Category Archives: Cakes, Pies and Tarts

Savory Meat Pie

From empanadas to pasties to pastel, the world loves a good meat pie.  This version, though similar in construction to the French Canadian tourtiere, is all its own – a hearty blend of meat, vegetables and spices that produce a pie that looks gourmet.  And yet, it only takes a few minutes of actual work – the meat becomes meltingly tender from simmering in milk and wine for a little under an hour, which you can leave bubbling away while you take care of other things.  Not a bad deal at all.

I use all beef in this version, but the pie holds up to absolutely any type of protein or game.  Pork works exceedingly well, as does bison or buffalo.  Venison, too.  You can even make a blend of what you’ve got on hand – ground turkey would be exceedingly happy in this pie when combined with beef or pork.  When you seal up the pie, you brush it with a simple egg wash to elevate store-bought pie crust to photo-worthy culinary majesty.  Truly, it’s a couple of little tricks that make this pie something worth keeping on hand for a rainy day.  Comfort food at its best :)

Recipe for

Savory Meat Pie

Ingredients
2 lbs. of ground beef
1 onion
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of thyme

1 tbs. of worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. of ketchup
1/4 tsp. of allspice
1/8 tsp. of cloves
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1/4 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of dried sage

2 c. of milk
1/2 c. of dry white wine

1 c. of bread crumbs
3 eggs
1 tbs. of milk or cream
2 pie crusts (can be store bought)

In a dutch oven, brown the beef (or ground meat of your choosing).  When it’s no longer pink, add the onion, celery and garlic and stir.  Add the bay leaf and thyme and let cook until the vegetables start to release liquid, which should take about a minute.  Add the worcestershire sauce, ketchup, allspice, cloves, salt, white pepper, black pepper and sage and stir.  Pour in the milk and white wine and let simmer away on medium heat until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 45-60 minutes.

Take the meat off the heat and let cool slightly.  Stir in the cup of breadcrumbs and let sit while you prepare the pie crust.

In a 9 inch round cake pan that’s at least 3 inches high (this is a deep crust pie) and grease with cooking spray.  Press one of the crusts on the bottom and sides of the pan.  Tear a slight bit of crust off the second pie crust and press into the pan so that there is more dough to cover the entire pie pan.  If you have slight tears, mend them by easing the dough together to repair.  Take your meat mixture and stir in two of the eggs.  Pour the meat into the pie crust.  Top with the second pie crust and crimp the edges.  In a small bowl, beat together the remaining egg with the milk or cream.  Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash.

Bake in a 375° for 25 minutes or until the top is gloriously golden.  Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Sweet Tomato Tart

Tomato lovers rejoice, for now you can celebrate these delicious orbs of sweet majesty at all meals.  This is truly the ultimate tomato dessert given that a) there aren’t too many others in competition and b) it is as simple as it is wondrous.  “Tomatoes for dessert?!?” you scoff.  What better way to enjoy the sweetness of a tomato than in a simple tart brushed with currant jam until a rich, garnet color and then baked just enough to release the natural juices and crisp up the delicious tart crust?  You’re welcome.

Sweet Tomato Tart © Spice or Die

I first had this dessert with my mom at the restaurant Tosca in DC, and after the first bite, we totally understood how commonsensical it was to use tomatoes for dessert, particularly heirlooms.  For those that don’t know – there are two main types of tomatoes: heirlooms and hybrids.  Hybrids are the most common – they grown all year round and produce several crops of tomatoes throughout the growing season.  The tomatoes (and sorry if I am getting dorky here) are created through self-pollination, meaning that a farmer/scientist/botanist/whatever can control what specific traits that the tomato’s offspring will harbor.  This has resulted in hardy, disease-fighting tomatoes that can be enjoyed whenever and wherever.

The rarer heirloom tomato is created through open-pollination, as occurs in nature – bees and other pollinators pass on genetic traits from various types of tomatoes, resulting in wild cross breeds that are hard to genetically track and control.  The tomatoes come in wild arrays of colors, shapes and sizes, and typically only give off a single crop per growing season.  They can be bumpy, even ugly on the outside (some grocery stores actually call them “ugly tomatoes”, but cut into one and you’ll find the juiciest, sweetest flesh that you could possibly imagine.  These are the tomatoes that make people fall in love with them.  They are our oldest tomatoes as well – many of the strains were grown by the indigenous peoples of not only the continent of North America, but also around the world.

For this recipe, I encourage you to go out and find some heirloom tomatoes that look special to you – pick a fun color like the dark purple of a Black Krim, or the sunshine bright Brandywine Yellow.  You could even try one of the striped varieties for a best-of-both-worlds situation.  They’re really worth a trip to the Farmer’s Market just to check them out.  Of course, if you can’t find heirlooms, you can absolutely make this tart with a juicy, meaty hybrid tomato – just find the best ones available and treat them lovingly when assembling the tart.  It’s all good at the end of the day!

 

Sweet Tomato Tart

1 pie crust (can also use puff pastry)
2 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes (any color, can also use hybrid)
5 tbs. of red currant jam
4 tbs. of raw sugar (can substitute light brown sugar)

Preheat your oven to 400°.

Slice tomatoes as paper-thin as possible (thick tomatoes won’t cook properly) and carefully lay them on a paper towel to dry them a bit.  You’ll want enough slices to cover the pie crust in one even, semi-overlapping layer.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the currant jam.  If the jam has pieces of currants in it, strain them out.  You can actually save these little currant pieces as a topping for ice cream or a sweet treat.  I actually use them like caviar (ha!) on top of a cracker spread with my mock boursin cheese recipe for a little taste of sweet and savory combined.

Roll your pie crust out into a 9″ tart pan, making sure not to tear any holes.  Lay your tomatoes out on the crust in overlapping concentric circles, making sure that the whole thing is pretty and even.  Using a pastry brush, apply a generous layer of the melted currant jam over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle the sugar on top.

Place the tart in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the tomatoes are bubbly and a lovely red, about 15-20 minutes.  Let rest until warm and serve with ice cream – maybe a lovely scoop of basil gelato?

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

Sesame Street has been brought to you today by Guinness Stout.  Oh my goodness!  Actually, this guest post is brought to you by Jennifer White, self-proclaimed foodie, and soon-to-be culinary school star.  When she’s not inventing majesty, such as this incredibly decadent cupcake recipe, she can be found scouring restaurants, food + wine festivals and hopping around the globe eating well.  She get’s a big virtual hug for this one – it rocked my socks to the point that we didn’t actually eat dinner the night we made these.  Just cupcakes and Patron XO on ice.  Now if that ain’t a party, I don’t know what is.
-Ange

Guinness Chocolate Cupcake © Spice or Die

I thought I would contribute a recipe that is a sort of ritual between myself and some friends in Miami, but also extremely you-can’t-get-enough-of-it tasty. When I lived in South Beach, there was a group of us dedicated to drinking Guinness. The fridge was always packed and the corner store always sold out. Finally, one day I had an epiphany and thought of what else can we do with Guinness to spice things up, and started making these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes. The recipe is not for the lighthearted, but you can be sure that when all those unhealthy things come together, it’s going to be nothing but goodness. So here is my sacred Guinness Chocolate Cupcake Recipe. You should definitely try it out. Although my original group of friends all live in different parts of the world these days, we always manage to make these cupcakes when we get together.

They even look like mini Guinness’ and pair wonderfully with (you guessed it) a nice cold glass of Guinness.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting finished cupcakes
2 cups sugar
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of fine salt
1 bottle Guinness
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes on the top rack of the oven and then rotate the pan(s) to the bottom rack. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

While the cupcakes are cooling, you can make your icing.  In a medium bowl with a hand mixer (or using a stand mixer), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Icing can be made several hours ahead and kept covered and chilled.

Top each cupcake with a heap of frosting and dust with cocoa.

Note (from AG)

Jenn uses muffin tins, but for easy cleanup, you may want to pick up some of the standing foil muffin cups from the baking aisle and the grocery.  You don’t have to worry about the cupcakes sticking and there aren’t any dishes to clean when you’re done.  Cheers!

Quiche Lorraine

Real men don’t eat quiche?  Garbage.  Since when do men not like bacon, eggs and cheese in portable form?  Quiche Lorraine is the ultimate symbol of breakfast majesty – it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night trips to the fridge when you want a bite of a little something savory.  I’m all for serving this quiche with a plate of mixed greens (maybe in some Tarragon Lemon dressing?) but in actuality, I end up eating it still in the kitchen over the pan after it’s cooled to room temperature.  I’ll pass on standing on ceremony – if it’s good, I’m tucking in.

Quiche Lorraine © Spice or Die

This quiche recipe is incredibly versatile – if you’re so inclined, replace the 1 1/2 c. of ham with whatever filling you’d like.  For you vegetarian lovelies out there, try mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, shallots – anything you put in an omlette can go in a quiche.  In fact, for a vegetarian delight, try my Green and Gold Quiche, a tasty blend of mushrooms, spinach, shallots and sharp white cheddar.  It’s not at all traditional, but equally grubworthy as this Quiche Lorraine. Continue reading Quiche Lorraine

Coconut Tres Leches

Why Settle For Tres When You Can Have Cuatro?

My darling hubby has a thing for tres leches – regardless of fullness, his appetite gets a second wind if he sees this on the menu.  For those that have not had tres leches before, it’s a luscious combination of cream, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk poured over light cake.  The result is a silky, moist hybrid of cake, pudding and majesty.  Yup, majesty.

I decided to simplify the process with cake mix – god forbid I give you a cake recipe that involves skill because heaven knows I’m no baker – and one up the sweetness with a bit of salty coconut.  Replace the water used in the box of cake mix with coconut water, and then swap out the traditional cream in the leche bath for cream of coconut, and voila, a showstopping dessert with little to no fuss.

Coconut Tres Leches

1 pkg of yellow cake mix (plus butter and eggs)
1 lg can of coconut water (without pulp)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of evaporated milk (plain or fat-free)
1 can of coconut milk
1 pt. of whipping cream
1/2 c. of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla
shredded coconut (garnish)

Prepare cake batter according to the box directions, using coconut water in replace of the plain ol’ water.  Make sure to strain the coconut pulp first if you can’t find coconut water without the pulp.  Or leave it in for some texture in your cake – I like mine super smooth, so I remove it.  Bake in a 13×9 pan according to the box directions.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, coconut milk and evaporated milk.  Pour the leche mix over the cake, still in the baking pan.  Watch as the cake absorbs the lovely milk mixture, just like magic.

While the cake does its thing, whip up some topping.  Put a metal bowl (or the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer) into the fridge to chill.  When it’s super cool (a la Miles Davis), take it out and add the cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whip like crazy with an egg beater (or the whisk attachment for your mixer) until the cream forms stiff peaks.

To serve, cut a slice of cake and gently remove from pan.  Slather the creamy goodness over the cake and toss some shredded coconut on top of that for good measure.  Stab anyone who tries to steal a bite with your fork.

Red Velvet Cake

Some Like it Red Hot

For those that know her, it goes without saying that my sister, Lexi, is an inspired baker.  Not only does she wield myriad tricks of the trade with prowess and might (think “Gastronomical She-Ra, Princess of Baking”), her time as a vegetarian and vegan have given her a unique perspective on the science and nutrition of baking.  She knows her stuff.

Alas, I didn’t get that gene – I absolutely adore cooking, but baking – not ma’ thang.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve set a cake on fire before.  And yet, this recipe is the one that has proven to be my solitary ace in the hole.  I have a crush on this one.  A big time crush. Continue reading Red Velvet Cake