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Turning 30 Is Like A Pie In The Face. But It’s Pie, So, Ok.

5 Oct

Yep, not even going to try and excuse it. I’ve been away from this blog for six months. How do I feel about it? Not sure. A few [very, very lovely and kind] people asked me WTF was going on, and if I was ever going to start writing again. These same people know that the “I’m so busy” excuse was total horseshit, because all I ever talk about with them is all the high-quality British programming Netflix has gifted my writing-averse ass. 

So, I talk a lot about depression and anxiety on this blog, and, as the title pretty much spells out, I’m hitting what some might consider a milestone birthday soon. I’ve never been a person who’s been terribly concerned with getting older… until now. I mean, the time around my birthday has always depressed me a little– changing weather, the passage of time, the new Fall lineup that inevitably disappoints because NONE OF THE SHOWS STAR KYLE CHANDLER. But I haven’t really started to feel the gut-punch that comes with aging until this year, probably because lots of people I don’t know very well are weirdly concerned with the fact that dowries have not yet been exchanged for rings, (or however that works nowadays), or that I’m not swimming in dough, or that I still have a very legitimate beef with a certain celebrity who shall not be named in this already-sad post. 

It seems I’m not the only one feeling this way, either. Thirty hits everyone differently, and for me, it’s certainly not just the whole strangers-be-getting-into-my-personals thing getting to me. There are so many things I figured I’d be doing with myself at this age, and Christmas on a Triscuit was I wrong about all of them. That’s a tough gummy to swallow (guys I love gummy vitamins, please no millienial jokes, gummy vitamins are one of the sole gifts from the heavens I get, just let me have this one). Shout out to all the 1986-ers feelin’ what I’m feelin’– I’m here, I get it, and I have pie.

Yes, pie.

…IT’S STILL A BAKING BLOG, PEOPLE!

So I was incredibly skeptical of the very idea for this pie when I first read about it, but like most things in my life right now, I decided to throw my side-eye to the wind and get on with things. Plus, it’s fall, and fall means pears and pie (I know, I know, and pumpkin, which you’ll see very soon). 

Pear and Thomcord Grape Pie

Pie Crust (makes enough for two 9″ crusts)

2 teaspoons of sugar

2 cups of all-purpose flour

12 tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks

2 large eggs beaten with two teaspoons of water

Pie Filling (adapted from Serious Eats)

7 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup of seedless Thomcord or Concord grapes, removed from stems

3/4 cup of white sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Raw or white sugar for dusting

Now I’m not saying this because I am lazy, but because I am laughably bad at doing this by hand: bust out the food processor if you have it for your pie crusts. If you don’t have one, get one, and if you can’t, I will walk you through the process of doing this by hand as best I can. If you do have a food processor, pulse together the flour and sugar until mixed. Then add in your butter and pulse until you’ve got pea-sized lumps. Now, with the processor running, pour in your egg mixture and allow it to run until your dough forms. 

If you’re working without a food processor, sift the flour and sugar together in a large bowl, then use a fork or your fingers to gently mix in the butter. You want to handle the butter as little as possible, since the more you handle it, the warmer it will get, and the warmer your butter, the less flaky your crusts. Once your mixture is pretty clumpy, add in the egg and gently mix in using your fingers until you’re able to form a dough. Separate into two evenly-sized discs, cover in plastic wrap and chill discs for at least two hours.

Once you’re ready to get baking, preheat the oven to 425°F and place pears and grapes together in a bowl. Sift the sugar and cornstarch together and then fold into fruit mixture until evenly coated. 

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Basically just showing off the most beautiful marble rolling pin that Jimmy gifted me on a whim. Classy dude, that one.

Roll out one disc to about 1/8″ thickness and gently line your pie plate with it. Pour your fruit mixture into the shell and set aside while working on the top crust. (If you’re not interested in anything fancy, just roll out your second disc and place on top of the fruit mixture, cutting any extra dough off the sides of the plate. Make sure to cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.) I rolled out the second disc of dough and used a star-shaped cookie cutter to decorate the top of the pie. I invite you to do the same and lay your decorative dough however you please, but just make sure to leave some space for the fruit to peek through, or your pie will explode all over your oven, and you will be doomed forever. Brush with egg and then sprinkle the top generously with sugar.

Place your pie on a baking sheet (this will allow for easier removal from the oven, unless you want crazy knuckle burns similar to the ones I’m currently rocking), then bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pie halfway through. Then, turn the oven down to 375°F and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is browned and the fruit is bubbly, like this:

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Let the pie cool on a counter for a solid half hour, at least, and then dig in, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream  or a spoonful of mascarpone if you’re feeling it.

Y U M.

Y U M.

Aw man, am I proud of how beautiful this pie ended up being. This is probably my proudest pie-related moment, and I have a LOT of pie-related moments. But hey, it’s not ALL about looks: how did it taste?

O M G. It was incredible. The grapes and pears worked better than I could have imagined they would, and the cornstarch helped keep the filling from running amok outside of the crust. It was as close to heaven as a crazy old grump like me will likely ever experience. 

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The Happy-ish Hunchback of Queens Humbly Presents… An Apple Galette!

25 Nov

There is a chance that all of this pre-holiday food prep is the best diet ever. No one ever talks about it, but prepping for Thanksgiving leaves a person with very little time to eat. Especially if you work a full-time job, live a half-mile’s walk away from the closest grocery store, insist on purchasing twenty pounds of Turkey Day-related food items at said grocery store right after work, and then head home… to start cooking. (Btw, I have absolutely no idea how people with children/various family members to care for also manage to do all of this. Props to you. I do not know what I will do when I make the babies. I will probably try to turn them into helper elves as soon as they’re strong enough to sit up unassisted.) Four hours later, here I am, watching some crappy medical procedural and nursing a fancy cocktail while also nursing some busted shoulders that are giving me serious Quasimodo vibes. 

I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. The last week and a half or so have been a whirlwind of ups and downs– awesome shows and get-togethers with people I love, but also moments of feeling forgotten and sort of inadequate for various reasons. This is a welcome distraction. It’s nice to be focused on what’s cookin’ in our small-as-all-hell kitchen and NOT on what I’m missing out on (or fearing missing out on) on social media. I highly recommend this as a form of rapid-fire therapy. 

Speaking of therapy… an apple a day something something hooray. Right? I’m so good at this. Anyway, how about working on a rustic, sweet n’salty apple galette to add to your Thanksgiving table? 

Apple Galette (adapted from Bon Appetit)

For the dough

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 cup of all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons of cold salted butter, cut into small chunks

1 large egg, beaten

For the filling

1/4 cup of salted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1 pound of baking apples (I used Pink Lady apples and needed 2 big ones to fill this), washed and sliced to about 1/8″ thickness

1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1 tablespoon of white sugar

So, I’m going to start off by saying this: a food processor would come in EXTREMELY handy for the recipe. I am proud and happy to say I have successfully made my first easy pie crusts by just sort of hanging back, not stressing, and using the bejeebus out of mine. 

On that note, if you are working with a food processor, here’s what I did. First, pulse together flour, sugar and cinnamon until combined. Add in cold butter chunks and pulse until pea-sized chunks form in the dough. With food processor running, pour in beaten egg and continue to pulse until dough forms in a ball, about one minute.

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It's the second one, guys)

Jabba the Hutt, OR the easiest pie dough ever? You decide. (It’s the second one, guys)

If you’re not working with a food processor, sift together dry ingredients until combined, then cut in butter chunks with forks or a pastry cutter until pea-sized chunks are formed. Fold in egg mixture gently until dough is wet, then gently use fingers to bring dough together.

Form dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Now, preheat your oven to 375°F. (My food processor also hooked me up when it came to slicing apples, which is something I do not enjoy doing, especially when my hands are medium-rare from burns and I am bent over like a gargoyle. It’ll slice the apples for ya, people! Keep your apples set aside for the time being.)

Add butter and vanilla to a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat until browned and fragrant. Set aside. 

On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 14 x 10 inch rectangle or a 12 inch circle, whichever you prefer. Transfer dough to parchment-covered baking sheet. Overlap apple slices on top of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Brush browned butter over apples, then sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the top. Fold edges of dough over gently to keep the shape you want. Brush egg/water mixture over dough, then sprinkle with white sugar.

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove when the crust is browned and the apples are nice and bubbly.

Let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. OR, you can make this up to two days ahead, just wrap it tightly and keep at room temperature.

Sooooo…. about that. This is a make-ahead deal for me, so it’s currently resting until Turkey Day. And our city apartment is such a city apartment that my galette is currently wrapped up and resting comfortably on our coffee table with a sign over it… 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Animal acts as a sort of bouncer. Earning his keep over here. 

Yep. If you, too, plan on resting this, you can reheat gently… 200°F for 15 minutes should do it. Then, you can serve this with cheddar ice cream. Oh you heard me correctly. Stay tuned, friends, recipe’s a-comin!

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If You Like Pina Coladas (And Reading Blogs About Depression)

16 Oct

First off, THANK YOU for all of the birthday wishes, every single one of which warmed my normally cold, deadened heart. The ol’ 2-9 started off with bagels from my favorite shop and ended with a creepy lady tickling my neck at a Brooklyn cocktail bar. I swear all of this is true. Even the stuff about the bagels. As much as I like to complain, I’m very aware of how… interesting life can get. 

…But back to the complaining for a second, because that seems to be a point of fascination for many who read this. I wish I could explain what it’s like to go through a blue spell. The thing I understand the least about depression is that not everyone experiences it. Life can seem great to outsiders and you can still feel totally stuck, sunken, sucked of energy. Some people cry a lot. I cry a lot- sometimes over The Office, sometimes because I panic and dry-heave unattractively over what my next move in life will be. Sometimes I freak out over how easy things seem for other people that feel completely impossible for me. You know. Totally normal stuff.

<img src="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/560c33fee4b03211bc646bbc/560c3a88e4b00340a4b982d1/5620583de4b0674069d5aff7/1444960328619//img.jpg&quot; alt="Jimmy says my hands are doing a "pretty Indian lady thing." Who the hell knows what that means, but thanks Jimmy! Also, this badass pie plate was one of the BEST things about turning 29– a birthday present from my darling sister Sylvapotamus. Jimmy says my hands are doing a “pretty Indian lady thing.” Who the hell knows what that means, but thanks Jimmy! Also, this badass pie plate was one of the BEST things about turning 29– a birthday present from my darling sister Sylvapotamus. ❤

So yes, there’s that old problem that I imagine many of us face– because my imagination is that vast and uninhibited– but that I just can’t seem to get anyone else to talk to me about. I mean have you amazing folks all really figured out how the hell life works?! Am I really that maladjusted that the frightened/suspicious side-eye is now everyone’s resting face around me? How are you all so… so cool

I guess we can blame my sad spell on the change in weather, or Stamos, but there are other factors that I’ll be brave enough to talk about after this blog post, because they’re difficult emotions and there is some booze in this. I was bored and feeling down and had a can of coconut cream to use up, so here comes some Pina Colada Pie.

 

Pina Colada Pie (makes one 9-inch pie)

For the graham cracker crust

6 graham cracker sheets, finely ground

1/3 cup of butter, melted and cooled

For the Pina Colada filling

1 14oz can of cream of coconut

1 cup of pineapple chunks 

1/2 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut

To start, preheat your oven to 350°F and set aside a 9-inch pie plate. For the graham cracker crust, mix together your cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl, then press evenly into the bottom of your pie plate. Send into the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. 

Set aside to cool while making your filling. For the filling, you’ll need a large, large bowl and the ugliest/baking-est clothes you own, because this is messy. 

Mix together your coconut cream and pineapple chunks, then, using a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium, mix in your sugar. Be warned that if you did not heed my earlier advice about the bowl and ugly baking clothes, you will be finding pineapple chunks for a long time in places you did not know your kitchen had. Maybe it’s better to use a blender for this. (I never promised genius-level tricks here guys, just posts about how sad life is and PIE.) Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add in your salt. Fold in shredded coconut until evenly distributed– batter should be runny. 

Pour into pie plate and send into the oven until pie is set and the sides are lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Leave to cool, because… SURPRISE! We’re making Rum Meringue! I know! I love you too!

To brown your meringue, set your oven to broil. 

Rum Meringue

3 egg whites

1/3 cup of sugar

3 tablespoons of dark rum

Very rummy,very yummy.

Very rummy,very yummy.

 

In a very clean, dry bowl using equally clean, dry beaters, whisk egg whites using a mixer on high speed. Beat until soft peaks begin to form, then gradually add in sugar until peaks become stiffer. Beat in rum until fully incorporated, then gently spread evenly on top of pie using a rubber spatula. Carefully place under your broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.

So you’re all like “LOL that’s not lightly browned!” Well, fine, but to be fair I’m still a little traumatized from that time I set a S’mores cake on fire. You’ll be better, I know you will.

Anyway, you’re going to want to serve this cake either at room temperature or cold, and then…

Sweet mama. It’s like a pina colada nestled inside of a hug. The rum from the meringue gives it just enough of a boozy treat feeling, and the filling tastes like vacation. Yup, yes, I am sticking to that. Must. Make. 

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Today, I Will Not Be Salty. Today, I Will Leave That To My Pie.

16 Dec

So, I’m going to try to use today’s post to express some positivity, which is going to be hell quite difficult for me because I am super cranky right now. Below, in brackets, is a small taste of where this post was originally going:

[BAH HUMBUG YA’LL!

I am in such a crap mood these days. Is sugar a depressant? How can it be, when it’s an essential part of any this grown late-twenties Indian woman’s daily diet?! HAVE SOME HUMANITY, SYBIL’S INNER WORKINGS!]

It got wayyyyy darker than that. So yeah… scrapped. Let’s talk happy stuff?

BUT I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT HAPPY SH…. see? Even I can’t stop me. Whew. Ok. Let’s start over. Hey! Let’s make a list!

In the spirit of the holiday, here's a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the "whole tree" pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here. ;))

In the spirit of the holiday, here’s a picture of Hoover, my favorite Christmas ornament from our tree. (I purposely left out the “whole tree” pic. I like to keep it tasteful around here.)

1. The holidays are approaching. For me, this used to mean grumbling about the lines at Macy’s and over-salting eggnog with my bulbous, lonely tears. Now, it means shopping online and not salting my eggnog at all, because I finally realized I hate eggnog! Also, I like people again.

2. To repeat, the holidays are approaching. I have amassed a booklet of recipes to try– cookies, brownies, eclairs (!), something involving turning things that shouldn’t be fudge into fudge, and on and on. Who knows how many of these I will actually complete, but damnit, I am determined. F*&$%ing positivity, guys!!!

3. The holidays…they are upon us. This means Sylvapotamus and I are doing our damndest to get ourselves invited to the fanciest winter soiree this side of De Stuteville Drive (I Googled “fancy place names” and that popped up). This adventure is proving, so far, to be an utter failure…. but IT’S SO MUCH FUN.

4. Oh, and since you casually mentioned the holidays– that was you, right?– I went to the Holiday Train Show this weekend at the Botanical Garden. It was super overpriced and the ticket takers are monsters  gorgeous. Really, really breathtaking, and despite some early hiccups (see: crossed out part of the previous sentence), we all had a lovely time. Even my dad had a ton of fun, and he’s just as surly as I am!

2014-12-14 19.07.16

Photo credit: Sylvapotamus, The Wonderful.

 

Being a completely ridiculous human being at the Train Show.

Being a completely ridiculous human being. Photo credit: The Incredible Sylvapotamus

Those all sound pretty great, right? Writing that out is certainly giving me perspective on what truly matters: sugar. Wait… sugar AND loved ones.  In no particular order. Actually, no, those two things are in the right order. Sugar rules all.

Speaking of sugar, let’s talk pie. Speaking of pie, let’s talk chocolate pie. Speaking… ok. We’ll just get to it then.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart (makes one 9-inch round tart)

pie crust from Canal House & filling from Saveur

CRUST

3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt

12 tablespoons of very cold, unsalted butter,  grated (Yes! Grated! It’s genius!)

1 egg, beaten, mixed with enough cold water to produce 1/2 cup

Pie weights (I usually use uncooked rice, but dried beans or actual pie weights work too)

FILLING

For the caramel

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 tablespoons of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of butter (note: I used salted because it’s what I had; if you’re in the same boat, omit the above salt)

6 tablespoons of heavy cream

For the ganache

1/2 cup of heavy cream

4 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Sea salt for garnish

Ok, before we start, I kind of think I’ve finally found a pie crust recipe that doesn’t make me want to throw in the tea towel in defeat. I found it very easy to work with, which I’ve never, ever been able to say. I’d love to hear what others think of it.

Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch pie tin; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add in the butter, then blend in using either a pastry blender or a fork. Using your fingers, rub the mixture together just until it feels like wet sand. Stir in the egg mixture with a fork until it begins to come together into a dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, kneading just until it holds together. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into flat discs, then cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days (you can freeze it for up to three months). When ready to use, remove dough from fridge and let it come to room temperature.

On a large, floured flat surface, roll dough out to 14-inch round (and if yours actually stays round, I envy you, magic baker). Gently roll the dough onto a rolling pin, then lay into pie plate. Trim off any excess, leaving 1/2 inch or so of overhang, then curl overhang under lid and crimp decoratively if you have the skills for this. Alas, I do not. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

It's a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!

It’s a pie crust that LOOKS LIKE A PIE CRUST!

To blind bake the shell, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Line shell with parchment paper or foil, then place weights evenly along the bottom of the shell. Bake for about ten minutes, then remove weights and parchment/foil. At this point, I like to cover the edges of the pie with a ring of foil to prevent them from burning. Send back into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shell is golden brown. Let cool before filling.

Now let’s work on the most amazing caramel. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt and 6 tablespoons of water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the pan reads 340ºF. Ok, full disclosure: I kind of let this go to 350ºF because I was curious as to what would happen/not paying attention, and I actually really liked the nutty, deep taste the extra time gave the caramel. Remove the pan from heat, then whisk in butter and cream (the mixture will bubble up considerably). Whisk until smooth, then pour evenly into pie shell. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours, until caramel is firm.

Almost there, folks. Almost.

Almost there, folks. Almost.

I know, I know this is like a days-long pie recipe, but you will thank me dude. We’re on the last step, the ganache. In a medium-sized saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl, then pour in the boiled cream. Let the mixture sit for one minute, then gently stir together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour ganache evenly over the tart and chill in refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the top before serving.

Heaven's surface is sea salty and chocolatey.

Heaven’s surface is sea salty and chocolatey.

So? So. No– no it’s not so-so. It’s anything BUT so-so. It’s like the fanciest, most wonderful candy bar your mouth has ever had the pleasure of receiving. I know there’s been a bit of a backlash against salty desserts, but my brain does not have time to comprehend this. If you have the time– and, truth be told, from start to finish, it’s entirely possible this pie will take days of prep work– please, please make this for yourself and the people closest to you.

*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you're looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.

*Definitely* make sure this pie is chilled before you slice it if you’re looking to photograph it. I simply could not wait any longer.

How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?

How it looked after a couple of days. Am I a bad blogger because I did this to this tart, or a good blogger for being honest with you?

Hand Me A Hand Pie, And I’ll Tell You A Story

5 Dec

Do you ever notice yourself having the same conversation with different people within a short period of time? (And not the boring “Ho, man, the weather, right?!” conversation that should never, ever have to happen between people who like each other.) I realized that in the past week, I’ve talked to three separate people about how easy it is to completely change the course of your life with a seemingly small action, and then not realize until years and years later– in my case, almost a decade– how massive that shift actually was.

I’m not sure how specific I can or should get without upsetting a few balances in my life, even though I’m not sure how “balanced” those balances even are right now. But I’m also not sure how cryptically general I can be without making you lovely people hate me for being so freaking cryptically general. I guess I’ll just say that I made a decision to assert my independence at a young age and have only just realized that, in the process, I may have inadvertently completely bleeping jacked up any chance of “following my dreams.” Those last three words are in quotes because part of me– probably the Indian part of me, since I feel like “dreams” are a privilege and brown people laugh at those things– thinks that most people in the world aren’t afforded the opportunity to lament not pursuing dreams, and so I should STFU and be happy with my life. And for the most part, I am. But then…Eh. I dunno. I guess the title of this blog does start with the word “sad,” so, you know, can’t expect Sesame Street, right folks? I’m trying not to complain. Like I’ve said many times before, I am thankful for so much of my life. But sometimes it’s hard not to feel like there’s something I’m not doing that I could be, you dig?

Alas, in the meantime, as I said, let us celebrate and be grateful. For, Thanksgiving has just passed, the greatest holiday that ever could be. A friend innocently asked me how I was preparing and I shook the mini-booklet of recipes that I collected and had SPIRAL-BOUND at her. Yeah. That kind of cray. And on page one of that booklet? Hand pies. There is nothing more genius than a hand pie. It’s pie. In your hand. That you share with exactly no one. How does life get more awesome? It doesn’t, right? Hand pie pizza, hand pie cakes, hand pie steaks. I don’t even eat steak and I could totally get behind a hand pie steak. I feel like the person who invented hand pies is such a wizard, such an innovator, such a problem-solver, that s/he could probably help me figure out my mess of a life. Hand Pie Creator, oh, Hand Pie Creator, where art thou? Does thou take payment in, um, hand pies? (Prob not.)

Pear Cranberry Hand Pies (makes eight pies)

based loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine

1 pear, cored and chopped (you can peel it too if you prefer, but I like the texture of it so I keep it on)

2 pears, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I realize I put pears on separate lines, but you’ll see why in a second, promise)

12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 pinch of cinnamon

1 pinch of salt

14-ounce package of cold, all-butter puff pastry

1 egg white

Sugar for dusting, optional

So, to start, I’m going to let ya’ll in on a secret: this recipe is a monster hybrid of two other recipes, only one of which you’ll notice I linked to, because the other one sucked so badly. It was so bad that I realized about halfway through preparing the “treat” gave it the side-eye and decided to ultimately Tim Gunn it into this recipe (holla at me if you get the reference). Cool? Cool.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Start by pureeing the one chopped pear together with your cranberries, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a blender. Mix until smooth, then transfer puree into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful, as this will most certainly splatter, neat freaks), until thick.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set out to cool at room temperature, about 2 hours.

When puree is cooled, add in your remaining chopped pears, flour, cinnamon and salt, and toss to combine. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 12 to 14 inch square. Note that you don’t have to be exact about it. I sure as hell wasn’t.

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there's any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there’s any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

Divide the square into eight sort of equal smaller squares. Spoon some of the pear mixture onto one side of the pastry, then fold over and crimp the edges. You’ll notice that I said “some of the mixture” and did not give you an exact amount. Try less than what I did, but more than a teaspoon. Basically just make sure you can close them properly. I mean, I could, but it took some maneuvering and a LOT of annoying questions about the elasticity of puff pastry dough from my boyfriend. Still, I ain’t complaining about oozing, hot, gloriously gooey hand pies.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Transfer pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes.(The first time I made these, I chilled them overnight because I was exhausted and still had to prep two pies, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, cornbread, Brussels sprouts and myself mentally for all of the foods I just mentioned. Chilling the pies overnight worked out totally fine.)

Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and brush each pie with a bit of egg white. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired, then send these babies into the oven for 30 minutes, until they are golden and the fruit mixture looks bubbly.

SONY DSC

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Ok, originally the plan was to haul these over to my parents’ house as part of our Thanksgiving dessert menu but…um… I was having a lot of feelings that night and decided to eat them. The pies. Also my feelings. I definitely ate a lot of feelings that night. And the feelings tasted PHENOMENAL. They’re flaky, gooey, tangy and overall wonderful. They’re also not too sweet, which I greatly appreciated.

Note: I’m writing this at about 9:20pm on a Wednesday night and I just made another batch of these because I had leftover filling. I purposely brushed my teeth while baking to avoid attacking one fresh out of the oven. Then I saw the pies, promptly forgot about my teeth, and had at ’em. #worthit

Also! Without getting all preachy on all of you, I’m trying to put together a toy drive for homeless kids, working with Coalition for the Homeless. Here’s a link to the wish list based on a list provided by the Coalition. If you’re willing and able, or know someone who is, please contribute. Thanks friends!

Hand Me A Hand Pie, And I’ll Tell You A Story

5 Dec

Do you ever notice yourself having the same conversation with different people within a short period of time? (And not the boring “Ho, man, the weather, right?!” conversation that should never, ever have to happen between people who like each other.) I realized that in the past week, I’ve talked to three separate people about how easy it is to completely change the course of your life with a seemingly small action, and then not realize until years and years later– in my case, almost a decade– how massive that shift actually was.

I’m not sure how specific I can or should get without upsetting a few balances in my life, even though I’m not sure how “balanced” those balances even are right now. But I’m also not sure how cryptically general I can be without making you lovely people hate me for being so freaking cryptically general. I guess I’ll just say that I made a decision to assert my independence at a young age and have only just realized that, in the process, I may have inadvertently completely bleeping jacked up any chance of “following my dreams.” Those last three words are in quotes because part of me– probably the Indian part of me, since I feel like “dreams” are a privilege and brown people laugh at those things– thinks that most people in the world aren’t afforded the opportunity to lament not pursuing dreams, and so I should STFU and be happy with my life. And for the most part, I am. But then…Eh. I dunno. I guess the title of this blog does start with the word “sad,” so, you know, can’t expect Sesame Street, right folks? I’m trying not to complain. Like I’ve said many times before, I am thankful for so much of my life. But sometimes it’s hard not to feel like there’s something I’m not doing that I could be, you dig?

(Giving you a break again, you’re welcome. Also…it’s amazing.)

Alas, in the meantime, as I said, let us celebrate and be grateful. For, Thanksgiving has just passed, the greatest holiday that ever could be. A friend innocently asked me how I was preparing and I shook the mini-booklet of recipes that I collected and had SPIRAL-BOUND at her. Yeah. That kind of cray. And on page one of that booklet? Hand pies. There is nothing more genius than a hand pie. It’s pie. In your hand. That you share with exactly no one. How does life get more awesome? It doesn’t, right? Hand pie pizza, hand pie cakes, hand pie steaks. I don’t even eat steak and I could totally get behind a hand pie steak. I feel like the person who invented hand pies is such a wizard, such an innovator, such a problem-solver, that s/he could probably help me figure out my mess of a life. Hand Pie Creator, oh, Hand Pie Creator, where art thou? Does thou take payment in, um, hand pies? (Prob not.)

Pear Cranberry Hand Pies (makes eight pies)

based loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine

1 pear, cored and chopped (you can peel it too if you prefer, but I like the texture of it so I keep it on)

2 pears, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I realize I put pears on separate lines, but you’ll see why in a second, promise)

12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 pinch of cinnamon

1 pinch of salt

14-ounce package of cold, all-butter puff pastry

1 egg white

Sugar for dusting, optional

So, to start, I’m going to let ya’ll in on a secret: this recipe is a monster hybrid of two other recipes, only one of which you’ll notice I linked to, because the other one sucked so badly. It was so bad that I realized about halfway through preparing the “treat” gave it the side-eye and decided to ultimately Tim Gunn it into this recipe (holla at me if you get the reference). Cool? Cool.

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Start by pureeing the one chopped pear together with your cranberries, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a blender. Mix until smooth, then transfer puree into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (be careful, as this will most certainly splatter, neat freaks), until thick.

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Yeah… this will be scalding. Don’t try to taste test unless you’re prepared to part with your tongue for a few days.

Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set out to cool at room temperature, about 2 hours.

When puree is cooled, add in your remaining chopped pears, flour, cinnamon and salt, and toss to combine. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a 12 to 14 inch square. Note that you don’t have to be exact about it. I sure as hell wasn’t.

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there's any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

One of my Instagram friends compared this to the Windows logo, prompting me to wonder if there’s any universe in which Bill Gates would pay me for this. (There is not.)

Divide the square into eight sort of equal smaller squares. Spoon some of the pear mixture onto one side of the pastry, then fold over and crimp the edges. You’ll notice that I said “some of the mixture” and did not give you an exact amount. Try less than what I did, but more than a teaspoon. Basically just make sure you can close them properly. I mean, I could, but it took some maneuvering and a LOT of annoying questions about the elasticity of puff pastry dough from my boyfriend. Still, I ain’t complaining about oozing, hot, gloriously gooey hand pies.

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Mmmm… overfilled hand pies…

Transfer pies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes.(The first time I made these, I chilled them overnight because I was exhausted and still had to prep two pies, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, cornbread, Brussels sprouts and myself mentally for all of the foods I just mentioned. Chilling the pies overnight worked out totally fine.)

Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and brush each pie with a bit of egg white. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired, then send these babies into the oven for 30 minutes, until they are golden and the fruit mixture looks bubbly.

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Ok, originally the plan was to haul these over to my parents’ house as part of our Thanksgiving dessert menu but…um… I was having a lot of feelings that night and decided to eat them. The pies. Also my feelings. I definitely ate a lot of feelings that night. And the feelings tasted PHENOMENAL. They’re flaky, gooey, tangy and overall wonderful. They’re also not too sweet, which I greatly appreciated.

Note: I’m writing this at about 9:20pm on a Wednesday night and I just made another batch of these because I had leftover filling. I purposely brushed my teeth while baking to avoid attacking one fresh out of the oven. Then I saw the pies, promptly forgot about my teeth, and had at ’em. #worthit

Also! Without getting all preachy on all of you, I’m trying to put together a toy drive for homeless kids, working with Coalition for the Homeless. Here’s a link to the wish list based on a list provided by the Coalition. If you’re willing and able, or know someone who is, please contribute. Thanks friends!

Plum Galette, AKA One Appropriately Hot Mess Of A Pie

23 Jul

(This is here to distract you, but also this is here because Weird Al is a national treasure and is so, so right)

Hi guys. Wanna hear about the time I almost literally exploded on a busy street in Midtown? Yes, I am using the word “literally” correctly. I almost blew the &%(^ up two Fridays ago while walking to work. Instead of strolling down the street I normally take, I’d decided to cross in the middle of the block since the roads were empty– something I never do, since New York drivers be cray, but again, empty roads. Suddenly, there was a massive explosion– smoke, fire, giant boom– that shot up out of one of the grates I’d just been walking next to. That I’d just been centimeters from. Fortunately, as far as I’ve been able to surmise, no one else was hurt (I ran like a madwoman while a bunch of curious/dumb bystanders just…stood). An electrician friend of mine later confirmed that it had been a transformer explosion, which initially pissed me off because I thought he was trying to distract me from my shock with some garbage story about Optimus Prime. I’m not super duper bright when I’m scared. I guess the morals of this story are, 1. that Con Edison completely, utterly sucks and 2. it’s maybe time to reevaluate the way I’ve been doing things. As I told Sylvapotamus, it seems God moved the chess piece that is me, and perhaps there is a reason for that.

giphy

(Dance break)

When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress. Growing up, the only people who looked like me were Apu from the Simpsons (a cartoon man voiced by a white dude) and Jasmine from Aladdin (not Indian and…also not human). As a preteen, I went to a casting agent who sneered at me as she told me to come back when I’d lost some weight and fixed my teeth. Obviously, that hurt, even though I’d be the first to admit that, if placed in a casting call for adorable, sprightly, precocious children and every other child but me came down with a mysterious, food-borne illness… the agents would probably cancel the audition (unless the audition was for pint-sized Orville Redenbacher impersonators). And so, I stopped going to casting calls, I stopped sending out head shots (no, I do not have copies of them, I think because the photographer who took them just, like, couldn’t even deal), and I threw myself into writing, which ended up being a saving grace for me. I even applied for a dual screenwriting/theatre program at a fairly prestigious college in Boston… and got in! Aaand then I didn’t go, due to a combination of having twelve dollars to my name, disappointed parents, and a paralyzing fear of maybe making it all happen and maybe not making it happen at all.

So now I’m a little bit depressed, possibly because I feel like I once had something great, something that was mine, something only I could do, something that came to me with an ease nothing– not human interaction, not calculus, not baking– has ever come close to matching. And now it sort of feels lost, and I feel lost, and I don’t know how to get it back, or if that’s even possible. So, what do you do when it feels like that thing you had is gone? I’m always reminded of Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids, and how she saw her dream of owning a bakery (!!!) come true…and then go completely to hell. She spends most of the movie down and out while Maya Rudolph doles out free puppies and whatnot… that’s kind of how I feel about myself (Kristen Wiig) and the whole rest of the world (free puppy-giver-outers). Which I suppose is why I stayed off of Facebook for a good while. FOMO and shiz, feel me?

Can I do two gifs in one post?

Can I do two gifs in one post?

So, do I still want to be a writer/actress extraordinaire? Uh… that’s hard. I don’t know. I don’t think I have the self-confidence to even attempt to take a risk like that, plus now Mindy Kaling exists so I can stop playing with my Princess Jasmine doll and wistfully sighing that “one day, I’ll just be you.” Actually, I stopped doing that a long time ago. Really. Promise. But if there was ever a time to figure things out, I imagine it’s now. While I do that, let me teach you how to make a galette, aka a rustic pie, aka lazy person’s pie, aka IT’S AWESOME.

Plum and Blueberry Galette with Fresh Rosemary Crust

for the dough (dough adapted from Savory Simple)

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of sugar

6 tablespoons of cold butter, chopped into small chunks

2-3 tablespoons of ice water

for the filling

4-5 red plums, sliced and core removed

1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons of raspberry preserves, optional

2 tablespoons of sugar, plus more for dusting

1 egg, beaten

For the crust, you can either process the ingredients in a food processor or by hand. I prefer by hand, just because I’m a bit of a crusty control freak, but do as you please. By hand, toss together flour, salt, rosemary and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter chunks gently, until mixture becomes crumbly. Slowly add in ice water, a little at a time, and stir together just until a dough forms. Cover and chill for at least two hours, and preferably overnight.

Once chilled, roll dough out to an approximate 9-inch round, then place either on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or in a greased pie plate. Return this to the refrigerator.

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Do you SEE those glorious, oversized flecks of butter?

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. While dough is chillin’, set out a large bowl lined with paper towels, and place plum slices inside. Allow to drain at least until most of the moisture is gone, then toss with blueberries and sugar.

Take your dough back out, and brush lightly with beaten egg. Sprinkle sugar over dough, then arrange plum slices and berries however you’d like. Spread preserves on top, if using. Now, gently fold over the sides of the galette, like so:

...Better than this, even

…Better than this, even

Brush the sides with egg wash, and sprinkle sugar along sides as well. Send into the oven for 22-25 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crust looks done. Let cool for at least an hour.

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See what I mean by “rustic?” Maybe I overfilled a little…

THEN YOU MUST SERVE WITH ICE CREAM.

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Not a lot, just a dollop, but… you must. You simply, simply must. #swoon

 

 

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