Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crust making demystified

After and extended hiatus I have finally returned to the world of blogging - and it feels so good to be back! As much as I love love LOVE blogging I got momentarily swept away by work, family, friends and all the other beautiful intricacies of life. I'm sure you all know what that sometimes feels like.

I however, come back bearing good - wait, let me take that back - GREAT news. During my sabbatical, if you will, I have become and American citizen! YAY! Wooohoooo!!!! It has been such a long, windy and sometimes challenging process that it still hasn't quite sunken in yet. There were definitely times I thought this day would never come. After being here for so long I have always felt like an American deep down inside but for it to be finally official feels pretty darn incredible!

Me outside the courthouse in New Haven, about to be sworn in :)

Now that I have shared some of my good news with you, back to the food. Even though I've been gone for a bit, I don't want you all to think that my blog has become crusty. So I thought it would only be appropriate if I dedicated this entry to crust - pie crust to be specific. And in keeping with the theme, is there anything more Americana than pie??? Now, I know that crust for some can be sort of a mystery. I used to feel that way too, but I discovered it doesn't have to be. I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network one day and saw that she was using a food processor to make her pie crust. I had never tried that before and thought that it looked easy enough. At that point I had nothing to lose - all my other methods were less than desirable. Well, lo and behold, it was easy breezy! I have since then used this recipe a bunch and it has always come out beautifully. I use it for all kind of things: pies, tarts and chicken potpie to name a few. I use it all the time to make tarts because it is soooo easy and super delish! So here it goes:

For the crust:
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Pulse a few times to mix the dry ingredients together. Then add
  • 12 tablespoons of very cold butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup of shortening
Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour 1/2 cup of ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I have found that I could keep the dough in the fridge up to 2 weeks. This recipe makes enough dough to cover a 13" by 18" cookie sheet, or 3 open-faced pies / tarts.

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes I roll it out, butter a pie dish and line it with the dough. For the topping, I have used anything from peaches, plums and apples. For my go to tart I use about 3 tablespoons of my mother's blackberry jam to cover the bottom of the crust. I then slice enough plums and peaches to cover the jam in a scalloping manner. I then take about 3 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle it on top. I have also used this recipe without any jam and it came out just as delish. When I use apples for this, I like to use cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top.

To finish it, I top the tart with about 6-8 tablespoon of cubed butter before it goes in the oven at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. Baking times will vary depending on how ripe the fruits are and what kind you are using.

I know it seems like a lot of instructions - but trust me this is easy breezy and your guest will be so impressed. Top it with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and you are golden!

Happy eating!!


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