freezer. Save the bag.

Cut the cream cheese into three or four pieces and add to the flour. Pulse mix it until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter chunks are larger than the size of a pea. (you can root around with an ice tea spoon to thoroughly check this) Add the water and the vinager. Pulse that until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. This will be a loose mix of particles and will not hold together on its own. Divide this in half. Put one half into the plastic bag you saved. While in the bag, knead this mixture from the outside by alternately pressing it with the heel of your hand and the knuckles, until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels stretchy and elastic when pulled. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc and refrigerate overnight. (do this with both halves of the dough)
(aside to the audience, this is, as of today my favorite pie crust, it combines a delicious flavor, is tender to the mouth but strong enough to hold the ingredients, and it is flakey )

Macerated lemons

2 Large Meyer Lemons, rinsed and lightly scrubbed
2 cups baker's sugar

Cut the lemons in half lengthwise. Slice off the ends to just where pith ends and the pulp begins, save that for twists of lemon in your espresso, or put it aside to dry, or just fucking throw it out if you're a lazy, wasteful git. With a very sharp, thin blade knife slice paper thin. Communion wafer thin. Translucent thin. Collecting all the juice while you do this, but picking out and discarding the seeds. Do this until you have two cups of lemon slices.

In a medium bowl (non-reactive of course), stir together gently the lemon slices, the juices you collected and the sugar. Set this aside, closely covered with plastic wrap at room temperature until the next day.

Day 2

Roll out the crust
Assemble the filling.

Remove the bottom crust (just so you won't stand there trying to remember shit, the bottom crust is the one you take out first) from the refrigerator, allow it to sit for 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll without cracking.

On a floured pastry cloth, or if you're a barbarian and don't have a treasured pastry cloth use two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the bottom crust out 1/8" thick or less, but large enough to cut out a 12" circle. Transfer the circle to a pie pan and trim off almost even with the edge of the pan. Cover this closely with plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl beat 4 large eggs plus one yolk until they are well mixed and lemon colored. Stir this into the macerated lemons. Transfer this to the pie shell.

Roll out the top crust large enough to cut another 12" circle. Moisten the edges of the bottom crust with water and place the top crust over the fruit. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down all the way around the rim to seal it. Crimp a border with a fork. Make a star of five two inch slashes with the inside edge of each slash about 1" from the center of the pie. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking to chill and relax the pastry. This will maintain flakiness (in pie crust flakey is fucking king) and help to keep the crust from shrinking.

Heat oven to 450° with a baking stone or heavy baking sheet on the bottom rack on the bottom slot. Heat this for at least 20 minutes before beginning to bake the pie to ensure that your baking stone is hot all the way through.

Set the pie directly on the baking stone and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 30 minutes. At this point a knife blade inserted into one of the slashes should come out fairly clean and the crust should be a beautiful golden brown. You can shield the edges of the pie with foil if you see it beginning to brown unevenly.

Cool on a baking rack at least two hours (or, like me, wait 90 minutes until you just can't stand it any more)

The maceration process with the lemons and the sugar candies the peels so they provide a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweet/sour action.

This is a great pie. Thanks again Oddjob.

3 B's