Easy Mini Apple Pies, a recipe

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience: you’re standing in line for something else, at a coffee shop, or a gas station, or a fast food location, or a cafe, and suddenly…you see them, or smell them, and the helpful clerk says “Would you like an apple pie for a dollar?

And you give it a moment of thought. You cave. You cannot resist.

But I prefer to know who made my food and what’s in it. So, here is a very simple and very quick recipe for a tiny apple pie that will be just as delicious, if not moreso.


Tools:

  • Mandolin slicer or other appliance for producing extremely thin slices
  • Large mixing bowl
  • A ravioli press (tiny folding clamshell with a textured edge for making ravioli. If you don’t have one, I suggest using a shallow dish to fill the pastry and then using a fork to seal the edge)
  • Baking pan
  • Small pot
  • Spatula
  • Whisk

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (any flavor or brand, and you can use crescent roll sheets too)
  • 3 apples (of all different types. I personally chose a Red Delicious, a honey crisp, and a Granny Smith)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 Tbsp (or more) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cinnamon stick or fresh ground cinnamon
  • Pinch or two of clove
  • Pinch or two of nutmeg
  • Some loose flour, a couple Tbsp or so
  • Powdered sugar
  • Butter (not much)
  • About a cup of some sort of alcohol (rum, brandy, whisky, bourbon. I used ginger snap vodka and dark rum)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven as per the directions on the pastry packaging 
  2. Juice the lemons and pour juice into mixing bowl
  3. Thinly slice the apples (I suggest peeling and quartering the apples before doing this, and add to bowl
  4. Add half the sugar, spices, and vanilla and toss until the apples are completely coated. Allow to sit for about ten minutes. Drain the excess moisture into the pot
  5. Roll out the pastry on a floured cutting board and cut out the shapes (it should be about the size of your ravioli press or your shallow dish
  6. Place the pastry shape in the press or dish. Fill with apples (depends on the size of the press/dish). Fold in half or fold while tucking the apples inside, and seal shut. If using the press, I recommend flouting it lightly so that the pastry doesn’t stick to it as you seal
  7. Bake (this will likely take longer by half again as much as the instructions indicate. I used a spatula to lift and flip these beautiful things about five minutes before completely done to crisp up both sides.
  8. While these are baking, add the butter, alcohol, the other half of the sugar and extra spices to the pot. You can even add some apple juice if you want more sauce, and reduce this over medium heat until you have a nice sauce. If it doesn’t thicken as you like, sprinkle in some flour while whisking.

To serve, brush with a bit of melted butter, powder with sugar, and drizzle with sauce. Or roll the top side in the sauce and powder with sugar. Or just dip in sauce and shove directly into face.

The Best Spaghetti!

 I just received this image from Tumblr user @philosophy-and-coffee, who this evening, made the spaghetti recipe from my book! The one with the blood in it!
Well, done my friend! I do love to know that my tinkering has paid off!

And if any of you make any of my recipes at home, do please send photos my way, so that they may take their place here!

Happy Day of the Risen Dead!

I give you…

The zombie egg! A tentative recipe

This take on a deviled egg consists of a Thousand Year Egg, or Century Egg:


Remove the yolks and add Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, miso paste, lemongrass, minced Thai chilis, fish sauce, herbs, smoked paprika and whatever else you like to the tune of bitter, herbal notes.

Then spoon the modified yolk back into the white, and serve in half a plastic Easter egg. The relatives to whom you serve this delightful zombie egg will either never return…or will demonstrate their quality.

If they can eat it, keep them around. They’re worth the trouble.

By the way, it is delicious. Very complicated taste. Freshly shelled, they smell strongly of ammonia, but you can soak or cook them to remove this. I found it dissipated very quickly. The finished product is very spicy, slightly bitter, creamy, a trifle sour, and has the scent of a brand new cheap shoe. Lovely!

Bad Recipe Challenge

The time has come once again, for you to confound and confuse me, to subject me to fits of revulsion and make me make that face…you know the one. 
This is a call for all your terrible family traditions- from the disgusting tuna casserole your auntie hauls to the reunion in a wheelbarrow, to the terrifying jello concoction your Nana protests is “vegan”, we want them all! No terrible recipe is too great nor small! If you submitted last time, you may submit again – who knows, it may turn out to be the most disgusting thing this time! Multiple submissions are also welcome, because if you have had to endure that much trauma, it ought to count for something.

Reply to this post with your worst, most baffling, nauseating family recipe, and you will be entered to win. Or share it with a friend you know has endured the horrors of the family potluck one too many times, and deserves some recognition for their sacrifices. If they reply with a recipe, they too are entered to win.

The victor shall receive an autographed physical copy of one of my books (they may choose), a $25 Kitchen Collection gift card, and – in an effort to alleviate your misery – I and my crack team of culinary experts (a drunken Chef and the staff at the Bistro) will attempt to repair the travesty visited upon you by “fixing” your recipe.

The deadline is January 31. Please get the word out to all your charming friends!

Sugar Cookies and Frosting, several recipes in one

Sugar cookies are a holiday favorite. I make hundreds every year. Here are two cookie recipes, one Gluten Free, and several Icing types for you to enjoy. Personally, all my cookies turn out looking vaguely malevolent. This could be due to the fact that when making them for myself in bygone years, I almost exclusively used Halloween cookie cutters. Only these days, with the addition of children to my life, have I indulged in proper Christmas cutters for completely average holiday cookies (into which I intersperse monsters and the like, sometimes also crafting Santa into the fat, scarlet tyrant that he is.).

Tools:

For the following two cookie dough recipes, assume that the tools needed are as follows:

  • standing mixer (you may do this with you hands, but it can get messy. As always, make certain all your ingredients are mixed together thoroughly, during each stage)
  • Bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • Baking sheets
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters


Sugar Cookies

(This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c butter
  • 2 c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 c flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Instructions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar. This works best if the butter is cut into chunks and allowed to soften to room temperature.
  2. Beat in the eggs and extracts.
  3. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together thoroughly in another bowl and then incorporate into the butter.
  4. Turn the dough out. Give it a few good kneads to bring it together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 400F
  6. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. I recommend keeping the dough about 1/4″ thick, but if you prefer a thicker or cheesier cookie, aim for 1/2″
  7. Cut into shapes and put on sheet
  8. Bake for 6-8 minutes
  9. Allow to cool completely before icing.


Gluten Free Sugar Cookies


(This recipe can be doubled to make about 4 dozen)

  • 1 c sugar
  • ½ c butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (or, if you cannot use or stand gum, try the following: grind up about 2 Tbsp chia seeds, add 4 Tbsp boiling water and mix very quickly. Allow this to stand for about 5 minutes, and then add a tsp of this mixture in place of the gum)
  • 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I almost exclusively use King Arthur brand. You may also mix flours, as in part almond, part all purpose. However keep in mind that certain flours yield grainy textures or simply do not hold together.)

Instructions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar
  2. Add the egg, milk, and extracts
  3. Add the gum or chia mixture
  4. Incorporate the flour
  5. Chill for at least an hour
  6. Preheat oven to 350F
  7. Roll out and cut into shapes
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or so, depending upon how crispy you want them
  9. Allow to cool before removing from the sheet.
  10. I find them easier to ice if I refrigerate them over night first


Icings

I have recently learned that humans feel quite strongly about how to ice cookies. Some even espouse hatred for anything but their chosen recipe. So I will give you a few classics from which to choose. You take your pick.

For all the following, please presume that the tools are as follows:

  • Standing mixer (can be done with hand held, but you will need to frequently scrape the sides of the bowl) and the paddle attachment 
  • Several bowls for dividing frosting and coloring
  • Silicone spatula for scraping


Butter Cream Icing

Excellent for icing cup cakes or cakes, butter cream has been a standard for years. It can be piped or spread, and it can achieve a hard crust if allowed to dry, though it is usually tacky.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 8 c confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • Food coloring

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter in your mixer, and add the extracts, incorporating fully
  2. Add the sugar one cup at a time
  3. As you add sugar, the mixture will begins to turn crumbly, begin also slowly adding the cream
  4. Beat until creamy. If you want a thinner and more spreadable frosting, add a little more cream. For a thicker piping texture, less cream, which should produce something the texture of a store bought can of frosting.
  5. Divide into bowls and color.


Royal Icing

Most recipes for this have become thoroughly modernized, requiring “meringue powder” and suchlike, which is cheating. You may do it that way if you wish, with perhaps excellent results, but I prefer the old way. It may concern you to use raw egg, but these are pasteurized eggs, and the lion does a fair amount toward also staving off bacteria.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pasteurized egg whites
  • 4 c confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (more if you would like a thinner icing)
  • Food coloring

Instructions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in the mixer and best together until peaks form. You may add coloring at any time. If you want more than one color, add it by hand after dividing portions.


Plain Sugar icing


This is the most simple icing, and one that can be made very quickly as needed, if you run out during decorating.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp either vanilla or almond extract
  • Food coloring (use gel colors with this recipe, as the colors of normal colorings tend to come out muted, and a gel will provide a more vivid color.)

Intrustions

  1. Mix ingredients and color


Chocolate ganache frosting

This can be used fresh as more of a glaze, or it can be turned into a frosting.

Tools;

  • Saucepan
  • Standing mixer or handheld mixer
  • Mixing bowl

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 16 oz chocolate of your taste
  • 2 Tbsp of a flavored liqueor 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Chop the chocolate into tiny bits and place it in the mixing bowl
  2. Heat the cream and extract/liqueor over medium heat until it begins to boil
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny.
  4. It can now be used as a glaze, but if you wish it to become a frosting, allow to cool for several hours (you may speed this up a bit by cooling it in the refrigerator). To turn it into frosting, put the cooled mixture into the standing mixer and whip it for several minutes. It should become less shiny, paler, and generally take on a thicker consistency.

This is best applied with a piping bag or a knife. Cole down whatever you have frosted in order to help the ganache set. 

Killer Gluten Free Brownies, a recipe

This time of year, most kitchens in the world turn into sweet shops. It seems fitting I give you a scratch recipe. However, those who are gluten free seldom get to enjoy decent brownies, and those who are not usually suffer through terrible wheat-free sweets for the ones they love. No longer. Please enjoy this recipe. I promise you it is good, and that you will never know they are gluten free.


Tools:

  • Pot
  • Whisk
  • 8×8 baking dish 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 c chocolate chips/bits/chunks of any flavor
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tap vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c gluten free flour (Type is up to you. You can procure a mix for baking, or simply make your own. Rice and almond both work well.)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c cacao nibs (To taste. And you may also add chopped nuts instead, though I highly recommend nibs, especially if using dark chocolate)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Mix the sugar, butter, and cream in a pot and heat until it bubbles
  3. Add the chocolate and let melt, stir with a whisk or fork. It will look as though it is clumping and not melting but it’s fine.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and continue stirring
  5. When smooth, remove from heat, add flour, salt, baking soda, and cacao nibs and mix until all are thoroughly incorporated.
  6. Pour in 8×8 greased pan and bake for 25 minutes