Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mom's Apple Pie

Hope you have all had a blessed Thanksgiving!  This Holiday is my favorite time of year because it is the one celebration that all American can observe regardless of race or religion. I especially like how people infuse their ancestry into the preparation of the turkey.  In keeping with tradition, I have attempted my Mom’s Apple Pie.   Dessert, in our family, is as important as the main course.   The sweets of choice are apple pie, pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie.   Typically, we reserve cakes and cookies for Christmas.  Mom was the reigning queen of pie baking.  No one could make an apple pie like hers, nor did they try.  Before she died she took me through the steps of making an apple pie.  I have made it a few times and have made some adjustment because Mom was not big on measuring out ingredients.   I think she felt that after 40 years of making apple pies, why measure.   Mom used all shortening in her pie crust but I have made it with half butter.  Either way the crust still turns out nice.   Granny Smith apples were always used in her recipe.  I have tried other apples and I have to agree that Granny Smiths work best. 


Mom’s Apple Pie
Pie Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
4 oz cold shortening
4 oz cold butter
1 cup ice cold water
Combine dry ingredients
With a wire pastry blender, cut butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
Add the ice water gradually and toss to blend
When the dough is sufficiently moist, it should stick together
Gather dough into 2 equal round balls
Chill for ½ hour to allow dough to rest
Roll one round of dough to fit a 9-inch pie pan; using a small knife, trim the edges even with the rim of the pan.
Pie Filling

3# Granny Smith Apples
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ stick unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl.
Peel and cut apples into 1/2" wedges
Place apples in layers alternating with dry ingredients, lemon juice, zest and butter.  Apples should be heaping because they cook down.
Cover top of pie with dough, crimp edges,  brush with egg wash and make a few slits in the top to allow air to release.
Bake at 375F for 20 minutes and 325F for about 1  hour.  If pie starts to bubble and leak its juices; put a sheet pan filled with water on the rack below the pie to catch the juice and prevent smoking.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mixed Vegetables with Mustard Seed Sauce and Saag Roti

On the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I stay away for anything that is remotely reminiscent of turkey and trimmings. Inspired by last week’s birthday outing with my sister, I decided to make my own version of Indian vegetarian.   What I like most about the food of India is the plethora of breads and sauces that accompanies every dish.  I made Saag Roti to complement  Mixed Vegetables with Mustard Seed Sauce.  The word saag often refers to a leafy green vegetable like spinach, mustard green or amaranth leaves.  In this recipe I used spinach.  If you would like to try different varieties of Indian flat breads, Kalustyan’s in Manhattan has a nice selection, many of which are quite spicy.  I left the heat out of this version because vegetables have a slight kick.   One of the things I noticed about a lot of Indian food is that the vegetables a typically over cook.  I’ve taken care to prepare the vegetables in a way that keeps them crisp and delicious. 


Saag Roti
½ cup chopped cooked spinach
1 lbs chapatti flour
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water

Combine flour, turmeric and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. 
Add spinach.
Using a hook attachment, drizzle in olive oil until dough forms a ball.  Depending on the amount of moisture in the spinach you may have to adjust the amount of oil needed. 
When dough forms a ball remove from the mixer place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and  refrigerate for 30 minute to allow dough to rest.
Remove dough from the refrigerator and divided into 1.5oz balls.  Working with one portion at a time and keeping the rest covered, evenly roll out each portion to about 4-5 inches in diameter on a floured surface. 
Heat a tawa, griddle, or heavy cast iron pan until hot, oil it lightly with olive oil and cook the roti on each side for about 1 minute.  The roti will blister and brown a little.  Remove the roti and keep it warm under a kitchen towel until ready to eat.  

This recipe for the vegetables may sound a bit labor intensive but if you follow the instruction as I have them laid out, it should not take very long to make. I find that roasting some of the vegetables and steaming some of the vegetables adds depth to the dish and maintains the integrety of each  vegetable.  The way that I prepare it, is by no means the only method. 
Mixed Vegetables in a Mustard Seed Sauce
1 lbs potatoes-fingerling, baby new potatoes, or creamer potatoes quartered or split
1 small head cauliflower-cut into florets
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons ginger
Olive oil
1 small bunch broccoli-cut into florets and peeled and cut stems ½” pieces-
1 cup carrots cut in ½ inch circles
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon kalonji seeds
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon minced Serrano pepper
3 (1+1+1) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1-½ teaspoon ground cumin
2-½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
24 ounce dices canned tomatoes
1 cup green peas
1 teaspoon mustard oil
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, season potatoes with olive oil, garlic and about 1 teaspoon salt.
Place on a sheet pan; roast for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
In a medium  bowl add cauliflower ginger, garlic, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and olive oil. Toss, place on a sheet pan and roast for 25 minutes until tender. 
While the cauliflower and potatoes are roasting prepare sauce.
In a heavy bottom sauce pot add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Heat the oil but do not allow oil to reach the smoke point.  When oil is hot add seeds.  When seeds start to pop, add ginger, garlic and Serrano. 

Saute for 3 minutes. 
Add ground spices; cook for 1 minute more.
Add tomatoes; let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste (1 teaspoon salt) but be mindful that the vegetables you will add to the sauce are seasoned.  While sauce is simmering; steam carrots and broccoli until firm to the bite. 
When sauce is ready add green peas and the remaining vegetables. Simmer for five minutes.
Remove from heat drizzle mustard oil over vegetables and serve with roti.  The vegetable are also a nice compliment to fish. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Indian Vegetarian at New York Ganesh Temple

I can’t imagine what life would be like without the love and friendship of my sisters.  Yesterday was my youngest sister Candice’s birthday and we spent the day doing what we both enjoy. That is eating out at places that are clearly off the beaten path.  This afternoon we had lunch in the basement of the New York Ganesh Temple.  Situated on a quiet street in Flushing, the temple is one of the oldest Hindu places of worship in the United States.
The basement of the temple houses, a kitchen with a row of folding chairs and tables called Temple Canteen.  The menu is vegetarian which consists of a variety of Dosas and specialties from Southern India.

Not convinced that we would become full, sans animal protein, we got the works.    It appeared the most popular dish was the paper dosa. It was on everyone’s table.  Therefore, my sister and I ordered that along with idlis -the steamed rice flour bread traditional, tomato uttapam-aka Indian pizza, medu vada –savory donuts and Bisi Bele Bath-a lentil, rice and vegetable stew. While waiting for our lunch, the cashier asked if we wanted something to drink.  I ordered a mango lassi for my sister and a chi tea for me. My tea was prepared with whole milk.  I haven’t had full fat milk in years.  I almost forgot what it tastes like-absolutely delicious.  Candice’s mango lassi was very good too.  It had just the right balance of mango, yogurt and milk.   

After about ten minutes, we heard our number, “73.” The paper dosa, medu vada and idlis were ready first.  The dosa clearly earned its name - paper thin, light and crisp.  I couldn’t wait to get back to our table and tare into it so I bit a piece as I walked to my table.  It tasted a lot like a tangy crepe.  I broke off another piece and plunged it into the curry sauce, which was the perfect compliment.

My sister started on the medu vada.  Her first response was that they were a bit salty.  She has a high tolerance for salt, her saying that made me take note.   Yes, they were a bit salty but when dipped in the yogurt sauce, they didn’t seem so briny.  Unable to separate from the dosa I dip a piece of it into the lentil stew.  That was good too. Now on to the idlis which was very light and airy.  I have seen them in other Indian restaurant but never tried them.   They came with a tangy coconut milk sauce that completely absorbed into the steamed rice bread when dipped.   

We hear our number called again.  It must be the lentil stew.  Candice went up this time while I continued eating the dosa and curry sauce.  She returns with the Bisi Bele Bath. 

Our number is called one more time.  By now, we’re starting to get very full. I thought, “What else had we ordered?”   It was the uttapam.  Steaming hot and full of tomatoes and onions, this also came with the same curry sauce as the paper dosa.  It too was very good but in hindsight, I think we would have been fine without it.  In any event, I was glad that I tried it. 

I would recommend Temple Canteen and all of the items we ordered.  I never thought vegetarian could be this filling.  I didn’t eat for the remainder of the day. I am inspired to prepare my version of Indian Vegetarian next week. Oh and how can I forget the cost of all of this $21.32.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sofrito Marinated Pompano with a Brown Butter

I don’t believe there is a Latin American or Caribbean kitchen anywhere that is without a jar of Sofrito.  Although the recipe varies from person to person, this ubiquitous sauce is in everything from beans, rice, meat and fish.  I imagine it came about as a way of using up ingredients that were always around and typically part their native dishes.  Sometimes the ingredients are cooked and other times they are simply processed raw.

1 bunch scallions
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch cilantro
1 Serrano pepper
¼ cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a food processor; pulse to a pesto consistency. 
Remove from food processor; place in a jar; you can store in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Pompano is my favorite fish to prepare whole.  It requires no scaling and the skin is completely edible.  With an average size of less than three pounds, one can devour this flat bodied, pan size Carangidae with ease.  This is how I prepared it.

2-1 pound pompano gutted
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup Sofrito

Prepare the marinade by combining the salt, wine, lemon juice and Sofrito.   Cut 2 or 3 slashes in a crosshatch pattern on each side of the fish; pour marinade over the fish let marinate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 450F.  Remove the pompano from the marinade; place in a non-stick pan.
Bake pompano in the oven for 30 minutes while basting with the marinade for more flavor. 

Normally I would prepare a sauce or salsa with this fish but I found that acidity and flavors from the marinade needed little enhancements.  I browned a little butter and poured it over the fish and it was perfect!

Brown Butter
For instruction on how to make brown butter check out  type in “brown butter” in the search box.  You will need only two tablespoons of butter.

Oh.. as for the pink stuff that’s on the upper left side of the plate---watermelon radish with scallion, lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper.  The fish has a little kick to it from the Serrano pepper that is in the Sofrito, so the radish is a nice place to cool off.  ENJOY!