Recipe Recap

Kaki, my word, I’ve done so much cooking lately!

And then no cooking.  And then a ton of cooking.  It has been a serious season of hustle and bustle, in the kitchen, out of the kitchen, all over the place.

Cooper got me a Cooking Light subscription for Christmas, and I’ve been really enjoying reading through each new magazine.  Far and away the winners have been a phenomenal gin punch and this salmon with an orange glaze and an orange and arugula salad.  Oh my word.  Also, apparently neither of these have been posted to Cooking Light’s website yet.  Huh.  Well, that’s not cool.  Check them out!

I’ve made a fair number of misses lately, alas.  There was a shrimp dish with peppers and potatoes and kidney beans and a Cajun barbecue sauce that was really tasty at the grocery store sample station, and only meh when I made it.  There was a kale and meatball soup that tasted fine, but also, very iron-y.  Maybe too iron-y.  There was a decent stab at making my own savory crust for this spinach pie, but even so, I’ll be sticking with puff pastry going forward.

And I’ve re-made a lot of old favorites, as well.  I subbed baked tofu for the grains in this hearty greens salad with tahini dressing, and it was a very welcome taste of spring.  Cooper and I roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes, made up a great miso-dressing, and ate it all on top of savory green-onion-and-parmesan pancakes one evening.  And I had a hilarious muffin-loaf moment when I tried to make this great pear-and-ginger quickbread that I’ve made several times before, and didn’t let it bake long enough BY A LONG SHOT.  Like the whole center of the dish was basically still batter.  And you know what, Kaki?  Never have my co-workers raved over something I’ve brought to the office the way they raved over that disastrous quickbread.

And last week I made this lovely veggie and sausage tomato sauce to go over some pasta.  Only I didn’t have any pasta in my house.  None.  So I cooked up the tiny amounts of quinoa and brown rice I did have in my pantry, and just plated the sauce over the grains.  It was… Well, it was good, but I bet it would have been better over pasta!

The one discovery I must, must, MUST share with you, though, are these chocolate-cherry date balls from Oh She Glows.  I know you’re already an OSG devotee, and I know that you, as a runner, love you some dried cherries.  Well, whip out your food processor, girl, because these could not be easier or tastier.  Or healthier.  Pretty much.  Unless you took out the chocolate.  Which you wouldn’t do, surely.

See you sometime soon I hope? Choir is busy as all get out right now, but I’d love to squeeze in a visit with you!

Until then, sending warm wishes from my kitchen to yours,
Caitlin

Razzleberry Slab Pie

Kaki!  This spring, I made my first ever pie.  It was wonderful!

I mean, my very first pie with from-scratch dough and everything.  I’ve made no-bake/cream pies with store-bought crusts aplenty.  But pie dough?  I have always had some pie dough fear.  Pie dough is the stuff of legends.  Legendary wins with secret family recipes.  Legendary fails resulting in wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Plus I like pie, but, you know, I’d take brownies or cake instead any day.

But this pie was requested.  This pie was for Cooper’s daughter’s First Birthday Party.  And Matt loves him some pie.  (They even had it at their wedding reception.  Yup, that strong of a love for pie.)  So I set out to conquer my pie dough fear.

At some point I’ll do a post on how I research and develop recipes, but suffice it to say I did a lot of web searching, then a spreadsheet was involved, and then I ended up going with my gut and using America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe verbatim. They weren’t kidding, it was a great pie crust.  Filling was great, too.  Then warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?  Excellent birthday pie accomplished.

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Razzleberry Slab Pie
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen, Smitten Kitchen, and Martha
Serves 18

Ingredients

  • 5 cups (25 ounces) all-purpose flour, divided in half
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided in half
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided in half
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) chilled butter, cut into slices, divided in half
  • 1 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 8 pieces, divided in half
  • 1/2 cup chilled vodka (or triple sec, tequila, light rum… any colorless alcohol, up to 80 proof), divided in half
  • 1/2 cup chilled water, divided in half
  • 8 cups fruit (I used half fresh blackberries and half frozen (thawed and drained over a strainer overnight) raspberries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Sanding sugar, optional

(You may want to view the America’s Test Kitchen video on processing this dough in the food processor, and on rolling out the dough if, like me, you’re new to this pie crust business.  Watching them really upped my confidence that this was going to be manageable!)

This recipe is double the recipe for a double-crust.  So, technically this could make four pie crusts, but… we’re just going to make two, really big ones.  BUT!!  It’s way easier to make this half at a time, so that your standard-size food processor can really do its thing.

Place 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar in the processing bowl of your food processor.  Pulse twice quickly to combine.  Add half of the butter and shortening pieces to the food processor and process until dough starts to collect in lumps with no dry flour left at the bottom of the bowl, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with spatula and squash dough evenly around processor blade. Add 1 cup flour and pulse until flour is evenly distributed into dough, 4 to 6 pulses. Pour mixture into a medium mixing bowl.

Pour 1/4 cup vodka and 1/4 cup water over the dough in the mixing bowl, and use the spatula to fold liquid into the dough until homogenously sticky.  Scrape dough out onto large piece of cling-wrap, form into a disc shape, wrap up, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.  Repeat process with second half of ingredients for the crust.

To make filling:  In a very large mixing bowl, combine fruit, sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Pre-heat the oven to 375*F.  Line a sheet-pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove one of the dough discs from the refrigerator.  On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximated the size of your sheet-pan.  Transfer gently to the sheet-pan, spreading it out as best you can; patch any tears by simply pressing the dough together with your fingers.

Pour the filling out onto the rolled out dough, being careful to avoid the edges.  Place the bottom crust and filling into the refrigerator.

Remove the final disc of dough from the refrigerator, and again roll out on a lightly floured counter to approximately the size of your sheet-pan.  Remove the bottom crust and filling from the refrigerator, and gently transfer the top crust to lay over the rest of the pie.  Gently fold the edge of the bottom crust over the edge of the top crust, pressing to seal.

Using a sharp knife, make even slash marks across the top crust to allow steam to vent during baking.  Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg over the pie.  Sprinkle vast amounts of sanding sugar over the top of the pie to aid in its sparkly deliciousness.

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Bake the slab pie in the pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes (maybe up to 55 if your oven is pathetic at holding the proper temperature, as mine is).  Remove from the oven and let cool for about another 45 minutes.  Cut into about 18 pieces, and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I’m so glad to have finally overcome my pie fear, Kaki!  I actually swapped the sugar in this dough for wheat germ and made a take on my spinach pie recipe just a week later.  Honestly, it turned out a bit dense that way, but it was still an interesting experiment!  Here’s to pie in all its wonderful incarnations!

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Hope you are well, my dear!

–Caitlin

Meyer Lemon Day

Kaki!

About a month ago, a long-time family friend (she was my fifth grade English teacher, and my Confirmation sponsor, and I’d just helped with her daughter’s wedding; wonderful people) gave me four Meyer lemons from her garden.  Four!  Knowing how pricey they can be, and how slim the likelihood of finding them in a grocery store*, I was seriously pumped.

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I spent quite a bit of time that week researching recipes.  And once I’d picked the menu, I emailed Cooper to let her know that, prior to our Golden Globes viewing, we would be celebrating Meyer Lemon Day.  And there was much rejoicing.

It turned into one of those perfect Sunday afternoons, Kaki; chatting and cooking new things and sipping wine and laughing at adorable baby antics and enjoying some red carpet gowns.  Plus the Meyers lent the whole afternoon such a bright note of, “Spring is on the way!”  Here’s to Meyer Lemon Day!

Meyer Lemon Day 2014 Menu

Flatbread with Meyer Lemon, Goat Cheese, Rosemary, and Olives

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Meyer Lemon Sparkler

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Salmon with Meyer Lemon Salsa

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Whole Meyer Lemon Tart

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I’ll be sharing the individual recipes over the next week.  Stay tuned!

And thanks again, Bridget, for giving me these lovely lemons!

–Caitlin

*And if I have trouble finding them, we know your grocery store chances are rather unfortunate.  Then again, plenty of citrus is grown in South Texas; maybe that goes in your favor?

P.S. Matt got Cooper this ridiculously great camera for Christmas.  We all three took turns playing around with it to take these photos!  Thanks for lending me the great equipment, and your photog skillz, you two. 🙂