How to make a lattice crust

I am too lazy to type this out right now. Just follow the shitty pictures.

Need a pie crust recipe?

IMPORTANT PRELIMINARY NOTE, THOUGH: When you make a lattice crust, especially for apple pies, you put your fruit at risk of drying out in the oven. It is to your advantage to make the lattice as tightly woven as possible, with little fruit showing. Not like this. I made a second pie after this one with a TIGHT basket-weave and because of that, my apples were the moistest. Yea, I said it. Moistest.

1. Pull back.

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2. Lay it across.

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3. Vwah-la!

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4. Pull back.

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5. Alright, other side now.

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6. Repeat!

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7. Another layer.

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8. Final Stretch.

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9. Hell yeah.

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10. Bake that guy right now yummerdoodle.

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How to make the best pie crust in the world

I use Smitten Kitchen’s measurements almost exactly, so I can’t take credit for the chemistry behind it. The method, though, I provide from my own wisdom bestowed upon me by my best friend, Karly and her infinite pie wisdom. I almost always double the recipe and make four pie crusts, for storing later, but this makes two (or one for the bottom, and one for the top of the pie).

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. (5 grams) table salt
A big ol’ dash of cinnamon
2 sticks sweet cream butter, cubed and very cold!!! (you can use regular if you really want to)
1-2-3/4 c. ice water
1/2 t. love

1. Combine all ingredients except for the butter, which you should cube and put BACK INTO the refrigerator. Everyone says you need cold ingredients for pie crust and they are all right. Something that I’ve picked up from the Barefoot Contessa (blesshersoul) is putting even the bowl of dry ingredients in the freezer for 15 minutes or so. Seems tedious, but you can see the difference, especially if you’re doing this on a hot day. With everything chilled, you can put the butter cubes on top of the flour, like this.

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2. Don’t listen to anyone else. You don’t need/want a food processor for pie crust. Your god-given hands were made to do this kind of work with a pastry cutter or even better yet, two butter knives. The manual meticulousness of this cutting method will provide you with the visibility you need to get this right, and also food processors tend to not only overprocess the dough, but heat it up. You DONT WANT your dough warm at all. And here’s one thing more that processors are missing out on, that your hands add: Love.

With the pastry blender, slowly start to cut the butter into the mixture, scooping it up from the bottom when you inevitably smoosh a giant butter mass into the bottom of the bowl. Your instincts will tell you that all the butter pieces need to be even and that all flour should be touching butter. You’re wrong. So long as there are no pieces bigger than pea-size, your butter will be fine when uneven and unsettlingly chunky.

If you’re using the two knives, criss-cross them over the butter to divy up the pieces, being careful not to leave any bigger chunks.

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this isn’t completely done; more chunks are at the bottom of the bowl.

3. Next comes the tricky part. With a wooden spoon or spatula, slowly turn the dough while adding 1/2 c. ice water one tablespoon at a time. Again, this is where the love comes in. If you love the crust, be patient with it. In order to get this step done a little quicker, it’d be nice to ask a friend to help you pour the water. Go about it counterintuitively. You want to toss the dough softly over rather that roughly moosh it, because pressuring and condensing will put lumps and chewiness where you don’t want it. The goal of your crust is to be flaky—light. So you have to treat the dough lightly. Avoid all temptation to use your hands, so as not to warm the dough.

By the time you’ve added the 1/2 c. water and combined it into the dough, you’ll have some sticky pieces, getting kinda stringy, kinda lumpy. You know.

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Your dough is getting there. Once it’s reached this point, you should fold  together until it just barely comes together. This means that there will still be butter chunks, y’all. Don’t be afraid. It’s all a part of the plan. Divide the dough in half, or if you doubled it, like me, divide the dough in fourths, and wrap up in the fridge in flat circles. Don’t worry about pieces falling out right now. They will conglomerate together when you roll the dough out.

See how it still has the chunks?

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Pretty soon, you could have a beautiful lattice crust like this one. Check out my tutorial!

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How to make your own Pumpkin Puree

It’s a lot easier than you’d think.

Pick out a pumpkin that is rich in color and free of mold. Mine came pre-wrapped, as a quarter of the monster was plenty enough for one dude. Though the squash I had was definitely a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, I’d recommend a pie pumpkin or a sugar loaf pumpkin, which is not only sweeter in taste, but finer in texture, rather than all intestine-like.

All the instructions I read through told me to just cut large slices and set them onto the pan after coating in canola oil. Set at 400° and bake for 30 minutes, like this:

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I dissent, however, and I think that maybe those handling the pumpkin were too lazy to get through the shell, when in reality, the pumpkin would have cooked faster if cut into sizeable chunks. After an hour of baking it the WRONG way, I could see a large center of uncooked pumpkin flesh and proceeded to cut it up like this:

I had to set aside the pieces that were completely cooked through, and continue to cook the bigger pieces. If they’re all cooked through, the skin will peel right off of the flesh, and you can carve that good stuff out into a food processor. Blend, add water if it’s not chopping up, and cinnamon, if you’re me. It’ll look just like Libby’s! Sorry for the bad picture.

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Love, Fran

How to Conquer a Coconut

Alright, so you were feeling ballsy/in a spur of the moment/drunk in the grocery store and decided to buy a coconut. Fear not. Here’s how you open it and unleash its heavenly bounty.

Before we get started, you should know that the coconut is not a nut at all. It’s actually a fruit, specifically, it is a drupe. The same botanical category.

To drain out the coconut water, use a wine bottle opener. Stick the pointy end into soft hole and drill into it, pulling the end out like you would the cork of a wine bottle. Tip the water out into a cup and set aside for soup, smoothie, cooking beverage. The hole will be so small that your water will dribble out, so you’ll have to shake it a bit.

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Opening the coconut is no big thing. Blogs will prescribe to you a special coconut-opening tool, a serrated edge, the blunt side of a knife, but DON’T LISTEN.

The best way to go about it is as a squirrel would a nut. Go outside, find a sharp, concrete or metal surface on the ground, preferably cornered. Take the coconut in your palm, equator-side facing downward and smash the coconut onto the corner. Voilà!

To toast it, shave the inside using a paring knife or vegetable peeler. Toss these shavings into a baking sheet or a frying pan with cinnamon, salt, or sugar depending on how you want ’em. Yummerdoodle.

Love,
Fran

Sweet & Spicy Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seeds

After you’ve used a butternut squash or pumpkin, don’t throw out the seeds! They make an easy, sweet snack or garnish.

Squash seeds or Pumpkin seeds or Both
Paprika
Chili Powder
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Sugar
Salt & Pepper

When you’ve gutted a squash, separate all the seeds from the goopy, stringy innards. This can be quite a feat, but if you have a few lil pieces of the vegetable when you’re done, it’s not the worst thing in the world. Wash the seeds in a strainer and let sit out to dry or pat dry them.

Pre-heat the oven to 275°F.

Lay them all out in a pan and evenly coat them with olive oil, spreading them across a baking sheet. Season them with all the above spices until everything is thickly coated. Don’t be shy. I did not measure, but here’s some advice.

Use twice as much sugar than salt, if you want them sweeter. Vice versa if you want them savory.

Use half as much nutmeg as cinnamon.

Paprika and chili powder are to your spiciness tolerance, and you certainly don’t need both! But they mix great with the cinnamon.

Spread it all out on a baking sheet and roast on the top shelf for 15-ish minutes, toss them, and roast another 15 minutes, or until CRUNCHY.

Squash seeds are a little tougher than pumpkin seeds, so they’ll cook a little unevenly, so if you have the diligence (or two ovens) roast them separately. I, however, am lazy.

Hey! These are great on soup! Try it out.

Fran

How to Choose & Cut a Butternut Squash

1. To pick a butternut squash, make sure it’s heavy, with a nice orange-yellow color. Double check to make sure there are no cuts, bruises, or mold.

2. Chop off top and bottom of the squash, but make sure to JUST sliver the bottom, so you don’t hit the seed pit (which is what I did, like a dumbass).

3. Peel away the skin until you see the orangey flesh, which may be more difficult to do if you have a dull peeler. As you can see, I messed up and left some white underpeel.

4. Cut the squash long-ways. Easy enough.

5. Pit out the seeds using a melon baller or large spoon. Get all the stringy goopy stuff out, though you may have to take some flesh too.

6. Slice wide-ways.

sorry that this is the shittiest camera in the world.

6. Then dice into inch-ish pieces.

These are a great healthy snack if you just bake them and season them, using the first two steps in this recipe.

Don’t throw away the seeds! They taste great when you roast them!

Fran

30 Minute or Less Matzah Meals

Chag Sameach! Happy Passover Everyone! 

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During this wonderful time of year, Jewish people around the world stop eating breads and pastas and instead fill their homes with boxes and boxes of unleavened crackers known as matzah for 8 days!

One of my favorite things to eat during this time, of course, is Matzo Ball Soup!

But I love making all different kinds of creations with my matzah!

Here’s three different recipes that can be done in 30 minutes or less:

Matzah Pizza

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1 unsalted Matzah
Tomato Paste
Dried Basil
Garlic powder
Shredded Cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice

My pizza topping suggestions? Onions, peppers, mushrooms! Go crazy with the veggies!

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Top your matzah with all of the toppings and just stick in the microwave or toaster oven until the cheese is nice and melted! I like to put a little extra cheese on top at the end as well!

Savory Matzo Brei with Peppers and Onions 

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4 unsalted Matzot (Matzahs)
4 Eggs, beaten
1-2 cloves of Garlic
1 Red Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
Basil
Cayenne Pepper
Shredded Cheese
Olive oil
Spray oil/Butter

Break your matzah into 1″ pieces and soften it with warm water in a colander. Then chop up your desired vegetables — I chose red pepper and red onion. Scramble your eggs in a mixing bowl and then add your matzah. Whisk together until the mixture becomes batter-like.

This is where I made my mistake! Don’t be lazy like me — use TWO different frying pans! 

In a small frying pan, sauté the garlic, onions, and peppers in olive oil until they’ve reached a nice consistency.

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Now, in a large deep frying pan, either melt butter or (like I did) use a spray oil to coat the pan. Heat up your pan up to medium – high heat. Pour your batter mixture in and evenly spread in your sautéed vegetables as well as the shredded cheese.

Let the brei cook for awhile until the edges begin to lift from the bottom of the pan. You can use a spatula to loosen the brei a little bit. Then with ease, like you’ve been doing this for years, place a plate on top of your pan and flip the entire brei onto the plate. And voila!

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Chocolate Covered Matzah

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4 unsalted Matzot (Matzahs)
1 Chocolate Bar of your choice
1/2 T. Vegetable Oil

Instead of using a double boiler, I simply topped a saucepan of boiling water with a metal mixing bowl. (Make sure to use oven mitts!)

Melt the chocolate and mix in the 1/2 T. of Olive oil to keep it nice and smooth. Then dip and spread your matzah pieces in.

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For added deliciousness, try throwing in some crumbled pretzels into the melted chocolate or dried cranberries!

Enjoy the rest of your Passover, everyone!

With love,

Mimi