oh my! blueberry pie!

pie oh my

Preheat oven to 375°

I have given you basic pie dough recipes before, and they are on the blog.

Sometimes even I take a shortcut- If I do not feel like rolling my own dough out, I purchase Marie Callender deep dish pie crusts.  They are in the frozen section of your grocery store. I did that this time.

Filling:

Ingredients:

5 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries washed and drained
1 1/4 cups of Florida Crystals Demerara Sugar
6 tablespoons of flour
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
The zest of one medium-size lemon and the juice of half of that lemon

In a large mixing bowl mix all the filling ingredients listed above together. Fold gently and thoroughly you’re not mashing anything.

Set bowl to the side

Crumble topping:

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Florida Crystals Demerara  Sugar
1 cup Quaker quick oats (plain not flavored)
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter cut into little bitty squares
1 1/2 f teaspoons of cinnamon
1 scant teaspoon of cardamom

Use a  pastry cutter or pair of forks to blend the topping ingredients together until soft crumbles form- Crumbles should be relatively uniform in size. Put the topping in the refrigerator for half an hour to 45 minutes.

Before you put the pie together, if you are using a fresh or frozen pie crust now is the time that you use a little  softened butter In a light coat and spread gently on the bottom of the crust in the pan. It keeps the crust from getting soft. It is a tip I picked up from watching Chef Robert Irvine on TV- used to use the Martha Stewart egg white painted along the bottom of the crust, but I like this better.
ghk-marie-callednder-pie-crust-1109-s3-mdn
Fold your berries into your deep dish pie crust and spread the crumble topping evenly on top – I tend to be slightly mounded in the middle of the pie crust. Do not overfill your pie crust or your oven will hate you later.

I make a light tinfoil piecrust covering edge for my pies before I put them in the oven, or you can use one of those pie baking rings .

Another tip: Because this is a fruit pie I generally cook it on a cookie sheet Or a shallow pan like a jellyroll pan in the oven- That way it saves on spills later

Bake the pie at 375° for  approximately 50 to 55 minutes, depending on your oven.

Pie will smell delicious and you’ll see some of the blueberries bubbling through the crunchy topping when it is ready.

When the pie is  finished put it on a baking rack to cool, which ideally should be at least four hours so the filling sets.

fl crystals
Pie is best served the day it is made I think, and should be served at room temperature. You can serve plain or with good vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

I will note that this organic Florida Crystals Demerara sugar is exceptionally good for baking fruit pies with – I tried it on a whim once because they said so on heir packaging, and guess what? They were right.

The final note is I have never written this pie recipe down before, so I hope the proportions are correct. To me baking fruit pies is like making homemade pasta – have done it for so long it is sort of instinctive – I grew up around people who cooked and baked – so from trial an error I just sort of learned if stuff felt right and so on.

Enjoy!

 

as american as apple pie

So the other day when I posted a photo of a pie I baked on my Facebook page, I had NO idea I would get so many requests via e-mail for the recipe.   I baked an apple pie with raisins soaked in Calvados and a sweet cinnamon crust and an oatmeal crumble topping. Yes my own recipe and no, not written down – in my head – so here is I hope good enough to work with….

This recipe was inspired by a pie I had almost 20 years ago at the Brinley Victorian Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. The man who used to bake these crazy good double crust apple pies worked at the B&B (maybe he was a manager, I can’t remember).  And he soaked his raisins in booze (don’t remember what, whiskey I think).

I prefer a crumbly topping on my fruit pies, so anyway, here it is, hope it is proportionate enough that a bunch of home chefs don’t complain something was off  ( it is hard to write down something your hands can pretty much make for themselves on auto pilot)

Soak 3/4 cup of dark raisins in 1/4 cup of Calvados (French apple brandy – if you don’t have that a good bourbon will do as well.)

 Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups  flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 teaspoons sugar

8 tablespoons or 1 stick unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into little dots

4 tablespoons ice water

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

Using pastry cutter, cut butter into flour, sugar, salt, spices.  Add ice water.  Form dough gently, do not overwork.  Wrap tightly in saran wrap and toss in refrigerator at least a couple of hours.

When sufficiently chilled roll out your dough and line a deep dish pie plate. My pie plate is like 9 inches in diameter (I *think* – it is vintage pyrex – so I do not recall exactly)

Gently rub bottom of crust in plate with soft butter.  (I saw it on a cooking show once)

Filling:

I use 8 to 10 apples of medium size. (I do not like red delicious apples so I will not use those) I peel them and slice them very thinly.  I toss into a mixing bowl with 1 cup of sugar (2/3 cup white 1/3 cup dark brown), 1/4 cup of flour, 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, and 1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom.  I juice one medium to small lemon over mixture and toss. Fold in raisins that have soaked up their booze.

Topping:

3/4 cup oatmeal (Quaker quick oats, not the instant or steel cut or flavored)

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon each of ginger and cinnamon

Blend all together with pastry cutter in small bowl and set aside.

Toss your apple mixture into your pie crust.

Evenly spread crumbly sugary topping over top of pie

Place in an oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake at 425 for 15 minutes and reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 to 45 more minutes depending upon your oven.

Hopefully my proportions are o.k.  This is as close as I can get – again – have been making this pie out of my head for years.

roasted butternut squash soup

October = Fall = start of soup season.  I like butternut squash soup.  Mine is different because I roast my squash (roasted vegetables add more depth to soups) and I add garam masala, mace and ginger, instead of just nutmeg.  I will be making this later today, thought I would share the recipe now.

I was over at Sugartown Strawberries yesterday afternoon and was inspired to make soup due to the perfectly beautiful squash fresh picked by Farmer Bob. (And as a related aside, Sugartown Strawberries starts hay rides next weekend I think)

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1       medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and seeded (mine today is about 3 pounds)
  • 4      tablespoons   butter
  • 1      large white onion, minced
  • 2      carrots minced
  • 6      cups chicken stock
  • 2      tablespoons corn starch
  • 1      pint light cream or fat-free half and half
  • 6      fresh sage leaves chopped fine
  • celery salt and ground pepper to taste
  • mace and ground ginger to taste
  • small  dash of garam masala to taste

Directions

Halve your squash and remove seeds.  brush with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper and place face down on a sheet pan lined with non stick foil or parchment paper and roast skin side up about 40 -45 minutes at 350 degrees (you want squash to be roasted and cooked to be able to easily slide out of the skin.)

When squash is done, remove from oven and leave to cool

Place butter in dutch oven or soup pot and melt.  Add sage leaves to pot, followed by onion, carrots and a little celery salt. Over lowish heat gently cook onions down to the point just before they caramelize. Remove from heat.

By now your squash should be hopefully cool enough to handle.  Remove from skin and put small pieces into your soup pot with the onions and stir. Fully incorporate your squash (yes, there will be an unattractive mush in your pot at this point) and next quickly whisk in corn starch and incorporate.  Slowly and gently whisk in light cream or fat-free half and half – do not boil but bring the heat up almost   so all is incorporated.

Add the broth. Stir, stir, stir until all is incorporated and blending together and broth is heated through.

Reduce to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes covered.  Next take a hand blender (you know one of those little blender wands and puree your soup right in the pot.

Check salt level and adjust accordingly.  Add ground pepper and additional salt to taste and add a good shake of both ground ginger and mace and a judicial  pinch of garam masala.  A lot of people do this with just nutmeg, I think the garam masala, mace,  and ginger taste better.

Keep on simmer/warm stirring occasionally until you serve.  This is a soup you can serve the same day or heat up the next day.

This is a soup that does NOT freeze well, so make it fresh and finish in a couple of days.

Additional serving suggestions:

Garnish with rough chopped flat leaf italian parsley and  a smattering chopped toasted pecans and a teaspoon of crème fraîche in the center of each soup bowl  or serve plain.

 

 

 

do you dream in buttercream?

Well I don’t actually  dream in buttercream, but it makes for a jazzy sounding post title.

So I have been working and working on a buttercream frosting worthy of posting and I accomplished it with a birthday cake I baked last weekend.

So here it is:

Dreamy Vanilla Rosewater  Buttercream  Frosting

(frosts a 9 inch layer cake and 2 -3 dozen cupcakes depending on how frosted you want things)

1 cup of butter softened (1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted)

4 cups of sifted confectioners sugar

7 teaspoons of half and half (maybe a smidgen more, maybe a smidgen less depending on what you want)

1 Teaspoon of rosewater (as in used for COOKING)

1 1/4 Teaspoons of a good vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon of salt

Combine butter, sugar, and salt until well blended and smooth (use a mixer and use a large bowl and don’t splatter)

Add half and half and vanilla and rosewater and beat until smooth – between 4 and 6 minutes.

Come on people, how easy was that?  Why use frosting in a can?

You can add a couple of squares of unsweetened baking chocolate melted to turn this frosting chocolate.  You can add about 2/3 cup of shredded sweetened coconut to make coconut dream frosting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the best mac & cheese….ever

Yesss….comfort food season is upon us. 

How would you like my macaroni and cheese recipe?

If you are on a diet, or can’t eat rich oooey cheesy goodness, DO NOT make this recipe.  And this is not your mama’s mac and cheese, it’s a special occasion make once in a while kind of deal.

And oh yes, as a related aside, I love these old vintage Dansk Koben Style Dutch ovens from the 1950’s and 1960s?  I picked a couple up in sunny yellow at different tag sales years ago.

Dansk is reissuing them and selling through Crate and Barrel.  Boy am I glad I scored mine at $5 a piece quite a few years ago.  They are quite the tasty price now if purchased new in 2012 (the pricing is a bit ridiculous I think). I have a 4 quart and what I make the Mac & Cheese in, a 6 quart.  They also reissued the baking pan from the Koben Style line.  Save your money on that one – everything sticks to the enamel on that particular pan, so unless you want to be a dishwashing slave, skip it.

Anyway…These Dutch Ovens (Dansk Kobenstyle) do show up often on Ebay and at tag sales.  The prices on Ebay can get a little rich for my blood on them. But if you can score one of either size for $20 or under, you got a great deal.  Mine were a steal, but I collected them before they became collectable – my original impetus was my mother had a 6 quart Kobenstyle Dutch Oven and I loved cooking with it and wanted one of my own. I ended up with two. And seriously, I use them ALL the time.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese…Ever

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups low-fat half and half

1 3/4 cups light cream

8 oz cream cheese (block not in the tub)

1 box of elbow macaroni or small pasta of your choice (16 oz)

5 cups of grated/shredded cheese (I buy the mix – Cheddar and Monterey Jack, or the “macaroni and cheese blend” which also has  American)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 a medium onion minced

Healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce

Healthy dash of Tabasco sauce

Small dash of ground mace

8 slices of cooked and crumbled thick bacon

Melt butter in dutch oven. Add onion, cook a few minutes until translucent. (4 minutes on my stove on a medium flame I watch like a hawk so not to burn butter.)

Reduce heat to low and whisk in flour and salt and mace. When it all comes together like a white paste you are finished with that step.

Slowly add half and half.  Add Tabasco and Worcestershire.

Slowly add light cream.

Bring it up to a boil and then reduce heat to low.

Add grated parmesan cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth, add cream cheese.  When that is incorporated and smooth slowly add the other cheese (cheddar blend see above).

Stir, stir, stir so nothing sticks and turn off burner and move sauce off the heat. (Here’s a tip – I remove a cup of the sauce to a separate container – I usually cook this a day ahead, so when I reheat I add the extra sauce as it heats up – some people just heat up with extra milk – I find this thins it out)

Cook your pasta as per the instructions on the box. Drain but do not rinse.

Fold into your cheese sauce in the Dutch Oven.  Add the crumbled bacon and gently fold a little more until all incorporated. Check your mac and cheese and add additional salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste.

You can either serve as is, or throw Dutch Oven into the fridge and eat a day later.  If you choose the eat a day later option, reheat slowly on stove top on very low and add back in the extra cheese sauce which you put in a separate air tight container and refrigerated along with big batch of mac & cheese.

If you don’t use the extra cheese sauce in the re-heating of the mac and cheese, you can store for a few days and use on other things (like broccoli)

This is very rich, but super yummy.  This recipe will serve a crowd easily as you won’t want to dish up honking huge portions.

And hey, if dishing up to grown-ups give a rough chop to some fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and toss on top when serving as a garnish.

just bananas/just desserts

Ok, what happens when I am supposed to be resting on a sprained ankle? I get restless.

The result: Banana Cake with Banana Buttercream Frosting. (I had leftover bananas to use up )

Banana Cake:

350 degree oven (pre-heat)

Grease and flour two round cake pans (mine are 9 1/2 inch) and line bottom with parchment or brown paper (cut out a circle just like your mom used to do.)

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk powder *

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1  teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (regular not large crystal sea salt)

3/4 cup sour milk**

1 cup smushed ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup white raisins

1/2 teaspoon EACH of cinnamon, green cardamom powder, ground ginger

* = sour milk is regular milk with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar added. Stir in vinegar to mix, let sit 5 to 10 minutes

**= buttermilk powder can be gotten at baking supply places or online.  It must be refrigerated when opened.  You can use buttermilk powder AND sour milk OR regular buttermilk.

Take nuts and raisins and toss in a tablespoon or so of flour and set aside in small bowl.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Add bananas.

Add buttermilk or sour milk.

Add vanilla

Add butter

Beat everything on a low speed until blended and then pop up the power to medium high for about 2 minutes

Split batter evenly between prepared pans. Sprinkle nuts and raisins evenly over both plans (split in other words)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until toothpick or skewer comes out clean.

Cool in pans on rack for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove cakes from pans and cool thoroughly.

When cool remove parchment or brown paper from bottom. Carefully or you will take chunks of cake away

Banana Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup butter

1/2 smushed banana

4 cups confectioners sugar

scant 1/4 cup meringue powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons soft cream cheese

2 tablespoons of milk

1/2 teaspoon EACH of ground ginger and cinnamon

First cream butter and cream cheese.  Add vanilla and spices and banana.  Add sugar. Add milk.  Beat with hand mixer until frosting is smooth and creamy.

Frost the cake.  I will note that after I frost this cake I place four evenly placed wooden skewers in the top and place cake in refrigerator for frosting to harden.  This is a cake that has to have leftovers stay covered and refrigerated. I will also note that I decided to add the meringue powder (also available at specialty food/baking supply or online) to this because the banana makes the butter cream frosting too soft I think.  The meringue powder which I generally keep on hand for royal icing stiffens the frosting up nicely.

I don’t think I left anything out.

Enjoy!

this chicken dinner will keep them coming back for more

Any vegans in the room need to turn away from the page now.  We’re talking chicken.  And I love chickens. I am also  a fan of Chickenman in West Vincent and am hoping he doesn’t get run over by the road master of West Vincent or the peace love and eminent domain lady and the lawyer of reinvention either.

But I digress. And besides, I bet Chickenman would love my home cooking as well as witty political repartee n’est–ce pas?

Back to cluck…so easy to wander down a rutty path towards politics when discussing chicken dinners.  After all chicken dinners are the staple of most politicians.

(If you were hoping for The Pioneer Woman or Barefoot Contessa , sorry, it’s just me)

And yes, as per above photo I do know where chickens come from.  No, I will not be doing my version of Little House on The Prairie and fetching a chicken and slaying it for dinner.  Mine came from the market.

It’s summer I don’t want to stuff anything except maybe the occasional tomato or deviled egg.  But today has been thunderstorm city  and who knows if it will keep on not raining or not, so oven it is.

I love roast chicken and this is the plan B roast chicken when you don’t feel like stuffing.

First I clean out my chicken and remove the gizzards (which I freeze for homemade stock another time.)

Then I June Cleaver it with my cleaver.  Oh ok: translation: I place my raw chicken breast side down on a non-wooden cutting board and cleave her open (see photos).  Then I place her breast side up and spread out on a little roasting rack in a pan I have lined with that half parchment half foil paper, foil side up (easier clean up – sorry – it is Friday and I don’t want to be slave to kitchen.)

Then I look for two little skin pockets that I help along with a little paring knife (see photo) and I stuff 4 cloves of garlic sliced under the skin (evenly on each side) along with the herbs I have handy and fresh outside – oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, 2 bay leaves.

Then I channel my inner Julia Child but not to the point of Paula Deen and I rub the chicken with a pat of butter (ok so maybe it is like a tablespoon plus a smidgen.)

Then I rub on the skin  salt, pepper, a little garlic powder, oregano, basil, smoked paprika, regular paprika, tarragon, cumin, and dried Valencia orange peel.  Look, I don’t go THAT overboard, a dash or this and a dash of that until it smells good going in the oven.  Omit what you don’t like.

Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven it goes.  I have seen recipes that say different things with regard to the internal temperature and doneness, but I just let my meat thermometer do the thinking and when it says done for poultry I haul it out of the oven and rest the cluck for at least 15 minutes with foil on top.  Tonight’s bird is 6.74 lbs. so it will cook about 2 to 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

A note is halfway through I always sour a roast, whether it is chicken, turkey, pork, beef, etc.  I sour it with whatever wine is open.  I don’t drown it, just refresh it.

Tonight I have fresh corn and a salad to accompany my cluck. 

I will post a roasted completion photo later.

Happy cooking!