Tag Archives: cooking with spices

Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy

The grandkids and a friend, Delaney, came over this week to help me pick apples.  My tree was loaded this year, and It took all of us with the ladder to get about 50 lbs of apples!  (and a few of Cooper’s favorites – carrots!)  The apples in the top of the tree (which I failed to prune last year) will fall eventually and then the deer will be happy once more!

apple picking time

It was hard for me to keep them from eating them as fast as they picked them…especially the carrots, but after a good hose washing, picking out the worms

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(in the case of the all organic apples) and biting around the bird pecks and the deer bites…everyone got a taste of goodness!

Now the chore of peeling, coring, slicing and packaging these beauties for the freezer, and some fresh apply treats….apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apple fritters, etc.

I know!  APPLE PANDOWDY!  The kids had never heard that term, and I was curious too, so I looked it up!

When I was growing up, my mom’s favorite TV show was the Dinah Shore Show…many of you weren’t born yet, so you won’t remember, but she made one song famous that we sang around the house “Shoe Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy”.  I grew up wondering what those enticing sounding foods were made of besides the obvious – apples…but probably not flies…eouwwwww!  Well now that I’m writing  food blog and humming the song once again…I did a bit of research!

Shoe Fly Pie has it’s roots in the South and can be anything from caramel based pie to a kind of pie that has a soft gooey center like Pecan Pie…just without the pecans!  That sort of makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

But Apple Pandowdy has a longer history.  The word “pandowdy” is something of a mystery and its origins are contested among dictionaries and historians.  Some think that pandowdy is an eighteenth century Americanization of the French word pandoulde which means “custard or pudding”.  Other believe that it comes from an English dialectic found in the original colonies of pan + dowl – which means to mix dough in a hurry (Perhaps a variant of dough).  A third meaning derives from our current word dowdy, which means  rather plain or unlovely.  My granny used to say that a pandowdy was basically a one crust apple pie with bits of left over pie crust “dowdied” on top….by that she meant that she covered her apples with strips of left over crust from all the other pies she was baking that morning which she pushed down into the cinnamon juice of the apples to glaze them before baking.  This often made a softer, biscuit-like crust.  But however this humble dish got its name, it is very delicious!  Here’s the one we made:

Crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Apple Filling: 

6 or 7 pie apples (Granny Smith, Jonathan, MacIntosh, Roma, etc.) peeled and cut into slices to make 6 cups of fruit.*

1/3-1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar – depending on the tartness of your apples

(I like to substitute 1/4 c Maple Syrup – here’s how:)  http://www.ehow.com/how_7384139_substitute-maple-syrup-brown-sugar.html

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground if you have the nuts on hand)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons coarse sugar

*All kinds of optional fruit can be added like:  raisins, rhubarb, raspberries, cranberries, etc. to be included in the 6 cups.

Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add 1 tablespoon more ice water). Do not overmix. Form dough into a 1-inch thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm.

Mix sugar, lemon, flour, salt and spices together and mix liberally with fruit.  Place the fruit mixture in the bottom of a deep dish.  Allow apple mixture to macerate for 15 minutes.  Dot with butter over the surface of the apples.

Roll out dough and cut into uneven strips.  Place dough strips at various angles across the top of the pie leaving a few holes for filling to bubble through and brush with cream. (This is the dowdying part).   Sprinkle coarse sugar over crust and bake at 350 for about 50 minutes or until the top of the crust is browned and apples are bubbly.

Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Hope you enjoy this down-home treat!

apple and cranberry pandowdy 2

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Plum Wonderful!

pluotMy neighbor and organic gardener friend, Lucy, brought me some beautiful pluots last week.  I never tasted this pink fleshed sweet-tart fruit (pluot – plum/apricot) until I lived in the Pacific Northwest.  She brought grafts from her trees in California when she moved up here and this is the first season they have fruited in abundance.  Seems like everything up here in the Pacific Northwest is lush this summer!  The next day, my other organic gardener and artist friend, Jackie brought me some figs and Italian Plums from her garden.  I have also started picking some apples from my own trees, so I had an abundance of fruit on hand.

Once the fruit flies started circling…I knew I had better find a solution for all this fruit! It was then I came across a lovely blog called The Savory Sweet Life and found a recipe for Plum Jam without using pectin.  I don’t object to pectin, I just didn’t have any on hand.  This was great…a 3 ingredient solution to my plum dilemma!  Upon Googling further, I found another article about using figs in plum jam from What A Dish!    This one also had no pectin in it!  Yet another recipe told me that pureed cooked apples had enough pectin in them to substitute for the powdery stuff!  I was in luck.

Jumbling all these recipes together, I came up with Plum Wonderful….a spicy fig, apple, pluot, Italian Plum Jam to die for!  Sooooo good.  Try some!

applesauce4

2 apples, peeled, seeded, quartered and cooked.  Then puree the apples in a food processor.

 

Dip plums, pluots, and figs (or any other stone fruit like apricots or peaches, any you like) into boiling hot water for 2 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and put into an ice bath until cooled (about 5 minutes).  When cooled, peel and remove stones. The fruit will peel very easily.

peaches_inhotwaterplums_inicewater

 

 

 

 

 

Dice peeled fruit to make 4 cups into sauce pan and simmer on medium heat until fruit starts to soften.  I like my jam chunky, so I used a potato masher to break up the fruit into smaller chunks….but not smooth like applesauce.  Leave chunky.

Add:  1 cup sugar, 1 cup apple puree, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. Allspice to pot and simmer on low until liquid is decreased and mixture is thickened.

You can then add 2 T fresh lemon juice or freshly squeezed orange juice to mixture and simmer another 5 minutes.  Cool and pour into jelly jars.  Refrigerate when cool.  Keeps in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

Since the kids are out of town on a family vacation this week, I can’t wait til they get back and we can try this on our PB&Js.  If they were here, they could help with dicing fruit, measuring ingredients, but probably not with the cooking….hot jam splashes really hurt!  Just be careful to keep the temperature low and be careful when pouring it into the jars!

Sweet, spicy, flavors of fall and the abundance of summer!  Plum Wonderful!

spiced-plum-jam-2

Simply Spaghetti

My gkids are spaghetti lovers…are yours?  They like it simple. . . spaghetti, tomatoes, a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper….and then sprinkle on the parmesan. (I like some red pepper flakes on mine).   Lovely.  Simple, quick, good, filling, a kid pleaser.

spaghetti

Yes they love meatballs too…but that is another story.

If you are making simple spaghetti, you want to make sure these few ingredients are the best you can possibly use.  I personally like mine with fresh, vine ripened, garden tomatoes…but up here in the Northwest…those are as rare as hen’s teeth until around the end of August.  And with our short growing season,  big, ripe, juicy tomatoes at the end of summer are not guaranteed even then!

greentomatoesaboveprunedsucker

If your tomato supply is scarce….or the ones available in your area are the “shipped in” ones (to me these taste like cardboard!)  then my suggestion is:  POMI

Yes, Pomi Tomatoes are THE BEST.  I used to have to import them from Italy (where they are grown and processed) but now I can find them in my local organic market.  But even if you can’t find them there….you can always order them on line. there are now several stateside distributors.    Pomi Tomatoes come in a box…so they are not subjected to the “tinny” taste you can get from many canned tomatoes and they are sealed in BPA-Free packages.  I have also recently read that many of our canned tomatoes – even the organic ones –  are processed using chemicals to take off the peel.  Pomi tomatoes are 100% organic, natural garden-ripe Italian tomatoes.  steam peeled, Fat Free, Gluten Free, no preservatives, no added salt or other ingredients.  As a matter of fact under Ingredients…it says:  Tomatoes.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Pure vine-ripe tomatoes!  Best you can get!  1/2 cup serving is only 28 calories too!  pomi tomatoes

pomi side of box

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course you can add whatever else you like. I personally like garlic, torn basil leaves, a few olives…and the aforementioned red pepper flakes…but keeping it simple, fresh and quick is a real treat for the cook as well as the diners!   My gkids like to make it with me too.  Cooper is our head chef….and Olivia likes to get her fingers into it.

cooper chef

Liv's fingers

 

 

 

 

 

And frankly…my grandkids think I am magic….they even tell their mom they want “Nana Spaghetti”….nice!

 

 

 

 

Into the Souk!

I think I may have mentioned that my son-in-law spent 18 months in Qatar during his Reserve Duty recently. Randy is an adventurous eater, and he came home telling tales of visiting the wonderful baazars while stationed there.

man in spice shop

spices in the souk

Randy brought home some great spices for us all to try that he thought were “new”. He and my daughter don’t have time to cook a lot since they both work long hours, and Randy’s expertise mainly revolved around the grill. But he had enough wonderful “shish-ka-bobs” (as we call them) to want to try to re-create these dishes once he got home.

His favorite spices turned out to be ones readily found here as well. Turmeric, paprika, fennel seed, fenugreek, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, etc. But the one spice that eluded him was “shakta”. After some investigation, my daughter found a Middle Eastern spice called “shatta”….and we decided this must be it and the pronunciation was different in various regions throughout Africa. Randy thought it was funny that when they asked what was in this spice (he had already determined it was a blend of spices…like curry is a blend of many spices)…they just said “shatta”. Finally one enterprising vendor who’d been to school in the US said, “It’s like our catsup”. Really?  More like hot sauce…since it’s full of hot peppers.  The vendors sold him a mix they called shatta…which was powder (probably a blend of chili powders) so he brought that home, but we did finally find a “recipe” for shatta sauce using local/available peppers.  Although I am sure that the local shatta was made with their peppers.  And we have used it in several things recently to try it out.  Like these lamb meatballs served over couscous.    I like it best with tomatoes and used like taco sauce or spaghetti sauce.

Here’s the recipe for “Mediterranean Catsup (hot sauce)”  or Shatta

Ingredients:

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 3 red jalapeno peppers, stem removed
  • 15 Thai bird chilies, stems removed
  • 1 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 oz of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water

If you try it, I sure would like to know how you did and whether you liked it as much as we do!

Moroccan meatballs and couscous294454_2539300167101_1972003724_n

Cooking with Herb and Spicy

Last week my Son-In-Law, Randy, asked me about cooking with herbs and spices. Since he was deployed to Qatar last year and visited the spice baazars, he has been fascinated with cooking with some of the great flavored spices he brought home with him.  We have tried Morrocan cooking, Arabic cooking, and Egyptian cooking with him.  Wonderful grilled rubs and marinades!  We have all benefitted from the wonderful tumeric, cinnamon, fennugreek, paprika, and curry that he has given us as gifts and the fabulous stews, couscous, and spice rubs that he is experimenting with!

qatar-6

But he was unsure how to use fresh herbs, or how to pair them up with food.

I have a small raised bed outside my home that I use mostly for seasonal veggies and herbs.  A couple of years ago, I  planted one rosemary bush, a small thyme, some chives and a purple sage and garlic.  They have all wintered over nicely and are large enough now to provide all the herbs I could want!  I also grow mint in a pot (it is a notorious spreader), and every year I plant fresh basil, dill, and flat leaf parsley.  I’ve tried cilantro a few times, but with less success.  The gkids always enjoy the garden, clipping, pulling carrots, radishes, onions, garlic, and planting seeds.  It’s a great family activity!

herbsCooking with fresh herbs is also very good for our bodies.  They contain large amounts of anti-oxidants and vitamins.   Herbs strengthen the immune system, lower blood sugar and cholesterol; they have anti-inflammatory properties, and prevent Alzheimer’s diseases and cancers.  And they are easy to grow and cook with.

We talked about keeping an herb garden and he specifically asked me how to use them and what to use them with, so here are some pointers:

1. Never spray pesticide or herbicide near an organic garden.  By planting “companion” plants together, you can avoid damage naturally.  Planting garlic bulbs in your garden will help drive pests away.  Cabbage, lettuce, beets, and onions all love garlic and it will keep away aphids.  Garlic is also said to improve the flavor of neighboring plants and also improve your roses!  However pulses and legumes (beans, potatoes, peas) don’t seem to like to be near garlic (or onions). Cucumbers also don’t like aromatic herbs, but sage protects carrots, parsley protects asparagus and tomatoes, basil protects beans and peas.  So by planting carefully, you can have a pest free garden without sprays! (Please!)

You don’t need a big garden…you can grow things in buckets on the patio if that is the only space you have…just water them regularly.

CarrotContainers_B_1

2.  Fresh Herbs are somewhat stronger than dried herbs, so you can use less.  I like to use herb bundles in soups and stews instead of trying to pick off all those tiny leaves, just tie a few compatible herbs together and then fish out the stems after cooking.  I will also often add a sprig of whatever I used in the dish to garnish the plate…very pretty!  Always wash the herbs first and store in a zippy bag with a damp paper towel inside.  They should keep for quite awhile this way.  But part of the joy of having a garden is being able to go out a just clip off some fresh herbs whenever you need them!

3.  Here’s my list of what to use in what.  It is by no means exhaustive! There are lots of other variations and everyone to their own taste…but it’s a start!

Garlic:  soups, stews, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, chicken, pork, lamb, beef, everything Italian, infused oils, almost anything tastes better with garlic!

Basil:  Eggs, Tomatoes, ratatouille, fish, pizza, pesto, soft cheeses, anything Italian, especially pasta or rice.  Cocktails (muddled basil to lemonade, bellinis, or gimlets)!  Soups and salads, also good in some desserts with lemon or orange.  Infused oil, vinegars, tea.

Rosemary:  Sausage, eggs, soup, stew, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, potatoes, again, anything Italian, oranges, infused oil, vinegar,  tea, meat marinades, bread (esp. foccacia), honey.

Thyme:  Eggs, soups, stews, gravy, meats, poultry, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, beans green and white, oils, vinegars, tea, marinades, broccoli, ratatouille, cucumber, onion, squash, honey, goat cheese.

Sage:  Poultry, flavored butters and oils, eggs, lamb, beans, pasta, rice, soups and stews, apples, pineapple, fish, pork, sausage, honey, asparagus, squash, goat cheese. Freeze in ice cubes for summer drinks.

Parsley:  tea, soups, eggs, gravy, cream sauces, tomato sauces, garden and potato salads, grilled fish, chicken, and  beef dishes, potatoes, stews, pasta, rice,  to top or garnish anything for a fresh grassy flavor.

Dill:  fish, shellfish, potatoes, yogurt, mayo, sour cream, cream sauce or gravies, beets, carrots, soups, stews, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles.

Oregano:  tomatoes, potatoes, fish, poultry, fish, pasta, soups and stews, eggs, lamb, most vegetables, tea, oils and vinegars.

This may also help….it’s from About.com.

Beans (dried) cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme
Beef basil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Breads anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
Cheese basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Chicken allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Corn chili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme
Eggs basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram
Fruits allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint
Lamb basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Potatoes basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Salad Dressings basil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme
Salads basil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Soups basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Sweets allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel,  mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary
Tomatoes basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Enjoy!