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 →
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!
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.
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.
Whisk together milk and mustard and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and poppy seeds.
Work in butter with fingers until crumbly.
Add the cheeses and mix with your fingers, breaking apart any clumps of cheese.
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.
Shape the dough into a 2-inch-wide log.
Wrap in the plastic and gently roll back and forth to shape it.
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.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut log into ⅛-inch-thick rounds and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
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.
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.
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
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.
Ad the butter and shortening and pulse 10 to 12 times until the butter is the size of peas(fat peas).
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.
Turn the loose dough out onto a lightly floured board and using a bench scraper or your hands, gather it into a ball.
Cut the ball in half and pat it into flat discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
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
Roll half the dough over your rolling pin and position it on the pie plate.
It is the attention to detail. The little extra that pushes something over the top that take it from very good to extraordinary. And when that extraordinary itself is truly magnificent you have pure gold. During our restaurant years every … Continue reading →
Cakes lavished with icing appear to be attending a party. They sashay onto your plate with a come-hither look, and you swoon with delight. There’s banana muffins. There’s banana loaf. But the top banana is this old-fashioned banana cake by my favorite cook-book writer, The Barefoot Contessa.
This is a no nonsense, never fail type of cake. A doodle to whip up even if you don’t have a mixer. It has a fine, moist crumb flavoured with orange zest and studded with almonds. And the icing is definitely “the icing on the cake”. Cream cheese frosting and banana cake is a marriage made in kitchen heaven.
This is the cake I make when bringing a dessert to a pot-luck supper. It travels well. It keeps well. You can whip it up a day or so before serving. And it slices beautifully.
THE TOP BANANA CAKE . . . a delicious doodle to make!
Through the halcyon days of summer I plundered the garden for the fattest, juiciest, reddest of red tomatoes. The days shortened. Marine fog drifted across the fields poking destructive fingers into the garden. Time to harvest the tomatoes, ripe or green. The heady fragrance of tomato leaves surrounded me as I filled my basket with these last jewels of summer.The green tomatoes were tucked single layer in closed cardboard boxes. As they changed colour out they came to sit in a bright window. Taking the sun. I had already frozen tomatoes for soups and stews. These tomatoes were to be oven roasted and frozen.
I cut the little cores out. Sliced the tomatoes in half. Placed them in parchment lined pans ( saves scrubbing pans ). The tomatoes were sprinkled with a little coarse sea salt and freshly ground black paper. Then with a breeze of olive oil and graced with whole sprigs of fresh thyme.
Roast the tomatoes at 275F for about five hours. Then increase the oven temperature to 300F for the last hour. Watch these little darlings. The smaller tomatoes will brown faster and should be removed. You don’t want them to become dry and brittle. Toss the dried thyme. Store the tomatoes in plastic freezer containers with layers of parchment papers between the slices. Five pounds of fresh tomatoes will reduce down to about one pound.
It really is like magic! Oven roasted tomatoes on pizza are nothing short of divine. Tossed in pasta dishes they are brilliant shots of colour and flavour. Roasted tomatoes in the humblest of sandwiches takes the sandwich to delicious heights. Or try coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes and goat cheese on a baguette.
This is one of those desserts masquerading as something it is not. It’s baked in a pie plate. It looks like a pie. But it is a delicious, easy peasy cake. The inspiration comes from Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame, one of my most favorite cook-book authors.
This is the cake to whip up when you just can’t face another pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. It’s an absolutely doodle to make. It simply hums along when you serve it with morning coffee. It is so rewarding. Combing tart cranberries and apples with a sweet cake topped with walnuts and cinnamon sugar. Could you ask for anything more? Of course. Top your slice of goodness with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
(chef’s note: If you use frozen cranberries defrost before adding to your cake)
An Amaretti cookie is a cookie with attitude. It is an elegant bite of crunchy, chewy wonderfulness, heady with the perfume of almonds, perfect with exactly the right amount of sweetness. Amaretti cookies are definitely not your common, home-baked … Continue reading →
All through the long and glorious summer the garden rewarded us with fresh, fresh vegetables. I walk from the kitchen across the long stretch of grass and into the garden. It is another world of vegetables going quietly about their … Continue reading →
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 … Continue reading →