Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple Pie

I am not baker, per se, I love to cook and can bake but I am not one who is in the kitchen baking fresh bread every weekend. I'm not sure I have the discipline to follow the recipes closely enough. Although for special occasions I can reign myself in long enough to measure exactly. Yesterday a friend and I drove to Milburn Orchards with the thought of apple picking for making pies. Milburn has been a family run farm in Elkton, Maryland since 1902 and a great place for apples, veggies and oh those cider donuts. On fall weekends it is a must place to take the kids to pet the goats, pick pumpkins and play all the fun games available. As it turned out the apple trees that were being harvested this weekend were not the best variety for pie making so instead we bought the already harvested apples in the right variety. How odd it was cheaper to buy already picked than to pick your own ? We were told that the Stayman-Winesap apples would hold the firmest for baking and after making our pies they were correct. The apples were firm, juicy and had a hint of tart that blended so well with the sugar and other spices we used for the recipe. We used a Barefoot Contessa Recipe (minus the fruit zests since I have to change something) for the filling and we added cheddar cheese to a crust. It turned out pretty well. I like a more done crust however you could pull it out of the oven earlier if you like your blond. It's a recipe worth trying.

 8 pounds apples mixed with juices, spices, sugar and flour
Apples IN !

One of the first 2 pies made

leftover apples made into a crisp with flour, butter, brown sugar and oatmeal topping

The pie with foil shield to keep edges from burning

Finished product about 4" high


  • 4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
  • 1 lemon, zested (we omitted)
  • 1 orange, zested (we omitted)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don't stretch the dough; if it's too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.
Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.
Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

Perfect Pie Crust:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water
We added 4 oz. white cheddar cheese

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yardbird - Southern Table and Bar

On a visit to South Beach, Miami, Florida, my son and I tried a restaurant I saw written up in Southern Living for it's chicken and biscuits. I made reservations for lunch online. It lived up to the excellent review from Southern Living and more. The chicken and biscuit was moist, crunchy with a delicious biscuit. The Southern Revival drink was amazing and I hate bourbon! I, of course couldn't pass up the short rib sandwich, the tomato jam was out of this world, we ended up taking a half sandwich home it was so generous. Mac and Cheese well the picture really says it all but their cheese choices made for a robust cheesy flavor that you don't find in mac and cheese anymore. Cheddar waffle was too much given all the food we had but we ate it anyway, yes we did. Would make an awesome entree for a brunch with some peppered maple bacon perhaps ?!? Beans were a nod to needing something our bodies could recognize as good for you, they were al dente fresh and delicious. I wish I had a photo of their Red Velvet Cake but we were so full from lunch we boxed it to go then ate it before I could snap a pic but it was YUMMY. Below are pics of our lunch do yourself a favor and go. Locals say to get there early so they don't run out of your favorite! P.S. I want a roll of their napkin rings !!!
1600 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139

 (305) 538-5220           NO I'm not on the payroll !!!!!!!!!!!

Love this !

Southern Revival
Basil, Passionfruit, Buffalo Trace Bourbon,
Angostura Bitters, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup

My personal favorite
Mama’s Chicken Biscuits 
Free-range fried chicken, pepper jelly, pickles,
housemade buttermilk biscuit

Big Ol’ Cheddar Waffle
Cheddar, green tomato chow chow
Bourbon Maple syrup

Sautéed Southern Beans
Big butter beans, little butter beans,
green beans, yellow beans & peas
Slow Braised Short Rib Sandwich
Thick sliced fresh tomato, gooey cheese,
housemade tomato jam, grilled country bread - tomato jam was to die for ! 
Macaroni and Cheese
Torchio pasta, 5 artisanal cheeses,
crispy herb crust

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dinner in 30 minutes

Most of you know I work long hours and for any of you that are in the same boat, motivation sometimes is difficult to come by when dinner rolls around. Last week I decided I was sick of the quick on the fly meals and planned ahead for making dinner. I had green veggies in the fridge and I really wanted beef. A great tip at the grocery store, if you want a nice filet but for less money, is to buy tenderloin tails. The long skinny end of the tenderloin. It is hard to sell because cut individually it is too small in diameter for a full steak but perfect if you can find a way to cook it not requiring a large single serving, but perhaps a few smaller pieces per serving. So the greens, some leftover cheese souffle and the filet sauteed quickly with mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, olive oil (California Olive Ranch), butter (Plugra) and some wine(La Vieille Ferme)/sherry(whatever kind you have on hand) made one delicious meal ! Try it quick/easy and you'll remember how much you love cooking. In about 35 minutes you'll have an amazing meal instead of that dinner in a bag ! 

Green beans, broccoli and asparagus

Veggies tossed with sea salt, pepper and California Olive Ranch olive oil (use good oil !) roasted in the over for about 35 minutes at 425 degrees

the tenderloin tail

tenderloin tail cut then rubbed with California Olive Ranch olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper

My favorites Plugra and California Olive Ranch Olive oil, quick tip when sauteing meat use half oil and half butter for the flavor and the oil will keep the butter from burning at high heat !

all I had were regular white mushrooms but it would be delicious with mixed wild mushrooms, I had tomatoes in the fridge  from a friends garden which I had previously roasted with oil, salt, pepper and basil added at the end. (if you don't have this 2 or three diced canned plum tomatoes would work

Use whatever wine you have on hand La Vielle Ferme is a great drinkable white for everyday and the sherry works with just about any you have on hand, if you don't have sherry port might work as well but just a splash
after browning the meat with olive oil and butter remove and saute the mushrooms and a few of your tomatoes in the juices from the meat, adding a bit more butter

remove the veggies and quickly deglaze the pan with about 3/4 cup wine and 4 tablespoons sherry, let it simmer until reduced by half to one quarter of the original volume

finished, so yummy !

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Julia

Well today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. WOW. Many things come to mind when I think of Julia Child. Of course Meryl Streep played her beautifully in the movie Julie and Julia , the movie gave many of us a glimpse into her personal life, her love affair with Paul Child, her years struggling for acceptance in the male dominated french cooking world, and finally her triumph in the publishing world. May of us too remember with fondness the skits on Saturday Night Live where Dan Ackroyd played a lushed up version of Julia and severed at least one finger while trying to prepare his comedic meal ! Then of course the classic tv Julia with her dear friend Jacques Pepin preparing wonderful meals while sipping wine and even older footage of Julia wielding a cleaver to butcher a chicken. Fond memories. Will my children have such memories of me in the kitchen. Who knows, I hope so. In tribute to Julia I made myself a meal this evening including her classic cheese souffle. As I imagined it turned out just right due to her exacting directions. Sometime this week remember Julia and get in the kitchen to create memories of your own !
Finished product, I was out of foil so I chose a larger souffle dish for no run over.

Buttered Souffle dish

Gruyere Cheese, I also added parmesan and cheddar, save the rind for making soup !

buttered baking dish sprinkled with parmesan so souffle doesn't stick to sides of dish

Making the roux, butter, flour, salt, pepper, paprika

Roux just turning tan

roux with hot milk, egg yolks and cheese added off the flame

getting ready to add the egg whites, add 1/4 and stir in then fold the remaining whites into mixture

folding the remaining whites into  cheese mixture

Ready for the oven

diggin in !

The recipe can be found in Julia Child's Way to Cook, published by Knopf, recipe appears on pages 72 -73 my only addition was more cheese. enjoy !

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cooking with a good friend

Tomato harvest for caprese salad
You know the kind of day. The kind of lazy day in summer when the heat has been unbearable and you've been working really hard and suddenly you get a day off when even with the heat there is a breeze worth napping to on your back porch. Yesterday I had the chance to spend some way overdue quality time with my friend Laurie. She lives in a beautifully restored home on several acres with an amazing pool among other delights. You know the kind of friend where even if it's been 6 months you can pick up like you never left off. A real keeper. Anyway we planned an afternoon to cook, swim and chat at her homey, homey home ! The early evening was perfect, warm with a gentle breeze, the pool amazing, just the right temp. and of course the company the best. Such a wonderful friend, her family so easy to be with on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. Her garden gloriously overgrown with ripe fruits bursting from all the vines. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, melons, sunflowers and the most precious of all FIGS ! Fresh picked we set to work on dinner succulent veal saltimbocca, roasted green veggies, caprese salad and for dessert feather light homemade meringues with fresh figs and a balsamic glaze. YUMMMMMMMM. Alas I forget the camera I usually have at the ready but Lauire's cel phone captured some amazing shots. Please enjoy. And do yourself a favor, call a friend and cook together ! Thanks Laurie, Kevin, Emma, Caroline and Brendan for a wonderful evening ! 

gorgeous basil from the garden
Caprese salad - tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

Veal saltimbocca - tender pounded veal with proscuitto and fresh sage leaves lightly dipped in flour and sauteed in butter served with a sauce of pan drippings, reduced white wine, butter and fresh lemon juice.

Homemade Meringue - 7 egg whites/2 cups confectioners sugar to stiff peaks
Meringues ready for baking with fresh figs

halfway through baking -mmmmm...

So yummy - finished meringues with figs and balsamic vinegar glaze

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cuckoo Momofuku

Recently I read a recipe for something called the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie inspired by  a cookie from the Momofuku Milk Bar. The idea of a crunchy yet chewy cookie was enticing ! I followed the recipe, with slight alteration, but probably should have read the WHOLE recipe first as they take a bit of time to make. May I say it is worth the time and the nasty cut from the plastic wrap teeth to make the cookies. Know ahead you need to refrigerate for at least an hour before baking and only 4 will fit on a cookie sheet. I baked one pan the first night due to my early recipe inattention. The rest of the cookies were baked today and given to family who agreed the cookies are really good. The dough can be refrigerated up to a week if well sealed in plastic wrap.

Here is the recipe and some pics !

Cornflake Crunch
3 cups cornflakes ( I used special K, you know cause I'm dieting)
1/4 cup malted milk (I used Ovaltine)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp melted butter


2 sticks room temperature butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
cornflake crunch (from above) (If you are truly lazy you might be able to substitute cocoa krispies and not make the cornflake crunch, I have not tried that though)
2/3 cups mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows (do yourself a favor buy the minis I cut whole ones since I had some in
the house what a pain)

Mix all ingredients of the Cornflake crunch spread on a baking sheet and cook at 275 degrees for 15 minutes stirring once. Remove from oven and let cool.

Cream together butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes, then add egg and vanilla and beat for 7-8 minutes (really let the mixer work this long!)
Reduce speed to low and add flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, mix until dough barely comes together. With  mixer still on low add chips, marshmallows and cereal mix, mixer will try to really work. Stop the mixer as soon as just incorporated and fold.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and make 1/3 cup measure size cookies flattening as you go (4 to a sheet max). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. While in fridge preheat oven to 375 degrees. After one hour remove from fridge and bake 18 minutes. Let cool on sheet. Enjoy with a big glass of milk !
Cornflake crunch out of the oven and cooled

chips and tragic large marshmallows

Kitchenaid working like a champ

Only 4 per cookie sheet !

Plastic wrap injury 

Look at the size of these cookies

Finished product !