LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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A pie for all seasons

Mama likes to add the word “pie” to certain things. She thinks this will get me to eat them…and she’s often right. There’s tomato pie, for instance. And now I’ve been introduced to the “pot pie.” Specifically, a tiny little Jude-size pie filled with all kinds of savory yumminess.

Don't you just want to dig in?

Don’t you just want to dig in?

When Mama decides to make pot pies, she makes single-serving ones, and she makes two versions: a veggie one for herself and a chicken one for Papa (and I suppose me). While it seems like a lot of work—and it does take a few hours, or in our case, two nights after work—once the pot pies are done, they freeze well, and you’ll have 8 dinners on tap. Mama makes a few alterations to the recipes, and she has a couple tips for making both recipes at the same time.

First, make the dough for both. It’s easy enough to make one batch, then the next. The bits of dough left on the blade of the food processor after batch 1 aren’t going to affect batch 2, so don’t even bother cleaning it. (You could also make both batches together, if your food processor can handle the volume.) Wrap the dough disks and let them chill in the fridge. Mama says that’s so they can relax before we roll them. She also uses all butter, rather than half shortening.

Second, chop all your vegetables together. Even though you need chopped onions for the chicken pie and sliced onions for the veggie one, you can still prepare the onions all at once. Get your crying out of the way, Mama says. (Whatever that means.) Look over the recipes to see what can go together, and set out the appropriate bowls or containers. For example, for the veggie pie, the fennel and the onions go into the pot together, so Mama sliced them and set them aside in one bowl. Ditto the carrots, asparagus, and squash.

This is the veggie filling. Papa nicked some for a snack before Mama could finish making her pies.

This is the veggie filling. Papa nicked some for a snack before Mama could finish making her pies.

Third, both recipes make 8 larger pies, or about a dozen of the smaller ones. When you roll the dough, you probably won’t be able to get all 8 out of the first roll.

Turn a pie tin over onto the dough and cut the circles a little larger than that.

Turn a pie tin over onto the dough and cut the circles a little larger than that.

Gather the scraps, gently smoosh them together, and set the wad aside. Prepare as many pies as you have crusts for while the dough relaxes again. (Mama showed me how it just springs back to a little circle when you try to roll it again right away.)

This is a freshly rested disk of dough. It’s such a lovely, stretchy dough that even I could roll it fairly easily (though Mama did help).

This is a freshly rested disk of dough. It’s such a lovely, stretchy dough that even I could roll it fairly easily (though Mama did help).

As for the recipes, Mama skipped the Pernod in the veggie recipe, and it goes without saying that she used homemade veggie stock instead of chicken. And instead of par-cooking the veggies in water, she does it in the stock. You not only get extra-flavorful veggies, she says, but the stock gets an added boost, as well. Start with about 3 cups stock for the veggie version.

Don’t scrimp on the saffron. It’s a pricier spice, but Mama suggests going to an ethnic market, where items like this are often more reasonably priced.

Don’t scrimp on the saffron. It’s a pricier spice, but Mama suggests going to an ethnic market, where items like this are often more reasonably priced.

For the chicken pie, Mama didn’t pour in all 5 cups stock at once when she finished the sauce. It can get a little soupy, so she started with a quart and gauged what the thickness was like before proceeding.

This is the chicken filling. Fill one pie to see how much you want it filled, then stick with that amount for each pie. While the dough rests before its second re-roll, go ahead and egg-wash the rims of the pie plates and finish the pies.

This is the chicken filling. Fill one pie to see how much you want it filled, then stick with that amount for each pie. While the dough rests before its second re-roll, go ahead and egg-wash the rims of the pie plates and finish the pies.

The dough stretches a little bit, but not too much. It fits nicely over the bitty pot pie. Once the rims are egg-washed, it’s a matter of laying the dough on top and crimping the edges shut.

The dough stretches a little bit, but not too much. It fits nicely over the bitty pot pie. Once the rims are egg-washed, it’s a matter of laying the dough on top and crimping the edges shut.

Don’t forget to egg-wash the top, cut steam vents in the dough, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mama says that’s the best part.

Don’t forget to egg-wash the top, cut steam vents in the dough, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mama says that’s the best part.

To freeze, Mama covers the pies in both plastic wrap and foil. She sets them on a baking sheet and places them in the freezer that way. Once frozen, then she puts them in a ziptop plastic bag for storage. To bake, she puts them on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven, with the foil on, for half an hour to get the insides heated, then uncovers them for the final 45 to 60 minutes, to get the crust golden and flaky. To serve, Mama cooks brown rice or quinoa, but she says any grain would be a lovely addition. She likes to flip the pie over into a bowl of quinoa and mix it up that way. That sounds kind of yucky, though. And I don’t really like quinoa. But I do like these little pot pies.

I like it!

I like it!

Love, Jude


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I scream, you scream

Two of Mama’s favorite things to make are angel food cake and challah bread.

Mama made French toast with this yummy challah.

Mama made French toast with this yummy challah.

Luckily, they have a symbiotic relationship (or so Mama tells me), in that angel food cake needs egg whites, while challah calls for egg yolks. But they don’t require equal amounts of divided eggs. You’re going to have about half a dozen leftover yolks, which is just enough to make…

ICE CREAM!

You probably think that I don’t eat a whole lot of this delicacy. And you would be wrong. Well, at least by Mama’s standards, I do eat a lot of ice cream. (I could see eating it a couple more times a week, but that plea tends to fall on deaf ears…) But I was amazed when Mama finally showed me how to make ice cream. She couldn’t have gotten me out of the kitchen had she tried.

This is what you'd call soft serve.

This is what you’d call soft serve.

Making ice cream is like magic. First it’s cold, then it’s hot, then it’s cold again. Some folks might not consider this method very easy. And while it’s certainly true that not all ice creams are cooked first, cooking the base makes such a creamy difference (it’s also what makes it French). Besides, wouldn’t you rather eat cooked egg yolks?

Actually, probably the most difficult thing involved is splitting and scraping the vanilla bean. Mama showed me how to do it. Carefully cut it in half the long way, then hold onto one end with your finger pressed onto it. (If you need the whole pod, don’t cut all the way through so that you separate the whole bean; if you do, just do the next step with each half.) With the other hand, take the blade of your knife (either edge), and run it down the cut you just made, so you’re flattening the bean and scraping the seeds from inside it at the same time.

If you look closely, you can see the edges of the bean where the seeds were scraped out.

If you look closely, you can see the edges of the bean where the seeds were scraped out.

Okay, maybe this ice cream is a bit more complicated than scraping a vanilla bean, but when you taste it, you won’t even care.

Love, Jude

French Vanilla Ice Cream
(that will make you forget all your cares)

2 cups organic heavy cream
1/2 cup organic half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
5-6 organic egg yolks (1/2 cup)

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, half and half, sugar, and vanilla bean (pod and seeds) just to a boil.

You can see all those lovely vanilla bean seeds, and the pod adds a ton of flavor, too. Just look how thick and creamy it looks already.

You can see all those lovely vanilla bean seeds, and the pod adds a ton of flavor, too. Just look how thick and creamy it looks already.

Meanwhile, set yolks in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients and whisk gently to break them up. Once the cream is hot, pour a little bit (about 1/2 cup) into the egg yolks while whisking. (Mama says if you’re using a bowl that skids while you’re whisking, put a damp towel or washcloth beneath it.) Then slowly add the remaining cream to the yolks, whisking constantly. Mama calls this tempering and says that without it, the eggs would coagulate. I say the word “coagulate” is almost as bad as the word “moist.”

This is how the yolks look after just a little bit of tempering. See? No scrambled eggs.

This is how the yolks look after just a little bit of tempering. See? No scrambled eggs here.

Now you can do either of two things: You can pour everything back into the saucepan and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom of the saucepan), until it reaches 170˚F, which is how hot you want your eggs to be to render them safe. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell when it’s ready because it coats the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger down the back of the spoon it creates a channel that the cream doesn’t run into. This will take about 10 minutes. If you’re worried that you might scramble your eggs—they get pretty close if your heat is too high or you don’t keep stirring—then keep your cream mixture in the bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl).

When the cream doesn't slip back into the channel on the spoon, it's called nappé, and it means your custard is done.

When the cream doesn’t slip back into the channel on the spoon, it’s called nappé, and it means your custard is done.

Et voilà: You have your custard base for ice cream. (Aren’t you even a little excited?) Now strain it into a clean bowl. This will collect all the stray bits of coagulated egg and vanilla bean. (Rinse off that bean and stick it in  jar of sugar for vanilla sugar!) From here, let it cool a bit, then put it in the fridge to cool completely. If you’re in a bit of a rush, have your clean bowl (the one that’s going to receive the strained custard) sitting in a larger bowl filled with ice and a bit of water, and be sure to stir the custard periodically as it cools.

Straining ensures your custard is as silky as you deserve it to be after all that work.

Straining ensures your custard is as silky as you deserve it to be after all that work.

Pour your cold custard into an ice cream maker and process and freeze according to directions. (I’m just a toddler. You can’t expect me to explain everything.) If you want to add flavors, such as nuts or chocolate chips or bits of fruit, wait until the ice cream is nearly done churning before doing so.

Churn, baby, churn, and work your magic.

Churn, baby, churn, and work your magic.

Once it’s churned, stick it in the freezer, and just try not to think about it all the time. This recipe makes about a pint of ice cream, but it can easily be doubled…you know, in case you didn’t make challah bread after your angel food cake.

Come on, you've seen me lick spoons and spatulas before. Why should ice cream custard be any different?

Come on, you’ve seen me lick spoons and spatulas before. Why should ice cream custard be any different?

Note: Mama says you can subtly change the flavor of the custard base by steeping herbs (such as mint or chamomile) in the cream as it heats. One of her favorite blends is steeping lavender flowers in the cream, then adding honey during the final cooking phase or churning phase (depending on desired texture).


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It’s not too late to make popsicles!

I’d wanted to write about popsicles for some time, but Mama kept me pretty busy during the summer. Since I just finished the very last one, I thought better late than never. And you can still get good cantaloupes from your farmers’ market, so why not make a bunch of popsicles to enjoy on those Indian summer days that are still to come?

I’m sure you know how much I love frozen treats, whether they’re gelati or popsicles. I especially liked making these with Mama! She showed me how she cuts the cantaloupe, and then I put the pieces in the blender. Mama added the juice of a fat juicy lime and a bit of sweetened condensed milk (she thought this might make it more like a creamsicle). Then I covered my ears so she could whir it.

Jude on Food: You need a little bit of sugar in your popsicles to keep the melon from freezing solid.

We tasted it to see if it needed more S.C.M. (it did), and she whirred it some more.

Mama gave me a big slice of melon to munch on while I figured out these popsicle molds--they're from when Mama was a kid!

Mama gave me a big slice of melon to munch on while I figured out these popsicle molds. They’re from when Mama was a kid!

I helped pour the popsicle mixture into the molds. Mama had to take a few deep breaths, as I tended to miss the molds, but I did a pretty good job overall, she said.

It's amazing what a little kid can do when you take a deep breath and just let him.

It’s amazing what a little kid can do when you take a deep breath and just let him.

The hardest part was waiting for them to freeze…and then getting them out of the deep freezer, once Mama moved them from our kitchen freezer after I started helping myself.

Love, Jude

Cantaloupe Popsicles

1 lovely ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Juice of 1 lime (or 2, if you prefer)
1/2 small can sweetened condensed milk (more or less, to taste)

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until set.