I know we are all conditioned to twenty four hour a day access to grocery stores, but even they are closed on Christmas. My friend, Deb, discovered this to her dismay when she attempted to buy supplies for her Christmas dinner on Christmas morning. Quel Surprise! Well, I, the Mendon Foodie, bailed her out. In my well-stocked fridge I possessed the green beans and sweet potatoes she desperately needed. So she trekked down here to score some vittles to go along with her turkey (which she HAD remembered to get earlier in the week). And here, I will admit, she also bailed me out. Yes, I, the MENDON FOODIE, thought I had enough potatoes for fifteen people. I was sadly mistaken. Just as I was about to start calling all of neighbors, humbling myself and admitting to less than perfect menu planning, Deb bailed me out with five pounds of potatoes. The miserly amount of potatoes I possessed before that would have caused a lot of pushing and shoving amongst my guests to score an amount adequate enough to support the crispy shallot and Riesling gravy topping. But all was well, thanks to Deb. It was a mutually beneficial trade.
While she was here and we were chatting, I asked her if she needed anything else. She said she was fine, she was making a pie for dessert and she was even going to make the crust herself. Now, I have been hammering it into her head that it is not that hard to make a crust. I even showed her she could do it with very little trouble. All you need is a cuisinart and a rolling pin. And some pie flour. Yes, pie flour. If you think the only kind of flour you need in your kitchen is all-purpose, you are sadly mistaken and should beg me for the privilege of being my cooking apprentice. Really. Because you really need at least five kinds of flour.
Pie flour has low gluten and will yield flaky, tender pastry.
Bread, or high gluten, flour will give you high rising bread. The extra gluten allows more space to develop which traps the air and makes bread rise better.
All-purpose, unbleached flour. Make sure you buy unbleached.
Wondra or pan-searing flour. For dusting protein before browning and for lump free sauces. You can stir it in without mixing it with liquid and it will not clump. Awesome stuff if you have misjudged your sauce and it is too thin.
Cake flour, similar to, but not interchangeable with, pie flour.
I will let you get away with just having those five. There is also corn flour, rye flour, whole wheat flour, and probably many more I can't even think of at the moment. But stock your kitchen with those five. Now.
So, I magnamimously bestowed two cups of pie flour on Deb and sent her home to make pie and turkey. I proceeded to make Porcini mushroom and chestnut soup with sauteed root vegetables. It was awesome. As was the rest of my Christmas dinner.
Happy New Year.