Friday, February 1, 2013

Experiment #10,11 &12: An Indian Curry, Pilaf and Apple Hand Pies

Today was my husband's birthday and every year I try to make a special dinner.  This year I made things that I never made before, but I have been eyeing these recipes for a while and thought what the heck I should try them out since my husband loves Indian food.

The first two recipes are Indian inspired recipes from Nigella Lawson's book, Feast.  The last recipe is a hybrid, the crust of the hand pies is from Martha Stewart's Living cookbook and the filling is from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.

Mughlai Chicken adapted from Nigella Lawson's book Feast
1 inch fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. dried chili
4 tbsp. ground almonds
1/2 cup water
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
2 tbsp. sunflower oil
3 lbs. deboned, skinned chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. kosher salt

Put ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and chili into a food processor and blend to a paste.

Add the ground almonds and water, then blend again, and set aside.

Put the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cloves into a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the chicken pieces in batches.  Cook long enough to seal on both sides, then remove to a dish.

Add bowl of spices and turn them in the oil.  Add to the pan of spices, and cook until softened and lightly browned, but keep the heat gentle and stir frequently.  Pour in blended paste, and cook everything until begins to color.  Add the yogurt, 1/2 at a time, stirring it in to make a sauce, then stir in the stock and raisins.

Add browned chicken back into the pan along with any juices that have collected them, and sprinkle garam masala and salt.  Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 20 minutes, testing to make sure the chicken meat is cooked through.

Pilaf for a Curry Banquet from Nigella Lawson's book Feast 
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped (I would have used a whole yellow onion, but I only had 1/2 a yellow onion)
2 tbsp. sunflower oil
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick, broken in 3
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
4 cups chicken broth ( I used Trader Joe's Organic Free Range broth)

Cook the onion, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cumin seeds in the oil in a deep saucepan until the onion is slightly browned and soft.  Keep the heat medium to low and stir frequently, this should take about 10 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until the rice is coated with oil.  Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, take the lid off, cover with a dish towel and clamp the lid back on the saucepan.  You can leave the rice to rest like this for a least 10 minutes, and up to about 1 hour.

On New Year's eve, this past year, I made apple turnovers from the America's test kitchen Family Cookbook.  They were delicious, but using store bought puff pastry left something to be desired.  I thought that I could perhaps make the same filling and use my favorite pastry dough and get a delicious hand pie.

Apple Hand Pies adapted from 2 recipes Pate Brisee and Apple Turnover 

Pastry dough (Perfect Pate Brisee) from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook (Available on web-site)
2 1/2 cups All purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled Butter, cut into pieces (I used salted but the original is unsalted)
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. Place flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse to combine.

2.  Add butter to food processor.  Pulse the butter and flour until it is resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.  It should have little globs of butter wrapped in flour.

3.  Slowly add ice water to the food processor while it is running, until the dough comes together.  I start with 1/4 cup and see if the dough holds together.  Stop the machine and pinch the dough.  If it sticks together and doesn't crumble, then the dough is done.

4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces (I shape them into rectangles this time, but normally I shape the dough into round disks.)  Wrap the dough individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before using.  (The reason is that the butter needs to be cold when it gets in the oven to allow for perfect flaky crust.  If it is too soft, your dough will weep and make a horrible mess.)

While the dough chills you can make the filling below.
Apple Filling adapted from Apple Turnover Recipe from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
2 Granny Smith Apples, cored and chopped (I kept the skin on but the original recipe calls for peeled apples)
2 tbsp. sugar (this is greatly reduced from the 3/4 cup in the original)
1 tbsp. fresh Lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Applesauce
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Place the apples in the food processor with lemon juice and sugar. Pulse 5 times for a coarsely ground mixture.  Let apple mixture sit 5 minutes and then drain through a strainer.

The Apple Hand Pies (Where it all comes together) 
*If at any time the kitchen is too warm, and the dough is too soft, place in the freezer.  I place it on a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer until it is more firm, which is easier to handle.  
1. Roll out dough until 1/8 inch thick. Cut with pie maker cutter.  Flour the press and place the dough on one side.  Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on top of the dough.

Beat an egg with  1 tsp. of water.  Brush edge of dough with egg wash.  Place second piece of pastry dough on top, and press to close.
I placed the hand pies in the freezer on a cookie sheet because my dough was getting too hot.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pierced the top of the hand pies with a fork 5 times to allow steam to escape while being baked.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.

The finished pies!
They were delicious, but we think they needed more filling.  The ratio of crust to filling was too large.  Next time, I'll try to make the dough thinner and add more filling.  

Update February 24, 2013: I baked a hand pie that was frozen and it turned out great!  While preheating the oven, I let the hand pie sit at room temperature on a cookie sheet and then I baked it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  It took 20 minutes to cook.  Just make sure it is golden brown.

Link to Nigella Lawson's Mughlai Chicken:

Link to Nigella Lawson's Indian Pilaf:

Link to Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee (There are some good tips on making pastry dough):

Link to the Apple Turnover Recipe:

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