Monday, March 7, 2011

flaking out

this week i reorganized and discovered that i have about a bajillion aluminum pie plates. so i've decided that for the next few weeks i'm going to make lots of meals in pie form to use them up before i buy some new packaging.

since i don't do much on mondays, i've had plenty of time to think of new meals, so i'm planning a braised chicken and leek pie for this week with a side of lemony peas, next week fish pie with steamed greens, and then some bubble and squeak with market sausages. i guess the drizzle outside has put me in a british frame of mind. i might throw in a steak and kidney pie, or rabbit pie, or more rappi pie (since there is a certain gentleman who requests them each week) or enchilada lasagna or bacon pie. oh and i almost forgot, i'm corning my own brisket to make corned beef and cabbage for st. patty's season - but that's a whole nother story...

so back to pies - what would a pie be without a great crust? nuthin! i had never made a single pie until i went to cooking school. i was always terrified of pastry and messing it up and overworking the dough and having it fall apart and having it crack... there are lots of things that could go wrong but they don't have to. my current pie dough recipe is pretty fool proof and i'm about to share it (i can't believe i'm about to do this...):

flaky pie dough

3 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 c butter
1 egg
2 tsp acid (vinegar, lemon...)
ice water

first off, always make sure your ingredients are cold when working with pastry. pinch the butter into the flour and salt. make sure to work quickly and don't work the butter too much or else it will melt and make for a tough dough. you could combine everything with a pastry cutter or a food processor - but in my opinion your hands are your best kitchen tools.
then whisk up the wet ingredients (add enough water to make 2/3 c liquid) and dump them over the dry.

you can see the little clumps in the mixture. the clumps are the butter. ok science lesson: butter contains water, when water gets hot it releases steam, when the steam gets trapped inside pastry it creates little air pockets, little pockets within pastry create flakiness. therefore, butter clumps make for great pastry.
it's also at this point i like to switch to a fork - cut down on the mess a little. stir everything together until the wet is absorbed and then turn the whole lot out onto a clean work surface.

i know, i know, it looks a little dry but it's fine, don't be alarmed. then i start to treat the dough like it's puff pastry (i've had some people at market ask me if it is puff). so puff pastry, aka millefeuille, aka super-flaky pastry, is a pain to make but the technique has several applications. it involves rolling and turning the dough to build the layers. my pal charlotte (chefette at the whalesbone in ott) taught me this trick - i think she learned it from how her grandma made biscuits - otherwise i would never have thought to apply puff principles anywhere else.

roll the dough out, and use a bench scraper to fold it in 3's, like a letter, and turn it 45 degrees.

it sounds confusing but with a visual it's pretty easy.

continue to roll and turn and that super dry looking dough will miraculously come together.

then divide it - i quadruple the recipe and each quarter makes about 15 tarts.

and check out the layers - how could it not be flaky with layers like that built right in? it's also fitting that the lemons for the curd are in the background!
wrap it and chill it. i normally freeze it right away. it's probably because i'm used to rushing things in restaurants and also because sometimes i tend to forget things in the fridge...
then roll it out, blind bake it, fill it and done.

this was my little after dinner snack tonight - notice the crumbs... success!
i also use the same technique for biscuits and it seems to work pretty well.

sometimes my biscuits are less than stellar, but these were my best ones yet. i was so stoked!

on saturday i had a great day cooking, somedays everything sucks and somedays the stars align and everything works out perfectly and i can really enjoy cooking. i hope everyone who has tried my food actually likes it too and it's not just me!

here are some other things i like:

this is my massive convection oven and once i get it hooked up i just know i'll be able to produce so much more in way less time. 

these are my knives. not only do i love them, but i love the fact that they are stuck to the wall!

these are some of my cookbooks - please disregard the shopaholics on the top shelf...
and i love the way the light comes into my kitchen - much better than a basement of a restaurant somewhere.

and these are three of my favourite tools. the lime green peeler is an ikea find. super cheap but it has lasted me much longer and works much better than any expensive peeler i've had before. the yellow juicer is a miraculous invention for someone who makes as much lemon curd as i do - so efficient. the ice cream scoop is the best. my kitchen used to be the general store in prospect and i'm not entirely sure but i think this scoop was used back in the day to scoop ice cream cones. now 1 scoop equals a cupcake or a macaroon and 2 scoops equals a GIANT cookie or a fish cake.

ok time to plan for the caterings, deliveries and market days coming up.


  1. Hello! When do you sell at the market (days/times)?

  2. Hi there, I sell at the market on Fridays from 10-6 and Sundays from 8-4. I'm about to make a new post with the menu for the weekend. On Fridays I use the Getaway farm beef cooler and on Sundays I use the ESA beef cooler. Hope to see you at the market!