Treat yourself with some cobbler

I figured it’s the appropriate time of year to make a cobbler. In fact, I think it’s only because my sweetie now does the shopping for us that I haven’t stopped to stare at the summer produce and be reminded sooner.

Peach and blackberry cobbler ingredients.

Since I didn’t grow up with a family cobbler recipe—our desserts tended to be store-bought cookies—every time I make it, I go searching for anything that strikes my fancy. This time, I happened to be going through Taste of Home when I came across a recipe from an Iowan. (Yay!)

I was intrigued but was ultimately won over when the recipe included my two favorite summer fruits: peaches and blackberries (it was actually a berry mix but blackberries were listed first, and honestly, I just made it with blackberries).

Plus, it had cardamom, and I almost never have excuses to use this most exciting of spices.

I may have overdone it by adding a full 1 t. of cardamom when the recipe called for just ¼ t., but I *really* like it, so I didn’t mind and my sweetie has been enjoying bowlfuls for breakfast (don’t judge!) alongside me without complaint. My other adaptation was using lemon zest in place of orange zest in the topping, and that worked well for my tastes as well.

I also went ahead and used my Le Creuset that measures 9 in. not 10 in., as the recipe called for. It all fit like a charm, though the liquid did bubble over a little in the oven and we got the delightful aroma of burnt sugar. Not the worst deal but perhaps a 10 in. skillet is the wiser course.

There’s fruit underneath all that, I promise!

Here’s what I did, adapting slightly:

Ingredients

For the fruit mix

  • ½ c. sugar
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ to 1 t. ground cardamom, to taste
  • 6 c. peaches (6 to 8 peaches), sliced
  • 2 c. blackberries (about 12 oz./two small containers)
  • Juice from ½ lemon

For the topping

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ¾ t. baking powder
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ t. baking soda
  • 3 T. cold butter
  • ¾ c. buttermilk
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

Directions 

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Add the peaches, blackberries, and lemon juice. Toss to combine, and then transfer to a 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet (10-inch probably preferred).

In a medium bowl, bring together the first six topping ingredients (flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, and baking soda). Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk, and stir until just moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls over the fruit mixture.

Bake uncovered until topping is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!

 

Don’t be a nutter, try this fluffernutter pie

Remember how a few weeks ago I talked about my adventures with a peanut butter and jelly pie, and my excitement to adapt it?

Well, I couldn’t wait.

My sweetie suggested a fluffernutter pie, and I had to know how it’d work as an adaptation.

Fluffernutter pie with pretzel crust ingredients.

Another thing I wanted to try was a pretzel crust. The sweetness and the salt sounded exciting, and tasty. I thought the extra sweet fluffernutter would be the perfect test vehicle for my salty crust.

So, in (very technical) science terms, I added some extra variables, but the constant from the peanut butter and jelly pie was the center peanut butter filling.

The first variable I thought I had tried before, mixing marshmallow cream into whipped cream. I had not; in past instances, I’d mixed the marshmallow with meringue as a delightful way to “toast” the marshmallow in a S’mores pie and a Thanksgiving sweet potato pie. This time, though, I wanted an icebox pie, no cooking beyond the crust required. So, it was a test. Does whipped cream folded into marshmallow cream work? It resoundingly does.

The second variable I was more confident in, as I’ve already made a saltine crust earlier this year and, in theory, crushed pretzels aren’t that different from crushed graham crackers. The pretzels took a little more pounding, but otherwise, it was much the same as the graham cracker/saltine crusts. So again, it was a test, but I was less surprised when this was also a resounding success.

Even better, it all came together great. It was, like the last pie, the perfect adaptation of the original favorite sandwich, just sweetening the deal a little. (My sweetie has next suggested a Take 5 pie … I might take him up on it, but I might also take 5 *wink* on repeating a peanut butter pie every month.)

Salt, sweet, marshmallow, peanut butter, perfection.

Here’s what I did, adapting the peanut butter and jelly pie Taste of Home recipe from last month:

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ c. pretzel crumbs (I’d estimate I used about 3 c. of pretzel twists and then pounded the sh*t out of them with a meat tenderizer)
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the pie:

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ c. peanut butter (I went with creamy for the pie, even though I like crunchy, but you do you)

For the topping: 

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 7 oz. marshmallow fluff

Directions

For the crust:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the ingredients in a medium bowl, and then press them into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch skillet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.

For the pie: 

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Spoon into cooled pretzel crust. Top with whipped topping (directions below).

For the topping: 

Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the marshmallow fluff into the whipped cream.

To finish: 

Place the whipped topping on top of the pie. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, and enjoy!

Peanut butter jelly pie, peanut butter jelly pie

I can’t be the only one in these times who’s been reverting back to things that are comforting, while also somewhat ironically enjoying the chance to do things I’ve never done.

Some examples: I’ve recently rediscovered my love of Iron Chef: America, while also enjoying the fantasy dread and panic (as opposed to the real life dread and panic) of American Horror Story. I’ve dyed my hair (and donning a mask when I interact with other people), but I’m also wearing the same handful of outfits week in and week out.

This week’s recipe is very much in line with this new Christinia-in-the-time-of-Covid.

I made a peanut butter & jelly pie. All the comforts of a PB&J from my youth and the joy of making pie but made into something I’ve never had before.

PB&J pie ingredients.

I’ll admit my initial taste was one of mild disappointment, as the peanut butter and cream cheese had the familiar mouthfeel as a PB&J with a tad too much peanut butter where you have to use your tongue to break it up. I suggested — and am still considering for future alternative uses — mixing the peanut butter mixture with the whipped cream that goes on top.

However, upon tasting my second slice, I realized the simple fact that the pie really brings everything that’s great about a PB&J into a pie and doesn’t need my additional tweaking. I’ve enjoyed more slices since then and think it works wonderful as is.

I do think it’ll be worth trying to fold in the whipped cream at some point, and maybe trying it with something chocolatey, or as my sweetie suggested making a sort of fluffernutter. I’m still considering my options but suffice to say this simple, familiar dish has opened up whole new worlds for me.

Quick note: I went ahead and homemade my crust so that I could make it in my little Le Creuset, and I homemade my own whipped cream because it’s just so much better. But if you don’t have the energy in these times to make this, just remember you can save some time and energy by getting those items premade, at which point it’s basically just mixing the peanut butter center and topping with the jelly of your choice. No judgement from me.

Ooh aah.

Here’s what I did, using a Taste of Home recipe, with some alterations for my homemade crust and topping:

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • Pinch of salt

For the pie:

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ c. peanut butter (I went with creamy for the pie, even though I typically like crunchy, but you do you)
  • ½ c. strawberry preserves (any flavor will work if you like it in a PB&J but this seemed perfect for the nostalgia I craved)

For the topping: 

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. sugar
  • Salted peanuts, for topping (optional)

Directions

For the crust:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the ingredients in a medium bowl, and then press them into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch skillet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.

For the pie center: 

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Spoon into cooled crust. Top with the preserves (I thought it’d be too messy, but it actually works.).

For the topping: 

Beat together the heavy cream and sugar.

To finish: 

Place the whipped topping on top of the pie, and peanuts if using. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, and enjoy!

Time for a slice of heaven

It’s a little early to be breaking out the icebox pies, but life’s too short (especially now) to wait for summer.

So, I took the chance in mid-April to enjoy some strawberry lemonade.

Thanks to the delightful series of pies I discovered on Taste of Home (I will be making more), I got to enjoy this wonderfully simple, extremely tasty pink lemonade pie.

Pink lemonade pie ingredients.

All the more delightful, and new to me, it was made with a saltine crust. Just a sleeve and a half of saltines, a bit of sugar, and some melted butter; it’s like a graham cracker crust only salty and savory and extra sumptuous. I will be using it again, in both savor and sweet pies.

Like most icebox pies, this was quick and easy. You’ll likely still need to brave the grocery store for some of the ingredients, though many items are household staples. Namely, most of us—I don’t think—have 2 packages of cream cheese, unflavored gelatin, or 2 cups of (frozen or fresh) strawberries on hand.

However, with just a handful of extra ingredients, a little work, and a few hours of waiting, you’ll be able to have a little slice of heaven, even in self-isolation.

Pink, pretty, perfect.

Here’s what I did, following the recipe with the exception of a little extra lemon:

Ingredients

  • ~60 saltine crackers (about a sleeve and a half), coarsely crushed
  • 1 c. sugar, divided
  • 1 stick (½ c.) butter, melted
  • 2 c. sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen)
  • Juice from 1 lemon (~2 T.)
  • Zest from 1 lemon (~2 t.)
  • ¼ c. cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ c. heavy whipping cream

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir to combine the crushed crackers, ¼ c. sugar, and the stick of melted butter. Use the bottom of a glass or your hands or something flat-bottomed to press the saltine crust into and up the sides of a 9-inch skillet. Bake until set and golden at the edges, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine strawberries, ½ c. sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the cold water, and let stand 5 minutes. When ready, transfer the strawberry mixture to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Microwave the gelatin mixture for about 10 seconds, and then stir into the strawberry mixture.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and the last ¼ c. of sugar together until smooth. Gradually add in the cream, and then the strawberry mixture. Beat until well combined.

Pour the filling into the crust, and refrigerate covered until set, at least 2 hours and up to overnight, and then enjoy!!

Medium-shelf margarita cheesecake

One of the greatest — and most me — gifts I ever got was a cookbook called Booze Cakes.

As its name suggests, it’s cakes made with booze. Shocking, I know. It could have been just a novelty, but it actually has some great cake recipes, and ones that have clever ways of adapting classic alcoholic drinks into a cake.

Among my favorites are eggnog cupcakes. They have the eggnog ingredients in the cake, of course, but the cupcakes also have their centers cut out, and topped with a rummy eggnog pudding and a rummy whipped topping, that makes them actually resemble little cups filled with eggnog. Their tea cakes become Long Island ice tea cakes.

What I’m saying is, it’s inventive, and tasty.

Yet, even after the many years I’ve had it, I still haven’t tried them all, and I do tend to stick to my favorites. This year offers a chance to try some more. Even though, as cake, most recipes call for either a springform pan, or a pair of 9-inch pans, I figured this year is about making the most of what you have so I would give my little Le Creuset a shot.

I started easy enough, with a margarita cheesecake.

Margarita cheesecake ingredients.

Or so, I thought.

While (spoiler alert!) the end result was still amazingly tasty and did manage to taste like both margaritas and cheesecake, the vessel was not as ideal as it seemed. I think partially because I pre-baked the crust too near the bottom of the oven but also because cast iron cooks hotter, much of the wonderful cornmeal crust stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Then, a 9-inch springform is a little different than a 9-inch pie plate so I ended up having way too much filling compared to the area I had left to fill.

I made a second all cheesecake bake but haven’t dared eat it yet so it will likely almost all go to waste. I guess what I’m saying is this might still be OK if not ideal for a cast iron (given the way it holds heat) but it’d work better in a 10-inch skillet than a little 9-inch braiser.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it again, because that cornmeal crust and the lime flavor (with a dash of tequila and triple sec) was just too good to only have once.

A note on the booze: I’m not much for buying top-shelf stuff to use for cooking even though the recipe was technically called a top-shelf margarita cheesecake. I’m cheap and already pay for good whiskey, so I went with what I’m calling the medium-shelf level. Kind of like the Medium Place, there are worse tequilas and triple secs, but I couldn’t talk myself into the good stuff. Besides, I’m no tequila aficionado so mediocre is fine by me. And it all worked out fine so don’t stress if you want to go cheap; the flavors will mix just fine without splurging on the good stuff (unless you really want to!).

TEQUILA!

Here’s what I did (following the recipe, except the garnishes, even though it is a little off for a 9-inch pie plate/braiser):

Ingredients 

For the crust: 

  • 1 stick (½ c.) unsalted butter (plus more for coating pan)
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ t. salt (about a hefty pinch)

For the cheesecake filling: 

  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese (I softened mine but the recipe doesn’t specifically call for it)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. tequila
  • 2 T. triple sec
  • Zest of 1 lime (the recipe called for zest of half a lime, but I really like lime flavor)

For the whipped cream: 

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 T. fresh lime juice
  • 2 T. tequila
  • 2 T. triple sec

Directions 

For the crust: 

Heat oven to 350 and grease the bottom and sides of a 9- to 10-inch skillet (or other container as appropriate).

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add flour, cornmeal, and salt, and mix to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides as much as possible, and bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool.

For the cheesecake filling: 

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Then, add in the lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and lime zest, and stir or beat to combine.

Pour mixture over the cooled crust, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the filling is cooked through (still at 350 degrees). Remove from oven once done and let cool for about an hour; then, refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For the whipped cream: 

In a mixing bowl, combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar, lime juice, tequila, and triple sec, starting on low speed but gradually increasing until peaks form.

To finish: 

Spread the margarita cream on top of the chilled cheesecake, and enjoy (preferably with a good, homemade classic margarita)!

Bread and bourbon for the holiday

I was looking for a nice and light dessert to make for this holiday weekend, and instead came up with one of the heavier things I could have selected. I couldn’t help it. I was inspired by last week’s recipe and its abundant use of bread in the Dutch oven.

You guessed it, I made a bread pudding.

Bourbon pecan bread pudding ingredients.

Even better, it has bourbon and pecans, two of my favorite dessert ingredients. I’m a sucker for a bourbon pecan pie every Thanksgiving, so I couldn’t resist.

The recipe also gave me a good excuse to track down where I could find challah in Ames, and an opportunity to learn that the average loaf of bread is equal to one pound. (The recipe called for a pound, and I had no idea how to guess the weight of a loaf; turns out it’s pretty easy to find.)

It all turned out perfectly, and bonus, I got a whole bunch of mostly egg white scrambled eggs as the recipe called for a ton of only egg yolks.

Bread pudding so good it’ll make you challah!

Here’s what I did, mostly following the recipe in my Cook It In Your Dutch Oven cookbook:

Ingredients 

Bread pudding

  • 1 loaf/1 lb. challah bread chopped or torn into 1 in. chunks (preferably slightly staled)
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 2 ½ c. whole milk
  • 2 ½ c. heavy cream
  • ¾ c. brown sugar, packed, plus 2 T., divided
  • ½ c. bourbon
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • ¾ t. salt
  • ½ t. cardamom (optional)
  • ½ c. pecans, chopped

Sauce

  • 7 T. heavy cream
  • ½ c. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 ½ T. butter
  • 2 T. bourbon

Directions

In the Dutch oven, mix together the bread pudding ingredients: milk, cream, egg yolks, ¾ c. brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, salt, and cardamom, if using. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is well combined. Fold in the bread chunks, and let sit for about 30 minutes to let the bread absorb the milk-egg mixture (stirring halfway through).

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

After the half-hour, top the mixture with the pecans and sprinkle on the 2 T. brown sugar. Bake in the oven, uncovered, until center is set, about 50 to 70 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by melting the remaining sugar with the 7 T. heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture boils, remove from heat, and add the butter and bourbon. Stir to combine.

When the pudding is ready, let cool slightly, stir the sauce mixture again, serve with sauce, and enjoy! Happy Labor Day weekend!!

My favorite mistake

I’m going to say right up front that I forked this one up royally from beginning to end. So, I can’t say that it was a great recipe, but I do think that it’s salvageable, as in, the blame lies with me.

And, to be honest, I still had a lot of fun making it.

It’s been a stressful week, and I came home grumpy. But once I started to make this week’s poppy seed streusel and listening to podcasts about “Doctor Who” (*nerd alert*), I felt immensely better. I didn’t even really care that I was forking up.

Streusel ingredients. Notably not pictured is the milk I should have used.

I have loved my Amy Thielen “The New Midwestern Table” cookbook, so the fact that this recipe didn’t turn out I think is a fluke. I have made a lot of things from it, including hand pies this year.

And, seriously, it has a butt-ton of butter, sugar, and flour, so it should have been perfect.

Also, while her recipe said to bake for a half hour, I knew it looked done about 7 minutes early, and instead of trusting my gut, I let it go for another 5.

So, the fact that it’s hard as a rock, is on me.

Then, the second page of the recipe really spends a lot of time on the importance of grinding the poppy seeds well. This was after I had, uh, not done that. See, I bought a bunch of cream and figured there was not harm in replacing whole milk with cream. Except that, obviously, cream whips quite quickly. So, when I mixed them together in the blender, there was whipped cream well before poppy seed broke and bruised.

I made up for it by adding water instead of more cream later … but the damage (or lack thereof to the poppy seeds) was done.

So, the fact that the poppy seeds are intact and the innards of the streusel didn’t turn out as expected, is also on me.

Again, though, it was an adventure to make, and I’m pretty sure if I follow the recipe, and trust my gut, I’ll nail it next time.

It doesn’t look that bad until you noticed the blackened edges and that that ain’t *lightly* golden.

Here’s what I did. Actually, scratch that, here’s what I should have done:

Ingredients

  • ¾ c. poppy seeds
  • ¾ c. whole milk (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 3 c. sugar, divided
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 2 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 3 sticks butter (the recipe calls for salted; I used un- so hopefully that didn’t mess things up), and more for coating the pan, all at room temperature

Directions

Combine poppy seeds and MILK in a blender and process on high until the poppy seeds have broken down down. Add the raisins, 1 c. sugar, the cream, and the vinegar. Process until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a medium skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir often to prevent it from sticking, and continue reducing heat to keep the mixture at a slow bubble. Keep cooking until the mixture thickens to like jam, about 30 minutes. I’d say a little less but that might just be because I overcooked the thing from top to bottom in the oven.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees, and lightly butter a 9-inch by 13-inch sheet pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 2 c. sugar, salt, and the butter. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until well combined, and the mixture holds its shape when squeezed together.

Scoop 5 loose cups of the butter mixture onto the sheet pan, and use your hands to spread evenly, and then gently press down. Bake for about 10 minutes, and then let cool for about 10 minutes.

Then, pour the poppy seed mixture on top, and spread until smooth. Then squeeze the remaining butter mixture on top of the poppy seed mix to make decorative nuggets, leaving some space for the filling to show through.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until LIGHTLY golden brown, *checking often*, and then cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Enjoy, if you got this far and succeeded!

 

Sweet simple sumptuous scones

A week late but I found the perfect “I don’t have time for this” sheet pan recipe.

The good news is it’s been another hectic week that meant I also didn’t have a lot of time to make something this week either; the bad news is, well, it’s been another hectic week. Please someone older than me tell me that life gets less stressful eventually.

Since I’m doubtful that someone will reach out to me, I’ll take solace in the fact that simple sumptuous scones exist and help make life worth living.

Lavender scone ingredients.

Lavender and lemon combine to make the perfect airy, floral, summery breakfast.

And as I might have mentioned, they’re fairly simple.

I’m not super picky when it comes to scones, and one of my favorites is Betty Crocker’s, but these had a nice fluffy texture that made it almost cake-like, while not really having more sugar than any other scone. They were a delight, and I’m absolutely sure I’ll make them again. I might even try to change it up and use different flavors, like my favorite raspberry and white chocolate chip.

Three quick notes:

  • The recipe calls for 2 sheet pans. I almost didn’t but decided to trust the recipe, especially since it’s from the the typically trustworthy Epicurious, and I’m glad I did. The scones don’t look so big but they expand, so use 2 sheet pans or bake in batches.
  • It also suggests serving with store-bought lemon curd. While lemon curd is a treat and does go well with the scones, lavender is such a subtle flavor that the lemon tends to overpower it, especially when lemon zest is already in the scones. So, use with that warning or feel free to pass if you love lavender.
  • Lavender made sound hard to come by, but my favorite spice shop Allspice in Des Moines has lavender flowers, and they ship if you can’t get to Iowa’s capital. And, if you don’t want to include them, I’m sure they’d be OK without it, if less exciting.
So delicious they help make bad days better.

Did I mention these were simple and amazing? OK, here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for light kneading
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. dried lavender buds (recipe called for 1 t., but like I said, subtle; I also sprinkled just a few on top of each scone for plating purposes and for a bit more taste, but you do you)
  • 1 t. salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks butter (preferably unsalted), cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 c. buttermilk, plus more for brushing (2-4 T.)
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. demerara sugar, or granulated sugar, for topping
  • Lemon curd, optional and to taste

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees, and arrange racks on upper and lower thirds of oven. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the 3 c. flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, lavender buds, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter, using two knives, your fingers, or a pastry blender. Stir in the lemon zest.

Make a well in the dried ingredients and add the buttermilk and vanilla.

Stir slowly to mix. I found a fork worked really well.

Once a shaggy dough forms, turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead until the dough forms together.

Use your hands to pat into an about 10-inch by 6-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, and then cut each square into four squares. Cut each square into two triangles, so you have 16 triangles of dough.

Divide the triangles between the prepared baking sheets. Brush with the buttermilk and then sprinkle with the additional sugar.

Bake until scones are golden, about 13 to 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature with lemon curd, if desired.

 

Getting back to my roots with a timely rhubarb pie

I had family in town this weekend, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by making a killer rhubarb pie to impress my mom and stepdad and also something that’d fit for my year of sheet pans.

Luckily, I came across a rhubarb crostata (if you didn’t know, and I didn’t, it’s basically a free-form pie) recipe from Food and Wine a few weeks ago and ripped out the recipe to make it for their impending visit.

Rhubarb crostata (pie) ingredients.

It was the perfect time for a lot of reasons, but mostly because my stepdad loves rhubarb and, frankly, so do the rest of us.

While he’s been the most vocal, I learned from Mom this past weekend that she grew up eating the stalks (home-grown) like they were celery and dipping them into a bowl of sugar. And my stepdad loves another rhubarb pie recipe that my sweetie’s mom made him growing up. And, well, I’m not in the habit of making things I won’t enjoy myself as well.

But another reason it was great is because it was so easy.

Sure, like any pie, it took time, but it was small, bite-size bits of active time followed by plenty of down time to do things like go buy the wine or finally eat lunch after a day of cleaning. It was perfect for being impressive and fitting my schedule.

Oh, and it was amazing.

It probably won’t replace the rhubarb custard that was my sweetie’s childhood recipe, but it is quicker and comes with a creamy topping that makes it a reasonable substitute when we’re in a pinch.

So full of filling and flavor. Yummy.

Here’s what I did, sticking close to the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. and 2 T. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 t. salt, divided
  • 1 ½ sticks butter
  • ¼-½ c. ice water
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 2 lbs. fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed, cut into ½-inch pieces, divided
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • ¼ c. chopped candied ginger, chopped (I did a heaping cup because we like ginger too)
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1 egg, mixed with 1 T. water
  • 2 t. demerara sugar
  • 1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 3 T. powdered sugar

Directions

Make the crust: Combine flour, 2 T. granulated sugar, and ¾ t. salt in a medium bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add into the flour mix using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, until pea-size chunks form. Slowly add the ice water and stir until the mixture starts to come together. Pat into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Make the filling: Stir together the remaining 1 c. granulated sugar, the remaining salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add in 2 c. of the rhubarb and the lemon juice, and cook over medium heat stirring frequently. Cook until the mixture has thickened and the rhubarb has broken down (it’ll look like a lumpy jam). The recipe says this takes about 12 minutes; I didn’t time it exactly but it felt like nothing was happening and then it was totally thick, so keep a good eye on it.

Meanwhile, place the remainder of the rhubarb into a large bowl. When the cooked rhubarb mixture is done, pour it over the raw rhubarb. Add the chopped ginger and orange zest, and stir until well combined.

Put together the pie: Unwrap the dough, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 13-14 inches. Transfer to a parchment-paper lined rimmed sheet pan, and cut into a 12-inch round, discarding scraps. Spoon the rhubarb mixture onto the dough, trying to leave about 2 ½ inches around the border; I did less and it was a really full but it worked. Pleat the edges as necessary and press down to secure.

Finish the pie: Brush the dough with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the dough is firm. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The recipe says to cool completely before serving but we liked it better the second day where we re-warmed it, so I’d say cool for an hour or 2 and then enjoy with whipped mascarpone!

Whip mascarpone for serving on top: While the pie cooks, or before serving, mix together the mascarpone cheese, the powdered sugar, and heavy cream. Use a hand blender or a whisk to blend for 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy. Serve on top of the warm pie and enjoy!

Reflections on perfect pairings

This week’s recipe comes courtesy of my cousin’s husband’s family, whatever that relation is called. It melds the flavors of sweet and spicy, a combination I would have been skeptical of and probably never tried if my cousin hadn’t brought it to a recent family gathering.

But I loved the bourbon pecan recipe so much I asked her to pass it along.

Bourbon pecan ingredients; yes, I buy cheap whiskey.

As I made the recipe for the first time this week, it got me thinking about perfect pairings.

One of the more joyous things about growing up is seeing the people you love find their love. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s been wonderful to see the family grow to include these new people into our lives, and marvel as they put up with all of us, especially when we get together.

This is true throughout my immediate family, where my mom, dad, and oldest brother, found partners that complement them so well, and fit them to a T. But it’s also been true for much of my extended family, as well.

And, of course, it’s the case with my cousin Stephanie who shared this recipe and who married her sweetie 10 years ago this summer, just weeks before I met my own sweetie.

Since around that time, the Crippes clan has been trying to have regular get-togethers. At each, our family of foodies has shared our favorite recipes to try to impress one another.

Stephanie is overly kind in praising my contributions (her mom, Sue, however, deservedly gets credit), so she was especially pleased at how much I enjoyed this bourbon pecan recipe.

For my part, I’m just delighted that when she tried it, she thought of us and decided to share. Candied pecans coated in a cayenne spice mix might at first blush seem like they’re going to clash, but trust me, it’s a match made in heaven.

Soooooo good.

Here’s what we did:

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. bourbon (2 shots, or 1/4 cup+2 tbsp.)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Angostura bitters
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. pecans (4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Simmer the bourbon to reduce it by half (3 T.). It happens relatively quickly so I kept a heat-proof measuring cup by the pot to keep checking it didn’t boil down too much.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, bitters, Worcestershire, and oil. Add the warm bourbon. Stir until sugar is nearly dissolved; the nuts will take care of the rest of dissolving if you’re not sure.

Separately, in a large pot, blanch the pecans for 1 minute in boiling water and drain. Add to bourbon mixture and toss, and then let it stand for 10 minutes.

Then, spread the candied nuts on a large rimmed sheet pan, pouring the remaining marinade over them. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.

When the nuts are crisp and lightly browned and the liquid has evaporated, turn nuts into a clean bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, salt, pepper, and cumin and mix well. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the nuts while tossing them.

Turn out onto a clean non stick or foil lined cookie sheet to cool. When cool and dry, store in an airtight container, and enjoy!