Perfect Pie Crust

We admit it, we’ve gone a little overboard in recent years in search of the perfect pie crust.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

We’ve experimented with the food processor, resorted to adding vodka instead of water to our dough, all in the quest for perfection.  We’ve come full circle back to a humble basic pie dough.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

The method relies on a hands-on approach to work the butter into the flour and hand patting and turning the dough to create layers without over working the dough.  The results are a tender-tasty-flaky crust — every time.  And, importantly to us — it’s a method that is as friendly to first time pie makers as those of us looking to return to a simpler method with consistent results.  No fancy gadgets required.  All you need is a bowl and a plastic scraper.  Easy cleanup (woohoo!)

Basic Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch double-crust pie shell

Want an easy way to remember our recipe without having to look it up again?  3 + 2 + 1!  3 parts flour  2 parts butter 1 part ice water.

2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and frozen for 15 minutes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup ice water

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the chilled butter and toss to coat the butter with flour.  Quickly rub the butter with the flour between your fingers to make flat pieces of butter. Take care not to overwork  the butter – you want to work each piece, but should still have pea-sized lumps of the butter in the flour.  Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and toss with your fingers to mix.  Add the water and using a plastic scraper and a quick a folding motion, mix the dough just until it begins to clump together.   The dough will look sandy and lumpy at this point and that’s okay.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface dusted with flour and gently pat out the dough into a flat disk about an 1-inch thick.  Fold the dough in on itself until the dough just begins to hold together and is no longer sandy on the edges.  Once the dough begins to come together, fold dough in half, turn it a quarter-turn and pat it out flat again to an inch thick.  Repeat this process 4 to 5 more times.  Butter will still be visible in the dough — it’s these pieces of butter that result in a flaky dough!  Divide the dough in half and flatten each piece into a disk one more time and wrap them in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out.

Dough Tips:

Always use cold ingredients — ice cold butter and ice water are your friends in pie dough making.

Don’t skimp on the refrigerator time required in the recipe before rolling out.  While the dough rests in the fridge the water is absorbed in the dough and the butter firms up.  A properly rested and chilled dough relaxes,  making it easier to roll out.

To make pie making easier, we usually make the dough the day before we plan to make pies to spread out the work.  Dough tightly wrapped in plastic wrap will last in the fridge up to 2 days (after that it becomes an unappealing gry color) or throw it in the freezer for up to 3 months.  Want to get a jump on the Thanksgiving feast madness?  Make pie dough this weekend and store in the freezer until ready to use.  Allow dough to thaw in the fridge before rolling.

Ready to Roll?

Rolling Tips

Less is more when it comes to the amount of flour used to roll out the dough.  You need just enough so the dough doesn’t stick to your board or your rolling pin.  Brush off excess flour with a pastry brush (or your hands)  before placing your dough in your pie pan.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

If dough becomes too soft and floppy to work with while you are rolling out (first time pie makers sometimes have this problem) put the dough on a baking sheet and return it to the fridge until it becomes firm enough to work with.  The butter in the dough needs to remain firm (not melted and completely incorporated into the dough) for flakiness.

Keep the dough moving!  After every couple rolls give the dough a quarter turn.  Every quarter turn is an opportunity to make sure the dough is not sticking to your work surface.  Dough stuck to the rolling pin?  Rub off the stuck dough with a little flour until it is clean and then add a light sprinkle of flour to the top of your dough.  Your dough is stuck to your work surface?  A long metal spatula is a pie rookie’s best friend.  Using short strokes run the spatula between the dough and the work surface until it releases.  Dust the work surface with flour and continue rolling.

How to make a perfect pie crust | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Scraps!

Hey, don’t throw away those leftover bits of dough.  Here’s a fun delicious Pastry Cookie you can make from the scraps!

Happy pie making!  Don’t forget if you like our videos please LIKE them on YouTube and/or SHARE them with your friends!

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Strawberry Shortcake

Everything you need for Strawberry Shortcake | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Shortcakes, berries and cream are all you need for a fabulous dessert!

Nothing indicates that Spring is finally here like the arrival of strawberries!  If you haven’t already made this classic all-American dessert yet, now’s your chance!

Let’s say you’re invited to a friend’s house for a weekend backyard party… and you want to contribute a dessert to the party but don’t know what to make? Herein lies your salvation. Bring strawberry shortcake! It’s everyone’s favorite! Bring the components with you in separate containers, and assemble just before serving.

There are only three components to this dessert: strawberries, whipped cream, and lightly sweetened biscuits. Follow our how-to videos to help you along with preparing each component. As always, we’ve created a portfolio of all relevant how-to videos on our Vimeo Channel: http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/strawberry-shortcake. We hope this will earn its place in your arsenal of go-to dessert recipes!

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe shortcakes, recipe follows

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

Bake the shortcakes according to recipe and set aside.  While the shortcakes are baking, prep the strawberries for macerating and whip the cream. Serve immediately.

If you are taking the shortcakes to an event, it’s best to assemble the dessert on site.  Macerate the strawberries and whip the cream immediately before serving.

To assemble for serving:

Slice the biscuits in half and warm them in an oven set to 250°F for 10 minutes (this step is optional, but the biscuits are awesome when they are warmed!)

Arrange the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Place a generous spoonful of the macerated strawberries and the resulting syrup on the biscuit. Spoon a generous dollop (or quenelle) of whipped cream over the strawberries. Top with the top half of the biscuit. Repeat with the remaining biscuits. Garnish with either threads of lemon zest or a fanned strawberry. Serve immediately.

Shortcakes

Makes 12 biscuits

* in this recipe, the base recipe for the biscuits is derived from our scone recipe. We like to make our own acidulated milk instead of using buttermilk from the store; so if you wish to use buttermilk, substitute ½ cup for the lemon juice and whole milk.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Mix the lemon juice and milk together and let it stand in the fridge for as long as it takes to prepare the rest of the recipe. If you are using ½ cup buttermilk for this recipe, eliminate this step. Cube the butter and keep in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon. Add the butter. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or break up the butter into the flour by rubbing the butter and flour together between your fingers. Do this very quickly and randomly. You should still have lumps of butter varying from small (pea-sized) to large (blueberry sized). Do not let the butter get soft. If it does, return the bowl to the fridge for a few minutes.

Combine the eggs and milk mixture together and add to the flour mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a shaggy, lumpy mass. It’s ok that it’s not smooth or uniformly mixed in. It’s ok to see random lumps of butter still not mixed in.

Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently, with floured hands, pat it down into a rough rectangle shape about 1-inch thick. Use a spatula and pick up one end of the dough and fold it over in half. Pick up the entire dough piece and turn it 45-degrees. Flour your hands and pat it down into another rectangle.  Repeat this patting, folding, turning method 4-5 more times. Keep flour dusted underneath the dough as you turn it.  For the last pat-down, make sure the rectangle is about 10-12 inches long and 6 inches wide. Transfer the dough to a sheet pan and cover. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up the butter.

Use a 3 ½ -inch diameter biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter to cut the biscuits. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press the scraps together and pat and fold to recombine the dough. DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH TOGETHER. Continue cutting out biscuits and reforming the dough until they are all cut. Refrigerate the biscuits for about 30 minutes to firm up the butter.

Just before baking, lightly brush the egg wash over the tops of the biscuits and sprinkle the tops with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The biscuits will be firm to the touch. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool.

Macerated Strawberries:

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

Macerate the sliced strawberries in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let them sit for 15 minutes or keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. In our experience, strawberries taste best when they are cool, or at room temperature. We find that the chill from the refrigerator inhibits their flavor.

Crème Chantilly:

Makes 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

 Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Set all components aside until you are ready to serve.

Strawberry Shortcake and Whole Berries | www.dearmartini.wordpress.com

Broiled Grapefruit

Drunken Grapefruit

What could be better than grapefruit broiled with rum and brown sugar!

When I was a little girl my favorite Sunday brunches always included Broiled Grapefruit — “drunken grapefruit.” Mom would section the grapefruit and sprinkle them with rum and sugar. Dad would pop them under the broiler and be in charge of making sure they didn’t burn. To my young mind broiled grapefruit was the height of culinary perfection – just the right blend of sweet. sour, bitter, and my first taste of illicit rum.

sugar and spice

Broiled grapefruit are still a big hit in our house.  My only changes from the original recipe are–I prefer the complexity of brown sugar (or honey) to granulated sugar. I also like adding a pinch of cayenne to intensify the sweetness and a pinch of salt to mellow out the bitterness. The secret is all in the broiling. The heat of the broiler brings out the juices and melds all the components into a über-grapefruity, extra-juicy, deliciousness!

Broiled Grapefruit

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ruby red or pink grapefruit
  • 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
The secret is all in the broiling!

The secret is all in the broiling!

  • ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cayenne

Directions:

Preheat the broiler and adjust your oven rack to about 4-inches from the broiler.

Cut grapefruit in half crosswise.  Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so they don’t wobble.

Use a paring knife to cut around each of the segments to release them from the membrane and pith.  It’s an extra step but really improves the eating experience. Sprinkle with rum.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt and cayenne together.  Sprinkle the mixture over the grapefruit.

Broiled Grapefruit

I dare you not to lick the plate!

Place the grapefruit on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil grapefruit until the sugar has melted, and grapefruit is bubbly and slightly brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer broiled grapefruit to individual dishes and serve warm.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

happy VD DM

Happy Holidays, from Dear Martini!

Happy Holidays!

Dear Martini

Happy Holidays from Dear Martini

(Mia and Terri)!

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Cranberry Sauce, DearMartini-style

I know we’ve all got meaningful traditions that honestly make it THANKSGIVING for us.  If it’s not prepared a certain way, served in a specific dish, or if a recipe isn’t made, then to quote my friend Glenn, “Thanksgiving is RUINED.”  Yes, we are all set in our ways.  When we were kids, my cousin, Rita had this amazing ability to get the cranberry jelly out of the can and onto a serving plate so that the jelly retained the perfect shape of the can, ridges and all, with no marks whatsoever.  To this day, I still have no idea how she got it out so perfectly.

In our house, it’s not Thanksgiving without my mom’s chestnut stuffing.  For Rita, it’s not Thanksgiving without that perfectly-shaped can of cranberry jelly.  And for my husband’s family, it’s not Thanksgiving without Nonna’s handmade gnocchi.

We’d like to inspire you to make a NEW Thanksgiving tradition this time; by making a fresh cranberry sauce to serve alongside your feast.  It’s so easy to make an SO MUCH HEALTHIER for you than the store-bought stuff.  For those die-hards, serve this next to the canned stuff and see which one wins out (we’ve got our money on this one).

* Be sure to click on the blue links to see all the helpful videos we’ve prepared to guide you along!  Subscribe  to our YouTube Channel for more bite-sized technique videos!

Cranberry Sauce, DearMartini-style

Makes 2 cups

Cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving should be the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  We use dark brown sugar for a deeper sweetness, and orange juice to round out the sharpness of the berries.  Our secret ingredient:  crystallized ginger.  The ginger brings depth and a surprise of heat at the end.

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked through
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Stir together cranberries, orange zest, juice, sugar, and salt and pepper in a saucepan.  Simmer the mixture stirring occasionally over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop.  Remove from heat and stir in the ginger.

Cool sauce and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note:  Sauce can be prepared up to a week before Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Strawberry Shortcake — the classic all-American summertime dessert!

Strawberry Shortcake!

We’re in the last stretch of summer and if you haven’t already made this classic all-American dessert yet, now’s your chance!

Let’s say you’re invited to a friend’s house for a weekend backyard barbecue… and you want to contribute a dessert to the party but don’t know what to make? Herein lies your salvation. Bring strawberry shortcake! It’s everyone’s favorite! Bring the components with you in separate containers, and assemble just before serving.

There are only three components to this dessert: strawberries, whipped cream, and lightly sweetened biscuits. Follow our how-to videos to help you along with preparing each component. As always, we’ve created a portfolio of all relevant how-to videos on our Vimeo Channel: http://vimeopro.com/dearmartini/strawberry-shortcake. We hope this will earn its place in your arsenal of go-to dessert recipes!

Strawberry Shortcake

Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe shortcakes, recipe follows

2 cups sliced strawberries, macerated

2 cups creme chantilly, recipe follows

Zest of one lemon, from a traditional zester for garnish, or

8-10 fanned strawberries

Bake the shortcakes according to recipe and set aside.  While the shortcakes are baking, prep the strawberries for macerating and whip the cream. Serve immediately.

If you are taking the shortcakes to an event, it’s best to assemble the dessert on site.  Macerate the strawberries and whip the cream immediately before serving.

To assemble for serving:

Slice the biscuits in half and warm them in an oven set to 250°F for 10 minutes (this step is optional, but the biscuits are awesome when they are warmed!)

Arrange the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Place a generous spoonful of the macerated strawberries and the resulting syrup on the biscuit. Spoon a generous dollop (or quenelle) of whipped cream over the strawberries. Top with the top half of the biscuit. Repeat with the remaining biscuits. Garnish with either threads of lemon zest or a fanned strawberry. Serve immediately.

Recipes:

Shortcakes

Makes 12 biscuits

* in this recipe, the base recipe for the biscuits is derived from our scone recipe. We like to make our own acidulated milk instead of using buttermilk from the store; so if you wish to use buttermilk, substitute ½ cup for the lemon juice and whole milk.

2 teaspoons lemon juice or cider vinegar

½ cup whole milk

1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, beaten for egg wash

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar)

 

Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

Mix the lemon juice and milk together and let it stand in the fridge for as long as it takes to prepare the rest of the recipe. If you are using ½ cup buttermilk for this recipe, eliminate this step. Cube the butter and keep in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon. Add the butter. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender or break up the butter into the flour by rubbing the butter and flour together between your fingers. Do this very quickly and randomly. You should still have lumps of butter varying from small (pea-sized) to large (blueberry sized). Do not let the butter get soft. If it does, return the bowl to the fridge for a few minutes.

Combine the eggs and milk mixture together and add to the flour mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a shaggy, lumpy mass. It’s ok that it’s not smooth or uniformly mixed in. It’s ok to see random lumps of butter still not mixed in.

Transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and gently, with floured hands, pat it down into a rough rectangle shape about 1-inch thick. Use a spatula and pick up one end of the dough and fold it over in half. Pick up the entire dough piece and turn it 45-degrees. Flour your hands and pat it down into another rectangle.  Repeat this patting, folding, turning method 4-5 more times. Keep flour dusted underneath the dough as you turn it.  For the last pat-down, make sure the rectangle is about 10-12 inches long and 6 inches wide. Transfer the dough to a sheet pan and cover. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up the butter.

Use a 3 ½ -inch diameter biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter to cut the biscuits. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press the scraps together and pat and fold to recombine the dough. DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH TOGETHER. Continue cutting out biscuits and reforming the dough until they are all cut. Refrigerate the biscuits for about 30 minutes to firm up the butter.

Just before baking, lightly brush the egg wash over the tops of the biscuits and sprinkle the tops with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The biscuits will be firm to the touch. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool.

Macerated Strawberries:

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 tablespoons sugar

Macerate the sliced strawberries in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let them sit for 15 minutes or keep covered in the fridge until ready to use. In our experience, strawberries taste best when they are cool, or at room temperature. We find that the chill from the refrigerator inhibits their flavor.

Crème Chantilly:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

 Whip the cream with vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Set all components aside until you are ready to serve.

 Strawberry Shortcake recipe 500pxl