Kitchen gadget: Nut mill
Here's a a classic that will take you back. You might remember chopping nuts for baking using a hand-cranked nut mill (which in the '70s was probably avocado green). The nuts go in the top compartment, you give the crank a few twirls, and voila! You won't get uniformly chopped nuts like this by beating them in a bag with a rolling pin.This retro nut mill was spotted in the baking section of Jons Marketplace in Los Angeles. The hourglass-shaped mill consists of a white, plastic, snap-top bin with a stainless steel grinder and a top that screws onto a glass basin to collect the chopped nuts. Straightforward and efficient. And the color is an improvement on avocado green.
Nut mills are available in the gadget sections of select grocery and cooking stores, and are available online. They run around $5.
Continue reading below for a recipe for walnut and raisin pie, one of our Top-10 Recipes from 2008.
If you have any kitchen gadgets or tips you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times
Walnut and raisin pie
Old-fashioned custard pies seem to have gone the way of Sunday suppers and country roads, but if you want to learn what you're missing, it only takes only a piece of this fabulous walnut-raisin pie from Patty Pinner's cookbook "Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations, With Pie." She starts with a wonderful pecan pie-like custard base, but instead of going with the more traditional nut, Pinner folds walnuts and raisins into the filling and spices the pie with orange zest and nutmeg. Top it with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes plus chilling time
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: Adapted from "Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations, With Pie" by Patty Pinner. Pinner suggests serving the pie with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Flaky pie crust
1 1/3 cups flour, plus additional for dusting
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled vegetable shortening
3 to 4 tablespoons ice-cold heavy cream or evaporated milk
1. In a medium-to-large bowl, sift the flour, sugar and salt together. Using a pastry blender, a big serving fork or the tips of your fingers, cut in or pinch or squeeze the shortening until the mixture resembles a bowl of sweet peas. Tossing the mixture quickly and lightly with a fork, sprinkle in the cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time until 3 tablespoons are added to the dough. If the dough is still dry and won't come together, add the remaining tablespoon. (It's better to err on the side of not having enough liquid than to have too much; you don't want a soupy crust.) Continue tossing until the dough holds together when lightly pressed.
2. With lightly floured hands, loosely gather up the dough into a flat ball, place it in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until you are ready to roll out the crust, at least 30 minutes but no longer than overnight.
3. Prepare a clean surfacefor rolling out the dough. Sift enough flour over the surface to prevent the dough from sticking to it. Lightly flour your hands and a rolling pin. Place the chilled dough on the surface and roll the dough into a circle, working from the center to the edges. Starting at the center, roll straight up to the edge, turn the dough slightly and roll straight up to the edge. Repeat the process -- turning the dough and rolling -- until the dough has formed a circle that's slightly larger than the pie dish (make a 12-inch circle for a 9-inch dish). Be careful to keep the dough as even as possible, between one-fourth- and one-eighth-inch thick.
4. Place the pie plate upside-down over the rolled out dough. Using a small knife, cut a circle around the plate, leaving a 1-inch border of dough around the plate. Set aside the scraps. Remove the pie plate. Gently fold the crust in half, then gently into quarters. Delicately pick up the crust and place it in the pie plate so the center point of the crust is positioned in the center of the plate. Unfold the dough and press it firmly into position in the plate. Trim the excess dough from the edge, except for a half-inch flap of dough around the edge. Crimp the edge of the pie, then place the prepared pie crust in the refrigerator until needed.
Filling and assembly
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dark raisins
1 prepared 9-inch pie crust
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Crack
the eggs over a large bowl. Add the
brown sugar, salt, melted butter and
corn syrup and whisk together until well-blended. Stir in the vanilla,
orange zest and nutmeg, then stir in
the nuts and raisins. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Place the pie in the oven
and bake until the filling is set, 35 to 40 minutes; the pastry should be golden brown and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove the pie and cool it on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm or cool.
Each serving: 505 calories; 6 grams protein; 67 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 83 mg. cholesterol; 188 mg. sodium.