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Winter Flame

In Sochi yesterday, U.S. skier David Wise won the gold medal in men’s halfpipe, an event that is making its debut as an Olympic sport at these Winter Games.  Tina Maze of Slovenia won her second gold medal of the 2014 Olympics in the women’s giant slalom.  For the first time in seventy-eight years, Norway won silver and gold medals in the men’s Nordic combined event.

The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics are the next in the Winter Olympics series.  This year, NHL players were allowed to play on the men’s ice hockey team due to a three-week suspension of the NHL season.  Women’s ice hockey was an Olympic event for the first time in Nagano, along with curling and snowboarding.

Oyaki are a popular street food in Nagano.  These dumplings start out with a simple dough that can be stuffed with just about any filling imaginable.  They are then fried, or steamed, or baked (or some combination of the three).  Red bean paste is one popular filling, as is a seasoned ground meat.  I also saw a pumpkin and a sweet potato variation that look fantastic.  I should have plenty of opportunity to try them all because we are hooked on these things.  I made these with a simple apple filling because Nagano is also famous for its apple crops and it was like wrapping the best apple pie you’ve ever had in a soft fried dough.  I can easily see why these things are so popular- as soon as you have one, you want another.

apple oyaki

Apple Oyaki


for the dough:

  • 200 g. all-purpose flour (1 1/2 C. to 1 3/4 C.)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 C. water
  • oil, for cooking

for the filling:

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla


To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, and water in a mixing bowl.

Knead with your hands until a soft dough forms, adding more flour as necessary.  The dough will have a consistency similar to pizza dough when it is right.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest refrigerated or at room temperature for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan.

Stir to combine.

Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved, and the apple has softened.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten the ball into a circle 3-4″ in diameter.

Divide the apple filling evenly among the 8 dough circles.

Stretch the dough to wrap it around the filling and pinch to seal up the dumpling.

Pour enough oil (canola is suggested) into a skillet to just cover the bottom, and heat over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, place the dumplings into the skillet, seam-side down.

Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom browns, then flip over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to brown the other side.

Pour 1/4 C. water into the skillet and place a lid over the top, allowing the water to steam the dumplings.

If the dough isn’t cooked through by the time the water has evaporated, add more water and continue to steam until cooked through.

Remove the dumplings from the skillet and serve warm.

Makes 8 dumplings.

Source: dough adapted from Macrobiotic Kitchen

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Academy Award

The 85th Academy Awards air tonight from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and before I settle in to catch all of the red carpet action, I want to share a round-up of the film-inspired recipes I’ve shared over the previous twelve days.  It wouldn’t be a round-up without some Oscar trivia:

Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) is the youngest actress ever nominated for Best Actress in a Lead Role, taking the distinction from actress Keisha Castle-Hughes who was nominated at thirteen for her role in Whale Rider.  She competes against Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), who at eighty-five is the oldest nominee in the category.

The youngest actor ever nominated is Justin Henry, who at eight years old was nominated for his role as Billy Kramer in the 1979 film Kramer vs. Kramer.

Silver Linings Playbook is the first film since the 1981 film Reds to earn nominations in all four acting categories as well as Best Director and Best Picture.

Les Miserables is the first musical nominated for Best Picture since Chicago in 2002, and prior to Chicago no musical had been nominated in the Best Picture category since Oliver! in 1969.

Composer John Williams, nominated this year for his work on Lincoln, still holds the record for the living person with the most nominations at forty-eight.  Next in line is Woody Allen with twenty-three.

Three of this year’s Best Actor nominees: Bradley Cooper, Denzel Washington, and Hugh Jackman, have previously been named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.

For this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature, I selected four movies that have been nominated for but did not win Oscars, four films that have won at least one Oscar, and four films hoping to win an Oscar this year.

salisbury steak

Pleasantville, Salisbury Steak

ihop sweet crepes

I Am Sam, Crepes

chef salad

When Harry Met Sally, Chef Salad (with oil and vinegar on the side!)

roasted chicken salad

My Week With Marilyn, Roasted Chicken Salad

banana ripple ice cream

The Aviator, Banana Ripple Ice Cream

cream puff

Marie Antoinette, Cream Puffs

chicago deep dish

Chicago, Deep Dish Pizza

chicken lyonnaise

Titanic, Chicken Lyonnaise

lemon butter pollock

Moonrise Kingdom, Lemon Butter Pollock

french bread

Les Miserables, French Bread

crabby snacks

Silver Linings Playbook, Crabby Snacks

mary lincoln apple bread pudding

Lincoln, Mary Lincoln’s Apple Bread Pudding

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The American Process

The final film in this year’s 12 Days of Oscar feature is nominated for twelve Oscars.  Lincoln covers the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life focusing on his effort to passing the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the House of Representatives.  The film does a great job of showing Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) both as a political figure and at home with wife Mary (Sally Field) and their sons, Tad (Gulliver McGrath) and Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  Tommy Lee Jones gives an incredible performance as Republican Congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens.  Even though history tells us how things turn out both for Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment, Lincoln is gripping and doesn’t feel like a retelling of everything you already learned in history class.  Lincoln is nominated for twelve Oscars: Best Writing- Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Music Written for Motion Pictures- Original Score, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Day-Lewis), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jones), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Field), and Best Picture.

lincoln kitchen

Looking at menus from official functions during Lincoln’s administration, one would think that Lincoln had an endless appetite for elaborate meals.  By most accounts, this is not true and Lincoln frequently nibbled at fancy dinners, leaving most of the food on his plate and instead favored the simplicity of apples and coffee.  Yet, Mary Todd Lincoln was reportedly well-schooled in cooking and would frequently make an almond cake for him while they were courting, and believed sugar to be “the most nourishing substance found in nature.”  The recipe for this movie is a recipe from a cookbook that Mary reportedly brought with her when she and Abraham moved into the White House, Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery.  This apple bread pudding from the 1837 cookbook combines the “nourishing” power of sugar with the apples of which Abraham was so fond.  The sauce for this is thin, and as noted below it’s best served warm.  To reheat it if necessary, pour it into a small sauce pan and heat over low heat, stirring, until it’s warm and thin again.  I have a hard time calling it bread pudding because there’s actually not much bread in here at all.  I’m not complaining; the end result is layered of baked apple slices reminiscent of (crustless) apple pie and once the sauce is spooned over it, the last thing you’ll wonder about is where the bread went.

lincoln apple bread pudding

Apple Bread Pudding


for the bread pudding:

  • 12 small Granny Smith apples
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 C. chilled butter, cubed (plus more for greasing the dish)
  • 1 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1 C. bread crumbs (homemade are best)

for the cream sauce:

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/4 C. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. almond extract


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel and core the apples and then slice them very thin (I used my apple peeler/ corer/ slicer and used 1/4 inch thick slices).

Place the apple slices in a large mixing bowl and pour the lemon juice, lemon zest and nutmeg over them.

Toss with a large spoon or spatula to evenly coat the apples with the lemon juice mixture.

Butter a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.

Make a single thick layer of apple slices on the bottom of the dish, overlapping so that the apple slices cover the entire surface of the bottom of the dish.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the brown sugar over the apples.

Dot the apples and sugar with 1/3 of the pieces of butter.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the bread crumbs over the top of the apples, sugar and butter.

Repeat layering apple slices, then brown sugar, then butter, then bread crumbs until the baking dish is full, ending with a thin layer of bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, for 50 to 60 minutes until the edges brown, the apples are soft, and the bread pudding is cooked through.

To make the cream sauce, pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

When the cream begins to boil, whisk in the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and almond extract.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain the sauce through a mesh strainer or sieve into a serving bowl.

Serve the sauce over warm slices of the bread pudding.

The sauce is best served immediately but if that doesn’t happen, store the sauce in an air tight container in the refrigerator and warm over low heat, stirring, when ready to serve.

Makes 16 (approximately 3″x2″ each) servings.

Source: The History Kitchen originally from Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery

mary lincoln apple bread pudding

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The Future of America

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrated on the third Monday in January, is a relatively new holiday.  Signed into law in 1983 and first observed in 1986, it wasn’t until 2000 that the holiday was officially observed in every state.  Many are still fighting for the equality they deserve, the equality that King spoke of in 1963 in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  I’m hoping that this is the presidential term where change really happens, giving everyone in this nation equal rights.  King believed in a nonviolent approach to change and did not publicly support any political party.  Today, President Obama will publicly take the oath of office, placing his hand on both Lincoln’s inaugural Bible and King’s traveling Bible.

Because January twentieth is the date mandated by the Twentieth Amendment, Barack Obama officially took the oath of office yesterday in a brief ceremony.  Today will be the public inauguration ceremony complete with the first Latino, immigrant, openly gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration.  Obama has limited the official inaugural parties this year to two balls and one children’s concert citing current economic conditions, and the tradition of the inaugural luncheon will continue.  The inaugural luncheon is hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) and began as we know it in 1953.  The luncheon includes the president and vice president, their spouses, Senate leaders, the JCCIC members and other invited guests and includes various speeches, toasts, and gift presentations.  At today’s luncheon, the theme is “Faith in America’s Future,” and guests will dine on a three course menu including foods from all over the country including Maine lobster, Virginia veggies, South Dakota bison, and Hudson Valley apple pie.

I saw “apple pie” and I knew I wanted in on the action.  The pie at the luncheon will be individual-style apple crumble, served with a maple caramel sauce, a scoop of sour cream ice cream on top and will be garnished with a piece of cheese and honeycomb.  There is nothing about this I don’t love, so I hunted down a scaled-back recipe (I’m not making lunch for 200, after all) and I’m so glad I did.  The apple filling is perfect because the apples soften just enough but still maintain a small amount of firmness, and the crumble topping is fantastic.  Any dessert tastes just a little better when it’s served in individual portions, and with a scoop of the sour cream ice cream, this was absolute perfection.  I made this in four-ounce ramekins, but individual pie pans or aluminum individual pie pans would also work.  If you want to remove the pie before plating it, butter whatever pan you use before putting the crust into it.  To serve the pie, I warmed these in a 300 degree oven for about fifteen minutes, and served them with the ice cream on the side.  I’m sharing the sour cream ice cream in tomorrow’s post, but if you can’t wait to party like the president, feel free to serve this with your favorite ice cream instead.

inauguration individual apple pie

Inaugural Luncheon Individual Hudson Valley Apple Pies


for the crust:

  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 lb.  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 large egg, lightly beaten (beat one large egg and measure half of it into the bowl)

for the filling:

  • 1 lb. Gala Apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
  • 3 oz.  sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

for the crumble topping:

  • 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt


To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until mixed well.

Add the egg and mix to combine.

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Add the water 1 tsp. at a time until the dough pulls together (it should be smooth, elastic, and not sticky).

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and cut the dough into four equal portions.

Roll each portion out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.

Carefully place each crust into  (lightly buttered if you plan on unmolding the pies) ramekins, individual ring mold, or individual pie pans about 4 inches in diameter.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla in a mixing bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly into the four pie crusts, piling the apple mixture higher than the top of the ramekin or pie pan (filling will settle a lot as the pies cool).

Make the crumble topping by putting the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Pulse three to four times to combine the ingredients, then add the chilled butter to the work bowl.

Pulse the mixture until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the four pies.

Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the pies from the oven and place onto a wire cooling rack.

Serve warm (if pies have cooled prior to serving time, warm them in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes).

Makes 4 pies.

Source: Executive Chef Shannon Shaffer, as seen at Obama Foodorama

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Sweet Sangria

In addition to the turkey and sides, which I can’t wait to post here, we did offer several beverage options at our Thanksgiving dinner. One of the beverage options for adults only was this apple cranberry sangria. If you missed the sangria I made earlier this year, it bears mentioning that part of the idea behind sangria is taking a cheaper wine and mixing it up with other ingredients to turn it into something truly terrific.  In keeping with the season, I decided that apple and cranberry hints were really the best way to dress up some Merlot-by-the-gallon for the holiday.  This drink was very popular with our guests, and so easy to make.  I do suggest making it a day ahead so that the flavors have time to blend.  Also, I did not add ice to this because I mixed it ahead of time and it was plenty cold when I took it out of the refrigerator the next day at serving time.  If you feel this will need ice, I strongly suggest filling some ice cube trays with cranberry juice or wine so the sangria isn’t diluted when the ice melts.  Ordinarily, I’d add chopped up fruit to the sangria but in my haste to put everything together, I forgot to and no one missed it.

Apple Cranberry Sangria


  • 2 (750 ml each) bottles of red wine (I used Merlot)
  • 1 C. Triple Sec
  • 2 C. cranberry juice (can use cranberry juice cocktail, or any cranberry juice blend)
  • 2 C. apple cider


Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and stir to combine.

Place the pitcher into the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 8 hours or overnight (unless you want to serve it with ice).

Makes about 11 (1 C. each) servings.

Source: Diana Dishes original

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The Pie

Back in September, we all went apple picking and made an apple crumble pie.  At the same time, we decided we’d make a more traditional apple pie and freeze it to share at Thanksgiving.  Due to some confusion, we didn’t get to eat this apple pie on Thanksgiving.  While the kids were a little disappointed that they couldn’t share their work with our friends and family, they were all too happy to help us work on the pie the following night.  On a daily basis now, they ask if there’s apple pie for dessert.

I’m not sure if it’s because M helped with the crust (and the dishes!) and O helped with the apples, but I think this apple pie is the best one I’ve ever had.  While I’m now a huge fan of making my pie crusts in the stand mixer like I did for the sweet potato pie, I made the crust for this when I made the crust for the apple crumble pie and it’s very easy to make as well.   To make the pie so far ahead of time, I wrapped the pie really well in multiple layers of plastic wrap and put it into the freezer.  To bake it, I put the frozen pie in a 425 degree oven for ten minutes, then wrapped the edges in foil and turned the heat down to 375 degrees and baked it for an hour.  I advise against thawing the pie before baking it, as I’ve done that in the past and it’s turned into a soggy mess.  While the apples did cook down a little and shrink as expected, the pie still had a nice thick apple layer and wasn’t watery at all.

classic apple pie


Classic Apple Pie


for the crust:

  • 2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsps. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsps. butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 8-12 Tbsp. ice water

for the filling:

  • 8 C. sliced, peeled baking apples (about 3 lbs. apples, I used Cortland)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp. cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. milk


To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to combine the ingredients.

Add the diced butter to the bowl and pulse in 5-10 second increments to incorporate the butter, repeating until there are no clumps larger than peas in the bowl.

Slowly (1-2 tsp.) at a time, add the water to the bowl and pulse after each addition, until the mixture is almost completely formed into a dough.

Remove the dough from the work bowl and knead into a ball on a floured surface.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and wrap each portion in plastic wrap.

Chill for 30-60 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl, tossing to evenly coat the apples.

Roll each portion of pie dough out into a circle large enough to fill a 9 inch pie plate.

Place one crust into the bottom of the pie plate, leaving any excess crust hanging over the edges of the plate.

Pour the apple filling into the pie crust.

Spread the pieces of diced chilled butter over the apple filling.

Place the other crust portion on top of the apples, trim the excess pieces of crust from around the edges of the pie plate.

Crimp the edges of the crusts together to seal the top and bottom crusts together, using your fingers or a knife.

Cut one inch slits into the top pie crust using a sharp knife to allow steam to vent from the pie while it bakes.

Beat the egg yolk lightly and brush it on the top pie crust.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles.

Makes 8-12 servings depending on slice size.

Source: crust,  Baking Bites; filling, Moms Who Think

classic apple pie whole




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