Saturday, November 29, 2008


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

First Pie

I've published crostada, tarts, and several muffins and cakes.
This is the first pie on this blog.

We are spending Thanksgiving at my in-laws' home, and I'm contributing pie and sweet potatoes. NH loved the Applesauce Tart I threw together a few weeks ago so I made a try in larger form.

I made Julia Child's pate brisee with all butter, and a batch of Roasted Applesauce.
I didn't make quite enough because it was too shallow as I filled the prepared pie crust. Thinking quickly on my feet, I sliced some apples as thin as I could and added a layer on top.

I folded the edges down and placed it in the oven.

Immediately deciding I didn't want the edges folded, I pulled the pie out for a quick fix.

I topped the pie with the streusel topping on Mom's Pumpkin Dutch Apple Pie (must post another day, this is the world's best holiday pie).

Suite Apple Pie

Pate Brisee Pie Crust:
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
2 sticks very cold butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

Roasted Applesauce filling:

5 apples, cored and diced
cinnamon and nutmeg
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup water

3 small fuji apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
dashes of cinnamon and sugar

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs cold butter, small dice

To make the applesauce: Toss the apples with the water, sugar and spices in a baking dish. Roast at 425 degrees for about an hour, tossing in the middle. Allow to cool, then run the apples threw a food mill. Set aside.

To make the pie crust: Put the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the very cold butter and pulse 4 or 5 times. Add the water in a stream with the motor running. Continue to pulse, adding a tiny bit of water if necessary until the dough just comes together; do not over-mix. Empty onto a floured work surface a knead a bit with the heel of your palm. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 days or freeze for 2 weeks.

To make the streusel topping: Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and smoosh with your fingers until incorporated. Refrigerate.

To assemble the pie:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the dough from the fridge onto a lightly floured and cold work surface. Roll out to about 2 inches larger than the pie dish. Shape inside the dish, crimping the edges and corners to form. Add the applesauce and smooth the top. Toss the apple slices with cinnamon and sugar and arrange in a single layer on top.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pie and sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake for an additional 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a rack.


Thanksgiving Lunch

A sweet-tart Thanksgiving lunch-at-work combination, perfect for the vegetarian with a sweet tooth (yours truly).

Tart Cranberry sauce
Pumpkin seasoned with cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and Splenda
Plain Nonfat Yogurt

~ serve with Kashi Go Lean on the side


Monday, November 24, 2008

Favorites and Photography

I have to face it: soup is not photogenic.

No shot I take does it justice;
the good stuff sinks to the bottom and the bowl doesn't look that appetizing.

Which is a shame, because this is one of my favorite recipes of all time. I love soup and this one says home. It's one of Mom's favorites, and mine too. The rich aroma of cumin, and the textures of the rice and chickpeas are very comforting.

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup comes from this cookbook:
The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee.
It's the first cookbook Mom gifted me when I left home. It's filled with delicious and inventive recipes for the full-time vegetarian or part-time vegetarian; the author has a background in Chinese cuisine so much of its contents has an Asian spin.
Made with pantry ingredients, I have this soup on the table from start to finish in 45 minutes. Snuggling with this soup brings me back to the kitchen table with my mom, scraping the last bits from the bottom of the bowl.

We make some changes to the original recipe. First, we use water instead of broth. You can't tell the difference in the finished soup with the tomatoes and spices, and it's easier. The recipe calls for 1 cup fresh chickpeas. I use canned and the whole thing; it's more than 1 cup but they are so, so delicious! And I use chopped tomatoes instead of squishing whole tomatoes in a separate bowl, an unnecessary extra step.

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup
adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups water (or stock)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup white rice
2 Tbs chopped parsley
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
In a large heavy pot over medium heat, saute the onions, carrots, and celery in the olive oil until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until it begins to turn golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the water and turn the heat to high. Bring the soup to a simmer and add the salt, cumin, black pepper, bay leaf, rice, and parsley. Add the tomatoes and return the soup to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, and serve hot. Sprinkle with additional parsley.
Other garnish suggestions: grated parmesan cheese, lemon juice, or cilantro
(I prefer it plain with a bit of extra parsley)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tart Cranberry Sauce

Ruby (Very) Tart Cranberry Sauce

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup water
2 Tbs brown sugar
a dash of cinnamon
a splash of vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover to prevent splattering, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't stick. Once thickened, add the cinnamon and vanilla. Remove from the heat and allow to cool; the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

To serve~
Enjoy spoonfuls plain
Pour over plain yogurt and add granola
Drizzle over oatmeal
Beside a Thanksgiving plate of stuffing and sweet potatoes


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Problem Solving

Problem #1: End of the week, slim lunch pickings
Problem #2: Broccoli in the crisper, starting to go bad

Solution: Impromptu Stirfry at 7:30 AM

Yes, you can do it! There is time before work to whip up a delicious lunch. I work out from 6:00AM to 7:00AM and have to be at work at 8:30AM. I straighten up the house, shower and dress and am out the door in time. I saved my lunch- and my vegetables- with no sweat!


1. First, put a pot of water to boil.

While I wait, I chop 1 clove of garlic and peel the stalk of the broccoli to remove the tough outer layer. I have a few leftover roasted mini bell peppers, so I chop those too.
. . . If the water still hasn't boiled, I make the bed, pick out my clothes, whatever needs doing.

2. Once the water boils, put the broccoli in the water for about 2 minutes. You want it slightly tender.

3. Remove the broccoli and put a saute pan on the stove on medium-low heat. Dump out the broccoli water, and chop the broccoli. Add it to a bowl with the bell pepper.

4. The pan should be ready now. Add a turn of olive oil and swirl around. Add the chopped garlic and allow it to get fragrant, no more than a minute to avoid burning.
5. After 1 minute, add the vegetables and toss together until combined and warmed, another minute or so. Turn off the pan and let cool a bit while you clean up. Empty into a to-go container.

For a little protein, I'm adding a hard-boiled egg after I reheat for lunch. Saved my lunch from boringness, and saved my produce from the disposal!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sleeping Apples

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Day in Pictures- Journey to Muir Woods

Muir Woods is a beautiful park of redwoods north of San Francisco.

Since we live south of the city, we have to take the Golden Gate Bridge to visit. Poor us.

It's about an hour away but a nice drive, especially on a gorgeous day- unseasonably warm and mild.


It doesn't matter what temperature it is outside the park; under this canopy of giants, it's always cold and damp.

The fallen trees are like sleeping dinosaurs on the forest floor.

Cathedral Grove feels like a holy place, unlike any other on earth. You can't help marvel at the immensity of these living things. Small signs request quiet in this corner of the park, but you are speechless anyway.

These beautiful colors are actually the bark of a fallen tree.

Yours truly next to a fallen trunk,

NH inside a hollow one still standing!

This time of year the park gets dark early, so after a shortish hike we had to turn back.

The drive back towards San Francisco from Marin was beautiful and peaceful.


The reward for our labors? Wine and gourmet pizza at Gialina, our favorite SF pizza place in Glen Park.

Gialina Pizzeria

2842 Diamond Street

San Francisco, CA 94131

(415) 239-8500


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Little June in November

It's officially autumn~
I used the last of my June olallieberries in this clafouti.

No more fresh and frozen summer fruits, if I want to bake with berries now, I will have to purchase some.

Clafouti is simple despite the impressive name; like a quick bread, you mix everything together and throw it in a dish before baking. I have no fewer than 8 clafouti recipes tucked away, and this is truly a compilation of them all.

There are lots of options, like using cream, egg whites, butter, and any number of flavorings. And of course, fruits! Pears and cherries are common add-ins, and I think apples or cranberries would be wonderful autumn ingredients.

I had extra batter that would not fit in my dish so I baked that in a second dish. My directions reflect this, but if you use a larger vessel (10 inch pie dish or larger) you may not have any extra.


Olallieberry Clafouti

Baking spray
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups olallieberries or other fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch pie dish and an oven-safe bowl with baking spray that contains flour. Pour the berries in an even layer into the dish. You can add a few into the bowl as well, or leave it plain.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the flour and whisk; add the sugar and salt and whisk to incorporate. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk to incorporate all the ingredients and the batter is light.

Pour the batter over the fruit, as close to the top of the dish as you dare.

Pour any remaining batter into the bowl. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the clafoutis are browned at the edges and firm in the center. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or dusted with powdered sugar. Enjoy the fruitless version drizzled with fruit syrup. Store covered in the fridge.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Ode to an Eggplant

Oh Eggplant, how I do love you

So nutritious, with lots of vitamins

So tasty, with a complex and smoky flavor

So easy to prepare for a busy weeknight


If you have a few blemishes, I don't care

As long as your skin is firm and without puncture

. . .that is, until I prick you all over with my fork

It's ok, it's good for you


A very hot oven, 450

And about 50 minutes

A few rotations as you go

We want you to cook evenly through

And on the counter to cool a bit

Sometimes I like your skin, more often I don't

Once you are cool enough to touch, your skin is so easy to remove

Until you are completely naked

Sliced up and stored in the fridge

And ready for whatever I like

Oh Eggplant, how I do love you!