Saturday, June 18, 2016

Button Up and Belly Up

Puff Dough Recipe

This recipe is perfect for that pot pie you have been wanting to make or a great substitute for any recipe using puff pastry. It cooks up tender with a slight puffiness and layers of flakiness that works every time.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick(1/2-cup) cold butter or margarine
1/2 cup cold sour cream


In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking powder well. Add the butter, in pats, and mash into flour mixture using a fork or pastry cutter until it is half the size of peas. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or equivalent, vigorously stir in the sour cream until well incorporated.

On a well floured work surface, with additional flour at hand, begin kneading for a minute or so, until smooth, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Roll out dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin, with the dough about a half inch thick. Fold over one of the ends a third of the way, repeating with the opposite end. Roll out again to the same size as the original rectangle, working quickly.

Repeat this step 4 more times. fold over one more time without rolling out. Wrap tightly with a couple of pieces of film wrap as airtight as possible. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days before using.

To use, roll out to desired shape and size while cold between two large pieces of film wrap to prevent sticking.

Pork Button Pie
A true meat pie but the mushrooms are the star of the show here. Instead of flavoring this pie with meat, I flavored the mushrooms with this spicy Italian sausage.

1 Puff Dough recipe, above
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 link hot Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
2 pounds button mushrooms, sliced thick
1/2(6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


Make Puff dough and refrigerate 60 minutes. Meanwhile, make Pork Button Filling.

Using a large skillet over medium high heat, add shallots and sausage, stirring to break up sausage. Cook, while stirring frequently, until sausage is cooked through. Drain fat and add mushrooms, stirring to combine. Cook until all the moisture has come out of mushrooms and they are cooked, about 10-12 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together tomato paste and broth. Add to mushroom mixture and continue cooking until thickened, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool until ready to fill pie.

Roll out half the dough between 2 sheets of film wrap until large enough to cover a 9-inch pie pan; set aside. Repeat with remaining dough. You may also dust work surface with flour and roll out accordingly.

Place one dough circle in pan, empty mushroom mixture on top, spreading out evenly. Top with remaining dough and crimp edges. Poke holes in the top to vent, brush egg over the top and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until well browned on top. Remove to cool slightly before cutting to serve.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lest We Forget.....

.....the deliciousness of tapioca. I remember as a child, tapioca pudding could be enjoyed at most restaurants, school cafeteria's and at home. We never blinked an eye when we were served this "soft-lumped" sweet, vanilla-tinged pudding. But that was the extent of the flavor...vanilla!

I don't even remember anything but a firm glob of whipped cream sitting on top, only to be folded in before we lifted a spoonful into our mouths.

I do believe, however, that it is a sign of the times that we rarely see this pudding served anywhere and anymore. Not because our palates have changed, per se, but because parents do not cook at home nearly as much as they did many years ago. Don't you agree?

It was a treat to have home baked cookies, pies, cakes and puddings because not only did our parents take the time to cook for us, but the array of sweet treats found at any store was miniscule compared to today's inventory.

With the vast array of candies, pastries and sweets found on counters, next to the cash registers, now, our taste transcends just simple and sweet. We have choices of flavors that we didn't have a generation ago, but those flavors are manufactured.

And because of our "fake food" indulgences of today. our bodies are slowly begging for change. Accepting the man-made treats with ingredients that are manufactured in a lab, is universally accepted by our bodies, forgoing anything natural and homemade.

Let's take a few minutes and prepare this classic dessert, but with something that compliments this dish, and ingredients our body desires.....fruit and flavor!

Beautiful Lemon-Coconut Pudding 


Such a gorgeous presentation, only "one-upped" by the flavor of lemon, coconut and strawberries, all mingling on your tongue as brightly as the visual impact of this Brazilian-inspired dessert. The coconut water is widely available in most supermarkets and if desired, add a couple drops yellow food coloring to the pudding before refrigerating.

Nonstick cooking spray
3 cups coconut, plus more for dusting
3 cups small pearl tapioca *
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups fat free or low fat sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups coconut water, divided
Grated rind from 1 lemon
Juice from one lemon
1 cup lemon curd
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lightly grease a 9 x 12-inch pan(or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine coconut, tapioca and sugar; set aside. Bring milk, 1 cup coconut water, lemon rind and juice to scalding over medium heat, stirring frequently. When just starting to come to a boil, immediately remove from heat and pour over coconut mixture. Blend in the curd completely and pour into prepared pan. Cover(without film wrap touching the pudding)and refrigerate until completely cold and firm.

Meanwhile, hull strawberries, slicing and setting aside 3 of them. Roughly chop remainder and add to a small saucepan with cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly and add remainder of coconut water. Mash with a sturdy fork while bringing to boiling over medium high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble, cut firm pudding into 12 equal-sized squares. Place 1 square on a serving dish, add a couple tablespoons macerated strawberries and top with another square of pudding. Repeat and serve cold, dusted with additional coconut.

* Or use 10 ounces(Four 2.75-ounce boxes) minute tapioca

Enough for 6 servings

Strawberries and Cream Tapioca


Tapioca is quite confusing. It is marketed in several forms, with each company portraying their product in different manners. To put all this in a nutshell, minute, quick cooking and instant are all the same. This is the type of tapioca I use in this "best of the best" strawberry pudding. There is also pearl tapioca, coming in small and large pearls. These can be substituted in this recipe as well by simply doubling the amount of tapioca and adding 1 additional egg. Cook as directed below, and you will have a treat even the hesitant children will love.
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled
2 1/2 tablespoons(25g)minute tapioca minute
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla


Place the milk in a container that is marked with volume measurements, such as a large measuring cup or blender container. Slice strawberries into the milk to bring it up to 3 cups total volume. Puree until as smooth as possible. Transfer to a medium saucepan with remainder of ingredients, except vanilla. Bring to scalding over medium heat, stirring almost constantly as it heats up. When thickened and hot. remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour into large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until completely cold.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and stir in as many chopped, fresh strawberries as desired. Spoon into serving bowls and add whipped topping if desired.

Serves 4