I spent most of October running around, hosting friends and throwing bridal showers, entertaining visiting parents, and traveling up to the Fighting 41st to campaign for the most stylish State Senate candidate around, so this past weekend was my first to really spend at home and enjoy the
frigidness coziness of fall. After a morning at the Flea enjoying HNH BBQ (Houston not Houston, it’s all in the pronunciation) and searching for hipster onesies for baby Austin, I returned home to cozy up on the couch and catch some Saturday afternoon ESPN.
Now, while I claim that this is a food blog, after reviewing some of my posts, I think it’s really just a forum for me to vent about the uncontrollable temperatures of my apartment. That’s right, after spending all summer complaining about the excessive heat, here we are in the waning days of fall, and I’m sitting here in twelve layers of fleece and one of those thermal sleeping bags, lest we actually turn up the thermostat and garner a heating bill that would inevitably travel north of $300. And honestly, I’d rather spend my money on truffles.
And so, while turning on the heat seems to drain my wallet, turning on the oven causes no such problems. Though it only provides minimal heat (why is it that using the oven in the middle of summer seems to add 37 degrees to the temp inside, but when it’s actually cold out, it’s more like 3.7?), the oven does have the added bonuses of permeating the house with the intoxicating aroma of whatever I’m cooking (currently, apple cake).
So, last Saturday, as the ‘Cats inevitably gave up their three touchdown to lead to end up on the losing end of JoPa’s 400th, and Zenyatta came within a head of history, it was time to heat up the house and our hearts. Me being me, I started off with dessert. Elizabeth and Mark recently went apple picking, and with the remnants of their bounty still strewn about the kitchen, I knew an apple-based treat was in order. I wasn’t in the mood for a full pie, and wanted something a little more finger-foody. Buoyed by memories of apple turnovers at our 3rd grade tea parties, my plans were instantly dashed after a trip to the freezer yielded a lack of puff pastry and a sampling of the weather outside yielded a lack of desire to go to the store. Still, I figured I could whip up something turnover-like with contents of our fridge, and sure enough, I soon spotted a half-used container of sour cream, awakening long-forgotten memories of a tangily flakily delicious galette crust of yore. And thus, 45 minutes and one regrettable dash to the bodega later to fetch flour so I could actually roll out the dough, we had piping hot, crusty, Apple Turnover Things (recipe at the end).
With dessert out of the way, it was time to turn my attention to something a bit more savory and substantial. As I may have remarked, it was a bit chilly out, so we were all in the mood for something hearty and hot. A quick internet and cookbook scan later, and we decided on Shepherd’s Pie. While I was a frequent indulger of Shep’s Pie at The Celtic Knot, one of our college hotspots (all depicted on the infamous “Pubs of Evanston” poster, hilariously available here), I had never made it myself. Seemed easy enough, sauteed meat + veggies + mashed potatoes. Little did I know I would ultimately be foiled by my lack of appropriate casserole dishes, a common enough theme in the Lorimer Kitchen.
So, off I went, sauteeing a pound of ground lamb (you could use ground beef, but, as Mark pointed out, then you’d have to call it Rancher’s Pie) with a diced onion, then simmering in a cup of (homemade) chicken stock with a dab of tomato paste and a cup of frozen peas. Meanwhile, I boiled three peeled russet potatoes for twenty minutes until tender and mashable, then, well, mashed them with some salt, pepper, cream and butter. With the filling and the crust ready to go, I reached for the only dish big enough to hold it all – the Bundt pan. Meat on the bottom, taters on top. And so, twenty five minutes in a 350 degree oven later we had, Shepherd’s Bundt.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup ice water
One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)
Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or food processor, cut in the butter. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and water and add mixture to the well. Combine, but don’t overwork the dough. Divide into two balls, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate if not using immediately.
In a separate bowl, combine 3 cups of thinly sliced and peeled apples, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, lemon juice (if available) and desired spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc). Roll out dough (and this is where it got dicey for me), and slice into appropriately sized pieces for whatever shape pie/turnover you’re making. Triangles or circles seem to work best. Place a spoonful of fruit mix in center of each piece, fold dough over, seal the sides, and place on baking sheet.
Brush each with egg wash and bake in pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Eat.