Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Soframiz: Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce and Greens


I've admired Ana Sortun for years, and have eaten at both of her Cambridge, MA eateries: Oleana and Sofra Bakery & Cafe. Sortun is known for the inspired Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine at both of her restaurants. I purchased her first cookbook Spice after visiting Oleana for the first time, and recently received a review copy of her newly released cookbook Soframiz, co-written by Maura Kilpatrick.

I'm Armenian, so the ingredients and cooking styles shared within her cookbooks strike a chord with me, and are reminiscent of my childhood in many ways. Some of the dishes she shares are new to me, others walk the fine line between authenticity and culinary creativity, and yet several are considerably traditional.

The book features 100 recipes which range from Breakfast, Meze, Flatbreads, Savory Pies, Cookies and Confections, Specialty Pastries, Cakes, and Desserts, Beverages, and more. Some of the recipes are surprisingly simple and seem nearly misplaced in a cookbook that features more complex, international flavors. Take Nana's Pumpkin Bread for example. Although I'm sure it's tasty, it's a bit odd sharing a chapter with the likes of Rolled Omelet with Za'atar and Labne, Egg Fried Rice with Sujuk, Green Pepper and Tomato, and even Date Orange Brioche Tart.

With that said, the majority of recipes in Soframiz are definitely worthy of purchasing this cookbook. Many feature some of my favorite spices and spice mixtures, such as za'atar. From my initial perusal of the book, there are several recipes I can see myself making. Some for special occasions, such as the elegant Pistachio Bird's Nests, and others for a satisfying family meal, such as the Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce and Greens.

Additionally, the photography is simply mouthwatering. The ratio of recipes to photos is great, and is particularly helpful since the book features so many international recipes that may be unfamiliar to readers. It sparks the appetite and sets the mood for some excellent Middle Eastern fare.

Like I said earlier, there are many recipes that I've added to my cooking "to do" list, but the first is reminiscent of one of my favorite dining spots in Los Angeles, Zankou Chicken. I'm seriously obsessed with their garlic sauce, known to those in the know as "toum," a Lebanese garlic dipping sauce. I love their rotisserie chicken as well as their chicken shawarma, and so the appearance of a shawarma recipe in Soframiz definitely heightened my excitement for the book!

The recipe begins by making your own flatbreads using homemade yufka dough. They are simple to make, but I found the dough to be extraordinarily wet, and requiring quite a bit of extra flour worked into the dough when kneading it together. After rolling them out the next day (with plenty of flour), they still managed to continue to stick to my parchment paper on my baking sheet, and made for some abnormally shaped flatbreads when transferring the the sticky, thinly rolled dough to my cast iron pan.

Next time, rather than rolling all six pieces of dough and then quickly cooking them in my cast-iron pan, I would roll each dough right before heating in the skillet. They only cook for about 2 minutes, and in that time I can quickly roll out each ball and then cook it before it starts to get too sticky to handle. Even with the mild frustration of sticky, misshaped dough rounds, the process was not difficult, and I would certainly make them again with a couple small tweaks in technique and timing. With that said, you could easily replace the yufka dough with lavash or even pita bread if you wanted to take a short-cut here.

I scaled down the Shawarma Spice recipe to yield what I needed for a single recipe of chicken shawarma, but I'm sharing the original recipe below. Marinating and cooking the chicken thighs is easy as pie, and yields moist and flavorful chicken, perfect for wrapping with our homemade flatbreads and slathering with decadent garlic sauce.

The toum, or garlic sauce, recipe featured here is a bit milder than versions made with raw garlic. Here we poach garlic cloves in milk to soften their flavor before finishing them off in a blender with lemon juice and oil.

Milk-poached garlic cloves

The sauce turned into a bit of a disaster to be honest. I followed the directions exactly, although my garlic took over an hour to absorb most of the milk. I went against my instincts and added the oil all at once (should have added it in a thin stream like making mayonnaise or Hollandaise), but I decided to stick with the recipe since I'm reviewing the book after all. It was a broken mess, much like my heart after seeing the result.

Broken toum :(

I blended the hell out it, and even dribbled in a few drops of boiling water to trying and get it to emulsify (a little trick for fixing a broken Hollandaise). This still didn't work, and eventually I dumped it out into a bowl and started to whisk it by hand. Do you know what happened? It started to emulsify right before my eyes with just a bit of whisking! It was still much thinner than the toum/garlic sauce I'm used to eating from Zankou (more like the texture of aioli), and of course the color is different since the garlic is poached in milk, and took on a more golden hue, but at least it was no longer a runny, oil mess.

I refrigerated it too before dinner to try and allow it to set a bit more as well. I'm still concerned that the recipe did not address something that could easily ruin the sauce, and someone with less kitchen experience would likely not have been able to take some steps to try and fix it. There should have been a bit more direction and detail here rather than stating to just blend it all together.

Okay, rant over.

Thinly sliced spinach or escarole is the final fresh touch to these shawarma wraps. They add both color and texture to what is already a fantastic combination of flavors. Even with my frustrations making the toum and yufka, the final result was delicious! The yufka is soft, while the chicken is perfectly spiced and juicy. the toum is thinner than expected, but still very tasty, and the spinach balances it all out.

I only used about half the chicken for the six shawarma wraps, but I probably could have stuffed them with more meat if I was able to make my yufkas a bit bigger. Regardless, I'm happy to have some leftover meat and toum to make more sandwiches using pita bread later in the week.

I may be a bit partial due to my Armenian roots, but I have really enjoyed exploring Soframiz. I plan on trying out some of the excellent baked treats, including but not limited to the simple Za'atar Bread (did I mention my love for za'atar?) and many of the sweets as well! I'm happy to find more than just recipes for baked goods. There's a nice balance here. Whether you live in the area and have visited Sofra Bakery & CafĂ©, or are simply intrigued by Middle Eastern-inspired cuisine, Soframiz is a lovely culinary exploration that will leave your eyes and your stomach satisfied.

With that said, I do have some concerns regarding the testing and editing of these recipes. I'm a classically trained cook, and have worked in a test kitchen before, and going against my instincts with that sauce was definitely a mistake, but anyone less experienced wouldn't have even thought twice about simply following the directions. Even though I had some issues with the way the recipes are written, my finished result was still excellent in flavor, so I can overlook some of these concerns. The recipes below are exactly as they are published in the book.

Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Sauce and Greens
Makes 6 large flatbreads; serves 6 to 12
(From Soframiz)

Yufka Dough (recipe follows)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon Shawarma Spice (recipe follows)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 cup whole milk
3 cups packed spinach or escarole leaves, cut into thin ribbons

Follow the directions to make the yufka dough, transfer to a zip-top plastic bag, and store at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, combine the chicken thighs with the Shawarma Spice, salt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 hours.

Place the chicken on a heavy baking sheet and add 1⁄2 cup water so that the chicken will start cooking with moist heat. Transfer to the oven and roast until the edges are crisp and brown and the chicken is tender when squeezed with a pair of tongs, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice it very thinly.

Meanwhile, make the toum. Combine the garlic and milk in a small stainless steel saucepan over low heat. Poach the garlic until it is soft and tender and has absorbed almost all of the milk, about 40 minutes. Put the garlic in the blender with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1⁄2 cup olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy and season with salt to taste.

Divide the chicken mixture among the yufka, spreading it in a strip along one edge to within 1 inch of the sides. Top the chicken with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce and about 1⁄2 cup spinach. Roll up the shawarma tightly, resting them on their seam sides to keep them closed.

Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the shawarma, seam side down, until brown and crisped on that side (do not flip), about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yufka Dough
Makes 6 Yufka
(From Soframiz)

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more as needed

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and olive oil. Using your fingers, draw the flour in from all sides, working the mixture until it’s sticky and forms into a ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Transfer back to the bowl, drizzle with a little bit of oil, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.

Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into three equal pieces; you should have six equal pieces, each weighing about 2 ounces.

Roll out each yufka ball into a very thin 8- to 9-inch round, using plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Stack them on top of each other with a piece of parchment paper between them and plenty of flour or lay them out slightly overlapping on a baking sheet.

Heat an 11- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat and cook the yufka on one side until it starts to bubble up and lightly brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. You only need to partially cook each flatbread at this stage; don’t get them too crispy or they will be dry and hard to work with. Stack them on top of each other as you cook each one so that they lightly steam and keep each other soft and pliable.

If you are not using immediately, transfer the warm yufka to a large zip-top plastic bag and store at room temperature up to overnight. You can also freeze the yufka for up to 2 weeks. After thawing, reheat briefly in a skillet over medium heat before using.

COOK’S NOTE When making flatbreads that require yufka dough, you can substitute commercial yufka, country-style phyllo, or lavash bread, but the results won’t be as flaky and tender as the yufka you make from scratch. All of the above substitutes are precooked so you can fill them and toast them as described in each recipe.

Shawarma Spice
Makes about 3/4 cup
(From Soframiz)

1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground coriander

Combine all the spices in a small mixing bowl and stir to blend. Store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight for up to 3 months.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng)


Chile peppers have become quite the rage recently, with folks competing for the hottest chile peppers, and the spiciest hot sauces. But did you know that the word chile refers to capsicums in general, and not specifically just the hot ones? A sweet bell pepper would be considered a chile based on this classification.

Fascinating knowledge about all varieties of chiles can be found in the newly released reference guide and cookbook The Chile Pepper Bible by Judith Finlayson, ranging from their history to their health benefits, and including a full guide of the five major species of chiles, both with photos and extensive detailing.

I recently received a review copy of this cookbook to explore, and I must say, it is full of recipes, 250 to be more accurate. I rarely see cookbooks that are that robust, but this truly is a bible of information about the beloved chile. Recipes range extensively to include those featuring chiles in all forms such as fresh, dried, powdered, and more.

They also cover nearly every continent with traditional recipes from many international locations. I personally can't wait to try the Jamaican Beef Patties, Chicken Shahi Korma, Kashmiri-Style Lamb Curry (Rogan Josh), Thai-Style Hot-and-Sour Chicken Soup (Tom Yum Gai), Chicken Beef with Orange, and more.

The recipe I selected to start with is Asian, like many of the others on my list. The Indonesian-Style Fried Rice, or Nasi Goreng, is very easy to make and features a reasonable number of ingredients. The recipe tips point out that jasmine rice is authentic for this dish, but that the author prefers brown rice. Well I actually use brown jasmine rice for all of my fried rice dishes, so that kind of works out perfectly in this case!

Also, I went to my local Asian market in search of red Thai bird's-eye chiles, and they only carry them in a frozen vacuum-sealed bag. With that said, the 6-ounce bag only cost $1.75 so that's a serious bargain if you plan on using these chiles for other purposes (the index of the book lets you search for recipes by chile variety, which is quite convenient)! They are SUPER spicy (50,000 to 100,000 Scoville heat units compared to a jalapeno which is 3,500 to 10,000 SHU), so be very gentle when handling them. I actually used only 1 chile for my fried rice (the recipe suggests 1 to 2), and I removed the seeds as well, and I found the spiciness to be perfect for my family. There is definite heat, but it's not overwhelming.

The Nasi Goreng was a huge success. It is very easy to make, especially if you own a wok. I prepped my ingredients in the morning and stir-fried this delicious rice dish in preparation for a Saturday brunch, which is perfect considering the runny fried egg on top. Everything came together quickly, and yielded flavors my entire family (even the most skeptical critics) enjoyed.

I'm really excited to use the rest of my frozen stash of Thai bird's-eye chiles for more recipes from this book, as well as exploring many of the other 250 shared within this ultimate Chile Pepper Bible. This in-depth single-subject resource is an asset to any cook who enjoys chiles.

Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (Nasi Goreng)
Makes 4 servings
(Courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold)

Nasi goreng is Indonesia’s national dish. At its simplest, it is cold leftover rice, seasoned with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and whatever leftovers and spices the cook has on hand. Often it is topped with a fried egg and served for breakfast. Of course, it can be much more elaborate, depending on the circumstances under which it will be served. My version leans toward simplicity, making it a quick and easy weekday meal.

2 cups cold cooked rice (see Tips, below)
2 tablespoons oil                                  
8 ounces deveined peeled shrimp, chopped    
1 onion, finely chopped        
8 ounces ground pork                  
4 cloves garlic, minced          
1 to 2 red Thai bird’s-eye chile(s), minced  
3 tablespoons kecap manis (see Tips, below)
1 tablespoon fish sauce                  
4 fried eggs                              
Fried Shrimp Chips (see Tips, below), optional
Sriracha sauce (optional)

In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until pink and opaque throughout, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

Add onion and pork to wok and cook, stirring, until pork is no longer pink and onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, and bird’s-eye chile(s) to taste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add rice, kecap manis and fish sauce and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon, until rice is heated through. Return shrimp to pan and toss well to combine.

Spoon rice mixture onto 4 warm serving plates and top each with 1 of the fried eggs. Serve with shrimp chips (if using). Pass sriracha sauce (if using) at the table.

It is more authentic to use jasmine rice in this dish, but I prefer brown rice.

If you don’t have kecap manis, mix together 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 mL) each soy sauce and pure maple syrup to use in place of it.

Make sure you save any leftovers, because they reheat well for lunch the next day.

Look for ready-to-cook shrimp chips at Asian markets. They are a tasty snack or accompaniment to fried rice, and they just need a quick fry to make them crispy and delicious.

To make Fried Shrimp Chips: Pour enough oil into a wok or large saucepan to come about 1 inch (2.5 cm) up the side of the pan. Heat until hot but not smoking, or until candy/deep-fry thermometer registers about 350°F (180°C). (Do not overheat. If the oil is too hot, the chips will curl up and cook unevenly.) Add shrimp chips, 2 at a time, and fry, turning constantly with tongs, until they are puffed all over, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and let drain.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Apple Cranberry Walnut Lattice Pie


When I recently visited Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of trying out Magpie in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of the city. I noshed on a slice of Pear Ginger Oatmeal Crumb pie, and it was excellent! When I returned home, I decided to order myself a copy of their cookbook because the one thing I enjoy as much as eating pie is making pie.

I like to think of pie making/eating as therapy. Fifty percent of the therapy is the process of making the pie, mixing the dough, rolling it out, preparing the filling, crimping the edges, etc. The other fifty percent is definitely eating the pie! There's nothing more therapeutic than a slice of freshly baked seasonal pie to comfort you after an exhausting week.

One of my favorite pie cookbooks is the Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, and I've made several excellent pies from that book. It's hard to say this early in the game, but I feel like my new Magpie cookbook will easily tie with 4&20 as my ultimate go to pie book (I have others, but these are definitely the most inspiring and well-executed books on the subject).

I've only just started reading and baking from the book, but I have already been impressed with some of the techniques and tips that are shared. For example, I have always been of the mindset that a pie is best enjoyed the day it is baked (freshest). But Magpie always lets their fruit pies set overnight, uncovered at room temperature. This allows the filling to completely set, and yield perfect slices. In the past I have always had a bit of juiciness in my filling the day it is baked, and the leftover pie the next day always does seem to slice more cleanly, so this makes perfect sense. Leaving it uncovered is also key, I believe, because covering it will trap it's own moisture and then soften the crust, really detracting from that flaky quality you are aiming to achieve.

I also must say that in addition to some really great technique tips I have learned from reading the book, I am really floored by the incredible variety of pie recipes. They are divided up into Fruity Pies (which unofficially seem to be listed in order by season, beginning with fall and ending with summer), (Mostly) Creamy Pies, and Quiches, Potpies, and Other Savories.

A few of the sweet pies I'm anxious to try include Berry Custard Thyme Crumb Pie (next summer perhaps!), Hummingbird Pie (a riff on the classic Southern cake), Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie with Pretzel Crunch, and Peppermint Mousse Black Bottom Pie (maybe this Christmas!) among many others.

Some of the savory options have my mouthwatering as much as the sweet ones! I'm dying to try the Jalapeno Bacon "Popper" Quiche, the Smoked Gouda Butternut Squash Pie, as well as many others. I did note an editorial issue in the table of contents for the savory pies chapter, a couple of the pies are listed out of order with the wrong page numbers, but it's possible that was corrected in a later printing of the book.

To begin, I selected a pretty standard flavor profile for this time of year, and a pie that would be perfect for this upcoming Thanksgiving or Christmas: Apple Cranberry Walnut Lattice Pie. It's so incredibly seasonal, I just couldn't resist making a pie bringing together so many fall flavors.

I will say that even resting my pie overnight, it was still somewhat "juicy" and syrupy, like other fruit (apple/pear) pies I've made in the past. I personally like having some fruity syrup in my pie, but I was hoping to have a firmer, better set filling for this pie. I suppose with small pieces of apple (I quartered mine before thinly slicing) it's inevitable that it won't have the best structure as something more cohesive. After a couple days in the fridge, however, it definitely firmed up and yielded nicer slices, but in a single day's time it didn't really make much of a difference.

I also could have potentially baked my pie a bit longer. It did bake longer than the book suggests, but my oven is electric, not gas, and may have just required even a bit more time for the filling to really set thoroughly. It was bubbling around the edges, but probably could have used a few more minutes.

Regardless of that fact, this pie is seriously a winner! The bites of apple are fall perfection, while the essence of orange permeates the entire pie from both the zest and juice. Bursts of tartness punctuate every other bite from the ruby red cranberries, and of course the crunchy toasted walnuts add a bit of texture to the otherwise soft filling.

I love so many kinds of pie, and the ones featuring fall flavors tend to be some of my favorites. This is such a great pie variety for this time of year, and if you find yourself visiting your local apple orchard, or just needing a comforting pick-me-up as the weather begins to cool, or even planning your holiday dessert tables, this is a fantastic pie to feature on your menu.

Apple Cranberry Walnut Lattice Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
(From Magpie)

1 recipe Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust, chilled overnight (recipe below)
2 pounds (906 grams) sweet-tart apples (such as Honeycrisp or Gala), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 ounces (113 grams) fresh cranberries
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup (144 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup (50 grams) walnut pieces, toasted and finely chopped
1 large egg yolk

Lightly flour a smooth work surface and a rolling pin.

Take a chilled disk of dough out of the fridge. Give it a couple of firm squeezes just to say hello, then unwrap it and set it on the floured work surface.

Set the pin crosswise on the dough and press down firmly, making a nice deep channel across the full width of the disk. Turn the disk 180 degrees and repeat, making a second indentation, forming a plus sign.

Use your rolling pin to press down each of the wedges, turning the dough 45 degrees each time. This will give you the beginnings of a thick circle.

Now, rolling from the center outward and rotating the dough a quarter turn to maintain a circular shape, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle with an even thickness of 1/4 inch.

Set your 9-inch (23-cm) pie pan alongside the circle of dough. Brush off any loose flour, carefully fold the dough circle in half, transfer it to the pan, and unfold.

At this point, the dough will be lying across rather than fitted into the pan. Now, without stretching the dough, set the dough down into the pan so that it is flush up against the sides and bottom. The best way to do this is to gingerly lift the dough and gently shift it around so that it settles into the pan bit by bit. Use a very light touch to help cozy it in. Trim the overhang (if needed) to 1 inch all the way around. Cover the bottom crust with plastic wrap and put the pan in the refrigerator while you roll the dough for the top shell.

Fetch the second disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll it out as directed above. Fold the circle of dough in half and carefully transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet, then unfold to lay flat. Use a pizza cutter, pastry wheel, or large life, along with a ruler or straightedge, to cut the dough into six 2-inch-wide strips. Cover them with plastic wrap, slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator, and chill the strips until the pie is ready to be topped.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a large bowl, toss the apples and cranberries with the orange zest and orange juice.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the fruit and toss to coat the fruit and moisten the sugar and cornstarch so that no dry white streaks remain.

Retrieve the prepared bottom crust from the refrigerator, set the pan on the parchment-lined baking sheet and evenly layer the apples into the pie shell with your hands, keeping the top of the filling flat and level (not peaked). Use your index finger to scrape some of the syrupy fruit juices off the sides of the mixing bowl and generously moisten the top edge of the shell.

Fetch the dough strips from the refrigerator. Lay 3 of the strips vertically across the filling, spacing evenly. Fold back the two outer strips halfway and add a dough strip horizontally across the center of the pie so that it crosses the flat strip. Swap the folded and unfolded vertical strips and add a second horizontal strip across the flat strips. Repeat once more with the remaining strip to complete the lattice. Pinch the two edges of dough together, roll outward and under to form a ledge, and tuck the edge inside the lip of the pie pan. Crimp the edges all the way around at about 1-inch intervals, pressing from the inside with the knuckle of your index finger while supporting on the outside with the thumb and index finger of your opposite hand. Don’t pinch the dough, you want the flute to look like a thick rope.

Whisk the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Lightly brush the lattice with the egg wash.

Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pie 25 minutes at 400 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F, rotate the baking sheet and bake 25 to 30 minutes more (mine baked an extra 40 minutes), or until the lattice is golden and the fruit is tender (the tip of a small knife can easily be inserted into the fruit through the spaces in the lattice) and the juices are bubbling up through the lattice. Tend the top with foil if the crust starts to over-brown.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the pie cool and set uncovered, at room temperature, overnight (or up to 3 days) before slicing and serving. Serve at room temperature, or rewarmed in a 425 degree F oven.

Magpie Dough for Flaky Piecrust
Makes Enough Dough for any of the Following:
2 (9-inch) single-crust pies, 1 (9-inch) double-crust or lattice-top pie, 8 (4 x 2-inch) potpies, 12 (2 x 1-inch) mini pies, 1 (9 x 3-inch) quiche, or 8 (4-inch) hand pies

2 1/2 cups (312 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (6 grams) fine salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and frozen
1/4 cup (60 grams) vegetable shortening, preferably in baking stick form, frozen, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, and put back in the freezer
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 grams) ice-cold water

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse the machine 3 times to blend. Scatter the frozen butter cubes over the flour mixture. Pulse the machine 5 to 7 times, holding each pulse for 5 full seconds, to cut all of the butter into pea-size pieces.

Scatter the pieces of frozen shortening over the flour-and-butter mixture. Pulse the machine 4 more 1-second pulses to blend the shortening with the flour. The mixture will resemble coarse cornmeal, but will be a bit more floury and riddled with pale butter bits (no pure-white shortening should be visible).  Turn the mixture out into a large mixing bowl, and make a small well in the center.  If you find a few butter clumps that are closer to marble size than pea size (about 1/4 inch in diameter), carefully pick them out and give them a quick smoosh with your fingers. Pour the cold water into the well.

Use a curved bowl scraper to lightly scoop the flour mixture up and over the water, covering the water to help get the absorption started. Continue mixing by scraping the flour up from the sides and bottom of the bowl into the center, rotating the bowl as you mix, and occasionally pausing to clean off the scraper with your finger or the side of the bowl, until the mixture begins to gather into clumps but is still very crumbly. (If you are working in very dry conditions and the ingredients remain very floury and refuse to clump together at this stage, add another tablespoon of ice-cold water.)  Lightly gather the clumps with your fingers and use your palm to fold over and press the dough a few times (don’t knead! —just give the dough a few quick squishes), until it just begins to come together into a single large mass. It will be a raggedy wad, moist but not damp, that barely holds together; this is exactly as it should be—all it needs is a good night’s rest in the fridge.

For single- and double-crust pies, mini pies, potpies, or hand pies:  Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, gently shape each portion into a flat disk 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. For quiche, leave the dough in one piece, flatten it into a single large disk 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.

No ifs, ands, or buts, the dough must have its beauty sleep.  That means 8 hours in the refrigerator at the very least. Extra rest is just fine; feel free to let the wrapped dough sit in the fridge for up to 3 days before rolling. (The dough may discolor slightly. No worries. This is merely oxidization and will not affect the flavor or appearance of your finished piecrust.)

Cooks' Note: The wrapped, chilled dough can be put in a freezer bag and frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.


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