Tag Archives: sweet and salty

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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Birthday Treats For My Brothers From Anothers Mothers

7 May

Two of my best friends are turning 25 this Sunday. Jeff and Jeremy (hi friends!) are twin brothers who have put up with me for over a decade. Not only have they put up with me, they still hang out with me! Remember when I told you that I stalked Glen Hansard? Well, these two were with me. Actually, they were half a block away and hiding from me, but both of them still wanted to be friends with me after I harassed the poor man. Also, for my birthday, they got me a New York Giants jersey (#10, Eli Manning, may the Heavens bless his adorable soul), which I have been wanting and creepily trying on at various sporting goods stores for years. They’re the best. Anyway, I love these guys, and I bake for those I love, so get ready for some cookies, homeboys!

I scammed both guys into giving me a “top 3” list of their all-time favorite cookies. I think I told them I was doing research for a future post, and since they both know me as a massive dork, they believed this lie. I am a good friend.

Jeff mentioned loving rainbow cookies, which are also, as I’ve mentioned, in my top two, so rainbow cookies I shall bake. Look for that post in the next couple of days. He also mentioned salted cookies and the classic chocolate chip variety. Jeremy picked chocolate chip as well and told me he loved Pepperidge Farm cookies. I remembered him specifically requesting that I try to make their Geneva cookies when I first started the blog.

So, I decided to pare the list down to these three: rainbow cookies, chocolate chip cookies with sea salt and “Geneva” cookies. The quotation marks are there for two reasons: 1. These are obviously ripoff cookies and 2. Insurance, in case the cookies suck. I guess, though, that if they suck, the quotations should be around the word cookies. But I digress…

Let’s start with the Geneva cookies, since those will prove to be the more challenging of the two (oh, but wait until you hear my rainbow cookie story people). I wanted to get the cookie as close to the original recipe as possible without having to break laws or jaws. Judging by the ingredients, this looks like a shortbread cookie made with cornstarch. Since I don’t have thiamin or soy lecithin at my disposal (what the…), I decided to go with a simpler, more classic recipe. Allrecipes to the rescue!

I halved the recipe to make room for the other treats that hopefully all come out perfectly. Here’s what you’ll need for a dozen:

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

Have your oven preheated to 375°F. Also, have your patience level preheated to like nine thousand. Yes, kids, it’s story time.

So I whipped the butter with an electric mixer until it was nice and fluffy, like you’re supposed to. This was easy, as I do it all the time. Adding in the sugar was also pretty simple. Next up was the cornstarch. Still fine. Then the flour. THEN THE ANNOYANCE. It takes forever to get this to look anything like a dough. At first it looks like cereal. Then it looks like cereal. Then, ten minutes later, it looks like cereal. This dough is very crumb-y and delicate, so if after decades of mixing, you find yourself with results similar to mine, I recommend getting into this with clean hands and working it into an actual dough. Also, as I said, this is pretty fragile, so I suggest wrapping it up in wax paper and throwing it in the refrigerator for an hour or two to firm it up a bit. Any longer and the dough will harden, and you will have to wait another three or four hours to get it just right.

Instead of rolling mine into balls, I decided to cut them into elephants. Why elephants? Elephants are my favorite animal. I do not know why, so do not ask me. They just rule,  so send along anything that has elephants on it, so that I may add it to my quirky-and-not-at-all-sad collection. Most of my friends already have (including the twins, who gave me a bamboo plant in an elephant-shaped pot as a housewarming present).

Remember how I said this dough was delicate? Homegirl wasn’t messing. You need to be careful with this stuff. It’s not as tough as most cookie dough, most likely because they are egg-less and filled with cornstarch, which lightens these up like crazy. After several rolling pin vs. fragile dough matches, I cut out my shapes, sent these into the oven for ten minutes, and finally ended up with these:

Cute, right? I thought so. I even went to pet one, and the trunk broke off. So, um, refrigerate them for a really long time before you handle them. Even after they’ve cooled, you need to be very careful with them. A few of these soldiers lost legs. Poor suckers.

Now, Geneva cookies have a layer of dark chocolate and are topped with chopped pecans. I melted 1/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips with 1 teaspoon of butter at 15-second increments, then slowwwwly spread the melted mixture over each cookie with a butter knife. Then I sprinkled nuts over the cookies like a brown, frustrated fairy godmother.

Thoughts?

These don’t really still look like elephants, do they? Man, I have some serious issues frosting my animals. (Is “frosting your animal” a euphemism? I should Urban Dictionary that one to make sure.). Anyway, they taste good, but I’m not sure they measure up to the real deal. I’ll let the boys decide.

On to the chocolate chip cookies with sea salt. I love messing around with classic chocolate chip cookie recipes. I actually have my own special secret recipe. It’s probably not too different from anything that’s out there in the big bad world, but I am still going to call it my secret recipe because it makes me sound cool. It does right? Anyway, I’d heard of a recipe that replaced butter with olive oil, which gave the cookies more depth of flavor. This intrigued me, so I decided to sub some of the butter in my recipe for the oil. Here’s what I came up with:

1 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

As many chocolate chips as your heart desires, because Sad Shibow does not believe in limits (I used a little over half a bag of Ghirardelli Semisweet Chips)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and sea salt. In a larger bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and oil until fully combined. The mixture will be pretty soft and gooey. Add in the egg and vanilla. When all the wet ingredients are fully mixed, add in the flour mixture. After everything’s completely combined, fold in your chocolate chips.

Because I’ve been working on all these cookies over the course of a couple of days, I refrigerated this dough overnight. It’s a little easier to work with when the dough is colder, since it can be formed into balls that will stay firm and not spread or melt on you. This will lead to less frustration, and if you’ve just spent most of your night trying to keep elephant cookies intact, you will appreciate this.

Before I continue, may I just say that the addition of olive oil really elevates these cookies? Seriously, I felt so classy making these. Anyway, sprinkle a touch of sea salt over each cookie, then send these into your hot oven for 10-11 minutes, until the tops are slightly browned.

So, as you can see, there is an odd number of cookies on my cookie sheet. I can’t give one twin more cookies than the other. That would just be rude. To keep myself from having to choose, obviously I ate one. And I enjoyed it. Again, I am a good friend.

I swung by my local bakery and bought two cake boxes to place the cookies in (At 50 cents total!), to up the presentation factor a little. I hope it worked. Anyway, happy birthday friends! To another couple of awesome quarter-centuries.

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