“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
Let’s start with the building on failure part. Last summer, my pie crust was described by a recipe competition judge as doughy. Damn it! My mistake was not going to get the best of me. I simply used the wrong flour and now that description was a mere stepping stone. The September Music City Cookoff offered the opportunity to close a door on the past. With a few minor tweaks, a couple Goo Goo’s and a snort of George Dickel no. 12, my pie crust won first prize and a Golden Ticket to the World Food Championships in Las Vegas. Very lucky to have Lady Smokey (Kathryn M. Johnson) as sous chef, we found inspiration in our Inglewood kitchens. Two months of recipe development and testing tightened my pants and y’all, the ring on my finger definitely started to hurt. So, I went out and bought a few clothes to get me through my little battle of the bulge. I even got my ring resized. There was no way I was looking down at my pie dough-covered hand without Pank’s wedding ring on my finger.
It would be exciting to say Kathryn and I came home $100,000 richer. Alas, that was not in the cards for us. That big fat check went to Two-Time Bacon World Champion Ricardo Heredia. I wonder how much bacon Ricardo is eating these days. Competition day was a comedy of errors. Some were my fault and others were way out of my control. Not to say we didn’t nail the pastry. It was far from an old doughy mess. It was flaky and golden, just like a pie crust should be. If my corn brûlée had more time in the oven, who knows…
For a few days now, I have replayed those two grueling hours over and over in my head. Johnny Cash would say that I gave those mistakes valuable mind real estate. My autumn of desserts has offered a great deal of personal and professional growth. That was exactly what my intention was in the first place. Glad to be home with sweet Pank (my husband) and Emma (my sixteen year old puppy dog), I am on a mini-cleanse in hopes of hitting the reset button from two months worth of sugar, eggs, butter and cream. The pan which made batch after batch of George Dickel Caramel Sauce is now heating water for a liver cleanse tea. Setting intention for my first yoga class in months was easy today. Offering gratitude and renewal to myself, it truly came down to something my instructor said,”each of us are just a witness to it all.”
Thanks to everyone who has cheered me on. I learned a lot about myself at World Food Championships and can’t wait for the next big adventure. Stellar or not, each moment is what it is…precious.
Now, about that cleanse. Who am I kidding? There is only so much juice a girl can drink. Try my pie:
Triple Dickel Apple and Chèvre Galette
For the Pastry:
(makes 2 large pie crusts or enough galettes to feed a crew of farm hands)
3 cups all purpose flour (plus, another cup or so for rolling)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cubed
1/2 cup chilled George Dickel No. 12
1/4 tsp salt
pulse flour, salt and butter in food processor until it resembles grains of sand. slowly pour the Dickel while continuing to pulse. once dough ball has formed, roll out on floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. cut into 6 inch circles.
For the filling and pastry finishing:
1/4 cup each of dried apples, currants and cranberries chopped
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp George Dickel No. 12
2-4 fresh Red River Farms apples peeled, thinly sliced and cut in halves
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for finishing
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean split and seeded
4 ounces Noble Springs Chèvre room temperature
4 tbsp Tru Bee Honey
2 egg whites (I used Double Urban Farm)
soak dried fruit in 1/2 cup Dickel. preferably over night, but for competition soak as long as possible. whip chèvre, honey and vanilla beans. heat butter and cinnamon on medium heat. saute apples in butter mixture for 1-2 minutes before adding 1 tbsp of Dickel. remove apples from heat and stir in sugar. let cool. drain and pat dry Dickel soaked fruit and fold into chèvre mixture. spread approximately 1 tablespoon of chèvre mixture on pastry circles leaving about 1 inch border. arrange single layer of apples in a circle atop chèvre. fold in edges of pastry in a pleating fashion. lightly brush egg whites on pleated dough and sprinkle with sugar. bake in preheated oven at 425° on cookie sheet for 12 minutes. reduce temp to 375° and bake for up to 15 minutes. keep a watch on the pastries. when the crusts are lightly golden remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
For the Dickel Caramel Sauce:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream
1 tbsp George Dickel no. 12
1/4 tsp salt
whisk sugar, butter, cream and salt on high heat. whisk continually until sauce starts to froth. whisk in the Dickel. remove from heat when sauce thickens and coats spoon. this will take approximately 10 minutes. once cooled, finish gatlette with a healthy drizzle of Dickel Caramel.