Pie of the Week: Buttermilk Coconut Custard

It’s the taste and the texture!

Still no decent peaches in the market! It’s time to let go of that dream. I had to pick a different pie this week and wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. Lucky for me it’s muskgoes time at CU (that’s when we stand in front of the open fridge muttering, “This mus’ go, that mus’ go…”). I love the challenge of using what’s on hand and this week an overabundance of buttermilk and coconut resulted in this week’s pie, Buttermilk Coconut Custard. Read more

Pie Friday: Shoo-Fly Don’t Bother Me

Last week, I made a pie from some Maine wild blueberries. It was an eleventh hour thing, thrown together while making dinner. (Actually, I was afraid the berries would suddenly begin to fuzz.) It’s been so long since I  had the time to bake anything interesting! The process was so satisfying and pleasurable that I decided to make weekly pie and share the results – on my blog.

Well, of course I’m on a sugar high! A pie every week? I’m channeling Mrs. Pattmore. However, this idea has met with a lot of enthusiasm around here, with lots of tasting volunteers. I see it as an opportunity to share some pie lore, tips, and techniques on all things crusty and delicious with you – and said tasters. Read more

Long Live Whipped Cream!

Well, I swan - real whipped cream!

We love summer fruit and ice cream desserts – but they must have a little whipped cream to be complete. Stuff in the can? It’s fun and tastes just-okay, but whipped cream is best when made fresh– and we always have heavy cream on hand around here.

Use heavy cream, not the stuff marked “whipping cream”. Heavy cream has more fat and is easier to whip. Good luck finding a brand that’s not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra-pastuerized cream is very difficult to whip because the high heat denatures the proteins in the cream. That’s why most recipes call for chilling the bowls and beaters and stuff, which we always forget to do.

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Fiddleheads!

Coils of greeny goodness!

Along with strawberries and shad roe, fiddleheads are, to me, the first true sign that spring is finally, finally here. Fiddleheads are the tips of certain ferns before they unfurl. Their name derives from their resemblance to the coil on the top of the violin. This is a bright green, beautiful vegetable and a true seasonal food, as they are not cultivated. Rumor has it they taste similar to asparagus, but I think they taste like what green would taste like, if colors had a flavor. This should win over all the green-vegetable haters.

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Hot Cross Buns for Saints and Sinners

Hot Cross Buns

This post is a little late because I was having problems with my phone camera. And a food post without a photo is like a hurricane without a name: just a lot of hot air.

Every year I make these on Good Friday and have no idea why. When you’re raised by a tribe of humanist infidels, this day doesn’t loom large. However, I am a lover of food history and bread, so any yummy, yeasty recipe is a source of interest to my baker’s heart. Read more

Haven’t Got Time for the Pain: Harissa

A Fiery Condiment

Ever been out at an Indian restaurant with heat-lovin’ people who sneer at you for passing out in the vindaloo after one bite? Yeah, I’m that wimp. But I’ve made a recent discovery: it’s not a matter of genes or acclimation or whatever that limits me at Indian restaurants – it’s simply a desire to avoid pain. Flused face, elevated pulse, sweating, shortness of breath, tears – aren’t these the symptoms of a massive coronary? Who wants to experience that? A lot of people, for sure; it’s not that they don’t suffer as much as I do from the effects of spicy food – they just don’t care about the agony. And, as Lincoln famously noted, “People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like”. That, and riding the Kingda-Ka at Six Flags – a similar masochistic pleasure. Read more

Fire Safety Month Mac ‘n Cheese Experience

Move over, Kraft.

Today I participated in fire safety event hosted by a local bank. October is fire safety month, and, since the topic was all about begin fire-safe in the kitchen, I was ask to come buy.

This issue is almost as important as knife safety – there’s nothing worse than a student with no eyebrows (usually the result of too-enthusiastic flambéing). And with so many kids coming through our kitchen, we can’t be having their hair going up in flames and such. This is one of the reasons I installed induction cooktops in the CU kitchen – so much safer. But less fun and dramatic which is why we also have a gas cooktop; see “flambéing”, above). Read more

Butter in the Hand

Beurre manie await!

Repeat after me: there is no substitute for butter. Louder. LOUDER. Okay, that’s better. Everything is better with butter: it’s natural, a little goes a long way, and it is soul-satisfying.  And if you’re a serious baker, you never use anything else.

We don’t eat a stick a day (we would, if it were socially acceptable), but always have it on hand. So, how to use it judiciously? The answer is beurre manie. (Pronounced brrr man-eeeeee!) Now, if you’ve done any cooking or watch the Food Network, you probably know what a roux is – simply equal parts butter and flour cooked together and used to thicken liquids for sauces and gravies. We used to call it “white sauce” and, with cheese added, it became the basis for macs ‘n cheese. Well, beurre manie (or, “butter in the hand” in French talk) is simply an uncooked roux. Serious chefs usually have these butterballs hanging around the fridge, and so should you. Beurre manie will simplify your life. Read more

Attack of the Zombie Tomatoes!

Still warm...mmm...

Some of us are ga-ga over our cast iron collection – and not just because a “double-tap” on the noggin with one of these would stop a zombie in its tracks. We have lots of them – skillets, that is. A little one for a perfectly round fried egg, a slightly larger one for a searing steaks, and a big one for frittatas and Potatoes Anna. Yeah, cast iron takes a little bit of care – but it rewards you a thousand times over.

Now that tomato vines are producing, we are overrun with the things, no unlike zombies when they run amok. When we’re not oven-roasting tomatoes or chopping and freezing them, we’re making tomato-pesto salad and raw tomato sauce for pasta or slicing some for a BLT. Read more

Chasing the Dragon Grilled Corn

Dragon corn, monster steak!

Okay, the title is a tad dramatic. After all, grilled corn on the cob is nowhere near as addictive as opium, right? Wrong!

There are people who would happily eat COTC everyday during its season. And grilled corn takes things to a whole ‘nother level. Just ask the people of Mumbai or Mexico City – it’s a popular street food in both countries. Indian vendors swab the charcoaled-ears with lime and dredge in spices; Mexican cooks slather the cobs with mayo, lime, chili powder, and top with cojita cheese. Read more