This week’s Random Moment of Delight is two photos: one of my husband’s face when he saw the Monster Apple Dumpling I made for breakfast on this National Pie Day, January 23, 2014, the other of the little monster itself. I love the idea of cataloguing random moments of delight in one’s life because I think it can transform one’s mind into a state of expecting, looking for, and then creating delight and wonder. When I look at the photo of my husband it makes me happy because I remember how happy and surprised he was. Cooking as a means of showing love, affection and all things good and cozy runs deep in my family; with some it may go underappreciated, but with my husband, not so! Since he didn’t grow up in a food-centric household, he is amazed at every turn when good homemade food appears. As for the subject food, the photo of the dumpling engenders all kinds of fond feelings from me because once upon a time in 2005 I worked in a booth at the Kern County Fair making, among other delights, Apple Dumplings. I stood for hours in the sweltering dusty heat of Bakersfield baking and serving dumpling after dumpling after dumpling, boiling caramel sauce, whipping and dolloping fresh cream, but boy was it worth the work when the day ended and me and my fellow booth workers dived into the leftovers! As former food jobs go, it sure beat my days in a supermarket deli impaling raw chickens and frying chimichangas!
Finally, the recipe I used for the dumplings I adapted from Jun Belen’s wonderful food blog which is, in a word, delightful. Not an ounce of snobiness or rarified air going on in his blog! And when I say adapted, I mean loosely adapted. His recipe calls for 2 pie disks to make 8 dumplings, I used 1 disk to make 1 dumpling. Yes, the apple was giant, but we like a thick crust at my house. That’s one whole pie crust my husband got this morning. Here’s my recipe:
1 giant apple (I used Kiku, but you can use Fuji, Granny Smith, any apple, really)
1 recipe pie dough (see below)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Peel and core the apple
2. Sprinkle apple with 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3. Roll out pie dough into a large circle, place apple at the center and fold pie dough over and around the dumpling, pinching at the top to secure.
4. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, then bake for another 20 – 25 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. Pour sauce over dumpling and enjoy!
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sugar
4 dates, pitted (preferably Barhi, but you can easily use soft medjools), mashed with the back of a spoon
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
pinch water, plus more as needed
1. Melt butter and sugar gently over medium heat
2. Add dates, water and spices and whisk to incorporate into a semi-smooth paste. Pour over dumpling!
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted chilled butter, or a combination of butter and lard
3 Tbsp ice water or more as needed
1. Add flour, sugar and salt together.
2. Chop chilled (frozen works very well) butter into small pieces and add to flour.
3. Slowly add the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, stir with a spoon, and gather up with your hands and form into a ball. Work quickly and don’t handle too much in order to keep butter chilled.
3. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour for a couple of minutes.