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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Apple pie

Mmmm apple pie.

I'm doing some baking today before heading over to Mom's. My brother and his family are in town from Fillmore and we're going to do some major eating.

The apple pie is finished and the pumpkin pie is in the oven with about 30 minutes to go. The kosher bird goes in the oven at 10:00 am and will cook for 4 hours at 325 degrees until the internal temp is 165 degrees.

Details, details...

The apple pie filling recipe comes from

3 lbs granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
the juice of 1 lemon (so apples don't brown)
3/4 cup regular sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp butter
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk

Peel/slice your apples and juice a lemon over them and turn them around, so they don't brown. Then add your dry ingredients and stir, then place in your unbaked pie shell (Crisco recipe, posted recently). I topped this with a deconstructed style crust since my crust didn't come out in one piece. Originally I would have made a lattice crust since that always looks pretty. I sprinkled the top with sugar and baked it at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

I didn't use the butter, egg yolk or milk as the recipe calls for but I wanted to include them as per the original.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spaghetti sauce with sausage, olives and bell pepper

Yummy pasta sauce with bell pepper, Italian sausage
and black olives.

This has become one of my favorite pasta sauces. You need:

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 handful whole black olives
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
2 Italian sausage links
a sprinkle of Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
a drizzle of olive oil
1/2-3/4 pound of pasta, your choice

I brown the sausage a bit in the pan, then add the olive oil and saute the garlic along with the sausage for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, the bell pepper, olives and a sprinkle of Italian seasonings.

I'm serving this over shell pasta tonight, but you can use angel hair or any other pasta you like.

The bell pepper adds a nice depth of flavor to the sauce.

This will feed three or four with a main course... or two if you are both super hungry.

If you can get a focaccia to go with this, that would be nice, along with a simple green salad. Tonight I'm serving it with a bottle of Tempranillo that I found at Cost Plus.

This is a very "homey" sauce that will make you feel like you're in the presence of your grandma. In my case, my late Grandma Pompeii, who was also a great cook.

Testing...pumpkin pie

The finished product!
Not as pretty maybe as the one on the Libby's can,
but it does smell amazing.

Here is the pre-baked version.
You can tell that the crust isn't exactly uniform.

When the head baker in your family (that would be my Mom) tells you to go by the recipe on the can for pumpkin pie, you don't waiver.

So, today I'm making a test pie, a few days early, so I can make sure what I'll be serving my family is first quality. I will need to try several pieces for quality control, most likely.

Here is the filling recipe from the Libby's pumpkin can (or calabaza, if you prefer).

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9" deep dish pie shell

You mix the sugar, salt and spices together, then set them aside. Beat your eggs and then add the spices and pumpkin, stir them in. Then stir in your evaporated milk and you are all done. Pour this into your unbaked pie shell (recipe follows) and bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees then reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (my mom says the temperature reduction is very important, or your pie will be like "leather" on top).

Classic Crisco pie crust

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 stick of Crisco shortening (3/4 cup shortening)
4-8 tablespoons ice cold water

Put your flour and salt in a bowl, then "cut" in shortening using a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs with pea sized pieces remaining. Then sprinkle in two tablespoons of water and stir the mixture with a fork and continue to add 1 tablespoon of water until your dough comes together. Then separate it into two portions and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling out.

I found that I should have refrigerated the crust more than the required time. It was very hard to keep together in one piece (it actually ended up in the pie pan stuck together manually by me) and it's not the prettiest pie crust, but it's going to taste delicious. Also I found that I needed to use about 1 portion plus half of another to get enough to fill the pie pan. I just pitched the other half, but you could save it and make some empanadas. Mmmm.

Thanks Mom for keeping me on track with your recipe tips (follow the recipe on the can). If any of you out there make pumpkin pie and want to share your pumpkin filling and crust variations with me, please please please send them my way.

Also, sometime soon I'm tempted to try a pie crust that uses a combination of butter and lard to avoid the trans fats in shortening. I just don't like the idea of using a fat that's been processed so much.

Happy Baking. And, Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cost Plus - control central for your Thanksgiving baking

I'm the proud and happy owner of a new pie pan.

My Mom was telling me today that since I'm in charge of making our pies for Thanksgiving this year, I need to get a 9" pie pan. She gave me a 10" pie pan today. That one is for apple pie. She told me to make the pie exactly according to the directions on the can of pumpkin, and the can says, use a 9" pie pan.

Enough said.

I was at Cost Plus tonight and spied this nice pie pan, it is stoneware and the outside is navy blue (sorry I didn't get a good shot of the outside). The best part is the price - $7.50. It was a promo, regularly $9.99.

So I actually saved money tonight. Riiiiight...

Cost Plus is also a great store for spices. If you buy your spices there, you will save a bundle vs. your regular grocery store. The exception to that rule is if you buy your spices at a Mexican grocery store like Food City. They have line of spices called "El Guapo" that is very reasonable.

So...head to Cost Plus for your baking needs for this Thanksgiving. They also have a lot of extras like a great selection of wine and imported chocolates. Mmmmmm.

Baked tilapia with brown rice and yams

The fish is hiding under the rice. I promise, it's there...

I've perfected a new dish: baked tilapia with capers and tomatoes. This is really delicious and inexpensive to make.

You defrost a couple of tilapia fillets (if you get them frozen like I do in the bag) and place them on a cookie sheet covered with tin foil. Drizzle them in olive oil and top with a little bit of minced garlic, capers and diced roma tomatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.

I served this with brown rice (cooked in 1/2 chicken broth 1/2 water) and baked yams. If you start your yams first, you can use the same cookie sheet...just put them off to one side and cook about 20 minutes before your fish. I like to wash mine well and pat them dry, and then rub them in a bit of olive oil so the skin will be tasty.

You could also serve this fish with olive oil and garlic pasta.

The Grande Orange makes Herb Focaccia that goes very well with this. Mmmmm.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanksgiving pie recommendations - straight from the Pie Social judge's mouth

This pie was my favorite. Mincemeat. Mmmmm.

In second place was an apple cranberry pie. Delish!

After applying to be a pie judge at today's Pie Social, the nice people at Phoenix New Times gifted me tickets so I could try 5 different types of pies today at the Pie Social at 5th Street and Roosevelt. Thank you Phoenix New Times!

On the way to my Mom's after the social, it occurred to me that I could get pulled over by Phoenix Police for DUIP, or Driving Under the Influence of Pie. Major major major sugar rush!

After reviewing 5 pies (and eating every last bite) I feel I can recommend pies for your Thanksgiving table, lest you not want to bake.

The one pie I did not try, but it looked delicious, was a dulce de leche and coconut number from Breadfruit restaurant. I am not a fan of coconut but if I was going to a dinner where there were lots of Almond Joy fans, I would not hesitate to bring it. The chef who made it told me they won for "Best Jerk" (chicken) last year and I think they have Jamaican patties too, so I need to get down there soon. That reminds me, I need to put Jamaica on my bucket list. Oh, how nice it would be to go there and zone out on Red Stripe beer and Jamaican patties. MMmmm. 108 E. Pierce St. 602-267-1266

I digress. Thinking about travel and food gives the kitchen wench wanderlust. Big time.

Another place you can get your Thanksgiving pie is at Pie Snob. I tried their Mississippi mud pie which was basically a very rich and moist brownie pie with some coffee flavor. I know it's not a traditional thing to serve for Thanksgiving but this pie was that good, I'm making an exception. 602-840-4995

The nice folks at That's A Wrap! in the old Lola Tapas location were hawking a pear and cranberry pie. I am a fruity pie person and I really enjoyed this one. The crust was very flaky and the quality of the fruit was very good, and spiced just right. 602-252-5051 800 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

Beckett's Table was offering up a fig and pecan (or was it walnut?) pie that was very tasty. 602-954-1700

I am saving my two favorite pies for last. The apple and cranberry pie at Honey Moon Sweets had a streusel topping that I really enjoyed and it was packed with apples. Yummy. 480-517-9520

The last pie I think might have been my most favorite. I am a big (BIG) fan of mince pie and these guys nailed it, the mince filling and the crust were perfect. You need to try this one from Tracy Dempsey Originals.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Catching up with a great friend over a taco

"Taco, taco, burrito!" Or at least that's how Jennifer Lopez (played by Cartman) put it on the episode of South Park where Jennifer Lopez morphed out of his hand.

Yes, I must watch too much tv, you will say.

I will maintain that South Park is very entertaining.

I digress. Tonight I had tacos with Jason, a very good friend. Good friends can be far and few between in this life, so when we can spend time with them, it is a great thing. And over tacos...well then, it is a fabulous thing.

Don't have pictures of our tacos tonight. We had a lot of catching up to do and wern't concentrating on picture taking. But they were crispy and the chicken was juicy and flavorful. Suffice it to say, Carlos O' Brien's has great tacos (and rice) so you should go as soon as you can.

PHOENIX 1133 East Northern Avenue (602) 274-5881
(also in Scottsdale)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cost Plus - birthday goodies

My booty from Cost Plus.

Before starting this post I need to give a big thanks and shout out to my Mom and brother Mike who had me over for dinner tonight. My Mom made a dish with pork chops baked over rice that had a medley of veggies in it. Delicious! And she also showed me how to make a "catalina" style salad dressing using the blender with catsup, olive oil, garlic and red wine vinegar. I told her I'm going to be making it a lot for myself, since I love salads.

I digress, here we go with the main topic of this post. Birthday goodies!

Saykham, my father's girlfriend sent me $20 in today's mail, along with a pretty bamboo placemat/napkin/coaster/chopsticks set.

It was burning a hole in my pocket (my purse) so I made a trip over to Cost Plus. I have recently been reading a chocolate blog called Chocablog and it talks about chocolate from all over the world. Here's the link if you want to check it out. It's quite entertaining, and informative, if you are a big chocolate eater.

I enjoy good chocolate, but I an not a snob, I also like Hershey's :) Since I've been reading Chocablog I've been inspired to check out chocolate from different countries, and you can do that at Cost Plus. They have candy that typically you won't see at Walgreen's or the supermarket. When you want to try something different, head over to Cost Plus.

I also enjoy alcohol (in moderation mind you) so I picked up a 6 of Hefeweisen and a Tempranillo from Spain. Not sure which one I'm going to start with. First I'm going to unwrap a candy bar, and get a sugar rush, and then get a little "happier" if you know what I mean.
Makes for great birthday finale, in this kitchen wench's humble opinion.

Sacred Hogan - fry bread and red chili beef stew

What else could the Kitchen Wench ask for on her birthday?

My aunt and I went to Sacred Hogan today for lunch. Her treat, since it's my big day.

You gotta go, is all I gotta say.

We both had the red chili beef stew and fry bread. She had the 16 oz portion and I had the smaller 8 oz portion; both come with fry bread. The stew has a lot of veggies and tender beef. It is not too spicy if you are dining with people who can't tolerate too much. I spied another patron eating a "taco" made with fry bread, beans and beef. I'm going back for that, you can bet on it.

Their fry bread is so yummy. It is really good winter food.

Get yourself to Sacred Hogan soon. And bring a friend!

842 East Indian School Road Phoenix (602) 277-5280

Monday, November 8, 2010

New gadget and a Sonoran hot dog

A Sonoran hot dog a la kitchen wench.

A new gadget!

The Kitchen Wench's birthday is coming up and little gifties are starting to pour in. My Mom gave me a swiffer set (got to keep the kitchen clean) and my brother gave me an ultrasonic toothbrush. My teeth have never been so clean. My Aunt is taking me to lunch for Frybread at the Sacred Hogan on Wednesday and my Mom is making dinner (a surprise). I am feeling rather well gifted these days.

Tonight at Food City I spied a kitchen gadget I have been needing but have been putting off for some reason. They have lemon/lime squeezers in lots of different colors for two bucks in their produce section - so get down there quick and get one. I used it already and the quality is pretty good for the price.

I was at a Women's Finance Meeting tonight and came home rather hungry. Thank goodness I had a hot dog in the refrigerator and some beans, onion and spicy brown mustard. Made myself a "mock" Sonoran hot dog (no bacon). I used a bolillo roll for the bun and it makes a great (GREAT) hot dog bun. You've gotta try it if you haven't yet.

You can also get a great Sonoran hot dog in front of the mattress store on 20th Street and Indian School Road. They come wrapped with bacon and are placed in a steamed bun. You get the choice of all kinds of toppings like beans, mushrooms, salsa...I don't remember all of them but they are plentiful. The little hot dog stand is there most nights, so go check it out.

Another place that is good to try if you want to get your Mexican eats on is Tortas Paquime on 24th Street and McDowell. They have this sandwich called a Torta Milanesa de pollo (a breaded chicken sandwich) and it is so delicious. It comes with tomato, lettuce, onion, jalapeño and slices of avocado. They also make a drink that has lots of chopped up fruit and it is very creamy, but I don't know what it is called. You must go to Tortas Paquime and try their yummy food.

Sacred Hogan 842 East Indian School Road Phoenix (602) 277-5280

Nogales Hot Dogs 1945 East Indian School Road, Phoenix (602) 527-0208

Tortas Paquime 2541 E Mcdowell Rd # 100, Phoenix - (602) 244-1188
(2 other locations, one on west Van Buren and one on west Indian

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Here comes the judge - Pie Social - November 13

I've applied to be a judge at the Pie Social this coming weekend, presented by Ciao Bella (of Phoenix New Times) and Roosevelt Row.

I let them know my leg is hollow and ready for multiple tastings.

How fun would that be?

Here are the details:

Hope to see you there!

Spicy shrimp with oil and garlic angel hair pasta

The leftovers from last night's yummy dinner.

My aunt gifted me a pound of frozen shrimp (ez peel) last week and my friend was coming over for dinner last night... so, what's a girl on a budget to do? Make lemonade! Or in the kitchen wench's case, spicy shrimp, with oil and garlic pasta.

This is a great, economical and tasty meal. I was really impressed. The garlic after roasting becomes sweet and is a nice flavor for the pasta. You don't miss not having a "sauce" as most of us are used to. The shrimp cook quickly, so make sure you cook them until they are just pink and firm. Mine came out perfect, and my dinner guest (not divulging the name to protect the innocent) proclaimed it a very yummy dish.

We also had the "herb salad" in the bag from Fresh and Easy with a couple of sliced roma tomatoes, a few tablespoons of golden raisins (Fresh & Easy has these too, and they are good for baking), some pepperoncini slices and a bit of sliced bell pepper. A simple vinaigrette was all this salad needed.

My friend brought the wine, so we were in good shape for dinner. It was a winner.

(Modified from Rachel Ray's version that is for more people, and uses anchovies).

Spicy shrimp:

1 pound shrimp
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, crushed & peeled
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add your shrimp. Cook for 3 minutes until pink and just firm. Set shrimp aside on a plate.

Garlic oil:

1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 large cloves garlic, crushed & minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
coarse salt
1 pound angel hair pasta, cook to "al dente"

Heat your oil on medium low and add your garlic, pepper flakes and a dash of salt. When your pasta is done cooking, drain it well and put it in the same pan with the oil, add your shrimp and turn the pasta around to coat with the oil.

This is such a great dish.

Happy cooking!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Christmas Cookies - via Germany

These would be nice with some lemongrass tea.

Don't these look really tasty? Mmmm.

After the dough comes together you form "logs"
and then refrigerate a bit before slicing into rounds.

Yecla sent this recipe and pictures for Christmas cookies. They look delicious! She also said you could add a bit of honey or a spice for flavor variation (I am thinking lemon zest would be nice in these).

250 grams butter, room temp
300 grams flour
dash of salt
125 grams sugar ( I will use Zulka moreno)

This is a pretty simple recipe, I like that it has few ingredients.

Mix the ingredients together and make four "logs" as shown in the picture. Then leave it in the refrigerator to "set." Cut your logs in 0.5 cm (I am thinking like 1/6-1/4") and place them on parchment paper (or a silpat). Bake at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Happy Winter Baking!

The Spanish version: (thank you Yecla)
Mezclar los ingredientes, amasarlos un poco y hacer los 4 rollos de la foto, despues dejarlo en el frigo, mientras limpias la cocina y recoges todo lo que has sacado. Después cortar los rollitos en galletitas de 0,5 cm, las mias eran un poco más grandes. (ver foto) Y dejarlos en el horno a 180° durante unos 10-12 minutos. Me salieron dos bandejas.

The ingredients list in German, for those of you who sprechen sie deutsch.

für ca. 70 Stück

250 g Butter Raumtemperatur,
300 g Weizenmehl Type 550 + Mehl für die Arbeitsfläche,
125 g Puderzucker