Friday, February 26, 2010

Filling the Pastry Shell

I wanted something fast, different, and tasty. I was chilly outside and I was in the mood for pot pie. But I didn't want to make it and wait - it was after 5 already. So I dug in the freezer. Did I really buy these puff pastry shells? Yes, I really did. Hmmm....I feel a plan coming on.

Here's the result. I make rice or mashed potatoes to go with this:

Single Savory Pies
1 box puff pastry shells
1/2 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch bits
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 carrot, sliced
3/4 cup soy crumbles
1/2 cup cubed butternut squash (I cut mine up and freeze it for just these sorts of occasions)
1 cup (more or less) vegetable broth
1 Tbl. olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven according to puff pastry directions (I think it's 450 degrees). Bake shells for about 25-30 minutes until they are browned. Scoop out the tops, leaving a decent bottom portion. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat oil, then brown soy crumbles for a few minutes. add beans and carrots and saute until cooked through. Add squash and heat through until slightly soft. Add, peas and heat 2 minutes, then add broth and thyme and heat through. Thicken mixture with a little corn starch. It should be bubbly and the consistency of a good gravy. Add salt and pepper, then spoon into shells. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When The World Gives You Lemons...

Sometimes you just want something different. What's more satisfying than say limoncello in December? Well, limoncello in January. Or February. In fact, I'd say it's a very nice way to bring a little sunshine into a cold, snowy environment. So I decided to make my own.

There are some critical things to know about making limoncello - you have to start with good lemons. The best, in my opinion, have a vibrant aroma when you run your nail across the rind. Also, you're using just the rind, and you're using seven lemons. Try to plan out what to do with the actual juice and pulp.

And that rind? If you get even an ounce of the white pith on the rind, you're going to end up with bitter limoncello. When the recipe says "rind only" consider it a warning.

You should know that making limoncello today means you're about two weeks from a finished product. It takes time.

I peeled the rind carefully, sat the works on the kitchen counter and waited the two weeks. It was worth the wait. Because you control the ingredients, you control the amount of sugar. I like mine less sweet, as the ultra-sugary ones in the stores are headache-inducing.

Here's my attempt:


7 lemons
1 bottle (750 ml) vodka
4 cups water
2-3 cups white sugar (less sweet is better)

Carefully peel the rind, making sure there's no white pith on it. Place into a large pitcher (2 quarts works well). Add vodka to rind and cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid. Let it sit at room temperature for 10-14 days.

Ten to fourteeen days later, mix water and sugar in saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Add to lemon/vodka mixture. Strain out lemon rinds. (You can take out the rinds prior to adding the water, if you like.)

Bottle and store in the refrigerator. It will keep up to a year.

Because it's yellow, do label it. Otherwise, it looks, well, rather like a sample for your doctor.