Monday, March 26, 2012

Mad Men Vintage Gelatine Mold

Yes, I am one of those people: a complete Mad Men fanatic. When I finally heard the news that Season 5 would be premiering after seventeen long months, I knew immediately that a 1960's themed dinner and viewing party would be in order. Actually, I knew that a Jell-o mold would be in order, and that a party would have to be thrown to accommodate it.

Being somewhat unfamiliar with popular foods from that era, my relatives were more than happy to reminisce and provide suggestions, "Cocktail weenies!" "Rumaki!" "Wedge salad!" "Tang!" Luckily, at Christmas my mother gifted me my grandmother's circa 1953 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. So, not only did I have a Jell-o mold recipe, but I had a legitimately vintage recipe that Betty Draper could be proud of.

At first I was a little worried, flipping through the pages and not finding Jell-o recipes in any of the dessert categories. Then I found it. An entire cookbook section devoted to Gelatine Salads. Needless to say, while I don't think I will be trying the recipe for "Luncheon Salad" of jellied tomato soup anytime soon, this recipe for a basic fruit-filled Jell-o mold fit the bill. As with most mid-mod recipes, this one is quick and easy with few ingredients. I've included the original recipe below, but since advances in modern technology have brought us such wonders as Melon, Margarita and Blackberry Fusion Jell-o, feel free to mix it up a little bit.

Fruit Gelatine Mold
1 3-ounce package lemon-flavored gelatine
1 cup hot water
1 cup pineapple syrup and water
2 oranges, diced
1 cup pineapple, spoon-sized cubes
1 banana, sliced
1 apple, diced
1/2 cup broken California walnuts

Dissolve gelatine in hot water. add pineapple syrup; chill til partially set. Add fruits and nuts; chill until firm. Serve on crisp lettuce. Makes 6 servings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Martha Monday: Apple Butter Hand Pies

Apple butter has always held a special place in my heart. And, yes, I realize how completely weird it is to be sentimental about spiced fruit spread.  Growing up, my family went nearly every year to the Roscoe Village Apple Butter Stirrin' Festival--Yes, an entire 3-day weekend devoted to apple butter--in Coshocton, Ohio. A restored river town full of historical reenactors doing doing historical things like wearing bonnets and stirring enormous copper cauldrons of apple butter over open flame, Roscoe Village actually has lots of themed events throughout the year and is an awesome day trip if you're ever passing through Columbus. It's also only 15 miles from the World's Largest Basket. Just saying.

Ok, off my Ohio tourism soapbox.

I originally planned to make the apple butter from scratch as well but, unbeknownst to me, apparently one does not simply throw together an apple butter. It takes 4-8 hours (if you're using a crockpot) or THREE DOZEN APPLES (if you're being a Martha and using the stovetop). I may attempt this in the fall after another seasonal trip to Stribling Orchard, but for now store-bought apple butter will do just fine, and you should be able to find it in the jelly and jam section of your grocery store.

A couple of notes: I am coming to realize that for any type of folded, or poptart-type it is nearly impossible to get the desired amount of filling in your pie without having it leak out into a splendid mess on your cookie sheet. Just something to keep in mind, as I actually reduced the amount of filling called for in the recipe and still had trouble. Just something to keep in mind and, when it says to crimp the edges, crimp like you've never crimped before.

Leaks waiting to happen

Apple Butter Hand Pies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups Apple Butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and zest.

2. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, and beat until just combined.  Add cream cheese, buttermilk, and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Form dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap; flatten into a disk and refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight, or freeze up to 1 month (thaw in refrigerator before using.)

3.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/8" thick. Using a 4 1/2" round cookie cutter, cut out 16 rounds. transfer rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Spoon about 2 tablespoons apple butter onto half a round, spreading evenly to about 1/2" from the edge. Brush ice water around the circumference of the dough, and fold round in half, creating a half-moon shape. Using your fingers, press down on edges to seal and flute edges. repeat process with remaining dough rounds and apple butter. Place hand pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate 30 minutes.

5. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon a small bowl. Lightly brush hand pies with water and sprinkle generously with cinnamon-sugar mixture, dividing evenly. Bake until hand pies are golden brown and crust is just slightly cracked, about 20 minutes. Transfer pies to a wire rack; let cool slightly before serving.