Archive | September, 2011

KISS ME Apple Pie!

26 Sep

Hello, strangers!

Yes, it’s me again, the bad-blogger girl. It’s been a hella (can you tell I miss NorCal?) long time since my last blog post, and I must apologize for that. I really don’t have an excuse for you, other than that I’ve been pretty busy. LAME! However, I hope this delicious Kiss Me Apple Pie recipe will make the wait worthwhile!

I absolutely adore all apple pies–definitely in my list of Top 10 favorite foods. It’s just such a comforting, down-to-earth, homey, all-American, totally delicious dessert! There are a million different ways of baking it, all of which I want to try one day, but for this blog, a simple Kiss Me Apple Pie with crumble topping kicks off the Fall season fabulously.

I call it by this name because the crust is so amazingly flaky, the filling is sweetened and spiced just right, the crumble on top adds a scrumptious accompanying texture, and the rich caramel sauce warms you from the inside out…  so much so in fact, that after his first bite, the bf gave me a gigantic kiss–even more delicious than the pie, might I add. TMI? sawree. :] Needless to say, I stowed this recipe away in my mind as a keeper for sure!

ANYWAY! {awkward chuckle} I can only speak from my personal experience, so I don’t guarantee that this pie will always produce kisses, but have no fear! I can definitely assure you that whoever you share this with will no doubt express loads of affection. Hugs. Gushings of your greatness. Noogies. Make this for your Dad? Your math students on Pi Day? Friend’s baby shower? Thanksgiving dinner? For the benefit of your own serotonin receptors? Dive right into the recipe below!

* <-Asterisks mean that I’ve written a note or two below about the indicated step at the end of the recipe.

9-Inch Pie Crust*
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. of salt
1 Pinch of sugar
6 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. shortening
Scant 2 Tbsp. ice water

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together.
  2. Cut half of the butter into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and use a pastry blender* to cut it into the dry ingredients until the dough looks like cornmeal. Add the rest of the butter and the shortening* in the same manner, but this time stop when the fat pieces are about 1/8-1/4 inch.*
  3. Sprinkle in the water and toss the dough with a fork until it has come together in lumps. Try to get it so that there is no dry flour left.
  4. However, if there is dry flour, don’t add more water. Simply do your best to gather the dough in the bowl as best you can by pressing it together. Knead only if you need (haha), and very minimally!*
  5. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.*
  6. After the resting period, preheat your oven to 375. Lightly flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin. Quickly roll the ball of dough into a 12-13-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. If this is hard (I definitely struggle), I suggest laying plastic wrap down on your surface instead of flour. Then on top of your flattened ball of dough, another sheet of plastic wrap. This makes it easy for the rolling pin to not stick, and also makes it easy to pick up the circle of dough without tearing. :)
  7. Ease your crust into a 9-inch pie place, without stretching.* Trim the overhanging edges or turn the dough under the plate’s edges. You can make a pretty scalloped edge by crimping it with your fingers, or merely press fork tines into the rim. Prick the bottom of the pan all over with a fork.
  8. You can let the pie rest in the freezer for an additional 15-30 minutes, but this is only to make sure the crust doesn’t shrink in the oven. If you don’t have time, this step is of course optional. Bake the crust with pie weights (optional) for 20 minutes or until it’s dry on the bottom.
  9. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. You can cover the crust edges with foil if they get too brown before the bottom dries.

Apple Pie Filling
6 1/2 c. Peeled, sliced cooking apples (Don’t know which apples to use? See this handy cooking apple guide by the amazing Joe Pastry)
3 Tbsp
Lemon juice
1/4 c. Flour
1/2 c. Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Salt

  1. Mix apples, lemon juice, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.* Fill the pie shell.

Crumb Topping
1/2 c. Flour
1/2 c. Regular oats
1/2 c. Brown sugar
3/4 c. Cold salted butter
1/3 c. Chopped Pecans

  1. Cut the butter into the flour. Add the brown sugar, oats, and continue cutting until the pieces are about 1/8-inch big. Top the apple filling with the crumble.
  2. Cover the pie crust edges with foil to prevent them from burning while the filling bakes. Pop the pie in the oven (still at 375) for 50 minutes. You can check your pie crust edges a couple times during this process. Judge how brown you want the edges to be–you can take off the foil at the end of the baking period or leave it on.
  3. Open up the oven and top the pie with the chopped pecans. Bake for another 5 minutes and remove the pie to cool.
  4. You can top the pie with caramel topping from a store-bought jar, or make THIS amazing caramel sauce from Annie’s Eats (one of my favorite cooking/baking blogs). For now, I’m not going to instruct you on how I made the caramel sauce for this pie. As mentioned before in this previous post, it didn’t turn out so well. *facepalm* Luckily, my bf actually loved the crunchiness of the caramel “sauce” (a.k.a. hard caramel candy) that I made. Haha go figure! The end!


  • Because making this crust can be time consuming (especially the rest period), I suggest making a double batch and freezing the other half!
  • Warm butter is easier to melt and distribute all through the flour, which is why we use cold butter and cold water. Hands are warm and melt butter, so that’s why pastry blenders or food processors are best for cutting butter into flour. If you don’t have either, you can use two dinner knives in both hands, but this is a bit laborious, and I suggest investing in a pastry blender. They’re affordable!
  • Butter makes a pie crust have that amazing taste. Shortening helps it have a flaky nature. Both are good to have in a pie crust.
  • The method of cutting fat into flour for pastry dough (like pie crust) ensures that the fat is not evenly distributed, but instead that the dough is a heterogeneous mixture with small lumps of fat throughout. In using this technique, the big slices of butter are slowly cut smaller, and are covered by more and more flour. It’s important to stop before the pieces get too small, otherwise your dough will be too homogeneous and your pie crust won’t be as flaky.
  • Kneading makes the dough more homogeneous, which is why we want to keep that minimal in the ball-forming step.
  • Resting the dough in the fridge is important, because the enzymes in the wheat flour react with the moisture from the water, and release their gluten proteins. Gluten strands are loosened and lengthened in the resting process.
  • When the pie shell is rolled out and baked, the gluten strands are stretched. When the crust is baked, the gluten strands will snap back into their non-loosened formation if they aren’t allowed a good rest period after being placed in the plate. Pie weights are usually small metal balls that are placed in the bottom of the pie to further help the crust from shrinking. You can also put foil down, and fill the pie with dry beans or rice in place of pie weights.
  • Some people suggest letting your sliced apples sit in a colander for 30 or so minutes, in order to let some of the moisture drain out/evaporate. This would prevent a soupy pie filling, but I’ve never actually noticed a difference with this tip.

There you have it, folks…  Kiss Me Apple Pie, a perfect way to start fall, in my opinion! Serve up the slices warm to your screaming fans sitting at the kitchen table. A dollop of vanilla ice cream wouldn’t hurt either. I really hope you guys enjoy this one. :)

Also, I have been faithfully baking away at the inspired recipe that was promised a long time ago. Please trust, I have 3 failed batches wrapped up in the fridge, waiting for some poor soul to eat. A good (hopefuly) batch is coming soon!

<3 ATP

Pie crust adapted from Lindsey Remolif Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts
Filling adapted from Ree Drummond’s Scrumptious Apple Pie


Quick Update!

17 Sep

Here’s a lightning-fast update!

  • I’ve added a few new awesome blogs to my blogroll! Be sure to check them out!
  • The About ATP section is now actually about me, and not a copy of my first post (haha). It includes this site’s new email address,! If you have a question or comment that you don’t want to address in the comment section, shoot me an email!
  • I’ve discovered how to add the RSS feed link in the menu bar! Now you can subscribe via whichever feed you’re using. :)
  • Made some other small tweaks
  • The promised inspired recipe from my week up and down CA is not forgotten! I’m working on it, and it’s taking a long time because I procrastinate, and also because this is the first time I’ve ever made my own original recipe!

Meanwhile, here’s a photo from said trip!

at the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park

Delicious Pavlova- More uses for the last of the summer fruits!

15 Sep


First let me apologize for the horrible picture– I am sorry! However, there is an explanation as to why this photo is more horrible than usual.

I was cooking 3 things at once! With two other people! It was Easter and my roomies also needed to use the kitchen! I transported this pavlova to its destination on a 30+ minute bus ride! My fruit was a little over-ripe!

There… do you forgive me yet? I promise to work harder on my food presentation and photography skills. After all, David Lebovitz (one of my heroes) says, “You eat with your eyes,” and I for sure want to make things look appetizing on this blog!

This pavlova was born because it was Easter (my favorite holiday), and one my good friends Sam was holding a potluck dinner at his apartment. I asked Sam what I could contribute, and he declared that I should definitely make a pavlova. This was quite fitting, seeing as we all knew Sam loves pavlova, and I only ever make desserts. Hehe. I had never even heard of such a dessert before I came to know Sam (who by the way, is a pretty big foodie guy), so it may be a good idea to explain what the deal is for those of you who haven’t heard of it either!

This delectable delicacy hails from the Australian continent, and I say “continent” because there’s a big hullabaloo about whether it originated in Australia or New Zealand (most people say it comes from New Zealand). It was named after a famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who was on tour down under in the 20’s. It consists of a BIG HUNK of meringue (basically a cake of meringue), topped with whipped (chantilly) cream, and then topped with any chopped fruit of your liking. Pretty simple, right? I used whatever fruit I had on hand, and chose to include kiwi’s of course, ’cause kiwi’s are native to the Australia/NZ and I am authentic like that.

Despite the shortened time this meringue had to cool (we were in a rush to catch the bus!), and the bumpy ride it experienced thereafter, the guests at the potluck dinner enjoyed it immensely! It comes out so light, crunchy and sweet, like a soft crisp cloud! Combined with the smooth richness of the whipped cream and the tart fruit on top, this dessert makes for a crowd-pleaser. Not to mention, the colorful array is eye-catching and a true showstopper. Oh, how could i forget!? It’s a low-fat option compared to many other desserts (although that wasn’t our main concern, right?)! Please make this for your next get-together–and soon!–before all the delicious summer fruit goes out of season! Your friends who have had pavlova before will be so pleased that they could revisit this exotic treat, and those who haven’t heard of it before will be doubly impressed!

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar (granulated is fine, too)
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla

Whipped Cream
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat your oven to 275 and place the rack in the middle
2. On a piece of parchment paper, trace a 7-inch diameter circle. Flip the paper over onto a baking sheet so that the pencil-lead is facing downward. You don’t want pencil lead in your pavlova!
3. Beat the whites on medium high speed in a large bowl till they form soft peaks.
4. Add the sugar very gradually while keeping your mixer on. Continue beating till you have glossy peaks.
5. At this point, reduce your mixer speed to slow and mix in the vanilla, cornstarch, and vinegar. I read somewhere that the vinegar gives your meringue that toasty pale-brownish color when it comes out of the oven.
6. Now tip all of the whipped egg whites into the circle on the baking sheet. You can use a spatula to make the edges of the circle a bit higher than the middle. You want a slight bowl shape in your meringue so that it can hold the whipped cream and the fruit.
7. Bake that meringue for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. In this waiting time, you can wash and chop the fruit, and make the whipped cream.
8.To make the whipped cream, beat the cream and vanilla until it forms peaks. Simple as that! It also helps to use a metal bowl that has been placed in the freezer!
9. When the meringue has finished baking, turn off the oven and open the door of the oven so that it is slightly ajar. This is to let the meringue cool slowly. 30 minutes like this should be just fine!

*Note* [i.e. you can skip this part if you like]: We do this because the egg whites have little tiny air bubbles whipped into them. The heat of the oven causes the gas in these bubbles to expand (PV=nRT! shoutout, high school chem teacher!), and cooling the meringue too rapidly would cause these bubbles to deflate in a second. The meringue could then collapse and crack, which we don’t like. The same goes for baking souffles and cheesecakes. It’s better to have a pretty, puffy souffle and a smooth, non-cracked cheesecake, so cooling slowly is the best way to go.

10. Assemble by adding the whipped cream and the chopped fruit on top! Serve immediately after assembling (you don’t want the cream to make the meringue soggy!)

There you go! A dessert that consists of ingredients everyone has in their fridge or pantry, that is visually pleasing, that doesn’t take crazy amounts of skill to tackle, and that is above all, extraordinarily delicious.  What more could you ask for? Well, I guess I would ask for a table full of friends to share it with… :)

What about you? Have you tried pavlova before? Do you think you could make this for your buddy next door? Any tips you have for me and the next time I make this? Let me know in the comments below!


Note #2: Do you find that you dislike mangoes? Could it be that the type you originally tried was full of displeasing fibers that stuck in your teeth? I’m here to tell you that there is hope for a mango victim such as yourself. You see, there are two most common types of mangoes that you might find in your grocery store– Tommy and Kent. Tommy is the evil, fibrous kind. He’ll bother and pester you until you just leave him alone. He can only be dealt with if you pulverize him to a soup/puree. Kent on the other hand is the sweet and agreeable mango. He’s not tough, or gritty, or sinewy, or wiry, or coarse. He’s just tender all the way through. :) Try a Kent mango and maybe your mango-jaded outlook will change!

Note #3: Many people find cutting up mangoes to be difficult. I sure did when I was first faced with the task! However, observing my mom and her mango cutting/eating skills, I learned quickly how to best maneuver around the oblong pit.

  • A mango is oddly formed! It is round, but two faces of it’s oblong shape are wider/bigger than the other two. In this picture above, the wider faces are toward us and behind the mango, while the smaller/narrower faces are on the top and the bottom of the picture.
  • The goal is to cut the mango flesh off the long seed, so leave the skin on and basically cut off the two wide faces of the mango with your knife.
  • Take the two wide faces that are now separate from the pit, and score them with inch-wide squares. Run your knife along the skin to separate the squares. You’ll get perfect little mango cubes!
  • The flesh on the two narrow faces of the mango still contain a lot of fruit! Feel for the pit with your knife and cut those sides off too. Score them as much as you can, and cut off the squares, just as you did with the wider faces.
  • Now make like me and munch on the remaining mango flesh that surrounds the naked pit. :) Mmm now I’m craving some, and badly!

Labor Day/Week Wonderfulness

8 Sep

Friends, readers, it’s been quite a while since my last post on homemade vanilla marshmallows! I’ve got to tell you, since then, I’ve seen so many wonderful marshmallow ideas, from layered neapolitan, to espresso, to mint! Not only that, but I’ve been accumulating recipe ideas to share with you all. But until then, I think I should provide an explanation for why I’ve haven’t been posting…

I’ve been studying for a “fake” O-Chem test, driving up to LA to visit my friends for the labor day weekend, and then driving back up to the Bay with my boyfriend to visit college friends and take care of some last few odds and ends. But guess what I’ve tasted since then!?

– Burgers at Eureka!,
– A seasoned beef plate at a very fast and convenient Zankou Chicken (tabouleh is my ultimate favorite! And why don’t we have these where I live?!)
– Hibiscus Mojito and Prickly Pear Caipirinha at Zengo,
– The most delicious grilled cheese and tomato bisque at Yardhouse (I HAVE to learn how to make this soup!)
– Steak and blue cheese salad at Firehouse Grill,
– Scrumptious (and free!) chocolate tastings at TCHO Chocolate Factory.
– Korean BBQ sandwich, basil limeade and cinnamon sweet tea at Naked Lunch, YUM!
– House chips and dip along with a South Side Cocktail and a sip of tha bf’s Sazerac at Comstock Saloon (we were recommended this place, and with good reason!),
– Pies at Una Pizza Napoletana (pure, unadulterated goodness!)
– One of my favorite flavors ever (Secret Breakfast) at Humphry Slocombe ice cream

Guys, I am so excited because I was inspired to devise a recipe based on one of these things that I’ve tasted over the past week! You’ll have to wait to see how it’s created, but I guarantee it will make you smile!

Until I return home,

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