Fool Proof Savory Pie Crust

Quick, easy and fool proof pie crust. It’ll be deliciously flaky and sturdy enough for your heaviest fillings.  Savory pies generally don’t need a second crust, so note that this recipe makes one 9″ pie crust.

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 Tbs butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Preparation

1. Sift flour and salt together in large bowl. Add shortening and butter.

2. “Cut” the fat into the dry ingredients with a small spatula or knife. Don’t use your hands or any warm utensil that might melt the shortening.

Once you have broken up and evenly distributed the fat, it should look like this:

3. Add the cold water and vinegar to the bowl and knead with your hands until the dough forms a ball. Ez as that! If you’re using it right away, turn out onto a well floured surface to roll out.

5. Trim the excess from the lip of the pan with a sharp knife and patch any gaps with the extra dough. Make sure to work quickly here so as not to melt the shortening.

Now, if you’d like, you can learn How to Crimp and Flute a Pie Crust to make your crust looks like this:

Speedy Quiche

With this from-scratch recipe, there’s no reason not to be making quiche on the regular. Only about an hour of your time and you’ve got the most versatile savory custard in the business. I’ve included a basic quiche filling recipe that, interestingly, calls for mayonnaise. And as for what you should add in to spice up your quiche, I would recommend looking up one that favors your tastes (epicurious is a good place to start) or just working with with any produce or breakfast meats that you’re looking to use up in your refrigerator.

Basic Quiche Filling

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I know its gross to some, but the oil in mayonnaise helps create a light, fluffy texture to the eggs)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 recipe Fool Proof Savory Pie Crust 

 

Filling preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, half and half, mayonnaise and flour. Salt and pepper according to taste.

2. Sautee any vegetables for the filling in a saucepan with oil and cook any meat that you wish to add fully before filling the bottom of the quiche crust. I used vegetarian sausage, green and red bell pepper and onion.

And then I topped it with some cubed swiss cheese.

3. Pour filling into quiche crust. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until the center is no longer liquid. Let quiche cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Now, relax & enjoy!

So quick, so delicious.

Pretzel Rolls

I was flipping through my journal and had an occasion to remember my love for soft pretzels when I came across a small reminder:

Deep.

So I searched through some pretzel bread recipes, realized they were basically just bagels  boiled in baking soda, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t made these sooner. So easy. And it only takes about hour and a half. Mine were ready by breakfast time!

Here’s what you need:

Pretzel Rolls

  • 1 Tbs dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 and 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1/3 cup baking soda

Preparation:

1.  Place 1 Tbs yeast in the bottom of mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add 1 tsp of the total amount of sugar to the yeast. Cover with warm water and watch it activate (it’s aliiiiive) over the next 5 or so minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Once the yeast has activated, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low speed until combined and the dough forms a ball around the hook. If the dough is too dry and starts to streak in the bowl, add a little more lukewarm water, 1 Tbs at a time, until the dough begins to pull away form the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in some more flour.

3. Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, increase to medium speed and let mix for about 8 minutes. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

4. Add the tablespoon of oil to the bottom of a bowl. Once dough is ready, turn it in the bowl to coat with oil and set aside in a warm dry place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. Punch down the dough and turn it out on a floured surface. Knead for about a minute, until the dough springs back when poked. Divide the dough into equal sections (depending on how large or small you wish your rolls to be). I ended up with seven small balls of dough, and that seemed to work just fine. Roll the cut dough into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet to rise for another fifteen to twenty minutes. At this point, if you wish, you can cut a small “X” on the tops of the dough.

6. While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, fill a large saucepan with water, add the 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and bring it to a boil. I would advise against dumping the baking soda into already boiling water, as mine exploded all over the stove upon contact (not pictured). The water should be frothy. Also, preheat your oven to 425 for the pretzel baking. Oh yeah.

7. Using a slotted spoon, drop one of the balls into the boiling water for 1 minute, flipping it halfway through to boil both sides. Place on the greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

8. Once all the dough has been boiled and salted, bake them at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Breakfast is served.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Maybe Gravy

Obviously, there’s nothing better than a warm buttermilk biscuit. But it’s Le Sunday, so why not eat like a Queen/King and heap on the gravy? You might not feel like getting off the couch for bit, but you certainly won’t regret it.

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice in 3/4 cup of whole milk
Preparation:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and combine.
2. Cut chilled butter into smaller sections, and disperse throughout the flour.The goal here is to break up the butter into smaller chunks within the flour before it melts in our hands. One method involves rubbing a handful of the mixture vigorously between your palms until it sifts out, but feel out what works for you. If you’re still not getting the hang of it, check out the beginner basics on the biscuit method.
Just make sure to stop when the mixture begins to look like this:
3.  Add the buttermilk and use your hands or a wooden spoon to slowly work the liquid into the dough.
In order to make sure the biscuits stay crumbly when baked, do not over mix the dough. It should look like it’s way too dry and crumbling apart. Resist the urge to add more liquid.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pile the dough onto a floured surface and press it with your palms until it is about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.Use a cookie cutter or another kitchen device (like a jar lid) to form the biscuits and place them “shoulder to shoulder” on a cookie sheet (they will use each other rise -neat huh?).
5. Bake biscuits for 9 minutes or until tops and sides are deliciously golden.
Serving suggestions, as if any are needed, might include more butter, jam, honey, Nutella, leftover fried chicken. Or maybe, make some gravy.
Sausage Gravy
  • About a pound of uncooked sausage. I thought I cheaped by buying Jimmy Dean, but this guy would disagree.
  • About 1 Tbs black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1.5 cups to 2 cups milk or cream (depending on how thick you like your gravy)
  • Tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cook the sausage and spices of your choosing over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the meat it is no longer pink.

2. Reduce to low heat, corral the cooked meat on one side of the pan and tilt it slightly so that the oil goes to the opposite side. Add flour to exposed oil, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk them together until the liquid is thicker and your strokes expose the skillet.

3. Stir sausage with the flour and oil and add 1.5 cups of milk or cream. Let the gravy simmer on low heat until it thickens. If it thickens too much, add some milk and stir. If it is too thin, add some flour and stir.

4. Slop over biscuits (it won’t be pretty) and fill up for the start of the week.

“Just Like Cheez-It®” Crackers

Snack guilt-free on these flaky, cheesy crackers – made with love and preservative free!

“Just Like Cheez-It®” Crackers

  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 8 oz of sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 5 Tbs cold water
  • itty bitty cookie cutter or knife to section dough

Preparation:

1. Put flour, butter, cheese, salt, and cayenne pepper into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until all the ingredients are combined.

2. Add water 1 Tbs at a time, and mix until the dough forms a ball in the bowl of the processor.

3. Press dough into a disk shape (to make rolling it out later a little easier), wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll until desired thickness is reached. Use a cookie cutter (mine’s a bat!) to press shapes into the dough, or use a knife to cut the dough into cracker sized squares.

5. Carefully place the cut dough on a parchment lined baking pan making sure they are at least a half inch apart. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes on a center rack until they just begin to brown. Let the crackers cool on a wire rack and taste a few. At this point they should still be slightly soft in the middle, and if that’s your thing, you’re done. If you prefer a flakier, crispier cracker, keep on reading.

6. Set oven to 250 degrees. Toss cooled crackers on a baking sheet (they can touch, overlap at this point) and bake for 15 – 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent any burning edges. Once the crackers reach the right level of crispness, pull them from the oven and enjoy!

Flaky layers!

Cheesy Bats!

Packaged bats!

Friends love ’em!

Crêpes

Sponge-like, skinny French pancakes, filled to your tastes!

Crêpes

  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation:

1. Beat eggs until smooth. Add oil and milk, stirring well after each addition. Whisk wet ingredients until bubbles form and they are completely combined.

2. Add flour slowly and whisk until no lumps are visible.

3. Set aside for 1 hour so that the batter can reach room temperature.

4. Heat flat bottomed frying pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles and jumps around the pan. (If the water evaporates, the skillet will be too hot.)

5. Grease pan with 1/4 tsp of butter.

6.  Stir the batter and pour about 1/4 of a cup in the center of the pan, quickly rotating it so that the batter flows quickly across the surface. Drips are a-okay, they add character.

7. The crêpe should immediately set and form tiny bubbles. If batter makes a smooth layer, the pan is too cool. Cook for about 40 seconds before coaxing an edge off the pan and flipping the crêpe with your fingertips.

8. Cook the underside for another 20 seconds (it will not brown like the outer side).

9. Fill crêpes with whatever filling you choose–sweet or savory–and roll. Serve hot. Some ideas:

Sweetened Greek Yogurt and Blackberry Jam

Scrambled Eggs and Pico De Gallo

Butter, Brown Sugar & Cinnamon

Fresh Pasta

Simple egg and flour pasta recipe shaped by hand or pasta maker.

All you need to make the dough is 2 eggs for every 1 cup of flour. (This will yield 2  servings of pasta).

Note: I’ve used semolina flour (a durum wheat product) to make a more traditional pasta, but regular ol’ all purpose flour will work just fine.

Simply make a well in the flour, crack the eggs into the center, and mix slowly by hand. If you feel like doing more dishes, feel free to use a food processor to blend.

Next, turn the dough out onto a floured surface

and knead until the dough looks less and less grainy (about 10 minutes).

Once your dough looks like this:

You’re there.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least an hour.

If you’re working sans pasta press the product will be slightly thicker and less uniform, but delicious just the same.

Start by rolling the dough from center to end on a floured surface until it is as thin as you can get it without ripping. Periodically let the dough rest and retract.

Once the dough is rolled out, experiment with different tools for slicing the dough into long thin strips. I began by cutting the dough into fourths for easier handling. My giant kitchen scissors proved too awkward to handle the dough so I opted for an X-ACTO knife and a ruler to make long thin strips. Be creative with the tools you have around and find the one that works for you. If you choose to slice your pasta into thicker strips (more like fettucini than spaghetti) just make sure to adjust the cook time.

And after a few tedious minutes, voila! Pasta!

And if you’re lucky enough to own or borrow a pasta maker, set it up according to the instructions, making sure it is solidly attached to the countertop.

Adjust the roller thickness opposite the crank to level one (the largest of six). Flatten the dough with your hands until it looks like it will fit into the rollers.

Shove the end of the dough into the machine and begin cranking. Don’t panic if the sides curl or if there are a few runs in the dough when it comes out, this is expected on the first couple of runs. After the dough is flattened to the same thickness, fold it in half and run it through setting one again, guiding the dough with one hand and cranking with the other. Only flour the dough on the outside only if you see small tears or if the dough starts sticking to itself.

Repeat the process of cranking the dough through the machine three times on each setting. Once the desired thickness is reached, attach the cutter tool onto the top of the machine and crank the though through the cutter one time, flouring the finished product to make sure the edges don’t stick together.

If you’re ready to cook the pasta right away, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt and the fresh pasta, cooking for 2-4 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. If you’re not ready to eat the pasta right away, or if there is extra, toss in more flour and store in sealed bag in the refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for up to a month.

Try this amazing homemade bolognese on top of your pasta or find a recipe of your own.

Absolutely.

Homemade English Muffins

“[English] Muffins may well originate as far back as the 10th century, yet the muffin became a fashionable bread (love it) during the 18th century. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were dozens of muffin factories in existence, and the “muffin man” was a common sight.” ¹

Celebrate 2012 by making your own! Easily frozen and de-thawed so you can enjoy those homemade nooks and crannies whenever you want. No fancy electric mixer needed.

Inspired by a delicious post from a fellow food blogger’s site, pete bakes!, I amended the recipe (originally from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice) according to the ingredients I had available. Here’s what worked for me:

From-Scratch English Muffins

  • 3 cups of flour plus more for kneading
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp dry active yeast  (if you have instant yeast, follow the original recipe at the bottom of the page)
  • 1 Tbs melted butter
  • 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup of milk (room temperature)
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1/2 cup of cornmeal

Preparation:

1. Sift (or mix) 3 cups of flour and salt in large bowl.

2. Melt 1 Tbs of butter in microwave and add 3/4 cups of room temperature milk. If you microwave the milk to hasten the process, make sure that it does not scorch or become too hot.

3. Measure 1/4 cup of water from the faucet. Turn on the hot knob and wait until it is lukewarm. Dissolve 1/2 Tbs of sugar into the water and add yeast, stirring briefly to avoid lumps. Let the yeast, water and sugar stand until bubbles form and doubles in size (8 – 10 minutes).

If the yeast does not become bubbly or double the dough will not rise. In this case, consider the temperature of the water: if it is too hot the yeast will collapse and if it is too cold the reaction will not take place. If it still doesn’t work after a few trials, it’s not you, it’s the yeast – consider the expiration date or the storing method (yeast is best stored in a cool, dark place).

After a few minutes, the yeast should begin foaming on the top.

4. Pour activated yeast into milk and butter, stir to combine. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour liquids in the middle. Stir with a spoon until combined, adding more flour if dough is too sticky.

5. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

6. Pour oil into large bowl and turn dough over to coat on all sides. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

7. Cut dough into eight equal parts, roll them into balls, and flatten them with the palm of your hand. If the dough is sticky, cover your work surface with a tiny bit of cornmeal.

8. Sprinkle cornmeal on foil lined baking sheet. Toss dough with cornmeal on each side. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for another hour at room temperature.

9. After an hour, the dough should be slighly puffier, but not much larger than before. Preheat the oven to 350 then heat about 1 Tbs (or more, depending on size of pan) in skillet over medium heat. Carefully scoop dough off of baking sheet and into skillet. Cook until each side browns and avoid “smushing” the dough down while cooking. Add more oil if necessary.

10. To ensure that the dough cooks all the way through, bake the muffins on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. Split with serrated knife, butter and serve. Store extra muffins in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or for longer in the freezer. (To reheat frozen muffins quickly, wrap with wet paper towel and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute).