Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lime Bundt Cake

It seems we've turned the corner. Though I'm generally a fan of winter, there is something that happens on that first warm short-sleeved day when we remember what we've been missing the past four months.

On the first day of spring, I was driving west through the mountains on the way back from the Appalachian Studies Association Conference in charming Shepherdstown. In the higher elevations, there was a light, blustery snow which turned to a cold rain as I neared home. I was exhausted and my head was spinning from the whirlwind of ideas and work shared at the conference. I kept coming back, in particular, to the presentation from my friend and filmmaker Tijah Bumgarner about the multiple emerging alternative narratives in Appalachia in the aftermath of the master narrative of coal. Her work on the diverse narratives and changes in the cultural landscape brought on by artists, writers, and filmmakers working in the region prompted me to consider how we are essentially also (re)creating or reimagining another distinct narrative through the work of the West Virginia Folklife Program. This is inevitably being created in the context of our oral histories, documentation, and programming that makes space for and gives voice to the everyday creative and cultural expression of West Virginians.

Certainly, I've been circling around that idea since I started here in November, and in a broad sense since I started studying and working in folklore, but framing it in the context of a narrative, or even as a distinct "text," helped me to conceive of the potential meaning-making and interpretation of this work. It's a helpful lens for me, former English major and teacher that I am, and brings more intention to my everyday tasks.

So while the first day of spring had us in a brief relapse in terms of weather and found me in a state of fatigue from a long week, it also brought a new perspective, not only from the conference, but in the active focus of my work. I've moved from a place of forging relationships and infrastructure, to being able to build on those contacts so that I can now step out into local communities with at least some known points of reference.

I had the day off on Monday, which provided the space to crystalize all I took in and settle back into my daily life in Charleston. Baking, as I've said before, is that process that grounds me in place. After so much socializing over the weekend, I didn't want to go out, so set on making something from what I had on hand at home. That turned out to be limes leftover from the Atlantic Beach Pie I'd made for Pi(e) Day, and other basic ingredients, coming together in this Lime Bundt Cake. I used some 1/3 coconut flour I'd received from Arrowhead Mills, and because I didn't have buttermilk, substituted in coconut milk leftover from another Pi(e) Day creation. I don't see why you couldn't use all coconut flour in this recipe if you wanted to go gluten-free. The cake was both moist and dense, tasted surprisingly of Fruit Loops, and offered that hint of green for the turn of seasons.

Lime Bundt Cake
Adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

For cake:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lime zest
3 eggs
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk

For glaze:
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 Tablespoon full-fat coconut milk
Lime zest and shredded coconut (optional)

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour bundt pant and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and lime zest on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add lime juice until incorporated.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to wet mixture, alternating with the coconut milk.

3. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread evenly. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

4. Remove cake from oven. Let cake rest 10 minutes in pan, then invert to a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely while you prepare the glaze.

5. For the glaze: Whisk together powdered sugar, lime juice, and coconut milk until smooth and no lumps remain. When cake is completely cool, drizzle glaze on top. Garnish with lime zest and shredded coconut, if desired. Slice cake and serve.

Related recipes:
Atlantic Beach Pie
Key Lime Pie Popsicles
Lime and Raspberry Italian Meringue Pie
Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi(e) Day 2016!

Photo by Chris Chen from Pi(e) Day 2013 at The Dunes, Washington, D.C.

Happy Pi(e) Day! I hope you are enjoying the mathematical excuse of the day to gather with friends around the 2piR circular revolution that is PIE. I plan to celebrate this evening via a pie potluck with a few neighborhood pals here in Charleston's East End.

Here's a look at some past Pi(e) Day celebrations in D.C., North Carolina, and Texas and if you're looking for that special 3.14 recipe, you just may find it in the Nothing in the House recipe archive.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Beef Picadillo Pie with Mashed Potatoes

I was first introduced to picadillo-- the spicy beef dish traditional to Spain and other Latin American countries-- by the folks at La Mano Coffee Bar in Takoma, D.C. Shortly after they opened in fall of 2013, I stopped by for a coffee and quick lunch bite and tried their beef picadillo hand pie. It was heaven, with juicy tomatoes, ample spice and a touch of sweetness in a flaky, buttery crust. I've craved it ever since. Eventually, I worked up the courage to email them and ask for the recipe, a request which co-owner Anna Petrillo graciously obliged.

I've been making that beef picadillo pie often lately, finally settling on a somewhat adapted recipe that works well as a main course as well as a potluck contribution. While some picadillo includes raisins and olives, I veer towards spicy and tang rather than sweet and salty. Gordy's Thai Basil Jalapeños are perfect for that extra kick, and the addition of the crust and mashed potato toping provides the antidote to the heat.

Anna included a few additional tips with her recipe, which I'll include here:
I did not grow up eating picadillo, but I have always enjoyed dishes that start with a base and can be modified to one's own tastes and depending on what's in the cupboard. Over the years I have had many versions of picadillo made by friends, during traveling, and in restaurants. Everyone has their own take on it. I think the important points to remember for this are:

1) Make sure you mince up the ground beef into as small as chunks as possible as it's cooking ("picadillo" means "mince") so the meat can absorb and be coated with the spices and sauce.
 2) Try to create a balance of all the main flavors: 1) sweet, 2) salty/tangy, and 3) spicy. Tomatoes, olives, and raisins seem to be common elements but it's fun to experiment with ratios or look for items in your pantry that you can throw in to create those flavors. I've made it with all types of brined items like anchovies and olives, different types of vinegars or wine, and different spices like thyme, tumeric, bay leaf, etc. 
For a hand pie, because you're only getting three or four bites, and it all has to stand up against a salty, buttery crust, you want a lot of flavor packed in the meat. So I go heavy on all the flavors. It also helps if you let the mixture sit overnight to allow the flavors to blend. The meat mixture is also delicious just with rice and beans or tortillas if you don't want to use it as a stuffing. Good luck!

Beef Picadillo Pie with Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from La Mano Coffee Bar

Nothing in the House pie crust, halved

For the beef picadillo:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 shallots, minced
1 ounce ginger root, finely grated
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (more, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice (optional)
1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha (optional to taste)
1 large can (about 25 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup capers
1/4 cup Gordy's Thai Basil Jalapeños (or other pickled jalapeños)
1/8 cup vinegar
1/8 cup lime juice
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional, to taste)
Egg wash (leftover 1/2 egg and 1/2 Tablespoon whole milk or cream)

For the mashed potatoes:
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 Tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pepper, to taste

For the crust:
1.  Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash and saving other half of the recipe in the freezer for a future pie. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. 

For the beef picadillo:
1. Brown ground beef in olive oil (if needed) until cooked through and no more pink remains. Add the onion, garlic, and shallots, cooking over medium high heat until onions are softened and translucent. Mix in the ginger root, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel seed, chili powder, and salt 1 teaspoon salt. Add in the cinnamon or allspice and Sriracha, if using. Cook for another few minutes until spices are fragrant. Use a large spoon to break up the meat chunks until finely chopped. 

2. Add in crushed tomatoes, capers, jalapeños, vinegar, and lime juice. Simmer 20 minutes or until the liquids are reduced, continuing to break up meat chunks. If the mixture seems too dry, add some water.

3. Add chopped cilantro leaves and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, pre-dissolved in small amount of water. Simmer 1-2 minutes until the mixture is a little thickened. Taste for salt, adding more if necessary. If too tangy, add sugar, to taste. Once cooked, allow mixture to cool to room temperature before filling pie crust.

For the mashed potatoes:
1. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Place in a pot, covered with water and 1/2 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over low heat until potatoes are soft and tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to the pot or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. With the mixer, immersion blender, or a potato masher, mash potatoes until smooth. Add butter, stirring quickly to melt. Mix in milk or cream, then add salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop beef picadillo filling into refrigerated pie crust, filling just to the beginnings of the crust flute (you may have some leftover filling). Mound mashed potatoes on top. Brush crust with egg wash. Place pie in oven and bake for 30 minutes until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. Serve warm and enjoy!

Related recipes:
Frito Pie
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Heirloom Tomato Hand Pies with Bacon, Cheddar & Thai Basil Jalapeños
Pimento Cheese and Tomato Pie
Tomato, Bacon & Jalapeño Pie

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Kimchi Bloody Mary

This past weekend I attended the Appalachian Storytellers edition of the Blind Pig Supper Club at Claxton Farm in Weaverville, North Carolina. One of my favorite dishes on the star-studded menu was Louisville chef Ed Lee's Pork Schnitzel with Gravy, Chow Chow, Kimchi Purée & Ham Salt. What made it particularly good was the balance of the sweet and thick chow chow with the fine, spicy hot kimchi. More affirmation that I really need to make it to one of his restaurants some day.

The specific taste of Lee's kimchi purée was familiar and I realized that it was this Kimchi Bloody Mary that it reminded me of. I developed this recipe for the gals at Gordy's Pickle Jar, but it's inspired by the amazing kimchi bloodies at the D.C. Korean restaurant Mandu-- a brunch favorite no longer convenient now that I live in West Virginia. This recipe is a close second and is still one of the best bloody marys I've ever had, topping the list along with Mandu's and my friend Mike's homemade version we had in the Lost Creek Farm sauna this New Year's Day.

The recipe works best with Gordy's spiced and briney Bloody Mary Mix, but if you can't source that where you are, substitute your favorite mix, whether store bought or homemade.

Kimchi Bloody Mary

1/2 cup of kimchi, processed in a food processor until very fine
1 1/2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime (reserve other half for garnish)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped very fine
1 1/4 cup Gordy's Bloody Mary Mix (or your favorite mix, store bought or homemade)
1 squirt of Srirachi sauce, to taste (optional, as Gordy's mix is already spicy!)
3 ounces vodka
1 cup ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients, reserving the ice. Divide ice into 2 glasses and pour drink mixture over ice. Serve with a lime wedge. Cheers!

Related recipes:
Colcannon Pie
Gordy's Cherry Pepper Spread Galette
Heirloom Hand Pies with Bacon, Cheddar & Thai Basil Jalapenos
Mayday Cocktail