This week I have a cooking article in the Cascadia Weekly, explaining a dish that’s near and dear to my heart: German Apple Pancake. I finally sat down with my favorite recipes for clafoutis, Dutch Baby, and Yorkshire pudding, figured out the ratios and tried making a completely off-the-cuff breakfast with an apple I found in my parents’ fridge instead of referring to the original recipe. It worked pretty darn well. On our way home we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a bag of Jonagolds, I have my eye on a recipe for buckwheat apple tart from the new Deborah Madison cookbook.
And, speaking of Dutch Babies, I want to share a comic that my aunt Holly Tuttle did a while back for a cartoonist cookbook. (Note: cooking religious extremists is not recommended)
For the March issue of Grow Northwest, I offered to write a cooking piece on Irish food. I cleverly sidestepped corned beef and cabbage and soda bread, and instead used it as an excuse to make a really fabulous Guinness-braised pot roast and a lovely batch of buttermilk colcannon. I also made cake.
From my research (and my parents’ experience), the real Irish version of Guinness cake is a fruity, spiced teatime sort of thing, rather than a sweet dessert. I remembered Jon making a chocolate Guinness ice cream from David Lebovitz’s ice cream book, and wanted to find a good recipe for chocolate stout cake – I eventually found it in Nigella Lawson’s Feast. And what a cake! We’ve made it twice now, and I think it’ll be in regular rotation in our house. It’s chocolatey but not too sweet, dense and moist, and keeps perfectly, wrapped on the counter, for up to a week. I think it might freeze well but so far we haven’t had enough leftover to try it. It’s very good eaten plain, but a dollop of cream cheese frosting is extremely nice. Continue reading
This isn’t so much of a “when life gives you lemons” thing, as a “go out and buy lemons so you can make this!” sort of thing. You need no excuse to make lemon pie.
I’ve mentioned this pie before – it’s what we had for a snack when I took Kate McDermott’s Art of the Pie class last year – but I hadn’t made it myself until now. What I like about it is how easy it is to make – you just need to think ahead a little to give the lemons time to macerate in the sugar – and how much it’s really about the flavor of the whole lemon. I made it for Easter brunch and, while it was eclipsed a little by the rhubarb custard pie I made at the same time, we ended up needing to make copies of the recipe to hand out to our guests. This is good pie.
Lemon Shaker Pie
Thanks to Kate McDermott for the recipe!
- 1 recipe for a double pie crust (mine is just 2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, salt, and ice water)
- 3 large lemons
- 2 cups white sugar
- pinch of salt
- 4 eggs, beaten
Wash and dry the lemons. Slice them as thinly as you can (we used a mandoline to good effect), pick out any seeds, and combine them with the sugar in a container. Stir well and allow to sit overnight, or at least 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Roll out your bottom crust and lay it in a pie pan. Give the lemons a stir and mix in the eggs and salt, then pour this into the pie shell. Top the pie with either a lattice or a solid crust (make sure to cut steam vents if doing a solid top) and put it in the oven. After 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 375° and bake another 20-25 minutes, until set. Let cool before cutting.
Depending on the tartness of your lemons, you might serve this with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Last week I was asked by the editor of Grow Northwest magazine to shoot a cover photo for their November-December issue. The catch? I’d need to bake an apple pie. Oh, darn.
Although I like other apple desserts and baked goods, I’ve never actually been that fond of apple pie. This is probably because I’ve never put much effort into baking them – if I’m going to go to the trouble to make a pie I’d rather it be rhubarb or pear-custard or blackberry. But I had a big bag of apples left here by my parents, and I wanted the photo to look like an apple pie – tall and rounded and golden – so I put some back into it.
In general I live by the motto, “When life gives you pears, make pear custard pie.” But sometimes pear muffins are a good substitute, especially if you only have one pear that needs using.
I’ve posted this recipe before (ripped off from a Williams-Sonoma catalog many, many years ago), in the form of part-whole-wheat rhubarb muffins. This time I just used all-purpose flour, replaced the rhubarb with one bosc pear, peeled, cored and diced, and added a heaping tablespoon of chopped crystallized ginger. As usual, the muffins baked up perfectly. Pear is a more subtle addition than rhubarb, but it goes nicely with the ginger and makes charming pockets of soft sweetness. We have a bag of these in the freezer now, ready for quick weekday breakfasts.
Here’s a nice breakfast dish that I had forgotten about. Usually when we have apples on hand, if I haven’t already turned them into applesauce, we saute them in butter and serve them as part of a German apple pancake. Last weekend, though, some fresh Jonagolds were crying out to be used and Jon remembered the apple popover recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle cookbook.
We used to make this a lot, and my parents still do (they often throw in blueberries, which is nice). It’s basically a clafoutis, with a lightly sweetened egg batter baked over apples that have been precooked with butter and cinnamon. As with many dishes of this sort, you could use any sort of fruit or seasoning – I haven’t tried pears, but I bet it would be fantastic. Maybe with a little nutmeg?
You never know how this is going to turn out – we never know if it’s to do with humidity, or temperature, or the fruit, or what. Sometimes the whole thing poofs up into a perfect dome, sometimes you get a craggy mountain range. This one refused to rise at all, but produced fantastic caramelized edges. Certainly nothing to complain about. We ate half on Sunday and saved the rest to reheat for Monday breakfast, which worked very well. It would also do nicely as a dessert, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For our end-of-summer party this year, we let ourselves be inspired by the latest issue of Saveur and made food with a Greek or Mediterranean slant: dolmades, tzatziki, tabouli, grilled flank steak, lemon chicken, grilled eggplant dip, hummus, and so on. For a while we were considering pastitsio (sort of a Greek lasagna), but decided on a greens-filled phyllo pie instead. I thought this would be spanakopita, the classic buttery spinach-feta pie, but then I discovered hortopita.
Hortopita is like spanakopita, but better. It uses any sort of greens mixture (horta in Greek) plus scallions and fragrant herbs, and instead of butter you brush the phyllo with olive oil, making it much less rich. I ended up making this twice this week – the one I made for the party disappeared almost instantly, and since there was phyllo left over I figured I’d just make us another one.
You may have noticed by now that I don’t make a lot of sweets – I honestly don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and when I do crave dessert it’s usually chocolate chip cookies. One type of dessert I do go for, however, is custard. Whether it’s an old fashioned cup custard, a fancy crème brûlée, or a pear custard pie, I love the creamy tartness of it.
I had had a piece of plain custard pie – no fruit – a few years ago when we happened across the Pie Lady’s shop in Blackwater, a tiny town in central Missouri. It was incredible, and I always said I was going to make it at home – then, of course, never did. But I recently became aware of the existence of something called chess pie. A plain, very sweet custard pie, it’s a classic Southern dessert often made with cornmeal and lemon, but sometimes buttermilk. I had buttermilk in the fridge this week, and decided to see what I could do with it.
I was so thrilled when I finally found a copy of Nancy Silverton’s pastry cookbook at Powell’s a few weeks ago. Of course, I still haven’t made the recipe I bought the book for (the incredible homemade buttermilk crackers we had at Duckfest), partly because my eye was immediately drawn to the ricotta-stuffed muffin recipe. Our favorite goat cheese vendor had fresh ricotta last week, we just had to do it. Really, could you have resisted?
The muffin batter itself was a lot like my usual muffin recipe – yogurt and oil, not too sweet. The difference was the addition of ground toasted fennel seed into the batter, a fabulous idea in itself – plus a creamy center of ricotta mixed with a bit of sour cream, that spills out when you bite into the muffin. Mmmm.
We made this cake for my grandfather’s 97th birthday. I’m not going to write down the recipe for it, because you really should just go buy Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours, and make it out of that (it’s the one on the cover, with cake crumbs patted all over the outside). I do recommend our one embellishment, which was to stuff the frosting layers with fresh raspberries, and have lots of additional raspberries available to scatter over the top. Raspberries + chocolate cake + marshmallow creme frosting. Oh, yes.
It was a bit of a messy dessert, as the marshmallow frosting got soft and melty in the sun, and the raspberries were so ripe they turned people’s hands crimson. But it’s not like that was a real problem.