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Archive for February 10, 2014

VALENTINE RECIPE: Sweetie Pie Cherry Pie Pops

Our favorite baker, blogger Lauryn Cohen (a.k.a. Bella Baker), suggests pie pops for Valentine’s Day.

RECIPE: SWEETIE PIE POPS

Ingredients For Flaky Pie Crust

  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold (or frozen) and cut into 48 small pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6-7 tablespoons ice water
  •  
    Plus

  • 24 six-inch lollipop sticks
  • Optional: “Sweetie Pie” tags or red or pink ribbons
  •  
    Preparation

     

    sweetie-pie-pops-bellabaker-230

    Valentine pie pops. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     
    1. PLACE flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse peas or cornmeal. There will still be chunks of butter and that is fine.

    2. SPRINKLE the water, one or two tablespoons at a time, over the mixture and pulse a couple of times in between each addition. Test the dough by pinching it: If it holds together it is ready. If not, add some additional water until the mixture begins to clump together.

    3. REMOVE the dough from the food processor bowl and lightly knead it into two flat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead of time.

    4. REMOVE the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Sprinkle flour onto a clean work surface and, using a rolling pin, gently roll out, lifting the dough from underneath and sprinkling additional flour if the dough begins to stick slightly onto the work surface. Once the dough reaches 1/4 inch in thickness, use a 2- or 3-inch round biscuit cutter or a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the pie dough.

     

    cherry-pie-filling-chukar-230

    You can use prepared pie filling if you don’t
    want to make your own. Photo courtesy
    Chukar Cherries, which makes our favorite
    cherry pie filling.

      Cherry Filling Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 cups fresh pitted cherries in season†
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except for the vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.

    2. STIR in the vanilla extract, remove from heat and cool before using.
     
    †Out of season, use frozen cherries or buy prepared cherry filling.

     
    Ingredients For Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  •  
    To Make The Pie Pops

    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. Place half the dough circles or hearts onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place a 6 inch lollipop stick on top of each circle, pressing gently so it sticks into the dough circle, going about half way up the circle.

    2. ADD about a teaspoon of filling to each dough circle or heart and place another dough circle or heart on top. Use the tines of a fork to carefully crimp together the edges of the dough. It is important to make sure that your dough it securely closed around the entire circle so that your filling does not leak out.

    3. MAKE egg wash: Beat egg and milk/cream until combined and brush on the top of each pie pop. Bake pie pops in oven for 10-12 minutes. The crust should look golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely, then decorate with personalized tags, like the “Sweetie Pie” tags in the photo, or a pink or red ribbon.

      

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    VALENTINE COCKTAILS: Strawberry Margarita & Vodka Shooter

    Margaritas are America’s favorite cocktail. Tailor them for Valentine’s Day with a homemade Frozen Strawberry Margarita.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY MARGARITA

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 6 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • 8 ounces frozen sliced strawberries in syrup
  • 4 ounces frozen limeade concentrate
  • Ice cubes
  • Coarse salt for rim
  • Garnish: 4 fresh strawberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a blender with ice and crush. Pour in the tequila and triple sec. Add the strawberries and limeade.

    2. BLEND for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour and serve.

     

    strawberry-margarita-haru-230

    Who needs Champagne? Photo courtesy Haru Restaurant | NYC.

     
    Want something smaller? Here’s a recipe from Polar Seltzer.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SHOOTERS

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 oz Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka or vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 2-3 strawberries, chopped
  • Strawberry flavored seltzer
  • 1-2 whole strawberries
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the chopped strawberries and vodka in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and maraschino liqueur and shake.

    2. STRAIN into a glass, filling half way and then add additional strawberries. Top with Polar Seltzer and whipped cream.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Salt

    black_truffle-salt-fusion-230sq

    The more flecks of truffle, the tastier the
    salt. Black truffle salt from Fusion.

     

    The winter truffle season is nearing its end. But if you didn’t get enough (or couldn’t afford any), there’s a way to enjoy truffle flavor all year round: truffle salt.

    BLACK & WHITE TRUFFLE SALT

    To make truffle salt, small chips and bits that break off from whole truffles during handling are mixed with sea salt. Truffle salt is sea salt that has been laced with fragrant pieces of black or white truffle.

    Black truffles have earthier aroma and flavor; white truffles are lighter. Depending on the origin of the white truffles, they can have garlicky notes. Most people have a personal preference for one or the other where fresh truffles are concerned; but once salt is produced, the variations become more subtle.

    Unlike truffle oil, the flavor of which is usually synthesized*, truffle salt typically has pieces of real truffle—although the flavor may be enhanced with truffle oil.

     
    *Given the high cost of good truffles, most truffle oils are not made by infusing actual truffles but from synthetic flavors that approximate the flavors and aromas of natural truffles. Some of these truffle oils are excellent, and provide truffle flavor and aroma at an accessible price. There is nothing wrong with using synthetics; without them, there would be no truffle oil, truffle fries, most truffle risotto, etc. As a comparison, most perfumes these days are not made with distilled flower petals, but from synthetic aromas.
     

    USES FOR TRUFFLE SALT

  • Butter: sprinkle atop of a bar of butter or a ramekin of butter for the table (you can also buy ready-made truffle butter, a terrific product [read our review]
  • Cheese: on a grilled cheese sandwich, goat cheese, queso asado
  • Dessert: with anything chocolate (brownies, cookies, candies, ice cream), crème brûlée—sprinkle on top instead of sea salt
  • Eggs: in scrambled, omelet or deviled eggs, or a sprinkle on simple hard-boiled eggs
  • Fish: atop grilled fish, seared scallops
  • Meat & Tofu: atop steaks, chops or deluxe burgers
  • Olive Oil: in a dip for bread and crudités; use a pinch in a Champagne or wine vinaigrette
  • Pasta: use with any white sauce, butter or oil dressing; with mushroom ravioli
  • Pâté & Foie Gras: a natural pairing, even with chicken liver mousse
  • Potatoes & Rice: baked, fries, mashed and roasted potatoes; risotto
  • Vegetables: roasted, sautéed, steamed
  • Snacks: homemade pretzels (including cheese pretzels—recipe), hummus, popcorn
  •  

    HOW TO BUY TRUFFLE SALT

    First: truffle salt is pricey, but you only need a pinch. A jar may cost $20 or $25 but will last a long time. Don’t let the sticker shock discourage you.

    Different brands use different truffles, with varying intensities of truffle salt. Your retailer may only have one brand. A good brand of truffle salt will state the percentage of truffles on the label. Look for 5% or more.

    One brand of black truffle salt you can rely on is Cassina Rossa, imported from Italy. Urbani sells a quality white truffle salt, also imported from Italy.

    We typically bring jars as host/hostess gifts. They are much appreciated.

     

    white-black-truffle-salt-ddl-230

    Truffle salt is a great gift for a gourmet cook or foodie. Photo courtesy Dean & Deluca.

     

    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TRUFFLES

      

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