Apple Galette

Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on me this year. I’ve been anticipating it since early October but I’m still shocked it’s actually next week! I’m even more shocked because I have nothing planned yet, which is SO not me. By now, my mom and I usually already have our game plan down, with only last minute things on the grocery list. We don’t even have a turkey yet! What makes it worse is that I’m already getting ready for Christmas, which totally goes against the traditionalist in me that doesn’t skip over holidays. I don’t know, but the holidays so far have thrown me for a loop.

Besides the fact I have nothing planned, I at least have a quick and awesome dessert option for you semi-traditionalists. This isn’t your traditional apple pie, but is delicious in its own right.

Apple Tart 1

Part of what attracted me to making a galette, aside from it being an apple dessert, is its simplicity. If you can make pie crust, you can make this galette. Even if you can’t make pie crust, you can still make this galette. No fancy equipment is needed to make this, which is awesome, and is super quick to put together.

The other thing that attracted me to this galette? The fact that it’s free form. I don’t yet own a pie dish (gasp!). It’s true, I don’t have one. I’ve mentioned it before but we’re just not pie people. No matter how hard I try to get my folks to appreciate pie, it just won’t happen. I guess that’s just one of those American things that’ll never stick at the table at my house. Sad because pie is awesome but there’s not much I can do there. The only thing I own relatively close to a pie pan is a tart pan. The issue there is that it’s pretty big, which is hard to use when most pies and tarts are usually 9 inches in diameter. This is where the galette saves the day. After making the crust, you just roll it out as far as you can, place it on a lined baking sheet, pile the apples on top and fold up the edges. That’s it! No matter how ugly you think it looks, it will come out beautiful and rustic looking. I love it when desserts aren’t intentionally pretty; makes the homemade factor look even more appealing.

Apple Tart 4

Speaking of the crust, it’s super easy to make. No food processor required at all. Sure, it’s handy but you can easily make this crust without it. To cut in the butter, you can either use a dough cutter, a pair of forks, or your hands. I opted for my hands but any of the above works fine. I also subbed half the flour with whole wheat for some nuttiness and pseudo healthiness.

Now, let’s talk about the apples for a minute. For this galette, your apples need to be thinly sliced. You don’t need fancy equipment to make this happen but if you want all slices to be even, break out your mandoline (or handoline, like we did last week) for slicing. I freehanded the slicing this time, because I don’t think evenness is necessary here. You can also artistically lay the slices onto the crust to make it look even fancier, but I just piled them in.

Apple Tart 3

The result is this lovely and rustic dessert that didn’t take too much time or effort to make. The crust is nutty and crunchy against the soft and tart apples. A dessert this simple is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Not much thought or effort goes into it, and it looks super pretty and like you spent a ton of time on it. No one has to know it was that easy 😉

Apple Tart 2

Apple Galette – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough: 

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons chilled water

Filling:

  • 2 pounds apples (I used Granny Smith), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • Cores and peels from sliced apples

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer, using a dough cutter, with forks, or your hands until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter and mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
  2. Drizzle in the water, stir, then drizzle in more until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and let sit out for a couple of minutes, until the dough is malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
  4. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Heat oven to 400°F. Toss sliced apples with 4 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon.
  5. Place the apples on dough, either rustically or in a ring 2 inches from edge; continuing inward until you reach the center. Fold over the dough edges back onto itself, at about one inch intervals until the galette is ‘closed.’
  6. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge.
  7. Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown, about 45 minutes, making sure to rotate galette every 15 minutes.
  8. For the glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth or sieve.
  9. Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes before glazing, slicing, and serving.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I originally sprinkled the sugar (as per the original recipe) onto the apples, but will toss them in sugar in the future. I found it wasn’t sweet enough but if you like your galettes on the tart side, stick to sprinkling. 
  • The galette is best served slightly warm. Even better with ice cream and a side of whipped cream. Just sayin’.

 

Advertisements

Key Lime Pies in Jars for Two

We are not pie people. We’re Dominican, and pies aren’t a thing over there. In fact, my folks were introduced to pie here in the U.S. Luckily, while I do consider myself Dominican, I am American by default. I am forever trying to tie American culture with our Dominican heritage and most of the time, I fail. They’re just not used to those kinds of things; like that one time where I tried to have a “traditional” Thanksgiving dessert by adding a pie to the dinner table. It did not go over well, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying such desserts.

IMG_4126A

My folks were away for the past two weeks, leaving my sister and I to hold our own. It was fun and exciting to be “living alone” for two weeks, especially since we aren’t kids anymore. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen while they were gone, both messing around and actually cooking meals. I took the helm, making dinner several times for us when I wasn’t working. I even butchered (like, really butchered) a whole chicken on my own! I took advantage of the fact that they were gone to make stuff I’d been dying to eat.

Key lime pie has always sounded delicious to me. The older I got, the more I found I wanted to try it. It was number two on my grand list of desserts to try, but I ended up making that first. I saw this recipe somewhere on the internet the other day and was inspired. Like most of my decisions lately, this one began with a “fuck it.” It’s one of the ways I’ve been going about my decisions lately; considering I tend to procrastinate things I really wanna do. With that said, I made the pies.

KeyLimePieJars

I don’t know about you, but things in jars are just ten times more adorable. I have a few jars in my possession already but they’re all being used for other stuff. This meant I had to buy more jars; a labor of love, even if it may have hurt my pocket a little bit. I went to Sur la Table for the very first time, and I absolutely loved it! I went to the only one in the city and immediately fell in love upon walking in. I gotta be honest, I had been avoiding this trip for the longest because I knew I was gonna love it. The worst thing is going shopping with basically zero dollars, so I put it off as long as I could. I’m glad I went because I will no doubt will be back (with actual dollars in my pockets) to buy all of the things.

Jars in hand, it was pie time. This recipe is super simple and straightforward. I halved it so I could make just two jars. I’m the only dairy/pie eating fiend here, so the less the better. I tried looking for smaller cans of sweetened condensed milk but I couldn’t locate a can, so I used half of a regular can. After 15 minutes in the oven, and two and a half long hours of cooling and chilling, I got to try this pie for the first time. It is SO GOOD. The lime offsets the sweetness from the sweetened condensed milk, and the salty-ish crust adds crunch and a change of flavor.

IMG_4130A

I went to town on one of the jars immediately, and am holding on to the other one. My favorite thing about this dessert is the jar. It’s portable, meaning it’s perfect for picnics and romantic desserts for two. Or you could eat them both; no one’s around and I won’t tell 😉

Key Lime Pies in Jars for Two – adapted from Kitchen Treaty

Makes two small jars

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (about three graham cracker rectangles)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 7oz sweetened condensed milk (from a 14oz can)
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from 1-3 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
  • 1 egg yolk

Topping: 

  • 1-2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-3 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lime zest and lime slices for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the empty jars on a baking sheet.
  2. For the crust: crush the graham crackers in a resealable plastic bag with a rolling pin, or run the crackers through your food processor. Add the sugar and salt, and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and mix until moistened. Divide the graham cracker mixture equally between the jars. Do not compress the crust into the jars as you would a regular graham cracker crust; it’ll be difficult for the crust to come out of the jar with a spoon. Set aside.
  3. For the filling: zest and juice your limes in a medium sized bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir. Once combined, whisk in the egg yolk until mixture is homogenized.
  4. Divide the filling equally among the jars and bake on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool jars on a rack for about 30 minutes, then move to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or until completely chilled.
  5. Once chilled, make the whipped cream by mixing the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft-medium peaks form. Top the pies with the cream, and garnish right before serving.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • If you find small cans of sweetened condensed milk (lucky!) by all means, use them. If not, half a 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk is a little over 1/2 cup. If you’re a stickler for accuracy (like I am), weigh out the 7oz using a food scale
  • Jars will keep in the fridge for up to three days (if they last that long); just top and garnish before serving
  • Before baking, make sure your jars are clean, oven safe, and do not have any chips or cracks anywhere on the surface

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Happy Independence Day! Well, not yet but I do like to get ahead of myself sometimes. I know for a fact that there will be cookouts, parties, potlucks, and all other kinds of celebrations going on this weekend. It’s fabulous that people gather to celebrate a common thing, surrounded by patriotism and a ton of food. There’s nothing more American than burgers and hot dogs, potato salad, and pie!

IMG_3776A

I think that in my entire lifetime, I’ve only been to one or two 4th of July cookouts. We live in the city, which is not exactly optimal for a barbecue. The few times we did end up going to one (if I remember correctly), we went to a family member’s house in Jersey. It has been a ferociously long time since we went to one of those, and I kinda miss it.

Granted, at a Dominican family’s 4th party, there’s a lot of variations to the kinds of foods served. Yeah, there are burgers and hot dogs, but there are also other kinds of grilled meat, at least three different kinds of rice dishes, potato salad (like the one I had for Christmas and Thanksgiving), and probably cake. I might be missing some items but that’s basically the gist of it. Noticeably absent from this list is the pie. As a culture, we don’t really do pie. I kind of touched on that in my Thanksgiving post, but it’s not something we have or make. Dominicans are cake people; which is why pound cakes are super popular at these things.

In an attempt to at least feel like I’m going to a barbecue, I made these bars. It’s kinda like pie but portable, easier, less messy, and possibly more delicious. While we as a culture don’t really do pie, I try to. I’ve had the trifecta of pie before: apple, cherry, and blueberry; my favorite being the cherry. I may be Dominican by blood but I was born on American soil (somewhere in DR, my uncle is inexplicably angry at this statement haha), and I like partaking in some American traditions. I’m not gonna necessarily go all out this Friday, but at least I’ll have something sort of “on topic” to eat.

These bars are so easy to make, you don’t even need a mixer! It’s basically a mix and dump kind of situation. The most labor intensive part of this recipe is the crust. Actually, it’s the only part of the recipe that requires a process. To try to make things a little simpler, I decided to freeze and grate the butter in. I briefly touched on this in my last post but basically, this is kind of a shortcut to cutting in butter with a fork or pastry cutter. I don’t have one of those and find that forks or using my hands can make the butter too warm and clumpy. So, I froze my sticks of butter for a couple hours and used a box grater to grate it in. Yes, the grating part is a little messy, as the butter starts softening up but I still find it easier than using forks to mash up butter cubes. If you hate cleaning up box graters, this shortcut isn’t for you! After grating, you can just stir it in the dry ingredients to coat and that’s it! The mix looks crumbly, just like if you cut in the butter the usual way.

IMG_3806A

I have to say, even if I wasn’t going to a party this weekend; these bars are perfect for the occasion. The crust is buttery and crumbly, with a little freshness from the lemon zest. The blueberries are naturally sweet, and a little tart from the addition of the lemon juice. Besides them being super easy and super delicious, they’re also portable. So if you are partying this weekend and need a one handed dessert, this is it!

IMG_3799A

Blueberry Crumb Bars – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) frozen, unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 pints (4 cups) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Grate the frozen butter, using the large hole shredder, into the bowl. Add the beaten egg, and mix with a rubber spatula until coated and incorporated. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another large bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • This recipe is easily adaptable to whatever fruit you may have on hand; cherries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, etc. 

DIY Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Pie Spice

Now that Halloween is over, we can all concentrate on the next holiday in the lineup: Thanksgiving. The following day after Halloween, I saw an onslaught of Christmas stuff everywhere. Ads are already popping up on TV, big toy books from Target and Toys R Us have landed at my door, and the seasonal aisle in my local drugstore is decked out in red, white, and green. Honestly, I’m not ready for this Christmas explosion! People are getting too ahead of themselves in preparing for the biggest shopping season of the year, but let’s concentrate on turkey day.

I love the hype around Thanksgiving, even if it is a small amount. The hype I do hear, is all about the food and the preparations behind them. Planning a meal worthy of this holiday takes a lot of time; there’s invites, place settings, decorations, and of course, the menu. Most people start prepping and planning as early as possible, even as soon as the beginning of the month. One of the biggest items on the list what can be prepared in advanced and how far in advance can it be prepared. Instead of relying on a last minute purchase of canned pumpkin, why not make it yourself this year?

IMG_1070

Homemade pumpkin puree is a seriously easy process that can be done well in advanced, and can get you more bang for your buck. I used Ree’s (aka The Pioneer Woman) instructions as a guide. First, buy yourself a sugar pumpkin. I got my medium sized pumpkin at my local farmer’s market for $2. Make sure it is a sugar pumpkin and not a pumpkin used for carving or decoration!

IMG_1003

Now that the pumpkin has been acquired, it’s time to get to work. Preheat your oven at 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Grab your cutting board and a large knife. If your pumpkin has a little dirt, you can wash it off but don’t worry too much about it because we’re going to peel it later anyway.

IMG_1005

Grab your knife and carefully slice the pumpkin into two halves. What I should’ve done here was cut the stem off, but I didn’t. You should cut the stem off first; it’ll make cutting it in two a lot easier. Now that your pumpkin is halved, use a large spoon to remove all the pumpkin guts and seeds. Save this stuff! We’re going to harvest the seeds to roast later.

At this point, your pumpkin should be rid of it’s innards. You can also cut the pumpkin into quarters for easier roasting (you may need another baking sheet, if you do). Put the pumpkin halves face down on the prepped sheet and bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. It’s done when a fork can easily slide into the pumpkin.

IMG_1011

While the pumpkin’s baking, sift through the guts for all the seeds! This is slightly tedious but pepitas are awesome, so get your hands dirty! After getting all the seeds, give them a rinse. Gently dry them with a paper towel before drizzling in a bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper. Spread your seeds out on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop them in the oven. I’d say give them about 10-12 minutes, but please watch them so they don’t burn! Once cooled, you should have a lovely, and delicious snack!

After checking your pumpkin for doneness (with the fork, remember?), remove from the oven and let cool.

IMG_1026

While that’s cooling, let’s talk pumpkin pie spice. A lot of people serve pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, deliciously so, and one of the main ingredients besides the pumpkin is it’s signature spice. This is the stuff that drives people nuts during the fall, mostly in those pumpkin spice latte things from coffee chains. What most don’t realize is that this signature spice mix is simply a combination of things you probably already have in your pantry! Instead of shelling out close to $8 for a tiny bottle, a quick Google search, led me to this recipe from Joy the Baker.

Pumpkin pie spice is basically a mix of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger (and cardamom, if you got it). This is as easy as measuring out the spices, and mixing it in an empty spice jar. All you need is 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/2 a teaspoon of each: ground cloves, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg. Joy also adds a big pinch of cardamom (or mace), add it in if you have it. Pop all these in the empty spice jar and give it a healthy shake. Make sure all the spices are incorporated, and you’ve got pumpkin pie spice! So easy, and so affordable!

Now that we have pumpkin pie spice and pepitas, let’s get back to the pumpkin.  Grab your knife and cut your halves into quarters (if you haven’t already). Gently slide the knife under the pumpkin’s soft and tender skin. Cut your peeled pumpkin into chunks, and discard the skins.

And now, we puree. Place your chunks in the food processor and puree until the chunks resemble baby food. Periodically, scrape the sides down with a spatula. This may take several batches, depending on the size of your food processor. I have a mini prep, so mine took forever. When all of the chunks have been pureed, you’re done! Bask in the pumpkin-y glory you have now created! At this point, you can store it in jars, containers, tupperware, plastic bags, whatever you have that has a lid and can be frozen or refrigerated. This golden stuff should last a few weeks in the fridge, months if you freeze it. But we all know that if there’s pumpkin in the house, pumpkin things will be made! Just make sure to save some for your Thanksgiving pie!

Pumpkin Puree tutorial – slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Pumpkin Pie Spice – adapted from Joy the Baker

Makes about 2 tablespoons

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Blend all of the spices together, making sure to work through any lumps. Store in an old spice jar.