THAI RED CURRY WITH CHICKEN AND GREEN BEANS

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  The dog days of August.  Hot, gritty,  rift with boring burgers.   Chicken masquerading as burnt offering.      Over-done steaks.  Our heart and soul cries out for something different.  A little exotic.     A culinary creation that has your taste … Continue reading

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CHERRY CLAFOUTI . . . CLAFOUTI AUX CERISES

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One has a rather small window to make this classic French dessert.     It’s a bit of a waiting game.  First you wait patiently for the first of the dark, sweet cherries to make their grand appearance.    I shop almost daily … Continue reading

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LEMON BUNDT CAKE . . . A STUNNING CAKE WITH THREE LAYERS OF LUSCIOUS LEMON

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If dreams were make of cake it would be this stunning  LEMON BUNDT CAKE.   I love any dessert made with lemon  – tarts, bars, loaves, cookies.   This cake is at the very top of my list of favorite lemon … Continue reading

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CLASSIC SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE

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  This is the type of sour cream coffee cake you’ll make over and over again.  You’ll love the way it’s heavenly cinnamon  smell will fill your kitchen.   It has a beautifully  tender and fine crumb.  It keeps very … Continue reading

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HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

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This is a dream of a cake to make.  Just two bowls, one for the wet ingredients and one for the dry.  If you don’t have a standing mixer you can make the out-of-this world cream cheese icing in your … Continue reading

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THE OUTRAGEOUS OATMEAL COOKIE . . . with walnuts, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate

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There are those days when you want to bite into an oatmeal cookie that’s a little over the top.   A  superlative chewy cookie with just the right amount of  old fashioned rolled oats, nuts, chocolate and fruit.  A cookie with … Continue reading

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CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER . . . a.k.a. Picnic Chicken . . . POULET GRILLE A LA DIABLE

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My recipe for CHICKEN WITH MUSTARD AND RED PEPPER is a riff on a recipe by Patricia Wells.  Her book, THE PARIS COOKBOOK.  To read or cook from it  is pure delight.   I use French Dijon and coarse-grain French Dijon, … Continue reading

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OLD FASHIONED CHERRY ALMOND CAKE

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  The most loved, most used  of all my many baking cookbooks is tattered, torn, mended and scribbled.  More than fifty years ago it came free with a bag of Robin Hood Flour.     I adore anything  baked with cherries.  This … Continue reading

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CHEDDAR AND GRUYERE CRACKERS . . . Frozen assets for holiday entertaining.

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I like to make a splash  with holiday hors d’oeuvres.     Step out of the ordinary.  Conjure up the unexpected.   There is nothing more wonderful.  Nothing more special than freshly baked homemade crackers.  These are a snap to make.    A double dose of sharp cheese makes addictive crackers then don’t even need a topping.  Just whip up a handful of ingredients.  Pop them in the freezer and  slice off rounds whenever you want to serve freshly baked crackers.

They may seem like the last thing you have time for during the holidays but the dough for these savory slice-and-bake comes together in minutes.  Make a batch or double the recipe for a bigger stash.  You won’t regret it.

Dear friends, you know how I love to gild the lily.  These crackers take beautifully to hits of hot red pepper jelly or pungent blue cheese.  A little Brie or Gouda topped with a wafer thin slice of Granny Smith apple would go down treat.

Serve your wondrous cracker creations with glass of bubbly on New Year’s Eve.  You’ll be the toast of the town!

 

CHEDDAR-AND-GRUYERE CRACKERS
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Cuisine: Sophisticated
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Homemade crackers are an extraordinary treat! You can make them ahead then slice and bake them for on the spot holiday entertaining. The dough keeps in the freezer for 3 months.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp poppy seeds plus more for topping
  • 2 tbs (1 oz.) cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup (2 oz) FINELY grated Gruyere
  • ¼ cup (or more) whole milk
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard.
Instructions
  1. Whisk together milk and mustard and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and poppy seeds.
  3. Work in butter with fingers until crumbly.
  4. Add the cheeses and mix with your fingers, breaking apart any clumps of cheese.
  5. Stir in the milk into the flour mixture with a fork until dough comes together.. Depending on the humidity you may require a little more milk to completely bind the mixture together.
  6. Shape the dough into a 2-inch-wide log.
  7. Wrap in the plastic and gently roll back and forth to shape it.
  8. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes then freeze for 1 hour or up to 3 months. If your crackers have been in the freezer for any lengthy time allow the frozen dough to stand at room temperature for around 30 minutes or so before slicing.
  9. Preheat oven to 350F.
  10. Cut log into ⅛-inch-thick rounds and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.
  11. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  12. Bake rotating sheets front to back once until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes. You want the crackers to be on the crispy sides so do not underbake.
  13. Let crackers cool on a wire rack.

 

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Posted in Appetizers and Starters, Baking, Christmas Food Ideas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EASY AS PIE . . . a no-fail pastry recipe

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It is every baker’s dream.  The ability to whip up the perfect pie with a crust so  light and flaky and  delicious you chase the last crumbs around your dessert plate.    There’s more than a baker’s dozen way of making pie crust.     They all require a certain level of skill and more than a modicum of knowledge of the various types of pastry required for specific pie fillings.

Here is “the little black dress” of pie crusts.  It is suitable for almost every filling.  It is superb for savory pies and fruit pies.   Single crust pies like lemon meringue.   Chicken pot pie or steak and kidney pie.  Hand pies and tarts.  And best of all follow the recipe faithfully and you should be rewarded with perfect pie crust!

This is the secret to perfect pie crust every time.  The flour, butter, shortening, and water most all be VERY cold.  Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer before rolling.  And  finally,  don’t stretch the dough when you’re placing it into the pan.

One of the most popular fruit pie to make is apple.  The secret to eliminating the  gap between the apple filling and the baked pie crust is to toss your sliced apples with sugar and let it macerate while your pie crust rests.  Then add the thickener, spices and butter before putting your pie together.

You can prepare the dough ahead.  Form it into two balls, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes two  9-inch crusts.

Bake according to your pie recipe.

 

PERFECT PIE CRUST.
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Ingredients
  • 6 ounces (1½ sticks) VERY COLD unsalted butter cut into ½-inch dice
  • 2½ ounces (1/3 cup) VERY COLD vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, diced
  • 3 cups VERY COLD all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (eliminate for savory pies)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup (or more if needed) ice water
Instructions
  1. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade (I like to put the steel blade in the freezer ahead of time). Pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Ad the butter and shortening and pulse 10 to 12 times until the butter is the size of peas(fat peas).
  3. With the machine running pour the water down the feed tube and PULSE the machine just until the water is mixed into the flour. Depending on the humidity you may require a little extra water.
  4. Turn the loose dough out onto a lightly floured board and using a bench scraper or your hands, gather it into a ball.
  5. Cut the ball in half and pat it into flat discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Roll each piece out on a well-floured board into a 12 to 13 inch circle. Roll from the center to the edge, turning a quarter with each roll, flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. A long metal spatula slipped under the pastry is very useful for this maneuver
  7. Roll half the dough over your rolling pin and position it on the pie plate.

 

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