Food is good. This is something we all know. Lately we have had some good, no, great food around here and I thought I would share a few links. It has been the season of hand pies, the perfect blend of dough and filling and portable to boot. And a few other tidbits ....
Hand Pies :: A long time back I read a post about the book Mad Hungry and the easy and to-die-for pastry dough she includes. I finally got around to the dough and the chicken pot 'hand' pie recipe some time back and will forever be wishing I was eating one (I really do wish I had a hand pie right now). It is a simple dough, especially for the uninitiated pastry dough makers (as I was).
Simple to make and forgiving with the roll out, I found it easier the second time around because I knew how the dough should feel (and cared only that it make the flaky sinful goodness that I had the time before). First time, I made the recommended chicken filling, but for a different take at Easter brunch I diced ham and onion and cilantro and irish chedder and filled tiny little pockets of dough with the stuff. There are no pictures because I was literally attacked as I pulled them out of the oven. So good.
It was not enough to just have one hand pie in the arsenal so I went on to try the Rick Bayless/America's Test Kitchen Empanada recipe (in part because of the hand pie angle but also because I follow Erika's recommendations very often)(also scroll down to second recipe in the page link). This one was a winner. The dough again proved easy and has the intriguing inclusion of a cup of vodka. No idea if this does something magical but I could roll and re-roll the dough and it all tasted fine once out of the oven.
I love the savory filling of meat/olive/raisin and barely got a picture before I attacked it.
Onto Cake :: There is a cake that has lingered in the back of my brain for some time. I read a poast by Orangette about an olive oil cake last year; it had olive oil, yes, but also whole citrus fruits and ground almonds and this just seemed so right. We are peaking in the citrus season with plenty to be pulled off local trees and so the time finally came. This cake requires some time, the whole orange and lemon are simmered until soft, the almonds go into the oven to toast/roast and then require grinding.
The result is fantastic, crumbly and sweet and almond-scented and just delicious. If you want to eat cake that requires nothing but a plate and fork, this is it.
The recipe introduced my to roasting my own almonds and I now have a new addiction. The first batch of almonds came out way too 'toasted' but I was dialed in after another two batches. I noticed the almonds (which started as a bag of raw almonds) now tasted similar to the bags I buy from Trader Joe's to keep in the car for snacks. Except the raw almonds are about 1/2 the price of the prepared and now I have control over the flavor profile of my roasted almonds (flavor profile, always wanted to use that word, and yep, I have been watching that Bobby Flay chef comp thing).
My favorite so far is the brown sugar, chile powder, salt mix. I just tossed the almonds with the above and a little olive oil and baked at 350 for 6-7 minutes, shaking the pan and taking a test almond after the initial 6-7 minutes. It probably depends on your oven but I highly recommend this method of making your own delicious roasted almonds.
And now that we are hitting upon almost Summer season (and temperatures)here, I have ushered in a few new refreshing beverages. On the non-alcoholic side, a huge glass of water with tangerine rind and mint leaves. The citrus peel is sweet and refreshing with almost no bitter and the mint makes it special.
And for the occasional Friday cocktail, I suggest fresh grapefruit juice, sugar, mint and vodka. Lots of ice and a seat on the deck or patio and you are ready to go.
Okay, now I am starving. I need a hand pie. Stat.
But I really should be eating these fresh from the garden and working out more to work off the hand pies. Man, I love hand pies.
*** And Happy Mama Day to us all; we may not all be one, but we most definitely all have one. And so I wish upon all of us a wonderful day that fills up with love, no matter of where you are at in the world of Mothering ***