Strawberry pie

strawberrypie2

I went strawberry picking on Friday and had a bounty in the fridge. Unlike last year, when I worried about the fruit going bad in the fridge, it’s only been a few days and I already no longer have any left. By Sunday, the strawberries had disappeared into stomachs, mousse, and this pie. Really mostly this pie. Because of it, I need to go picking again. That’s not a bad thing, though.

This strawberry pie is actually pretty similar to the summer berry pie that I love to make around 4th of July. For this one, you make a sort of jam with strawberries that you then toss more strawberries into, and then you dump it all into a graham cracker crust. No baking (except the crust) and really minimal effort. It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to highlight the spring fruit– it’s not too sweet and retains a lot of the essence of fresh strawberries since they’re the main ingredient. Plus, it comes together in the time it takes to pick all the strawberries. Continue reading “Strawberry pie”

Rhubarb compote

rhubarbcompote3

I recently discovered rhubarb. I knew what it was, and I had some ideas about what it tasted like, but I’d never actually eaten it. I remember when I was little there was a patch of rhubarb in my parents’ backyard, but my mom cut it down because my dad and I wouldn’t eat anything that she made with it. Tasting it now, I understand why I didn’t want it as a child– I wanted all things sweet, and rhubarb, although it can be a little sweet if you dump sugar in it, is really tart.

Also, rhubarb is funny looking. Who expects something that looks like this to taste good? I see chard when I look at that picture, not something that will turn into a delectable spring treat. But when you simply chop up the pretty pink stalks, toss them with some sugar and a spoonful of water, and let it all boil down for several minutes until everything falls apart, it becomes something that you don’t want to stop eating. Continue reading “Rhubarb compote”

Pear and hazelnut frangipane tart

peartart4

There is a huge container of Nutella sitting in my pantry. It’s bigger than the biggest one in the store. In fact, it is this. Can you believe it? Is that enough Nutella? Well, I don’t want to be the person to say “Of course that is enough Nutella” because that’d bite me in the butt someday. I actually just found a giant 11 kilo (almost 25 pound) jar of Nutella online, so the huge amount in the pantry has been one-upped. But it’s still a lot.

I’m talking about Nutella because I think it’s the most common way that a lot of us have eaten hazelnuts. I can’t even think of a time I’ve eaten something that’s just hazelnut, not chocolate and hazelnut. Maybe hazelnuts aren’t a southern thing? Pecans definitely are a southern baker’s go-to nut, but they’re also sort of everyone’s go-to baking nut. Maybe I should try to help change this, though, because hazelnuts are awesome. Continue reading “Pear and hazelnut frangipane tart”

Red wine poached pears

poachedpears3

Now that I’m back from afar, it’s back to cooking and blogging and vegetables and all of the normal stuff. I actually had planned on continuing to blog while on my trip; the new posts you saw were things that I’d preemptively written in preparation of not being in the kitchen, and I thought that I could continue to write and give you some real-time stories of adventure while away. That whole idea failed though–I emailed Ben when to hit publish for those two posts and quickly gave up any ideas of writing when I realized that typing more than a paragraph on an iPad would be an enormous and practically impossible feat. However, I had gone ahead and prepared a few dishes that I wanted to share, so now I’ll get started on that!

The most pressing thing that I have to share are poached pears. Poached pears, specifically red wine poached pears, are God’s gift to humans. The pears themselves are tasty, but the reduced wine syrup that’s lightly spiced, slightly fruity, and velvety sweet, is what really brings us a little heaven on earth. I dream of using the winey syrup in every way imaginable: Alongside the pears (of course), poured over vanilla ice cream, as a base in which to nestle a slice of flourless chocolate cake, out of a dog bowl so I can lap it up whenever I wish. Continue reading “Red wine poached pears”

Candied orange peel

candiedorange1

I promised you a citrus recipe, so here it is. It’s probably not what you were expecting. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either, but you might see that here sometime this month too–it just depends on my schedule and how much room there is in the fridge.

The story of my journey to make candied orange peel: I am a big fan of the public library. I go to it at least once a month, and more often than not, I end up in the cookbook section. There are so many cookbooks there, even more cookbooks than at a bookstore! The Dewey decimal system for cookbooks is pretty odd, though; I haven’t yet figured it out, but I’m certain that there are sections for regional cooking, desserts, baking, cookies, grilling and vegetarian recipes, among others. I never know where the sections are until I start seeing titles like The Cake Bible, Cakes for Dummies and riffs on that huddled together. It’s pretty easy to deduce what the section is once you’re staring at it, though. Continue reading “Candied orange peel”

Whole lemon bars

wholelemon1

Earlier this month, I was in a major cooking rut. I didn’t cook much over the holidays, and it was tough to get back to normal. There were loads of sweets in my house (if you can resist 70% off Christmas candy, then you are a stronger person than I), and I wanted the stash to be whittled down a bit before I began to add onto it with homemade goodies. I enjoy baking much more than cooking, and since I wasn’t doing that, I didn’t really want to do any of the food preparation thing. I did, though, and I’ve made it to the top of the hill. The Rolos are also mostly hidden in the depths of the pantry now; hopefully, they’ll be a happy surprise in a couple of months. So straightaway, it’s back into the kitchen, and especially back to baking. Continue reading “Whole lemon bars”

Spicy applesauce

applesauce3My grandma makes really good applesauce. When I was a kid (and before then I’m assuming), she made applesauce with tart little green June apples from a few trees on her farm. She’d have a big bucketful, and I’d sit and watch her peel them, sometimes trying to help but more often than not giving up. It’s hard for little fingers to get the hang of neatly peeling an apple; I only recently learned the trick to gently swirling off a thin layer of skin with a knife, removing only the slightest bit of fruit and leaving the bounty to consume. As a kid, Grandma could peel three apples to my one, and her fruits remained intact while mine bore big ugly gashes. They all taste the same, though, and uncooked, that taste makes you pucker. No one was tempted to sneak a slice; one sample of raw June apple is enough for a lifetime. They cooked up quite nicely, though.

Continue reading “Spicy applesauce”

Vanilla and almond pudding with cherry compote

pudding2Pudding is not just for kids! Really, it can be for grownups too! (Just not from a plastic cup that you buy at the store–kids deserve better than that, too.) I realized that homemade pudding is superb a few years ago after making eclairs. I used all of the cream puffs I made but had quite a bit of leftover pastry cream and ganache, so I ate those things together, and I didn’t miss the cream puff at all.

I had a little dinner party this weekend, and although I usually plan what I want to cook days in advance, I hadn’t decided on a dessert until 12 hours before the meal. It’s hot and steamy here, so I didn’t really want to turn on the oven, and cherries have been extra delicious and cheap for the past few weeks. I thought about buying ice cream, but that’s too easy, and then it hit me: pudding. Pudding topped with cherry compote. Doesn’t it just sound delicious? It gets even better, because I ended up with vanilla and almond pudding with cherry compote. Doesn’t that sound fancy?

pudding4

It might sound fancy, but it’s a snap to prepare.

Continue reading “Vanilla and almond pudding with cherry compote”

Summer berry pie

square whole

For me, summer is berry season– not pool season, not beach season, and certainly not summer camp season. I load up on the biggest container of blueberries at the grocery store every week and then make the tough decision to buy or not to buy raspberries in addition to the blueberries. I always eat at least a cup of berries every day, and when they disappear from my fridge, there must be a trip store immediately the next day to stock up once again.

just washed berries twoSummer is my favorite food season, and clearly the aforementioned berries are a big part of the reason. However, not only do I heartily take advantage of the berries, but I also devour watermelons, cherries and peaches, as well as homegrown tomatoes and other yummy super fresh veggies that I don’t feel like listing because nothing compares to the greatness of these summer fruits. (I think I’ve been eating more fruit than anything this past week.)

Continue reading “Summer berry pie”