Thanksgiving Recipe Review #2- Apple Cider Cream Pie

So this was the second recipe I attempted for Thanksgiving dessert.  Sadly, it doesn’t look so great… Someone dipped their finger in the whipped cream, as you can see, and I completely forgot to garnish it with the dried apple slices I had prepared.  But I promise it tasted much better than it looks!  I got the recipe from The Galley Gourmet but it is originally from the November 11 issue of Food and Wine.

This was my first time ever making a pie.  I made it after the cupcakes in my previous post, and on Wednesday night ended up spending 6 hours baking between the two of these items.  By about the fourth hour, I wanted to say forget this damn pie I’m exhausted, but I went through with it and am glad I did because this pie is DELICIOUS.  I faced some challenges though, especially having never made a pie before.  I’ve watched my mom do it a thousand times, but it is trickier than it seems.

My main struggle in particular was due to the fact that I don’t own a pie dish.  When I got off work Wednesday afternoon I planned to buy one but couldn’t find a real one anywhere and was forced to buy a foil throw away one.  These things are really flimsy, so it was hard to get the crust in right, and even harder to put the pie in the oven- the meat of this pie is a custard, and before custard bakes it is a liquidy mess.  Due to my flimsy pie pan, some of my custard seeped behind the crust (as you can see in the photo), and some of it spilled out onto the bottom of the oven as I was placing it on the rack.  Now of course I couldn’t do anything but let it burn, I couldn’t try to clean it because the oven was too hot.  From all the smoke that was billowing out of the vents and into every room of my apartment, you would have thought the whole place was on fire.

I also struggled with the whipped cream.  I had also never made home made whipped cream before, and I couldn’t seem to get it as fluffy as I wanted.  But despite of all of these challenges, it tasted great and everyone enjoyed it.  I will definitely be sharing this recipe and trying it again, hopefully when I have some better tools in hand.

Apple Cider Cream Pie
serves 8
For the Crust
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons (3-ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (2-ounces) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into small cubes
2 Tablespoons vodka
2 Tablespoons apple cider
For the Filling
2 cups apple cider
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 extra large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Garnish
Dried apple slices
Cinnamon sugar
For the Crust
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt with a few 1-second pulses.  Add the butter and shortening and process until the mixture just starts to come together and resembles coarse meal.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse to combine.  Sprinkle the vodka and cider over the flour mixture and process just until the dough comes together.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Using the corners of the plastic wrap and the back of your knuckles, press the dough into a 4-inch disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Adjust oven rack to lower third of the oven and preheat to 425º F.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 12-inch circle.  Ease the dough into a 9-inch pie plate by gently lifting edge of dough and lightly pressing into the bottom of the pie plate, leaving at least a 1-inch overhang.  Fold the overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with the edge of pie plate.  Flute or decoratively crimp  the edge.  Refrigerate until cold and firm, 30-60 minutes.
Line the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until the crust is barely set, about 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the parchment and weights.  Cover the edge of the crust with a pie shield or strips of foil and bake until set, about 15 minutes more; set aside to cool (do not remove shield or strips).  Lower the oven temperature to 350º F.
In a medium saucepan, boil the cider until it is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10-15 minutes.  Transfer the cider and let cool slightly.  Whisk in 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, sour cream, and salt. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth and completely combined.  Keeping the shield or foil strips in place, pour the custard into the pie shell.  Bake until the custard is set around the edge, but the center is still slightly jiggly, about 35-40 minutes.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely.  (The cooled pie can be refrigerated up to this point in the process for 2 days).
In a medium bowl, beat the cream, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon using a whisk or a hand held mixer until soft, but firm peaks form.  Mound the cream onto the pie.  Garnish with dried apple slices and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Recipe Review #1- Almond Green Tea Cupcakes

This Thanksgiving I was put in charge of desserts, and I wanted to try something new that I had never done before.  Granted I had never made a pie before, so I could have just done a pumpkin or apple pie, but I also wanted to do something not so traditional, so for my first dessert item, I decided to try this recipe I found at http://crumbsandcookies.blogspot.com/ , the original recipe is from Baked.

Let me start off by giving a little backstory on why I was interested in this recipe.  In June, my uncle got married and their wedding cake was almond.  It was absolutely to die for, and ever since I have been obsessed with all things almond in an attempt to try and taste the deliciousness of that wedding cake again.  These cupcakes would be the start of my search for the perfect almond cake recipe, with the green tea frosting being an interesting little twist.

These cupcakes gave me some trouble, though.  While making the cake batter, I accidentally got too close to my hand mixer and it whacked my knuckle, cutting me a bit.  I guess you could literally say I put my blood into them, but not really.  Then, later when I was icing them, I was attempting to make a pretty design with my icing bag, and after about seven cupcakes instead of coming out the tip like it is supposed to, my icing started coming out of the top and spilling everywhere-literally backfiring.  So, I had to ice the rest plainly with just a knife.  Luckily it didn’t matter because the icing recipe makes a HUGE amount of icing.  Seriously, even with all my spilling, I still had more than I needed for the cupcakes.

Also, these were the most expensive cupcakes I have ever made.  Really, this was the most expensive icing I have ever made.  It calls for matcha powder, which, let me tell you if you don’t already know, is pricey.  I bought the smallest tin I could find and it still cost me around $20.  Thats $20 for one ingredient alone!  This was really a difficult purchase for me to make, as I’m on my college-student budget, but I had high hopes for this recipe and went for it.

Sadly, I was disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re good cupcakes, moist and fluffy as cupcakes should be, but I felt they lacked flavor.  I expected to really taste the almond and green tea, but instead they just tasted like a plain but yummy cupcake.  Everyone gobbled them up but if I were to make them again, I would probably add more almond extract and matcha powder, and cut down the measurements for the icing recipe (except for the matcha powder) because I had no use for all that extra icing and it went to waste.

Okay, now that you’ve read through all of that- here is the recipe.

For the Almond Cupcake:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1 large egg
1 cup ice cold water
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

 

 


For the Green Tea Frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsweetened matcha powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Make the almond cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are a find powder. Put the powdered almonds in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in to a large bowl and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
5. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the powdered almonds.
6. Fill the cupcake liners about three quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on the rack to cool completely.
7. Make the green tea frosting: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar, flour, and matcha powder together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
8. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.
9. Add the vanilla and continue beating until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then mix it again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and mix again.
10. Frost the cupcakes.

Perfect French Toast

 

Since Thanksgiving is a feast day, my boyfriend and I decided to make a breakfast feast!  I usually eat a very small breakfast, so this is rare for me.  When we do make big breakfasts, we usually make pancakes, but today I decided to do my french toast recipe.

Ingredients per two pieces of bread:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Scramble all ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit a slice of bread without breaking it.
  2. Soak a slice of bread in egg mixture.
  3. Cook on well-buttered pan, flipping often to make both sides even.  Each slice of bread should stay on the pan about 3-5 minutes total.
  4. Top with plenty of maple syrup and/or powdered sugar.
  5. Pair with whatever else you like to eat for breakfast! We chose chicken breakfast sausages and scrambled eggs.
  6. Feast!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Note: I didn't make these cupcakes but don't they look amazing?!

 

Burrito Bowls

Another easy meal! Delicious, too!  My boyfriend and I came up with this together, and to be honest when we make it, he does a fair amount of the cooking, so I can’t take all the credit!

Ingredients:

  • Rice
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Roasted Corn
  • Black Beans
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Sour Cream
  • Cholula sauce

 

Paula’s Pasta Primavera

Primavera can be made with any combination of vegetables, but this is the way my Mom has always made it, and the way I love it.  The first time I made this on my own, I cried because I missed my mom and home, and because it is SO yummy and I was really proud of myself.

This is a colorful and healthy dish that is pleasing to look at and to eat!  Even picky eaters can enjoy it-the final product produces a very yummy sauce/broth that can be poured over your pasta without any of the vegetables (this is how my brother likes to eat it).

I make this all the time, probably at least twice a month.  It is one of my favorite meals and is fairly easy to make, so I thought it would be appropriate for my first real food post.

Ingredients:

  • A red, yellow, and orange red bell pepper.
  • 1/3 of an onion
  • Diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • Italian sausage (optional), cooked and cut to your liking.

How to:

  1. Cut your peppers and onions into 1/2 inch squares.
  2. Saute peppers and onions with the garlic for about five minutes on high heat.
  3. Add tomatoes and sausage to your vegetables, turn heat to low, cover and let simmer while pasta cooks.  Be sure to turn your pasta water on as soon as you cover your primavera.
  4. When pasta is done cooking, also turn off your primavera
  5. Enjoy!