Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pear-Cranberry Pie with Almond Meal Crust

The year 2010 has come to just one more day.  It has been a good year to me, it's full of surprises, mostly good thankfully.  It has also been a busy year, with work, traveling to Indonesia, and parents moving across the state.  I like to stay busy and the goals for this year have made me work harder and creatively.  At times I grew frustrated but once the goals were done, I felt good with my accomplishments.
Pear-Cranberry Pie with Almond Meal Crust

Pear-Cranberry Pie with Almond Meal Crust

I don't have regrets leaving this year, I'm actually ready for the new year.  Call me an optimist, or someone with a sunny disposition; I'm facing the unknown with a brave face.  And to leave this year in good spirit, I'm posting one more sweet note to you all.  I made a pear-cranberry pie with almond meal crust earlier this month as a way to experiment with pie crust.  I usually make an all-butter crust or half-butter, half-shortening crust for my pie; but I wanted to try an almond meal pie crust from Bob's Red Mill website.  The filling recipe was adapted from a various sources--which honestly spelled "I forgot where I got the recipe".  It's basically an approximation of  about 5-6 pears with a cup or so of fresh cranberries.  Thrown those together with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and some cornstarch, if you like.  I got a tasty pie and easy enough to make in under several hours.

I bade farewell to 2010, happy New Year to my readers, hope to see you soon!

Pear-Cranberry Pie with Almond Meal Crust

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie

Almond Meal Crust

1/2 cup almond meal flour

1 1 2/ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces, chilled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled

5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine both flours and salt in the food processor, pulse to mix.  Scatter vegetable shortening and butter over the dry ingredients and pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Drizzle half of the water over the flour mixture, pulse several times.  If the mixture seems dry, add some more water and pulse until it seems cohesive enough to form a ball.

Using your hands, divide the pastry into one large ball and one smaller ball.  Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is chilled enough to roll (at least 30 minutes).

Pear-cranberry filling

5-6 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

1 cup fresh cranberries, picked over for stems

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch


1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Turbinado, Demerara, or granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.

Combine pears, cranberries, and the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl; toss to combine.

On a floured surface, roll the larger piece of pastry to about 12-inch circle; sprinkling it lightly with flour as needed so doesn't stick.  Carefully fold in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan.

Pour the filling over the bottom crust.  Trim away excess dough, leaving about 1-inch overhang.  Roll out the smaller piece of pastry and drape over filling.  Trim edges and pinch to seal.  Make several slits on top crust for the steam to escape.  Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle some sugar on top.

Set the pie on a baking sheet to catch the drips.  Bake in the bottom rack for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Cover the top crust with foil if it browns too quickly.  Let cool before slicing.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Iced-Lemon Ginger Cookies

Iced-lemon ginger cookies collage

Christmas is only two days away.  With it comes a joy in my life; I've accomplished my biggest undertaking of the year, helping my parents move to Oregon.  The plan to move was dreamed up years ago but the time has never been right for my parents.  Until at last they decided that this year was the year to move.  Perhaps because of my mom's years of  unwell leg stemmed from having bad back, or it was my dad's sudden twice hospitalization within a year that motivate them to move closer to their only daughter.  I'm doing my finial duty, a very traditional way of honoring my parents, by agreeing to take care of them, and in return, they'll take care of my family too.

I'm so glad to be back home again after a 3-day driving trip from California to Oregon.  The trip was right on schedule, the weather was nice enough for me to drive though California was deluged with rain storm when we left the old house.  These few weeks will be hectic for all of us here, my parents especially since they have to go through many boxes before they could truly settle down.
Iced-lemon ginger cookies

I think I might not be able to post anything new for a while but before I go I want to share a recipe that I tried for a cookie exchange.  This recipe was from FOODday early in December and it's adapted from Alice Medrich's new book, Chewy Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies.  The minute I read the recipe I knew this is a cookie with big and bold flavor given Ms Medrich's reputation, and I wanted to eat this spicy and flavorful cookie.  So I tried, I ate, and I rejoiced because it's what I expected.  I added the lemon icing which was a perfect combination with the ginger.  Perhaps you should try it too, you won't be disappointed!

Merry Christmas to all of you, I hope you have a blessed one with your loved ones.

Iced-Lemon Ginger Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and still warm (1 stick)

1/4 cup dark molasses (mild or robust)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons peeled and finely minced or grated fresh ginger

1 egg

2/3 cup diced (1/4-inch) crystallized ginger

About 3/4 cup Demerara or turbinado sugar or 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and mix thoroughly with a whisk.

In a large bowl, combine the warm butter, molasses, granulated sugar, brown sugar, fresh ginger, and egg and mix thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture and crystallized ginger and stir until incorporated.  The dough will be soft.

Form the dough into 1-inch balls.  (Refrigerate unrolled dough between batches.)  Roll the balls in the Demerara or turbinado sugar and place them 2 inches apart on lined or ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies puff up and crack on the surface and then began to deflate in the oven.  Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and from back to front halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.  For chewier cookies, remove them from the oven when at least half or more of the cookies have begun to deflate; for crunchier edges with chewy centers, bake for a minute or so longer.

For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks.  Cool the cookies completely before storing.  May be kept in an airtight container for several days.

Lemon icing

Enough to ice about 50 cookies

2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

About 4 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.  Drizzle the icing on cool cookies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Marbled Green Tea Yogurt Cake

Just a quick post from what I've tried a few weeks ago.  I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking, but instead of regular yogurt cake I added green tea powder and marbled the appearance.  I didn't make a new ganache since I had some leftover.  Overall, it was an okay cake, the texture was not as I expected; it was a bit dense.  It sure looks pretty on photos though.


The recipe can be found here.  To get the marbled green tea appearance, divide 1/3 of the batter and add the green tea powder into it.  Pour the white batter into pan, drop the green tea batter into it, and swirl the batter with a butter knife.  This cake is best eaten after it is baked.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Cider Donuts

Can you stand another post about apple cider? :)

Hanukkah (Chanukah) is a Jewish holiday that starts from December 1 till December 9 this year.  It is an eight-day Jewish holiday which commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; it is also called the Festival of Light.  Even though I'm not a Jewish but I'm fascinated by the relationship of each of its holiday with foods.  The tradition of eating deep-fried foods is observed, Ashknenazi Jews are making latkes and Shepardic Jews are making donuts or fritters.


I think I might fit well in the Shepardic families since I love eating deep-fried foods, and this time of year I finally had a chance to try the apple cider donuts.  The recipe can be found here, and I followed it thoroughly, no change this time.  The texture of the donuts were good, with fine crumbs and tender, they're delightful to eat.  The only thing I was disappointed was that my donut cutter was a bit too big.  As a result the donuts were a bit flatter and very, very big.  Stick with a smaller cutter and you'll be having a good time making this!  Next year I'm baking sufganiyot :)