Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pie in a jar. A very small jar.

There is a wonderful blog that goes by the name not martha. This woman (Megan) makes the most absurdly awesome things - crafts AND food. Her blog really is fantastic, and a friend of mine often sends me links from the blog with a note that says something along the lines of 'I don't have the patience for this, but you should try making it!'. The one that has been nagging at me, one that I really thought 'that's my kinda baked good, I could pull that off', was a post about mini pies, baked in tiny little canning jars.  If you've ever been in my kitchen, you know that I love mini things. Mini whisks, mini spatulas, mini bowls, mini cheese knives.

So finally, after pondering this idea of making mini pies for about two years, we made them last weekend! We made mini pies in a jar! I was in charge of the crust and my friend was in charge of the filling (blueberry and apricot). We made two dozen pies and a dozen crumbles, since we ran out of pie crust.  Our crust didn't look nearly as nice as Megan's did, but we made it work. First we tried cramming circles into the jars, which just lead to way too much crust in one place. Then I tried cutting a wedge out of the circle and then putting the crust in, which worked a bit better. By the end I was just cutting strips a little wider than the width of the jar and putting two per jar, perpendicular to each other. I say play around and see what works for you.

The details:

Jars: We used 4 oz jars. The key is to use a jar that is wider than it is tall, and of course, it should be wide mouth. If you get frustrated easily, or don't have tiny nimble hands, I suggest you at least consider 8 oz jars.

Crust: I am extremely loyal to the Cook's Illustrated pie crust that uses half butter half shortening, but you can do as you wish. The recipe on not martha used the Cook's Illustrated all butter crust. We found that one crust (for a covered pie) made 12 jar pies. So convenient!

Filling: Personal preference. My friend was in charge of filling, so I'm not positive, but she precooked the berries on the stove so that they wouldn't make the pie in the jar soggy and so there would be a bit less of a cooked over mess.

For step by step directions, I'm going to direct you to the original post on not martha: pies baked in tiny jars. But I will outline the general step by step. Also. I really recommend the two person approach. If one handles the crust and one handles the filling, it really does make everything less hectic and much more fun.

1. Make the crust, as it needs to sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before you start rolling it out.

2. Prepare the filling, if you're using a filling that is super juicy, pre cook it a bit. Basically, pick what kind of pie you want to make, look up how the filling is handled for a normal big pie, and do that.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F or so.

4. Roll out the pie crust and get the jars outfitted with crust, leaving a fair amount of crust at the top. Also make sure to leave enough crust to make a top layer.

5. Pour in the filling, add the top crust and fold over the tall sides of the bottom crust to make a nice little edge.  Cut some slits in the crust so steam can escape.

6. If there are way more mini pies than you think you can eat in a week, put the cover on the extras and stick 'em in the freezer for baking at a later date. Defrost those puppies for a bit before you put 'em in a hot oven though.

7. Put all of your mini jars on a rimmed baking dish and stick it in the oven. Let cook for at least 45 minutes - even though it's mini, a pie is a pie.

8. Once the jars have cooled a bit, move them to a casserole dish and add warm water until it reaches the threads where the top screws on.  This will clean off much of the messy, sticky stuff that bubbled out of the pie during baking.

9. Once the jars have fully cooled, stick the covers on the jars and you're done!  not martha suggested removing them from the jar, but I personally loved having the jar as the serving dish and it was SUPER handy to be able to toss a jar into my lunch bag and have pie for a nice little afternoon snack at work.

 Now if only I wasn't so intimidated by the tiny gingerbread houses...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sauteed Greens

Something that grows really well in Seattle is green things - lettuce, chard, kale, etc. We're starting to eat from the garden, and the other night we had a full colander of cherries from the tree out front, and from the garden we had radishes, a young walla walla (pulled it for thinning purposes) and lots of beautiful rainbow chard.  I wanted to share my favorite recipe for cooking chard and kale.  I prefer chard over other types of braising greens, but they can all be delicious prepared the right way. This is best cooked in a giant skillet - a wide one with high walls if you have it, and it must have a cover. A cast iron will work well too, as long as you have a cover for it. Also - I like to use carrots and a turnip to add a bit of substance. They're not necessary, but I think they add nice flavor. Radishes also work really well.

Ingredients: 1 yellow onion, 2 carrots, 1 turnip, 3-4 cloves garlic, 2 T olive oil, salt and pepper (sea salt is great if you have it), 1-2 bunches of greens

Directions:  The end goal of this step is to have all of the non-green items in the pan, but timing is semi-important. Since I like to saute the onion a bit, whereas the carrots and turnip I'm just trying to soften up, and the garlic I'm worried about burning, I usually follow this pattern: dice onions, then get the oil going while you peel and slice the carrot into smallish pieces, then add the onions to the pan and let them brown just a little. Peel and dice the turnip into 1/2 inch pieces while you do this, then I add the carrot and turnip, saute for just a few seconds in order to mix everything around, then put the cover on. Mince the garlic and set it aside.  Check on the sauteing/steaming items and stir them a bit.

Wash the greens thoroughly and chop into 3 inch trips.  I personally don't love the stalks, but many people do (like my boyfriend), so I usually cut the very bottom of the stock off and then chop the rest of it into little 1/2 inch pieces that I use.  When you're about ready to put the greens in, remove the lid, add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir the ingredients until while mixed.

Add the greens (as many as can fit), turn the heat up just a little bit and put the lid on.  Check every five minutes or so to stir the greens.  Once the greens have cooked down a little, add remaining greens. Continue to cook with the cover on until greens are like cooked spinach. Keep in mind that the greens will cook down a ton.  Once greens are cooked down, add more salt and pepper, stir, and serve!
Happy healthy eating!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dive Bomb Tortas - a guest recipe

A recent off-the-cuff recipe from my wonderful boyfriend...

  • Chicken breasts (pounded flat to ¼”)
  • Avocado (sliced into thin wedges)
  • Heirloom tomatoes (sliced into thin wedges)
  • Lettuce
  • Marinade (See below)
  • Adobo butter (See below)
  • Mini French baguettes
  • Mayo (optional)
Chicken Spice Rub / Marinade:
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Fresh chives
  • Oregano (Fresh & Dry)
  • Sweet paprika
  • Ground coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Garlic

Adobo Butter
  • 8Tb Butter (room temp)
  • 1Tb adobo sauce
  • 1Tb honey
  • 1-2 Ancho chile in adobo sauce (crushed with back of fork into butter)
Marinade chicken for 20 minutes and grill
Spread adobo butter on inside baguettes and grill
Assemble remaining ingredients
Note: I started graduate school in September and life got a bit hectic. When I did manage to find time to cook creatively, I didn't seem to have any time leftover to blog. But it's summer now, and I'm trying to get back on the blogging train, as I've been cooking up a storm! To get me started, here's a guest recipe from my boyfriend. He made these sandwiches this weekend, which we ate on a lovely summer evening while sipping mojitos on a lovely backyard patio at a friends house. I highly recommend both the sandwich and the setting!