PIE DOUGH MADE WITH LEAF LARD – makes the most flavourful and flaky crust


It was an old-fashioned family Sunday dinner.  Roast leg of pork with lovely crackling and deep rich gravy.  Fresh from the garden jewel ruby beets peeled and roasted with brilliant orange carrots.   And for dessert pie with blueberry filling flavoured with just a whisper of cinnamon and lemon .

We were eating our own farm-raised pork.  The pie crust was made with leaf lard I rendered from our pig.  We bowed our heads respectively and thanked our pig for  what it had provided. Very few of us can raise our own meat.  You can however shop farmer’s markets and support small independent butchers for organically raised meat.  Your appreciation for food changes when it does not come plastic-wrapped from the super market.

When I plan  a dinner menu I almost always start at the end.  The dessert!  You always remember the last thing you eat.  I have been on a pie making binge using leaf lard ( the Rolls Royce of lard) as part of the fat in my pastry.   After experimenting using leaf lard in my many  recipes this particular recipe wins the blue ribbon.   Ask your butcher for leaf lard.  It weights about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds  and is the highest grade of lard.  It is obtained from the fat deposit around the kidneys and inside the loin of a pig. It’s ideal for use in baked goods as it has little or no pork flavour.  It is the well-kept secret of pastry chefs around the world.  It is easy to render yourself.

PIE DOUGH MADE WITH LEAF LARD - the most flavourful and flaky crust ever!
: pastry dough
Cuisine: baking
: 8
The most flavourful and flaky crust you have made. It will change your pie making life.
  • 2 1/12 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbs vanilla flavour sugar (see chef's notes following)
  • 6 ounces very cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 2 ounces very cold rendered leaf lard (or vegetable shortening)
  • ¼ to ½ cup ice water.
  1. This recipe uses a food processor. See chef's notes following for alternative method.
  2. Whisk your flour,salt and sugar in a metal bowl and put into your freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Put the bowl and cutting blade of your food processor in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Fill your 1 cup liquid measuring cup with ice cubes and water and store in refrigerator. You want the water VERY cold.
  5. Put your butter and leaf lard in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you are ready to proceed with the recipe.
  6. Add the butter to the flour mixture in the food processor. Using the pulse button process the butter just until you have a few large lumps of butter left. Do not over process. As you continue the recipe the large lumps will continue to break down.
  7. Add the leaf lard and pulse briefly. Do not overmix.
  8. Add the very cold water all at once. Pulse just until absorbed.
  9. Turn out the mixture into a large bowl. Squeeze the dough. If it easily forms a ball it is done.
  10. Form into two balls. One slightly smaller that the other (this will be the top crust). The pastry may look a little ragged.
  11. Press the balls into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. The dough will be a little crumbly.
  12. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before you are ready to roll it out.
  13. Roll out your dough. If you find it sticking avoid adding too much flour by rolling your dough between two sheets of parchment paper.
  14. To assemble your pie
  15. Drape your dough into your pie plate leaving a ¾ inch overhang and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  16. Roll out your top dough between two parchment paper sheets, put on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  17. Assemble your pie with your filling and crimp the pastry edges together.
  18. Preheat oven to 400F.
  19. Place your pie on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and bake in the lower one-third of your oven for to 20 minutes or until the pie starts to brown slightly.
  20. Reduce heat to 350F continue baking for 30 to 35 minutes until the crust is a dark caramel colour and the fruit is bubbling around the edges and through the slits in the top.
  21. Let the pie cool before serving.



When I am baking I remove seeds from the vanilla bean for my recipe.  I put the bean into a jar with a couple of cups of sugar and give it a good shake.  Let the sugar sit for 2 weeks to attain peak flavour before using it.  Keep adding more sugar to the jar as you use it.  One vanilla bean will last through several jars of sugar.

The secret to making perfect pastry with leaf lard(or vegetable shortening) is to have all the ingredients very very cold.  Leaf lard and vegetable shortening become warm faster than butter.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

To make this pastry by hand whisk your flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender or two forks cut in the butter and lard making sure to leave some chunks of butter the size of peas.  Stir the ice water into the flour mixture until a ball forms.  work quickly and do not over mix.  For the mixture into two disks.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.



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I consider this the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever made.   AND THE EASIEST!!  I have been making pumpkin pie for more than fifty years of Thanksgivings.  Trying various recipes.  One that almost made the best pumpkin pie had pecans and a super sweet topping.  But this recipe tops them all.   Sweetened condensed milk  creates a delicate yet rich,  creamy texture.    An intriguing combination of spices is perfectly matched to the pumpkin flavour.    The filling is easy as pie (so to speak) to make.

If pastry making is not your forte use a gingersnap or a graham waffer crust or try my favorite pie crust.  The secret to the perfect pumpkin pie (which is a custard) is to ALWAYS blind-bake your pastry.  You’ll eliminate soggy crusts.  Use canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling).  And this is one time that canned is better than fresh (unless you have access to sweet pie pumpkins).

: dessert
: 8
The easiest most flavorful of pumpkin pie fillings. Use either a pastry or crumb crust. Both are delicious.
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Whisk eggs in a medium size bowl
  3. Whisk in condensed milk
  4. Stir in in pumpkin until well blended.
  5. Stir in spices and salt.
  6. Pour into baked pie crust
  7. Bake pie at 400 F. for 20 minutes then turn down heat to 350 F
  8. Bake 40 minutes at 350 F or until thin knife blade inserted comes out clean.
  9. Garnish with whipped cream or serve with ice cream


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We all love appetizer recipes that go together quickly and have easily obtainable ingredients –  preferably already in your pantry.  Rillettes de Sardines (sardine pâté)  fills the bill to a T.

I found this recipe in a cookbook by David Lebovitz – My Paris Kitchen.   I’ve tweaked the recipe giving it an extra punch of flavour.  The main  ingredients are canned sardines,  cream cheese and unsalted butter .   Mash this up and add some scallions, capers, lime juice and Sriracha hot sauce.  The results are divine.  Even better the next day!  This recipe is easily doubled.

: appetizer
: 4 servings
An easy to make appetizer using canned sardines, cream cheese, butter and seasonings.
  • ⅓ cup(1.5 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 ( 3 /4 oz/115 g) can sardines
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons capers drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • A dash of Sriracha hot chili sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Mash together the cream cheese and butter with a fork until smooth and well blended.
  2. Drain the sardines.
  3. Add the sardines to the cream cheese mixture and mix well.
  4. Add the scallions, capers, lime juice, salt, a generous grind of black pepper and a dash of Sriracha hot chili sauce. Taste and add more salt, lime juice or Sriracha sauce if desired.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let your rillettes rest quietly in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 4 hours.
  6. Rillettes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Let come to room temperature before serving with crackers, a baguette, or thin slices of toasted French bread.

I serve Rillettes de Sardines with toasted rounds of french bread.  I cut the slices very thin.  Brown them on both sides under the broiler.  Rub a clove of garlic on the crisp rounds then brush them with olive oil. Sublime






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Cecilia B.W. Gunther with Melissa Hassard




Sixty eight women wrote this anthology about menopause.    They wrote  from the heart.  They bared their souls.  They shared their most intimate thoughts.  They did this for Cecilia Gunther who asked them to join The Fellowship and help her explain menopause to her younger sister.

 Celi or Miss C. is the mistress of The Farmy.    She takes you into her world with engrossing stories of life on her tiny farm in the blog THE KITCHEN GARDENS.   We who daily follow Miss C. wrote comments about our experience with menopause.  This was the beginning of what is now the book LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER.

Today my copy of  LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER arrived from Miss C.  I started reading the first letter. Then the second letter.  I realized I was holding my breath.    Their honesty was defying. Deliberate.  Nothing held back.

LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER is a book every women should read and then share with the men and women they love.  I read the book in one sitting.  I have given the book to my daughter-in-law.   LETTERS FOR MY LITTLE SISTER will help her.

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IMG_1561LEAF LARD  . . .  the crème de la crème  of lard.

This summer my neighbor and I  decided to raise our own pork.  We loved the idea that we would know exactly what we were eating.  We were taking the consumption of  organic meat to the ultimate level.

What was not expected was the opportunity to obtain organic leaf lard. The very highest grade of lard.  There’s about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds per pig and it comes from the area around the kidney.  Once it is rendered it is snow white, odorless and the cleanest fat.  The crème de la crème of lard.

It has always been known by the cognoscenti of pie makers that lard makes the flakiest pastry.  Bakers use it for light biscuits and tender cakes.   It produces flakier crusts than butter.  Butter begins to melt into the dough at a lower temperature; even the small amount of water present in butter may cause the dough particles to stick to one another – rather than separate into layers that constitute flaky pastry.

Naturally rendered lard is mostly monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic fatty acid which is very healthy and great to use in almost any recipe that calls for fats. Butter is primarily a saturated fat.  Lard by percentage is primarily an unsaturated fat.  Lard is lower in fat and cholesterol that butter.

Using your favorite pie recipe and the combination of half butter half lard for the fat  results in flaky pastry with butter flavour.

You can purchase rendered leaf lard at quality butchers.   You should be able to purchase leaf lard  to render your self from butchers who specialize in farm-gate meat cutting .

Rendering leaf lard at home  is a simple, uncomplicated process but you do have to commit yourself to time in the kitchen.  You don’t need an special equipment.   An instant read thermometer, a large pan to hold the lard,  a long wooden spoon to stir the lard, cheesecloth, a strainer and wide mouth canning jars.

IMG_1551Chop the leaf lard as fine as possible..  You can also grind the lard (or you may have purchased it ground).  Spread it into a generous sized pan and put it into a 300F. oven.

IMG_1552The secret to perfectly rendered leaf lard is long, slow cooking at a low temperature.  Stir the lard about every 20 minutes or so.  As the lard melts it raises the temperature of the melted fat.  Check the temperature using an instant read thermometer .  Remove when the temperature reads  250F.  It is important you do not over-cook your lard.  Depending on how much leaf lard you are rendering this could take 3 to 6 hours.

IMG_1553Let cool briefly and ladle the melted lard and the crackling into a strainer lined with a double thickness of cheese cloth.  Carefully remove the strainer and set the crackling aside.

IMG_1555 Ladle the melted leaf lard into large mouth canning jars.  Be cautious at all times when working with hot oil.  Small children should be kept away from your work area.


When cool refrigerate.  The golden  lard will turn firm and snowy white.  Leaf lard will keep several months in the refrigerate and up to two years in your freezer.

The crackling left over in this process is a delicious and decadent treat.  Saute it with sea salt, a little onion powder and a few red pepper flakes (or any seasoning of your choice) and serve warm.

CHEF NOT:  If you have a slow cooker you can use it to  render a small amount of leaf lard.  It is important to keep the temperature low and stir frequently.  Monitor the temperature (using an instant read thermometer)  carefully as small amounts of leaf lard can be rendered in a short time  – an hour or two.

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I have a magic  zucchini factory in the garden.   One minute beautiful yellow flowers, then POOF elegant slender zucchini.

.  They can be served as an hors d’oeuvre or a starter course.  They don’t need a sauce.  Simply sprinkle some flaky sea salt and crumbled feta cheese on top of these crispy darlings.

Have enough oil in you pan, and the pan at the correct temperature to saute these fritters to a perfect crispness.





: appetiser
: 4
Keftedes can be made with tomatoes, chickpeas, ground meat, and zucchini. They can be served as an hors d'oeuvre or a starter course. They don't need a sauce. Sprinkle some salt and crumbled feta on top
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 generous tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1½ tbsp chopped fresh dill,
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 generous tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 fat garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (be generous)
  • 4 ounces (around 1 cup) feta cheese, coarsely chopped or crumbled
  • Grated zest of l lemon
  • l large egg
  • ¼ cup (or more if required) all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, for pan-frying
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (if desired for garnish)
  • Fine sea salt, for finishing
  1. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a grater onto a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and let it rest while you gather and prep the remaining ingredients.
  2. Wrap the zucchini in the towel and wring as much liquid out of it as possible, discarding the liquid.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, mint, parsley, dill, onion, garlic, pepper, feta, and all but l teaspoon of the lemon zest.
  4. Stir in the egg and flour and mix until well combined. If your mixture seems to have a little too much liquid add additional flour.
  5. Put the canola oil into a large shallow pan; you want about ¼ inch or enough so that when all the fritters are in the pan, the oil comes halfway up their sides. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Form fritters by hand or using a ¼ cup measure, and fry them in the hot oil in batches. Cook until the fritters are golden brown on each side, 4 to 6 minutes in total. Drain on paper towels.
  7. Trans the fritters to a plate and garnish with a dollop of
  8. Green yogurt and a sprinkling of dill, the reserved lemon zest, and some sea salt.


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