Patishapta pitha was the rare pitha I would eat growing up. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I just did not enjoy most pithas I had. [Pitha: Bengali dumplings. Usually made out of rice flour. Sometimes a combo of rice flour and wheat flour. And in my experience, dry af most of the time. Sometimes sweet with a coconut or jaggery filling. And, as I found out after marriage, sometimes plain, eaten with curry.]
When my friend Jafreen and I entered a bake off during our undergrad years, we thought we had it in the bag. We were both good bakers, definitely spent more time in the kitchen than our peers, and would put together thoughtful, from scratch baked goods. Needless to say, we lost. Terribly. We were outbaked by Duncan Hines. I don’t remember who was on the judging panel, but this post is for you.
This past weekend we got to compete at the Islamic Center Professionals of NYU’s Bake Off. It was so fun. Secret ingredient was revealed 72 hours prior so research and experimenting time was limited. We were split into categories of cake, cookies, pies/tarts and puddings. My partner was the defending champ of the pudding category, with his cranberry creme brulee. This year we were in pies/tarts. So when they revealed the secret ingredient of breakfast cereal, my mind went into overdrive. If the secret ingredient were a single fruit, you’d have a lot less to work with. But there are dozens of cereals to choose from – all with different flavors and textures.
I knew I wanted it to be a tart rather than a pie – pies rely on the flaking crust to be considered a pie and are more often than not made with fruit. Tarts can have a little bit more flexibility – can be made with a shortbread crust, or cookie crust. Then in terms of fillings – should I do pastry cream and fruit? Chocolate and peanut butter? Should I incorporate the cereal in the crust? In the filling? On top?
My partner pushed me to go the extra mile. After all, when it comes to bake offs, presentation can be just as important as taste. So we thought of recreating the cereal bowl plus milk pour over experience. What is a pourable topping in dessert? Creme anglaise. What goes well with creme anglaise? Chocolate, souffles and cooked fruit desserts.
So the chocolate tart was born. Mini because we’d have to make portions for the audience to try (also they are more elegant). And pourable creme anglaise in mini bottles that I found in the wedding favors section of Michael’s. Cap’n crunch in the shell. Caramelized rice krispies on top so you have some crunch to balance the smooth chocolate filling. And garnished with a little berry.
We were proud of our entry. And I was proud of my friends who entered, particularly because they were overcoming challenges of their own to be there. My old friend Jafreen, as well as my new friend, Moni of Moni’s Kitchen.
My husband was there for support. Isn’t he cute? OK you can stop looking now.
Ultimately, the judges deemed our tart the winning entry for our category, and the audience voted ours the best dessert of the night! Grand prize went to an amazing honey ricotta cheesecake with a Honey Bunches of Oats crust, homemade ricotta and divine salted caramel drizzle. Very well deserved! Can’t wait til next year!
Feel free to make this without the addition of Rice Krispies and Creme Anglaise. If you’d like to make a traditional tart without the cereal, simply swap out the Cap’n Crunch for the same amount of flour. And before anyone else tries to take this idea – Salted Caramel Rice Krispies Cereal. I’m calling it! You heard it here first!
For the tart shell (recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table):
- 1 cup Cap’n Crunch Berries or regular Cap’n Crunch
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 18 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, diced
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 cold large egg yolks
For the filling (recipe from Epicurious):
- 9 oz bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa), in small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
For the topping (recipe from Food52:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 cups Rice Krispies
- pinch sea salt or fleur de sel (optional)
For the creme anglaise (recipe from Epicurious):
- 1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch cereal or cereal of choice (optional)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Make the tart shell: grind the cereal in a food processor until fine (if there are some slightly bigger chunks left, can crush them with fingers, careful to avoid the blade). Add flour, powdered sugar, salt and process until cereal/flour is evenly distributed. Remove the lid, add butter, and pulse 5-6 times to combine. Beat the egg yolks with a fork and with the machine running, drizzle the egg yolk into the dry ingredients. When you see clumps just starting to form, turn the machine off and dump out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until it comes together into a ball, divide in two and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Grease a mini tart pan with non stick cooking spray. Remove dough from fridge. At this point you can either pull off golf ball sized pieces of dough and press into each of the mini tart molds, or you can roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/4 in thickness and cut out circles. I used a 3in diameter cutter for my tarts that are about 2 1/2 in in diameter. Push dough down and along the side so you get the pattern on the sides.
- Cut out little squares of aluminum foil and place in each tart shell. Pour some rice or beans to act as weights and blind bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from oven, remove aluminum and weights, and put back in the oven for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes remove from oven and allow to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. You should have at least 24 mini shells.
- Make the chocolate filling: in a medium to large microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and cream. Heat at 50% power at 1 minute intervals, stirring slightly between intervals until chocolate is mostly melted. Continue stirring until chocolate is fully melted.
- Whisk the egg whites with the vanilla and salt. Add a little bit of the chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper them. Then add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and stir or whisk until fully combined. Pour about 1 tbsp of the chocolate mixture into each cooled tart shell, so that it fills it up but doesn’t overflow. I use my 1 3/4in diameter cookie scoop for this. Bake for about 10 minutes until sides are set and middle is still jiggly. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Can serve as is or with caramelized Rice Krispies and creme anglaise.
- OPTIONAL Make the caramelized Rice Krispies: combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat at medium high. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. After it dissolves, only swirl the pan, never stick a spoon in there. Allow it to boil away until it becomes a light amber color. While the sugar boils, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease with non stick cooking spray, as well as your spatula.
- When the sugar has reached the desired color, add the rice krispies and stir very carefully to coat the cereal in the caramel. Dump onto baking sheet and spread and thinly as possible. Sprinkle on salt. Allow to cool, then break apart with hands.
To further break them down, pour into a large ziploc bag, and roll a rolling pin over several times. Sprinkle tarts with desired amount of cereal.
- OPTIONAL Make the creme anglaise: Add the cereal to the milk/cream and let it sit for 45min to 1 hour. In a small sauce pan, strain the milk/cream and discard (or eat) the cereal. Heat milk/cream over medium heat until it reaches a simmer (bubbles around the perimeter, but not a roaring boil). While that heats up, whisk egg yolks with sugar until pale yellow. Add vanilla and whisk to combine. When milk/cream is ready, add a little bit to the eggs and whisk. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the milk/cream so as not to curdle the eggs. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Refrigerate until cool. Serve alongside tarts so folks can poured their desired amount.
The first time I had crepes was in Paris in 2006. Kids coming home from school were snacking on this conical things wrapped in paper filled with all kinds of chocolately/fruity goodness. My buddy and I did not hesitate. We got ourselves some crepes filled with nutella and slices of banana and our minds were blown. So delicious and, as I’d soon discover, so easy to make, with such simple ingredients?!
Flash forward to 2017 and I’ve made it 34098734287234 times. I’ve filled them with sautéed mushrooms and swiss cheese to serve to guests. With scrambled eggs and spinach for a savory breakfast. Most often though, with nutella/banana or simply with strawberry jam for my sweet-toothed family. It is the THE most requested breakfast item, surpassing pancakes, waffles, french toast, everything. Which works for me since it’s SO EASY and cooks much faster than all those other options.
I’ve pretty much stuck to Alton Brown’s recipe all these years, tweaking it only by adding whole wheat flour and a pinch of salt (it was the only thing missing). For many years I’ve mixed the batter by hand using a whisk, which was a monumental mistake. You end up with lumps of flour in the batter that only go away after the batter sits for a while, hydrating the lumps away. As soon as I started using a blender, I never looked back.
Enjoy this recipe in any sweet/savory permutation you’d like.
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown.
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup all purpose flour (I use half whole wheat flour)
- a pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- Melt butter in a small saucepan or in the non-stick skillet. Set aside.
- In a blender, add first five ingredients and blend on low speed, gradually increasing the speed to high. Blend for about 20 seconds. Add melted butter and blend once more for 10 seconds.
- Heat a 9 or 10in non stick skillet to medium heat. Pour 1/3 cup of the batter into a liquid measuring cup. Lift the pan up slightly above the flame and pour the batter onto the pan, tilting the pan around gently so the batter swirls and spreads evenly across the surface. Return to flame and cook for about a minute or until the sides start to loosen from the pan. Flip and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from pan and set on plate. Continue with remaining batter, stacking the crepes on a plate.
- Serve with nutella, jam, powdered sugar, ,fruit and/or whipped cream.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Was it jewelry? A nice bag? Maybe those shoes you’ve been eyeing? For me, it was my engagement ring, hands down. BUT apart from the that, the best gift I continue to receive is from my mother. Every few months she gives me a jar of homemade ginger/garlic paste that is quintessential in Bengali cuisine. Sure, you can buy the jarred stuff from the desi grocery, but it’s just not the same. It’s fresh, preservative free, and it’s made with LOVE. Such a life saver on busy weeknights to not have to peel/chop fresh ginger and garlic.
This time though, she outdid herself. She brought me some homemade GHEE. Ghee, or clarified butter, is made exactly how the French make it. Warm up butter in a pot or saucepan until melted. Then let sit for an hour or two, until the milk solids fall to the bottom, while the fat comes to the top. When she brought it, I opened it up and OH MY NUTTYNESS it smelled good.
So, when I found the recipe for this cornbread in my Thanksgiving edition of Bon Appetit, I knew I wanted to sub the lard with ghee. It was perfect because I’ve had this coarse ground corn meal in my pantry for months, neglecting it because it was too coarse for muffins, but little did I know, perfect for this skillet cornbread. I added cinnamon and honey because I loved the cornbread croutons in Trader Joe’s Fall Harvest salad and I’m pretty sure they have a hint of both ingredients. I’m fairly certain this will be part of our Thanksgiving spread this year as cornnbread dressing. Mmmm.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
- 2 cups coarse ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp lard, veg oil or ghee
- 1 stick or 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- Fine sea salt for sprinkling
1. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and place a 9 to 10in cast iron skillet to preheat.
2. In a large bowl, combined corn meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl or mixing cup, combine buttermilk, egg and honey. Slowly add to dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate.
3. Wearing oven mitts, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Melt the ghee/lard/oil and swirl around the skillet. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
4. After removing from oven, add butter to the top of cornbread an allow to melt all over the top. Serve with an extra sprinkling of sea salt.
Ramadan is halfway over, but there’s still time to make some of my favorite recipes for this time of year! Going clockwise from the top left:
Citrus Quinoa Salad with Dates, Almonds and Mint – we consume a lot of dates during Ramadan. This recipe uses up any extra dates you may have in a salad you can feel good about eating at the end of a long fast!
Meyer Lemon Strawberry Lemonade – I know sugar is the devil. I know. But you have to try this lemonade. It is light years beyond any bottled strawberry lemonade you can find. Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman.
Basil Smoothie – a surprising staple in many homes I’ve introduced this smoothie to. Basil, yogurt, sugar and ice makes for an unexpectedly refreshing drink.
Tandoori Chicken – an easy, make ahead dish. When you’re fasting, you’re low on energy. So the less time you have to spend on your feet in the kitchen, the better. These chicken legs get a quick marinade of yogurt and spices. Then about 45 minutes before eating, pop them in a hot oven. That is all.
Mint Limeade – aka virgin mojitos. The refreshing flavors of lime and mint make this the perfect compliment to your break-fast meal.
Haleem – a protein packed Ramadan must. It’s one stop, one pot iftar. Stewed meat, grains and lentils combine to make the most filling, comforting dish possible. Can probably make this in your slow cooker as well.
Fruit Chaat – refreshing and easy. Simply combine your favorite fruits – try to ensure varying textures and levels of sweetness. Try apples, grapes, kiwis. Or pineapple, cantelope, raspberries. Or mango, blueberry, nectarine. Leave the yogurt/chaat masala dressing on the side, or mixed in, for a variation of your favorite fruit salad.
Banana Date Nut Bread – another healthy way to use up dates. The potassium from the bananas and dates combined with the fiber from the whole wheat make this bread great to have on hand when you’re short on time for your pre-dawn meal. Can bump up the fiber content with flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.
Aloo Chop (Fried Mashed Potato Balls) – not the healthiest thing on the list, but a comfort food must for many of us South Asians. Mashed potato balls stuffed with bits of hard boiled egg, breaded and fried. Yum!
When you were a kid did you have curry for suhoor?
Let me take a few steps back here. Ramadan Kareem everyone! The blessed time of year when Muslims around the world abstain from food & drink (yes, even water) from dawn til dusk. Not just a physical fast, Muslims (healthy, adult) are to abstain from sex, violence and cursing. Particularly trying for those at northern latitudes where the days are long (16+ hours for us in NY), we need to make the most of our pre-dawn and fast-breaking meals. That means nutritious food that will keep our bodies busy breaking down complex carbs and proteins. Just as important: staying hydrated!
So if you’re South Asian, you probably had white rice along with veggies and some hearty curries for your pre-dawn meal (suhoor/sehri). And they probably left you feeling awesome, especially after your post-fajr nap.
Not. They always left me feeling queasy and hungry after a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, hunger pangs are going to strike regardless. It wouldn’t be a fast without the experience of hunger – to humble us, to remind us of our blessings, to connect us to those less fortunate, and to remind us constantly that we are doing it for the sake of God. But in eating whole foods, super foods, foods that are full of complex carbs and hunger abating protein, we can put our best food forward while going about our day to day jobs in non-Muslim countries. Otherwise, it can be challenging, functioning on reduced and disjointed sleep (late night prayers + a meal in the middle of the night) with a lower blood sugar throughout the day making your mental processing faculties a bit foggy.
So here I present my go-to spread for suhoor: overnight oats with fruit and nuts, two hard boiled eggs, toast with peanut butter, banana and chia seeds, coconut water, and water. I may not have all of these items every day, depending on how much time I have on my hands, but the overnight oats and hard boiled eggs are a must. I prepare the oats around the same time that I’m making iftar so it has a good 8 hours to soak in the fridge. When you read the recipe below, you might be turned off to the fact that it’s made with water instead of milk. But if you’ve ever struggled with downing oatmeal because the gummy texture turned you off, you must try it with water. Of course you are free to make it with almond, soy, rice, hemp or coconut milk instead.
Recently, I’ve been topping it with the raspberry compote from my Eton Mess. I don’t want to say it’s divine or anything in case that’s sacrilege – but it’s really really really good.
Combine the complex carbs from the oats with the protein and good fats from the eggs – you are good to go. The potassium from the coconut water and bananas (or dates!) well keep you running. The chia seeds provide a nutritional boost as well given they’re packed with Omega-3s, fiber, and protein. Sometimes I just munch on them as is. They have a wonderful crunchy/chewy texture.
Here are my tips for hard boiling eggs:
- Bring a generous amount of water to boil.
- THEN add the eggs.
- Set the timer for 8 minutes eggsactly (had to).
- When the timer is up, drain the water. Let cool. Don’t peel them ahead of time as they’ll dry out.
- Just before eating, crack them on a surface and roll around. You’ll find these eggs are the easiest to peel.
And here’s my go to recipe for overnight oats (from Quaker):
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup water (or enough to cover the oats)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp fresh fruit or fruit compote
- 1 tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)
- 2 tbsp yogurt (optional)
- In a mason jar, or recycled jam jar, combine oats, water and salt. Close the lid and give it a shake. Let it sit in the fridge overnight (6-8 hours).
- To serve, top with fruit, nuts and yogurt, if using. Enjoy immediately. And be generous with the fruit! One of the perks of summertime fasts are the glorious fruits available, particularly at your local farmers market.
I just realized that it’s been 2 years since I lost the baby weight. I realize it because I’m slowly putting the weight back on (oh no!).
It’s hard being smaller than your natural dress size! I look at all the women in my family, and post childbirth, we are all at least a size 8 and pear shaped.
I’m 5’1 and for the longest time after my second kid, I was stuck at 129 pounds. Inspired by my Barnard classmate, Asiya Khaki, photographer and beach body coach, I decided to get in shape. I started doing 25 minute interval training workouts with FitnessBlender. I cut out sugar almost entirely. Subbed quinoa for rice in pretty much every meal.
I lost 17 pounds. It was amazing. My core looked better in my late twenties than it ever did as a teenager.
And then Ramadan came, and I couldn’t really stick to my 3 small meals plus 2 snacks a day anymore. And the tons of water to curb my sugar cravings. So things got out of whack.
I’ve put 5 pounds back on since hitting my lowest (112). I still keep up with the exercise at least twice a week (trying to make it 3 times a week). But I’ve gotten back to some bad habits. Late night work = late night snacks. Busy schedules means less time to make my quinoa salad. More often than not I’m finishing up the kids pasta for lunch. And dinner.
And though I am eating carbs again, I still try to keep up with the nutrition. I buy a big bag of avocados early on in the week. I try to ensure everyone’s got a serving of vegetables at every meal, and fruits at their disposal any time of the day.
In short, this smoothie is not for you if you are looking to lose weight. If you are looking for a nutritious, tasty drink to sub for a meal, definitely give this a try!
- 1 cup loosely packed mixed baby greens
- 1/2 cup fresh fruit like pineapple, mango, banana
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt, full fat
- 3/4 to 1 cup pineapple or orange juice
- Add the greens, fruit, yogurt and 3/4 cup of the juice to the blender. If it doesn’t start to come together, add the extra 1/4 cup of juice. Enjoy immediately.
Ramadan is coming up! I figured I should add a few more Ramadan friendly recipes to the blog, for those of us who are looking to depart a bit from the usual fried foods iftars. During these long summer days when we’re denying ourselves food and liquid for 15 hours straight, we need to treat our bodies well! This is a dish you can feel good about eating, that’s not going to make you crash before the long night of ibadah (prayers) you have lined up.
This recipe is based on one from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. I know a quinoa salad is not the first thing you think of when you consider French cuisine, but she’s filled her cookbook with things she makes for her family, without strictly adhering to a particular cuisine. In our hyperconnected world, it’s kind of impossible to resist influences from other regions. She’s got a Moroccan Tagine and carrot salad, small plates from her American upbringing, French pastries and traditional stews from her current residence. And she’s kind of an authority when it comes to food so I trust her with my quinoa!
I’ve taken a lot of liberties with her recipe though. First was to change the prep method for the quinoa. For some reason the package directions always tell you to cook it covered over low heat for about 15 minutes. That always gave me soggy quinoa. My way gives perfectly cooked and fluffy quinoa every time. Second, I nixed the ginger powder for cinnamon since I hate ginger and thought cinnamon would compliment the citrus. Third, I increased the fruit to nut ratio for my sugar loving palette. She suggests using any kind of dried fruits, nuts and herbs. I combined the dried fruits, nuts and herbs I thought would work best (dates, almonds and mint). You could also do raisins, pine nut and parsley. Or apricot, walnut and cilantro. It’s a vibrant, tasty way to prepare your quinoa that uses up the plethora of dates we often have lying around during Ramadan.
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and diced small (about 7 dates)
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- salt and pepper
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (recommended: Trader Joe’s California Estate EVOO)
- In a small saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to boil. Add quinoa and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 12 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. After the 12 min are up, turn off the heat and put the lid on. Let steam for 3 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Set aside.
- Toast the almonds on a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When the nuts are light brown and fragrant, take off the heat and let cool.
- Chop the mint and combine with the dates and nuts in a large bowl.
- Make the vinaigrette: combine the orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and olive oil in a jar. Put the lid on and shake vigorously.
- Add the quinoa and vinaigrette to the large bowl. Combine everything and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
I invited my childhood friend, Aileen Olmedo of TheStyleBoro, over for breakfast this past weekend. Her blog is a fun destination for the unequivocally stylish and youthful city dweller. Youthfulness is a state of mind folks, not a number. Rather than prepare traditional brunch items she could enjoy at a number of NYC spots (e.g. eggs benedict, waffles, french toast) I thought I’d make her a spread reminiscent of my beloved babymoon in Istanbul.BTW, Zeynep if you are reading this please don’t hate me if I butchered an authentic Turkish dish. I know you’re supposed to use Turkish peppers, not jalapeno or Chinese peppers. I know you’re supposed to use onion not scallion. And any other changes I made, I only made to make this wonderful breakfast dish a bit more accessible to the average American home cook!I love how the colors pop in a Turkish breakfast spread. White cheese, green cucumbers, red tomatoes, rich Soujuk (Turkish sausage), black olives, fresh squeezed orange juice. Makes for a dramatic presentation. If you can find apple tea and borek (cheese or meat pastry), those are also wonderful additions. Even if you aren’t looking for an all out breakfast extravaganza, you can enjoy the recipe below for Menemen – eggs scrambled with peppers, tomato and onion until they are just barely set. A wonderful change up from your usual eggs and toast breakfast.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 long green pepper (I used the Basque Fryer, but feel free to use a deseeded jalapeno), thinly sliced
- 1 Roma tomato, diced
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add scallions, tomato, pepper and cook 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add cayenne, paprika and salt and cook for until tomatoes break down and onions get super soft, another 2-3 minutes.
- While the veggies cook, crack eggs into a bowl. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper and whisk with a fork. Whisk well – until the eggs look like a uniform yellow mixture. Pour into skillet and lower the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs just start to set. Turn off the heat and add the parsley. Give it a final stir and serve with warm bread.
I gave into peer pressure, guys. When the first ramps popped up in my instagram feed, I rushed to the Union Square Green Market to pick some up. Not too long after, I picked up some rhubarb without much idea about what I was going to do with it. I am all about eating seasonal foods, local, humane, natural, sustainable, etc. But sometimes the thing that’s in season isn’t exactly worth all the hype. Ramps are great and all. If you are less familiar with them, they are a green leafy vegetable available for a few short weeks in spring. They are sold leaves, stalk, bulb and all and have a lovely mild onion flavor. I loved them first time I used them, as a topping on my homemade pizza. More recently, I chopped them up and stewed them with some tomatoes. I even bought a ramp pesto that works wonders on a tomato mozzarella panino.
But I thought part of the point of seasonal foods was that they would be a bit more affordable? Because of their limited availability these items can be incredibly marked up. I vow for next year (and for later on this year), to wait until the end of a crop’s season to buy them. After the hype dies down, so does the price. And that, my friends, is how I internalize Supply and Demand (take that AP Microeconomics). I’m not posting an original recipe here today. I worked off a Smitten Kitchen recipe and am sharing my experience as a novice in hand pie assembly. This is after all a Web-Log. I am logging my forays into new foods and techniques. Observation 1: Mamma mia that’s a lot of butter. 3 sticks. That’s an amount usually reserved for Ina’s Pecan Bars or the frosting for a 2 layer cake.
Observation 2: It was a pleasant salty, tangy, sweet and savory flavor experience. I thought the tartness of the rhubarb would be off-putting, but it worked well with the buttery-ness of the crust. I am so used to inundating my tart fruits with sugar (see Lemon Yogurt Cake) that my aging palette appreciated the change of pace. I actually misread the recipe and used 1/4 cup sugar for the filling as opposed to 1/3 cup. Oops. I did, however, intentionally add 1/4 tsp of salt. I ALWAYS need plenty of salt on my tangy fruits.
Observation 3: Make sure you have a good stainless steel saucepan to make this compote in. You have to leave it in the pot for 15 minutes, covered, so it is essential that it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom. Do not try this on your Mother’s or Mother In Law’s 100 year old Imusa pot. Next time I might try it with black pepper or balsamic vinegar added to the fruit compote. Mmmm….I got to use my pastry blender for the first time. Or as my kids like to call it, The Monster. I had to resort to my salad bowl for mixing. You need a nice, big, wide bowl to work the dough in. Although I regretted not making this with store bought pie dough (because of the million other things I had to do that in preparation for our weekend beach getaway), I can comfort myself by saying that a store bought pie dough would not have been made special with buttermilk and grapefruit zest. Small comforts when you’ve got fried chicken grease splattered all over your kitchen, a cold dough to work until flat, and a suitcase that just won’t pack itself!Pardon my cutting board’s appearance. It’s close to retirement.I think I should have gotten them thinner than I did. The directions were to roll to 1/8 of an inch but this was the best I could do. Is it ghetto to roll out your dough on a cutting board rather than the counter? I don’t trust myself to clean the counter well enough to roll out dough onto it. Maybe it’s a desi thing. And given my limited counter space, I wouldn’t gain a whole lot by nixing the board. Directions also stated a cooking time of 15 to 20 minutes. I needed to go a bit beyond the the 20 to ensure a nice golden color on my hand pies. Enjoy the season, folks, and all that it has to offer (but maybe wait a week or two ;)).
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp grated orange or grapefruit zest
- 1 1/2 tbsps granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb and strawberries (I used two cups rhubarb, one cup strawberries. Cut off the leaves and any tough parts of the rhubarb)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your strawberries are, but if you’re using all rhubarb, go with 1/3 cup)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- Make the dough: mix the flour, citrus zest, sugar and salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Add the butter and work with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until you have pea sized bits of flour encrusted butter running throughout. Then, slowly add the buttermilk and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon to incorporate. When all the buttermilk has been added, knead a few times with your hand to get it in the shape of the ball. Divide the ball in four and flatten each into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Make the filling: combine the fruit, sugar, and salt in a medium to large stainless steel saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. You don’t need to stir during this time. Enough liquid emerges from the fruit to self baste. After the 15 minutes are up, uncover and cook for an additional 15 minutes at medium low. Stir occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom, particularly towards the end. After these 15 minutes are up, pour onto a plate to let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Generously flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll out one of the disks until 1/8 of an inch thick. Do this with a swift back and forth motion, rotate the dough 45 degrees, then repeat until it is sufficiently thin. Take your time with this, young Jedi. Trim off the edges with a pizza cutter or sharp knife and cut to make 4 squares or rectangles. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a dash of water. Brush two of the squares with the egg wash. These will be the bottoms (hehe). Spoon a teaspoon of the cooled fruit compote onto the two squares. Place the adjacent squares a top the squares with filling, pulling a bit to ensure the edges line up. Crimp the edges with a fork. Brush the top with egg wash and cut a slit to let the steam out while they are in the oven. Place the two completed hand pies on a baking sheet and sprinkle the tops generously with sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. While those bake, work on rolling out the next quarter of dough and assemble the next two hand pies in the same fashion. I alternated by sticking the second batch in the oven as soon as it was ready and calculating the extra time required when the first timer went off, but it really browns best when there’s only one baking sheet in the oven at a time. Continue with the rest of the dough. Let cool a few minutes before moving onto a wire rack for complete cooling.