Thursday, February 28, 2013

Christmas Cookies and Cats

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is taking excessive amounts of photos of cats cooking with my mom. We make a very traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner of borscht and pierogi. The pierogi requires A LOT of work – make the dough, make the filling, roll the dough, stuff with filling, freeze…. Wait patiently… Cook and cover with butter.
We also make cookies. This year, for whatever reason, I had a hell of a time with my lemon cookies. We tried and failed a few times to no success whatsoever (although my improv team enjoyed them, they tasted fine) and finally I went home and made them myself.

The photo above is what happened when I showed up at my parent’s house with dozens of unfrosted cookies in tow. My brother and I frosted, sprinkled, and decorated (while a cat ate the ribbon of one of the packages under the tree). If you zoom in you can see the negative snowman and a few other fun things. Kids these days, so emo.

A few other fun things:

The restaurant at the Ace Hotel in NYC - the livestock were decorated for the season

My favorite Christmas ornament, purchased in Poland in 2010

A coffee shop in Albany

A mammoth!
(We are now members of the Museum of Science.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apple Rosemary Pies

Sometime around a few months ago, we had some holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas... About a year and a half ago, I actually wrote this post and I only just found as a saved draft. The recipe was good, so I made the pies again this year. Also, you'll see another post soon talking about how awesome the team at Dave's Fresh Pasta are for hooking me up with spare herbs. I thought this recipe came from the New York Times although I can only find it in my email. So, it's below. I'm a mess, seriously!

You know I love pie, and I love baking pie, so when we had a thanksgiving work potluck, I decided to make a pie. The story of pie #1 is as follows.... Wednesday night I couldn't find rosemary at the grocery store, so I stopped in to Dave's Fresh Pasta and asked nicely at the counter. I was rewarded with several sprigs of rosemary at minimal cost, so I went home to start the pie.

Then it turned out I didn't have enough regular flour, so I had to make a partially whole wheat crust. And then I went for a run.

My pie strategy is as follows: make crust, refrigerate, go for a run. So I did, but I discovered I needed flour for the filling and I had to go out to the store to buy more anyway. Sigh....

But the pie still came out delicious!

Anyway, it was just a practice for Thanksgiving, when I had to make two apple rosemary pies! My parents were nice enough to come over and help peel 18 apples and roll dough ( pre- made the night before thankfully) but still it was a struggle to get the pies in the oven in time to go to Thanksgiving One at my husband's house. After we went to Thanksgiving Two with my family, where I proceeded to screw up the popovers by doubling every ingredient except the eggs. Oops.

Rosemary Apple Pie

Prep: 1 hour
Bake: 55 min.
Stand: 30 min.

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary plus 1 tsp. finely snipped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
6 cups cored, peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup butter
1 Recipe Rosemary Pastry, see recipe
1 egg white, beaten
2 tsp. granulated sugar

1. For rosemary syrup, in small microwave-safe bowl combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the water, and 2 sprigs rosemary. Microcook, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 2 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes; remove rosemary sprigs and discard.

2. In small bowl combine brown sugar, flour, salt and 1 teaspoon finely snipped rosemary; set aside. In very large bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Add brown sugar mixture; toss to coat. Add whipping cream, vanilla, and rosemary syrup.

3. In large skillet melt butter over medium heat; add apple mixture. Cook over medium heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, slightly flatten one Rosemary Pastry ball. Roll it from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry circle around the rolling pin. Unroll pastry into a 9-inch pie pan or plate. Trim pastry even with rim of pie pan; spoon in apple mixture.

5. Roll remaining ball of pastry into a circle 12 inches in diameter. Cut large slits in pastry. Place pastry circle on apple filling; trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pan. Fold top pastry under bottom pastry. Crimp edge as desired. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 35 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until fruit is tender and filling is bubbly. Cool on wire rack; serve slightly warm. Makes 10 servings.

Rosemary Pastry:Food processor method In a food processor combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon finely snipped fresh rosemary leaves. Add 1 cup chilled shortening. Pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal. In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup ice water, 1 beaten egg yolk, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Add liquid mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, to flour mixture and pulse until a soft dough forms. Divide in half; form into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coming Out of Hibernation

Well, blog, it looks like I've been in hibernation throughout the winter. I'm putting together several posts to help us all get through the next few weeks of winter. With any luck they will make you feel warmer and cozier and generally of a good disposition.

In pictures, things you can look forward to: