Thursday, October 21, 2010
My latest culinary experiments are both pastry-related. The apple pie pictured above is a test run pie for the one that I later made and brought to a friend's house for Thanksgiving dinner. For the crust, I used a simple pastry recipe from Everyday Food magazine that was published for a blueberry pie. Since I didn't have a satisfactory apple pie filling recipe on hand, I "consulted" Epicurious before deciding to wing it. The pastry on the test run pie turned out perfectly, but the filling needed a few tweaks. In the end the pie for the dinner turned out pretty well. One person said he liked a crust, and another person said the filling reminded her of apple sauce ("a good thing because I like apple sauce"). Hey, I'll take any compliment I can get! By the way, if you're curious about the secrets to a rich, flaky pastry, here they are: A pastry cutter. Cold butter and lots of it. Ice water added a little at a time. Don't overmix your ingredients.
So after figuring out pastry, it was on to Chinese egg tarts, a beloved dessert in my household. To make these, I used a jar lid to cut circles of pastry out and plopped them into a mini muffin pan. Then I followed this recipe to make the custard filling. Like the apple pie, it took two tries to get these right. The first time I made the mistake of greasing the muffin pan before putting the pastry in, which resulted in really buttery, greasy tarts. The second time I just put the pastry straight in, and while it still turned out very buttery and rich, the butter wasn't overwhelming and the tarts didn't feel as greasy. Despite the snafus and the fact that they look more like mini egg custard hockey pucks than tarts, my family loved them. Each batch has lasted less than two days, tops.