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!

 

risotto with caramelized onions, chicken, and mushrooms

photo5I love risotto.  It takes a bit of time to do it right, but so worth it.  Here is a recipe I have been doing for years.  It has lived in my head because the impetus for it came from one I ate growing up that came out of our family kitchen and not a cookbook.  Intuitive memory cooking if you will. Hope you can follow.

Gently simmer 5 1/2 cups of chicken broth covered on low on the stove. ( I make my own stock incidentally. I find it easier)

Take a smallish sauté pan and cut up into thin rings one medium regular onion and one medium sweet onion and three cloves of garlic (minced).  Toss into a panphoto7 with 4 tablespoons of butter, a pinch or two of sea salt and swirl around and cook until nearly caramelized over medium-low heat.

Add 2 cups of sliced baby bella mushrooms – and yes cut your own, don’t buy pre-sliced. Add 2 medium ribs of celery minced. Add 2 medium grated carrots.  Allow it to cook down.  Remove pan from heat and just move to corner of stove.

I had leftovers from a chicken I roasted, so next I cut up the cooked chicken (skin-photo6free) into bite sized pieces.  I think about 2 cups, maybe a smidgen more.

O.k. now the fun part.  Pull out a large fry pan and put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of uncooked abrorio rice. Stir around on lowish heat until rice grains are translucent.  Add 1/2 cup of rosé wine (NOT white zinfindel – YUCK!), stir around until rice absorbs wine over medium-low heat.

photo2Now start ladling in your simmering chicken broth, one cup at a time.  Last night I only used 5 cups of broth, but sometimes I use 5 /12. The broth needs to be absorbed ONE cup at a time into the rice.  If you just dump all the broth in your risotto will be mushy, gluey and gross.photo4

When you hit the 3rd cup of broth almost ready for the 4th add in the sautéed onions and veggies.

photo1Half way through the 4th cup of broth being absorbed, toss in the chicken. Also toss in a few pinches of tarragon, basil, and oregano.

After you add the final broth and it is almost all absorbed, stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan or grated romano cheese. Stir in 1/3 cup rough chopped flat leaf Italian parsley five minutes before serving.

The whole add broth process takes about 30 to 40 minutes. I hope I have not left photo3anything out….again….have never written this down – always just done it.

Serve with additional grated cheese on the side and a nice green salad.

Enjoy!

hello pumpkin…bread

4Cold days are meant for baking, so today I whipped up a couple of loaves of my pumpkin bread – I had a container of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Pumpkin Puree left in the cupboard from Thanksgiving (it really IS the best pumpkin to cook with).

There is just something so homey about the smell of something wonderful baking in the oven, isn’t there? And by the way, one of my secret 3ingredients is Jayshree Spices’ Tea Masala spice blend.  It works well when making chai spiced tea, and you can bake with it too. I wanted something fun to accompany tonight’s dinner which is my hybrid cross between black bean and lentil soup and a spinach salad with a tangy apple cider-mustard vinaigrette salad dressing.  (And no, I have not written down my soup recipe it is a dash of this, a pinch of that, but I can tell you it is quasi pureed, made with tomatoes and my secret to its smokey fabulous flavor is good ham and minced orange peel.)

Anyway, I thought I thought I would share my recipe, which is a constant evolution. Pardon the haphazard way I list ingredients, but when something comes out of my head sometimes the whole codifying a recipe isn’t perfect…

Pumpkin Bread 1

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

1 15 or 16 oz container of pumpkin puree (I have seen both sizes – just pumpkin, no sugar or spice added)

3 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup milled bran (yes that again – love it in baked goods- makes chocolate chip cookies extra yummy too!)

1 cup Smart Balance oil

4 eggs

1 1/4 cups organic white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2/3 cup of orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt (regular not sea salt)

3 tablespoons Jayshree Tea Masala Spice Blend

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice5

shredded coconut, quick oats, and turbinado sugar for dusting tops of batter in pans before it goes in the oven.

1. Mix pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, orange juice, sugars, spices

2. Mix in all dry ingredients except milled bran.  Mix well.

3. Add bran.  Stir again

4. Pour batter into prepared pans and dust top with plain quick cooking oats, turbinado sugar, shredded coconut.

Bake at 350 for at least 60 minutes (my oven went 70 minutes on this recipe today).  If a wood or stainless steel small skewer comes out of center clean, pumpkin bread is baked.

Cool in pans on baking rack about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove loaves from pan and cool completely.  This bread does need to sit at least an hour after coming out of over before slicing. (just my opinion)

Enjoy!

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yes, it’s chili night

Here I am supposed to be writing an article and what am I doing?  Cooking and writing about cooking.

Well it is chili night, so I thought I would share.  Not bragging, but mine is good.

Chop up a large onion and 3 cloves of garlic.  Cook down a bit in canola or Smart Balance oil is a large pan or a dutch oven. Salt a little bit to taste.  Maybe 3 tablespoons of oil.  Chop up 1 large or two small red sweet peppers and 1 jalapeno (both peppers should be seeded and the jalapeno should be diced.)

Add a dash or two of dried oregano, chili powder (I use Jayshree Seasonings’ chili powder blend – their spices and blends are worth ordering), smoked paprika, regular paprika.

When onion starts to get that translucent look to it, toss in 1 1/2 of high quality ground beef (as in Black Angus, low-fat content – it makes a difference).

When the beef is starting to brown, taste what you have cooked so far and adjust the salt and add a couple more dashes of chili powder.

Add two 15 oz cans of beans (kidney, white, black, whatever – I use whatever I have EXCEPT not chick peas)

Add a can of tomatoes chopped or tomato puree (depending on the packaging approximately 26 oz or so)

Add a 6 oz can of tomato paste.

Stir it altogether, and once again adjust chili powder and salt as necessary (I like spicy chili).

Chop up some fresh basil, oregano, and cilantro. Stir it in.

Adjust flame to simmer and let chili burble away for about an hour, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to pan.

Serve as you wish.  I like having crumbled queso fresco, additional chopped cilantro, and sour cream handy.

Freeze the leftovers.

Enjoy!

sunday morning is for baking

Well, even out here where there is plenty of green and trees between houses, the misplaced sound of a buzz saw way before 8 a.m. will jar you awake.  Such was the case with me, so I decided to get some baking out-of-the-way for later.

It’s Lemon Pound Cake day.  I found this recipe in Real Simple that I tweak:

Serves 12   Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325° F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and  baking powder.                             
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and lemon zest on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.   Beat in 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice, then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.                             
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add half the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix just until  combined (do not overmix).                             
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.                             
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 1 of the remaining tablespoons of lemon juice until smooth, adding  the remaining lemon juice as necessary to create a thick, but pourable glaze.  

Ok so above is the recipe straight.  I fiddle with everything, and what I do here is I add the zest of TWO lemons to the batter, I add grated fresh ginger, and I do a lemon soak before the glaze;

My lemon soak is juice of 2 lemons, grated zest, 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and a couple of tablespoons of a liqueur called Framboise (right now I have an US Framboise out of Bonny Doon Vineyards.)

What I do is I line my pan (or pans as the case may be) with parchment baking paper after I do the grease and flour, so I can hike the cake or cakes out the pan or pans.

Anyway, I cool the cake or cakes post baking for 10 minutes, maybe a few longer.  Then I pull them out of the pan gently, peel down the parchment paper and allow to cool for 30 minutes all in all on a baking rack on clean parchment paper.

I then poke little fork holes up and down the cake (no need to make hamburger out of the top, so be neat!) and gently pour the lemon soak goodness over the top of the cake.  You will see today where I have propped up the new clean parchment paper with a single toothpick on each end of my cakes so the lemony-sugary goodness doesn’t run all over.

After that has all soaked in and everything is set I will either make a glaze or light lemony flavored royal icing and drizzle it over the top, or I also sometimes just dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving and adorn my platter with fresh mint sprigs and nasturtium blossoms. Today I soaked, I adorned with lemon royal icing, dotted with Nasturtium blossoms and mint sprigs.

In other fun of the day, my arugula is growing unmolested, apparently the blasted squirrels only liked the lettuce.

Remember you can still nominate this blog for a Country Living Magazine Blue Ribbon Blogger Award until July 29th, 2012.  I hope you can do that for me, and you can also read about the contest more HERE.

And in the nesting of it all, thanks to Food Network I have discovered The Pioneer Woman.  I am still not sure if her rancher hubby likes the cameras all over, but she has some terrific recipes. She has a website called (of course) The Pioneer Woman.  I am also digging Trisha’s Southern Kitchen with Trisha Yearwood.  Her website is here.  I also love Barefoot Contessa, but she has been all re-runs lately.  I used to watch Nigella Lawson a lot, but I got tired of the odd Euro pop music in the background and the fact they seemed to have an obsession with seeing her on camera raiding her fridge late at night.  But she has some great recipes.

I love to cook, and do collect old cook books.  And the bibles Mastering The Art of French Cooking are worth it to have in your collection.  Julia Child taught me to do roast chicken and many other basics.  There are also books by a woman named Kitty Maynard – American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbooks that never disappoint (mine are so tattered, I really should replace them.)

Cooking is also somewhat instinctual.  Almost everyone in my family cooks.  My late father was a fabulous cook.  I had one grandmother who was Italian and one who was Pennsylvania German.  I also learned a lot from an Italian Great Aunt, Millie, whom I still miss to this day.  Millie was a trip and if she was worried about her figure, she used to cut out the coca cola that she used to have in the afternoon for a while.  And my maternal grandmother? No one, not any diner on earth could make meringues on pies go as high or be as perfect as my mumma’s were.

As a kid, I soaked this all up.  I did not realize at the time I was soaking it all up, but I did.  My cooking style blends my heritage of Italian, Irish, and Pennsylvania German.  I can go haute or keep it simple.  I actually have a handful of  recipes uniquely my own  on Scribd, including my epicurious.com award winning Sunday Pasta Sauce – yes I actually won a contest on this!

I should probably  write down more of my recipes, like my chocolate chip cookies or various incarnations of gnocchi, traditional bolognese, sweet potato soup, crab mac and cheese, cranberry sauces and chutneys, apple and fruit butters, and pies, salads, and such, but most of my cooking is out of my head – a little this, a little that, judging flavors and textures.  And when I use recipes, I am bad, I will often have several recipes open and cook from multiple recipes at one time for one meal.  I am also the cookie fiend at Christmas, so I am happy to adopt any old cookie tins as I find them, especially vintage ones.  (Speaking of which, I need to start hunting for those tines soon – I gave too many away last year during cookie craze!)

Enjoy your day people. I am going outside.