Cookie Experiment

The “cake mix cookies” went so well that I felt kind of confidant and decided to experiment. What if I used chocolate cake mix? What if instead of peanut butter I used marshmallow Fluff? This seemed logical – after all both peanut butter and Fluff are gooey? That has to count for something when substituting in baking, right?

Wrong.

They looked really promising as I mixed it together – the white marshmallow Fluff giving the chocolate cake batter a kind of “designer grey” color! Once I started to portion them out on the cookie sheet, I really started feeling confidant and dug up some candy canes that I thought would be great all smashed up as a topping! They looked really promising as they went into the oven!

But when they came out…..

They seem to spread a lot more than I thought they would. In fact they spread a lot! And they had to be cut away from each other. But that wasn’t even the worst part.

They deflated too. While they were baking they had puffed up nicely and I was deceived into thinking I would have a nice puffy, chewy cookie. Instead they deflated to a flat, really flat cookie. And as a result I had really thin, crispy cookies. Maybe not the kind you want. I forged on anyway, making small dough balls and placing them further apart so at least I wouldn’t have to cut them away from each other, but I still had flat crisp little rounds.

They were still kinda tasty, despite the flat crispness. And it didn’t stop me from eating too many. But if any baker out there can tell me what to add (I suspect it is either baking soda or powder) I would love to get these a little “Fluffier.” (Pun intended!)

P.S. probably not going to take these versions to the cookie swap!

Old Fashioned Idea

Most people who like to cook and eat also collect recipes. Sometimes it’s in the form of books and sometimes it’s in the form of a mess of recipe cards, newspaper articles and general scraps of paper.

This is just a tiny fraction of my mess of a collection!

This is just a tiny fraction of my mess of a collection!

A few years back I did put together a bunch of recipes from family and friends to create one of those little homemade cookbooks. You know the kind – you make it on your home computer software and have it bound into a little book at the local copy shop. It turned out pretty good and makes nice gifts!
I would love to say that I tested every recipe that was included but that would have been an extra year and 20 pounds so I went ahead and included them even if I haven’t actually made them. (I had to believe my family and friends wouldn’t make bad stuff right?)
Recently I decided to make one of the vintage recipes that was submitted by an aunt on my father’s side. Old fashioned Persimmon cookies.
baked cookies
His side of the family hails from California so Aunt Ethel probably had a persimmon tree growing in her backyard. (circa 1958) This was a considerable undertaking as I really had no idea what a persimmon even was or tasted like. But I hunted some down at my local supermarket. (It helps that I live in a big city area with access to foods from around the world.) I bought a few, ripened them in a paper bag with a banana for a few days and then the big moment…


The flesh kinda reminded me of a tomato with thicker skin. They tasted good – mild not citrus-y.
The cookies turned out pretty good considering I am not great at baking. I made myself follow the directions EXACTLY – it was tough. These cookies seem to be the kind that are moist and cake-like. (unless I just under-cooked them.) The spices play a big role in the cookies and the persimmon is mild so maybe cutting the spice amount in half might let the fruit shine through a bit more? Also I think I should have mashed the fruit more for even distribution or perhaps they weren’t ripe/soft enough?

fruit rinds

I cleaned them out as best I could and didn’t seem to find any seeds!

The Recipe
1 cup persimmon pulp (I needed about 3-4 small ones to get this)
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg (large)
1 “cube” (stick) margarine**
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup chopped nut of choice (I used pecans)
3/4 cup raisins (I used chopped dried cranberries instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix pulp and baking soda – set aside. In larger bowl cream the margarine and sugar together. Beat the egg lightly and add to sugar mixture. Add pulp and mix again. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices together and add to mix. Stir in chopped nuts and raisins/cranberries. Drop golf ball size balls onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until just browning. Cool on wire rack. Store in airtight container.

**I translated a “cube” of margarine to mean 1 stick and therefore used 4 ounces of shortening (Crisco). I am pretty sure the “cube” reference probably referred to the old-fashioned margarine product named “oleo” READERS please straighten me out if you think otherwise!!

Cookie Rehearsal

Recently I was invited by my neighbor to a cookie swap. Of course she knows I love to cook – but I am not sure she knows about my lack of baking skills. On top of that she and her daughter are practically professionals in the baking department. So there is a fair amount of pressure here to make some good cookies! I have never been to a cookie swap but I am pretty sure the concept is arrive with a bunch of cookies you made and leave with a similar amount of cookies, except they will all be the different kinds that everybody brought. i.e “the swap!”

So just as I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to accept this challenge invitation, fate inserted itself in the form of a recipe posting on Facebook! 4 ingredients! One of them from a box! It seemed easy enough for even me!

Peanut Butter Cake Mix Cookies….

Yup – I know the baking purists are gasping out there, never mind the anti-processed food crowd! I like to think I am just as organic, healthy and veggie eating as the next but sometimes you just gotta break down and go with it.

Simply mix 1 box of yellow cake mix (no I didn’t worry about box size or ounces, just grabbed one, off the shelf) and 1/2 cup canola oil, 2 large eggs and 1 cup of peanut butter. (and for some reason I had 3 open jars of 3 different kinds of peanut butter and I used up 2 to consolidate – yay!)

cookie dough

Now simply form small balls – about golf ball shape – and place on the cookie sheet. No spraying of the sheet needed (I guess) but I did use parchment paper. (not sure if it needed it – just seemed like the thing to do.) Squish each twice (opposite directions) with a fork to form the classic peanut butter cookie look.

forming the cookies

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until browned perfectly. Watch them in last couple of minutes because they can turn on you quickly. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

ready to eat

Easy and delicious – these not-to-sweet cookies came out perfect! hmm…What would happen if I used chocolate cake mix? Watch out neighbors – here I come with cookies!

Put The Lime In The Coconut

piece The combination of rich coconut and bright citrus-y lime is undeniable and one of my favorites! And it couldn’t be simpler than here in this “impossibly easy pie!”

It is not my first time making this pie – in fact if you have been reading along you might have seen this same pie (really more of a custard) without the lime and decked out for the holidays in a berry sauce.

But this time around I was craving lime (Thanks Lydia for that!) and I had all the ingredients on hand to make this.

The original recipe can be found here and the only change I made was to omit the vanilla and mix in 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice along with the zest of two limes. (1 in the mix and 1 on top to garnish)

It definitely cured the craving, but the lime is subtle – it you want more lime flavor you have to change the alchemy of recipe – something I am not good with. But feel free to report back with new ratios!

Trust me this won't hang around the house very long!

Trust me this won’t hang around the house very long!

Cobbled Again

Is there any easier dessert than taking whatever fruit you have on hand…

… adding some brown sugar, cinnamon and butter on top

…adding some biscuit mix on top…

…and baking until the top looks delicious and the fruit is just plain oozing goodness?

The hardest part is waiting for it to cool a bit so you don’t burn your mouth!

have a piece

Peach-Raspberry “cobbler”

Production Notes

I used my favorite gluten free mix from Betty and just added brown sugar, pinch of salt and ground cinnamon to the fruit with some pats of butter. Bake at 375 degrees until delicious and you can’t stand the smell anymore! P.S. I did spray the baking dish with cooking spray first.

New Hampshire Pie

fruit

Recently, I acquired some early New Hampshire grown peaches and some late New Hampshire grown blueberries. (Thanks mom!) The  peaches were really ripe and soft – too delicate to eat without dripping juice all over everything. The blueberries were dwindling in amount after being added to morning smoothies. So I decided to combine efforts and put them both into a pie. Because everything is better with butter and brown sugar right?

filling the pietopping on pie

I simply combined the roughly cut up the peaches (4) and the 1/2 pint of blueberries and added the “universal pie mix” of:  a bit of brown sugar, pinch of salt, teaspoon of cornstarch, a healthy shake of ground cinnamon and a good squirt of lemon juice.

Into my store-bought pie shell (don’t judge – it was easy) and I made the effort to create a streusel topping out of cubed butter, flour and lots of brown sugar with a pinch more of ground cinnamon and a tiny bit of ground cloves!

I baked it in a hot oven (400 degrees!) for 35 mins or so. Tip: you may want to cover it with a loose piece of foil for the first 25 mins so the top bits of exposed sugar don’t burn too quickly. Notice that I did exactly that. Not.

slice to eat

If can you stand it – let this pie cool at least 40 mins before slicing into it!

Patriotic Dessert

What is more American than apple pie?

A “red, white and blue” berry dessert of course!

IMG_5107

Served in a little mason jar for fun and enjoyed in the most beautiful dining room!

or if you want to be a little fancier you can break out a pretty dessert bowl…

IMG_5109

…and yes that is a bit of cubed pound cake you spy. Think “trifle” in a personal size.

Production notes

Strawberries were lightly sweetened with honey and mashed just a bit to get them nice and juicy. The whipped cream (homemade) is sweetened with a bit of vanilla and agave. The blueberries didn’t need a thing. The pound cake was purchased and cubed up. The mason jar version could be made ahead ( not too far – but like a couple of hours) and stored with lids on, in the refrigerator till party time.

Or what about using ice cream instead of pound cake?

Strawberry Memories

The month of June means a lot of different things to people.

To my dad it made him think of D-Day and actually landing on Normandy beach  in 1944 as an innocent 18-year-old kid. To my brother it means a birthday.  And of course to my mom that same special day of June reminds her of giving birth to my brother, her first baby.

For me: it is strawberries.

I can mark my “Junes” throughout my life by strawberry memories…

homegrown

Homegrown: not perfectly shaped but sweeter than any supermarket variety!

As a small child sitting among the PYO fields in New Hampshire – eating more than I was picking, wishing we could get out of the hot sun.

Later as a middle-school child visiting the relatives in California and having my first real “diner-style” strawberry pie. I remember picking it out from the glass case and how REALLY delicious it was. (We went back for another piece the next day!)

In high school, on a family trip to France, we strolled through a farmer’s market outside of Chartres Cathedral near Paris and discovered the most delicious strawberry tart ever.  To this day. Just sat there in the sun and enjoyed every bite of it.

In my 20’s, living away from home, returning to visit mom and having her famous strawberry shortcake on the porch. We have been known as a family to eat that, and only that, for dinner.

And now as a grown up, with my own house, with strawberries growing in my front yard. The sunny patch has grown from one small pot to rambling all over the place, among the grass and  flowers at the base of the chimney. Each year yields more and so far this year I have harvested about a quart!

However, strawberry shortcake season is short, and one needs to supplement the fruit with purchases from the local market or farm stand. That way you can have  lots of “strawberry shortcake dinners!”

strawberries shortcake dessert

Big, ripe, perfect, in-season strawberries can not be beat in the beauty department!

P.S. If you are not a baker, or gluten-free, or just don’t want the biscuit
- I find serving this with vanilla ice cream instead just divine!
 
P.P.S In case you missed it, June 14 was National Strawberry Shortcake day!

It’s All About The Frosting

Obviously right?

When it comes to cupcakes, it is definitely about frosting. Wedding cake – definitely the frosting (and the many layers of it in between). What about the glaze on the coffee cake: usually the best part. I consider finding a cake (or cupcake) that is actually moist and delicious, along with its wonderful frosting, something along the lines of hitting the lottery. When I have a sweet tooth, the high standards come out to play!

That is why I generally don’t bake. I like to leave it to the pros. (Quick shout out to my neighbor Meaghan who leaves those cupcake chains in the dust with her skills!)

But every once in a while I get my “Betty” on and whip up a baked good. This time I combined a craving for orange juice and walnuts.  I was shooting for “orange-walnut sour cream coffee cake” and ended up with “not really what want I wanted but totally awesome cream cheese frosting.”

I basically checked out a few versions of the cream cheese frosting online and saw that most involved cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar. I threw in some chopped walnuts for crunch. YUM!

As for the cake… I am not  even going to bother finding the scrap piece of paper around this house somewhere with the cake recipe written on it, because it just wasn’t that good.

But the frosting…..

Enough frosting can save any cake!

Enough frosting can save any cake!

Impossibly GOOD Coconut Pie

And impossibly EASY.

In fact that is the name of the recipe: Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie. Which I got here.

Thank you Betty!

Think "cheesecake consistency with out all the heaviness, tanginess and the guilt!"

Think “cheesecake consistency” without all the heaviness, tanginess and the guilt!

 

This mixes up in about 4 minutes and bakes up perfectly in a glass pie dish. You can just serve warm slices from that.

However, I made it a day ahead and let it cool completely and was able to flip it out and onto a nice plate/platter for presentation, garnish and refrigerate until serving time. If you make ahead and platter it like I did, I would bring it out of the fridge about 20-30 mins before serving so it will be cool but not cold. Cover with plastic wrap while hanging in the fridge so it stays moist.

Although delicious plain, just as is, I added extra shredded coconut on top for garnish and heated some frozen mixed berries with a little honey to serve warm on top. But this would also be very delicious with chocolate sauce. Or maybe pineapple sauce. The combinations are endless.

Just try it. You will love this EASY dessert!

(Betty – you can feel free to contact me via email to “thank me” for endorsing your recipe/product! ;-) )

Sadie Sprague

I have never met Sadie but she gave me something special once a long time ago…

…Her banana nut bread recipe via my 1982 edition of  “Just For You…A Cookbook” published by the First Baptist Church of Weston, Massachusetts.

I can’t even remember how I acquired this cookbook. Perhaps we randomly stopped in at the church fund-raiser/rummage sale as we were passing through? More likely I picked it up at a yard sale in New Hampshire where one of the former church members must have relocated. No matter how I got it – I love it. From Janet Yurkus’ spinach dip to Sylvia Akers’ sweet-n-sour pork to Mary D’s lemon squares.

And of course the banana nut bread. Sadie’s recipe.

There isn’t any crazy ingredients or techniques – just a simple, reliable recipe. Sometimes I add the nuts and sometimes I don’t. When I want it to stand in as the dessert I add a dash of vanilla and a generous shake of cinnamon. Other times I cut back on the sugar just a tad and let the natural sweetness of the fruit do the talking. That is the thing about recipes – they are personal.

As for Sadie, a quick check on the internet, indicated she might still be alive at the ripe old age of 99 years old, right there in her same hometown. Probably still cooking banana nut bread for the church fund-raisers every year.

Thanks Sadie!

Banana Bread as dessert this year at the Thanksgiving day table. I got a little fancy on top with a split banana and some brown sugar!
 

The Recipe

(Adapted from Sadie.)
 

1/2 cup Salted butter, fully softened

1 cup Regular white sugar

2 Eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups AP flour, sifted

1/4 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Baking Powder

2 Large Ripe Bananas, mashed

1 Large Banana, split length-wise

Tablespoon of brown sugar to sprinkle on top

Nuts optional – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts is always nice.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and mix 30 secs more. Sift together the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir well. Add 2 mashed bananas and nuts if using. Turn into a greased loaf pan. Place the split banana on top and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. (Keep an eye, depending on whether you are using glass or metal pans you may want to pull out at 50 mins.) I like to turn mine out to cool a bit and then you can return to the baking dish for storage or wrap tightly for transport and gift giving. Best served slightly warm, slathered with butter.

 

Crostata

The other night I had a little sweet tooth and only one of the pre-made rolled pie doughs that come two-to-a-red box. (you know the ones right?) I made a Crostata. Watch out we’re getting fancy ’round here.

A Crostata is a rustic yet elegant fruit dessert – kinda like a tart but more free form. Italian in origin, it can also sometimes have pastry cream on the bottom with fruit on top. I didn’t feel the need to bust out a pastry cream.

Basically when you add sugar and a few spices to practically any fruit and throw that into any form of pastry – pie, puff or whatever – it is gonna be good and it is going to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Since I had some of these delicious little gems: Pineapple Tomatillos on hand, I decided to use these as my filling.  If you ever run across these in your farmers market – buy them immediately. They are very delicious, tiny, unusual bite size fruit!

So as I husked my pint of these and I decided I had better add some other fruit to give the Crostata enough filling. An apple seemed like a good idea and I had a few fresh, early fall ones already in the fridge.

I was feeling fancy so I arrange it all pretty in the crust.

       

Add in a  dash of ground ginger, a dash of nutmeg, some brown sugar, butter cubes and a little cornstarch to hold it altogether. I also decided to use up this random orange I had in the fridge by squeezing the juice and pulp on top.  Even though the tomatillos taste like little pineapples, they don’t have that actual citrus bite. So I thought the orange would just brighten everything up.

Now it was ready for the oven. You know what they say… make’em cold, bake’em hot!  I decided I better safely bake mine inside a dish with sides – like my pie dish – because baking on a sheet pan, even on parchment, just seemed like a risk of losing all that sweet fruity filling.

Once it comes out of the oven – resist the urge to cut into it right away. Instead let it cool quite a bit. Just like pie (and lasagna) it has to cool a bit so the filling can stay together for the slices.

Buon Appetito!

Special thanks to Steve at The Depot farm stand for supplying these little jewels!

Dad’s Pear Tree

There is a pear tree in my parent’s yard. It has been there forever. I don’t know if my dad planted it or if it was there when they bought the property and built the house over 40 years ago. It’s just always been there.

It has seen some history: I wiped out on my bicycle on the driveway below it and I am sure I had some near misses with it as a new car driver. I know my dad bit into a pear every year only to be disappointed in its impossibly tough and sometimes wormy interior. He would complain and ponder why such a promising fruit tree never amounted too much.

Then my dad passed away in early spring 2011 and that very year and this year too it made the most wonderful pears. Large and unblemished. He would have loved them.

So when my mother brought down a whole bag full on recent visit to my house, I decided to bake with them.

There is nothing easier than pulling open the freezer and grabbing a package of pre-made dough rounds, otherwise know as “discos.” So I mixed up the diced pears with a little brown sugar, ground ginger, dash of ground nutmeg, dash of salt , bit of cornstarch and a pat of butter for each little pear turnover.

Brush them with a little melted butter and sprinkle a little sugar on, bake them at 400 degrees until done. Don’t burn your mouth on the hot filling!

He would have loved these!

Birthday à la Julia

When I was little the fanciest things always came from France.

That meant when your parents took you out to dinner on your birthday, of course you ordered the “chocolate mousse” right? Because it was fancy and from France! Now that I am all grown up I realize that fancy can be from anywhere and French food doesn’t have to be complicated!

August 15th was the 100th birthday of Julia Child. A person who demystified all that fancy, french food for home cooks everywhere. And through the magic of reruns, YouTube and food blogs – she’s still doing it!

I thought I would join in with other food bloggers (read more about her and this at PBS Food) and make something from my 1961 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Who doesn’t like chocolate on their birthday? It had to be “mousseline au chocolat!”

I put some chocolate on to melt and got started! Not being much a dessert-maker, never mind a direction-follower, I really had to focus on this! But I followed the directions exactly and made only one minor alteration… I left out the orange liquor because I am not a big fan of that combination. I did splurge and made real whipped cream!

Bon Appétit & Bon Anniversaire!

If you are in Boston today you can join in a few local celebrations. If you visit Cambridge you can stop in and read all about her at the Schlesinger Library.

Cobbled Fruit

While I wait around for this year’s annual peach, I thought I would make something with the nectarines that were on sale at the store recently.

Pie always has a lot pressure to be perfect and a “crisp” is only about apples for me. So cobbler just seemed like the perfect thing to make with 2lbs of nectarines.

As usual I decided to just make the recipe up as I went along. After all, just reading the cookbooks is kinda like cooking from them right? I figured I have read enough cobbler recipes to handle it without actually following one.

I started by spraying the baking dish with non-stick spray and then layering in about 3/4 cup of light brown sugar that I mixed with a couple teaspoons of ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt first.dish prep

With sliced butter pats at the ready (don’t panic -it was a big pan of cobbler – 16 pieces of butter for 16 halves of fruit) I started to lay the nectarine halves face down with the butter nestled in the hollow of the fruit. I was thinking “upside down fruit dessert” at this point.

But my fruit was slightly under ripe so I ended up slicing them into wedges. I layered the fruit wedges on top of the sugar bottom, distributed the pats of butter and sprinkled a dusting of cornstarch across the top. Next came the cobbler topping. In this case a standard biscuit mix. I sweetened the mix up by adding a bit of sugar and flavored it with a dash of vanilla. Think “strawberry short-cake biscuits.” If you really wanted to get crazy you could cut in some more brown sugar with biscuit dough topping for more of a sweeter, strudel effect. I didn’t do that because I wanted the fruit to shine.

This turned out to be a delicious, not-too-sweet, dessert…if such a thing exists! However a little ice cream wouldn’t hurt next time!

Berry Coconut Coffee Cake

Like many savory cooks – I am not a baker. So what was I doing baking recently on yet another rainy day?

Well I had a sweet tooth and I am fairly lazy – so going to the store was out of the question. (Did I mention I live in a large, urban area with a giant name-brand grocery store a few blocks away from my house?) I like to think I was doing my part to keep the carbon foot-print down. Or maybe I was just challenging myself with the ingredients I had on hand.

Or maybe I was just trying to clean out the freezer.

Last summer when local raspberries and blackberries were on sale and abundant I cooked down a bunch, added a little cornstarch and froze for another day. I originally had visions of some kind of fruit tart/turnover but really any baked good would do.

So with a little help from Betty I whipped up a coffee cake recipe. Instead of the usual cinnamon streusel topping -I decided to improvise.

After about 20 mins in the oven – I took it out and spread the thickened berry syrup on top. Than just to “gild the lily” I sprinkled on some sweetened coconut flakes I had lurking in my fridge. (I am sorry the day I discovered these little gems at the store – yum!!) I could have swirled it into the batter from the beginning but I was afraid to swirl. Being an inexperienced baker, I wasn’t sure if this would be a success, so I decided not to risk it.

Back into the oven for 10-15 mins,  time to cool a bit and my sweet tooth was satisfied!

Author’s Bragging Rights!

Those white Lilacs in the vase are from my yard!

Year of the Dessert

Like most savory cooks, dessert is not my specialty. I usually leave that up to the experts. But I have been inspired this year to try my hand at some fancy but simple desserts as I did on Thanksgiving.

Christmas day was no exception.

Mini Coconut and Raspberry Cheesecakes

I was inspired by and adapted this recipe from Giada. I changed out the maple syrup for some raspberry syrup that I had in my freezer. I had made it from last year’s “pick-your-own” harvest. I used it as an ingredient and a sauce.

I also changed out the mascarpone for low-fat cream cheese. Just because that is what I had on hand. I switched the heavy cream for unsweetened coconut milk because I wanted to infuse that coconut flavor. I used the sweetened shredded coconut garnish because it looked like snow, but purists and healthy folks among us could use dried unsweetened coconut shavings.

Fresh raspberries made a nice garnish instead of the cranberry/orange compote but that would have been good too!

Other than those “minor” differences I followed her recipe exactly.

It was a big hit and the individual servings (muffin pan size) made it easy for people not to overindulge.

Okay, okay …maybe it just made over indulgence look prettier!

But Don’t You Think Dessert is The Best Part?

Maple Custard with Cinnamon Whip Cream and Toasted Hazel Nuts.

Thank you to Three Clever Sisters for the recipe!

I just “gilded the lily” by adding the homemade whipped cream and nuts.

Delicious and EASY and only 3 ingredients. (not counting the whipped and nuts.)

Make the night before and wrap with the plastic wrap directly touching the custard.

Add toppings just before serving.

Pastry Love

Who doesn’t love puff pastry?

I don’t care if you tell me that you are not a big “sweets” person – They don’t have to be sweet. A savory puff pastry is delicious too. You could probably put an old shoe in puff pastry and it would probably taste good!

I think putting random ingredients together in puff pastry is a perfect “cabinet stew” situation. I just keep a box of those pre-made, perfect-every-time puff pastry sheets in the freezer. You know the one from the “farm.”

Just take it out and look around for stuff to put in.

This one, shaped into a “beggar’s pouch” style is filled with:

Raspberries - just cleaned out the last of the frozen supply bought in-season and on-sale last year at the farmer’s market.

Hazelnuts – small leftover amount from some cookies (Go Bruins!) hanging out in the freezer

Brown sugar – ’cause sweeter is better.

Cornstarch – to make the juices all thick.

Butter – just a tiny bit, just because. (like pie)

Pinch of salt – because sweet always need a bit of salt.

Not All Peachy

I was reading one of those free magazines from the grocery store the other day and there was a recipe for a vanilla peach cobbler in it. I was immediately inspired to get up and make it. But of course I had to tinker with the recipe.

First of all I didn’t have the low-sugar, apricot preserves it called for, so I used full-sugar, orange marmalade and cut back on the sugar in the batter.

Secondly the only kind of yogurt I had on-hand was thick Greek style and not the regular it called for, so I added some milk to thin it out.

Thirdly it called for an almond and granola topping but I decided to use toasted,  almond slivers and two packages of instant oatmeal instead.

So I dusted off my baking equipment and proceeded to make my own version.

I actually think it came out really yummy. But I learned a few things along the way:

1. My husband doesn’t like almonds.

2.Never substitute in baking unless you really know what you are doing.

3. When the recipe suggest a sheet pan underneath to catch the juice boiling over the edges – it is a good idea to follow that instruction rather than set off the smoke alarm.

Dessert is kinda like pizza – some is better than others, but there is really never a bad dessert.

2nd Annual Peach

An excerpt from last year’s post…

Normally I eat one good peach a year.
The man whose name appears first on the law firm sign where I work by day, usually buys a case each summer and puts them out in the kitchen for everyone in the office to share. He is originally from South Carolina and he likes to treat us with some of his  “local” fruit. I work in Boston. As soon as the “silent alarm” rings we all descend like seagulls for our peach. (Maybe 2 if no one else is looking!)
I like to admire my annual peach for a while before I eat it. Really study its perfection. There is not one blemish. These are picked and packed by hand, shipped and packaged with care in individual little foam nests. I am sure it costs a small fortune and I am sure the foam is very unfriendly to the environment… and the fuel to get the peaches here…I shutter to think of it.
BUT IT IS THE BEST PEACH I HAVE EVER EATEN.
I savor each slice, eating it slowly, so it’s juicy perfection will take me through till the next annual shipment.
I can hear you asking…If I love peaches so much why don’t I just buy them at the store? Good question. Here is the answer. After a peach like that you can’t fool around with those hard, mealy things from the grocery store. Nope, none can compare with the annual peach.
So why bother. I will just enjoy my one perfect peach. Annually.
 

Note:

Read the full posting by clicking here.

For a peach and raspberry pastry click here!

 

Weeknight Night Grill Session

What’s better than a weeknight grill session?

A weeknight fancy dessert!

We had both this past week. Looks fancy but was really easy.

I had made the potato salad the night before – boiled the little red guys and dressed simply with a combination of yogurt and low-fat mayo. Add lots of chopped celery for crunch and shallots for …well because I have a shallot addiction. Lots of flavor that included dried dill., seasoned salt, black pepper and apple cider vinegar.

The steak tips just get a standard treatment of S&P with a little red wine vinegar to liven things up. Grilled sliced onions too!

But dessert was the showstopper.

Just open up that puff pastry – you know the one already made in the freezer section – peel and slice 1 peach down the middle, add some frozen raspberries that you have in your freezer from last year’s harvest. Add some butter, sugar and a little cornstarch. Bake until yummy!

Black and Gold

This is a best of 7 series and it is tied at 2-2.

As I type this very post, game 5 is taking place down on the ice at Causeway Street.

Who am I talking about, you ask?

…The Boston Bruins of course.

They are only 3 games – maybe 2 if they win tonight – away from winning the Eastern Conference Finals and moving on to the world series of hockey

- the Stanley Cup Finals.

I always like to show my support!

Three Goddesses & Lunch

We spent Easter Sunday in the presence of Three Goddesses at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

Ceres, Pomona & Flora (grain, fruit and flowers respectively) – shown below

Along with these ladies we saw a few spots of early spring blooms -


And some things not in bloom but very old…

… Back at home for lunch, we enjoyed a trio of three delicious things …

Tomato and Feta tart with Brussels Sprouts salad with roasted apples and toasted walnuts.

and a sweet treat at the end of cinnamon pear and banana coffee cake.

Special thanks to Lydia  (pantry goddess) for inspiring this menu!

After Movie Snack

Coming home after an early movie today – I had a sweet tooth.

With no sweets in the house I was forced to something very unusual for me. Bake.

I had a random pie crust in the fridge. They come in a box of two and I had used one a while back for a Quiche. So I only had the one left.

I got it out. Filled it with 2 med apples, sliced. Some beautiful blackberries that I picked up for cheap at my favorite neighborhood fruit stand/store; Ernie’s. I filled the round dough with some lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cornstarch and butter pats.

I folded it over – attempting to seal the over-stuffed, over-grown turnover and baked in hot 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Let it cool before cutting and enjoy!

Annual Peach

Normally I eat one good peach a year.

The man whose name appears first at the law firm where I work by day, usually buys a case each summer and puts them out in the kitchen for everyone in the office to share. He is originally from South Carolina and he likes to treat us with some of his  “local” fruit. The firm is in Boston. As soon as the “silent alarm” rings the office descends like seagulls for our peach. (Maybe 2 if no one else is looking!)

I like to admire my annual peach for a while before I eat it. Really study its perfection. There is not one blemish. These are picked and packed by hand, shipped and packaged with care in individual little foam nests. I shutter to think of the environmental impact and the carbon footprint.

BUT IT IS THE BEST PEACH I HAVE EVER EATEN.

I savor each slice,  eating it slowly, so it’s juicy perfection will take me through till the next annual shipment.

I can hear you asking…If I love peaches so much why don’t I just buy them at the store? Good question. Here is the answer. After a peach like that you can’t fool around with those hard, mealy things from the grocery store. Nope, none can compare with the annual peach. So why bother. I will just enjoy my one perfect peach. Annually.

Until this weekend!

My mother discovered a wonderful PYO orchard close to her and picked like 25 lbs! I became the recipient of a huge bag – probably 25 of the most beautiful, ripe, tangy, juicy peaches.

I wouldn’t have to wait until next year for my annual peach.

I brought them home and admired them. I took their picture. I day dreamed about the possibilities.

(I mean possibilities other than eating them fresh all in one sitting.)

My thoughts turned to baking. Could I make a peach pie? It was risky since I am not much of a baker. You have to be able to follow directions/recipes exactly for baking and I am not so good at that. Gambling on a peach pie seemed scary.

I decided to be brave and consult a few experts – Martha and Marion.

Martha’s recipe called for a very fancy “Pate Brisee” pie crust – I decided to go with a reliable rolled dough from the refrigerator section of the store – it has never failed me yet. Martha called for simplicity like a little lemon juice, sugar, butter and flour to thicken the juices. Why not add a little cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg? I couldn’t resist – it always works with the apple pie.

And Marion..well honestly I really can’t follow that crazy recipe format that was so revolutionary back in 1931. But she did have a suggestion for a streusel topping which I prefer on pie. Hers called for melted butter, cinnamon and fine, dry cake crumbs. I didn’t have any cake crumbs but I had plenty of stale “scala” bread from the local bakery. Scala – called “scali” by the locals is a light airy Italian loaf with sesame seeds on the crust. Why not grind that up and use it? Maybe add some brown sugar? Now we’re talking streusel!

A pie made in the true cabinet stew style – use what you have!

Here it is assembled and ready for the oven.

Here it is baked and cooling. (Maybe I could have put the foil on top a little sooner.)

It was delicious! And no I didn’t write the recipe down –  but I did remember to take a couple of pictures. But now that I have another source for delicious, juicy, perfect, farm-fresh AND local peaches; there could be more pie in my future. And more fresh peaches than once a year. Maybe some more next weekend. Mom?