Tag Archives: pastry

Dulce de Leche Apple Pie

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Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Do you remember that episode of Friends where Monica goes through 10 batches of oatmeal cookies in attempts to re-create Phoebe’s grandmother’s famous recipe and fails?  Only to find out later that it was on the back of a Nestle chocolate chip bag all along!  Well, something similar happened to me when I was about to make this apple pie.
Here is how the story goes. My lovely mother-in-law has an amazing pie crust recipe that is called “No Fail Crust Recipe”. Her pies are so tasty and the crust is so flaky that my father-in-law requests a birthday pie instead of a birthday cake.  I always call her right before I need it and write it down on a scrap of paper, use it and lose it. Every single time.  The day before Canadian Thanksgiving I texted her asking for the recipe again! No reply. I so deserved that. Finally, I get a text, “Just Google Tenderflake pie crust recipe”. What!!! Her famous No Fail Pastry recipe is printed on every Tenderflake box.  For those of you who are not Canadian, Tenderfllake is a major Lard producer in Canada 🙂 and apparently the creator of the BEST pie crust.  The recipe they came up with is quite unique as it has a bit of vinegar in it and creates the flakiest pastry I’ve ever seen or eaten. As you break into your pie crust you can literally see layers upon layers. It’s phenomenal.

On another note, as much as I am a firm believer in butter, you just can’t beat lard when it comes to light and delicate pie pastry! Everything in moderation. 🙂Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
What is even funnier I’ve had a recipe card cut out of a Tenderflake box ages ago tucked into one of my cookbooks. All this time!
So the recipe I am about to share makes 3 9″ double crust pies which serves me just right. I usually make one pumpkin and one apple pie for the holidays and freeze the rest of the pastry for another occasion.
As you probably see from the pictures above I didn’t just make an ordinary apple pie. Not only does it have dulce de leche added to the apples but it also features a BEAUTIFUL top crust. Don’t worry it’s not difficult to make, in fact it’s easier than a regular method and I will show you exactly how I did it.
Dulce de leche Apple Pie
Ingredients {for the pie crust}: Yields 3 9″ double pie crusts or 6 pie shells

  • All purpose flour- 5 1/2 cups/1.4 litres
  • Salt- 2 tsp.
  • Lard- 1lb/454 gr
  • Vinegar- 1 tbsp.
  • Egg, beaten- 1 large
  • Ice cold water

Method:

  1.  Mix together flour and salt.
  2.  Cut in lard with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. In 1 cup (250ml) combine vinegar and egg. Add water to make 1 cup. Gradually stir liquid into flour and lard mixture. You might need to add a little more cold water to make the pastry dough come together. Please, don’t overmix. If you think you have a perfectly shaped dough you’ve probably gone to far. 🙂
  4. Divide into 3 equal parts, wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator to chill or a freezer if you are intending to use some of them later.

Ingredients {for the apple filling}:

  • Firm Apples- 6 large
  • Sugar- 2/3 cup *See Note
  • Cinnamon- 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Dulce de leche- 1/2 cup plus extra for serving ** See Note at the bottom of the post on how to make dulce de leche
  • Flour- 1/4 cup
  • Egg, beaten- 1 ( for brushing on top)
  • Coarse Sugar- 1 tbsp. (I used Demerara sugar)

Method: 

Peel and core your apples and slice them thinly. In a large mixing bow combine sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon, flour and dulce de leche. Make sure dulce de leche evenly coats the apples. Lick your finger. Mmm…

Now let’s make that pie!

Method: {How to put your pie together}

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C

  1. Take your pie crust out of the fridge and cut 2/3 off. Roll it out on a floured surface, drape it on your rolling pin and carefully transfer your pie crust into the pie plate. Make sure your pie crust hangs over the edges a little bit which will help to bring bottom and top crust together.
  2. Fill your pie crust with the apple mixture.
  3. Now the fun part.  Let’s get creative and make the top crust! Roll out the remaining pastry on a floured surface and cut out little shapes with a pastry/cookie cutter. I used my apple cookie cutter but you can you use anything you love that fits the autumn theme. 🙂 Dulce de leche Apple Pie (top crust prep)
  4. Brush the pastry that covers the rim of your pie plate with the egg wash and start placing the little pastry “apples” on the outer row making sure they are connected to the edges of the bottom crust, overlapping them slightly and brushing each circle with an eggwash to make individual cut out “apples” stick to each other and to give your pie an attractive shiny and golden finish. It’s okay to leave a little space betweens the pastry “apples” as it will act as slits and will allow the pie to ventilate while baking. Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Once you finished the first row, continue the same way until the whole pie is covered. Dulce de leche Apple Pie (top crust prep)

5. Don’t forget to brush it with the egg wash, it will seal all the individual bits of pastry and give your pie a beautiful golden colour. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of coarse sugar.

6. Put the pie in the oven on the lower rack and place a large baking sheet/pan to catch all the drips from the pie to eliminate a lot of mess in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature to 375F/190C and bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is golden and the apples are soft. If your apples are very ripe it will take less time to cook but it might take longer if your apples are not very ripe. In this case, loosely cover your pie with some foil and continue baking until the apples are tender all the way through. (Test with a knife for doneness, it should pierce them easily).

Once your pie is baked. Cool it for several hours. If you cut into it too early (like I often do) it will be very runny, however waiting a bit longer allows for all the juices to thicken so you don’t end up with an apple soup at the bottom of your pie plate. :-). Serve drizzled with a tablespoon of dulce de leche. I am sure I don’t have to tell you how indulgent it tastes. Pure heaven.

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Can you see all the crumbs? I tell ya the flakiness of this pie crust is incredible!

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

Not to mention cinnamon apples in gooey dulce de leche sauce. A perfect holiday treat.

Dulce de leche Apple Pie

*Note: The amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of your apples. Mine were very green and very tart so I used 2/3 cup sugar plus dulce de leche and it was the right call. However, you might need less sugar than I did so ALWAY taste your apples before you put them into your pie.

**Note: I always make my own Dulce de Leche. I recommend having it cooked and cooled before you get to pie making. Here is an excerpt from my post Banoffee Tartlets where I wrote about the method behind making the easiest dulce de leche.

Remove the label from the can of sweet and condensed milk and put it in the pot completely submerged in water.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 1.5-2 hours. Make sure your can is completely covered in water through the duration of cooking or it will explode.  Cool until it’s ready to use. When you open it you will discover that your “ole” plain can of sweet and condensed milk got transformed into glamourous and silky dulce de leche.

This step could be done well in advance. I had mine stored for a couple of weeks before I got around to use it. On a side note,  I have to brag about the fact that Russian babushkas have been making dulce de leche for years before it became trendy all over North America, so the taste of “sgushenka” is the taste of childhood for every Russian child.

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Spicy Turkey Burek

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Spicy Turkey and Filo Burek
Some smells and tastes are so nostalgic that even the mere memory of them create instant longing. Sometimes it’s the taste itself but more often it’s the time of our life that is linked to certain food experiences-happy childhood memories, flashbacks to the dizzying early days of a first love or late night eating with your girlfriends in a college dorm. Life is inevitably connected to food we eat and people we share it with. That’s what makes some things truly unforgettable.

One of the best parts of my childhood were summer travels with my parents to the South of Russia. We often went to the Black Sea for a much needed beach holiday. It was a day and a half travel by train which was surprisingly fun for my brother and I. I really loved Russian trains or “mobile hotel rooms” as Brad calls them with their endless tea drinking ceremonies usually accompanied by adults passionately discussing everything from the history of football to the flaws of the government structure and the children watching the expanse of Russian landscape stretch for hours on end. The highlight of the journey was the moment the food vendors would knock on our door with their cart full of wonderfully smelling food. To our utter disappointment, their food never passed my mom’s standards for health and nutrition but once in a while she’d be out of the compartment and my dad would buy us a burek or a cheburek as it is known in Russia

Spicy Turkey and Filo Burek
Cheburek is a popular street food commonly sold throughout Russia. It’s Crimean Tatar’s national dish that is loved and accepted in Russia as their own. Different incarnations of it exists in parts of Eastern Europe and also in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan and is more commonly known as Burek or Borek. Deep fried pastry filled with spicy minced meat and onions, cheburek is a lovely snack but not the healthiest thing in the world. I am sure you can see my dilemma as I’ve been on a quest to shed a few pounds for a couple of months, burek just didn’t fit into my diet but the need to make it grew stronger every time I passed the Turkish shop on my way to pick up the kids from school. Necessity is the mother of invention they say. Lo and behold, I present to you-Healthy Burek. Spicy minced turkey breast wrapped into delicate filo pastry and baked in the oven. I served it with hummus and fresh veggies for dipping. Although creating guilt-free burek was hugely experimental, the end result was a keeper and equally loved and enjoyed by husband and children alike. Win-win.
Spicy Turkey and Filo Burek with Hummus
Ingredients:

  • Minced Turkey Breast-500 gr
  • Onion-1 medium
  • Cilantro- 1/2 bunch
  • Parsley- 1/2 bunch
  • Garlic- 2 cloves
  • Dry Coriander- 1 tsp.
  • Chili Flakes(optional)-to taste
  • Salt and Pepper- 1 tsp.
  • Filo Pastry sheets- 150 gr.
  • Olive oil or oil spray

Method:

Preheat the oven to 250C/450F.

Chop onions, cilantro and parsley, mince garlic and combine with turkey, add salt and pepper and mix well. It’s very important to make sure your filling is properly spiced or you will end up with something bland and uninteresting, pinch a small amount off and fry it, taste it and add more spices if necessary.

Take one sheet of filo pastry and keep the rest covered with a tea towel to prevent drying out. My filo pastry came from a Turkish shop and was already cut into triangles, if yours is not you can do it yourselves. I prefer the triangle shape because you end up with less pastry to meat ratio and therefore crispier burek.

Put 2 tbsp. of filling on the wide end of the filo sheet and wrap it towards the tip of the triangle tucking the sides in. Place it on the parchment lined baking sheet making sure that the tip of the triangle is on the bottom, then either brush it with a bit of olive oil or use an oil spray. Repeat until the filling is gone- approximately 8-10 bureks.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning them over at a half time point to make sure they crisp up evenly.

Spicy Turkey and Filo BurekSpicy Turkey and Filo Burek
Additional links of this tasty treat are found below. Enjoy!

Russian Pastry Chebureki by Mom’s Dish

Borek or Burek (with spinach and cheese) by To Food with Love

Turkish Sigara Boregi with Minced Meat by Eating Out Loud

Banoffee Tartlets

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Banoffee Tartlets
If you are not from England chances are you’ve never heard of Banoffee Pie before and it’s a real shame. I reckon the invention of Banoffee Pie should stand on equal footing with industrialisation and discovering of DNA and other great things that came out of England. Well, maybe not quite as equal, maybe just a teensy bit lower. Banoffee Pie is the magic combination of everything that is good and true. Sweet and silky Banana plus rich and indulgent Toffee equals Ban+offee. Throw in some chocolate and you get the picture. Pure bliss.
Banoffee Tartlets
The best thing is they are EASY to make and even easier to enjoy. I served them for dessert last weekend for my giant dinner party because when you cook a big meal the last thing you want is to fuss over a dessert as well. A snap to make but do they ever look impressive! Here is my version of the  famous Banoffee Pie. I made a couple of changes but nothing major that would alter the taste. I filled the tarts with dulce de leche instead of toffee and added mascarpone to the cream in order to create a more stable frosting that could be piped.Banoffee Tartlets

Ingredients:  {for 8 Tartlets}

  • 8 all-butter pre-made tartlet cases (You can of course make your own)
  • Sweet and condensed Milk- 1 can
  • Banana, sliced-2
  • Mascarpone- 1/2 cup/ 100gr
  • Whipping Cream/Double Cream- 1 cup/ 250 ml
  • Icing Sugar- 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla-1 tsp.
  • Rum-1tbsp. (optional)
  • Chocolate for chocolate curls or cocoa for dusting-50 gr or 1tbsp of cocoa

Banoffee Tartlets

Method:

Remove the label from the can of sweet and condensed milk and put it in the pot completely submerged in water.  Bring to a boil and continue cooking for 1.5-2 hours. Make sure your can is completely covered in water through the duration of cooking or it will explode.  Cool until it’s ready to use. When you open it you will discover that your “ole” plain can of sweet and condensed milk got transformed into glamourous and silky dulce de leche.

This step could be done well in advance. I had mine stored for a couple of weeks before I got around to use it. On a side note,  I have to brag about the fact that Russian babushkas have been making dulce de leche for years before it became trendy all over North America, so the taste of “sgushenka” is the taste of childhood for every Russian child.

Whip mascarpone with double cream, icing sugar, vanilla and rum until it’s the right consistency for piping roses.

Spread your dulce de leche equally among 8 tartlets, top with sliced bananas. Pipe the mascarpone cream frosting on top and dust with cocoa or decorate with chocolate curls.

For Chocolate Curls:

Melt the chocolate in the microwave and spread it thinly on a baking tray, pop it in the fridge for 3 minutes to set. Take it out and let it stand for a couple of minutes to soften a bit. Drag a knife or a cheese slicer like I did  along the surface of the chocolate to make the curls. When you have enough curls, put them back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to harden.

Banoffee Tartlets
Leave one or two of your tartlets curl-free to show off that gorgeous rose, just a little of cocoa dusting will do.

Banoffee Tartlets
Banoffee TartletsBanoffee Tartlets

Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette

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Eggplant, red and yellow pepper galette with feta Not so long ago my friends Scott presented me with a challenge to devise a full-on vegetarian meal – a task not so easy for this meat-loving Russian. Don’t take me wrong, I adore vegetables. I buy them and cook them in every way possible but they are always served as sides. It’s almost impossible for me to go out for a meal and NOT order meat. I am sure all the vegetarians at this point stopped reading but if you are still with me  you’d be happy to learn about this Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette. It’s full of flavour, you won’t miss meat one bit! Galette is a basically a free-form tart, so easy to make and it’s charm is in how rustic it looks, which means there is no need to worry over making it just perfect!

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant-2 medium
  • Bell Pepper-1 red and 1 yellow
  • Feta-150 gr (crumbled)
  • Sundried Tomato Pesto -2 tbsp (Feel free to use Basil Pesto if you prefer)
  • Pre-made pie crust (Jus-Rol or your favourite brand)-500 gr
  • Basil- 5-6 leaves or 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil-1-2 tbsp.
  • Egg-1 (beaten)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F/ 200C and take your prepared pie crust out of the fridge.
Slice the eggplants 1/2″ thick, brush the slices with olive oil and arrange them on a parchment paper on a baking sheet. Grill until brown for 12-15 min. until soft all the way through and the eggplant lost it’s spongy texture. Remove from the oven and place it on a plate and let it cool off.
Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette
Grill peppers with skin side up. When peppers’ skins are blackened and blistered, remove from heat. Put the peppers in a ziplock bag and close it, let them sweat. When they are cool enough to handle, take them out and remove blackened skin which should be pretty easy at that point.
Eggplant galette
Slice the peppers.
Here are all the ingredients for your galette. Simple and delicious.
Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette

Dust your work surface with some flour and roll out your pie crust in a circle 14″/35 cm in diameter. Slide it over on the same parchment paper you baked eggplant on and spread pesto on it leaving about an inch border pesto-free. Arrange the eggplant slices overlapping in a circle, then put pepper slices on top in any fashion you like, then spread your torn basil leaves on top and finish with feta cheese. Fold the border over the vegetables while brushing the pleats with a beaten egg to seal it. Then brush the egg all over the crust which will give the galette a beautiful colour. Bake at 400F/200C for 20-30 min until the crust is golden and the cheese is slightly coloured.
Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette
It’s incredibly easy and fast, especially if you use a pre-made crust.
Eggplant, Red and Yellow Pepper and Feta Galette