In Minnesota for the past week it has been a little too gray for my taste. The one consolation to all the cold and snow we get around here are the endless clear blue skies. They are rather remarkable and make the winters tolerable. When they refuse to show themselves through the clouds I go cold. This means I need a little something to brighten up my day. Something sweet! Something easy and quick. Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastry (p. 225) will do the trick. A combination of buttery brioche, luscious vanilla pastry cream and tangy sweet apricots. Read More
They are the chocolate chip cookies we all ate as kids and probably still make on occasion. Toll House, of course. The recipe right off the bag. It is the cookie by which all others are measured. The perfect balance of sweet, salty, gooey, chewy and crisp. Most of us, as we got more confident in the kitchen, ventured from the bag and experimented with other recipes. We dared to add oats, nuts, dried fruit, black pepper, and even pumpkin puree to our chocolate chip cookies but there is still a place for the original. Read More
It is Minnesota and there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground, not exactly the time of year for a fresh fruit dessert. So what do we Northerners do when we want something sweet and bright, but can’t find berries that aren’t from the freezer or even a decent apple? We turn to citrus. Of course it doesn’t grow here, not even in the summer, but it travels well and there is such amazing variety. For these lemon meringue bars I actually use a combination of lemons, limes and Meyer lemons (for their perfume). The combination is more interesting and has a zing to it that one fruit alone won’t give.
The recipe I started with comes from a cookbook from one of my favorite bakeries in San Francisco, Tartine. They start with a brown butter shortbread studded with pine nuts and bake a smooth tangy lemon curd on top. It is a perfect combination of rich and refreshing. I pretty much follow their recipe exactly except I mix-up the citrus a bit and add a topping of toasted meringue. Oh yeah, I also double the recipe so I have plenty to give to my neighbors! My pictures of this recipe are of a double batch, so don’t be thrown off if mine look larger than yours. Read More
We tested and then tested again and in some cases many times more. The Chocolate-Raisin Babka (p. 221) was one such recipe. Because the traditional method was so labor intensive I wanted to come up with a recipe that had the same divine taste without all the fuss. Well I think we came very close indeed. BUT there is a big mistake in the list of ingredients. Read More
I recently got an email from my friend Doris who wrote about her Peach pie woes. The experience of making it had been anything but “easy as pie.” It got me thinking about pie and how that old adage came to pass? Really, for whom is pie all that easy to make? Most people give up at the crust, it is hardly ever as tender or flaky as those you can buy at the bakery, and the fillings are always too runny or too bound up with starch.
I want to demystify pie making for Doris and anyone else who has fond memories of homemade pies but haven’t found a recipe that satisfies. First let’s talk about the dough. In the end it isn’t the recipes that will make or break the pie, so much as the technique used in dealing with the ingredients. I’m going to make a pie with you and show step by step how to deal with the rather simple list of ingredients: Butter, lard (or vegetable shortening), flour, ice water and a touch of baking powder to insure you don’t have a leaden crust. Read More