August 26, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear friends,

A swath of corn on the cob, shrimp, sausage, mussels and new potatoes spilled across my Facebook news feed recently, so luscious-looking I almost could taste it. The feast, served on newspapers at a picnic table, was the work of Mitch Allen, head honcho of Mimi Vanderhaven. Not only does he publish my newsletter, he is such a good cook he could write it himself.

Of course, I immediately snatched his idea of a Low Country feast and served it to friends a week later. A seafood boil is an easy, fun way to entertain.  The entire meal is layered in a big kettle, boiled with spices, then drained and spread the length of a table. Diners dig in with their hands.

Mitch is from Georgia, so Low Country cooking is second nature to him. The coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia are a lacework of inlets and islands where shrimp, crabs, fish and oysters are abundant. The historic region developed its own style of cooking – part Southern, part coastal — with such iconic dishes as she-crab soup, Frogmore stew and Low Country Boil.

Because my visiting friends are Northerners transplanted to Georgia, I wanted to introduce them to a folksier style of eating than the sophisticated foods they enjoy in Athens and Atlanta.

And boy, is this meal folksy. Doris couldn’t understand purpose of the newspapers, but they’re there to protect the table (along with an under layer of plastic) and to make cleanup easy. At meal’s end, shells, cobs and unwanted leftovers are just rolled up in the newspapers and deposited in the garbage.

Ingredients and seasonings vary from recipe to recipe. I used kielbasa (any smoked sausage will do), tiny new potatoes, fresh corn and large shrimp in a mixture of beer and water. The seasonings were crab boil (whole spices sold in a net bag) and Old Bay, both available near the seafood department of most supermarkets.

The ingredients are added to the pot according to how long they take to cook. The potatoes and sausage go first. The shrimp are added for the last two minutes or so of cooking. In this way, nothing is overcooked.

Iced tea and beer go best with this meal, I think, although I also had Champagne and sauvignon blanc on hand. You could throw in some cornbread, I guess, although the boil was enough for us. This is the type of meal that encourages long, relaxed conversations, perfect for old friends who want to reconnect.

“Seriously, what have you been doing?” Doris asked after we had finished eating.
I swept my arm vaguely toward the flower beds in the yard and the vegetable garden out back. “Gardening,” I said. “Cooking. Writing.”
“Like Martha Stewart,” she nodded, “but without the help.”
Or the mansion, the TV show or the publishing empire. Otherwise, exactly.

Mitch says big pots may be rented, along with outdoor propane cooking gizmos. I used the top part of my lobster/crab steamer (it has a perforated bottom) set into a larger pot Tony uses at the restaurant. Mitch also suggests putting plastic garbage bags under the newspapers to protect the table. I used a wide length of plastic that Tony buys by the roll at the hardware store.

LOW COUNTRY BOIL

jane-snow

1 bottle beer (any kind of ale)
1 bag (3 oz.) of crab boil seasoning
3 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2 lbs. small new potatoes
2 lbs. kielbasas or other smoked sausage, cut in 1 1/2 -inch pieces
4 to 6 ears corn, halved
2 to 3 lbs. large shrimp in shells
Hot sauce, cocktail sauce (optional)
Fill a very large pot halfway with water. Add beer, crab boil seasoning and Old Bay. Bring to a boil. If you have a large steamer insert, place in pan of boiling water. Otherwise, lower ingredients directly into the large pot and drain them later.

To the boiling water and beer, add the potatoes and sausage, cover and boil slowly for 10 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Break corn cobs in half and add to mixture. Cover and boil for 5 minutes. Add shrimp in shells, cover and boil 2 to 4 minutes, depending on size, or just until cooked through.

Immediately remove steamer insert and drain. Or carefully dip out and drain ingredients, discarding liquid. Dump on a table covered with plastic and newspapers. Provide plates, utensils and plenty of napkins for diners. Serve with hot sauce and cocktail sauce, if desired. Serves 4.

HELP U COOK

In late summer, you’re apt to throw together a fresh tomato sauce or chunk up dead-ripe tomatoes to simmer in ratatouille. Then in late September, you wonder why your cookware has turned gray.

The acid in tomatoes can discolor aluminum and copper pans. Acid also reacts with cast iron, although you won’t see a discoloration. Light-colored foods cooked in the pans may become streaked with gray, however.

Stainless steel, tin-lined copper, enameled cast iron, glass and ceramic cookware are non-reactive. Aluminum, unlined copper and cast iron are reactive metals. Unfortunately, the latter three are also the best conductors of heat. Manufacturers have gotten around the problem of acid corrosion by coating the pans with non-reactive metals or other substances – non-stick coating for aluminum, tin coating for copper and enamel for cast iron. In addition, some manufacturers of aluminum cookware treat the metal electro-chemically to produce anodized aluminum, which will not react with acids.

If you have plain aluminum pans that have gone gray, and if the color bothers you, mix 1 tablespoon cream of tartar or lemon juice with 1 quart of water. Make enough of the solution to fill your pan. Boil for 10 minutes or until the discoloration is gone.

TIDBITS

Until someone convinces me otherwise, I am transferring the local Best Burger crown from The Rail at Summit Mall in Fairlawn, my former flame, to the Wolf Creek Tavern in Norton.

The Rail’s jumbo, hand-patted Ohio beef burgers still can rock my world, as can the burgers at the former Beacon Journal champ Louie’s in the North Hill area of Akron. But Wolf Creek’s hamburgers truly are the stuff of dreams.

For starters, they are so gigantic – three-fourths pound for the Tavern Burger and a half-pound for the others – that they provide me with three meals.  Second, they are tender, juicy, well seasoned and topped with an enticing assortment of goodies, from root-beer- braised onions to peppered bacon. It’s a hell of a hamburger.

Wolf Creek Tavern (the former Loyal Oak Tavern) is at South Cleveland-Massillon and Wadsworth roads, phone 234-571-4531. The website is http://www.wolfcreektavern.com.

MAILBAG

From David L., Strongsville:
Well, we traded another quarterback who ends up as a starter elsewhere (Brian Hoyer for the Texans).  And now Manziel has hurt his elbow. How much more can Browns fans take?

Yo, Dave: I think you have the wrong blog. I’m running your letter anyway, though, because none of my readers sent me questions, tips, gripes or observations this week. Not one stinkin’ email. Why do sports bloggers get all the feedback? Even on perfect summer days, when my readers are busy elsewhere with picnics and café dinners, the sports guys natter on.

Just kidding. Dave didn’t send me an email. I made that up. The rest of it is true, though, so put down that ice cream cone and drop me a line for cryin’ out loud.
Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to  http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

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August 19, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear friends,

My buddy Nancy is a city girl who gardens as best she can in pots and planters. Because I have two acres and a husband with a tractor, I get her excess  seedlings in the spring. Like a cook who can’t waste leftovers, she will bring me a couple of leggy tomato plants or a few milkweed grown from seed. This year she showed up with two adolescent tomatillo plants.

“They flower but I can’t get them to produce fruit,” she explained.

That was June. By the end of July I saw on Facebook that her remaining tomatillo plants had produced so much fruit she was looking for new recipes in which to use them. My plants were just as prolific and I was just as clueless.

Oh, I made green tomatillo salsa once and I could make another batch, I guess, but I grew these precious tomatillos myself. I watched each one turn into a plump, ping-pong  sized green ball nestled in a fragile, papery husk. I didn’t want to just mush them up in a food processor. They deserved a more glorious demise.

Then Nancy posted a mouthwatering salad photo on Facebook. I looked closely and spotted tomatillos. Yes! A dish worthy of my babies!

Nancy found the original recipe on Serious Eats. I adjusted amounts and ingredients to suit my taste and the ingredients I had on hand. Because tomatoes are in season, I used them instead of a red bell pepper, and substituted a jalapeno for a serrano pepper. The entrée salad is colorful and refreshing, and the thin-sliced tomatillos provide just the right touch of acidity. Here’s my version.

SHRIMP, CORN AND TOMATILLO SALAD

DSCN1684

•    1 lb. raw medium or large shrimp, cooked and shelled
•    3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from about 3 ears of corn
•    2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
•    1/2 lb. fresh tomatillos, husks removed, cut in half and sliced very thin
•    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
•    3/4 cup diced ripe tomato
•    2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on a bias
•    1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
•    3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
•    Salt, fresh-ground black pepper

Prepare the shrimp. Cook the corn kernels in boiling, salted water until tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

In a serving bowl, combine the cooked shrimp and corn with lime juice, tomatillos, jalapeno, tomato,  scallions, cilantro and olive oil. Toss to coat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

HELP U COOK

Tomatillos are usually sold in their papery brown husks. It’s OK to remove the husks for storage, because this helps prevent decay. Tomatillos will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator with husks off and stored in a plastic bag, and two weeks with husks on.

Sometimes the thin husk will stick to the fruit. An easy way to peel it is to soak the tomatillos in hot water for a few minutes.

If you grow your own, be aware that tomatillo plants are prolific and even a couple will probably produce more than you can use (and you do need two plants for proper pollination). The entire plant may be uprooted before the first frost and hung upside down in an unheated garage. The tomatillos on the plants will remain fresh for at least two months this way, according Rodale.

Green tomatillos usually are preferred to ripe yellow ones, although I like the mellower, fruitier flavor of yellow tomatillos when eating them raw. Green tomatillos are prized for the tart, acidic flavor they add to salsas.

TIDBITS

Why bother growing vegetables when you can have them delivered right to your door? Graf Growers on White Pond Drive in Akron now offers that service. It’s a wonderful idea for those who can’t or don’t want to dig in the dirt.

A weekly basket of produce includes 6 ears of corn, 2 pounds of tomatoes , lettuces, a quart of peaches and a surprise item.  Also included are one to two additional fruits, a starch and three locally grown vegetables. The cost is $50 delivered or $35 picked up. The orders are codes 44333, 44301, 44313  44321 and 44320. To order, call 330-836-2727.

MAILBAG

From Robert T.:
I would like to make Buffalo wings on the grill instead of deep-fried. Should I add the sauce before, during or after cooking? I know when they’re fried you sauce them at the last minute. This would be easier than brushing it on the wings on the grill.

Dear Robert: You don’t have to apply the sauce while the wings are cooking. As with the deep-fried version, place the melted butter and hot sauce in a large bowl, pour in the cooked wings and stir to coat.
Local blogger Mike Vrobel of Dad Cooks Dinner once ran a recipe for grilled Buffalo wings that intrigued me. To produce crisp grilled wings that rival deep-fried, he borrowed a technique from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats. Dry-brining with salt and baking powder is the secret.

Mike tosses 4 pounds of raw wings in 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon baking powder (do this in 3 batches), then arranges the wings on a baking sheet (not touching) and refrigerates uncovered for 8 to 24 hours. Then he grills them, lid closed, over indirect heat for 20 minutes before tossing with the sauce (1 stick butter, melted, and ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce).  If you need more detail, Mike’s recipe is at http://dadcooksdinner.com/2010/04/grilled-buffalo-chicken-wings.html/

Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to  http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

August 13, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear friends,

Maybe the entire Jersey shore smells like briny clams with a dash of boardwalk, but to me that alluring aroma is Atlantic City. When I stepped out of the car at the Claridge Hotel last week, my first visit back in 37 years, I took a sniff and told Tony we needed Champagne and clams casino asap.

I also needed a facelift, an evening gown and a Jaguar XKE if I REALLY wanted to recreate that sybaritic period of my life, but I know my husband’s limits.

I lived in Atlantic City in 1972 and last visited in 1978 when the first casino opened, so my memories of the resort have nothing to do with slot machines and beach bars. The city I knew was a crumbling grande dame struggling to retain her dignity. People  dressed to have dinner in the elegant but shabby half-empty hotels. The famous boardwalk was rarely crowded. The Steel Pier was there but the diving horse was gone. Glamorous vestiges of an earlier era lingered, though, especially in the city’s famed restaurants.

Under the eyes of maître ‘ds, captains and waiters I learned how to eat raw oysters and clams in one delicate slurp. To the music of a roving violinist, I learned the difference between littleneck, middleneck, Ipswich and cherrystones. I learned what ocean-fresh seafood tastes like. I learned not just how much but how to tip: unobtrusively, with a murmured “thank you” to show appreciation, not to show off.

So I was jolted last week when a server at the noodle bar in the Taj Mahal casino asked if I wanted fresh or frozen clams in my bowl of steamers. The $14 menu price was for frozen clams, she said. Fresh clams would be a lot more.

“But the ocean is right there,” I protested, pointing to a spot beyond the baccarat tables.

I left and got my clams at the excellent Jade Palace noodle bar at the Tropicana, one of three decent restaurants we found. The second was Harry’s Raw Bar at Bally’s, where we had clams casino and raw oysters, and the third was Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Atlantic City, where we had bad service but an incredible steak.

The week wasn’t all about food. I reveled in nostalgia at the last of the gilded boardwalk hotels, the  Claridge. It has been refurbished in period décor to its state of  grandeur at its opening in 1930. I looked in vain for the bronze plaque that proclaimed we were at Boardwalk and Park Place, the luxury properties in Monopoly, which was patterned on the streets of Atlantic City. Like most of my old haunts, the sign is gone.

But the city still smells delicious.

Back home, I tried to recreate Ramsay’s deftly seasoned strip steaks. They appeared to be encrusted with coarse salt and who knows what else. Bare-bones recipes I found basically said to season with salt and pepper and grill over a hot fire or pan-grill with oil in a skillet.

Allowing the meat to come to room temperature after seasoning is important, as is resting the meat after it is cooked. The secret to the outstanding flavor is using way more salt and pepper than seems proper. I mean way more. Just trust me on this.

While I was gone my garden went into high gear, producing my first tomatoes and several yellow squash. I combined them in a Smoked Corn and Yellow Squash (or Zucchini) Salsa to serve with the steaks. I draped some of the salsa over my steak and snapped a few photos as Tony filled his plate. He heaped some salsa in the center and placed his steak directly on top, as the restaurant did with fingerling potatoes and grilled strip.

“This is how Hell’s Kitchen does it,” Tony instructed. He was right.

STRIP STEAKS ALA RAMSAY
janesnowimage

2 1-inch-thick strip steaks
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. coarse sea salt
2 tsp. coarse-ground black pepper

Massage oil into both sides of steaks. Divide brown sugar between the steaks and rub evenly into both sides. Sprinkle half the salt and pepper on the sides facing up and press firmly into the meat. Turn over and repeat with remaining salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour or until the meat loses its chill.

Build a medium-hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill. When coals are ashed over, spread slightly and place meat directly over the hot coals. Grill uncovered for 3 minutes or so, depending on the heat of the fire or gas grill. Turn over and grill about 3 minutes longer for medium rare.  Serve with Smoked Corn and Yellow Squash Salsa.

SMOKED CORN AND YELLOW SQUASH SALSA
3 ears corn, husks removed
1 jalapeno pepper
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 cups zucchini or yellow squash in 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tsp. minced fresh marjoram
Salt to taste

Roast corn and jalapeno on a grill or in a dry skillet over high heat until kernels begin to turn brown and pepper is evenly charred. Place pepper in a paper bag and close tightly. Set corn aside to cool.

Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add squash and begin to stir fry. After 1 minute, scatter in garlic and season with 1Ž2 teaspoon salt. Continue to stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until edges of squash cubes just start to brown. Immediately spread on a foil-lined baking sheet to cool. (If the squash is transferred to a bowl, it will continue cooking and become limp.)

When corn is cool, cut the kernels from the ears into a medium-sized bowl. Peel the jalapeno and discard stem and seeds. Mince and add to the corn. Stir in the squash mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding more salt if necessary. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.

HELP U COOK 
Q: What exactly is pastry flour, and do I really have to buy it? Can I substitute all-purpose?

A: Pastry flour is finely ground from very soft wheat. The softer the wheat, the less protein. The less protein, the more tender the baked goods. This would be a disaster in bread, but is great in pie crusts and biscuits.

In a pinch you can make your own pseudo pastry flour by combing equal amounts of cake flour and all-purpose flour.

MAILBAG
From Rob:
Regarding blueberry pie, Cooks Illustrated adds one grated and squeezed apple (for the pectin) along with some tapioca. I’ve made the recipe a couple of times and I sets up nicely — sliceable but still soft. Check it out.

Dear Rob: Thanks for the tip about the apple. Brilliant.

From Cindy P.:
I immediately forwarded the Crack Pie recipe from last week’s newsletter to my older daughter,  Kendra. When she lived in New York City for 3 years, I would visit every few months. She introduced me to Crack Pie, and I loved it. I recall that she’d bring it to California when we’d all get together for 4th of July or whatever, and share it with the rest of the family.

Now that she lives in Oakland, Calif., I don’t visit New York quite as often and don’t get much Crack Pie, so maybe this recipe will save us.

When Kendra visited me here in Ohio in May, we went to West Side Market and tried some bacon jerky from Czuchraj Meats. She loved it so much that I had to bring 4 pounds of it to share with her and the family this past 4th of July. Our new food craving! If you can come up with a recipe for that, she won’t have to order it from Ohio.

Dear Cindy: Wow, bacon jerky! It’s my new craving and I haven’t even tasted it yet.

Please note: If your email address changes, you must re-subscribe to my newsletter in order to continue receiving it. We are unable to change the address for you in  our email list. The procedure is easy. Just click on the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of a newsletter.  Then go to http://www.janesnowtoday.com, to sign up under your new address. Thank you.

Please tell your friends about my blog site (https://janesnowtoday.wordpress.com/), where you can find not only each week’s newsletter but archives of past newsletters.

August 7, 2015

See Jane Cook is a free weekly Internet food newsletter written by Jane Snow and published by Mimi Vanderhaven. Sign up here to have newsletter appear every Wednesday in your email in box. Join us!

Dear friends,

While I’m on vacation this week, I’m turning my opening essay over to a dear friend who answered my call for help. I despaired when she moved to France last year because she is one of my favorite cooking buddies. Now I look forward to her Facebook updates and photos of her garden, cooking and dinners in local cafes. Tony and I can’t wait to visit.

By Linda Amstutz linda

About a year ago I packed up and, from Ohio, moved me, my dog and cat and “stuff” to a 400-year-old house in a tiny (600 souls) village on the Canal du Midi in the Languedoc region of southern France. My adjustment to the new surroundings has not been without angst but a trip to the local Tuesday market could pretty well iron out any foodie’s rough times!

My best summer dish is just barely a “recipe”. The glut of summer veggies requires that I make a pot of ratatouille about once a week. It has the benefits of being inexpensive, low in calories and easy to make — my kinda dish!

I pretty much use what I have, but eggplant (aubergine)  is essential for me, along with zucchini (courgette), red bell pepper (poivron rouge), tomato, sweet onion, garlic and basil by the handful. I’m generous with the olive oil in which I begin to sauté all of these chunked-up vegetables, and then invariably add some more olive oil at the end and/or when I serve it. The olive oil melds the flavors and adds a bit of its own. It is crucial.

The proportions are mostly a matter of how much of each vegetable I have, although the amounts of eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and tomato should be relatively the same proportionately. I use a little less onion and for one pot of ratatouille (3 to 4 quarts), three or four good-sized cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped, is enough. You can mix the vegetables according to what pleases your palate, though.

Sauté the onion and garlic first then add the other veggies and cook them till they give up their juices and the juices cook away a bit (about 35 minutes or so) then add the basil and let it wilt in the pot. I use Greek basil with small leaves but if sweet Genoese basil is all I have I chop it just before adding it…and it is done! For grins, I add just enough hot red pepper (cayenne or esplette) to make the flavor interesting, but not spicy.

I can serve ratatouille as a main course (ever entertain a vegetarian?), hot like a stew or room temperature as a side dish with some grilled meat, or cold for a first course. Often, whatever the temperature, I put a blop of yogurt or créme fraiche  on each serving (it’s pretty) and olive oil (it’s good for you).

LIN’S RATATOUILLE
(Summer’s bounty stew)
ratatouille
4 tbsp. or more good olive oil, plus more to add at the end
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (squashed with the flat side of a knife and then chopped)
1 medium sweet onion (chopped, about one cup)
1 large or 2 small eggplants (about 3 cups in 1-inch cubes)
1 red bell pepper (about 2 cups in 1-inch pieces)
2 small zucchini (about 2 cups in 1-inch cubes)
2 medium tomatoes (about 2 cups in 1-inch pcs)
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
Salt, pepper to taste
A generous handful of basil (small leaves or chopped, no stems)
Pinch or so of cayenne or esplette, if you can find it
Plain yogurt or crème fraiche, if desired
Heat the olive oil in a 3- or 4-quart heavy, non-reactive pot. Sauté garlic and onion until softened. Add eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes or until the vegetables give up their juices and most of the juices evaporate.  Stir in basil and cayenne to taste and cook until the basil wilts.

Spoon out portions and top with a blob of yogurt or crème fraiche, if desired. May be served warm or cold, as a first course, main dish or side dish.
HELP U COOK    
When the temperature hits 90 – or even 80 – you probably think twice about turning on the stove. The irony is that summer is when vegetables are plentiful and most delicious. If you want to save some for the winter ahead, you must blanch vegetables to protect the color and texture. But instead of dealing with a steaming pot, you can blanch them in the microwave.

Place 4 cups of sliced or cut vegetables in an 8-cup microwave-safe bowl or casserole. Add 1Ž4 cup of water and cover with plastic wrap, venting one corner or edge. Microwave on high power just until the color of the vegetables brighten. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process, then drain well and pack in freezer bags.

MAILBAG
From Michele Smith, Elkton, Md.:
A recipe for the Crack Pie that is served at Momofuku’s Milk Bar (in New York City) showed up in my Pinterest feed no less than 10 times in 2 days.  I had to see what all of the fuss was about.  Apparently, Crack Pie was devised by David Chang’s pastry chef, Christina Tosi. I plan on making the pie sometime in the near future and I was wondering if you had tried it, or any of the other desserts?  In case you haven’t, here’s the recipe.  Please share your thoughts.

Dear Michele: My thoughts: Yeow. There’s so much sugar and butter in the recipe that my teeth ache just reading about it. If I hadn’t given up sugar – kinda – I would try it. Tosi is the new judge on Gordon Ramsey’s “Master Chef,”  replacing sourpuss Joe Bastianich. Although Tosi isn’t exactly little miss sunshine on the program, she is mostly pleasant. I’ve wondered about the kinds of desserts she makes, so thanks for sharing.

MOMOFUKU CRACK PIE

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Oat Cookie:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp. white granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 tsp. baking powder
Pinch baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Crack Pie Filling:

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar, granulated
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup corn powder (corn powder is defined as freeze-dried corn, ground to a fine powder)
1/4 cup milk powder
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
8 large egg yolks
For the Oat Cookie crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula. On a lower speed, add the egg to incorporate. Increase the speed back up to a medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white color. On a lower speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 60 to 75 seconds until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Your dough will still be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

Pam spray and line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Plop the oat cookie dough in the center of the pan and with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4-inch thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan, this is okay. Bake the oat cookie for 15 minutes. Cool completely before using in the pie recipe.

For the pie filling, mix the dry ingredients for the filling using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed. Be sure to keep your mixer on low speed during the entire process of preparing the filling; if you try to mix on any higher than a low speed, you will incorporate too much air in the following steps and your pie will not be dense and gooey – the essence of the crack pie. Add the melted butter and mix until all the dry ingredients are moist. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until the white from the cream has completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg yolks, mixing just to combine. Be careful not to aerate the mixture. Use the filling immediately.

To assemble the pies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the oat cookie, brown sugar and salt in the food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food  processor, crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.) Transfer the cookie crumbs to a bowl and, with your hands, knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until the mixture is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, gently melt an additional 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and knead it into the oat crust mixture.

Divide the oat crust mixture in half and place half in each of two 10-inch pie tins.

Using your fingers and the palm of your hand, press the oat cookie crust firmly and evenly over bottom and up sides. Use the pie shells immediately or, wrapped well in plastic, store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Place both pie shells on a sheet pan. Fill each with half of the crack pie filling  (the filling should fill the crusts 3/4 full) and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. During this time, the crack pie will still be very jiggly, but should become golden brown on top. At 15 minutes, open the oven door and reduce the baking temperature to 325 degrees.

Depending on your oven this will take 5 to 10 minutes – keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven temperature reads 325 degrees, close the door and finish baking the pies for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s eye centers, but not in the outer center circle. If the pies are still too jiggly, leave them in the oven an additional 5 minutes.

Gently remove the baked pies from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool at room temperature. You can speed up the cooling process by transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry. Freeze your pie for as little as 3 hours or up to overnight to condense the filling for a dense final product – the signature of a perfectly executed Crack Pie. Just before serving dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar.

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