Monthly Archives: March 2013

How To Tuesday: Funny Bunny.

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Growing up in Ontario bunnies were these cute little critters that lived in the field behind my house. They frolicked like cartoon characters come to life and feasted on my mom’s flower gardens. My twenty-four toed double jointed tortoise-shell cat, Scrapper would often wander home with one in his jaws.

Here in Alberta bunnies don’t exist. There are no Thumpers or baby Bugs here. Here is the home of the thirty pound jackrabbit that could probably take on all three of my wimpy squishy cats at once. They hide under the pine trees in our yard and munch on the fallen crab apples when they’re not absconding with small neighbourhood children.

These bunnies are neither fierce or furry. They make a sweet statement on your Easter table and their floppy ears are perfect for wiping away glazed ham and apple pie. I love napkin folding because it’s so versatile, fun and unique. You can have just one set of napkins and fold them into countless shapes to surprise your dinner guests all year long.

Want to learn how to fold your very own bunny napkins? Sure you do!

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Start by folding your napkin in half with the pattern facing out and the seam facing in. Fold it in half lengthwise again to form a long rectangle.

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Fold both ends in and down to make a triangular point in the middle. Fold the bottom corners in to meet at the middle and make a kite shape.

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Fold the outside corners into the middle again to make a skinnier kite shape. Carefully flip the napkin over.

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @Lindsey {Hot Polka Dot}hotpolkadot.Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Fold the widest point straight down. Carefully flip the napkin over again.

Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.Learn how to fold your own bunny napkins just in time for Easter via @hotpolkadot.

Fold the corners in to meet each other and you’ll notice the folds have created little pockets to slip the points into. Secure the points in the pockets and flip the napkin over one final time. Fluff the long points to reveal the bunny ears and admire your cute creation!

The Grape Escape.

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

Do you ever get stuck in a rut? All your favourite shows are on hiatus, you’re eating the same boring meatloaf every monday, all your socks are white, you order the same entree at the same restaurant every date night, the Tim Horton’s barista finishes your sentences and even your shampoo is boring you.

You need to mix it up! Routine is efficient, but, without any relief, it becomes stale and uninteresting. Be spontaneous, take chances, experiment and try new things. I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a motorcycle, dye your hair blue or go skydiving.

There are safer ways to be adventurous, ways that don’t result in road rash or parachute failure. Try out that new Indian restaurant around the corner, give meatloaf night a rest, give that new latte a taste test and buy some polka dots socks for crying out loud!

Or maybe try putting some grapes in your pie. Never heard of it? Now you have! Sound weird? It’s delicious!

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot



Great Grape Pie

Source: My imagination.

2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

6 cups grapes of choice
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp quick cooking tapioca

1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Note: I used three different varieties of seedless grapes: green, red and sable. I would suggest using seedless grapes for the best filling texture.

Butter a 9 inch pie pan then set it aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles course crumbs. In a small measuring cup add the vinegar to the milk then drizzle it over top of the flour mixture. Using a spatula lightly stir and fold the liquid into the dry ingredients until it becomes a workable dough.

Using your hands quickly form the dough into two equal balls. Cover them each with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least a couple hours or overnight.

Unwrap one half of dough and place it on on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out using a floured rolling pin into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Roll the circle back onto the rolling pin and use it to transfer the pastry into the prepared pie pan. Smooth it into the corners with your fingers then cut off the excess with a sharp knife.

In another large bowl toss your grapes with lemon juice. In a small bowl mix the sugar and tapioca together then add it to the grapes. Mix that in then let it sit for 15 minutes. Butter the bottom and sides of the bottom pie shell then fill it with the grape filling and smooth them out.

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

In a small bowl beat together the egg and water. Roll out the other ball of pastry dough the same way you did before except this time cut little polka dots out with a pastry tip. Carefully roll the dotted dough back onto the rolling pin and place it on top of the grape filling. Center the top crust then seal the edges with some water and press the edge securely. Cut off the excess and, using your floured knuckles, form the edge into a pretty fluted pattern. Brush the top with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle it with the reserved sugar.

Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake it for about 50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let it sit for at least 1 or 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Great Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadotGreat Grape Pie because change is good via @hotpolkadot

How To… Er… Wednesday: Easy As Pie.

How to prevent your proce crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!

I’ve never really understood that phrase. Making pie isn’t exactly an easy task but eating pie is definitely both easy and delicious.

That’s what the phrase really refers to: something that’s simple and pleasurable. Like bubble baths, curling up with a good book and cuddling puppies. Try cuddling puppies in the bath with your favourite book while eating a slice of pie and you’ve really got something!

Pie crust can be kind of finicky at times. You might have formed the dough perfectly, tried the frozen butter trick, let it chill overnight and your pie still shrivels up like a raisin when you bake it. You’ve probably scratched your head about the mysteries of shrinking pie crust, but never really worried about it because, though it might be ugly, it tastes beautiful.

Today I’ll impart on you the little tips and tricks that you can utilize to avoid the dreaded shrunken pie crust. Making your pie can be just as easy as eating it!

Make sure to come back soon to find out what flavour this glorious pie is!

You’ll need…

Chilled pie dough, halved and wrapped in plastic wrap
Flour
Rolling pin
Pie pan, buttered
Unsalted butter
Filling of choice
Water
Pastry brush

It doesn’t matter what recipe you choose, pie crust can always shrink if you handle it improperly or lack the patience to prevent it. Chilling your pie dough after mixing it up is absolutely essential. I chill mine overnight, but, if time isn’t willing, an hour or two will work in a pinch. When you handle pie dough this causes the gluten in the flour to tighten and, if not given enough time to relax, the gluten will result in shrinkage.

Knowing that makes the next steps super simple. Every time you work the dough, you need to let it rest to relax the gluten. Anytime you mix, knead, roll, form or fill the dough you need to give it a little time out to recover. Overworking the dough is a definite no-no. When adding the liquid, do it gradually and, when it looks like it’s coming together into a ball, stop. Overworking the dough will also cause the butter to melt and your crust to be tough as a result.

What you need to know is that the cold is your friend. Whenever you let the dough rest, put it in the fridge for a few minutes and, right before baking, put it in the freezer for a few more. Just like you would chill cookie dough or freeze a tart shell, it helps the pie dough keep its form.

How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!

On a floured surface, roll out one half of your chilled pie dough for the bottom of your pie. When you’ve reached the desired diameter, gently place the dough in the prepared pie pan. It’s crucial not to stretch your dough to fit in the pan. Doing this will definitely cause frustrating shrinking to occur. Press the dough into the pie pan and cut off the excess leaving a generous half inch overhang.

Refrigerate the bottom of your pie for about 10 – 15 minutes before filling it. Before filling your pie, coat the bottom and sides of the unbaked crust with unsalted butter. This doesn’t have anything to do with preventing shrinking, but it does a great job preventing soggy pie crust. Once you’ve filled your pie with your desired filling pop it in the fridge to rest while you prepare the top crust.

How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!

On a floured surface roll out the other half of chilled dough like you did the first. Cut the dough into strips for a lattice top or braided crust, or cut shapes out for a polka dot top like I have. Carefully place the top crust on the filled pie then secure the edges by brushing water between the top and bottom crust and pressing the edges securely. Some people brush water on the bottom crust’s edge then place the top crust. This might be easier, but leaves no margin for error since the water will act as glue and stick as soon as you let the top crust touch the bottom.

Cut off the excess and form the edge however you desire. That half inch overhang that I mentioned earlier can be your back-up plan. Always have a relatively wide edge on your pie just in case any shrinking occurs. If you have a wide edge, shrinking will be less noticeable.

How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!How to prevent your pie crust from shrinking. It's easy as pie!

Pop the pie in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes before baking it in a preheated oven.

And there you have it! It might seem complicated at first, but really you just need to be patient. Good things come to those who wait. Just remember that the cold is your friend and the rest will come naturally.