Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Natchitoches Meat Pie

Natchitoches (Central Louisiana) is the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase and these pies predate the Civil War. The traditional recipe is filled with ground beef, ground pork, onion, and special seasonings sealed in a crescent shaped crust, it is either baked or deep fried. When fried it's fried in peanut oil because of it's high smoking point. The pie has been handed down and has been evolving for over 300 years. The pie originally had a savory meat filling (normally ground pork or pork sausage) in a crust (crescent-shaped) flaky wheat pastry turnover. Wheat was difficult to grow in the wet warm climate; corn was what was grown locally making it the staple for the Spanish and Native Americans. Wheat would have been imported by yearly supply-convoys through Texas or from the French port (Natchitoches) on the Red River. That made wheat flour so expensive it was reserved for only people in high in status or for what is known as High Holidays with in the Roman Catholic Church. These festivals gave the opportunity for older women to pass on the meat pie legacy.                                                
Speaking of evolving, the pies now, at times, have ground beef blended for additional flavor. The pies sometimes are made with Crayfish as well. ( Ya know like the song ...crayfish pies and filé gumbo)  A roux (equal parts flour and fat) is made to bind the browned meat and vegetable mixture together making the filling. (comprising of onions, bell pepper and garlic, the filing should be made the day before to allow the flavors of the ingredients to marry) Everything filling, dough, tools should be chilled before assembly. (otherwise the dough may fall apart) As  per usual Louisiana, throws festivals for everything! Party hearty! The annual Natchitoches  Meat Pie Festival (held in September) celebrates the meat pie with live music, pie making demonstrations, a pie cook-off and more. In the first part of the 20th century, meat pies were sold from home kitchens or from carts by street vendors but by 1967, Natchitoches meat pies were produced in commercial kitchens.

    2 Tb vegetable oil
    1/2 lb ground beef (not lean)
     1 1/2 lb ground pork   
    1 Tb kosher salt
    1 tsp paprika                     
    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
    4 plum tomatoes (diced)
    1 sm. yellow onion (finely chopped)
    1 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
    1 medium jalapeño pepper (finely chopped-remove seeds - less heat )
    4 bay leaves
    1 tsp dried thyme
    1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
meat pie
    2 Tb all-purpose flour
    2 Tb water
    1 bunch scallions (green and white parts thinly
        sliced about  1/2 cup)
    5 dashes Louisiana hot sauce
    Vegetable oil, for frying(if needed)
4 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted shortening
2 tsp baking powder
   Sift flour, baking powder add in eggs and milk (enough to form stiff dough)

Reminder chill all individual before putting together and frying! 

 Instructions for Filling:
    Heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat, salt, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and black and white peppers cook 5 to 8 min  until the meat is lightly browned.
    Add the tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, bay leaves, dried thyme, and Worcestershire sauce cook (stirring additional 5-10 min til most of the juices have evaporated and the vegetables are soft.
    Dust the flour over the meat and add the water, stirring to combine (this is the roux that helps in binding the mixture when it’s in the dough, the fat comes from the non-lean beef). Remove the bay leaves, stir in the scallions and hot sauce and transfer the mixture to a baking pan to cool for 20 minutes then place in the refrigerator until completely cooled (15 minutes)
    Heat the oven to 200°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and a dusting of flour. Divide the dough into four even sections to make it easier to work with. Pace the sections not working with back in the refrigerator. (to stay cool) Prepare counter with a bit of flour and roll out the first section until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter (or a similar-size bowl/jar lid), cut the dough into rounds. (saving the scraps; they can be re-rolled if needed)
    Lightly brush the outer edges of each circle with beaten egg. Place 2 1/2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Fold the circle over the filling to make a half circle. Using the back of a fork, press around the round side of the circle to seal the pie. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining dough sections. When you fill a baking sheet, place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes so the dough stays firm. (You can also freeze the uncooked pies on the baking sheet first. When they are fully frozen, transfer them to a plastic freezer bag.
Very similar to empanadas
     To fry the pies, heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven until the oil reaches 350°F (on a deep-frying/candy thermometer) Fry the chilled pies in batches of four or five at a time, (about 8 minutes, until golden frozen pies will need about 12-14 minutes.) Transfer the cooked pies to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or newspaper, and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining pies.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Brioche (very new school)

Ingredients: Yield: 3 loaves
The Sponge:
1/3 cup warm whole milk                                      
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg                                             
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
The Dough:
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temp
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (approx)
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

Put the milk, yeast, egg and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer. Mix the ingredients together with a rubber spatula, mixing just until everything is blended. Sprinkle over the remaining cup of flour to cover the sponge. Set the sponge aside to rest uncovered for 30-40 minutes. After this resting time, the flour coating will crack, your indication that everything is moving along properly. Add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Set in the mixer, attach the dough hook, and mix on low speed for a minute or two, just until the ingredients look as if they are about to come together. Still mixing, sprinkle in 1/2 cup more flour. When the flour is incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 15 minutes, stopping to scrape down the hook and bowl as needed. During this mixing period, the dough should come together, crawling up the hook and start slapping the sides of the bowl. In order to incorporate the butter into the dough, it must be softened it should be the same consistency as the dough. Softening by either bashing it into submission with a rolling pin or a kinder and gentler handling by using a dough scraper to smear it bit at a time across a smooth work surface. (when ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool not warm, oily or greasy) With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time. (at this point may think you've made a huge mistake, because the dough you've worked so hard to make smooth may fall apart - don't worry or panic - keep on keeping on) When all of the butter has been added, raise the mixer speed to medium-high for a minute, then reduce the speed to medium and beat the dough for about 5 minutes, or until you once again hear the dough slapping against the sides of the bowl. Clean the sides of the bowl frequently while you work (if it looks as though the dough is not coming together after 2-3 minutes, add a bit more flour, no more than 1 tablespoon) When you're through, the dough should feel somewhat cool. (It will be soft and sill sticky and may cling slightly to the sides and bottom of the bowl)
First Rise: Transfer the dough to a very large buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk (2- 2 1/2 hours)
Second Rise and Chill: Deflate the dough by placing your fingers under it, lifting a section of dough, and then letting it fall back into the bowl.
Work your way around the  dough, lifting and releasing.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, during which time it will continue to rise and may double in size.
After chilling, the dough is ready to use in any Brioche recipe
Storing: If you are not going to use or bake the dough after it's second rise, deflate it, wrap it airtight, and store it in the freezer.
The dough can remain frozen for up to a month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight and use it directly from the refrigerator.
To bake in loaves: Divide the dough into thirds.
Divide each section into 6 equal pieces, and shape each piece into a ball on a lightly floured work-surface. Place the balls side-by-side in a greased loaf pan so that you have 3 short rows, each with two balls of dough. Do the same with the other two pieces of brioche dough. Cover the pans with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly brush each loaf with egg wash, taking care not to let the glaze dribble into the pan (it will impair the dough's rise in the oven). Use the ends of a pair of very sharp scissors to snip a cross in each ball of dough.
Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 200°F. Cool to room temperature on a rack.
Note: You could also use this dough to make the very finest sticky-buns you've ever eaten in your entire life, or you can press it out in a deep dish pizza pan, cover it with cream cheese mixed with powdered sugar, the put fruit slices or berries over it for a very upscale"fruit pizza".

Brioche (old school)

This is from mi Grand Mere's cook book. (remember older than I)
mini fluted
8 cups sifted flour       
1/2 oz. yeast
1/3 cup milk (or water)
1 cup sugar
1/2 Tb salt
1 lb best butter
6-8 eggs
To  make "Brioches" take 4 cups of flour and put in a wooden bread trough. Make a hole in center put in 1/4 oz. (half) yeast (dissolved in warm milk/water, milk makes a richer and more delicate dough). If using milk it should be scalded. (heated to boiling point then allowed to cool to room temp.) Knead/mix the flour with one hand while adding the milk/water with the other. (consistency should be neither too stiff nor soft) When smooth place in owl and set aside in a warm place to rise covered with a cloth. Let the dough rise 5-6 hours (roughly double in size) add reserved flour in which the salt has been sifted. Add the 6 eggs (beaten lightly) with sugar and soften butter. Softening by either bashing the butter into submission with a rolling pin or be kinder and gentler by using a dough scraper to smear it bit at a time across a smooth work surface. (when ready, the butter will be smooth, soft, and still cool not warm) kneading with your hands (adding more eggs if needed for the right consistency) Knead the dough by turning it over onto itself three times. Set aside again, about an hour (covered with cloth) at this time begin to work it lightly and gently with your hands breaking off bits of dough and forming them into egg sized pieces. Pat gently, flatten slightly, take 1/2 the size do the same pace it atop. These can be done individually in prepared pans (cupcake or fluted mini) or together in a larger pan (buttered parchment paper on bottom) Cover and let rise at least another hour or longer. When risen bake at 350-375degrees (depending upon size) If you want the glossy look traditionally seen brush with beaten egg.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Haitian Sweet potato Bread

Sweet potato
This is a more current recipe from the mélange of folk that brought their flavors with them from the Caribbean and elsewhere.  In Louisiana we refer to them as Yams many people use these terms interchangeably both in conversation and in cooking, but they are really two different vegetables.
Sweet Potatoes are popular in the American South, these yellow or orange tubers are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types and are part of the Morning Glory family .  The Yam is the common name a plant species that are edible starchy tubers that came to the Americas from Africa.  It is the tuber of a tropical vine and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato.  Generally sweeter than than the sweet potato, this tuber can grow over seven feet in length. The true yam is a versatile vegetable. It can be barbecued; roasted; fried; grilled; boiled; baked; smoked and when grated it is processed into a dessert recipe.  In this recipe the potatoes are boiled.  Here we go.

5 Tb butter (softened)
2 lbs sweet potatoes (boiled) or  2 cans (16 oz) drained
1 large ripe banana
1 cup sugar3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1/2 cup milk1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark corn syrup

Peel potatoes while still warm, mash with banana, add 4 tsp butter, eggs and mix well.Add the remaining ingredients mix til thoroughly blended.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees pour batter into 9x5x3 pans that have been prepared with the remaining butter. Bake for an hour and a half allow to cool 5 min. before turning onto wire rack.  Bread has the texture similar to pudding and is normally served with whipped cream for dessert.