Monday, June 29, 2009

Strawberry Pie

We went to a strawberry patch and picked the ripest strawberries I have ever seen!

When we came home, we just had to make a pie with all of our yummy, juicy treasures. I just used this basic recipe; it tasted good, although it was a tad runny. I don't know if I inherited my moms knack for making runny pies or if we cut into it too soon. It wasn't quite cooled all of the way, but we couldn't wait any longer!


dough for 2 crusted pie
1 1/2 quarts hulled, chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar
4 heaping Tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt

Roll out the bottom crust and line the pie pan with it. Combine berries, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Pour into the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining crust, slice into strips and arrange in a lattice pattern. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or more until the filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned.

I used my moms pie crust recipe and instead of making pie crust cookies with the scraps, I re-rolled them to make a mock lattice top.

Pie crust:

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
6-7 tbsp water

Using a pastry blender, cut 1/2 of the shortening into the flour and salt until it has the texture of cornmeal.

Cut remaining shortening in and blend until like large peas.

Add water, 1 tbsp at a time, until doughy.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface to be 1 inch bigger than the pie pan. Turn dough into pie pan and either bake at 475° for 8-12 minutes (until golden brown) for a pudding pie or fill with pie filling for a baked pie.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June Daring Bakers-- Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

The challenge was pretty simple; the pictures had my mouth watering; the actual baking day went smoothly. The only thing that made it turn sour? Sweetness. My cherry jam was too sweet! So sweet that when we stopped by my parents house to share the challenge results, my mom couldn't even eat her entire piece of Bakewell Tart…er…pudding. My husband found it too sweet, as well. My dad and I? Eh... we still ate it. No use in wasting a good baked treat!

I chose to go with cherry jam to make a cherry and almond combo. See now, even typing it out now is making my mouth water.... how I love cherries and almond together! I'll have to give it another go with a different jam recipe.

I had never made cherry jam before, so I Googled a recipe and found one that seemed harmless. However, it was made with liquid pectin and that should have been my first clue to stay away from it. I've never had luck with liquid pectin. My jam never set so I had to re-do it by adding a concoction of more sugar, pectin and lemon juice. It did eventually set, but by then it was too sweet.

Other than the jam not being the best choice, the rest of the recipe was a breeze and the frangipane was delicious once it was peeled off of the sweet jam! I could have eaten the entire layer by myself!

BUT! If anything good came of this, is that I got a new favorite kitchen gadget out of this challenge. A cherry pitter! If you do not have one, I highly recommend getting one. I got mine at Target for about $10- hours of fun for the whole family! Okay, maybe not hours, but my kids sure love using it (and so do I!)!

Makes one 9” tart
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

Equipment needed: 9” tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin
One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
1 cup jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart

(I made little thumbprint cookies with the pie crust scraps!)

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 1/4” thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1cup, depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavoured your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 2/3cup on the crust.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

8oz all purpose flour
1oz sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4oz unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 egg yolks
1/2tsp almond extract (optional)
1-2 Tbsp cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

4.5oz unsalted butter, softened
4.5oz icing sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
4.5oz ground almonds
1oz all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Cherry Jam

1 quart sweet or sour cherries, chopped and pitted
6 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice (use only with sweet cherries)
2 pouches liquid pectin

Combine cherries, sugar and lemon juice (if needed) in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary.

Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps.

Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Makes about 8 half-pints.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Homemade BBQ Sauce

This is what my dad will be getting for Father's Day. He specifically requested no gifts, just like my mom did for Mother's Day. However, I still gave a little jar of something to my mom, so he's going to get a little jar of something, as well! I went with BBQ sauce since he'd probably prefer that over what my mom received, hehe!

Originally, I had a recipe for Martha Stewart's BBQ sauce posted here. I'm replacing it-- I hadn't yet made/tasted it when I posted the recipe and I just got done making it and it's terrible! There is no way I could give it to anyone; my husband wouldn't even try it after just smelling it. So this replacement recipe was one that I've been planning on making but hadn't had the chance to do so. It's from my friend Marie, so at least a real person has tried it and liked it! (Not that Martha Stewart isn't a real person, hehe!)

The photo is still from Martha. I haven't had a chance to take a cute picture of mine, but I loved the idea of the tag and the brush attached to it!


1/2 med onion, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
4 tbs butter
1/4 c honey
2 c brown sugar (this was seriously too much- I had to make a second batch without any sugar in it and combine the two just to tame it. So I'd go with 1 cup for one batch, and that's still sweet!)
2 c ketchup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
cayenne powder (to your liking- I used about 1/4 a tsp)
1 chipotle canned pepper, in adobo sauce (whole)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion in the butter (on medium) until translucent, then stir in the honey.

Add the ketchup and brown sugar; stir until well Incorporated.

Add the vinegar and seasonings and chipotle pepper.

Allow it come to a boil on med heat then turn down to low to simmer until it cooks down. Since there is a lot of sugar in this you will want to stir often while it is cooking down so that the sugars don't burn on the bottom of the pan.

The seasoning will develop and be more intense once it has cooked down. Cook for about 15 min; when it is done it is a beautiful rich brown/red color.

Blend to puree before pouring into jars. Store in refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Split Pea Soup

If you follow this blog, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I had some split peas on hand that needed to be used up. (No, not opened peas... just a bag or so extra!) This is my very basic split pea soup recipe that both my husband and I love.


Rinse entire bag of peas and put into a pot with:
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 ham bone

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Remove ham bone; cut meat from bone and put the meat back into the broth.

1/2 cup chopped carrots (these need to be either diced or parboiled since mine always end up a tad too crunchy)
1/2 cup diced potatoes (do not need to be parboiled)
1/2 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Candy Land Cake

I saw the instructions for this cake at the Taste of Home website. This cake was made for my friend's daughter.  Look at how cute it turned out! It can be made smaller by using 1 cake mix and a 9x13 pan.


-2 packages (18-1/4 ounces each) cake mix of your choice
-Vanilla and chocolate frosting
-Green mist food color spray, optional
-Assorted decorations: Starburst candies, red Fruit Roll-Up, red coarse sugar, Dots, regular and miniature peanut butter cups, chocolate jimmies, large and small gumdrops, Dum Dum Pops, miniature candy canes, clear and blue rock candy, cake and waffle ice cream cones, multicolored sprinkles, green colored sugar, miniature marshmallows, round peppermints and conversation hearts


Line two 13-in. x 9-in. baking pans with waxed paper and grease the paper. Prepare cake batter; pour into prepared pans. Bake according to package directions. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely; remove waxed paper.

Level tops of cakes; place side by side on a covered board. Frost top and sides of cake with vanilla frosting; mist with food color spray if desired.

With Candy Land game board as your guide, form a path using Starburst candies. With vanilla frosting, pipe "Happy Birthday" on candies. With chocolate frosting, make an arrow; pipe "Start" on the arrow with vanilla frosting.

For the Mountain/Gumdrop pass, use a red Fruit Roll-Up, red coarse sugar and Dots.

For forests, add peanut butter cups topped with piped chocolate frosting, chocolate jimmies, gumdrops, Dum Dum Pops, candy canes and rock candy.

For castle, pipe vanilla frosting into ice cream cones. Garnish with Dots and sprinkles.

Between the pathways, add green colored sugar, sprinkles, miniature marshmallows, peppermints and conversation hearts. Pipe additional frosting to fill in spaces; top with sprinkles.

Pipe vanilla frosting around base of cake; place peppermints around top edge of cake.

Yield: 30-40 servings. Editor's Note: This cake is best eaten the day it's prepared. Do not refrigerate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Easy, Inexpensive Floral Centerpiece

Today my grandma turns 90. Wow... 90 years old. Imagine the things that she has seen; lived through; forgotten. Turning the fabulous age of 90 deserves a celebration, don't you think? My aunt organized a fantastic party for her and she asked me to make the centerpieces for the tables.

I had a few guidelines to follow-- the centerpieces needed to be small, inexpensive and they needed to coincide with the colors of the party invitation, which were a sage green and lavender.

I came up with very simple centerpieces that were extremely inexpensive. I found some cylinder vases at a dollar store and filled them with some dried split peas (99¢ per bag). I then inserted a single stemmed daisy-like lavender flower into the peas (I found an entire bunch that contained at least 30-35 flowers for only $4.99, from the floral department at Target). Each centerpiece cost about $2.70 to make.

The flower didn't require any floral foam or anything else to hold it up since the peas held it in place. If you need your flowers to last longer, you could insert each stem into one of those water reservoirs and then insert the entire thing into the peas.

I did use a smaller cylinder for half of the centerpieces, however. The dollar store only had 6 and I needed 12... and even after going to three other stores without any luck in finding any, I had to settle for some shorter cylinders. I was worried about how they would look, but I must say, I think I ended up liking them better than the tall ones!

May we all "Believe, Dream and Imagine" a prosperous and enriched life for ourselves as Grandma Addie has had over her 90 years (and then some!).