Experimental cookery Sunday

May 2, 2010

As usual, Sunday is my day for kitchen experimentation.

So far, I have made pie crust dough, for the tomato pie I’ll cook later today, and I have a cheesecake just out of the oven. And later on, I’ll make the pasta with peas  and pancetta. Maybe. If I don’t save it until later this week.

I have this thing with pie crust. I don’t do it well, or at least never have, and then Pillsbury came out with those rolled-up-in-the-dairy-case numbers. But I volunteered to test this recipe for Food 52, so I’m obliged to follow it to the letter, or at least as nearly so as I can.

So….pie crust. Three cups of flour, a cup plus 5 tablespoons of butter (!) (that, my friends, is a metric assload of butter; I was almost scared), 2/3 cup water, and a teaspoon of salt.

Flour in the FoPro, butter cut in little cubes and stuck in the freezer to keep it “very cold,” as the recipe demands; whiz, whiz, whiz three or four times, until it’s all cut in. Water and salt solution that’s been sitting in the freezer, because it’s supposed to be “very cold” as well, added as the blades whir. The FoPro is the finest invention ever for making pie crust.

Then you dump it out on a floured board, , gather it up into a ball, and split it in half. Make each one of the halves into a disk about an inch thick, and refrigerate. Which is where we are right now. In a couple hours, I’ll pull one of ’em out and roll it out and pre-bake it (damn…no parchment paper….have to go to the store!) and be ready to go on to Step 2. The remaining crust will go with the one Pillsbury one I’ve got in the fridge and make chicken pot pie.

Step 2 involves slicing and draining tomatos, sauteeing onion, and cooking a half-pound of chopped up bacon, all of which are piled into the crust and topped with a mix of mayo and grated cheese, and then baked.

Sounds good. I’m anxious to try it.

The cheesecake is somewhat experimental as well. I was jonesing for cheesecake, as occasionally happens. And I had a tub of ricotta (15 ounces, so we’ll call it close enough to being a pound), no cream cheese, but I did have a can of condensed milk. So I combined a couple of recipes, and mixed the ricotta, the condensed milk, a quarter-cup of lemon juice and three eggs and poured it over a graham cracker crust (crushed graham crackers, a little sugar, melted butter), and baked it for an hour at 325. It’s a thing of beauty. I can’t testify to the taste because it’s just out of the oven, but it smells good, and the raw batter was fine.  I’ll serve it with sliced strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar, which I need to get in there and slice.

Other accomplishment of the day — I fixed the seal-a-meal! I hadn’t had it long when it quit pulling a vacuum. So it’s been stuck away in a cabinet for more than a year, until I drug it out today to see if I could make it work. I pulled out the gaskets, cleaned out the channels they go in, wiped them off, put them back, et voila! I was right proud of myself. Of course, that was after I attempted to take the damn thing apart, was unsuccessful, and figured, well, let’s try this before we throw it away.  Glad I did.

Another happy experiment this one from yesterday. I made up a big batch of ambrosia — pineapple chunks, mandarin orange sections, coconut — to eat for breakfast, lunch or whatever for the next week. Didn’t want to dump the juice from four cans of fruit, so I poured it into a glass, and then added it to about 6 cups of freshly brewed tea.

It was really somewhat too fruity — I filled a half-gallon pitcher, and it would have been about the right proportion for a gallon pitcher. Still, it was pretty doggoned good.

Cards are playing, and Carpenter just struck out the first batter on three pitches. Go ‘head on, Chris! You and y’mama ‘n ’em tune in to the game, and I’ll post pictures after while.


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