Triple Berry Slab Pie

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When was the last time that you did something that made you really, really, REALLY proud of yourself?

I remember the first time I tied my own shoes when I was a little girl; for a six year old, it was literally one of those moments when it seems like the clouds part and a ray of sunshine shines just on you. I was walking on air from that for days.

I played the lead in an 8th grade musical (“Once on This Island”, in case there are any theater nerds out there like me) and when the sound system suddenly and unexpectedly cut out, I sang my solo song completely accappella. And I nailed it. Got an ovation and everything. That made me feel pretty good.

I made Dean’s List for nearly every semester of my undergrad college years…all while holding down 2-3 jobs (I have no idea how I did this now that it’s over, by the way).

My mom has a specific, rare smile that when she gives me, makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything in the world.

There’s nothing wrong with having those moments of pride; most people spend too much time obsessed with the things that they haven’t done, or are doing wrong. I think we should think more about the things that we’re actually doing right. So why don’t we try to think of the last moment of extreme pride or satisfaction that we had because of something we did. Think of it, then give yourself a pat on the back. Do your own little personal victory dance. Go ahead- you deserve it.

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These days, most of my moments of pride or self-congratulations come from me doing something new and intimidating in the kitchen, so this exercise is pretty easy for me to do. I was proud the first time I cooked something that came out of a box. I was proud when I first made a yeast bread. I was proud when I first made my grandma’s caramel cake (just WAIT until I share that one with you all, you will die, go to Heaven, then come back to life just to eat it again. No, I’m serious.). Doing new things in the kitchen is such an easy stroke to my ego- there’s no shame in my game about that, either. It’s most likely the reason that I try to do it often.

This is one of those things that I’ve done that just made me feel friggin fantastic about myself, to the point where I felt like I had to share it with you. I’m still giving myself victory dances, high fives, pats on the back and major props for pulling this recipe off, guys. Not just because of how it tastes (which is enough on its own, believe me), it’s also because this is the very first time that I made my own from scratch pie-crust. A very big pie crust at that. As in a 15 x 10 inch double layer pie crust.

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Pie crust may seem like it’s not that big of a deal to pull off from scratch, but anyone who’s made one before will tell you that it’s actually more complicated than it sounds. Like biscuits, pie dough has to be handled with finesse and care, or there’s a huge potential to ruin it. Which is probably why I’ve avoided it so stubbornly for such a long time. Then I saw this article on Buzzfeed featuring something called ‘slab pie’ that basically changed everything for me.

I had never heard of baking a pie into a sheet pan before, but it seemed (and looked) like a fantastic idea. I mean, just say it out loud will you: Slaaaaaab… Piiiiiie. Doesn’t the sound of it just make you want a huge, thick slab of it all to yourself (pun intended)?

I certainly felt that way. Slab Pie was calling my name. I had to answer. The problem was, I would need a whole LOT of pie crust to pull it off- and I didn’t really feel like buying a whole bunch of store-bought pre-made pie crusts, then trying to roll them all together to make two 15 x 10 inch layers for both top and bottom of the pie. Not when I knew it would be cheaper and more efficient to just try to make them on my own.

I know that by now, you probably want some of this pie. You’re probably thinking about how much of the ingredients you already have at home. If you’ve never made pie crust before, you’re probably wondering if it’s really that difficult to pull off, or that easy to mess up. It’s okay guys. I’ve been in your shoes before. Let me walk you through this.

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that the single most important thing you can do in making  pie crust from scratch is this: freeze your butter.

Let me repeat: freeze… your…butter. Throw it in the freezer overnight. Leave it there until the very moment you’re ready to handle it. Don’t take it out an hour before you want to make the crust to ‘thaw’ or soften. It’s not necessary. All you’ll need to do with it, is use a box grater, then run the ice cold sticks of butter over the large grating grill so that it comes out the other side in solid, curly strands. These strands are going to become your best friends. Why? Because they’re what’s going to keep your pie crust nice and flakey to the point where it will melt in your mouth after it’s done baking, that’s why.. After the butter is grated, the pie crust is pretty simple to put together. If you’re not using a food processor, I would also recommend using a rubber spatula to work the dough together, as hands conduct unnecessary heat into the dough.

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Guys, this pie came out so good. Really, it did. The making of the pie crust was a little extra labor, but me and my entire family all agree: it was well worth the result. And even though the recipe yields a lot, I still wouldn’t be surprised if you still ran out of it. This is one of those foods that you don’t want to share. You just want to hog it all to yourself to make sure you get as much as possible. Could be why I’ve already made this twice: a triple berry version, as well as an all raspberry version. Both were delicious. Both are all long gone. Guess it’s gonna be time for me to make another one pretty soon, huh? I’m thinking caramel apple. Or maybe strawberry rhubarb. Or how about sour cherry?

I think my favorite part of slab pie is that the recipe makes so much- it’s perfect for a large crows for a barbecue, dinner party, or gathering. So, I’ve decided to bring this over to Fiesta Friday- hope you guys enjoy it. (I told you last week you’d need yoga pants, didn’t I? ;-))

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Triple Berry Slab Pie

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups ice water

For the Filling

  • 6 cups of fresh or frozen berries (I used 2 cups each of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

2. With machine running, add 1 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix. Divide dough into 2 disks; wrap each tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight) .

3. Preheat oven to 400°. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, and lemon zest and juice.

4. On a floured work surface, roll out 1 disk to a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Place in a 10-by-14-by-1-inch rimmed jelly-roll pan. Pour in berry filling, then lightly brush edges of crust with water.

5. On floured surface, roll out second disk to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle and lay over berry filling; press along moistened edges to seal. Fold overhang under, tucking it into pan, and crimp edges. With a paring knife, cut slits on top to vent

6. Place pie in oven, then reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature

 

 

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Dothraki Flat Bread

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Game of Thrones Series Week #6

Even though there was no new Game of Thrones shown last week, I still wanted to post a new recipe today for the series we’ve got going on for it now. I’m having that much fun with this whole making themed food thing. It kinda makes me sad that the season will be over soon…

When I first picked this recipe out, I was a little worried about writing the post because I wouldn’t have an episode to recap and review. I didn’t know what the heck I would be talking to you guys about if I couldn’t be talking about the previous week’s episode. I thought that I wouldn’t have something interesting to talk about.

And then, I made the flatbread. And guys, do I have a story for you.

The official, published title of this post is “Dothraki Flatbread”, but for the sake of the story that’s about to come, I’m gonna go ahead and add a little subtext to that:

“Dothraki Flatbread (And That One Time When Jess Set Her Oven on Fire)”

Yep, you read that right. While making this flatbread, my oven literally caught on fire. Twice.

Curious to hear what happened? Just keep reading.

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I decided to make flat bread for a couple of reasons: first of all, I friggin love the stuff. Chewier and fluffier than traditional pita bread, is flat bread is cooked over very high heat until it puffs up and browns on either side. Then it’s brushed with melted butter and herbs and served warm. I’ve wanted to make some of my own for a while (just to see if I could), and as I was pondering this, it occurred to me that it would be a recipe that I could work into my GoT series. Although Khal Drogo and the Dothraki are far behind Daenerys by now in the television series, I didn’t see any reason why I could include a recipe in my blog series that was dedicated to them. Flat bread’s (or by it’s traditional name, naan) origins are in Asian and Indian cuisines, and I can’t help but think that in George R. R. Martin’s imaginary world, the Dothraki are meant to represent an ‘Asian’/”Ethnic’ culture. I could get into another conversation about that, but instead. I’ll just stay on topic with the story of what happened with the flat bread.

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Okay, so when I was researching cooking techniques and methods of making flat bread, I saw that there were three ways of doing this: making it over a grill, frying it on a stove top, and baking it on a pizza stone in the oven. I’m a lousy griller, so the first option was automatically out. In order to choose between the final two options, I read through some past reviews of other cooks that had made it themselves at home to see what results it yielded for them. Here’s the thing, guys: almost every single review I read (seriously, just about every one) said that frying the flat bread over the stove would make your kitchen/house VERY smoky and set off all your smoke alarms and would take forever to clear out. (The skillet needs to be very VERY hot in order to cook the bread properly) On the other hand, everyone that baked their flat bread in the oven on a baking/pizza stone (again at a very high heat, like 500 degrees hot) said that it resulted in little to no smoke at all, and everything turned out easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

What would you all have done if you were in my situation and shoes?

Naturally, you would’ve chosen the baking stone option, right? I mean, what reason would you have to doubt that anything would happen to go wrong for you, when it had gone so well for everyone else? My thoughts exactly.

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In retrospect, there are a few things that I probably would’ve done differently. First, I should have put a sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Second, I probably shouldn’t have brushed the melted butter over the bread while it was still in the oven on the pizza stone. I suspect that it could have avoided all the drama that ensued. Unfortunately, I didn’t do either of those things, so here’s what happened:

I’ve never turned my oven up that high before besides when using the broiler. I wasn’t prepared for how hot it got. It got really, really, REALLY hot. When I placed the naan on the pizza stone for it’s cooking on the first side, it began to smoke a little from how hot it was. That concerned me a little, but I still let it go on doing it’s thing. The real problems started when I brushed the butter on the bread and flipped it. The butter began sliding off the bread and onto the pizza stone…then off and onto the scalding hot bottom of the oven. Butter and intense heat makes grease spots. Really, really, really, REALLY hot grease spots make the “f word”.

You see where I’m going with this?

So yeah, I ignited a fire in my oven. Well, maybe not a fire. More like a big flame. A brief one. It flashed for like two seconds. I screamed. It disappeared. It flared again. I screamed again. Then when it went out, I immediately turned off the oven, removed the pizza stone and put it into the sink with the half-cooked naan still on it. Then I went and sat my shaking, sweaty, frustrated self in a chair for a while to try and calm down.

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Fast forward about 20 minutes later. Me and my older sister have opened up the sliding glass door by the kitchen all the way and have recruited every fan in the house in the effort of blowing out the smoke that has accumulated as a result of my flat bread fiasco. I’m in the middle of a mini-meltdown, ready to throw up my hands and write myself off as the worst cook ever, repeatedly and frantically apologizing and shaking my head (the way I always do when I mess something up in the kitchen). My older sister is patiently and confidently assuring me that it’s not that big a deal, I’m not a bad cook, and the smoke really is going to be all cleared out of the room in about an hour. She also suggests that I try just finishing the rest of the flat breads on a skillet over the stove.

Well, I did. And guess what? Little to no smoke at all. It took about ten minutes, flat. How bout them apples? Don’t ever let me find the people from the reviews who said that baking it on a pizza stone was easier. It will not end well for them.

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Like I said, the fire probably could have been prevented if I had taken the extra precautions with the sheet pan and holding off on brushing on the butter. All the same, I’m still going to be making my flat bread on a skillet on the stove from here on out. Fires are for losers, and the clean up in the aftermath is no fun.

I’m in no hurry to repeat the process of scrubbing out my oven with cleaner, rinsing it out with vinegar & lemon juice, THEN baking lemon and orange peels in it for over and hour just to get rid of the fumes.

So yeah: how was you guys weekend? Anything more eventful than a fire?

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

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Dothraki Flatbread

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  •  1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground basil
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.

2. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.

3. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

4. Punch down dough. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, minced garlic and basil. Set aside.

6. During the second rising, heat a cast iron skillet or regular, non stick pan over high heat. Make sure you have a lid large enough to fit the  skillet.

7. Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your flatbreads, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it. Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble. Brush top of flatbread with melted butter.

8. After about 1 minute, flip the flatbread. It should be blistered and somewhat blackened. Brush cooked side with the butter, then cover the skillet with the lid and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more.

9. Place the flatbread in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the flatbreads.

 

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Blackberry Jam- Filled Muffins

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Hey guys. Let’s talk about forgetfulness for a few minutes. What are the types of things that we can forget?

I forget things when shopping at the grocery store (for some reason, it’s almost always the mouthwash. I ALWAYS forget to to buy the mouthwash. Don’t ask why, cause I don’t know).

Sometimes I forget to send in my monthly check for 1 of my latest student loan payments (which is actually really bad and you think I would’ve learned my lesson by now, but I think it’s an unconscious desire on my part to stick my tongue out at the Powers That Be that make education so ridiculously expensive these days).

I took Arabic as a second language in college for 3 years. Anyone who’s ever learned a foreign language outside of their native one knows that the key to getting really good is retention. It’s been a while since I was learning it 7 days a week and taking exams on it every two weeks or so and needless to say, I’ve forgotten more than a few things of what I learned of that lovely language. Don’t get me wrong, I can still read and write it phonetically, but my translation skills are very rusty.

I also forget to do laundry. And dishes.

….and who am I kidding? No one really forgets to do laundry and dishes, I just pretend to forget them sometimes because I don’t feel like doing them. Don’t act like you’ve never done it before.

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I’ve got a question for some of my fellow bloggers out there: am I the only one who will make a dish, take all the pictures in a photo shoot, and even eat all of the food, but then just set aside the actual post to put on ‘for later’ in favor of another post, the end up forgetting about it by mistake? I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one who does that. I’d feel kinda silly if I was, so please go ahead and tell me in the Comments section that it’s happened to you before. Seriously, tell me if you’ve done this before.

Why am I asking you this? Well, because that’s kinda what I did with this recipe. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I made the scrumptious Blackberry Jam for the ‘Scandal’ series? If you don’t, or just weren’t following my blog when I posted it, go ahead and check it out, cause not only is it bomb.com, it’s also featured in this recipe that I may or may not have made a while ago and accidentally forgot to put up on the blog.

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But, if I had forgotten to do so entirely, it really would have been a shame. Because despite being extremely easy to make, these muffins are really quite good. For one, they’re bursting with delicious and lovely blackberry jam that provides the perfect balance between sweet and tart. What is really the unexpected hero of this recipe though, is the cinnamon that’s sprinkled on top. After the muffins are baked, it provides a kind of ‘crunchy’ texture to the soft muffins that just works really well.

You definitely don’t have to make jam from scratch to make these muffins (although I certainly won’t discourage you from doing so). A jarred jam of your choice would work just as well with these.

Note to self: don’t forget to post yummy recipes. Ever again.

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Blackberry Jam-Filled Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup blackberry jam
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg with in a medium bowl.

4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring gently until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Fill the muffin cups halfway  with batter. Place 1 tsp jam in the center of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the jam.

6. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over each muffin. Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Beer Bread

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The ‘in’ trend on food blogs right now food that’s geared towards the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. In keeping up with the Joneses (as I am SOMEtimes inclined to do) I decided to throw in my own contribution to the holiday (even if I don’t do a single thing to celebrate it) with this recipe. But first things first: the trivia. Because I love my holiday trivia:

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1. Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. (I used to try and do this all the time when I was little. I was convinced that if I could find a four leaf clover the stars would align and my life would be perfect.)

2. Corned beef and cabbage isn’t a traditional Irish dish. It’s just about as Irish as spaghetti and meatballs. (Eh, I don’t care for the dish much anyway.)

3.  St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday. Today’s booze-bags look to the holiday as a great excuse to start drinking Guinness at 9 AM. Until 1970, however, all pubs in Ireland were closed in observance of St. Patrick’s Day. (I’m not a drinker, but this still amuses me.)

4. March 17th is the day St. Patrick died.

5. St. Patrick’s color is blue.

Source

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Have any of you guys ever found a recipe that really helped you fake the funk in the kitchen? No, this doesn’t have anything to do with smells or odors. By the ‘fake the funk’, I mean giving the appearance of something  as grand or spectacular, when in reality, it may not be as grand or as  spectacular it manages to come off to be. People do it all the time in general, and I’m willing to admit that I can be one of them. My favorite way of doing it through is in the kitchen. I love putting something together that was actually very easy to make, then be complimented effusively because it seems and tastes like it was something that required a whole lot of skill and time. It’s kinda like a private joke that I can be privy to by myself. It also gives a lot of t.l.c. to my ego.

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This bread is definitely a ‘fake the funk’ recipe. Not only does it have that ‘artisan’ bread taste, texture and look, but  you guys wouldn’t believe how easy it is to really put together. I think this loaf was in the oven ten minutes after I took out all the ingredients, Then about forty minutes later, it was finished. Bada-bing, bada-boom. To the person that’d never made beer bread or soda bread before, it probably looks like I had to put in a great deal of effort for this loaf- just look at that golden, crusty exterior and soft, tender inside. Great stuff, huh?

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Beer Bread

Recipe Courtesy of  USA Weekend

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Add  beer (no sips!) and stir with a fork until just combined. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead quickly to form a ball.

4. Place bread on a greased baking sheet and confidently slit an X on top with a serrated or very sharp knife.

5. Brush loaf with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve.

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