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Posts Tagged ‘make ahead’

I was giving a ride to my 4 year old son and a couple of 11 year-olds to their zoo camp. The older kids and I were discussing jobs for teenagers. Zoo teacher’s assistant seemed liked a cool option.

Cherries_WM-11

“Much better than working at a McDonalds,” I voiced my opinion.

“No, mommy!” said my son, laughing at me, like I said something very silly, “I love McDonalds!”

“Do you? Have you ever been to McDonalds?” I asked ready to have a serious talk with my husband…

“Of course, mommy,” and he started singing, “Old McDonald had a farm EE-I-EE-I-O!”2013_May_CherryFarm-18

 

We have taken the kids to a farm. A cherry orchard, to be exact. Here is what came out of it.

[kitchenbug-your-recipe-appears-here-11709]

For free canning labels and gift notes go here.

Special tools:

2013_May_CherryFarm-13

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Hello from CA (and I mean Carboholics Anonymous, not the state)! I must admit, this Russian mom fell off the wagon again with a crazy week-long baking spree. Why? Because she finally nailed the perfect pie crust recipe. I know, disastrous  right?!   

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To top that, it’s rhubarb season in CA (the state). So, I think you can guess what I’ve been up to! There is a rhubarb pie bubbling in the oven right now… ohm… my 3rd this week. 

The rhubarb pie recipe (my new favorite, can’t you tell!?) is to follow in a later post (once my hands stop shaking from all that sugar, and I take some photos). Here is everything on how to make the flaky pie dough I’m so much in love with!

 

Flaky Pie Dough

From While Chasing Kids | Desserts | American

This doesn’t just make a fabulous crust; it also is very easy to remember. The flour to butter to water ratio is 3 to 2 to 1. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of salt for each 100 grams of flour and you got yourself The Perfect Dough! This recipe yields two 9 inch pie shells.

00:32
00:07
00:25

cal Calories 158kcal

fat Total Fat 10g

High sat-fat Saturated Fat 6g

chol Cholesterol 27mg

sodium Sodium 199mg

carbs Total Carbohydrate 14g

Serving size 38g Calories from fat 93kcal Fiber 1g Protein 2g Sugar 0g
16 servings

Ingredients

  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 200 g butter
  • 100 ml water

Directions

  1. Measure water, dissolve salt in it, and place it in the fridge
  2. Cut butter into pea-sized cubes and place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  3. To make the dough combine cold butter and flour and pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Slowly add cold water and pulse again for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball but not completely smooth. There still will be butter chunks. If needed, finish kneading with your hands until the dough forms into a ball (try to handle the dough as little as possible).
  5. Separate the dough into disks, 1-inch thick. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Roll disks on floured surface one at a time to 1/8 inch thick. Carefully line the baking dish with the dough, overlapping about ½ inch (the dough will shrink during baking)
  7. For recipes that call for uncooked shell, refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. For baked shells, preheat oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Line the shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (I use dry beans). For partially baked shells, bake for about 20 minutes, remove weights. Carefully poke with a fork the dough if it bubbled during the baking. Bake for another couple more minutes. For a fully baked shell, bake for about 25 minutes till light brown. Remove the weights, poke the dough, and bake for another 5 minutes till the dough is golden brown.
  9. Let the shells cool completely on wire racks before filling.

Tips

  • The dough could be made a day in advance and refrigerated. Cooked shells will keep for up to a week in the fridge, or for up to two weeks in the freezer.

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There are people who take the whole “back to school” craze rather seriously. I know a family that makes 60-70 frozen meals before each year starts. All ladies from their clan gather to spend a day or two chopping, cooking, packaging, and labeling… Pretty impressive, hah!? I tried to accomplish something like that before our second child arrived, though baby Pea ended up being an angel (who said women are high-maintenance?) and unlike her brother devoted her infant days to snoozing.  So, my extreme food storage proved to be unnecessary.

However, with time I did appreciate all the stuff in the freezer. So, a new tradition was started.  Now we make extra and stow our favorites for the days, when there is no time to make a fresh dinner.

Here is one of those recipes.  All you need on the serving day is some bread or croutons!

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TOMATO BISQUE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups chopped leaks, white and pale green parts only (about 3-4 leaks)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 30 oz whole peeled tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbs chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 t dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (or half-and-half, or milk)

Yields about 9 cups of soup

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the soup. In heavy pan, heat oil, leeks, celery, and garlic over medium-high heat; cook 8-10 min or until leaks are soft.  Add tomatoes, broth, wine, and lemon juice.  Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover; and simmer for 30 min.  Remove from heat; add basil, salt, and pepper.  Puree soup mixture in food processor or blender until smooth.

Make ahead. Freeze in gallon or quart zip lock bags, pressing out the air and laying flat.

Serve: if frozen, thaw; heat through over low heat, stirring occasionally; add cream and simmer about 10 min or until thickened.  Do not boil.  Garnish with basil.  Serve warm.

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Well, whle pizza aces would not be impressed by this recipe, a busy parent may appreciate its make-ahead option.

I bake bread about twice a week, and sometimes I set some dough aside for pizza.  The husband, the neighborhood, and the Awesomest Neighbor don’t seem to mind!

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SOURDOUGH THIN CRUST PIZZA

Dough:

  • 750g + 50g water (at room temperature)
  • 200 g leaven
  • 1000 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 100 g whole wheat flour
  • 20 g sea salt

Topping:

  • 900g pizza sauce
  • 500g mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil to sprinkle
  • smoked sea salt to sprinkle
  • olive oil (optional)
  • dry oregano (optional)

Yields:

8 medium sized pizzas

DIRECTIONS:

Make the dough. I used a modified Tartine basic country dough recipe. Mix leaven the night before by combining 200 g of water at room temperature, 1 tbs of mature starter, and 200 g of all-purpose flour.

When the leaven is passing the floating test (if you drop a spoonful of leaven into water at room temperature, it floats), the dough is ready to be mixed.  Place a large mixer bowl on a scale.  Pour 700 g of water.  Add 200 g of leaven (I usually discard my mature starter at this point to use the leftover leaven as starter next time).  Mix the leaven with water.  Add 1000 g of all-purpose and 100 g of wheat flour and mix with a dough hook until incorporated.  Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let rest for 25-30 minutes.

Sprinkle with sea salt, and pour the remaining 50 g of water over the dough.  Mix again until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3 hours.  Turn the dough a couple times during the first hour.

After 3 hours dump the dough on a lightly floured surface and, using a dough scraper cut it into 8 equal parts.  Fold each part into a ball.  Dust a large cutting board with flour.  Place the dough balls on it, lightly dust each ball with flour and carefully place the cutting board in a large plastic bag.  Refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to the hottest – I use the convention broil setting at 500° F/260° C. Place the pizza stone on the middle rack.

Prepare the ingredients. The beauty of pizza, is that you can dump anything you want on it, and it will taste good.   My family prefers very simple cheese and tomato sauce pizzas with vegetables, so here are our little tricks.  

  1. Since I’m not a professional, it takes me a while to assemble my pizzas, hence the dough gets pretty moist, and I cannot slide it easily to the pizza stone. So, I prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and lay them on platters ready to dig in!
  2. Pre-shredded cheese contains starch and calcium sulfate to prevent caking, so if you have time – shred cheese by yourself.
  3. I pre-bake the crust for just a couple minutes before placing the toppings on it.
  4. Pizza sauce is an art form on its own.  I still need about a 100 attempts at home-made pizza sauce before the recipe could be published.  So, I cheat.  I mix a jar of Dave’s Gourmet Organic with a 6 oz can of tomato paste.
  5. For many people pizza is all about the sauce, for others – about the toppings,  for me – it’s about the crust.  I love bread, and there were very many failed pizzas before I was able to convert my bread recipe into a perfect thin crust.  To make it even more appealing to those, who have a tendency to throw away crust, I lightly sprinkle the edges with smoked sea salt. It adds even more magic to this sourdough goodness.

Make pizzas. Once the oven is hot, remove one of the dough balls out of the oven and place it on a floured surface.  Roll it into a thin disk with a rolling pin.  Lightly sprinkle the edges with smoked salt.  Lightly dust a pizza peel with flour or corn meal. P;ace the dough on the peel, and carefully transfer it to the pizza stone.  The hardest part is done!

Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Keep the crust on the peel while sprinkling olive oil, oregano, applying pizza sauce, and other toppings.  Shift the pizza a little bit to make sure it’s not stuck to the peel, and carefully slide it on the pizza stone again.  Bake for another 5-6 minutes, rotate half-way through if needed.  Sprinkle with fresh basil.

Make ahead. Two pizzas are more than enough for Dave and I.  So, in strange cases when neighbors didn’t find out I’m baking pizza and failed to stop by, I pre-bake the rest of the dough.  Roll and bake each disk for 3 minutes. Lay them lined with parchment paper.  Let cool. Place the crusts in a large freezer-proof zip-lock bag, a freeze.  When ready to cook, let them thaw at room temperature before applying the toppings, and bake for 5-6 minutes.

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Yesterday was our book club gathering.  Naturally, a bowl of fresh Aspirin seemed like a perfect breakfast choice this morning.  Ohmmmm… Instead I went for one of my favorite Russian dishes – farmers cheese dumplings, called “vareniki”.

More often than not vareniki are made with a bit of sugar, but I prefer a savory version.  To prove my husband (who says Russian food is bland) wrong, I added a little zing with garlic and red pepper, and used lots of dill to maintain that unique Russian flavor.   The result is a whole a lot of yum!

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FARMERS CHEESE DUMPLINGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp salt

FILLING:

  • 450 g farmers cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp red pepper, ground
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1-2 stalks of green onion
  • 1 bunch of dill, hard stems discarded

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the filling: combine all the ingredients and blend in a food processor to reach a smooth consistency.

Prepare the dough: in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together.  Once incorporated, dump the dough on a floured surface and knead with your hands.

Roll the dough into a 1mm-thick sheet and cut out circles (about 3 inches in diameter) with a cookie cutter. Since we don’t have one, I used a wine glass, which worked just fine. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle, and fold the dough in half, pinching the ends.

Make ahead: at this point you can freeze the dumplings.  Arrange them on a floured cutting board and leave in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  After that, transfer frozen vareniki to a zip-lock bag and keep frozen for up to 3 months.

To cook: boil some water, add salt to taste.  Dump the vareniki in, and cook for about 8 minute till they float up to the surface.  Remove with a perforated spoon.

Traditionally served with butter and sour cream.  I sprinkled mine with aspirin! Crazy delicious!

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

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A couple weeks ago my husband met the most adorable mix of Chihuahua and Shih Tzu…  and for two weeks he (the husband) has been making the saddest puppy face begging me “I want Scruffy”.  “My Birthday is coming”… “Scruffy Scruffy Scruffy”… Anyone who met a whiny 5-year-old knows the drill.

So, instead I gave him another thing he’s been asking about but I refused to deliver… A huge party!  All the neighbors and friends made their way to our kitchen, and you could not hear yourself talking how loud and fun it was.  

Here is the Russian way to party: eat as much as you can, wash it all down with vodka, sing and dance.  Repeat as many times as you can + 5.  Now, I know it’s mission impossible to make Americans do the singing and dancing; so we just focused on eating and drinking.

The guests started gathering about an hour before the dinner to find snacks waiting on the table: cheese and salami, freshly baked bread, nuts, grapes, and olives.

 A separate stand was set for a self-service bar.  My BFF Alma helped making this amazing hibiscus cosmopolitan.  I found the recipe in a magazine long ago, and wanted to try it ever since (from Jennifer Trainer’s “Caribbean Cocktails”).  On the plus side, Alma also pointed out that in her native Mexico, hibiscus tea is a famous diet drink (like green tea here).  Now, how could you possibly stop drinking this delicious cosmo after discovering that!?

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HIBISCUS COSMOPOLITAN

INGREDIENTS:For hibiscus tea:

  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/3 cup super fine sugar

For cosmopolitan:

  • 1 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/3 cup of super fine sugar
  • Lemon juice from 3 lemons
  • Lime juice from 6 limes
  • 3 tbs fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • Ice cubes

DIRECTIONS:

The tea could be made in advance and kept in the fridge.  Pour boiling water over the tea and let brew for about 1 hour.  Strain and discard the flowers. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Whisk all cosmopolitan ingredients till sugar is dissolved.

Transfer mixture to an ice-filled cocktail shaker, and shake well; strain into martini glasses. Garnish with a twisted orange peel.

By the way, apparently it’s super easy to make a curl with an orange peel.  Just cut a straight line out and roll it with your fingers into a spring.  Who would have guessed, but it will stay this way!

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