Aunt Emma's Never Fail Pie Crust

3 c sifted flour
1 1/4 c Shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt.
Combine egg, water, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon until flour is all moistened.
It can be re-rolled without toughening. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks or divide into balls enough for one pie and wrap in Saran wrap and freeze indefinitely.

Makes 2 crusts

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not Your Grandma's Boiled Potatoes!

This week we're making "Broth-Braised Potatoes" from Around My French Table with "French Fridays with Dorie". Now, I made these months ago, on my own, and found them to be laborious. This time, however, they seemed simple. Perhaps that's how far I've come in my cooking with Dorie. Didn't know it would show in my Skills with Spuds, but I like it!

Since last week's chicken recipe was such a hit, this week I decided to make another whole chicken to accompany my potatoes. I know, usually it's the other way around. That's why I chose "Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux", or Lazy People.  I figured I would be focusing on my potatoes and didn't want to fuss with a Yard Bird (as they are known in certain circles).  Oh My Gosh, you should read the text preceding the Lazy People Chicken recipe! Dorie describes using some bread to rest the chicken on in the Dutch oven and I did that.  And she's absolutely right- I ate it myself and it was amazing!!  I even gave hubby a bite and he didn't like it- haha- whole piece for me.

Basically the chicken gets rubbed inside and out with salt and pepper, stuffed with some herbs and half a head of garlic.  The other half of the garlic goes into the pot, along with more herbs, white wine, and some vegetables. I used shallots, carrots and parsnips since I was making potatoes on the stove.  You can see, this turns out GREAT!!  Another total winner. (Ahem, try to ignore the less than modest pose of my YB.  This photographer is, at times, totally inept!)

Now onto Tuber of the Week.  Basically, this is selecting your choice of potato (Dorie suggests French fingerlings, small new potatoes or cut up Yukon Gold. I chose the Yukon Gold.); then boiling them in chicken broth seasoned with herbs, lemon zest and garlic. My choice of herbs was sage from my garden. Simmer the seasoned liquid, add the potatoes and simmer until fork tender. The lovely secret to this recipe is that you remove the potatoes from that liquid, and boil it down to concentrate the flavors.  Sheerly delightful!!

Pre-Potato  Boiling liquid

Great Result: Tender, Moist and Buttery.

As Hubby Said: Definite Do-Over!
Sheerly Delicious.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In 4/4 Time

Or, How I Managed To Use Every Bowl in My Kitchen...

For all of you Pound Cake lovers, here's one for you. Dorie Greenspan's French version is called "Quartre-Quarts". I think this may come in handy someday when you visit France and see some cake in a bakery window labeled with this name. Thanks to me, you'll know exactly what you're getting! Thank me later...

Four-fourths means that, like our country's original Pound Cake recipe, the 4 main ingredients are measured equally.  You weigh your 3 eggs, then measure each: the flour, sugar and butter to weigh the same.  I like it.  But I don't have the patience to do that when Dorie has taken care of that for us. She states in Around My French Table that she had to tweak it a bit to manage the difference in American and French flours.  Now we can bake the same delicious after-school snack for our children. Except the only child I have left in school is many miles away in Pennsylvania, currently freezing her derriere. (I do have a few French words of my own. Actually stolen from the ballet classes of my youth.)  I'd like to bake this for Amazing Daughter right now!

I was delighted to read the recipe and see that Dorie gives a choice of flavorings: vanilla, dark rum or Cognac. Well... that sounded like an excuse to bring out my bottle of Armagnac!

This recipe goes together easily, including the whipping of the egg whites which, I have to say, no longer intimidates me!

I know this looks like scrambled eggs, but it's the cake batter with the whipped egg whites folded in.

Dorie instructs to scrape the batter into the pan. Scrape being the operative word. The batter is thick.  It is sprinkled with light brown sugar before baking.

 The cake is lightly golden and pulled away from the sides of the pan.

Three out of three tasters agree- absolutely delicious! 
The Armagnac lended a very slight flavor, not too sweet.
Dorie describes it as a dry cake by American standards but we didn't find it that way at all. Tender, moist and not needing any accoutrement.

Now, let me count the bowls:
2- separated eggs, yolks and whites
1- dry ingredients
1- sugar
1- brown sugar, prep bowl
1- mixer bowl for egg whites
1- bigger bowl for mixing egg yolks and sugar
1- even bigger bowl for adding dry ingredients to wet
1- yet even bigger bowl to allow room for folding in beaten egg whites

Sheesh!  Maybe I should have read the entire recipe before getting started!!

Check out the other Doristas experiences at:

Chicken Amnesiac

Okay, that's not the real name of this recipe. I did forget to blog though, so perhaps the French Armagnac carries with it some amnesic effects?  I'm going to go with that.

Last Week's recipe chosen for my online cooking group at was called "M. Jacques' Armagnac Chicken".  If you're like me you'd never heard of Armagnac- a French spirit, distilled (aka highly alcoholic), not unlike Cognac, whiskey and bourbon.  Dorie explains all about it (she really, really likes it!) in her book Around My French Table. Armagnac is made from three types of white grapes, aged in oak, in the area of Three Musketeers fame, Gascony, in the Southwest of France.  It is most often enjoyed, just as Cognac, as a digestive after dinner.

Well guess what, MY local supermarket does not carry this particular alcoholic beverage.  Peasants!  I did find a selection though, at that high-end purveyor of fine spirits, Total Wine. Yee-Haw.  Had to open the bottle and try it when I got home. Oh Yum!

Dorie was offered this recipe by her friend, Jacques, a maitre d'hotel of a brasserie in Paris. (Right about now I'm wishing I'd taken French class in high school...) We should all be so lucky. 

One lovely organic chicken is baked with new potatoes, carrots, lots of onions, thyme and rosemary from my garden, a bay leaf, fresh ground salt and white pepper.

We are directed to cook the veggies in oil on the stove, season, add the herbs, cook a little longer and then shove them to the sides of the pot to make room for the bird.

Oh and the Armagnac. Which may or may not have been sipped during the preparation of this recipe. Kids, do not try this at home. At least until after all the veg are cut up. Just sayin'.

Then the covered pot goes into a hot oven for an hour. I added 10 minutes because my bird was larger than the recipe called for, weighing in at almost 5 lb.

Remove the chicken, keep it warm. Add a little water and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.  I have to say, it smells AMAZING.
I don't know, but I wouldn't say my chicken turned out like Dorie's: beautifully browned.  I'd say it was more like tan.  However, mine was thoroughly cooked yet delightfully juicy and tender.

Une petite merveille indeed. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yeasty Bubbles for 2012

2012 bells ring in with "Bubble-Top Brioches" for French Fridays with Dorie and our cooking projects from her book, Around My French Table. What better way to ring in the new year than with bubbles?  How appropriate.

Magical Yeast
When I read how the dough should look and act in the mixer, I knew I was headed for success:
This is, as Dorie describes, my shaggy, fairly dry mass of yeast moistened in warm milk and water and a dry mixture of flour and salt

Beaten eggs going in, one at a time.

Now it gets interesting: A STICK AND A HALF OF BUTTER going in a little at a time, beating until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

After about 10 minutes, the dough begins to climb up the dough hook, just like Dorie said it would. 
Weird Science!
After a few rounds of slapping and rising, the lovely dough gets to rest overnight in the refrigerator.  Sounds like torture, but I swear yeast are plants and have no feelings.

Day 2, the magic continues...
The chilled dough is divided to make 12 rolls. Each piece is divided and made into 3 balls. They rise to fill the muffin cups:

Once brushed with an egg/water mixture the rolls are baked and eaten. That's it!

Okay, that's not "it". Prepare to drool...

I'm very sorry but Smellavision hasn't been invented yet...