Friday, October 3, 2014

Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie

Flaky, no fail pie crust? Challenge accepted.

I've never been great at making pies and this would be my first made-from-scratch pie without the help of a friend or family member. I'm glad it's a classic cinnamon apple pie, can't mess that up, can I? The instructions look easy enough.

Using a food processor, I combined 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. The Crisco all vegetable shortening is already measured out into one cup.

Just toss that bad boy into the food processor with the flour. Give is a few quick pulses.

Stop when it resembles coarse crumbs. You're at a good place here.

Beat 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of cold water, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar together to blend. Pour this mixture into the crumbs. Again, give the food processor a few pulses until everything comes together. The dough is now moistened and ready to scoop out.

Shape the dough into a disc shape, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (of you can do this ahead of time and chill it overnight).

Can I say how much I love my apple peeler and corer? Made the job of slicing 8 Golden Delicious apples a lot easier!

Place the apples in a large bowl. Throw in 3/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and nutmeg.

Give everything a good toss.

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and roll it on to a floured surface. You'll need it to be 2 inches wider than your pie dish to accommodate the sides.

Gently and carefully place the dough into your pie dish. Place cinnamon apple filling onto the bottom pie crust. Spread and pack it down firmly. It's okay if the middle is slightly higher, the filling will shrink when it bakes. Place the remaining dough on top of the pie and brush with a beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake on the bottom rack of your oven at 425F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to 325°F. and bake for about 60 to 65 minutes. The crust should be golden and the filling will be bubbly.

What do you think? I think it is picture perfect! Fine, my pie decorating skills and trimming could use some work, but it looks good! I'm quite proud of it! And not only does it look good, the crust is flaky and the filling is delicious. A successful pie made in the afternoon makes for a great after dinner dessert.

CRISCO® No Fail Pie Crust
From Crisco®
For one double-crust pie or two 9” (23 cm) pie shells

2 cups (500 ml) of Robin Hood® Original All Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoons (4 ml) of salt
1 cup (250 ml) of Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
1 egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) of cold water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) of white vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the shortening. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, water and vinegar. Add to the flour mixture and stir with a fork until moistened.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and shape into a 4" disk. Wrap each with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out the dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out on disc of dough into an 11 inch circle. Carefully transfer to a lightly greased 9" pie plate. Fill with Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie Filling (recipe below).
  5. Roll out second disc of dough to an 11 inch circle. Cover the pie with the rolled out dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges. Bake according to directions for the filling.
Classic Cinnamon Apple Pie
Adapted from Canadian Living

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Portion Size: 10 to 12

Filling:
8 firm cooking apples (such as Golden Delicious)
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch each salt and nutmeg
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon of coarse sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Cut into 1/4" slices and put in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apples. Toss the apples so all are coated with the sugar mixture.
  4. Transfer apples to the prepared pie shell. Pack the apples down and dot with butter. Top with the second circle of dough. Tuck the edges under and pinch to seal. Flute the edges of the pie dough.
  5. Whisk the egg yolk and brush on top of the pie. Sprinkle the sugar on top. Cut steam vents in the top.
  6. Bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake until the bottom is golden and the filling is bubbly, about 60-65 minutes. Allow to cool on rack.
And now the contest:
Snap a photo of your favourite pie. Share it using #CLEasyAsPie and you could win a $4,000 baking experience! For more details, visit Canadianliving.com/easyaspie!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Crisco. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cook the Cover: Canadian Living October 2014

Whether we like it or not, autumn is here. Chilly nights, jackets, leggings, and boots. Time to add on the layers when you step outside. Don't forget to boost your immune system, it's also the time of year you're most likely to catch a cold. I know I did, but I'm thankful that my sick days were kept to a minimum.

With September almost over, it's time to think of the lovely fall harvest. Soups and comfort food is on everyone's radar and don't forget that Thanksgiving is October 13 this year!

When I saw this month's cover, I panicked a little bit. Turkey? Such a huge undertaking! I've never roasted a turkey before! Aren't they tricky? What's the best way to fully cook the bird and not dry it out? I almost decided to skip this challenge, but then when would I ever get around to my first turkey attempt? What better way could there be than to have other bloggers go through the same cooking experience? Let's do it!

Lemon and Thyme Roast Turkey With White Wine Gravy
Shopping List: turkey, fresh thyme, garlic, dry white wine, sodium-reduced chicken broth, all-purpose flour, butter, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.

The shopping list was fairly easy. Most people already have garlic, wine, chicken broth, flour, butter, and your staples: salt and pepper in the kitchen. We only had to go find the turkey, thyme, and pick up a lemon. The short grocery list was another reason that I wanted to try this recipe. It's fairly straightforward and simple. No stuffing or bed of vegetables to tackle.
First up, make the lemon and thyme butter: In a bowl, melt the butter (a few seconds in the microwave), stir in the thyme, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
Next, remove the giblets and neck from turkey; place the neck in roasting pan. Fill the turkey's cavity with thyme and garlic (ahhh I placed my hand in there!!). Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan (thank goodness the turkey fit). That lemon and thyme butter? Brush it all over the turkey.
Roast in 325°F (160°C) oven, basting every 45 minutes. To baste, take the pan out. Using oven mitts, tip all the juices to a corner and gather with baster. Pour the juices over the turkey to keep it from drying out.
The turkey is ready when the thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast reads 170°F (77°C). This takes about three and a half hours.

Isn't it beautiful?? That lovely golden skin and my home smelled soooo good!
Take the turkey out and gently tip to pour juices from the cavity into the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to carving board and cover loosely with foil. Let it rest for half an hour.

To make the gravy, discard the turkey neck from the pan. In a small pot, bring wine to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the turkey's juices with the broth and flour until smooth. Pour the wine into the roasting pan. Place the roasting pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Keep whisking as it'll thicken fairly quickly. Another first for me, making gravy from scratch!

Howard had the honours of carving the turkey (sneaking in bites now and then) and we set out sides for everyone to help themselves - buffet style. Mixed green salad, hasselback potatoes, stuffing, and cauliflower-broccoli gratin. The turkey and gravy still the star of the meal. The skin was delicious and we even ended up pouring the light gravy over the salad, stuffing, potatoes ...

I'm sure there are no-muss and no-fuss turkey recipes out there with no basting. But I think this is still a pretty easy and minimal prep recipe, plus the results were stellar. Give it a try if it's your first turkey! I would recommend having two timers on hand, one for every 45 minutes and one for the total cooking time. And the most important tool was the leave-in meat thermometer for peace of mind, you wouldn't want to carve the turkey and pop it back in the oven after finding it still cold!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Merguez Sausages


I'm so excited to share my first homemade sausage experience with you. That's right, first time and I think I pretty much aced it! Although, the success has to be shared as I enlisted some experienced sausage makers – Howard's parents – to chaperone and make sure I was on the right track.

First thing, read the recipe and head out to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients: boneless lamb shoulder, garlic, harissa paste, ground fennel seeds, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground sumac, ground cayenne pepper, and sausage casings.
Using a large container (preferably with lid) for marinating, stir together the chopped up lamb, garlic, harissa paste, salt, ground fennel, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground sumac, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
This is where it gets exciting (because I've never done it before). Using the Multi Food Grinder attachment on my Kenwood Chef Kitchen Machine, fitted with the coarse screen, we did a first pass with the lamb mixture. This will make the second pass through much easier.

At this point, rinse the casing and soak it in cold water.
Next up, we attached the multi food grinder attachment with the medium screen and added 1/2 cup of ice water to keep the lamb mixture moist. Look! It looks like the ground meat you find at supermarkets! Success!
Okay, final pass. This time we loaded the large nozzle attachment and fitted the sausage casing over it. This was the point in the process where I was a bit nervous. What if we couldn't keep up with all the meat loading into the casing? But luckily, with the motor control on the Chef, we could set it to a low speed and carefully take our time to make sure the casings were filled properly.
Make sure you have a helping hand at this point; you'll need someone to push the meat and someone to hold onto the casing. Teamwork!

Once the casing is stuffed with lamb mixture, twist into 5-inch (12 cm) links. Refrigerate until you're ready to cook.

Hungry? Place the sausages on a greased grill over medium heat and close the lid. Grill, turning once, until browned and juices run clear when sausage is pierced. Cut the links, the sausages will hold to finish.
These sausages are good! They have a great amount of spice and flavor, the consistency of the meat was good too. Everyone was raving about them and incredibly impressed that they were homemade. We polished off all 10 links that night!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and Kenwood. I received compensation for it. There was no requirement to produce a positive review of this recipe. All opinions are our own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sprinkles

The LINQ
3545 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 733-0522

I could jump for joy, I love Sprinkles! I love the design of their stores, I love the look of their products and packaging, I love how delicious their treats are! We made multiple trips back to Sprinkles during our stay in Vegas.
Everything tends to look better at night in Vegas - sparkly lights!
The famous cupcake ATM!!! We saw many people use it with such happiness and excitement when the cupcake was dispensed. I wanted to try, but it only takes credit card and I didn't want to pay for the exchange rate.
But it doesn't matter. You can get the same cupcakes in store! But we were here for their frozen treats.
I spy waffle cones and red velvet waffle cones!
If you order a Sprinkles sundae, you get a scoop of ice cream between a cupcake bottom and top. If your order a Sprinkles sandwich, you get a scoop of ice cream between two cupcake tops!
You can also get cookie sundaes, or a cookie sandwich with a scoop of ice cream in between.
We tried their yummy caramelized Cap'n Crunch ice cream which is what it sounds like, Cap'n crunch cereal sprinkled into milky Cap'n Crunch flavoured ice cream. And the strawberry ice cream, sometimes when the heat is too much, I default to fruits instead of chocolate or overly sweet desserts.
And our favourite, the blood orange sorbet, which is a dairy-free citrus sorbet flavored by zesty blood oranges. Perfectly refreshing!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Payard Patisserie and Bistro

Caesars Palace Hotel
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7849

Even though we've been to many Payard locations, we couldn't help taking a look at what the display cases offered.
Each piece of dessert looks like a work of art!
Let's just say we made plenty of visit to Payard during our stay in Vegas.
Hot days call for mango and raspberry gelato. And smoothies.
And my favourite one of all, the macaron ice cream sandwich!
Isn't the box cute?
The coconut mango was so good and refreshing. The macaron shells were the perfect texture and held the frozen treat nicely. I was worried the macaron might be too soggy or too crisp and crumb away, but it wasn't. This is a treat I'll crave every summer, luckily they serve it in New York as well!
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