Tuesday, February 9, 2010


ph: wallace kirkland, 1948 via life
"Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark." - Agnes De Mille
Life like art often requires us to take a leap in the dark. To take risks, both small and bold, that are uncomfortable but act as catalyst for change. You have to be willing to put yourself in situations that are difficult, scary, and open to failure. It is through this process that we open ourselves up to new experiences, and therefore inspiration. We are all works-in-progress, constantly evolving as we mold, cast, mix, add, subtract, re-write, re-edit, and re-experience life with each new endeavor. And like all artists we have our moments of doubt, when we question everything we do, every decision made, and the choices yet to come. In both art and life we take journeys where the destination is slightly fuzzy or unknown. Sometimes you wonder how you ended up where you did, and where you could have made that wrong turn. And there's nothing you'd like more than a detour, or a do-over. But every 24-hour cycle is a new opportunity, a chance to get back on track, make a different choice, to own-up to a bad decision. As a work-in-progress we're already fully invested, it would be foolish to second-guess ourselves, or make a u-turn when we're more than halfway there. Sometimes it's hard to tell where you're headed, or what you'll find until you get there. We can certainly prepare for the journey, but unexpected things happen. We can't always anticipate all of life's pitfalls, but we can brace ourselves for the crash by sharpening our reflexes, learning to think quick on our feet, and not being afraid to ask for help or directions. We have to believe that we are strong and capable, able to bounce back regardless of the difficulty. Learn to sit quietly at the wheel, and listen. Turn on the windshield wipers, and see with eyes wide open. Take the top down, and feel everything. Because I think it's those times we are feeling most raw, and exposed that we are the closest to our real selves.

ph: lillian bassman

Turnovers are single serving pie pockets, or portable hand pies. Pastry choices can range from classic puff paste to Mediterranean filo, with everything in between. You can make them sweet or savory, changing out the fillings for the occasion, and serve them as appetizers or dessert. There are many ethnic variations on the turnover, such as empanadas, samosas, knishes, Jamaican patties, or calzones. Although the recipes may differ, the concept is the same - place filling on one side of a rolled-out piece of pastry, then "turn over" the other side to cover it. As far as fillings, you can get pretty creative with the combinations. But the dough should match its filling, meaning savory turnovers tastes better with a standard crust while sweet turnovers pair nicely with a sweeter dough. Pâte Brisée is a standard all-butter dough used for making pies and tarts, but you can add sugar to sweeten it. The pastry recipe I've included yields 12 ounces of dough or enough for a 10-inch tart pan, or 4 turnovers. If making your own pastry dough seems more trouble than it's worth, you can always buy prepared frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to directions.

Basic Turnover Recipe
1 recipe Pâte Brisée (*see recipe below)
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp milk
kosher salt or raw sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the pastry dough and cut into 4 evenly-size squares. You can also cut out circle shapes for half-moon pies.
  2. Divide the filing among the pastry squares, leaving a 3/4-inch border of pastry all around. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg around the edges. Carefully fold the pastry in half on the diagonal, creating a triangle, or half moons if using circles. Be careful to press out extra air gently. Press the edges of the dough together to seal them. With the tip of a knife, cut two small steam vents in the top of the turnovers.
  3. Brush the top of the turnovers with milk, then sprinkle on a little salt or sugar, depending on whether the turnover is sweet or savory. Bake 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.
Pâte Brisée
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (increase to 3 tsp sugar if for sweet recipe)
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
2 1/2 - 3 tbsp ice water
  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. In a food processor or using pastry cutter, sprinkle in the butter cubes over the flour and pulse a few times with processor, or cut butter into the flour with a pastry cutter.
  2. When the mixture resembles a coarse meal, drizzle water into the processor while running, or sprinkle the water over the flour and mix until dough comes together. Make sure it's not too wet.
  3. Knead together just a couple of times, careful not to overwork the dough. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out.
Basic Fresh Fruit Filling
1 1/2 cup fresh fruit, finely chopped
2 tbsp sugar (adjust sugar down if fruit is very juicy)
spices or other flavorings, such a cinnamon, ginger, grated citrus peel, chopped dried fruits, or extracts
  1. Combine fruit with sugar and other flavoring. Let macerate for about 5 -10 minutes before using.
You can also use jams or preserves, as well as cooked meats, sauteed or roasted veggies, sauces, or cheese for savory fillings.

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