Last weekend my family and I went to Avon, Minnesota to see a special 4th of July live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. For those of you who have never been to Minnesota, you will get a quick and thorough understanding of the place if you tune in to listen to Garrison Keiller’s show on NPR. He ends every broadcast with the phrase “… where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the kids are above average,” which pretty much sums up the place.Read More
Red, White and Blue Bakewell Tarts
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.
This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge, at first glance didn’t have me all that excited. It is a tart consisting of a simple shortbread crust, a layer of jam and frangipane (almond cream). Bakewell is a classic style of tart I’ve made lots of times and perhaps seemingly dull because I know it so well. But, after a good nights sleep, a cup of coffee and a burst of inspiration, I had renewed longing for the Bakewell tart. It is one of those challenges where you are basically given a blank canvas and told to paint a picture. This tart can take on the personality of the fruit or filling you introduce. I decided to play with many different flavors and add a bit of texture to the filling by adding fresh fruit, that compliments the jam.
In honor of the 4th of July I decided to make Red, White and Blue tarts; Cherry, Coconut and Blueberry. Read More
Backyard Farming (part 2)
I started my farm exactly 2 months ago. Not only have I had a rather comprehensive education, but also several very tasty salads. Twice a week Stefan, the urban farmer who makes it all grow, comes to my house and we garden. Actually, he gardens and I watch, learn and photograph his every move. Despite all that I have learned, if it weren’t for his dedication and vast knowledge, my garden would have gone the way of all my past efforts, to seed! We have had good days and bad, fighting the creatures that love to feast on organic produce and having to contend with lackluster soil. It seems that much of organic gardening is being on the defensive against these things. There are no chemicals to prevent them from happening so we just have to deal with it as it comes.
Here are some tricks I’ve learned from Stefan: Read More
A Mile High Lemon Brown Sugar-Meringue Pie! (update on toasting meringue)
Last week my boys and I drove 5 hours due north to a small town on Lake Superior to get a break from the city. The boys just finished school and I had sent off the first pass pages of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We were all in desperate need of a vacation. Friends of ours have a lovely home on a pristine lake; no planes flying over, no street lights, no cars, just peace and quiet and night skies filled with stars.
On the drive up, once you pass Duluth, the road is dotted with small shops selling smoked fish and all kinds of pies. It is our tradition to stop to buy pepper crusted smoked fish and a pie: cherry, blueberry or lemon meringue pie. When I first moved here 16 years ago my husband and I stayed on the North shore and discovered Betty’s Pies. We happened in one evening for a slice and ended up going back 3 more times in as many days. We still stop there, although they have moved, grown and the pies aren’t quite what they used to be, but the romance is still there for me.
Here is my version of Betty’s Lemon Meringue Pie (made with my rosemary shortbread crust, a bit of lime zest for more zip and a dome of light fluffy Brown Sugar Meringue!) Read More
Plum Cupcakes with Sweet-Corn Ice Cream!
My husband brought home corn last weekend from the market that was so sweet it just begged to be made into a dessert. But, that was not quite what he had in mind for this batch so we grilled it, peeled it, and added a small squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt. The lime brings out the sweetness even more. The following day I was back at the market and got more of the sweet corn and some early season plums that I suspected would be a bit tart. I figured the tart plums and the milky, honey like corn would be great companions for a plum cupcake recipe.
Right away I knew that the corn would be turned to ice cream, with just a touch of vanilla and nothing more to distract from the delicate flavor. I baked the plums in a pound cake recipe that includes a touch of cornmeal. Not too much or it would be dense, but enough to give a hint of corn flavor and a nice texture. I left the skins on the plums because they were too gorgeous to remove and once they baked the skins were perfectly soft. We are weeks, if not months away from having these grow locally, but our neighbors to the south are kind enough to ship us their crops until then!
The Parisian Peanut Butter Cup!
Every Halloween when my boys come home with their pillowcases full of candy, I always bargain to get the peanut butter cups. It is my candy weakness, well, one of the many. Chocolate and peanut butter is a great combination, but for some reason not the picture of sophistication. Peanut butter is thought to be something that you spread on bread and serve to kids when you are in a hurry. But, why not use it for something beyond PB&J? Thus: chocolate macarons with peanut butter filling!Read More