Sunday, January 13, 2013

Photo a day - a 356 project

Not that I need another project/hobby/obsession in my life, but two weeks ago (on January 1, to be exact) I decided to start a 365 project in which I take one photo every day of 2013. I know, it sounds a bit insane, but it has already been really fun and creatively challenging - and I'm only 13 days in. And because it's Sunday night and I'm settled comfortably on the couch with so much TV to watch (Girls! Downton! Golden Globes!) I share with you a compilation of my favorite pics from the past two weeks. If you're an Instagrammer, follow me (@maspad) and my daily pictures with the hastag #365 - and enjoy!

All photos taken with my iPhone 4s and processed with various Instagram filters; locations are in downtown New York (somewhere between 4th and 14th streets) and in Astoria.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

English Pork Pies

This past weekend begged for a hearty meat pie for two reasons: 1.) we're deep into winter (I even had to break out the puffy coat for a few days!) and 2.) Sunday was the American premiere of Season 3 of Downton Abbey. Being a law-abiding citizen, I had been patiently waiting in earnest to see what snappy quips my favorite Dowager Countess would have for us this year, and it only seemed right to make mini English meat pies to eat alongside the Crawley family dinner.

For the cheddar crust:
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
14 tbsp Crisco shortening
4 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup ice water
1 egg for final egg wash
**Mini pie tins - I used my new Mini Cup Pie Set from Williams-Sonoma

*Mix flour, sugar, salt, shortening and cheese together with until coarse and crumbly. Slowly add the ice water and knead by hand until doughy. Form into a disc, wrap with parchment paper and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

For the pork filling:
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 lb ground pork
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and fresh sage

*Heat apple slices over low heat until they are soft and browned, then set aside. Add oil to the pan and saute onions, pork, sugar and spices until fully cooked and most of the oil is cooked off.

*While meat is cooling in the pan, unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured surface. Cut out four discs that are just slightly larger than the inside of your pie cups (I have a glass bowl that works perfectly) and save the remaining dough for the top crusts. Press the dough firmly into the cups and let any excess dough flap over the edges. Fill the tins with the pork and onion mixture, then top with a healthy layer of apples. Cut out four more circles that are a bit smaller than the first circles (again, finding a bowl or large cup as a stencil works well) and place over each mini pie, pressing the two crusts together with fingers or a fork. Cut two slits in the top crust to vent, and brush with egg wash if desired. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

12 best of 2012

While the first day of the year is a fantastic time to prepare, make plans, set goals (I will use that passport!!!) and take a turn on the ole' elliptical, it's also really fun to look back at the previous year and make note of some highlights. So without further ado, here are my favorite pie moments of 2012!

*A slice of my Lemon and Lavender Icebox Pie

 *The day that my roommate and I made a pie pilgrimage to Four & Twenty Blackbirds ended with four eaten devoured slices of pie. It warranted two pictures.

 *I made a basic strawberry rhubarb pie, but what stole the scene was the uncut strawberries from the grocery store.

 *My Cheddar Apple Hand Pies were one of my favorite treats all year...but then again, I really like savory food ;)

 *Making my own extracts not only generated my most popular post of 2012, but also 5 different flavors that I still incorporate into my daily baking.

*I stopped at a street fair near my apartment and picked up a favorite local snack - spanakopita - otherwise known as Greek cheese pie.

*I recently made walnut tartlets for a friend's tea party and was so pleased with how this picture turned out!

*Friends and I celebrated this past year's presidential election with what I dubbed Rock-the-Vote Whoopie Pies - patriotically colored red and blue, of course.

*I got up close and personal with the ingredients in a basic pie crust. Pictured here are a handful of salt crystals.

*One simply cannot have too much apple, sage and goat cheese in one's life.

*Finally, I was invited by the awesome people of Pie Face to experience mini pies and major views from the top of the Mondrian SoHo Hotel during a launch party to celebrate the opening of their first American location. Love this city.

Here's to happiness, health, and a wealth of pies in 2013 ;)