An Easy Crust for Pies and Tarts

Here is a super simple dough to use for pies and tarts. One key to working with any tart dough is to keep it cold. This allows the fat to melt while baking which creates light, flaky crusts.

Plum Blackberry Almond Tart

With lots of holiday events approaching, here is a simple basic approach to a nice pie or tart dough.

If you want a double crust, double the recipe. This only makes 1 crust.

Easily done by hand, you can also use a food processor, just pulse the ingredients without the water, add water, bit by bit to make the dough mass. You may use all the water, only some or you may need more. It depends on how much moisture your flour holds.

Easy Pie or Tart Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 – 5 tablespoons ice-cold water

If creating the crust by hand, combine the salt and sugar with the flour. Cut the cubed butter into the flour using a pastry cutter, two knives or a fork.

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry...

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry blender. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cut the fat into the flour

When the mix resembles a coarse mixture (you still want to see some globs of butter, don’t make it smooth) add the ice-cold water tablespoon by tablespoon.

The mass should come together. Only use as much water as you need to bring the ball together. You may need more water or less water. This is why you add it bit by bit.

Add enough water to just bring the dough ball together when you squeeze it.
You want to see blobs of fat in the dough, not smooth.

Press the dough into a ball and place it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Press it into a disk.

Refrigerate until cold.

Roll the dough between sheets of plastic wrap

Roll the chilled dough out to the size you need while it is still in between the wrap. This makes it easier to handle and is much easier to clean up too.

Remove one side of the plastic wrap. Position the dough over the pie or tart pan and press it into place.

Alternatively, you can press the dough into the pan and then chill while you prepare the filling.

Much easier is to use the fluted tart pans with the removable bottoms. Press the dough into the tart pan. Make sure you have at least 1/4 inch at the sides and at the curve of the pan so it is strong enough to stand on its own when the pan is removed.

Small fluted tart shells ready for filling

The fluted edge pans give all your tarts such a professional finished look, they are so worth the investment. Since they come in many sizes, you can make large tarts or small individual ones and any size in between.

Ready to fill and bake. See the fat? That means you will have a flaky crust.

Fill them just as you would a pie.

If you use a top crust, decorate it with dough cut outs instead of just a pile of dough on top of the filling.

Or use a strusel topping or leave the fruit exposed and glaze with melted apple or seedless raspberry jelly when the tart is done. This puts a “sealing glaze” on the fruit and makes it shiny. The photo of the Plum and Blackberry Almond Tart at the beginning of this post is finished with melted red currant jelly.

Here are some of my thoughts about using other ingredients besides water and butter.

Butter: Fat is fat, at least the melting point of butter is lower than body temperature. Fat provides tenderness and flavor to the crust. I’d rather eat butter than Crisco or lard or hydrogenated oils like margarine. I have yet to try coconut oil.

Water: Some recipes will ask you to use vodka instead of water. It provides a flaky crust too. Alcohol evaporates faster than water therefore creating a flakier crust. Try it if you like. I don’t drink distilled spirits so it never occurs to me to use vodka.

Flour: Use a good quality organic flour. You can use gluten-free flours too. I’m just not too sure how strong the non-wheat flours will hold up in a fluted pan once the outer ring is removed. My experience is most gluten-free baked goods are crumbly due to the lack of gluten.  Not sure how to over come that but since I’m not gluten-free, I use King Arther’s unbleached AP flour and I get pretty crusts.

I do know if I had to go gluten-free, I would miss pie crust, tarts, and good chewy bread tremendously.

No matter what liquid you use, just be sure it is ice-cold. I use a large measuring cup with lots of ice and water and scoop what I need from there. When finished, I pour the cold water into a glass and make lemonade or tea. I suppose you could do the same with vodka. Use lots of ice.

Bake off empty shells by lining with parchment and filling with rice or beans and baking until done. Fill with fresh fillings.

Fill unbaked shells with fruits, custards, fillings and bake until golden and bubbly. Times vary but usually take 45-55 minutes in a 350°F oven.

There are so many finishing and fillings!

Use any left over scraps to make dough cut outs. Egg wash them and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on a cookie sheet until golden brown. Use these on the top of the tarts, place them when the tart is still hot from the oven or serve as a garnish with each serving.

Be creative.

4 Safe Methods for Thawing Food

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph sh...

Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food safety is a serious subject. I am passionate about preventing food borne illness. I have been teaching the subject to restaurants, hospitals, schools, dietary managers, nursing homes and at the college level since 1991. I am a Food Safety expert.

This is the launch of a series of food safety articles.

The first subject is on 4 Safe Methods of Thawing Foods.

There are 4 safe methods for thawing food. Following one of these methods can help prevent making your family and friends sick with a food borne illness.

1. Thaw under refrigeration.

This takes some planning. Sort out  your refrigerator so you have a designated drawer on the bottom of your fridge to hold raw meats.

If you want to defrost a whole 3 pound chicken, it will take about 4 days to thaw. You need to plan a place where it can do so safely. All thawing meats should be positioned so they are not dripping onto any foods below them. Place them in containers to catch thawing juices.

In My Fridge

In A Fridge (Photo credit: Nikita Kashner)

Store food according to:”Swim, Walk, Fly”

  • Ready to eat foods on top
  • Things that swim (Including oysters, clams etc. If it comes from the water, it is considered a “swimming thing.”
  • Things that walk around (On hooves and feet and have fur or hair like pork, lamb, beef, or Ostrich.)
  • Things that walk around but are ground up, like ground pork or ground veal or hamburger. These get cooked to a higher temperature than steaks, chops or roasts.
  • Things that fly ( Chickens, ducks, squab, quail, and even though turkeys don’t fly, they also fall into this category)
  • This is based upon internal cooking temperatures which will be explained in another post. For now remember and practice
  • “Swim, Walk, (Ground-up Walk),Fly”

So what happens when you don’t have the time?

2. Thaw under clean drinkable water that is 70°F or less, and either running or changed frequently.

A bowl in the sink with cold water, but not hot, is fine for thawing a package of chicken for dinner. As long as you change the water about every half hour. If water logging is a concern, place the item in a zip lock bag and place that in the water.

The water should be changed every 30 minutes.

This is not a method to use while you are at work. Why? Because the water needs to be changed every 30 minutes or lightly running so the water is exchanged as thawing occurs.

Never thaw in the sink for longer than 4 hours! That is the amount of time it takes any bacterial colonies to grow to dangerous levels.

Never, ever thaw on the counter or just left in the sink. This is a very bad and risky practice.

Keep you eye on the product, it will thaw faster than you think it will.

3. In a microwave as long as the item will be cooked immediately after thawing.

My concern here would be the quality of the item. I can’t think of anything that benefits from a run in the microwave.

But, as long as you cook the item as soon as you finish nuking it to thaw, this is considered a safe method.

Be sure to clean and sanitize the inside of the microwave after you finish thawing.

4. You can thaw food as part of the cooking process.

day fifty three | a piece of meat

(Photo credit: I Are Rowell)

The best examples here are frozen vegetables into soup stock, frozen french fries into the oven or fryer oil and frozen burgers going directly onto the grill.

Again, your call on the quality issue of cooking meats from frozen. I find the texture isn’t as nice than if you thawed it under refrigeration which is my thawing method of choice.

So there you have it. 4 Safe methods to thaw foods.

This information is from ServSafe® an educational division of The National Restaurant Association (NRA). These are the best practices that are used to train food handlers in  all restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and dietitians.

I have a dual role with the NRA to both teach and administer the exam for ServSafe®. Food safety is a passion of mine. No one should ever suffer an illness from food you eat.

Learn how to prevent such things from happening.  Become advocates for your own food safety. If you see a bad practice, speak up!

Implement good food handling practices every time you touch food.

It really is that important.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

None - This image is in the public domain and ...

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars or What To Do With Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you may have from holiday meals. I find whole berry works best but if you like the jelly kind, use it too. Store bought, in a can or fresh, any cranberry sauce will work out quite well.

For the best, make your own cranberry sauce.

Oatmeal Cranberry Bars

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Cranberry Sauce 003

Cranberry Sauce 003 (Photo credit: MGF/Lady Disdain)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Spray the bottom and sides with baking spray, line the pan with a sheet of parchment, allowing the sides of the paper to overhang on the long edge of the pan. This makes for easy removal from the pan after the bars are baked. Simply lift the paper and the whole thing can be moved to a cutting board or platter.

Spray the parchment with baking spray. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the dough:

  • 8 ounces soft  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, mix just until it comes together.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

Mix together: flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter and eggs, stirring slowly to combine, slowly add all of the oats and mix only until combined.

Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.

Top with cranberry sauce. Make sure to cover the entire surface, all the way to the edges. I added some seedless raspberry jam in dollops all over the dough too.

Dot the cream cheese over the surface of the dough.

Using the remaining half of the dough, dollop it over the top of the cranberries and cream cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

When the bars come out, drop 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top. The heat from the baked bars will melt the chips, then spread the melted chocolate in swirled patterns over the top. You could drizzle some fondant icing over them too but that might be overkill.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Carefully lifting the sides of the overhanging paper, lift the baked bars onto a cutting board and cut them into the desired size with a sharp knife. Sprinkle any crumbles over yogurt.

Store covered at room temperature for up to 7 days. (If they last that long!)

Plated Oatmeal Cranberry Bar

How To Section Citrus Fruit

Cutting citrus fruit into sections, also called a supreme, is a basic skill.

Culinary students should learn this skill in the first class they take.

However, with that said, I find it odd that in class some students don’t know how to section citrus fruit, even in an advanced class.

I also observed this student who once shown how to do it, passed it on to another team-mate to complete. They in turn, did something else. Not being my class, all I could do is observe and makes notes to myself.

Note to self: Knife Skill Test; Measurement Test for class. If you are a student, consider this heads up!

The process is quite simple and the technique applies to all citrus fruits.

If you are going to want the zest for anything, remove the zest before removing the peel. Personally, I like to dry the zest and keep it handy for quick flavor blasts in a bland dish.

Cut the top and bottom from the fruit.

Cut the peel down the side, removing the pith and exposing the inner fruit.

Cut the peel away all around the fruit.

Work over a bowl to catch all the juices that drip while you cut the fruit sections out.

Remove the sections

Using a sharp knife, cut between the membranes and slide the cut section into a bowl.

Continue all around the fruit until all sections are removed. Squeeze the juice into the bowl with fruit sections.

Discard remaining peel, any seeds and membrane.

All used up.
For total mileage, roll it in salt and give your copper pots a polish.

The sections should be free of seeds, pith and peel.

Use them in salads, salsa, on grilled or fried meats or poultry or seafood.

A bowl of citrus segments is really nice with vanilla ice cream or to accent fruit desserts.

Orange and lemon segments

Refreshing!

How to Boil Pasta

Cooking spaghetti. Photo by Eloquence.

See how the oil sits on top? Do not put oil in pasta water, it just goes down the drain. Oil pasta after cooking.

Dear Tyler,

Here is another assumption I made. Since your father is Italian, and you grew up eating pasta, I assumed you knew how to cook it.

Boiling pasta is really quite simple.

You need to use a pot big enough to hold enough water to cook the amount of pasta you need. Err on too much water rather than not enough water.

English: Boling water in colour

Bring the water to a boil. A boil is when the bubbles actively break the surface. A boil measures 212°F (100°C) on a thermometer. A lid on the pot will help water boil faster. If you live in a high altitude (like the mountain house) water won’t boil without a lid, and the boiling point decreases 1° every 500 feet in elevation (or 1° C every 285 meters). it has everything to do with atmospheric pressure. Actually, boiling point is quite a science subject.

Always salt the water AFTER it reaches an active boil. In the science community, adding a solute to the water creates a solution that raises the temperature of the boiling point. Scientists will argue that it is not necessary to add salt because the amount of increased temperature isn’t worth it to ‘cook faster’. This is not why we add salt.

We add salt for flavor.

We add salt after a boil is reached so the salt does not pit our pots over a lifetime of poor cooking habits.

Most of all, we add salt to things we boil for flavor. Boiled potatoes are ever so bland when salt is left out. The amount required isn’t much, just enough to lightly flavor the water.

Be aware, when you add salt to boiling water, the water will flare up momentarily. Be ready for it to avoid getting burned.

Choose your favorite pasta and read the package it comes in. Look for cooking directions for the time it takes to cook the pasta to “Al-dente“. Each pasta will have different cooking times.

Place the pasta in the pot, stir it up so it does not stick together. If using a long pasta, don’t break it so it fits in the pot! Short strands are hard to twirl onto the fork.

Lean the noodles up against the side of the pot and using tongs, as the pasta under the water softens, fold the rest of the pasta under the water. Be sure to stir it all around so nothing gets stuck either to other pasta strands or the bottom or sides of the pot.

This is especially true of fettuccine or linguine and other flat pasta.

Comparison between different types of long Ita...

Comparison between different types of long Italian pasta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Set a timer fort the required time.

If cooking fresh pasta, the time will be very short, dried pasta takes longer.

Drain the pasta in a colander and try to save about a cup of the pasta water.

Boiling pasta

Boiling pasta. Fold the ends under the water as the pasta softens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you notice there was never a mention to put oil in the water while boiling?

Ha! That is because the oil sits on the top of the water while the pasta is below the water. It does nothing to keep the pasta from sticking together.

Stirring the pasta after you first put it in the water does.

After draining, put the pasta into a serving bowl and drizzle with a great olive oil.

Serve as you like.

If you are going to use the pasta in a salad or need it cold, rinse the pasta in cold water after draining to stop the cooking process. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.

If the pasta gets dry or you need more moisture in your sauce, add a small bit of the pasta water. This is why you do not want to over salt the water. Only salt it enough to make it taste good.

If you want to re-heat pasta that has been refrigerated, simple bring water to a boil and dip the pasta in for a minute or so, just to warm it, not cook it. This can be done in a small amount of water.

Drain and serve as desired.

This works for all kinds of pasta, semolina, whole wheat, rice, artichoke, quinoa etc. Read the package for length of cooking time.

Short pasta

Short pasta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short pasta

Short pasta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pasta is a great budget stretcher so learn to cook it correctly.

The basic technique:

Boil the water – use lots of water!

Salt after water boils

Stir the pasta after adding to boiling water to prevent sticking

Drain

Drizzle with olive oil and serve

OR

Drain, rinse  in cold water to cool and drizzle with oil.

Enjoy!

Love, Mom

Pasta again!

Pasta again! (Photo credit: HatM)

Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and the “Presto Chango” Effect

Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and the “Presto Chango” Effect

We decided to paint the kitchen ourselves this past weekend. The quotes we were getting to do the job seemed over the top ridiculous.

Personally, I enjoy painting the rooms of my dwelling space.

I have learned to detest wallpaper and love the instant gratification of paint.

Immediate gratification.

The “Presto Chango” Effect.

Unless something technical needs to be done; I can paint walls and cabinets like a pro. Based upon what we found while doing this project, we certainly did it better than the last “pro” who was hired to paint.

I love doing it. There is another mental space I go to when doing these kind of projects. It is a fun place to go and I don’t stay long so it is best to take advantage when it comes around.

“Let’s go buy paint and get going ” we discussed one morning.

So off we went to the paint store to buy what we needed to transform the kitchen.

Robert was amazed as to how much we actually were able to do in a days time. We began on Saturday, mid-morning, and finished Monday around dinner time, after work.

Over last weekend we dismantled the kitchen; removed cabinet doors and hinges; and such.

This is how the sequence went: Degrease, wash, dry, sand, damp mop dust, dry, prime, paint 2 coats, let dry.

The kitchen is now back in working order and feels great to be cooking again.

Presto Chango. Gotta love it.

This is an easy recipe when you want something quick and easy. (And don’t want to mess up the kitchen.)

The entire dish is easily made in the time it takes to cook the pasta.

You only need a few ingredients.

Cannellini Beans, canned tuna, artichoke hearts, lemon and pasta and cheese if you like.

These are the major ingredients: Artichoke hearts, cannellini beans, anchovies, pasta, here we are using “orecchiette” and Tuna, which is not pictured.

Tuna, White Beans, Artichokes and Pasta

  • 1 – 2 ounce tin of anchovies in oil
  • 1/2 onion or shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 – 5 ounce can of “Wild Planet” wild caught tuna. This tuna is not oil packed. (Use your favorite Tuna)
  • 1-14 ounce can of artichoke hearts – packed in water, not oil
  • 1-15 ounce can Bushes Cannellini Beans (also known as white kidney beans)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 package of your favorite pasta shape. I like Orecchiette for this because of the shape and the ability to hold on to sauce. (The pasta looks like little hats when cooked.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan or Asiago cheese to shred over top

Bring the water for the pasta to a boil, salt the water and add pasta.

Note how long the pasta takes to cook so it does not get over done and mushy.

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the anchovies and saute until they “dissolve” while being cooked.

Add the  onions and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the artichokes, beans and tuna and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer.

Add the lemon zest and juice.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is done, drain and fold it into the pan with the other ingredients.

Top with shredded cheese and serve.

A salad on the side rounds the meal out nicely.

Tuna, white beans and artichoke pasta

How To: Standard Breading Procedure

Dear Tyler,

You asked how to bread something to make Tonkatsu or Parmesan style dishes. So here it is!

If you want to bread something so the breading actually stays on the product, you need to follow a standard breading procedure,

It is a 5 station set-up. Breading your food using this method ensures a great finished dish.

Flour, Egg wash and Bread crumbs
(To remember the order, think of the abbreviation for the month of February: FEB)

1) Ready to go product – seasoned

2) Flour – just plain flour

3) Egg wash – make it liquid

4) Bread crumbs – You can use any bread crumbs, Panko are amazing in my opinion. Instead of bread crumbs, you can also use any kind of ground nut, crushed potato chips, corn flakes, or plantain chips, Trisket crumbs, coconut, etc.

5) Final breaded product

In this post I am using catfish, but the same method works for everything you want to bread.

Prepare the product, trim it, skin it, pound it thin, what ever you want to do, do it before it gets breaded.

Season with salt and pepper and other seasonings if desired.

Here, catfish is getting seasoned with lemon ginger seasonings before breading

Dip each piece into the flour

Then into the egg wash

Then into the bread crumbs

Place the breaded items onto a baking sheet; drizzle with oil.
Bake at 375 F for 20-30 minutes to ‘oven fry’ or pan fry in a saute pan with a small amount of oil.

The family favorite for this is to make “Katsudon”  with thin sliced pork loin or a chicken breast sliced and pounded thin. We serve it over Basmati rice with Bull Dog Brand Tonkatsu Sauce. (I usually buy this in an Asian grocery store.)

Bull Dog Sauce

When using chicken breasts, you can cut them into fingers or slice a large breast into thirds, place each slice into a zip bag (don’t zip it!) and pound gently it so it gets evenly flattened. Season and proceed with the breading procedure.

To pan fry instead of cooking the cutlets in the oven, heat a saute pan to high, add a thin-film of oil to the pan and saute until each side is golden brown.

Pan fry in a thin-film of oil until golden on each side

Add steamed broccoli to round out your meal.

You can take the plain breaded cutlets and serve them with different sauces and sides to create very different meals from breaded cutlets.

Boil some rice, add some frozen green peas when the rice is done. The peas only need to warm through.

Place the fried cutlet on top of the rice and drizzle with Bulldog sauce.

To make a “true” katsudon, place caramelized onions over the hot steamed rice, top with the cutlet and then top it all with an egg. Cover and the steam from the cutlet and the rice will gently cook the egg. Break the egg yolk and stir it in to create a wonderful sauce. Drizzle with Bull Dog Sauce .

Tonkatsu with Bull Dog Sauce

You can create Chicken Parmesan by topping the golden brown cutlet with marinara sauce and cheese – I am partial to Asiago – but Parmesan, or mozzarella are just fine too.

Melt and brown the cheese, serve over pasta and more sauce on the side. Top it all with more cheese and serve with a salad on the side.

Chicken Parmesan

Breaded Cutlet with Lemon

Be careful when pan frying, place the cutlets into the pan so it splashes away from you, not towards you. Once the cutlets are golden brown, you can finish cooking them in the oven that has been pre-heated to 350°F.

Enjoy making these and think of other ways to serve them too. Change the sauce ( try Thai Green sauce!) and starch. Put a cutlet on a bun, add coleslaw and BBQ sauce to make it into a sandwich.Or make Chicken Piccata with lemon and capers.

Let me know if you come up with other ideas!

If you want to freeze the breaded cutlets, freeze them raw as soon as you finish breading them. You can cook from frozen over medium heat.

Love ya!

Mom

Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Broccoli

This Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Broccoli is quick and refreshing.

Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Broccoli

Whenever I cook pasta I always cook more than we need for 1 meal. This makes cooked pasta ready to go during summer months for refreshing and quick meals.

If you have cooked pasta on hand, it is only moments to put together a nice meal from what you might have in your refrigerator.

This dish came about because I was hungry and we had angel hair, cooked, steamed broccoli from last night, an amazing vine ripened tomato and a bushy basil plant that needed trimming.

To make this dish, you will need:

  • 1/4 pound cooked angel hair pasta; per person
  • 1 chopped fresh tomato; per person
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
  • 1/4 cup steamed broccoli; per person (optional)
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2-3 whole basil leaves for garnish

Method:

Combine everything but the pasta in a bowl, mix well.

Re-heat pasta in boiling water, drain well. Place the pasta in a bowl or on a plate.

Spoon the tomato mixture over the pasta, garnish with whole basil leaves.

Sprinkle with Asiago or Parmesan cheese if desired.

Enjoy this refreshing summer dish!

Angel Hair Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Broccoli

How to: Egg White Omelet

Dear Tyler,

You asked: How do you separate eggs to make an egg white omelet?

There are two ways to do it manually and one way to do it while shopping.

Shopping: buy egg whites in a carton like you do milk. What? You don’t buy milk? Then just buy the whites that come in a carton package just like cream or half and half does. You won’t need to separate or waste the yolks.

To do it manually, follow these directions.

To separate yolks from whites, you will need:

  • A raw egg or two or three etc.
  • A bowl to catch the whites
  • A bowl to put the yolks in
  • Trash for the shells

Step 1:

Crack the egg on a flat surface.

Why a flat surface? Between the shell and the actual egg is a membrane that protects the egg. It is attached to the shell. When you crack the egg on a flat surface, the membrane merely splits yet remains attached to the shell.

When the egg is cracked on the edge of something like a bowl or counter edge, the membrane gets torn and separates from the shell allowing shell fragments to get into the eggs.

If this happens, use a large piece of egg-shell to scoop out the fragments of shell.

Crack the egg, separate the shell . . .

Catch the yolk between your fingers.
Allow the whites to fall into the bowl below.

Whip the egg whites for 2-3 minutes. Build some volume to create a fluffy omelet.

The whites should be frothy. Season with salt, pepper, herbs or what ever you prefer. I always used “herbs de Provence”, salt and pepper.

Brush a non-stick pan with oil to leave a thin coating on the bottom and the sides

Pour the frothed and seasoned egg whites into a warm, oiled pan.
When you oil the pan, set the heat to medium. The pan should be warm before you add the seasoned egg whites.
Do not use a hot pan! Medium heat is all you need.

While the eggs are ‘setting’, shred some cheese or desired fillings over the egg whites.

As the whites begin to set, use a heat-resistant spatula to lift the edge of the omelet all the way around the pan.

The omelet should lift easy from the pan. Use your spatula to see if it lifts. If not let it cook a bit longer.
Remember Low to Medium Heat!

Life one side and fold it over the other

Fold it in half and serve right away.
If you let it sit around too long, it will “fall”.
Sure, it will taste as good, just not look the best.

Bon Appétit!

It may take some practice but once you get the hang of it, you will be able to whip out an omelet in no time!

The fillings can be anything you want or have on hand. Just be sure it is fully cooked.

The heat of cooking an omelet is just enough to melt cheese. So keep that in mind.

No raw meats, seafood etc. Cook it first, which is why left overs are great omelet fillings.

Let me know how it works out for you!

Love,

Mom

Blueberry and Lemon Tart

Lemon Blueberry Tarts

A delicious blueberry and lemon tart for Fathers Day!

The tart uses a pie dough made with vodka, a filling with lemon curd and cream cheese crowned with a pile of fresh blueberries.

What could be better?

Pie dough first:

Using vodka in pie dough creates a very flaky crust. The alcohol prevents gluten from forming in the flour as the dough is processed. Gluten is what would make the dough tough. Wonderful for bread, but not so nice in a pie crust.

This dough rolls out beautifully. One secret is to chill the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Use a food processor for speedy results. If you don’t have a processor, use the two knife technique or a pastry cutter to blend the fat and flour, then again to add the vodka and water.

Pie dough ready to roll

Pie Dough with Vodka

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry...

English: A dough blender; also called a pastry blender. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • 2 -1/2 cups AP Flour or King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour
    • Measure it separately: 1 1/2 cups and then another 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar (Optional)
  • 1- 1/2 sticks of butter cut into 1/4″ slices to ease combining
  • 1/2 cup Crisco or shortening (Or use all butter)
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup water

Method:

Add 1-1/2 cups flour to the bowl of a food processor. Add the salt, sugar (if using), butter and shortening to the bowl. Put the lid on and pulse until the mixture is about the size of peas.

Add the vodka and water, pulse to combine. Do not overwork which will make the dough tough.

Remove the dough from the bowl, separate into two pieces, flatten into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill either overnight or for at least 2 hours.

Roll the dough, line the pastry dish (pie tin, tart molds) with the pastry.

Dock the crusts before baking

Dock the surface of the dough; cover each tin or mold with parchment, fill with rice or beans and bake at 375°F until the crust is golden brown.

Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake

Cool the shells before filling.

Cool shells before filling

You can always buy pie crust if you don’t want to make it. You can even pie totally pre-made and cooked shells if you prefer.

Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese

Homemade lemon curd

Homemade lemon curd (Photo credit: Wikipedia) You can also buy it already made.

4 ounces lemon curd

1/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar; 10x sugar)

2 ounces heavy cream

2 sheets or 1/4 ounce gelatin powder (Bloomed in the heavy cream)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Bloom the gelatin. Heat the cream and the gelatin in a double boiler to prevent scorching.  Set aside and keep warm.

Warm the cream cheese slightly in the microwave, it combines better with other ingredients when it isn’t cold. In the bowl of a mixer, add the cream cheese and lemon curd and confectioners sugar.

Mix cream cheese, lemon curd and sugar

Combine until smooth.

Add the warm cream and gelatin, zest and lemon juice to the mixture, mix until smooth.

Fill each of the baked pastry shells with lemon cream cheese mixture, Chill until firm.

To serve, top with fresh blueberries.

Fresh Blueberries

Garnish with a dusting of confectioners sugar and cinnamon.

Use a 5-hole zester to get long thin strips; sprinkle with granulated sugar

Top it all off with a curl of lemon zest and fresh mint leaves.

Dust the berries with confectioners sugar with a small bit of cinnamon over the berries just before serving.

Lemon Blueberry Tarts