Thursday, 8 December 2016

Fleur de Sel Caramel Pear Oatmeal Pie

It feels like for quite a while that this blog was all about pies. Strawberry pies, blueberry peach pie, a fig and plum pie, a granny smith apple pie in the works, and this one. For me, there is nothing like assembling an intricate lattice top. Summer and fall also begged for all the fruits pies to be made; it only seemed natural to encase the great selection of in-season fruits in between two blankets of pie dough. With the end of fall slowly, but steadily, coming around the corner, I think my pie phase will slowly wind down as well. Maybe. Unless I start making custard-based pies. But I can’t put a lattice top on that. So what fun is that? We will see.

Just the mere thought of decorating a cake already feels refreshing to me. The idea of placing sugared rosemary and jewel-like cranberries on top of a cake has already got my heart skipping beats.  Knowing me, I will also buy a million dollars worth of flowers and place that on top of the cake as well. Funny side note: it always give me a good chuckle when I am on the bus with a bouquet of flowers (for my cake!) in hand and a stranger makes a remark about how sweet it is that I received flowers. In the most deadpan manner, I tell them “actually, I bought these for myself.” Let all the awkward feelings commence.

I hope pears are still in season by the time you see this. Or at least available for you to purchase. Because this pie is definitely a keeper. Even though pears are not necessary winter fruits, this pie makes me feel all warm and cozy. I know that is a common property of freshly baked pie but this one especially. Maybe it is the salted caramel. But without a doubt it is also the oatmeal. I saw Lady and Pups post a recipe for blueberry oatmeal pie earlier in the summer – she used oatmeal as a way to prevent a soggy bottom crust and to add texture to the pie filling. Ummmm…genius?! The idea of a soggy bottom crust scares the hell out of me. Do not get me wrong - I will still inhale an entire pie despite a soggy bottom crust, but when I get a good crisp bottom crust? Cue the dancing lady emojis.

Just because there is fruit and oatmeal in this pie, having a big slice as breakfast may not be the best idea. It is only the best idea if you add a scoop of ice cream to it. It is an even better idea when this all happens before 9am.

Fleur de Sel Caramel Pear Oatmeal Pie
Yields one 9-inch pie

Fleur de Sel Caramel
Yields 1/2 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
1/4 cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
*Note: I usually double this amount and keep the other half handy in the fridge. The caramel is great for apple slices

Oatmeal Filling
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoon whole milk

Pear Filling
5 cups of thinly sliced pears (from about 5 - 7 pears)
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
**1/4 cup oatmeal filling from above

All-Butter Pie Crust
Recipe from Four & Twenty Blackbirds
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup cold water
4 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup ice 

1 egg
Coarse sugar

Fleur de Sel Caramel
Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula.

Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick amber-coloured liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added, so be careful. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.

Very slowly, pour in heavy cream while stirring. The caramel is going to bubble aggressively again. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils, so keep an eye on it.

Remove from heat and stir in fleur de sel. Set the sauce aside to cool for 15 minutes prior to pouring it into a glass jar to cool completely.

Oatmeal Filling
In a medium-sized bowl, mix quick oats, dark brown and granulated sugar. 

Transfer 1/4 cup of the oatmeal-mixture into a separate bowl. We will use this for the pear filling. 

Add milk to the remaining oatmeal-mixture and mix until resembling wet sand. Set aside.

Pear Filling
Peel and core pears. Slice pears into 1/4 inch slices and toss with lemon juice.

Add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, reserved 1/4 cup of oatmeal filling and mix well.

All-Butter Pie Crust
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

Add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (a few larger pieces are okay!).

Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a small bowl. 

Add two tablespoons of the liquid mixture over the flour mixture. Mix and cut it in with bench scraper or spatula until fully incorporated. Continue adding the liquid, one to two tablespoons at a time. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

Shape the dough into two flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Once the dough has chilled, roll out the dough in between two sheets of parchment and fit it on the pie plate.

Assembly and Baking
Line pie pan with bottom crust. Evenly spread the oatmeal filling on top of the bottom crust.

Pour half of pear filling on top of the bottom oatmeal layer. Evenly distribute the 1/2 cup of fleur de sel caramel sauce over pie filling. Top with remainder of pear filling

Seal with top crust or lattice top.

Coat top crust with a simple egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case any juices bubble over. Bake at 425F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temperature to 375F and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling throughout, 30 to 35 minutes longer.

If the top crust is starting to get a little dark too quickly, place a pie shield on the pie. 

Once ready, let pie set for at least 2 - 3 hours before cutting into it. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Kabocha Squash Tea Cake with Toasted Nuts

There was one point in my life where kabocha was all I ate. I had it for all three meals of the day. I avoided going out to eat because I needed to eat kabocha. I have these phases where I get overly obsessed over certain things. Squash, especially kabocha squash, was one of my biggest obsessions. I eat other things besides kabocha now, but it is still the comfort food I always gravitate towards. Other obsessions in my life include: getting to my fav coffee shop before 7:34am, really good chocolate ice cream (I used to be a vanilla > chocolate kinda gal), and inserting Drake lyrics into normal everyday conversation. Because of my affinity towards squash among other things, I get overly excited when my love of baked goods and my love of squash get to be combined. (Hello, mini kabocha muffins, I’m talking about you.

I was a little late to the game in terms of getting my copy of Sweeter Off the Vine. Yossy’s blog has always been one of my favourites and I do not know why it took me so long to get a copy of her book. After I got my hands on the last copy at the bookstore, I just could not put it down. The book is organized by the seasons and you can really see the progression of the seasons when you flip through the pages. When I came across the ‘Butternut Squash Tea Cake’ recipe, I knew that had to be the first recipe I make from her book. Yossy calls for butternut squash but I was already thinking about kabocha.

This tea cake is like a complete dream. It is soft, subtly spiced, and is a great mélange of all things that epitomize fall baking. Because of this recipe I will always be torn by how to use my kabocha squashes – do I wanted to roast it and eat it as is or do I want to transform it into something really magical like this tea cake? This is really a dilemma I do not mind having.

Kabocha Squash Tea Cake with Toasted Nuts
Adapted from Sweeter Off the Vine
Yields one 9 x 5 loaf

1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking power
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (225g) roasted kabocha puree*
2 large eggs, at room temperature
90ml buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375F.

Spread nuts and pumpkin seeds in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow nuts to cool and chop them into medium-fine pieces.

Turn the oven down to 325F and prepare the loaf pan.

Reserve a tablespoon of the toasted nuts and set aside. Whisk together all the dry ingredient - flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices, and nuts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the sugars and coconut oil. Add the squash puree and mix well, on medium speed for two minutes. At the eggs one at a time, remembering to scrape down the sides.

Turn mixer down to low speed and alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three additions. Mix until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan smooth out the top. Gently tap loaf on counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Sprinkle loaf with reserved nuts and seeds. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes. Test for doneness by using a toothpick - the toothpick should come out clean.

Let loaf cool for 30 minutes before unmolding and serving.

*Note: Roasted kabocha puree
-225g of roasted kabocha puree will require approximately 280g of raw skin-on kabocha squash.
-To roast kabocha squash: cut squash in half and brush each cut half with olive oil, roast at 375F for 45 minutes until tender, scoop out seeds, scoop out flesh, and process in a food processor.
-Every squash is different; if you find that the puree you made is slightly more wet than the consistency of mashed potatoes, strain the puree over a fine mesh sieve for 30 minutes being using (I found that kabocha tends to be less watery compared to other squashes)

Monday, 31 October 2016

Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mochi (Yay #threeredbowls!)

Two Red Bowls is about to become Three Red Bowls! Yay! Cynthia of Two Red Bowls is one of those people that I always throw in the #GOALS category. Not only is she a blogger with amazing styling and photography skills, she is also a lawyer. Say what?! I can barely keep my act together with my job and this blog that I try to update "regularly." I do not know how she finds the time to do it all. Her recipes always look and sound so mighty delicious (she won a Saveur Blog Award for Most Delicious Food!!) and I'm still marvelling at those black sesame rolls with coffee-milk tea glaze.

I first stumbled upon TRB when I was looking for a mochi recipe. When I was younger I use to make mochi with my mom all the time. It was one of those mother-daughter Saturday night things. Traditionally, mochi balls are stuffed with things like red bean paste, sesame, or peanut butter. As a kid, I hated any mochi with a filling. It was hard to find plain mochi, so my mom and I always made our own. I guess I was kind of a picky eater when I was younger. We would still make a half batch of peanut mochi for my dad though. As I grew up, my palate also grew up (just a little). I now like filled mochi balls, but will still crave plain mochi from time to time. 

My mom always eyeballed the ingredients and was not able to give me an exact recipe for mochi. After some (barely any) googling, I found Cynthia's recipe for rosewater mochi. She cut out the mochi into cute little heart shapes and it made my heart go pitter-patter just a tad quicker. I made the recipe that same night and loved it.

When I first received Steph's email about this virtual baby shower, I was stumped as to what to make. I usually make cakes and I had not idea how to put those things inside a bowl. Then it occurred to me that it is only appropriate to make something that led me to stumble upon Cynthia's blog. To celebrate Two Red Bowls becoming Three Red Bowls, I made little mochi balls. Not filled with the traditional bean pastes or peanut butter, but a salted egg yolk custard. Salted egg yolk custard steamed buns are my favourite things to order at dim sum, so I decided to make that filling for these mochi balls. To those of you who have never had this custard, I promise you that it is out of this world. It is sweet, a bit salty, creamy, and rich. It's hard to describe what it tastes like but once you have had a taste, you will know why it is my favourite.

Congrats Bowl #1 (Cynthia) and Bowl #2 (her husband!) on your Bowl 3 (bb)!

Salted Egg Yolk Custard Mochi
Yields 8-10 mochi balls

Salted Egg Yolk Custard
4 salted duck eggs, fully cooked (yolk only)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons icing sugar
6 tablespoons custard powder
2 teaspoon cornstarch
30ml full-fat coconut milk

Mochi Wrappers
Adapted from Two Red Bowls
1/2 cup sweet rice (mochiko) flour 
2 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoon cornstarch, for dusting
Optional: Add 1/3 teaspoon matcha powder for matcha mochi wrappers

Salted Egg Yolk Custard
Using a fork, mash the salted duck egg yolks into fine crumbs. 

Using a spoon mix in butter. 

Sift in icing sugar, custard powder, and cornstarch. Mix until well-combined.

Refrigerate the custard filling until cold and firm. When firm, use a small ice cream scoop to scoop out and divide the custard into 12 portions.  Place the custard balls on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes until firm. (PS. Any extra filling not used for the mochi is amazing when spread on toast.)

Mochi Wrappers
Sift together mochiko flour and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Pour in the water and stir until combined. 

On medium heat, steam mixture for 10 - 15 minutes until dough comes together. Half way through cooking, stir with oiled rubber spatula and cover to finish cooking. The colour of mochi should change from white to almost translucent.

Wait for mixture to cool for 15 minutes before handling mochi. Cover the work surface with parchment paper and dust it generously with cornstarch. Transfer the cooked mochi to surface. Sprinkle more potato starch on top of the mochi. 

Using a rolling pin, roll out the mochi to a thin sheet, roughly a 6 x 6 square. Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out 8 - 10 rounds.

Place a chilled custard ball at the centre of the mochi wrapper. Pinch the four corners of the mochi layer together to cover the custard. Pinch the remaining corners together. 

Roll mochi ball in palms to thoroughly seal and close the mochi opening. Dust with extra cornstarch and set aside, covered. Repeat untill all wrappers are used up.

Check out all the other dishes at this virtual bb shower!

The Fauxmartha | Mom Lunches
The Pancake Princess | Stovetop Pumpkin Bread Pudding
A Beautiful Plate | Coconut Cauliflower Soup
Girl Versus Dough | Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup
Fork to Belly | A Big Hawaiian Fruit Bowl
Donny Tsang | Chawanmushi
Wit & Vinegar | Jerk Chicken Chili
Coco Cake Land | Asian Bowl Cut Sugar Cookies
Flourishing Foodie | Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup 
What should I eat for breakfast today | Little Bowl with Creamy Polenta, Cheese, Onions and Mushrooms
the broken bread | Roasted Celeriac + Fennel Soup
my name is yeh | Corn Dog In A Bowl
O&O Eats | Persimmon Cobbler