Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apple pie

A couple weeks ago my girlfriend and I went apple picking at the Stribling Orchard in Markham, Virginia. If you're looking for a place to go apple picking near DC, I'd recommend it. It's a beautiful spot and all of the fruit I've gotten there has been excellent. Their store also has delicious baked goods, salad dressings, salsa and bbq sauce.

The recipe I got from the Food Network calls for 6 Jonagold apples, which are a hybrid of Jonathan and Golden Delicious. Since the orchard didn't have any Jonagolds, I just used 3 Jonathans and 3 Golden Delicious.

I made the crust using Amish butter from the Agora Farms stand at Eastern Market. Amish butter was recently recommended to me and I was amazed at how much better it tastes that Land O' Lakes or Country Crock. It's great on bread and it really enhanced the flavor and texture of the crust.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 tablespoons cold water, plus 5 tablespoons cold water, as needed

6 Jonagold apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. To prepare the piecrust, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening with your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the pieces are the size of small peas.
3. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons water over the flour, and gently toss with a fork. Push the flour to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining cold water, and mix until all is moistened and combined. Divide the dough in half, and form each half into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
4. In a large mixing bowl toss the apples with lemon juice.
5. Combine the sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the apples and toss until completely coated. Set mixture aside.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball into a 12-inch circle, and place into a 9-inch pie plate.
7. Transfer the apple mixture into the pastry lined pie plate. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the apple mixture. For the top crust, roll out remaining dough, place on top, and seal and flute the edge. Cut slits on top crust to allow steam to escape.
8. To make the egg wash, crack egg in a small bowl, add a pinch of salt, whisk, and brush on top of the pie. 9. Cover pie with foil to prevent over browning, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes until crust is golden and apples are tender.

The Results:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken and corn chowder

Now that its turning into Fall and getting a bit cooler I've really been craving soup. The surprisingly good chicken and corn chowder from Harris Teeter inspired me to try and make my own. This recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine via The recipe suggests that you should be able to have this recipe on the table in half an hour. It took me a little bit longer than that, but it was still quick and convenient. You could definitely make this on a weekday night for dinner. The soup wound up very rich and flavorful, especially considering its lighter chowder using 2% milk instead of half-and-half or heavy cream.

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2 cups chopped roasted skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 breast halves)
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

1. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add onion, celery, and jalapeño; cook for 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
3. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Stir in milk and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about 5 minutes).

The Results

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Penne with shrimp and herbed cream sauce

This recipe is one that I've made several times for company and I'm always happy with the results. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis. Giada is a great resource for me as I'm fairly obsessed with pasta. The sauce in this dish is a pink cream sauce that's subtle but very flavorful. This is one of my favorite dishes to cook.

I served the pasta with a simple salad of mixed greens, chopped walnuts, dried cranberries and goat cheese, with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette.

1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the shrimp turn pink and is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and set aside.
3. Add the tomatoes, 1/4 cup basil, 1/4 cup parsley, and the red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add the wine, clam juice, and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes until the sauce thickens. 
5. Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the cooked shrimp, the cooked pasta, and the remaining herbs. Toss together until all ingredients are coated. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
6. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve immediately.