Monday, March 31, 2014

Hand Pies

Going further with the pie thing, I looked in to other versions. The so called Cornish Pastie seemed easy enough. So I figured I'd give it a go.

First to make the pie crust:

1 and 3/4 cup of all purpose flour. One table spoon of salt. Half a stick of cold butter and an equal amount of lard cubed up in small chunks.
Work it all together with a fork till it looks all crumbly like this
Then start adding very cold water a table spoon at a time and work it in with a butter knife till it starts to clump up. I think it was around 8 table spoons total.
Keep working with the butter knife till it clumps up good and looks like this.
Dust your hands with flour and make a ball like this. Resist the temptation to knead it.
Cover with cling wrap and pop it in the fridge for a half hour to set.
Cube up half an onion, one potato and 3/4 of a lb of beef. Make them small about  half inch across. I used chuck eye steak I had on hand.
After a half hour in the fridge, take out your dough, dust your bench with flour and cut the ball in half.
Roll them out with your rolling pin
Place a likely sized plate or bowl over them and trace out a nice circle. Set the selvage aside as you will get another pie out of it.
Stack your filing on it. I put the onions followed and potatoes on the bottom and then the meat. In retrospect I think it wold be better to mix the onions and meat and put those on top of the cubed potatoes. Brush some egg on the edge of one half of the crust and dust your filling with salt, pepper, garlic and tarragon or any other spices of your choice.
Fold over, crimp the edge in a braided rope pattern, brush with egg wash and in to a 400 degree F oven for about 45 minutes. i did poke a hole or two in them to let off the steam.
After 45 minutes
Serve with kosher dill pickles
and enjoy...

I can see just about any filling would work. Any kind of meat or left over stew, even ham and cheese would be tasty as well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

French Pork Pie

Around here when we say French we mean Canadian, or more specifically Quebecois. Pork Pie or Tourtiere  is an old time classic. And as usual there are many variations on the theme. Some use apples in place of raisins. Some add oats and mashed potatoes. Brandy and nutmeg are usually the more outstanding flavors. This is the one I made on Monday.
I start by making the pie crust dough
  Two cups of flour, one table spoon of salt and a good slab of lard. About one inch cut off that hunk of Snow Cap lard. Mix the salt in the flour, then work the lard in to the flour with your fingers until it is just crumbles. The add about a cup of very cold water very slowly and mix. It will be all crumbly but just moist enough to hold it together. Wrap in Saran wrap and pop it in the fridge for about a half hour.
Peel and cube two small potatoes
and dice one medium white onion
Saute the onions in a good bit of olive oil for about 10 minutes or until soft and translucent, add salt and pepper to taste. And boil your potatoes for about 5 minutes.
After five minutes at a good boil drain your potatoes, set the sauted onions aside and
fry up one pound of lean ground pork til brown.
Add a healthy splash of brandy to your pork, probably about 3/4 cup and cook down. Yes I know that's cheap ass brandy. I don't drink it, I just use it for cooking.
Season your pork to taste with salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon each of Allspice, Nutmeg and Clove. Add about 3/4 cup of rasins and check for taste and adjust as needed.
Grease your pie tin with shortening and dust it with flour. Roll out your pie dough and line your pie pan.
Mix your potatoes and pork together and fill your pie and put the top on it.
Glaze with a bit of beaten egg and pop it in to a 375 deg F oven.
Don't forget to pierce the top cover to let the steam out.
45 minutes later behold your masterpiece.
Serve with kosher dill pickles and enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Zuppa di Pesce

My take on a classic Italian fish stew . . . * the quick version.
Pound and half of Monkfish
One medium white onion finely diced
One pound of Muscles
Five small garlic cloves
Couple of sprigs of Basil
One tin of Peeled Italian tomatoes.
One lemon.
Heat a heavy casserole, add a good bit of olive oil and dump the onions and diced garlic along with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and saute for about 10 minutes til its all translucent. Then add three quarters of a cup of white wine.
Dump in a tin of peeled Italian tomatoes and crush them up a bit. Add a couple sprigs of basil and a pinch of smoked sweet paprika. Do use the Italian tomatoes if available as they taste different due to the volcanic soil they are grown in. Also the peeled ones are preferable as it keeps the acidity down. Season to taste. Cover and simmer for about thirty minutes on low flame.
Dump in the cubed Monkfish and simmer for about 8 or 10 minutes.
Dump in a pound of well cleaned Muscles, cover and simmer for about 7 minutes til they are well open. Discard any that do not open.
Serve with lemon wedges and toasted slices of Tuscan Boule rubbed with a fresh garlic.

* you can add squid to it as well if you have it. But it will require about an hour longer of cooking. You would add the cubed squid right after the tomato and simmer for about an hour until the squid is tender and then add the fish. Monkfish is desirable because unlike other white fish it takes heat well and holds together without flaking up. If you use other fish adjust your time accordingly.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Chicken Taragon dutch oven

A one pot easy meal for two scrounged together from what was available in the fridge.
Couple of medium sized potatoes peeled and cubed. One large bell pepper cut in one inch chunks. Six or eight one inch boiling onions. Two chicken breast halves. Could be done with pretty much any other bits of chicken as well. Toss everything but the chicken in a bowl with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and a handful of tarragon and coat well. Pop it in a dutch oven or heavy cast iron casserole and put the chicken bits on top. Sprinkle salt pepper and tarragon on the chicken as well. Add 3/4 of a cup of Chablis and cover with the lid. Pop it in to an oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or so. Delish

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just when you thought . . . .

That it might be over and we'd get a break, winter clenches its brutal fist
And more is promised for Saturday. Meanwhile I am laid up with a wrenched back barely able to walk or stand. Through the years every now and then I tweak my back usually doing something simple like reaching for a cup in the kitchen cupboard, and it usually goes away after three or four days. This time it seems I really managed to mess it up bad. It happened on Tuesday morning as I was shoveling Monday night's sleet off the deck and suddenly I felt like I got hit by a baseball bat in the small of the back. Had everything I could do to keep from falling down. So now I am doing the shuffle like that silly Honda robot we have all seen on TV. Hopefully it passes soon. It all dates back to an injury suffered in my early twenties while working as a mason's tender. I had loaded a days worth of materials and had unloaded about 200 cinder blocks (breeze blocks) from the flat bed truck and the last two got me. Lifting and turning seems to be what sets it off.

I suppose my kayak rolling days are done for. Yours truly about 6 years ago rolling a skin - on - frame replica of 1931 Disko Bay kayak at Walden Pond .

Saturday, March 8, 2014

3 months of road salt

Inspired by Tom Gowans' talk about cars and the warm 44 degree F (7 C) weather after non stop below freezing temps for the last ninety days I figured it would be a good day to get three months of road salt off the cars.
You really can't tell but under all the grime it is black
A bucket full of suds
A bit of scrubbing
Ahhh ! ! ! happiness is a clean car.
The truck also got a scrubbing, and I even managed to hose off 5 gallons of road sand from the driveway as well.