The pecan pie story…

I decided to try a new pie crust this year, using Steve’s Gluten Free Cake Flour and a pastry recipe from Patisserie GF. I made two batches and refrigerated them overnight thinking I’d get the pies in the oven pretty quickly the next morning.

Here’s what I learned: pastry is different from a pie crust. I realized pretty quickly that that was not going to work (my first ‘wrong’). I turned to my no-fail pie crust by Annalise G Roberts that I’ve written about before (click here). Here’s a link to the pie crust recipe but be aware that it is written for the Authentic Foods Classical Blend GF flour. I can’t say how it will work with other GF flours. It didn’t take long to make the two crusts, but it threw me off my stride.

Then I made the 1st pie filling. I used a recipe from United States of Pie by Adrienne Kane, an excellent resource. Her recipe is similar to many except that she recommends toasting the pecans before adding them to the mix.

I had everything measured out, got the first pie in the oven, and then realized that I had not added the dark Karo syrup (2nd ‘wrong). Words escaped my lips but I decided what the hey (hay?) and pulled the pie out of the oven. I added the Karo syrup and tried stirring it in. Not a good plan, so I dumped the filling into a bowl and stirred it up, returned it to the pan and put it in the oven.

At this point, I was beginning to have real doubts about my mental faculties. However, in my defense, Steve was bustling around the kitchen. He was being helpful but I realized later that I am used to concentrating more when baking. Not his fault, it’s on me that I was easily distracted.

I made the 2nd pie, put it in the bottom oven, set a timer for it and waited. It was when the buzzer went off for pie #1 that I realized that somewhere in there I had (3rd wrong) turned off the top oven!!!!! Geez, Louise. No wonder it looked like it wasn’t cooking. I turned up the heat because, why not?

Both pies got done at the same time, they look about the same, and they both tasted great. I was stunned.

Here’s what I learned:

  • If you have a no-fail crust recipe, use it.
  • Pecan pie is very forgiving.
  • 3 wrongs sometimes to make a right.
  • As Buzz Lightyear says: Never give up. Never give in!

Cranberry sauce that can’t be beat…

It’s fast and easy and delicious!

  1. Wash 1 bag of cranberries.
  2. Put them in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup sugar. (Use 3/4 cup sugar if you like tart cranberry sauce.)
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then peel back a little to let steam escape.
  4. Microwave on regular 4 minutes. Stir. The bowl will be hot so use pot holders.
  5. Microwave another 4 minutes.
  6. Stir in 1/4 cup brandy OR Grand Marnier OR whatever sounds good to you.
  7. Cool. Eat, or chill in the refrigerator. Then eat.

GF Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Cake

Elanor requested this for her birthday and I said ‘sure, I can make that!’ I turned to my favorite cookbook, Gluten Free Baking Classics, for inspiration.

I thought I would make either sponge cake or shortbread layers but wasn’t sure, so I emailed the author, Annalise G Roberts, and she emailed back with ideas. Call me a fan! .

The plan is this: chocolate sponge, raspberry sorbet, crushed chocolate shortbread cookies, sorbet, sponge. Each piece will get a splash of warm chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and fresh raspberries. I used the recipes in Gluten Free Baking Classics.

First I made 2 sponge cake layers. I have avoided this cake because there are so many ways to mess up when beating separated eggs, but it turned out well. Annalise’s recipes always work if you follow the directions!


Next I made the chocolate shortbread cookies and the chocolate sauce (recipe at bottom of post).

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I let everything cool, then thawed the sorbet for 15 minutes. I spread plastic wrap in the 2 round cake pans and placed a sponge layer in each.

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I spread the sorbet on each layer. It would have been better if I had smoothed the outer edges of the sorbet to make it even with the layers.

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I covered the layers with plastic wrap and froze them overnight. This morning I pulled them out, unwrapped them, and placed the sorbet layers together with crushed shortbread cookies between them.

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It was not as tidy as I hoped it would be…

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Next time I’m going to smooth out the edges of the soft sorbet and maybe put the whole cake together before refreezing. Luckily it looked better when sliced AND it tasted great! Everyone, including Elanor, says it is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. How about that!

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As promised, here is my Mom’s chocolate sauce recipe. She always served it the Bisquick’s Velvet Crumb Cake and ice cream.

Chocolate Sauce

  • Melt together 1 cube butter (1/2 cup) with 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • Stir often.
  • When melted, add 1 cup powdered sugar. Stir well.
  • Add 1 lean cup of milk and add 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  • Stir constantly until it begins to boil Keep on a low boil (still stirring) f
  • or 8 minutes.
  • Serve warm. Refrigerate any remaining sauce.

 

Piece O’ NYC: Internet Groceries and Meals

Do you have a favorite local grocery store? We don’t… In fact, we hate our grocery stores. We live close to Central Park, which inevitably means that a lot of people venture to our larger (and more preferred) grocery store to get picnic supplies and various other things. The other stores around us are great for different things, but never produce or meat, so we’re limited and/or make many stops. My husband is a superhero. Since we have to navigate the mass crowds, Jeff wakes up early on the weekends and battles through them to get us weekly supplies. After fighting through the crowds for years, even Jeff has had enough. So, now we order things from the internet. Not often, but often enough. Even that’s not perfect – online produce is often not good, you guys – but it’s a major improvement. And besides, hauling up cat litter boxes along with other heavy groceries by myself at peak elevator traffic time isn’t my favorite pastime.

FullSizeRenderWe get delivery from restaurants every once in a while (Seamless and Grubhub are decent resources), but we also order ready-to-make meals from Blue Apron. I’m not an avid spokesperson for this company (nor do I always like their recipes), but for those of you who hate thinking about what to make and/or can’t come to terms with your local stores, I recommend it. Jeff and I used to get into really silly arguments about what to make for dinner (we’re both indecisive) and this helped us avoid that sort of thing. The delivery box comes with ice packets to help keep your items chilled and we have a standard delivery time every Tuesday. Also, our groceries are atrociously high in the city, this is shockingly cheaper for us to use…

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The back of the recipe cards have step by step instructions with images!

DSC_0024DSC_0026In a perfect world (or back home with my Momma), I could peruse aisles of groceries and enjoy a visit to a store (give me a Wegmans! Give me a Krogers! I don’t care, I used to love grocery shopping!), but not anymore. The times are a’changing and now we eat internet foods.

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Love and happiness in the kitchen always makes a recipe extra delicious :P!

The best tomato sauce, ever…

I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine and every now and then there is a recipe in an issue that turns out to be amazing and, by that, I mean both very tasty and not hard to make. The MSL Roasted Cherry-Tomato Sauce has become my new favorite thing to eat!

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I didn’t actually make it, Steve did. He’s probably going to be tinkering with the recipe a bit because that’s what he does but it was wonderful as written. It’s not exactly a ‘tomato sauce’, it’s more of a juicy-roasted-squishy tomato topper that is good on many things… pasta, bread, salad, etc.

We’re going to try making it with larger tomatoes because my tomato plant will (I hope) produce lots of big tomatoes :-). I suspect Steve will cut them into wedges, but maybe not. At any rate, if you are looking for something quick and tasty for dinner, try this!

UPDATE: We tried it with bigger tomatoes last night and it was just OK. Lots more juice and less intense flavor. Next year I’ll plant cherry tomatoes.

 

 

Really?!

Have you ever seen purple potatoes? We got some, they were in a bag that said that they were proudly grown in Idaho. Who knew—they are purple inside and out! There was no photoshop enhancements involved…

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They don’t taste purple. They do add a special something to a dinner plate and, if you have kids who are picky eaters, you could have a whole lot of fun with these.

I’m traveling to CA today to visit a friend and I am looking forward to it! There will be some sitting and stitching and visiting and eating of cake! I hope you have a similarly wonderful weekend :-).

 

Make your own yogurt…

I eat a lot of plain Greek yogurt. I put it on my granola, and sometimes eat it at lunch. When I was in NJ a few weeks ago, one of my hostesses (Barbie) told me how she makes yogurt. It sounded so easy that I decided to try it when I got home. Once home, Lorna reminded me that she used to make yogurt all the time.

Barbie makes her yogurt in a heavy, enamel casserole dish kept warn in an oven set at a low heat and that works. The down-side for me is that my dish is pretty heavy and it’s too hot in Texas for half the year to keep the oven on for hours at a time, even on low. After thinking about it, I knew I would do better with a yogurt maker. I found one that is neither expensive nor fancy. It’s a small crockpot made by VitaClay with a yogurt setting.

I followed the instructions, took photos, and made some amazing yogurt! I’ve made 3 batches so I know that it continues to work. Here’s how you do it:

Choose your milk. I like organic whole milk. The VitaClay booklet tells you what kinds of milk work (1%, 2%, whole).
Have 2-3 tablespoons of a plain yogurt on hand to use as a starter for your batch of yogurt.
One batch takes 7 cups of milk (that is 1 cup shy of a 1/2-gallon). Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring it to 180° over medium heat, stirring every now and then. I measure the temperature with a precise candy thermometer. The milk will froth, but not boil.
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Once the milk reaches 180°, remove it from the heat and let it cool to 110°. This takes about 45 minutes. The booklet says that you can place the pan of milk in a cool bath to make this go faster. I have not done that. I did stir the milk every now and then.
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Once the milk is 110°, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt into the yogurt maker. (I used 3 tablespoons each time.) Pour 1 cup of the warm milk into the yogurt maker and stir to blend. Then add the remaining 6 cups of milk. The mixture fills the pot.
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Plug the yogurt maker in. Turn it to ‘yogurt’. Place the lid on the pot and don’t touch it again until it’s done. Apparently disturbing the pot is bad for the yogurt.
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The yogurt is done in 6-8 hours. If you like tart yogurt, cook it longer. I have had success at both 6 and 7 hours of cooking time and the yogurt is about as tart as I want it to be.
Remove the lid carefully, so that the condensation doesn’t get into the yogurt. I may have mis-read it, but I think that’s a bad thing.
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Take the crock of yogurt out of the crockpot and let it cool. I cool for a while on the counter top, then in the fridge. You can eat the yogurt at this consistency (after chilling) or strain it to make thicker Greek yogurt.
I think it works a little better to cool/chill the yogurt before straining it but I’m not that patient. I let the yogurt get to room temp and then I set it up to strain.
I line a small colander with fine cheesecloth and spoon the yogurt into it. I place the full strainer on top of the crock (you could use a bowl if it fit your strainer better) and use a twisty-tie on the corners of the cloth. The crock and strainer move to the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
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The next day the whey is in the colander (and there is a lot of it) and the Greek yogurt is ready to be spooned into a container and put back into the fridge. You can add whatever you like to flavor the plain yogurt or eat it as is.
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Buying yogurt is faster and more expensive. Making yogurt is a minor chore, but I think this yogurt tastes better and it is less expensive. I suspect I’ll be making my own yogurt for a long time.
PS – In case you wondered why Lorna quit making yogurt, it was because her oven couldn’t maintain the necessary low heat for the length of time it takes for the yogurt to set up. Plus, it heated up the house too much. She’s looking forward to receiving the new yogurt maker that is coming her way from Amazon :-).