Breakfast Berry Pie (gluten free!)

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For some reason last week I ended up eating a lot of pie. Monday I went to a movie with a friend and we followed it up with a delicious slice of pie at Pie Bar (the Ballard Bumble Berry Crumble is amazing!). Wednesday evening Sam and I took a mini vacation to Whidbey Island and ended our evening with a shared (and equally scrumptious) berry tart (basically an individual pie) at Christopher’s. Then the next day we stopped at Whidbey Pies for lunch and though we started with a savory pie for lunch, we also ended it, of course, with a slice of dessert pie. Continue reading

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Seattle Apple Pie

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We made it to beautiful Seattle and in a week’s time we have toured apartments, visited family and friends, walked around a hilly but beautiful new city, and eaten delicious food. Surprisingly I have hardly cooked in the last three weeks. Between staying at a hotel our last week in Boston and now staying with my in-laws, I don’t even remember how to do meal planning and shopping as all of our food has been prepared by others (and for that I am grateful!) Eventually we’ll have to get back to real life, but for now I’m enjoying it. Continue reading

Ming Tsai’s Spiced Ginger Cake

I always look forward to the summers with childlike glee. And not just for the sunshine, warm temperatures, and beach days, but for the summer produce. I think of the piles of emerald zucchini and fuzzy peaches at the farmers’ market stands. I pine for the days when there is fresh corn on the cob and sweet ruby berries. In winter or fall it always seems like summer weather and summer produce holds so much potential for summer magic – spontaneous backyard cookouts with fresh, colorful salads or that shiny, happy feeling when you see a beautiful sunset after the perfect day.

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So after all this talk of gorgeous summer stone fruits and squashes, why am I making a ginger cake in August? Here you are nearing the end of a hot and feisty summer season and you’re making what’s essentially a Christmas treat? Okay, okay, let me explain. Continue reading

Post 113 – Burnt Caramel Pudding with Candied Pecans

IMG_0800I have been wanting to make butterscotch pudding for a long time. Well, at least since January when this recipe appeared in my inbox. Or since last fall when I ate a whole giant bowlful of it at Lineage despite telling myself I should take half of it home for later (who takes desserts home?) Maybe even since Dave loaned me his beautiful cookbook With a Measure of Grace and I began drooling over the colorful pages. That cookbook has given me a reason to go to Utah. Hell’s Backbone Grill – Look it up. Continue reading

Post 59 – Pumpkin Crème Brulée

There are never enough pumpkin recipes, in my opinion. Here is another delicious one.

I know, I know. I’m a little late for your Thanksgiving meal planning and for that I apologize, BUT pumpkin season isn’t over yet. Please save this gem of a recipe for another time. Make it for a fancy dinner party dessert and impress your guests (dinner party? does anyone say that anymore?)

Remember when we made lavender  crème brulée and it was much easier than you thought? Pumpkin crème brulée is no different. A little canned pumpkin (or roast the pumpkin if you like), some warm and exotic spices and bam! you have a mini pumpkin pie in a dish with a crunchy sugary crust. How could you say no? Here’s how it’s done.

So you start with your egg yolks and sugar and vanilla (not pictured).

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You heat up your cream.

IMG_3821Just enough for some small bubbles to show up on the edge of the pan.

For the pumpkin part mix pumpkin, a little sugar, and spices.

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Voila – the primary colors and building blocks of Pumpkin Crème Brulée.

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Temper your eggs by very gradually adding the cream. Strain it (in case you scrambled any of your eggs) and you are good to go.

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For my particular technique I layered my pumpkin and cream mixture separately, though I’m sure you could try carefully folding the pumpkin into the cream and egg mixture. I assembled my ramekins and poured the cream on top of the pumpkin.

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Bake in a water bath until slightly jiggly and let cool. Torch and plunge your spoon into the crackly shield of sugar.

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Then enjoy!

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Pumpkin Crème Brulée

makes 3-4 servings depending on your ramekin size. You can easily double the recipe.

2 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 T. sugar, divided, plus some for sprinkling on top

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

sprinkle of nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. cloves (or allspice)

Prepare a small pot of boiling water. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat cream in a small pan over low just until small bubbles start to appear around the pan edges. Do not boil! Remove from heat. Meanwhile in a small bowl beat egg yolks, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and vanilla. In another small bowl mix pumpkin, spices, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

While whisking, gradually add the cream to the egg mixture. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the mixture.

Lay out your ramekins in a big oven safe pan (use multiple pans if necessary) and divide the pumpkin mixture between them. Spread out evenly and wipe off any that you get on the ramekin edges as it will burn. You can put as much or as little pumpkin in as you like but I think it’s best to keep the layer no deeper than 1/4 inch. Carefully divide your cream mixture between the ramekins, pouring on top of the pumpkin mixture.

Carefully pour your boiling water around your ramekins, being careful not to get any water in any of them. Cover the pan with foil and slowly and carefully transfer your pans to the oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the depth of your ramekins. You want the custard to jiggle only slightly in the center. Remove carefully, remove the foil and cool. As soon as possible, remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a cooling rack or counter.

Refrigerate until ready to serve (at least a few hours for chilled custard). Top with a thin layer of sugar and torch according to your torch directions. Let cool slightly to allow the sugar to harden and serve.

And since Spoon Fork Bacon and I seem to be on the same wavelength (believe me I had the idea to make this before seeing their post), here‘s an even more impressive version.

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Post 43 – Peach Cobbler

Ok, now that it’s September let’s be honest. Summer is pretty much over.

Fall is great and all – beautiful colorful leaves, cozy temperatures, and a stash of pumpkin recipes you’ve been waiting until this time of year to try, but I have to admit I will miss the summer produce. I am going to miss all of the delicious, fresh, juicy, and sweet nectarines and peaches that summer provides. They have been a staple in my breakfast granola and afternoon munching.

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So this past week when I stopped at the farmers’ market, I was thrilled to find an abundance of cheap, local peaches. I bought a few pounds (now I wish I’d bought more!) with the intention of making a peach dessert of some sort.

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When one of my friends invited me to hang out with her and some of her friends, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. Wanting to avoid rolling out a piecrust and crimping it just perfectly I opted for Mark Bittman’s fruit cobbler recipe. He makes his with blueberries, though he says you can use any fruit. I used 8 cups of peaches and did a one and a half recipe of the cobbler topping for a 9×13 pan. (I also sprinkled cinnamon on the peaches.) I recommend if you make it with a juicy fruit like peaches to toss the peaches with a little flour as mine turned out a little too soupy and made a sticky mess when I tilted it while carrying it on the T.

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As with most of Bittman’s recipes, this one is simple and for me – fun. I get to use my favorite tool – the pastry blender!

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It’s perfect served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I hope you get a chance to enjoy the last few weeks of ripe summer fruits and vegetables. I’m hoping to take advantage of the warm weather and longer days as long as possible.

What’s your favorite peach recipe? Please share it with me in a comment below!

 

Post 22 – No-bake Cheesecake

I got caught.

I thought I was doing so well to keep him from finding out until he came in and said, “What’s the pie for?”

What?

Pie? There’s no pie! I said as a hovered around the Kitchenaid mixer to cover up the evidence. I had been so close.

Ok to be clear, it’s not like I have to make pies in secret because of some tyrannical anti-dessert fiancé or for some other crazy reason. I just wanted this to be the kind of dessert that was so quick and secretive that when Sam came into the kitchen to see if I was ready to go, I would just be drying my hands from putting some dishes away and it wouldn’t be until later when I pulled the glorious thing from the fridge that he would say, “When did you have time to make that?” Oh this old thing? I could make this in my sleep! Oh well. Maybe you can get away with that better than I could.

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In my last post I talked about ruts and doing things out of habit, like eating sugar just because it’s always in front of me at work (the downside of working in a kitchen). The end of the school year brings many occasions for cakes: high school graduation, 8th grade graduation, 5th grade graduation, and your-child-finally-made-it-through-the-lunch-line-without-crying-graduation (no, just kidding, but seriously it happens). Constant cake means I have been tempted by the sweet taste of sugar far too often. So I told myself to start with one day without any desserts or baked goods (not completely eliminate sugar as found in my morning granola and fresh fruit) and take it one day at a time from there. It may sound like a small achievement, but I made it two days in a row and the second day I hardly even craved dessert. It felt good. The past few days since have been relatively low sugar (for me at least) so I have made it a general goal to be more aware and mindful of the amount of sugar I eat.

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In that spirit (and because I had the itch to make something AND I had this graham cracker crust sitting on my counter for I don’t know how many weeks taking up prime real estate AND my friend was having a cookout to take it to) I made my first no-bake cheesecake.

That's vanilla extract and lemon in there so don't be telling me it looks gross. I didn't think about that when I taking the picture.

That’s vanilla extract and lemon in there so don’t be telling me it looks gross. I didn’t think about that when I taking the picture.

Now I love cheesecake, but it can be heavy (to eat and to carry) and time consuming to make (time for some math!)

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You have to

Let the cream cheese soften (sans microwave in my case) – 1 hour ish

Crush the graham cracker crumbs – 15 minutes?

Make the graham cracker crust – 5 minutes?

Whip all the ingredients together –  (if they’re already measured, no biggie)

Bake it for forever – FOREVER

Cool it – can I just put it in the fridge already?

And then chill it for forever – FOREVER. That thing is solid warm cheesecake, which is probably not so delicious so seriously, let it chill.

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Answer – Double forever + 2 hours ish?

This means you can count on eating your cheesecake at least double-forever (did I do that math right?) after you got the idea to make it.

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Winning points for no-bake cheesecake: no cooking, no cooling, and shorter chilling! (And in my case pre-made graham cracker crust! Huzzah!) This cheesecake relies on gelatin to thicken it slightly along with some Greek yogurt for texture. I found this recipe online after a brief search and it totally fit the bill: quick and simply-made with the promise of a lighter, summer dessert. Topped with summer berries, this cheesecake turned out to be a winner. I might make it a little sweeter next time and maybe try another flavor although the little touch of lemon really brightens the flavor.

Do you have a cool strawberry knife? I do! Thank you Grandma :)

Do you have a cool strawberry knife? I do! Thank you Grandma 🙂

Did I ever tell you the story of how I got engaged? Probably not.

It’s a long one and a good one that I won’t go into on this post, but the point of mentioning it now is that someone got caught right before the big moment, due to a tiny little glitch in his plans (hopefully he doesn’t feel embarrassed that I’m sharing this…)

So if you’re ever looking to earn major Julia Child or Martha Stewart bonus points with someone, I recommend whipping this baby up while they’re in the shower or out for a run. Just make sure you account for any possibilities of them coming back early or showering too quickly or going into the shoe store right next to the jewelry store at the exact moment when someone is putting something important in his jacket pocket…<wink, wink> If you’re successful, congrats. You can act like it was no big thing when they find it in the fridge later. If not, you better think of a fast cover-up. Well regardless, just make sure you’re prepared for anything. Happy Summer baking (or no-baking)!

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No-Bake Cheesecake

adapted from http://gourmeted.com/2010/03/28/no-bake-cheesecake/

1 pre-made 8-inch graham cracker crust (or make your own)

1 tsp. Knox unflavored gelatin (about 1/2 packet)

8-oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 + 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (2%)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Strawberries and blueberries to top it off

Measure gelatin into a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Stir to dissolve and let sit 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add  tablespoons more of hot water, stir, and let sit.

Beat softened cream cheese and sugar with a mixer for a minute or so until well mixed and light. (I love my Kitchenaid mixer for this!)

Add in lemon juice and zest, yogurt, cream, and vanilla and beat to incorporate, scrape the sides, and then beat again for 2 minutes. Slowly, with the mixer on ow add the gelatin and water mixture, scraping the sides throughout and beating for a few minutes to incorporate. Pour into the pie crust and chill for at least three hours. Top with berries of your choice, sweetened with honey or sugar as desired.

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