Posted on November 5, 2014
Have you ever had a salted caramel bar? Read More
Posted on October 8, 2014
Guess what? I won 2nd prize in the savory category of pies in the 6th Annual KCRW Good Food Pie Contest for the “Mr. Fitz Pork Pie!” Thank you all dear friends for keeping your fingers crossed, it was one of the most awesome days I’ve had in years. Read More
Posted on October 3, 2014
Warning: I’m about to bombard you with pie photos. I promise recipes will follow after this weekend. Read More
Posted on June 27, 2014
I’m not sure what business apples have growing right now in Redondo Beach, CA, but when my husband texted me the other day, “Hey Sue, I just picked some apples from our school’s community garden tree, do you think you can make a pie?”, I figured, why not? I’ll make an apple-black liquorice pie and bring it to Fiesta Friday #22. Just what you would do in the middle of summer, right?
The poor fella thinks he’s getting a normal All-American apple pie, but he’s not, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. See I’ve had black liquorice on my brain ever since reading about New York’s $10 latte — the libation made with the wonderfully sweet and pungent raw Danish black liquorice powder called Lakrids, served at Budin, and I wanted to see if I could incorporate the flavor of black liquorice into a pie.
I thought since fennel paired well with apples, that the flavor of wild fennel (which I thought was the same as liquorice) would pair well with apple in a pie. Also my husband was really going to town on the black liquorice chews I’d bought for my homemade attempt at the $10 latte, so I thought he might like it in his apple pie!
It all started with our walk a couple weeks ago when we spotted acres of wild anise growing on the side of the road and the smell was making me dizzy (in a good way) . . . which led to wild fennel tea . . . and deviled eggs with fennel pollen. Then I read about the Danish liquorice latte and made one at home earlier this week.
As I was researching black liquorice, however, I was really surprised to find that it is not botanically related to fennel, even though the flavor is almost identical. The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. It is not botanically related to anise, star anise, or fennel, which are sources of similar flavouring compounds. Most liquorice is actually used as a flavoring agent for tobacco. Liquorice in candy/chew form is popular in Scandinavian countries, and in Italy (particularly in the South) and Spain in its natural form. The root of the plant is simply dug up, washed and chewed as a mouth freshener. Throughout Italy unsweetened liquorice is consumed in the form of small black pieces made only from 100% pure liquorice extract; the taste is bitter and intense. In Calabria a popular liqueur is made from pure liquorice extract. Liquorice is also very popular in Syria where it is sold as a drink.
Liquorice is reported to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including stomach ulcers, as well as bronchitis. It is also used topically to treat skin disorders such as excema and psoriasis. Moreover, liquorice extract is a known natural brightening agent for skin pigmentation disorders or irritation.
I thought the liquorice flavor, with apples, would pair nicely with a rye flour crust, so I made an all-butter crust with half whole grain rye flour (that I got, freshly milled, at San Francisco’s The Mill, a joint venture between Josey the Baker and Blue Bottle Coffee).
Here’s the Recipe:
Let the pie cool for at least 1/2 hour. Serve with raw apple slices and raw fennel fronds if you like, which nicely brightens the earthiness of the rye crust.
*Update: he liked it!
Posted on January 23, 2014
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.