Fundamentals: How To Correctly Crack Eggs

Seems simple enough right? We’ve all cracked eggs at some point in our lives while preparing a meal, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The thing is, like everything else there is a right and wrong way to do something. Or maybe more accurately, a more ‘efficient’ way to do things. In this instance, here is the more efficient way to crack eggs when preparing that next great dish!

Daniel Gritzer over at Serious Eats describes in great detail his time spent with legendary chef André Soltner making of all things, omelets. See Daniel’s creative way of depicting step by step how we should be properly cracking eggs!

See the article here – How to Crack Eggs Like a Badass

A List of Pies You Need to Have on Your Thanksgiving Table

Just the other day, while browsing through a plethora of fantastic looking images of pies on Pinterest, I came across a peach cobbler to die for. Then I went and did the foolish thing of running to the local grocer to pick up a handful of peaches so that I could run home to try my hand at the recipe. Doh! No peaches here in late October. Fall is upon us and Thanksgiving is a hop, skip and a jump away, so what pie or pies are you planning on baking for the holiday?

11 Pies You Need on Your Thanksgiving Table This Year

Caitlin M. O’Shaughnessy published an article yesterday on CHOW titled – 11 Pies You Need on Your Thanksgiving Table This Year, which is what got me thinking ahead for Thanksgiving. Normally, I’d be counting down the days for my mother to visit and bake up her coveted apple pie delight! But not so this Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, any pie baking would be done by yours truly, and I welcome the challenge.

So what to bake is the question? I have long practiced at perfecting my mother’s apple pie over the preceding months that I am most comfortable baking that, but like any baker, I am also eager to dive into more varied and complex pie dishes. A multi-fruit pie? Something more creamy? Maybe a chocolate pie? How about a lattice crust? Oh the ideas and challenges are endless!

Caitlin does call out some recognizable favorites that automatically get front row seating on my list of ideas – Apple pie, pumpkin pie and a long-time family favorite sweet potato pie! But the Pear Rosemary Pie with Cheddar Crust is a veritable unknown to my palette as is the Cranberry pie and both look stunning and delicious!

Which Pie(s) Do you Plan to bake for Thanksgiving?

Decisions, decisions, and decisions…..

If you had to pick two pies to make, and not pies on the ‘usual’ list but something new and potentially challenging, which two would you tackle and why!

I Pledge To Make and Bake All Pie From This Day Forward

Since starting this blog I have made a lot of pledges to myself, from learning how to bake this and how to bake that, but one of the more tougher of my pledges has been that from hence forth, I vow to NOT buy any more pie from the grocery store! But first, let me elaborate further…

THEN…

In the past, when I had a craving for pie [which for me, was like every week], I would either run to my local Marie Callendar’s restaurant and pick up a pre-made berry pie OR to my local Albertson’s Grocery store to pick up either a frozen berry or blackberry deep dish pie or, and they just recently started doing this, a ‘half pie’ in the bakery section. Quick and easy, I would have my pie and the ‘pie fix’ would be, well….fixed!

No more! I will not purchase anymore store-bought pies.

If I am to become the PIE BAKER I yearn to be, I must dedicate myself to learning and mastering this art. Having quick and unfettered access to ready made pie does not help me.

NOW…

If I want pie, I MUST make it and bake it myself! However, there is one small caveat I will make to this pledge:

  • I WILL NOT purchase pie from the store.
  • I WILL MAKE AND BAKE all my pies myself.
  • I will ONLY purchase pie at a bakery or restaurant if the purpose of the purchase is to taste and sample pie for review on PIEADDICT.com.

Have you made similar pledges? Or for that matter, any pledges since undertaking your baking adventures? I find that setting goals and objectives like this help to motivate and keep me on track despite the difficulty I see ahead trying to walk [or more like RUN] past the bakery section at the store. But if I am to truly become the pie baker I very much would like to be sacrifices must be made right? 🙂

What Did You Go and Do That For Betty Crocker?

Betty Crocker pie crust has been a stable, tasty, fixture in my family kitchen since before I could remember. What I can recall however, is always seeing the signature Betty Crocker pie crust box sitting tall on the kitchen counter, waiting, in powdery, delicious anticipation for its fellowship – Cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla to join in the upcoming pie adventure! Well, all that was blown away when I stumbled, accidentally, onto Betty Crocker’s BIG CHANGE!

PIE CRUST DREAMIN’

I’ve really just started on the path toward learning how to craft my own signature pie crust. Not only because I’d like to become a true pie making connoisseur, and not have to rely on store-bought pie crust, but because I’d really like to ‘OWN’ the pie I crafted, from the hot-bubbly filling and up through the flaky, buttery crust. So this latest ‘misstep’ from Betty Crocker might just be the writing on the wall for me.

BETTY CROCKER CHANGED THEIR CRUST

Betty Crocker pie crust 'original'
I had no intention of baking of pie today. Just a quick run up to the corner Albertson’s grocery store to retrieve something to drink for the house is all I had been tasked with. Funny how things always never seem to go as planned when you make that fateful turn into the ‘baking aisle.’

I don’t know what it is but I LOVE to browse down this aisle. Through the cake and brownie mix, flours, sugars and starches, seasonings, kitchen pans, dishes and utensils and past the pie crust…..wait. Up on the top shelf, where my lifelong familiar once stood, was a new Betty Crocker pie crust mix.

The box had a more modern look and feel to it, a little more trendier with a sharp looking photograph emblazoned across it. I re-confirmed that I was indeed still looking at a Betty Crocker product, and that this had indeed ‘replaced’ the old-school, packaged pie crust I had been accustomed to for so many years. This was the NEW Betty Crocker look, and according to the packaging, they had retained the ‘original’ pie crust recipe and merely just updated the branding. Hmm….

Curiosity got the better of me, as I tossed a box into my shopping cart and spirited myself away toward the produce section. Me and Granny Smith needed to talk!

SOMETHING WAS AMISS…

Disaster!! What has Betty Crocker done?! This was NOT the pie crust I had grown up with. In fact, it wasn’t even close. I should’ve known this fact, when I glanced at the instructions on the box and noticed an ever so slight ‘change’ in the process of mixing this crust. Nothing extravagant, but a slight variation in the amount of water I was to add to the mixture.

After rolling out the dough, it seemed ‘stickier’ than normal. A pinch of flour sprinkled across it, seemed to do the trick, but then once flattened and ready to roll-up, it began to fragment. I quickly ‘balled’ it back up and rolled it out again. Same result. I made do, and got the dough situated in my 9″ dish. In went the sliced Granny Smith’s, sugar, cinnammon, butter, vanilla and nutmeg. On to the next ball of dough, whcih after being flattened had the same disastrous results. WHAT THE HELL?!

Again, I ‘managed’ to cover the pie adequately, though not ‘pretty’ by any stretch. In fact it was down right horrible [hence, no photos], and I almost wanted to scrap the whole thing right then and there.

There were some leftover scraps of dough on the counter mat, which I tasted. [Side note – ever since I was a kid, my mother used to set aside a small bunch of pie crust dough, leftover after she had shaped the edges of the crust, for me. Don’t ask me why I liked the taste of it, but I did, and to this day, I often sample the raw dough just after finishing the pie. Anyways…]

It did NOT taste like the Betty Crocker pie crust my taste buds had grown so accustomed to over the years. And I should know! This immediately concerned me, since the finished pie was now baking away. Too late to scrap [my pie addiction now seizing control of my faculties…] I thought. Let’s play this out and see what happens.

THE RESULTS

The pie was done. It’s wonderful, warming aroma filling the kitchen and adjoining rooms of the house with sweet, vanilla/cinnamon/Granny Smith deliciousness! Hmm…maybe this whole ‘something is wrong’ feeling was just me striving for perfection as I always try to do when baking pie and THINKING Betty Crocker had pulled a fast one?

But when scooped out a warm slice, my suspicions rang true. The pie crust WAS different. Flakier but also with a different taste, Betty Crocker in one fell swoop took me to a new low. A pie crust mix that really started me on this ‘addiction’ had changed, and not for the better. Maybe that’s too harsh? Maybe the new pie crust mix tasted great but my childhood love and admiration for the ‘original’ mix wouldn’t let me ‘accept’ anything that could possibly taste better?

Regardless, the Betty Crocker pie crust I had grown to know and love was gone [replaced by this IMPOSTER!!! just kidding…], and now I faced the hard decision of learning to accept the new Betty Crocker, or finally make that move toward seriously learning to craft my own signature pie crust.

Curious…
How many of you, make your own crust or have a favorite store-bought pie crust you use?

Essentials: Apple Pro Peeler

I’m not going to lie, I’ve always had a rather ‘lazy’ side to me [who doesn’t at times right?], but rather than shun and hide this minor ‘blemish’ in my character, I’ve learned to embrace it and use to my advantage. How? By using this laziness to help me find more efficient and quicker ways at accomplishing tasks – specifically, peeling apples in preparation of baking a delicious apple pie.

I had long peeled apples by hand, like most of you, and had done it so many times that it had almost become second nature. I could peel in my sleep. But being one for change and a technology geek since birth, you could imagine my glee when a package showed up on my doorstep from my loving mother in Texas, that contained non-other than a Starfrit Apple Pro-Peeler!

Apple Pro Peeler
Easy to set-up right out of the box [which I love], I had the Apple Pro Peeler out, and on the counter ready to go to work.

After having rinsed off my bowl of deep green and delicious Granny Smith’s, one by one, I gently pressed each apple, on to the steel prongs that held the apple upright. Then, rotating a small handle, I turned slowly, raising the peeling blade up against the apple and around. The apple skin peeled away effortlessly and quick, leaving a long tail of skin curled up at the base of the Apple Pro Peeler. One apple done in mere seconds, I lifted it from the prongs and situated another.

Apple Pro Peeler
Simple. Quick. Efficient. It was almost scary how fast I could churn through 6 Granny Smith’s, my thoughts already wandering to how many pies I could whip out with such at device at my command!

Fresh or Frozen Fruit. Which is Better?

When out picking up supplies and ingredients for your next pie baking venture, which do you prefer? Fresh or frozen fruit? Is one better than the other? Do you have a preference? Which one has worked better for you in the past? Here are some facts that may or may not sway you one way or the other.

I know in discussing recipes with my mother, that she often tells me she uses frozen fruit for many of her dishes. I had never used frozen fruit, always believing that picking my fruits from the grocery produce shelves was always the ‘fresher’ choice. Plus the fact that I love walking through the grocery aisles, looking at and taking in the fine aromas of all those wonderful and colorful fruits of all shapes and sizes. Mom used to tell me that the frozen ones were better. I balked, and stood my ground. Nonsense! Items in the freezer lose their flavor and are bland I stammered! Little did I realize…

FROZEN

Pros – Frozen fruits and veggies are even more healthful than some of the fresh produce sold in supermarkets, according to Gene Lester, Ph.D., a plant physiologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas. And why is this? Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when, as a general rule, they are most nutrient-packed.

While the first step of freezing vegetables—blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzymes—causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the produce in a relatively nutrient-rich state. In effect ‘freezing’ any change or degradation.

Cons – On the downside, frozen fruits sometimes contain added sugar, which means they won’t be as healthy as their unadulterated, fresh counterparts.

FRESH

Pros – Freshly-picked fruits straight from the farm or even your own garden are of the highest quality and should be your first choice, even over frozen.

Cons – Fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these fruits and vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine (as FREEZING allows). In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.

Also note, that produce bought from the supermarket is full of color and crunch, with many stores even using fine mist sprays to give a ‘just picked’ look. This is referred to as ‘supermarket theater’ that helps convince shoppers to pay a premium for food they believe is not only better than frozen but tastier and full of flavor. The reality is however, that these fruits may well have been held in storage for weeks maybe, before even being situated in the grocer produce section.

SOME GOOD RULES OF THUMB

When fruits are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe, preferably straight from the farm (farmer’s market, perhaps) or pick from your own garden (or a neighbor’s backyard fruit tree…JUST KIDDING! Get permission first, of course)

Off-season? Frozen fruits will give you a higher concentration of nutrients and will most likely be even fresher and tastier than those you find on grocery shelves.

Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color

Bake and eat soon after purchase.

GOT ANYTHING TO ADD?


What has worked for you? Everyone has a preference or another ‘side’ to the fresh or frozen debate. Nothing is written in stone and I would love to hear what everyone else typically uses and why?