Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter Pie in Nana's Basement :)

 Hey Foodie Friends,

This one is actually a repost from last year. Today was Easter Pie/Pizza Chiena Day at my Nana's house, and even though there's no specific recipe in this post, doing this photo study last year was a really fun project, and I want it to get a little more air time. So, an oldie but relevant goodie from last year's archives, enjoy!

Lynn (4/1/12)

Hello Darlings :)
  This post was a long time coming, because I wasn't quite sure how to present it to you all. The weekend of Palm Sunday, we (Mom, Mikey, cousin Sharon, Nana, Boppa, and I) made Pizza Chiena, or Easter Meat Pie, in the basement kitchen of my grandparent's house. Yes, my Italian grandfather has a full kitchen in his finished basement. I'll pause for any obligatory Italian stereotype jokes or comments that need to be made........................................okay, there we go :) But I digress. My grandparents have made Pizza Chiena for every year of my life, and probably for a very long time before that. They make a bunch of pies and then give them out to family and friends for Easter, just like they do with fried dough on Saint Joseph's Day in March, but that's another blog post:)

 I'm not really sure what is particularly Easter-ish about these pies, other than the fact that they contain ingredients that are often traditionally given up for Lent; eggs, red meat, cheese, etc (btw, the literal translation of *Pizza Chiena* is *Pizza Pie*). So, by the time Easter rolls around, after forty days of Lenten fasting, these rich meat pies with their sweet dough crust are beyond indulgent. As I said, my grandparents make these every year, and I have often helped with the preparation in years past. I missed a few years recently whilst living in Rochester, or sometimes I was in a show that ran through the Easter weekends, but this year I was at their disposal. I brought along my trusty camera to document the experience and present it here to all of you :)

  But here's the thing. The more I looked at the photos from that day, and the more I tried to compose a blog post around them, the more I thought that what I wanted for this particular post was for it to be more of a photo study of cooking with my family, rather than a few paragraphs and a recipe regarding the same. Someone way wiser than me once said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, I think I agree. I could wax poetic all the live-long day about what cooking with and for my loved ones means to me, but I think the photographs speak for themselves, and I should let them. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they're especially spectacular photos, because I am most certainly not a spectacular photographer, but I feel they do a good job illustrating the essence of cooking with my family. Also, small confession, I do not have my own copy of this recipe, it is my Nana's, and I didn't get a chance to write it down. I'm oddly okay with this, though, there's always next year, and, like I said, this get-together wasn't necessarily about an ingredient list :) Look at the photos and you will be able to cobble together how these pies are made, but I hope that is the least you get out of them :) Enjoy :)

Love You All :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scones for Miss Potter

Good Evening, Friends :)
Last night, I attended a meeting of my Fairy-Tale Book Club, a group of awesome, creative people that get together once a month to feast, read and discuss Fairytales from all over the world. This month, our chosen author was Beatrix Potter, of *The Tale of Peter Rabbit* fame. I love this woman. I love her books, I love the fact that she broke the norm, became the best-selling children's author in history, and I love the fact that she was an early pioneer of  nature preservation and pro-farmer legislation (she bought up all the land she could afford around her house to keep it preserved, and then donated it all to England's National Trust upon her death), oh yeah, Beatrix, you ROCK. I could go on and on about how her stories have affected me and stayed with me since childhood, but this is a food blog, so I'll make an attempt to stay on task :)

Aaaaanyway, our food theme for this month, in honor of Miss Potter and the arrival of Spring,was English Garden/Tea Party.  Chamomile Tea, Wine, Punch, Quiche, Soup, Berries, Cream, Green Salad, Chocolates, Cookies, Biscuits, Carrot Cake, and my offering, Cream Scones with (homemade) Blackberry Preserves and (storebought but made in London) Lemon Curd :)

First off, let me give credit where credit is due. This recipe came from the inimitable Deb at Smitten Kitchen, the first food blog I ever read and still one of my absolute favorites. She published it a few years ago under the title *Dreamy Cream Scones* and let me tell you, she wasn't joking. These scone ARE dreamy. They are absolutely everything you would want out of a scone. Fluffy, moist, flaky, light, and just sweet enough :) I'm going to make them again for my family's Easter Brunch in a few weeks, and now that I have a scone recipe that I love, I'll hopefully be hosting some tea parties :)

Cream Scones
(from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, who adapted this recipe from the *America's Test Kitchen Cookbook*)

-2 cups (10 oz.) unbleached, all-purpose flour (preferably a low-protein brand, such as Pillsbury or Gold Medal)
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 5 tbsp. chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (confession: I grabbed salted butter out of the fridge by mistake and didn't notice until it was already mixed into the batter, ooops. Honestly, the scones were delicious anyway. I know I should be a proper foodie and tell you to only use unsalted butter, but really, in this case I think either would be okay)
- 1/2 cup chopped dates/currants/cranberries (the original recipe calls for currants, Deb used diced cranberries, and I used chopped dates because that was all I had on hand. Because the dates I had were sugared I decreased the sugar in the recipe to two tablespoons instead of three. If you use currants or cranberries or if you prefer your scones plain, raise the amount of sugar back up to three tablespoons.)
- 1 cup heavy cream

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F
- Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into large bowl or work bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade, whisk together or pulse six times.
-If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few larger butter lumps. Stir in dates (or fruit of choice). If using food processor, remove cover and evenly distribute butter over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting for one second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.
- Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

 - Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop or dough board and knead dough by hand just until comes together into a rough, sticky ball, about 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by pressing the dough into an 8-inch round cake pan (I dusted the inside of the cake pan with a little flour first), then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and then cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or a bench scraper. (Deb also offers an alternative method of cutting the dough into rounds with a biscuit cutter and reshaping the dough after each cutout, with the caveat that the rounds made will come out lumpier and *less pretty*, but taste is unaffected).

-Place wedges (or rounds) on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

- I made these in the morning and didn't eat them until the evening, and they were absolutely delicious, but I bet they'd be even more so still warm from the oven :) A slather of butter, Devonshire cream, berry preserves, lemon curd, or even unadorned, these scones will absolutely win you over :)

I think Miss Potter and her animal friends would be pleased:)



Saturday, April 2, 2011

We Interrupt This Broadcast

to bring you an important foodie PSA :)

If you live in the Syracuse, NY area and you like :
- An authentic French Bistro vibe (as in there were actual French people eating and working there)
-Unfussy, accessible delicious French food

You need to high-tail it over to L'Adour , Syracuse's only French Bistro. Michael and I had dinner there for our 8-month anniversary, and Heavens to Betsy, it was AMAZING :) Cozy, intimate, romantic, well paced, I could go on and on....

Here's a sample of what we had:
- Endive and Watercress Salad with Walnuts, Goat Cheese and Proscuitto
- (grass-fed) Steak Bernaise
- Lamb Chops with Rosemary Sauce
- Baguette with European-style butter (richer and creamier than our normal stuff)
- A sampling of side dishes that included Ratatouille, Potatoes Lyonnaise,Potato Gratin, Lentils, Rice, Sweet Potato Puree, and Caramelized Carrots
- Profiteroles with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce
- Lemon Tart with Fresh Raspberries

They do lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and Breakfast, Brunch and Dinner Friday through Sunday. We were there on a Thursday evening and it was pretty quiet, but in general I would recommend a reservation just to be on the safe side. The meals can get pricey, but they are worth every penny. And, if price is concern, they do have a prix fixe menu that changes daily/seasonally.

L'Adour is a winner. Seriously, don't wait, just go:)

That is all, go back to whatever you were doing :)