Monthly Archives: October 2010

Perfect New England Pumpkin Pie

There’s an age old expression, “You can take the girl out of the East Coast, but you can’t take the East Coast out of the girl.”*

Having lived in Seattle for the last five years there is lots that I love about it here. I love the mountains, I love the job market, I love the people, I love the polar fleece (except at nice restaurants…why on earth do NW folks think that’s okay??). But there are times when I miss the East Coast and all its straightforwardness, its bluntness, its unapologetic attitude, and its history. As much as I think I’ve become a “west coaster” I recently had someone interrupt me mid-conversation to ask where I’m from. When I said, “East Coast….well, outside of Boston,” they gave that all-knowing little exhale of breath and said, almost sympathetically, “that explains it.”

I also miss the food. If you’re a regular reader of Shut Up and Cook you’ll know there are just certain things you can’t get out in Seattle like you can back East. There are no fried clams, no chicken finger subs (no good subs for that matter period), no good duck choo chee, and no good chicken pies.

So this Monday night, as the days get darker earlier, and the wind whips around outside,  I found myself missing the East Coast just a little bit more than usual. And nothing is more East Coast than good ‘ol fashioned Perfect New England Pumpkin Pie.

If you’re afraid of making pies…don’t be. They aren’t as hard as you think they are, and people will be so impressed you made a pie from scratch you’ll already have bonus points at the outset. Plus…pie comes at the end of dinner…which usually means the end of a wine bottle (or three)…so everything tastes good. Particularly a pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon custard baked in a perfectly flaky, buttery crust. The secret ingredient here is just a touch of maple syrup…and it does make a difference.

Make this when you’re missing those up tight-East Coasters, their pearls, and their judgment. Because admit it, sometimes you do.

Perfect New England Pumpkin Pie

FLAKY PASTRY (from my Grandmother’s kitchen on Cape Cod)

Makes 2 doughs, top and bottom, enough for 4 pumpkin pies

4 C Flour

1 3/4 C Shortening

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 C ice cold water

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tsp salt

1 Egg

Mix shortening and dry ingredients together.  In small bowl, beat water, egg and vinegar together. Add to dry

“goop”  (her words, not mine). Blend w/fork till everything is moistened.

Pie Dough

Pie Dough

W/ hands, mold dough into 4 balls.

Wrap in good old fashioned wax paper and chill 15 minutes or more.

Roll out for crust and proceed with appropriate pie making precautions.

PUMPKIN PIE (adapted from the Butt’ry Shelf Cookbook, Mary Mason Campbell 1968)

Makes enough for 1 pumpkin pie

Have ready an unbaked 9″ pastry shell w/ high crimped edges.

Mix in bowl:

1 1/2 C pumpkin cooked or canned (be sure to get the unseasoned, unflavored kind if you go the canned route)

1/3 C brown sugar

1/4 C white sugar

1 TB Vermont Maple Syrup, no other

1/2 Tsp salt

1 1/2 Tsp ginger powder

1 Tsp cinnamon

1/2 Tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 Tsp powdered cloves

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/ 1/2 C cream

Pie Filling

Pie Filling

Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake on one level up from botton rack in hot oven (400) 50-60 minutes until knife point inserted comes out clean. At about 20 minutes, if necessary, add a bit of foil around the crust so it doesn’t brown too much. You can pull the foil off to finish the crust to a nice golden brown in the last ten minutes.

Enjoy with black coffee and a bit of homemade whipped cream flavored with nutmeg.

Pumpkin Pie

Voila! (Sorry the picture is crappy...I promise it was beautiful in person)

*Okay…perhaps it’s more like a 5-minute old expression, but it’s true.

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Filed under Desserts, Seasonal Cooking

Get baking…get running: Lavender Shortbreads

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

I am a painfully dependable person. If I’m part of your life you can basically be guaranteed that:

  • I will always be 5 minutes early, and at inopportune times will gently lecture about the importance of punctuality.
  • I will always apologize for the state of my house, no matter how clean or dirty.
  • I will always be up for late night snacks that include champagne (think nachos + champagne, mac and cheese + champagne, fish tacos + champagne)
  • I will always send a Thank You card, although I must confess that I’ve translated the year-long window that applies to wedding presents to ALL thank you cards. (Don’t worry Topher…yours is in the mail!)
  • And lastly, each fall,  I will become overcome with the need to get baking and get running. Admittedly, the latter is largely a means to an end for the former since I truly HATE running, but hey, it works.

And so, this weekend, itching to get butter melting, and my Kitchen Aid whirring, I also decided to get my arse moving.

With a few half marathons under my belt and no love lost… my cousin Margot and I have decided to become elite 10-Kers. that’s right folks…watch out. The Malarkey girls are in action.

First stop…Lavender Shortbreads.

These are just as delicious as they sound and make lovely gifts or house-warming presents. Pending on your lavender lust, you can add more or less. Serve these with afternoon tea and be impressed with just how cultured and sophisticated you are.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Makes a dozen cookies, can easily be doubled or even quadrupled.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh lavender (more or less, pending on taste)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a mixer, preferably your Kitchen Aid, combine the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint, and orange zest, and gently blend. Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt, and mix until well blended and forming a dough. Give the dough a knead or two to fully assemble into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Flatten to about 2 inches thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shaped with cookies cutters, or a small, round glass. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
    Rolled Dough Cut Dough
  3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

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Filed under Desserts, Uncategorized

Duck Fest 2010: Duck Choo Chee (Part 1)

Deep Fried Duck

Deep Fried Duck

Deep Fried Duck

Like every woman in America I am trying to lose a few lbs.

[Note: As a I write this I do at least realize the massive ridiculousness of typing that statement under a picture of a deep fried duck…but alas].

Not a lot of weight…(thank GOD I was blessed with sympathetic genes and a 5’10” frame that allows me to, for the most part, consume what I want…if not, I would surely be 300 lbs), but a few lbs that would render me more fit, more svelte, more chic. Generally, more kick ass.

How am I going to do this, you ask?

Having determined that stress and grieving aren’t going to do the trick I figured I would head to Vashon Island for a weekend, stay with my dear friends Henk and Marina, and spend the entire time cooking, eating, drinking, napping, laughing, and talking. Clearly, this is the road to becoming a toned goddess.

And I’m not just talking regular food…we are talking Deep Fry Fest meets Duck Fest 2010. And it was awesome.

This recipe for Duck Choo Chee, which incidentally is amazing and one of those stupid things I can’t seem to find on the West Coast, is very easy and quite delicious. It did start with us deep frying a whole duck, that’s right, a whole duck…but we’ll get to that story later. In the meantime, enjoy this over brown rice with a slightly sweeter wine such as a Viognier. It’s a very pretty dish that can be made the day before, so is excellent for entertaining a crowd…presuming they can handle a little spiciness. Note, you can also certainly modify this to your spicy preference. As this is written it’s about a 2 out of 5 on the spicy scale.

Duck Choo Chee

2 TB cooking oil

2 TB choo chee curry paste (you can use red curry if you can’t find choo chee, though it won’t be quite as delicious)

2 cups coconut cream or coconut milk

2/3 cup sweet basil leaves

2 fresh kaffir lime leaves (or, 2 TB lime juice if you can’t find kaffir lime leaves)

5 red chilis, slit to release flavors, but keep seeds in, which are very spicy

2 lemon grass stalks, chopped into 4 inch pieces

4 slices ginger (big enough they won’t get lost in there)

2 tsp fish sauce (add this one tsp at a time and taste the dish as you go…some are MUCH stronger than others and there’s nothing worse than ruining a dish by overpowering it with fish sauce)

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cups cooked duck meat, in large bite-size pieces (you could also do fish or chicken)

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a wok to medium heat and add the oil.

2. Add the curry paste and stir until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).

3. Add half the coconut cream and stir until well combined with the curry paste.

Curry and coconut milk

3B. Add the basil, lime, chilis, lemon grass, and ginger and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally as flavors meld.

4.Gradually add the remaining coconut cream. Pending on your spicy tolerance you may or may not need the full second cup. Add the fish sauce and sugar, and return to a low simmer.

5. Add the duck and stir gently until heated through. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 more minutes, occasionally tasting and adjusting the seasonings as you see fit.

6. Serve over brown rice (reminding your guests they probably don’t want to eat the chilis, ginger, or lemon grass) and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and red chili.

Duck Choo Chee

Duck Choo Chee

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Filed under Lactose Free, Make ahead, Uncategorized

ThaIrish Brisket

(A guest blog post by Matthew Rhodes)

As many Irish folks can attest, there’s nothing quite like a good curry after a few pints of Guinness. This flavor combination got me to thinking about other ways to mingle curry and stout and… eureka! ThaIrish beef brisket! (For all of you who are now tsk-tsk’ing my lame wordplay due to the fact that “a curry” in Ireland generally refers to an Indian curry, well, nyah-nyah. This sounded better to me.)

Summer is over. The wood has been stacked, the rains have begun, and it’s been seven wonderful years since I fist met my lovely wife in a hot tub in Vermont… so a roast seemed appropriate. Maybe it was the sound of the fall breezes in the giant tree just beyond our back yard, which we likely could have heard all summer had there not been an ice-cream truck parked in front of our house every afternoon and into the night. Maybe the roast in the bath of beer reminded me of that hot tub all those years ago.

Hard to say really.

Perusing the fridge before my trip to the ghetto grocery store and butcher I took stock of the available produce. There remained a bunch of bok choy from another meal that was still in fine shape. Celery is commonly found with roasts, and bok choy is a lot like celery when it’s coarsely chopped. I was on to something. Many roasts call for tomato paste to be added near the end as well, and as it happened, we had some red curry paste!

The market provided the basics, though as this particular market has stopped advertising the grade of the meat they sell (without other information I must assume it’s prison meat… USDA grade F) another stop at the butcher was required. I found a nice 1.75lb brisket and made my way back to the kitchen.

I chopped up a couple onions as well as appx. 1lb of carrots and 1.5lb of potatoes and set them aside. In a large casserole dish I browned the brisket in a little vegetable oil. The brisket was then removed and set aside and the oil drained. The onions were added and cooked for 3-4 minutes, followed by the rest of the veggies, which cooked together for another few minutes (you can see how exact I am with measuring in the kitchen… at least aside from when installing countertops). Next I added a couple tablespoons of flour to thicken things up and blended in the beef stock and a few swigs shy of one 14.9oz can of Guinness. The mixture was brought to a boil then removed from heat before adding a few thin slices of ginger root, brown sugar, mustard, curry paste and some salt and pepper.

The happy brisket was now returned to it’s loving bed of vegetables and stout for baking!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1.75lb beef brisket
  • 2 coarsely chopped onions
  • 1lb of bok choy, cut into large chunks
  • 1.5lbs of potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 can of Guinness
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3 thin slices of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.     preheat oven to 350°F

2.     heat oil in large casserole and brown brisket on all sides; remove and drain

3.     add onion and cook  until tender, stirring constantly

4.     add bok choy, carrots and potatoes and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes

5.     add flour and cook for one more minute; blend in Guinness and stock

6.     bring to a boil, stirring constantly

7.     add ginger, sugar, curry paste, mustard and salt and pepper

8.     place brisket on top and cover; place in oven and cook for about 1.5 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender

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Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

A dear friend, and fellow blogger, recently described her great accomplishments of the past month as:

  • “I did not cry in the past four days even though sometimes I was really drunk.”
  • “I went to the beach everyday in August and did not get burned.”
  • “Yesterday, at the grocery store there were free samples of cake and I did not eat one.”

Because of how my life has been going, I’ve been measuring my triumphs in a similar scale. Take today for instance:

  • Upon waking, my hair only moderately resembled a rogue bonsai.
  • I did not once sign one of the 200 work emails I fast and furiously sent out with ‘xoxo’. (this is a deep seeded fear of mine, even though it has only happened once).
  • I successfully managed to wear one of those chunky chic necklaces that are so popular right now without anyone openly mistaking me for a kindergarten teacher.

Yes…today was a good day.

The real triumph of the day however, undoubtedly, and per usual, came in the kitchen.

My tomato plants, having been seriously stunted by our lame summer, finally kicked into gear and produced a whole slew of beautiful, tomatoes. Add to that a bit of stale bread in my freezer, and a shameless desire to recreate the oh-so-delicious panzanella salad I recently had at Rowhouse and we were in action.

This is very easy and quick to make, and is beautiful when presented. A perfect way to use the last of summer’s bounty.

Panzanella Salad with Kalamata Olives, Garbanzo Beans, and Basil

Serves 4-6

1/2 pound (about 5 cups)  stale bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes.  You want the bread to be substantial; think french bread or sour dough.

1 lb ripe tomatoes (about 3-4 cups), cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup kalamata olives

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced

1/2 cup olive oil, + 3-4 TB

3 TB Balsamic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 3 TB olive oil. Add the remaining 1 TB to a cast iron skillet, bring to medium heat, and brown the bread as if making croutons. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. In the same serving bowl, add the olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper and whisk to make a dressing.

3. Add to the bowl the tomatoes, the garbanzo, the red onions, the kalamata olives, the mozzarella (optional), the basil, and the bread.

   
   

4. Toss to thoroughly combine.

5. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed the tomato juices without losing its texture.

Enjoy!

15 Comments

Filed under Lactose Free, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian