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Preview: the pie lady

pie lady





Updated: 2017-11-18T03:49:00.610-08:00

 



The lies (and this blog) end here.

2010-04-12T10:48:29.384-07:00

After over a year of nothing, it's time to face facts.
I am OVER the pie lady. The last few sporadic posts of promising to be back soon were total lies. Sorry about that.

It's been good times. I've met some great peeps.

I have moved on to co-write Butterface with my sister and partner in smut.
See you there.

Thanks for reading!



I know.

2009-09-16T01:03:09.021-07:00

So I stopped blogging for a bit.

While that dewsh Peter would have you all believe that my reasons for ditching the blog involve Nintendo and BC bud, he would be wrong. Just busy with work and weddings and whathaveyou. You know, the usual boring BS.
Sorry, no sex or drugs to blame...at least not this time

BOO-yah!

The blog has not been ditched. Merely put on the back burner.
I don't know when, but I will be back. Probably when the weather starts to suck. Promise.

Until then, have a cupcake.

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Semolina Pudding

2009-03-31T21:20:01.924-07:00

Yeah. Sorry about that. A two week lull after what was a phoned in post to begin with is kind of a harsh toke. A brief early spring funk set in, leaving me with the overwhelming urge to do nothing but go through the motions. And watch a lot of bad movies. Like, Bruce Campbell bad.I did manage too eek out something interesting a few weeks ago- A semolina pudding. This was inspired by Heather of Gild the (voodoo)lily. Last February, she was in Seattle and met my sister and I for drinks. Over wine and blog gossip, she told me about her upcoming Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 feast that focused on African cuisine (Heather's 24's are always insane. She has another one up featuring nettles. It's so springy and delightful I could just wet myself). Anyway, she mentioned the hominy grits pudding she was planning to end the meal with. Which is where I realized that in nearly ten years of baking for a living, I had never once made a cooked cereal like that for dessert.After Heather's post, I began tinkering. So as to not completely rip her off, I explored the flavors of Spain and Morocco. Sweet spices like cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon; the pulp of a vanilla bean, orange zest, and saffron. I opted for semolina over hominy, as it is what I had on hand and seemed to snuggle up with the flavors I was working with.The warmly scented semolina is cooked, egg is added. Then it's baked in a water bath until it's just set. I baked mine in individual ramekins, because thats usually how I roll- but you could make a big one. You'll have to adjust the baking time.To garnish, I gave it a drizzle of the clear seville orange caramel I had in the fridge, fresh blood oranges (because they're pretty), fresh mint, crushed salty marcona almonds, and a naughty little dollop of rose scented whipped cream. It made for a lovely weekend dessert special.I will leave you with the recipe for my version, but the method is a canvas. I encourage you to play. Semolina Puddingserves 72 cups whole milk1/2 cup sugar2 cardamom pods, crushed1/2 of a cinnamon stick1/4 of a vanilla bean, split open1 star anisepinch saffron1/4 cup + 2 Tb semolina2 oz. butter1/2 tsp grated orange zestpinch sea salt3 eggs1 egg yolkBring the milk, sugar, spices, vanilla bean, and saffron to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for one hour.Cut parchment paper into circles the same size as your ramekins.spray 7 3" ramekins with pan spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper circles and spray again. Place ramekins in a roasting pan that has been lined with a tea towel (prevents sliding).Whisk eggs, yolk, and salt together in a bowlReturn the infused milk to a boil. Strain into a clean pot and bring back to a boil. Slowly whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking over medium heat until mixture has thickened- about 4 or 5 minutes.Pour a small amount of cooked pudding into the eggs and whisk well. Then, whisk the tempered eggs into the pot. Add the butter and orange zest, then spoon pudding into prepared ramekins. Pour very hot water into the roasting pan until the ramekins are at least 3/4 of the way submerged. Cover pan with foil.Poke holes in the foil and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Lift the corner of the foil to release steam (Be Careful!!), then recover and bake about 20-30 minutes longer, or until puddings are set. Cool to room temperature- at least an hour, then invert onto plates. Don't forget to peel off the parchment paper!Serve with your preferred accompaniments[...]



Happy St. Paddy's!

2009-03-23T13:05:39.538-07:00

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Oh how I love this holiday. I'm not Catholic, but there is just enough Irish in me to really get in to the drunken revelry of St. Patrick's Day.

I have a full bottle of Jameson's and a fridge full of Guinness, The Quiet Man- and in a few hours, a giant plate of food that will go straight to me'arteries.
The Menu:

Braised pork shoulder w/ grain mustard jus- so sue me, I'm not making corned beef. I forgot to start the brine and had to wing it. We'll have pulled pork sandwiches rather than reubens. I'm a little depressed about it, but I'm sure I'll pull through.

Colcannon heavy on the kale, for the sake of my lovehandles

soda bread that actually tastes good.

Guinness ice cream with whiskey caramel hence all of the open bottles of guinness- for the reduction...

I'll most likely not be blogging any of this. I'm just hanging out, waiting for the ice cream to finish churning and felt like sharing.

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Now, with less swears and more chocolate

2009-03-23T14:26:57.302-07:00

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In January, I came to the realization that somehow, this blog had not featured chocolate in over nine months. Admittedly, I am more of a fruit person, but I love good chocolate and did not intentionally give it the silent treatment. My bad.

I've been sitting on this post for a while, for reasons of sheer vanity. I couldn't get a decent shot of the sorbet before it started to melt on me. I meant to re-shoot it, but it disappeared before I had the chance- as is standard practice around here when it comes to things that taste good.

But, I'm also trying to turn over a new leaf with The Pie Lady. Some of the goals I've set include using the term 'fuck' less frequently, post weekly, and to stop ignoring chocolate. So I will bravely set my ego aside and assure you that while it looks a little melty, this sorbet is fucking amazing (I've already said it once. fuck it.)

I have met my monthly chocolate quota.
PS to those interested- this stuff is rich and indulgent, but not that bad for you.
And trust me on this one- You will think you are eating chocolate ice cream.

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Dark Chocolate Sorbet

I like to serve mine with big sprigs of mint, because chocolate-mint is one of those flavor combos that makes my toes curl.

3 T corn syrup
2 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (good quality), finely chopped
2 1/2 oz coco powder (dutch process)
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla
2 T brandy

Combine the chopped chocolate, salt, and coco in a large bowl.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a pot and bring to a full boil.

Slowly pour 1/3 of the hot sugar syrup into the bowl of chocolate and whisk thoroughly. Continue adding the syrup and whisking in 2 more additions. The mixture may seize up when you first add the syrup, but it will come together.
Stir in the vanilla and brandy. Strain the base through a fine sieve and chill until completely cold. The base will thicken slightly.
Once base is completely cold, churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.



Bread and Chocolate

2009-03-23T13:07:02.985-07:00

baked chocolate truffle, blood orange-port reduction, toasted cocoa nibs, sweet crostiniThis is one of those dishes that just evolved into itself, completely by accident. It was inspired by the random grazing of a line cook, and the chocolate bar made by local company, Theo (and only organic, fair trade chocolate company in the country. Seriously. Click that link and buy some chocolate. I highly recommend the coconut curry).The original idea was for just the baked truffle, the blood orange-port reduction, and perhaps an olive oil gelato- and I still mean to try that one day. But while I was working it out in my head, a question of texture kept popping up. I wanted something crunchy. But something other than the cocoa nibs or standard issue praline/brittle-type situation. I was fiddling with the truffle recipe- which has the exact same texture as softened butter, when I put out a sample batch for the cooks to nosh on. We were standing around bullshitting and having coffee when one of them tore off a piece of fresh baguette, ripped it open, and smeared the truffle down the middle. Without a word, the rest of us followed suit. It was as delicious as it sounds, and I was mentally bitch slapping myself for not putting a spin on bread and chocolate on the menu until now.I knew I couldn't serve it the way we had it, which to honest, might be how I like it best. This is where the Theo 'bread and chocolate' candy bar enters in. It's dark chocolate with baguette crumbs mixed it. It's crispy and salty-sweet and if I am ever in a munchy, it's a good place to turn. I sliced up a fresh baguette, moments after it's delivery, brushed it with melted butter, sprinkled it with raw sugar (I'm now using crystal sugar because it's prettier), and baked at 400 for about 8 minutes. Then I smeared one with a thick layer of the truffle and didn't look back.see instructions for sweet crostini in post. Blood orange-port reduction is equal parts tawny port and blood orange juice, a small handful of sugar, and a piece of star anise. Simmer until reduced and syrupy.Baked Chocolate Truffleslightly tinkered with version of the recipe from Susan G. Purdy's Pie in the Skyserves four4 oz 70% good quality dark chocolate, chopped1/4 cup water1/2 cup sugar1 tsp espresso powder4 oz very soft butter (like, the texture of mayonnaise)2 room temperature eggs1/4 tsp sea saltPre heat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, gind up chocolate until you have fine crumbs. Brush 4 small ramekins with melted butter. Line the bottoms with small circles of parchment paper and brush with more butter. Place ramekins in a tea towel lined roasting pan.Bring the sugar, espresso powder and water just to a simmer, do not boil. Add to chocolate in a slow steady stream through the feeding tube with the machine running. Once all the syrup has been added, continue to process for about 10 seconds. Scrape the bowl down, then turn machine back on. Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, through the feeding tube with the machine running. Continue to process for about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and process a few seconds more.Whisk the eggs and salt together. Slowly add to the chocolate mixture, pulsing every few seconds just to combine. You do not want to add much air at this point.Divide the mixture between the ramekins and fill roasting pan with enough hot water to submerge them halfway. Cover pan with foil and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-7 more minutes. Truffles will be set, but still look moist. Always serve at room temperature.[...]



Seville Orange Flan

2009-03-23T13:55:52.641-07:00

My annual obsession with seville oranges continues, this installment being a perfectly textured flan. Yeah, you heard me. Perfect.It's heavy on the eggs, but doesn't taste too eggy... I personally like it to be a touch on the eggy side, though. Some people get all freaked out by the eggy flan thing, and they should just go eat some creme brulee and get over it. I don't use any cream in this one because it inhibits the sharp, clean flavor of the sevilles. Whole milk lends just enough richness, but still keeps the flan silky and light.I cook my caramel for the bottom of the ramekins a hair darker than usual, for some bitter twang.Lots of vanilla beans and a little drizzle of creme fraiche are the only other players in the dish, providing the equipment for a jooshed up creamsicle.If you can get your hands on seville oranges, do two things with them. Make the cuban roast pork shoulder from the Dean and Deluca cookbook, and serve this flan for dessert.Seville Orange Flanyield: 5 (or more if using smaller ramekins)Caramel:3 oz water1 1/2 cups sugarCustard:3 cups whole milkzest of 1 large (or 2 small) seville oranges2 vanilla beans3/4 cup sugarpinch salt4 eggs7 egg yolks1 Tb grand marnier1. Infuse the milk: split open the vanilla beans and scrape the seeds into a sauce pot. Add the pods to the pot. Add the orange zest and milk. Bring to a full boil, then cover, remove from heat, and let steep on the counter for 2 full hours.2. Make the caramel: Spray 5 ramekins with pan release. Place ramekins in a roasting pan lined with a tea towel (this keeps the ramekins from sliding around). Combine the sugar and water in a pot. Stir very gently with your finger until the sugar is absorbed. Place pot over high heat and cook, brushing down the sides of the pot with a pastry bag dipped in water (OR- this is what I do: Cover the pot with a lid and allow the condensation to wash down the sides of the pot for you. Just stay close so you can occasionally peek to see how your caramel is coming along)Once the sugar is reaching an amber color, remove pot from the heat. Tilt pot around gently to encourage even caramelizing. Ladle the caramel into the ramekins. Set aside while you make the custard.3. Custard: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt. Have a heatproof container and a fine sieve or chinois at the ready. Remove cover from pot of infused milk and bring to a full boil. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the eggs. Strain custard, then stir in the grand marnier. The custard base can be made ahead of time.4. Bake: Pour custard base into the prepared ramekins. Fill the roasting pan with very hot water so that the ramekins are about 3/4 of the way submerged. Cover pan with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 60-90 minutes, until flans are set but not wobbly. Once ramekins are cool enough to handle, remove from the water bath and let sit at room temp for about 10 minutes (putting hot flans right in the fridge causes the custard to crack). Refrigerate overnight for best results.5. Serve: Run the tip of a knife around the edge of ramekin. Place a dessert plate on top of the ramekin. Invert flan onto the plate (you may need to shake it a little until you hear the flan separate from the ramekin). Drizzle with a little creme fraiche a la Jackson Pollack.[...]



Hallmark Holiday

2009-03-23T14:09:55.256-07:00

Valentine's Day Dessert Plate For TwoPardon my not visiting your blogs lately. Cupid has had me by the short and curlies.Valentine's Day is not something I've ever given two shits about as a wife. But as a pastry chef, it's a different story. I am usually buried in my regular prep to prepare for the incursion of two-tops we'll be hit with that night, as well as the dessert special- usually chocolate, that is expected. Then, that evening, I come back to the restaurant to plate desserts.I know I am making it sound pretty miserable, but it's actually a really fun, high energy event. I work my ass off in the kitchen, then change into my chef whites and plate- which is something I relish doing, but rarely have the chance.Later, I have a shot or two with the cooks, and go home to eat pizza with Trevor (our Valentine's day late night pizza delivery/bottle of wine/movie rental is a much beloved tradition).There were a few added kinks this year, mostly self-inflicted.One is the fact that now I have two restaurants to worry about instead of one. Two dessert specials, and going back and forth between two restaurants to plate desserts.Another hindrance- I decided to change the entire menu a few days before Valentine's day. This means that rather than spend the weeks leading up to the big day perfecting a kickass dessert special, I was working out recipes for the new menu. Then, I convinced myself that I wanted to make truffles for the special.Truffles.??????Yeah, I decided to mix tempering chocolate, with pms and a time crunch. I don't recommend it. But, I have said this before and I'll say it again. For some reason, I work best under pressure. Thanks to two awesome assistant bakers who rocked the shit out of the regular prep load, a nice 70 degree kitchen, and the energy giving powers of vitamin B 12 injected smoothies from the joint next door, all went off with out a hitch.The final plate ended up being a chocolate sampler for two. Dark chocolate sorbet with vanilla bean crema and roasted coco nibs, fresh fruit (blood oranges, red currants), and assorted truffles and confections: white chocolate-grapefruit truffle with hazelnuts, milk chocolate-Bailey's truffle with pecans, dark chocolate-single malt scotch truffle (which was heart shaped), dark chocolate-pistachio-sour cherry mendiants, and not pictured because it was still cooling at the time: marcona almond brittleI did the same special at both restaurants to ease the feeling of panic- the dining public will never know. The big star of the plate was the sorbet, which I promise to blog ASAP, as it's too easy and too delish not to share. The single malt scotch and dark chocolate truffle was my personal fave. But I wont blog it as I ripped it off from the Scharffenberger book, and grabbing the camera to snap a few shots while dipping truffles was completely out of the question.I slept for 16 hours yesterday and I'm fully recovered. I'll be back to lurk on your blogs now.Oh yeah- tomorrow is my 5 year wedding anniversary, so there is a possibility of a first ever restaurant review to come....if I can remember the camera. And it probably wont be a review per se, as that is not my style (I never burn bridges)- but more of a "look at the pictures of this food I ate, it was yummy" type posting.[...]



Winter Fruit Crisp with Cognac Ice Cream

2009-03-23T13:49:10.130-07:00

Before I even start this post, I need to publicly thank Matt (of the blog Wrightfood, and whose praises have been sung here in the past) and his beautiful wife Danika for the amazing meat party they threw for Seattle area bloggers two weeks ago. It was really cool to finally meet Matt in person, as we've been blog buddies for the last year or so. Those of you who are familiar with his blog know his photos totally smoke most cookbooks. I am pleased to announce that the food tastes even better than it looks. Matt, who is primarily a seafood guy- but I think he prefers the term "bloke", went all out with rillettes, game pate, and slow roasted pork shoulder- just to mention a few of the goodies. Each course was pared with wines lovingly selected by Catherine Reynolds of Queso y Vino. And I was humbled beyond words when Matt asked me to prepare the dessert (which was NOT the crisp you see above. With course after course of homemade charcuterie, fruit crisp just wouldn't cut the mustard). We left the party giddy from wine and with happy tummies. To read more about this meaty soiree (or to get really jealous) check out Matt's post. Now, about this crisp...While it may not be quite elegant enough to follow a 4 course carnivorous orgasm, it certainly stood up to the hoppin' john we had post superbowl yesterday. Nothing soothes the sting of watching the cardinals lose like a plate of beans, greens, and piggy. It's all about the topping with this one. The fruit and ice cream is irrelevant to me. The key is the temperature of your butter when mixing the strudel. You want it to be cool, set at room temperature for just long enough to take off the chill. Of course, it all depends on the environment you are working in- but I usually take the butter out of the fridge, cut it into cubes, and let it hang out on the counter while I gather the remaining ingredients. By the time I'm ready to mix, the butter is right where I want it.You can use this topping for any fruit and it will be delicious. I had some poached quince, granny smith apples, and dried cranberries (plumped up by a soak in scalding hot water). I make this at work with a combination of pears and sour cherries, which will soon change to rhubarb, as I just heard it's now available from our produce vendor (!!!!!!!)So use what you've got. Toss in a little sugar, spices if you want em (I usually don't), and a splash of melted butter. You're good to go. You can make make a big batch of the topping and freeze it for when you need to pull a dessert out of your ass.The ice cream was a no brainer, as a healthy glug of V.S.O.P makes any fruity dessert happy. The excess amount of booze in the ice cream gives it a soft, velvety texture right out of the freezer. This ice cream is also really good with warm chocolate cake- the fuggy flourless kind. Though, I am sure I have failed to surprise anyone with that little nugget.Next post, I promise to refrain from using my little oval bowls and doilies. I am also realizing that I cannot remember the last time we saw chocolate here....hmmm.Crisp ToppingYield....lots. I usually just scatter a few handfuls over my crips and freeze the remainder1/2 # butter, cut into cubes and slightly softened*3 oz. chopped pecans (just shy of 1 cup)5 1/2 oz. rolled oats (about 1 1/2 cup)8 oz. flour5 oz. brown sugar1 1/2 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp fine sea saltCombine everything except the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on low speed, using the paddle, until well combined. Add the butter and mix on low until all the dry ingredients have been moistened by the butter and the mixture is clumpy. Do not let the mixture turn into dough.*see instructions in postWinter Fruit CrispYield- 4 individual crisps3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2 " chunks4 oz. poached quince, strained1/4 cup re hydrated cranberries**, strained1 tsp lemon ju[...]



Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

2009-03-23T13:59:41.969-07:00

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As you can probably tell my the blinding girlishness of my blog, I unapologetically love pink.

The thing is, I in no way fit the personality profile of a stereotypical pink-lover.
My ipod and cellphone are not bedazzled with swarovski crystals.
I stopped wearing tiaras after grammar school.
If for some reason I am wearing a skirt, I can assure you that I will provide no opportunity for accidental peeping at my lady parts.
See? I'm totally 'one of the guys'.

But yeah. I admit that pink sort of puts me in my happy place. As does this pink grapefruit sorbet. I look forward to making it all year. Right about now, when the gargantuan Florida grapefruit are available is the best time to make it, but the Texas rio stars are also quite good. The Campari is key. While it may taste as bitter and evil as Slayer lyrics by itself- the oompf a little splash of it in citrus cocktails will deliver makes it a worthy investment. Plus you'll look totally suave with it sitting on your bar.

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Do yourself a favor and candy the zest of the grapefruit before juicing them. Not only is it less wasteful in trying economic times like these, but it makes a tasty garnish as well.

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This sorbet always does well at the restaurant. It's rare when a sorbet will outsell anything with chocolate in it, but this one will.
I love to imagine some alpha male on a first date accidentally ordering it.
While he is desperately hoping to appear manly- thus increasing the odds of mating, this pretty pink dessert on a doily sits before him.
It probably never happens, but I can always fantasize.


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Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

5 1/2 cups freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (usually takes about 8 medium grapefruit)
1 quart grapefruit simple syrup*
6 oz. champagne, prosecco, or cremant (anything bubbly)
1 oz campari

Combine and churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions

*Grapefruit simple syrup:
1 quart water
4 cups sugar
grated zest of 2 ruby red grapefruit

Rub the zest into the sugar with your hands until the mixture resembles wet sand. Combine with the water and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and strain. Chill overnight or in an ice bath.

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Humble little citrus bars

2009-03-23T13:55:35.440-07:00

There is nothing fancy about these bars. I am completely aware of the fact that none of my readers will be wowed or have their hair blown back.But they are so, SO good.I made these for the first time last summer to bring to a BBQ, using just the zest and juice of key limes and garnishing with toasted coconut.I had also brought strawberry shortcake- made in the height of local strawberry season, with a mascarpone whipped filling. I was expecting that to be the crowd pleaser, but everyone kept going back for the lime bars. I knew I would need to revisit the recipe when citrus season rolled around.Here we are, six months later with an abundance of cool citrus fruits to play with. This particular batch was made with the zest and juice of limes, meyer lemons, and cara cara oranges- garnished with a piece of candied grapefruit zest (leftover from my Grapefruit Campari Sorbet. Stay tuned).I will be making these again in a few weeks using all seville oranges (my fave) for a super tart party in my mouth.It's hard to say exactly what makes these simple little bars so addicting. I really love the animal cracker crust as a stand in for the everyday graham crackers. And the texture of the filling is nothing short of dreamy- having just enough cream cheese in them for a slight tang, but not so much that they are cheesecakey (nothing against you, cheesecake- but there is a time and a place.)This recipe comes from a well known cooking periodical. I will not tell you which one, because the word on the street is that they are total nazis about food bloggers reprinting their recipes.I'm going to break all kinds of laws here, and supply you with the recipe- without citing the source. Lets see if thugs wearing little red bow ties come after me brandishing rapier swords and chucking ninja stars.Mystery Citrus Bars (as I made them)crust:5 oz animal crackers3 T packed brown sugar2 T melted butter1/8 tsp fine sea saltPre heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving excess to overhang pan sides. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.Pulse animal crackers in a food processor until broken down. Add brown sugar and salt. Pulse until you have evenly fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse until crumbs are moistened.Press evenly into the bottom of prepared pan (use the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup). Bake until golden brown. About 18-20 minutes. Cool while you make the filling.filling:2 ounces cream cheese, softened1 1/2 tsp each of grated lime, meyer lemon, and orange zest (mince zest with a sharp knife after zesting)1/8 tsp fine sea salt14 oz can sweetened condensed milk1 egg yolk4 T lime juice, 2 T meyer lemon juice, and 2 T cara cara* orange juice*cara cara oranges are slightly less sweet than regular oranges. If using regular oranges, decrease juice to 1 T and increase either meyer lemon or lime juice by 1 T.Go Oregon DucksStir the cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened and creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk thoroughly until no lumps remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add juices and whisk until incorporated. Pour filling into crust, spread to corners, and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. 15-20 minutes.Cool to room temp, then cover with foil and refrigerate until completely chilled- at least 2 hours.Loosen edges with a paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions. Cut bars into 16 squares.[...]



Holiday Granola. Slightly belated.

2009-03-23T13:56:46.272-07:00

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As granolas go, this one is pretty damn festive.

I call this "holiday" granola because it contains dried cranberries, minced candied ginger, and is infused with the zest from satsuma oranges- which were always in my stocking as a kid.
Also, because I can only assume that people get sick of receiving cookies and shitty fudge (as I do)- I made a huge batch, jarred it up, and gave it away during the holidays. I love homemade gifts (really!), and I especially love it when they wont lead to adult onset diabetes and a fat ass.

While I would never call this granola healthy (ya know- the butter.), it is certainly more beneficial than the giant tub of flavored popcorn my sister-in-law sent us (half candy corn, half cheddar corn. All stale, smelly, vile, and eerily addicting).

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This recipe is totally laid back. It turns out perfect and evenly golden every time. It comes from my old buddy Kurt, former owner of Cafe Septieme in Seattle, and now full time farmer. I usually don't add dried fruit to it- as it is delicious alone, but dried bing cherries, blueberries, or apricots are also nice compliments to it.

Next time you're fixing drop 6 or 7 bucks on a box of granola, why not just check out your pantry? You undoubtedly have all you need to make it yourself.

You'll thank yourself while it's baking and the aroma of honey and orange fills your kitchen.
You'll thank me once you've tried it sprinkled on vanilla ice cream.

Holiday Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecan pieces
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened- but use what you like)
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
9 oz unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
zest of 1 orange (or 2 small satsumas)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup minced candied ginger

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Pre heat the oven to 325
Toss the oats, nuts, and coconut together in a large bowl. In a saucepan, bring the butter, honey, zest, and nutmeg to a boil. Pour over oats and stir thoroughly, until mixture is evenly coated with the honey butter. Pour out onto 2 sheet pans.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Cool, then stir in dried fruit.



Buttermilk honey dough and resurfacing from under that white stuff

2009-03-23T14:10:14.231-07:00

photo taken exactly one week agoThere are a zillion reasons why I dearly love the two dudes I work for. One of them is how they handle the holidays. Typically, this time of year is not in any way merry for us restaurant employees. We are working our asses off while the rest of the world spends time with their friends and families.Luckily for my co-workers and I, our employers cut us all a generous holiday bonus check and close both the restaurants down from the 23rd to the 2nd. We all think they are completely bat shit crazy to do this, as they are missing out on some serious revenue, but we don't exactly complain about it. During last year's closure I was little miss productive. This year, not so much. First of all, anyone living in the Northwest knows about last week's snow apocalypse.And before any of your east coasters start in on how we are a bunch of pussies, let me just stop you right there. Yes. We are a bunch of pussies. However, we are not used to this kind of weather and most of us are not confident driving in it. Then we get the "outsiders", immigrants from Vermont or Wisconsin or whatever, who think they are "experienced snow drivers". They get really cocky behind the wheel of their front wheel drive Honda, forgetting that Seattle is NOT FLAT. We are a city comprised of several neighborhoods, most of which are on their own ginormous hill. I happen to live on one of the biggest ones: Queen Anne Hill, which they had to close down completely. Did that stop the cheese heads from going around the road closed sign? Of course not. They can just drive around it, as unlike these local nimrods, cheese head is an "experienced snow driver". Oh wait...cheese head forgot that Seattle does not salt the roads either. Chaos ensues. Parked cars get smashed into, etc.Crisis '08!Needless to say, we were snowed in and we both became ill with cabin fever. Even walking to the grocery store was not exactly safe. The hill was so iced up that falling on ones ass was bound to happen at least a dozen times. So, we watched a ton of movies and several old episodes of The A-Team, I got over halfway through a 1000 page historical novel about Cleopatra and I did a lot of baking. I even took pictures of all my baking with the full intention to blog all of it. Did I feel like sitting at the computer for any of this down time? No not at all. I can't explain it, but blogging was the last thing on earth I wanted to do.But, of course, now that the snow is nearly gone and I am free to go out and about- I'm ready to sit down and share some of these recipes with you. Yes, I am a strange bird.When the snow first started falling, Trevor asked if I might be willing to make him "those little ham roll thingies" and "while I'm at it, what about cinnamon rolls? It's the same dough, right? Puuuleeeeease?" Yes, it is the same miraculous buttermilk honey dough. It comes from Beth Hensperger, author of The Bread Bible. It's just a perfect white bread dough. Delicious when baked into a loaf and smeared with a little butter and honey. Even better when used for cinnamon rolls, or Trev's fave: Ham and cheddar rolls.For the ham rolls, roll the dough out into a rectangle and sprinkle generously with sharp cheddar cheese (I like Tillamook). Then lay out several slices of good deli ham. Top with a little more shredded cheese and chopped sage. Roll up like Cinnamon rolls, and slice into medallions. Allow the rolls to proof in a warm spot for about 40 minutes. Then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. For cinnamon rolls it's the same idea. Roll dough into a rectangle, brush with lots of melted butter. Sprinkle generously with a blend of brown sugar and cinnamon (I never use a recipe for either of these rolls, sorry I can't be exact). Once the cinnamon[...]



Not your grandmother's bread pudding

2009-03-23T13:58:34.819-07:00

warm gingerbread pudding with meyer lemon chantillyIt's not that I forgot to blog for the last two weeks. It's just that my stoopid computer caught one of those trojan virus thingys and was at the computer doctor for a week. Then I was lazy for a few days.It's fixed and life/my blog may return to it's regularly scheduled programming.Let's talk bread pudding, shall we? I first developed my geriatric-like obsession for this dessert (because, lets face it. The vast majority of those who ordered this dessert were of The Greatest Generation) while I was working at this little bakery in high school. It was a simple affair, made from the leftover cinnamon, orange, and pecan rolls. The combination of flavors from each roll was amazing. Caramel, cinnamon, and orange. All bound together with a very gently sweetened custard. The occasional pecan or golden raisin would pop up every other bite or so- but never obtrusively, for as a general rule, I am anti-raisin in bread pudding.I have since eaten many other forms of this dessert made with brioche, cake, croissants, and plain old white sandwich bread. Some have been lovely (I once worked with a pastry chef that made a version using dried chocolate cake and a caramel custard. Holeee shit. That was a tasty 'un), and some have been downright despicable. There is a reputable restaurant in this city (who shall remain nameless) that prides itself on it's bread pudding. It is mushy, overly sweet and cloying. Nothing short of a travesty.I think it comes down to the fact that there are two schools of thought on bread pudding. Those who allow the bread to completely soak up the custard before baking, creating a solid unit of indiscernible mush. And those who use a little restraint with that step, creating a pudding with more depth. I prefer the latter. This gingerbread pudding is probably my second favorite incarnation of the dessert. The first being the one from my high school days. Sadly, I pretty much never have leftover cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, and orange rolls sitting around. And unless we're visiting my in-laws, I avoid my hometown of Issaquah like the plague. That first taste of bread pudding will probably have to remain romanticized in my memory.Okay- the recipe. I know it seems foolish to bake a perfectly good batch of gingerbread, only to cut it up and dry it out like croutons in the oven. Never will this seem more idiotic than with this recipe. It is that good. I took David Lebovitz's gingerbread recipe and tinkered with it. I replaced the oil with brown butter, and added the spices right in the pot with the butter as it browned to help their flavors bloom a little more. The result is a really tender, extra spicy (it almost tastes "hot") ginger cake. You may want to double the recipe so you have some fresh cake to snack on while the bread pudding bakes.I garnish this dessert with meyer lemon chantilly, which is just a simple meyer lemon curd with a little whipped cream folded in....good enough to eat with a spoon, standing in front of the fridge with the door still open. But not that I've done that.Gingerbread1 1/4 cups flour1/4 tsp salt4 oz butter1/4 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp ground clove1/4 tsp ground ginger1/8 tsp ground black pepper1/2 cup molasses1 egg1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup boiling water1 tsp baking soda2 T minced candied ginger Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a sheet pan with baking release (like pam), line with parchment paper, and spray again. Sift the flour and salt together and set aside. Place a pot of water in the stove to boil. Combine the butter and the spices in a pot and melt over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown a little (this takes a minute or two, and will be difficult to tell when it has browned, as the [...]



Too stuffed for pie

2009-03-23T13:58:53.767-07:00

Pear Riesling SorbetHappy Thanksgiving!!I love Thanksgiving, it's my favorite holiday. Trevor and I have a tradition of keeping it a "just the two of us" event. Big family Christmas parties are just around the corner, so it's nice to relax and have a nice dinner for two- and then survive off the leftovers for the week and a half to follow. Just because it's a small party, doesn't mean it's not a raging party. I bust out the nice dishes, set the table all Martha-like, light candles...the works. We just happen to celebrate in jammy pants, and I may have forgotten to put on a bra.Trevor has set himself up with a living room-prep station, and is obediently snipping green beans on the couch, watching From Russia with Love. I'm taking a cocktail break from the kitchen...oh yeah, and were both being thankful.One thing we never really go wild about on this holiday, is dessert. Usually an assortment of shortbread cookies, depending on what dough I have in the freezer, and a glass of prosecco is all the dessert necessary after the Turkey Feed. This year, however, I did have my fanciest of pants on. I had some yellowy golden pears, splotchy with little brown spots on the counter. They were primed and ready to be cooked down a wee bit, and pureed to become pear sorbet. A healthy amount of Riesling plays nicely with the pear, and a shot of cointreau adds a cozy, orangey warmth. Totally refreshing after a big meal. Rather than the tradish prosecco, I found a sexy pink cremant. She truly is a dirty girl, and will be glorious with the sorbet. Pear Riesling Sorbetsimple syrup (refrigerate the leftovers for cocktails)2 cups water2 cups sugarcombine, bring to a boil. set aside to cool.Pear puree (adjust sorbet recipe to how many cups your puree yields)very ripe pearslemon juicewaterpeel and core pears. cut into chunks and place in a sauce pan. Add a few tablespoons of water and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook, covered, over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Once pears are beginning to liquefy, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Puree in a blender (in batches if needed), Strain through a sieve into a large measuring pitcherSorbet base:2 cups pear puree1 cup simple syrup3 or 4 oz. of decent quality Riesling (add more or less to your taste)2 T fresh lemon juice2 T cointreauStir together, then refrigerate until completely cold. Churn in an ice cream maker.[...]



Pie #8- Washington Apple..."perfect is in the eye of the beholder"

2009-03-23T13:59:21.280-07:00

I heart Washington StateI didn't mean to take such a hiatus from blogging, but here it is over two weeks since my last post! Woops. I wouldn't of had anything interesting to post anyway, as a few weeks ago, I put myself on a for reals-no foolie diet....oh- pardon me, I mean *lifestyle change*....sniffle. I need either a hug or a huge beer and a cheeseburger. Or both. It was definitely time to trim down between the summertime BBQ meat-fest and the holiday smorgasbord. I've been jogging and taking pilates classes like a mother fucker. And I swear to god if I have to look at another boneless-skinless chicken breast I'm going to fucking shoot myself. I've lost 15 pounds. I need PIE. So heres the deal with my apple pie. I've been tinkering around with this recipe for close to 8 years. I've tried variations on the spices, amounts of sugar, and most important: the apple varieties. What I've come with is a perfect apple pie for my taste. You may have a differing opinion on what "perfect" means in an apple pie, so don't give me that stinky eye ball if you don't like lemon zest, or feel that an apple pie without allspice is a crime against humanity.These are my requirements for a perfect apple pie:1. Use a blend of apples. Mostly a firm, tart apple (granny smith or newton pippin) and a few sweet apples that soften a bit more after baking (such as a jonagold or a braeburn). The sweet apples will soften to almost a sauce like consistency while the tart ones will retain both their shape and a slight crunch.2. 86 the butter. I know. Crazy. This is my one and only fruit pie recipe that has no butter in the filling. Personally, I think the apples taste brighter with out it.3. Once you have tossed the apples with the sugar, spices, and lemon juice. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before filling your pie shell. This will eliminate the dreaded gap of space between the baked top crust and the filling.4. Starch should be minimal. Apples are full of pectin.5. Add both lemon juice (as per usual) and zest. It brings the apples alive.6. Easy on that sugar, bucko. I really really really hate apple pie that is too sweet. Really.7. My spices of choice are cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. I have tried just about every baking spice out there for this recipe and these, ho-hum as they may sound are my favorites. You may feel differently, and that is between you, your pie, and your god.Now that I have indulged in a much needed dose of fat and sugar, I am feeling much less bitchy...and more in the mood to blog. Break is over, I promise! Apple pie filling3# tart apples (granny smith or pippin)1# sweet apples (braeburn or jonagold)2 Tb lemon juicezest of 1/2 of a lemon2/3 cup granulated sugar2 tsp cornstarch1 tsp cinnamon1/4 tsp nutmeg- freshly grated 1/8 tsp ground clove1/4 tsp saltPeel and core the apples. Slice into 1/2" slices and toss with the lemon juice and zest. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, starch, salt, and spices. Toss with the apples and let sit for 15 minutes. Fill unbaked pie shell, apply top crust, and bake.[...]



RFJ: Winter Squash Tart

2009-03-23T14:00:56.940-07:00

with glazed pecans, maple cream, and sage-caramel Oh my god, I'm foodie jousting! I know, I can't believe it either. Seems like it's been ages since I joined in on the monthly battle brought to you by Jenn at the Leftover Queen Forum. Last month Susan won with her creamy gorgonzola, fennel, and pear tart. She probably deserves a separate award for both her blog and post titles. They sound like they should be spoken in a titillated breathy moan. I think it comes down the the use of the word "creamy"...I thought I'd keep it tart-ie with Susan's chosen ingredients of acorn squash, sage. and orange. Which are awesome ingredients. I made an orange scented-pecan crust, a sweet filling of pureed acorn and delicato squash, spices, brown sugar, and a little egg- Your standard issue pumpkin pie filling but with different squash. The sage was infused into cream for the star of this dessert: sage-caramel. I gotta say, this one really tickled my g-spot. The earthiness of the sage cuts right through the sweet caramel. A little sea salt is stirred in as well to balance everything out. It was absolutely perfect when paired with the spicy, yet not overly sweet tart.I finished the dessert with pecans that have been glazed with brown sugar, butter, and a little salt, and a chantilly of maple syrup, whipping cream, and sour cream. Oh yeah- and a spot of bourbon.....never forget the Bourbon.....I brought the whole shebang to work so my colleagues can get fat too. I've witnessed enough eye fluttering after watching them devour these to decide that it should probably be put on my menu. It's the super amazing funky phresh sage-caramel that makes it. I think I might take a bath in it. ...maybe make out with it a little?..... Sage Caramel: pretty much the best thing ever. You know what I just realized? The next time I post a blog, we will have elected a new president. Fucking better be Obama or I'm going cry for a very long time.Winter squash tart with glazed pecans, maple cream, and sage-caramelorange-pecan crust:1 1/4 cup pastry flour4 oz cold butter, cut into cubespinch sea salt1/3 cup toasted pecans1 tsp orange zest1 T + 1 tsp brown sugar1 tsp flour1 small egg1 T cold cream1/8 tsp vanilla extractwhisk the egg, vanilla and cream together in a small measuring pitcher and set aside. In the food processor, pulse up the nuts, zest, 1 tsp flour, and brown sugar until nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and salt. Process until nut mixture is evenly combined with flour. Add the butter and pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the egg mixture and mix on low with the paddle attachment until dough just forms. Dump out onto the counter and gently work dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 3 hours. Roll out onto a lightly dusted surface. Makes either 6- 4" tarts or 1- 9" tart.Freeze tart shell until baking time.Sage-Caramel:4 sage leaves, torn slightly1 cup whipping cream1 cup sugar1/2 cup water1 tsp lemon juice1 T butterpinch of sea saltcombine the sage and cream in a small pot. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.After 30 minutes, bring to a boil again, then strain into a measuring pitcher. Cover to keep hot. In a separate, larger pot, combine the lemon juice, water and sugar. Cook, brushing down the sides with a brush that has been dipped in water until copper colored. Remove from heat. Slowly and carefully whisk in the hot sage scented cream. Whisk until smooth, then stir in the butter and salt. Winter Squash Puree:oven cam!1 acorn squash2 delicato squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into cubesSlice acorn s[...]



Comfort Food

2009-03-23T14:10:30.281-07:00

Huckleberry Creme Brulee: scented with fresh bay leaf and served with brown butter tuilesYou know what hurts, like really bad?A fractured rib.Those of you who follow my twitter updates already know, I was in a car accident on Monday evening. Yes, folks- it's one woe-is-me post after another here. And by the way, thank you for all of your kind words about my kitty. Percy is doing much better-he's just as sprightly and obnoxious as ever, just the way we love him. He has, however passed his cold on to his sister- but she's always been a rockstar and seems to be kicking it's ass.So, back to my whining: I was hit on the drivers side in the middle of an intersection. My car is kind of totaled (I can't close the driver's side door). The guy was in his mid 50's, driving a Lexus. Needless to say- he's got tons of insurance- so ya know, there's that. Luckily, he was only going about 35 miles an hour. But that was enough to give me a nasty bruise on the side of my head, a healthy case of whip lash, and a fractured rib. Which hurts like a bitch. The other driver is totally fine, and I could be in much worse shape. For the most part, I am thankful that we are both okay.But this rib....good god. Please don't make me laugh, cough, or sneeze. For that matter, I'd prefer not to breathe if thats possible. Anyone who has ever had one of these knows that there is nothing the doctors can do. I was given a weeks worth of codeine and told to "take it easy".The last couple of nights, as I've been nursing my aches and pains- I've been craving comfort food (wine and the doting husband can only do so much). The combination of hurting, the cold weather, and this post, which I read just hours after the accident, brought it all on. I need a hug It seems like the general dining public is craving it as well. Some of my fancy pants desserts at the restaurant are being snubbed for the simple, snuggly ones. Huckleberry creme brulee in particular seems to be all the rage right now. Which is fine by me- as it couldn't be easier to make.I use frozen huckleberries procured by the very same hippies that forage the wild mushrooms for the restaurant. They come all cleaned and ready to go (huckleberries are a fucking nightmare to clean). Those of you not living in the pacific northwest might be shit-out-of-luck. There is no commercial licence for huckleberries (which are native to the mountainous regions of Northwest forests), so they can be hard to find if you live in Skokie, Illinois. Blueberries would work (but they're nowhere near as good. sorry). I infuse my brulee base with a vanilla bean and some fresh bay leaves. If you've never tried a dessert made with fresh bay leaves, for the love of god try it. It's really good infused into creamy substances such as flans, ice creams, and of course brulees. If you live in an area where huckleberries are nigh impossible to get your hands on, I highly recommend you just try the bay-scented brulee. Trust me on this. Have I ever let you down?Huckleberry-Bay Creme Bruleemakes 4-6 individual servings, depending on the size of your ramekins 9 fresh bay leaves1/2 of a vanilla bean, split and scraped3 cups whipping cream6 egg yolks1/4 tsp salt4 oz. granulated sugar1/3 cup huckleberries, fresh or frozenTear the bay leaves and combine them with the cream and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 2 hours.Whisk the eggs, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Bring the infused cream back to a boil and temper it into the eggs. Strain through a fine sieve.Line a roasting pan with a tea towel to keep the ramekins from sliding around. Pour[...]



Poppy seed shortbread and a pissed off kitty

2009-03-23T14:01:22.000-07:00

I had some big plans for my day off today. I was gonna take myself out for pancakes, go kitchen doo-hickey shopping, possibly hit up a nice bowl of pho for lunch, and take a power yoga class. Yeah. I was looking forward to it. It was gonna be a good day. Some serious "me time", ya know? All of that was shot to hell when one of my cats developed a nasty cold, which started on Friday night, then steadily got worse over the weekend. This is why I don't have kids. Hearing his kitty sneezes breaks my heart. His drippy little eye looks like he's crying, and then makes me want to cry. It freaks me out, and I drop everything to rush him to the vet.If that were my child, I would probably be panting into a paper bag.So, little Percy (why yes, he is in fact named after the Scarlett Pimpernel) spent the morning being poked and prodded. Thermometers shoved up his bottom, hissing and growling at vet techs who smell like foreign animals. Usually, his sister is with him at these dreaded appointments, so he's got the comfort of the buddy system. But alas, she is feeling fine and got to sit this one out.Leave me alone. I am both sneezy and grumpy.The vet decided not to treat him with any meds and just let this thing just work itself out. He had an upper respiratory infection as a kitten, and they do tend to pop up now and again. So, now I feel too guilty to go run around. All I wanna do is stick around the house and keep an eye on my guy. Who is totally pissed off at me.Maybe I'll make a pot of soup and a loaf of bread. Equally as satisfying and shopping and going out for pho.I guess.Right now I am drinking a pot of coffee and snacking on my favorite cookie EVER. I made these during The Great Baking Marathon of last week. I always try to keep a log or two of poppy seed shortbread in the freezer. People always love them. These days, I tend to prefer the simpler, less sweet butter cookies over the big chewy chocolaty varieties. This batch was made to bring along to my mom's salon when I was getting my hair done. Where they quickly disappeared.By the way: ALWAYS bring your hairdresser coffee and cookies....it's just common courtesy. Excellent dippage.Poppy seed shortbread8 oz. butter, softened5 oz. sugar1/2 tsp sea salt3/4 tsp lemon juice3/4 tsp vanilla extract2 cups flour3 T poppy seedsGood cookies start with good butter and salt. Readily available brands I like are La Bailene sea salt and Plugra unsalted butterCombine butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the lemon juice and vanilla- mix. Combine the flour and poppy seeds (poppy seeds should be evenly distributed throughout the flour. Add to the bowl and mix until dough just forms."Poppies! Now they'll sleep! Sleeeep.."Dump out onto a work surface and form into a log (or rectangle, as I like to do). Wrap in plastic. Freeze or refrigerate until firm. Slice off 1/4 inch thick cookies and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes, rotating halfway though.[...]



When life hands you a case of plums....

2009-03-23T14:01:44.171-07:00

Make upside-down plum cakeSo, yeah- I bought a case of black plums. A CASE. I'm beginning to wonder if I may have been high at the time, as I am feeling totally overwhelmed by them. I ordered a case for the plum pie I am making at work right now, and was surprised by how especially delicious they are this year. So why not order a WHOLE CASE for myself? Forget the fact that Trevor doesn't even like plums and will therefore be no help whatsoever in consuming them. High I tell you. Tripping Balls.In the past week I have made plum sorbet, plum scones, the upside-down cake you see, and will hopefully will be tackling the bulk of them today by making plum jelly.I'm drowningThats okay, when fall rolls around I get a major home-baking bug up my ass. On top of all of the plum desserts being pumped out of my kitchen, I've been on a cookie frenzy as well. Trevor and I made Halloween cat shaped chocolate butter cookies on Sunday. The recipe came from Cooks Illustrated and they SUCKED ASS (they were, however adorable). It's one of the few times I've been let down by C.I., but not even the ganache glaze could save them. I ended up dumping them on my co-workers who, not unlike meth addicts, will eat anything containing sugar. Anything. Future blog posts will most likely include pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies (which were both cute and had the good manners to be delicious), poppy seed shortbread (my all time favorite cookie), and chocolate sandwiches (read: oreos).These little plum cakes are my favorite incarnation of the upside-down genre, and it usually makes an appearance on my dessert menu in the late summer. The cake is not overly sweet and has the texture of a cross between a muffin and a cake donut. The Armagnac scented caramel provides most of the sweetness and acts as a gooey counterpart to the tart plums and muffiny cake. They don't need much dressing up. Ice cream is a little too rich. I usually go for a dollop of creme fraiche. On my menu, I will add a plum caramel to accent the flavors of the cake.The modest, unassuming dollop.I'm going to send this dessert over to my girl Ley, of Cilantro and Lime. She's hosting her first blog event Baking for breast cancer awareness. I participated in the boobie bake off last year with my boob-shaped cupcakes. I had considered revisiting these, but opted not to be quite so 7th grade this time around. These plum cakes are pink(ish), which for some reason is the chosen color to represent breast cancer. While that is not a requirement for this particular event, I found them to be somewhat fitting. Ley also asked that we share how breast cancer has affected our lives personally....Somehow, this form of cancer has not really affected me. I consider myself to be very lucky for this. Cancer in general has affected me greatly. My mother-in-law lost her battle with a rare form of lung cancer. My Grandfather (the coolest Grandfather EVER)is currently battling prostate cancer, and knock on wood, appears to be beating it. I could keep going, but as far as the boobies are concerned, those close to me have been fortunate. So I will keep participating in events like these, keep taking care of myself, and keep hoping the women I care about remain healthy.Upside-down plum cakeMakes 7 4" individual cakesCaramel: 4 oz. butter6 oz. brown sugar2 T Armagnac or brandy of your choicesliced plumsSpray ramekins with pan spray. Line the bottoms with little circles of parchment paper and spray again. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk until it melts. Remove from heat[...]



Flavors of a Suburban Childhood

2009-03-23T14:02:22.514-07:00

Creamsicle SemifreddoI've been a bit of a lazy blogger lately. I have been a very busy social networker though. In the past week or so, I have joined both twitter and foodbuzz. I think I have the whole twitter thing figured out. It's both kind of neat and pointless at the same time. I like being able to send immediate non-food related messages to fellow bloggers, but to be perfectly honest, I'm running low on witty repartee....Why in god's name would anyone care what I'm eating for breakfast?(Heritage Farms Flax Plus multigrain cereal. Keeps the digestive system on the regs...see what I mean?)Foodbuzz still kind of confuses the hell out of me. The wine country blog I featured on my profile was accidentally posted twice and I can't figure out how to make one of them go away. And how do you get that nifty graphic to display on your blog? I'll get the hang of it eventually, as I usually do with these computer-related activities. I'm still kind of amazed that I keep a blog in the first place. I was born during the Carter administration, which means that growing up, Atari Pong was considered the penultimate in technological advances and mankind was just inches away from self-aware robots and hovercrafts. I realize that software techs in their forties are laughing their asses off at me, but yeah- when it comes to this interweb thingymajig, I'm on a bit of a slow learning curve.Speaking of my youth- my dessert menu is experiencing a childhood kick lately. The fruit pies are always a big seller, mainly for their simplicity and the fact that it's hard to find a good slice o' pie in the city these days- but fruit pies, delicious and awesome as they are, are typically a favored by the "Jag" crowd. It's time for a shout out to the young'uns- and to some of my favorite flavors as a kid. Memories of watching the Mariners lose at the now demolished Kingdome with my dad and eating chocolate malts became a malted chocolate mousse cake served with caramelized rice krispies. Mom taking us to McDonalds for an orange-vanilla swirl cone (which they don't sell anymore. Buttholes.) after going to the swimming pool has been translated to a creamsicle semifreddo. Orange and vanilla has always been one of my favorite combos. It's right up there with burgers and beer. The semifreddo (which is basically just a frozen mousse- no ice cream maker required) has just a smidgen of an ingredient that I generally abhor: white chocolate. But when cut heartily with lots of cointreau and orange zest, you can barely tell it's there. It's minuscule- a whisper really, to help play up the vanilla bean and provide a really nice texture. White chocolate haters will most likely still enjoy this dessert.On to the recipe:Creamsicle SemifreddoMousse Base (can be made a day or two in advance):1 3/4 cups whole milkzest of 1 orange2 T sugar1 vanilla bean split and scraped6 egg yolks1/4 tsp salt1 T fresh squeezed orange juice2 tsp cointreau*1/2 tsp pure vanilla extractcombine the milk, zest, and vanilla bean in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let steep to 2 hours.whisk the yolks and salt together. bring the infused milk back to a simmer and temper it into the yolks. return mixture to pot and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula over low heat until mixture thickens slightly. Strain though a sieve into a container and chill. Once cooled, stir in the vanilla extract, orange juice, and cointreau.semifreddo:mousse base12 oz white chocolate, chopped2 cups heavy cream2 tsp sugar2 T fresh squeezed orange [...]



Birthdays!

2009-03-23T14:02:36.885-07:00

Taking pictures of the food at this event was a complete afterthought. I had been drinking wine and making no attempt at capturing a quality photograph. Just fucking deal with it. Sorry if your eye balls start to hurt.September is birthday month in my family. My husband Trevor had his 30th on Sunday, and my sister Brooke had her 27th on Friday. This year, my parents hosted the annual double birthday party with their "Joint Effort Lasagne". My dad is somewhat famous for his meat sauce. Pork and beef are lovingly ground in his own little meat grinder, then he drinks what is left from the bottle of red wine needed for the sauce while it simmers away** I'm pretty sure his recipe calls for about a cup. Leaving him with plently of happy-happy-joy-joy Ricotta has no place here. We are a "strictly bechamel" people.We also forget to turn off the flash.Mom covers the rest of the prep, whisking up the bechamel (ricotta, while tasty in and of itself, is slanderous in their lasagne, as it should be in everyone's.) making the pasta, and layering it all together. She also takes care of the required giant caesar salad and caprese, for an Adams Family Lasagne Feed is not complete with out these valuable supporting roles.Tomatoes picked from mom's garden minutes before making the salads- you can't see the candy-sweet sungolds in the caesar, but they're there, making it the best goddamn caesar ever....am I spelling caesar correctly? Brooke and Trevor, both being very diplomatic and sharing the happy birthday song and candle blowing out ceremony. Personally, I prefer to be the center of attention and would hate it if my stupid brother-in-law was in the way. Brooke, you truly are and selfless being.I made a triple layer chocolate cake iced with ganache and vanilla bean ice cream. We all made gluttons of ourselves, Trevor drank a healthy portion of the growler of beer Brooke and CK gave him, then we all went home early and passed from food comas. It was a good day.I should also mention that this here blog celebrated it's first birthday this month. Time has flown by, as I still feel like a complete noob at this whole food blogging movement. Happy birthday the pie lady. Thanks y'all for reading.[...]



Pie #7- Peach, as promised

2009-03-23T14:02:53.241-07:00

Apologies for taking so long to get this baby posted, I seem to be suffering from lack of hours in the day-itis. Not to mention, I'm trying to get my ass into the gym regularly these days to pay for the summer-long shmorgisborg of bbq'd pork products and booze. Sitting on it editing pictures of pie seemed counter intuitive to my efforts. Having said that, this pie is too good not to share before the peach's cruelly short season is over. Yeah, it's a little bit of an ugly duckling. It doesn't have the vibrant colors or cut into a tidy slice like some of the others, but the flavor is worth over looking those superficial aesthetic-only qualities.This is pretty much your all purpose, unadulterated peach pie recipe- meaning unfucked with by mace. I do not care for spices in my peach pie. In fact, it pisses me right off. If ruining peach pie is a behavior that you are into, by all means, add mace. It's a free country. Just don't come crying to me when the delicate peach flavor is besmirched by the taste of metal.Another thing I don't do is boil the peaches to peel them. I cuss enough already. Making peach pie is a folksy, grandma-like activity. Calling the slimy peel that doesn't seem to "slip right off" after the blanching process a stupid cocksucking mother fucker totally inhibits my pie making chi. Instead, I invested in an 8$ serrated peeler- a tool that I adore. Peaches, peeled without angst.Also- peach peels are full of flavor. I squeeze the juices from the peels into my pie filling to pump up the deliciousness. Just let the peels fall into a bowl (see above), then pick them up and squish the life out of them.Extracted peel juice. Rich in peachly goodness.My last piece of advice is, as always, use the best quality fruit available- or don't even bother. I know I say this all the time, but it's the golden rule for good pie. For Northwest readers, look for Pence Orchard peaches out of Wapato, WA. They're huge, freestone, and juicy. ...And don't worry about the fact that it's kind of hideous looking.Peach Pie7 large peaches2 Tb fresh lemon juice1/2 cup sugar1/3 cup cornstarch1/4 tsp salt2 Tb cold unsalted butter, cut into cubesyour favorite pie dough- enough for a 9" double crust pieIn a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, starch, and salt. Set aside. Peel the peaches. Squeeze the juice from the peach peels into a large bowl. Slice the peaches and toss with the reserved peel juice and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients and stir gently with a spatula until the dry ingredients are absorbed.Place filling into bottom crust and dot with butter. Brush over hanging dough with water and adhere the top crust. Fold the edges under and form a crimped pattern. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 and bake for 30 minutes.[...]



Wino Country!

2009-03-23T14:03:01.111-07:00

...Because you know you love looking at other people's vacation pictures.I've been back for a week now, as many of you may have noticed my lurking on your blog. I just haven't had a moment to breathe, let alone unpack, until now. So between loads of laundry, why don't I regail you of the shenanigans that occured in Chelan, Washington's wine country? For those just interested in looking at the pictures- Highlights include getting the last two spots at an amazing wine maker's dinner, drunken karaoke (is there any other kind?), barfing at a farmer's market (I can now check that one off of my life's "To Do" list), and some hardcore Mother/Daughter-bonding/drinking. The Lake Chelan Valley is located in the North Cascades National Forest and surrounds a 50 mile glacier fed lake. It is 1486 feet at it's deepest point and 1.5 miles at it's widest. Apple, pear, and peach orchirds are everywhere here. Recently, it was decided to replace a few of them with wine grapes. Good thinking! There are now just over a dozen wineries and more to come. Vin Du LacThis place is like France. Enough said.sipping wine under the apple treeslittle nibbles, enjoyed with the SyrahMom, in her elementTsillan Cellars Winery (pronounced "chelan")I am so pissed off at myself for never taking any pictures here. It is one of the most beautiful wineries in Chelan, looking like a little Tuscan Village. I had some really good reds here, and an awful rose- it was a just little too heavy on the strawberry. Who am I kidding? It tasted like kool-aid.Tildio WineryRight when we drove into town, we stopped at a little natural foods store for some cheese. We were trying to make our dinner plans and asked the ponytailed British Hippie shopkeep for suggestions. He pointed us toward Tildio, where we got the last two spots available at the last wine makers dinner of the summer. The meal, view, and company was perfect. However, it was the beginning of my downfall. I had already been to a couple of tastings, and had a few cocktails before this event, where with each coarse, we were served at least 2 full glasses of wine.Here is the menu:First:Yellow and red tomatoes with julienne greens, mint, feta cheese, and green tomato vinaigrette.Tildio 2007 Sauvignon BlancSecond:Zucchini fritters served with baba ghanouj, pesto, and lemons.Tildio 2006 ChardonnayEntree:Grilled steak with sundried tomato relish, corn succotash and mushroom scented farro.Tildio 2006 SyrahDessert:Nectarine crostada with cherry sauceTildio 2007 RieslingThe view from our tablethe sun set before I could get any pictures past the first coursemom enjoying the first course. I have to remember to email this picture to my dad. Grrrawl! I don't remember the circumstanses of this picture, other than it was 7 or 8 glasses into the dinner. You can't take me anywhere.After the fabulousness of that dinner, we decided to stop by the little sports bar next to our hotel, where karaoke was in full swing. After all that wine, I was ready for beer. Coors light in the bottle to be exact (what the fuck?????). After a few bottles, I grabbed the mike. I then proceeded to wail, yes, wail "Freedom" by George Michael. It's the first time I have ever karaoked by myself. Usually I have a gay guy next to me and it's "Islands in the Stream" Seth- you would have been so proud of me!In a few minutes, I'm gonna get up there and turn that mother out.So. If you're still reading, you may have guessed that I am completely slo[...]



I have no idea what "arte y pico" is, but.....

2009-03-23T14:03:08.071-07:00

Apparently, I've GOT it! Because the other day, my buddy Norm at Eat or Die awarded me with this:
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Moi?

From what I can tell (after clicking on the link to the entirely Spanish speaking blog), it means I have in some way demonstrated something artful.

I am both baffled and totally honored. As "artistic" is an adjective never used when describing me.

Seems like this is the type of thing that is meant to be passed on to 5 people. Well, here's the deal: Pretty much all 5 of my choices have received this award. I'm sure of it, because they are all kick fucking ass blogs. Also- I got shit to do. I'm going on vacation early tomorrow- wine tasting beetches!- so I need to pack.

So I am hereby bestowing this arte y pico to "my sista in Brittany-ness", Brittany at Musings of a barefoot foodie, for this particular post.

Artful Blogging at it's finest people. Plus she spells our name CORRECTLY, which is reason enough for an award of some kind.

Anyway, thanks again Norm- I will taste some of the Northwest's finest potent potables for you this weekend. You have truly given me a big head.

Tiny, yet faithful and awesome group of readers: I'll be back next week, with tales of Eastern Washington wine country and also a Pie Lady Pie.
Hint:
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Cheers!