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Pie of the Month Promise – An Update

August 29th, 2014 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

The pie of the month promise is still going strong. I thought I was being much better about documenting this year in pies, but I seem to have fallen far behind. The August pie begs for some description, though. Sweet Corn Custard Pie! Sweet corn season is in full swing here in Northeast Ohio, and our Fresh Fork CSA bags have been including corn lately, so after every meal that features corn, we have several ears to cut off the cob. This recipe calls for 3 cups, and that was not a problem!

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The corn kernels need to be roasted in the oven until they begin to char a little. This gives the corn an additional nutty sweetness.

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Then the corn is combined with heavy cream and whole milk to steep for a while. Finally the corn solids are strained out and the corn cream is combined with the sugar and eggs to make the custard filling.

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It was tricky to know just when the pie was perfectly baked through. I think I took mine out of the oven a bit too early and the result was a very creamy center. We shared the pie with friends who enjoyed the sweet corn goodness. Although the first grader in the bunch was quite skeptical of corn pie and would have rather had a fruit pie. Maybe next month!

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This year for Christmas, I gave my husband a book and a promise. The book was the The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book – Uncommon Recipes from the Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop by Emily and Melissa Elsen. The promise was that I would bake a pie a month throughout 2014. I even gave him a little pad of sticky tabs to mark his choices.

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We have never been to the Four & Twenty Pie Shop in Brooklyn, and other than the fact that the book has awesome photographs, there was no special reason for selecting that particular pie book. The gift was really just a way of challenging myself to overcome my pie inadequacies. My husband grew up in a house where baking a pie was no more of an event than whipping up some scrambled eggs. In fact, he once told me this. My mother-in-law is an uncontested pie baking queen. For this reason, I shy away from baking pies. It seems like there will always be comparisons to her recipe. So bring on the pie challenge.

Half way through January and no pie had been selected until yesterday. He chose Cranberry Sage pie. One of the nicest features of The Four & Twenty book is that the recipes are arranged seasonally. He chose from the Winter section a pie that looked like Christmas dinner! What an appropriate place to begin.

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Whole fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, and grated apple go into the filling, along with white and brown sugars pulsed in the food processor with some fresh sage leaves! The photo showed a modified lattice top, but I already had a single crust worth of pie dough waiting in the fridge from the Chicken Pot Pies I have made last week from another new cookbook. My son gifted me with Michael Symon’s Carnivore Cookbook for Christmas.

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Since Symon’s dough recipe made enough for another single crust pie, I opted for a Streusel Topping recipe from the back of the Four & Twenty book.

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Similar to my mother-in-law’s recipe, this preparation called for two different oven temperatures. The pie starts baking on the bottom rack of the oven at 425 degrees, and then finishes on the middle shelf at 375. We could hardly wait for the pie to cool! It smelled amazing. We called some friends and invited ourselves over to share the first pie of the month. Who can refuse last minute visitors with warm pie?

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The fruit filling wasn’t runny, the subtle flavor of the sage was surprisingly lovely and the egg and vanilla made it taste slightly custardy. Who can’t wait for February? Will it have to be cherry for President’s Day? I’ll keep you posted.

The kids have been home and that means I get to cook for more than just the two of us. And, we joined Fresh Fork market share program, so each week we pick up a huge green bag of yummy local produce.

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A few weeks back, while pouring over the Vegetable Revolution article in the July 2013 issue of Bon Appetit,
I met my dream utensil! The Paderno World Cuisine spiralizer! I immediately ordered one from Amazon and as soon as it arrive and was out of the box, there was no vegetable in the house safe from spiraling. The device itself is plastic, easy to operate, dishwasher safe AND it comes with three blades. One makes super thin spiral slices and can turn a cucumber into a cucumber slinky! The other two produce long spaghetti like veggie strands in two thicknesses.
First up – Zucchini!

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Zucchini goes through the device very easily and the resulting strands are long enough to twirl on your fork. I didn’t bother to peel the vegetable first because I like the look of the dark and light green. Once the whole vegetable goes through the device, you are left with a round little plug that can also be cut up and cooked.

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To serve the zucchini pasta, I made a sauce of onions, garlic, canned fire roasted tomatoes, red peppers and basil. Once the sauce veggies had cooked through I stirred in some tomato paste and then put the zucchini strands on top of the cooked veggies and covered the pan with a lid to steam the zucchini for about 3 minutes..

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Then, invert it all in a big pasta bowl and serve with lots of fresh shredded Parmesan.

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What could we spiral next? Apples work great. Nice thin spiral slices for a healthy snack. Cucumber run through the larger strand blade and then chopped a bit made a perfect tzatziki sauce for lamb kabobs.

We have also been experimenting this summer with brining and smoking salmon on the grill. I think we have it down.

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Grilled salmon goes well with thinly spiralized Yukon gold and red skin potatoes and onions from another recent Fresh Fork bag.

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Spiraling for breakfast, anyone? A breakfast skillet made almost entirely from last week’s Fresh Fork bag included potatoes, chorizo, onion, farm fresh brown eggs and havarti cheese.

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I am clearly not the only obsessed consumer. This blog post from July’s Epi-blog at Epicurious Magazine shares my enthusiasm. As my son was preparing to head back home to Charlotte, NC. he mentioned he would miss us – and the spiralizer. Thanks to Amazon’s speedy service, one was waiting for him when he got home!

Feastful Weekend

November 25th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! All the feasting and none of the other stresses of the Christmas holidays. We had two awesome Thanksgiving dinners – if I do say so myself. On Thanksgiving day we had a pretty traditional dinner – made easy with the make-ahead gravy recipe that I love from allrecipes. This time I used turkey thighs instead of wings and it made enough for two separate dinners plus leftovers.

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Our second dinner was made more special from a surprise visit from my son, who drove all the way home from North Carolina to make our family gathering complete. I put together particularly good blend of flavors! We served smoked turkey breast from our favorite Strongsville restaurant, The Brew Kettle (is it true I have not yet written a dining out review of it?). The meat tasted awesome and was perfectly complimented by the dressing recipe I got from the New York Times Sunday magazine a few weeks back – Three Pepper Sausauge and Cornbread
Dressing
. The recipe included chorizo and both red and yellow bell peppers, plus poblano and Portugese hot peppers so it was colorful and tasty.

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The wine to compliment the meal was from our east coast vacation. We had gone to Truro Vineyard on Cape Cod (see post). They have a cranberry wine in a lighthouse shaped bottle that is pretty special.

The evening was topped off with a family game of Michigan rummy – an old family tradition from my father’s family.

Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

October 23rd, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

My daughter was home for her first long weekend from college and she was on a quest for “real” food. I’m not sure what the expensive meal plan we had to opt for is treating her to on campus, but her first request was for spaghetti and meatballs. To my pleasant surprise, not only did she want to eat it, but she was genuinely interested in helping to cook with me. My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten and is simply called Real Meatballs and Spaghetti – doesn’t get any more real. The recipe calls for a mixture of beef, pork and veal. Over the holidays when I make this, I usually double the veal.

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I also usually stash left over garlic bread in a ziplock bag in the freezer to use as bread crumbs in this recipe. We rolled the balls, browned them and followed the sauce recipe to a T.

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Even the dog thought the house smelled wonderful!

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The empty plate says it all. Today my girl returned to campus with containers of spaghetti and meatballs and a recipe she could describe in detail – although she is not sure she is going to mention the veal. Hope her dorm friends aren’t reading this!

The pears at Quarry Hill Orchard have been amazing lately, and when we were on vacation recently we were served poached pears for breakfast at a bed and breakfast. I got to thinking of a way to poach pears in the delicious Raspberry Framboise that Quarry Hill Winery makes and sells.

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So a basket of pears and a bottle of framboise made a splendid and special dessert. I emptied the bottle of framboise into a small pan on the stove over medium heat and added two cinnamon sticks, two tablespoons of brown sugar and a dash of nutmeg. Once it started to reduce and turn syrupy I poured 2/3 of the liquid over pealed and halved pears in a glass baking dish.

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I covered the pears with foil and baked them for about a half hour at 350 degrees while the rest of the sauce continued to reduce on the stove. It turned thick and rich and tasted great over vanilla ice cream on the warm pears.

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Blackened Pork with Peaches

August 20th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

This morning’s New York Times Sunday magazine supplied our recipe for dinner in an article title “How to Burn Dinner“.

We started with a nice piece of pork butt that the butcher up at the corner butterflied for us.  The recipe called for a paste of olive oil, fresh rosemary (which is growing nicely on the deck) and garlic.  I added in some Black Dog Belly Rub from local spice maker Mom’s Gourmet .


The recipe called for cooking the pork in a cast iron skillet on the grill.  Since we only use a charcoal grill here, that meant David got the coals going while I worked on our side dish – ratatouille!  This past week would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday!  I wanted to cook something from Mastering the Art of French Cooking in honor, but I went with a recipe I found on the Saveur website.  I had a basket of peppers, eggplant and zucchini we got at the Quarry Hill Market last weekend, so I got things cooking stove top in the Dutch oven, which was put into the oven to bake while the pork cooked.

The final step was to add the fresh Quarry Hill peaches for the last 5 minutes.

A little fresh basil and goat cheese atop the ratatouille and dinner is served!

Any other year, this would have been the last official dinner of summer – but not this year.

Naked Tomato Sauce and Eggplant Stacks

August 11th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

I love the end of summer when local farm stands are full of fresh produce.  But I have had a tough time finding roma tomatoes recently, so when I found some it was time for the best tomato sauce recipe I have ever tried.  About last year this time I discovered the awesome food blog The Smitten Kitchen.  The photos and simple preparation for her Naked Tomato Sauce inspired me.  It is easy and so delicious made with fresh local tomatoes.  So dining in tonight we had lovely spaghetti with eggplant stacks with an additional sprinkling of chopped tomatoes and basil on top of fresh mozzarella.

See here for the tomato sauce recipe at Smitten Kitchen.

The Peaches of August

August 6th, 2012 | Posted by Lackey in Dining In - (0 Comments)

One of the few reasons I have always welcomed the arrival of August is the abundance of ripe juicy local peaches.  We have a favorite orchard that we frequent and many of my memories of summertime include going to Quarry Hill Orchards and bringing home peck baskets of unripe peaches to lay out on trays to ripen at the cottage.  Quarry Hill is a thriving summer destination, especially now that they have added a winery to the property.  (More on that later!)

 

 

This summer I have been trying every good looking peach recipe I find and have had great success with two so far.

This is the Peach Dutch Baby Pancake from the August 2012 Bon Appetit Magazine.  It came out of the oven all hot and puffy in a cast iron skillet and was extra delicious with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream from a local creamery.

Then last night I made this Peach-Almond Upside-Down Cake from the July/August Food Network Magazine because I am a sucker for all things almond.  It is made with sugar and butter browned in a skillet and then put in the bottom of a cake pan which is then layered with sliced peaches and topped with a light fluffy batter which had ground almonds and almond extract in it.  It was hard to wait the half-hour after the cake came out of the oven to taste it.

Both recipes were easy to follow and helped me to postpone baking that peach pie my husband keeps hoping for!