September 1, 2014
Aunt Suzy says . . .
This weekend I signed up to bring dessert to a get-together with friends. I wanted to make peach pie, but couldn’t find ripe peaches. I remembered it’s the height of blueberry season and one of our farmers grows “everbearing” strawberries, so both were in the market at the same time. I searched the web for some ideas and came across an unusual approach I’d never tried – cooking some of the fruit into a compote and serving the shortcakes with a combination of cooked and fresh fruit. I had some trepidation about this, but thought what the heck! It was declared delicious by all, both with and without whipped cream! (I think this could be made with just blueberries, just strawberries, or a combo of blueberries and peaches as well.)
We recommend one of two recipes for the shortcake base. One uses butter and cream and one is the Joy of Cooking’s classic cream scones which I like to use when in a hurry – only 4 ingredients, plus heavy cream! Or use your favorite shortcake, biscuit or pound cake.
6 cups total fruit, mixed blueberries and strawberries
4 tablespoons total sugar
juice of 1/2 lime
Make the compote: Place 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups strawberries, sliced in half) in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the lime juice. Stirring constantly, bring to a low bubble over medium heat, then simmer for 3-4 minutes until fruit is a little soft and juice is slightly thickened. Take off the heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Prepare the fresh fruit: Place 2 cups fruit (I used 1 cup each blueberries and sliced strawberries) in a bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit at least 30 minutes to macerate.
Make whipped cream by beating 3/4 cup heavy cream with a mixer on high speed. Just before it’s completely whipped (soft peaks) add 1 tablespoon sugar and whip to moderately stiff peaks. Don’t forget you’re not making butter! Or buy your favorite pre-made whipped cream if you’d like. We won’t tell :-).
Split the shortcakes horizontally. Spoon compote on top of the bottom, top with fresh fruit and then with whipped cream. Place top half of the shortcake on to of the prepared shortcake at an angle. I’m looking at our photo – we were in too big of a hurry to eat this to arrange it all per instructions!
August 12, 2014
My aunt Judy lives in North Carolina, and my mom and I went to visit her several times through my childhood. One of the times we were there, I’m thinking when I was in junior high, she served this homemade lemon ice cream. That lemon ice cream stuck in my mind for YEARS…it was SO GOOD. Then on one of our more recent visits, she made it again, without me even suggesting it, and it was exactly as I had remembered. Creamy and tart, and so, so good. But I didn’t have an ice cream maker, so I wasn’t able to make it myself. I’ve always wanted an ice cream maker, though, with this ice cream in mind as one of the first things to make.
Well, this spring I found an ice cream maker at a thrift store…a vintage 1970’s Master Chef. And it works perfectly. I made vanilla ice cream first, just as a test run, and to serve with a chocolate cake I made. But I was dying to make the lemon ice cream. I emailed Aunt Judy for the recipe, and she sent it, along with it’s origins.
She first tasted the lemon ice cream at Maldaner’s Restaurant in Springfield, IL, when my Aunt Annie took her there when she was a teenager. Back then, they called it Lemon Creme Sherbet, and they claim it is based on a recipe from Mary Todd Lincoln. It obviously had the same influence on Judy as it did me, because she went home and tried to recreate it! She says this recipe has the same flavor and texture as the restaurant’s, as far as she can recollect. Now I kind of want to make a trip down to Springfield to check this place out, and taste the sherbet for myself!
I also thought this was really good in an old-fashioned ice cream soda! When I was a kid, whenever my dad took me to Dairy Queen, I would order an old-fashioned chocolate ice cream soda. It was my absolute favorite. They took it off the menu when I was a teenager, and I rarely see them on menus at ice cream shops. They should make a comeback, because they’re really good. My dad said that when he was a kid, there was an ice cream soda stand in Peoria, IL, that had every flavor you could imagine. I had some lemon flavored La Croix on hand, so I thought it would be fun to try a lemon ice cream soda. I’m sure it’s supposed to have lemon syrup in it as well, but to me this was perfect. Not to sweet, nice and tart and creamy, and the soda makes the best ice crystals with the ice cream. Just pour some soda water over ice cream and you’re set! Of course, I added some whipped cream, too.
Lemon Creme Sherbet
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. flour
1 1/3 c. half and half
1/3 c. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1⁄2 c. milk
1⁄2 c. lemon juice
1 1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon rind
Beat egg and yolk in medium bowl until fluffy. Set aside. Mix next five ingredients in heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly till mixture thickens (10 – 15 min).
Slowly add small amount of hot mixture to eggs whisking thoroughly. Return this mixture to pan. Cook and stir 1 additional minute. Chill.
Add remaining milk and lemon juice. Mixture will be curdly. Process in ice cream maker, folding in lemon rind just before packing to freeze.
July 25, 2014
I was at the farmer’s market yesterday and saw that sour cherries are still available around here. I was surprised, because I know that sour cherries are only available for a short while…and we picked ours a month ago! But of course I wasn’t thinking about the fact that there are a few different varieties of them, and the ones available now are a darker red shade, but still just as sour. So, I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I thought the season was over, but we’re in luck around here! Grab some this weekend and bake these…I promise you won’t be sorry. The crust is heavenly, and I love hand pies because the crust to filling ratio is perfect. And these are a perfect dessert to bring to your friend’s BBQ! No serving hassle at all…just put them on a plate and watch them disappear.
Sour Cherry-Cream Cheese Hand Pies
adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe for rhubarb cream cheese hand pies
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days or slip plastic-wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
The Cherry Filling:
1 lb. pitted sour cherries (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant tapioca
Place cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan with sugar and tapioca and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear. Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.
The Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg yolk
Beat cream cheese, sugar, zest, juice and yolk together in a small bowl with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Keep cold until needed.
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.
Dust your counter or pastry mat with a lot of flour, unwrap the first half of your dough and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the floured pin and moving it from the center out. Be patient about rolling, don’t press too hard, and it won’t crack as easily. Roll until 1/8″ thick. I cut mine into circles using a 3″ biscuit cutter, but you can also cut into 3″ squares using a pizza wheel or pastry cutter. You won’t have as much dough scraps left if you cut into squares, but I really wanted rounds. If doing rounds, you’ll have quite a bit of scraps, which you can form back into a ball, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and then re-roll and cut some more. It will make for slightly tougher crust on those, but I didn’t think it made that big of a difference. If your dough becomes soft, slide onto baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. It will make it easier to assemble.
Brush half the squares very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the squares; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (a measured teaspoon) of cream cheese, then cherry filling on top. Don’t overfill! Top each filled base with a vented square. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips or a fork. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings (you will probably have some fillings left over…you can do what I did and re-roll the remaining scraps a third time and make a tiny little pie for someone who won’t mind tough pie crust, like my son. 🙂 )
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.
July 20, 2014
My family farm has a couple of cherry trees, and this year we just happened to be in town (its 2.5 hours south of Chicago) when they were ready to pick! We picked as many as we could in 20 minutes, and got just enough for a pie and some hand pies I made a week later. Last year we got lucky with cherries, too, and I made this slab pie, which is also fantastic. It’s always hard to decide what kind of dessert to make when you only get cherries once a year. Next year, I vow to spend more than 20 minutes picking cherries (someone will have to entertain the children!), so that we have enough to freeze for later. Then I can make a pie, a slab pie, this sour cherry crumble pie that Aunt Suzy posted about years ago, and this cake that looks really good.
I found this recipe while reading a Smitten Kitchen blog about a strawberry rhubarb pie recipe that I used recently. The idea is that you bake the crust before baking the pie, so that the bottom crust isn’t soggy. I like that idea. It’s what I do with my single crust baked pies, like peach and custard pies, so why wouldn’t I do it with cherry? The results were just as I wanted…no soggy bottom crust. Instead it was nice and crisp, buttery and delicious. Instead of a traditional lattice top, I used a round cookie cutter to make a decorated top. I could have layered them and added more, because I didn’t think about the fact that they would shrink during baking. So I recommend putting more on than you think are needed.
Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie
adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in The New York Times
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted
1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
3 tablespoons heavy cream, or 1 egg yolk lightly whisked with 1 tbsp water
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling.
1. To make dough: in bowl of a food processor pulse together flour and salt just to combine. Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form. Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together. Separate dough into 2 disks, one using 2/3 dough, the other using the remaining. Wrap disks in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.
2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about 3/8-inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.
3. While pie crust is baking, prepare filling. In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling). Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground. Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture. Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.
4. When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Remove foil and weights. Scrape cherry filling into pie crust.
5. Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it 3/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter (or several round cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out circles of dough. Arrange circles on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.
6. Brush top crust with cream or egg wash and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar (as you can see in photos, I forgot my sugar. Oops.) Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.
May 31, 2014
We really love coconut around here. It seems like every other yummy treat I make has coconut in it. Last week I made coconut almond granola (just tweaking my original granola recipe a bit, taking out cashews and maple flavoring and adding coconut extract and slivered almonds), and coconut cream pie. Whenever I make a quiche, which is what we had for dinner last Thursday, I make a full recipe of pie dough and save the other half for a single crust pie. I can’t believe this is the first time I’ve made coconut cream pie…it’s one of my favorites! This recipe is simple, classic, and delicious.
Coconut Cream Pie
adapted from Joy of Cooking
Prepare a baked 9″ pie crust. My favorite recipe is this.
Prepare the coconut: Spread 1 1/3 cups shredded sweetened dried coconut in a 9″ cake pan and toast, stirring occasionally, in a 300 degree oven until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tbsp pure coconut extract
Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk. Vigorously whisk in the egg yolks until no yellow streaks remain. Place over medium heat and bring to a bare simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Remove from the heat, scrape the corners of the saucepan with the spoon or spatula, and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and, whisking constnatly, bring to a simmer again and cook for 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and coconut until the butter is melted and completely incorporated. Stir in all but a few tablespoons of the coconut (set the rest aside for later), and then spoon the filling into the prepared pie crust. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface and cool to room temperature. Move the pie to the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, make the whipped topping:
Beat 1 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp coconut extract on high speed in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, adding sugar to taste as it’s beating, until stiff peaks form (I like my whipped cream on the less sweet side, so I only add about 1-2 tbsp sugar).
Top the cold pie with whipped cream, and then top the whipped cream with the reserved toasted coconut. Serve immediately. It will keep, sealed with plastic wrap and refrigerated, for a couple of days.