Thursday, October 29, 2009

boozie pie, or: Siri gets us drunk on Ben's Chest

"You have pie on your face," Siri says when I tell her that I Iove her pie. Of course I have pie on my face. I'm drunk. The pie is full of bourbon. But you'd be a fool to turn down a piece of pie from Siri. Even one booby-trapped with hard liquor, three eggs, and a bath of heavy cream. Siri makes the best pie I've ever had in the history of the world. Not just because she a.) serves it immediately following an impeccably prepared dinner of goat-cheese-squash-lasagna with salad b.) makes the crust from scratch and c.) whips the cream while the pie is still cooling, but because she somehow infuses everything she makes with that special feeling of "home-ness" which makes home-cooking so ... well ... exactly what it sounds like.

FYI, Epicurious has provided me with the following pertinent information on this particular recipe: "Pumpkin pies have long been favored in New England; there is a recipe for a "pompkin" pie in Amelia Simmons's 1796 American Cookery. New England colonists, in spite of their puritanical reputation, were known to enjoy a tot of rum now and then. And if the liquor was hidden in a pie, even the ladies were able to indulge."

1796, eh? Old chum! Here's one for the ladies. And Happy Halloween!

(Dinner, pre-pie)

Siri's Pompkin Boozie-Pie c/o Epicurious

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup dark rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
print a shopping list for this recipe

To Make:

Mix flour and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add ice water 1 tablespoonful at a time and process until moist clumps form. Gather into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer pastry to 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold edge under and crimp. Pierce pastry all over with fork. Freeze pastry 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake crust until pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.


Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in all remaining ingredients. Pour filling into crust.

Bake pie 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake until filling no longer moves in center when dish is shaken, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

wish-list things

NPR's All Cakes Considered: A Year's Worth of Weekly Recipes Tasted, Tested, and Approved by the Staff of All Things Considered, by Melissa Gray.

"I love watching our staff — all of these incredibly competent, brilliant people — taken back to being like 8 years old, and having that little joy: 'Oh, there's cake!' " Gray says. 'I love that because it makes you remember that people at their core are still human beings.'"

My favorite part is when she describes staff preferences. It seems so strangely intimate; all these radio personalities that I've been pleasantly estranged from as physical beings my entire life...suddenly laid bare by the revelation of their favorite sweets. What a thing!

"'Michele Norris is very easy to please,' Gray says, 'but she does not eat coconut. Robert Siegel claims he does not eat cake, Gray says, but she says she has seen him take cookies. Melissa Block likes fried pie, brown sugar pound cake and bittersweet chocolate frosted layer cake. Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep is a butterscotch guy. Film critic Bob Mondello loves coconut cake, and news analyst Dan Schorr is partial to frosting.'"

and then, the best part:

"'He likes cake as a delivery system for frosting,' Gray says."

This is exactly how I feel about peanut butter. As far as I'm concerned, essentially anything will serve as a plausible vehicle for peanut butter.

Missy G's Sweet Potato Poundcake recipe here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

the sweetest thing

"On the bus radio, 'Fifty ways to leave your lover alone'/I laughed at the irony/But life is stupid, the irony all lost on me/It got lost on me."

I don't know why hand-crafting snack foods is so endlessly amusing to me. At the end of the world you will find me in the kitchen, humming quietly to myself while I fold sheets of yeasty dough into pretzel nuggets and mold shimmering streams of molten chocolate into perfectly coiffed cups of peanut butter.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

You Will Need:

1 brick of chocolate (dark or milk - your choice)
1 jar of peanut butter (i prefer crunchy)
Powdered sugar
Various muffin cups

To Make:

1. Dump the peanut butter jar into a large mixing bowl and whip with powdered sugar until it lightens in color and becomes sweet to the taste.
2. Separate and set out muffin cups on a plate
3. Slow melt chocolate by setting a large mixing bowl on a pot with an inch or two of boiling water at the bottom. Stir frequently until consistency is smooth and creamy.
4. Using a spoon, dollop chocolate into the bottom of each muffin cup and spread it - creating a base. Chill for 15-20 minutes until this base is firm.
5. Spoon peanut butter onto chocolate base and spread. Pour molten chocolate over the top of the peanut butter until it is fully encased.
6. Let chill in refrigerator.

*final product shots thanks to friend Ringo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


San Francisco's food-recycling law is now official. Read here, listen here. Recycled output from home and businesses has already jumped to 500 tons.

Pretty great!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

i don't give a fig (but really, i do) !

I love Fig Newtons. God, it's embarrassing. Not only are they totally inappropriate for my age group (they've somehow straddled the divide between ages 10 and 70 - only really young or really old people can eat them and get away with it), I'm pretty sure that most of America thinks of them as some kind of cleverly packaged laxative. In an effort to take back Fig Newtons - and my dignity - I made up my mind to make them from scratch. The only problem? It's actually kind of tough to find a legitimate recipe. Like I said, I really love Fig Newtons.

Then my Mom gifted me an old Sunset magazine cookbook entitled, appropriately, "Cookies." Inside was a recipe for Fig Newtons, and I knew as soon as I looked that it was "the one". The lemon makes the difference.

Musical accompaniment here.

Homemade Fig Newtons

You Will Need:

For the dough:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup each of granulated sugar and firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole what flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted, unsweetened wheat germ
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

For the filling:
1 pound dried fights (about 2 cups, lighly packed)
1/2 cup walnuts (or almonds? yes?)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tbls. lemon juice

To Make:

Using a food processor or a food chopper fitted with a medium blade, grind together dried figs and walnuts (almonds?).

Turn into a medium-sized pan and add sugar, water, lemon peel and lemon juice. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and becomes very thick (5 to 8 minutes). Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until easy to handle (at least one hour - or even until the next day).

Divide dough into two equal portions. Return one portion to the fridge while you work with the other. On a floured board, roll out each portion to a straight-edged (editors note: there is literally no reason to make this straight-edged. for all I can see, the messier the better!). Cut length-wise into three strips. Divide cooled fruit filling into six equal portions and evenly distribute one portion down center of each strip, bringing it out to ends. Use a long spatula to lift sides of each dough strip over filling, overlapping edges slightly on top. Press together lightly. Cut strips in half crosswise; lift and invert onto greased baking sheets (seam side down). Brush off excess flour. Refrigerate for about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, repeating rolling and filling with remaining dough.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned. Let cool on baking sheets or rack for about ten minutes, then cut each strip crosswise into four pieces. Transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely. Store covered - eat immediately, etc.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

a man needs a Made

This is a grape ice-cream and peanut butter sandwich. If you understand my feelings on peanut-butter, you must already know my feelings on ice-cream....

the answer is yes. yes. and yes.

This concoction was brought to you by the brand new Milkmade Ice Cream, a premium ice cream delivery company based in New York and bringing unto thee population things like this coffee/beer/chocolate ice cream (picture below).

I beg you to check them out.

"Rich, dark-roasted coffee, a dark and creamy chocolate stout, and pieces of semi-sweet chocolate seemed like such a good idea."

Whhhhaaaaaat?! I just blew so many fuses I think I'm a fire hazard.

breadhead: the adventures of

Do you ever get in over your head? I do. I also start things I can't finish, bite off more than I can chew, and have eyes that are bigger than my stomach. If you add all of these things together, you'll realize that I get into a lot (a lot a lot) of trouble pretty much all the time. So when I find myself in the MOST trouble; sitting precariously astride the absolute pinnacle of trouble-having, when I cannot possibly get into any more trouble, I will always conveniently quarantine myself by doing something that is time-consuming and keeps me tied to my apartment all day. I hate laundry, so the thinking-persons solution is bread-baking. I bake bread all day. "Sorry, can't come out. The dough is rising."


Crusty Cornstalk Bread (c/o of Gourmet Magazine, RIP)

You Will Need:

1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115°F), divided
1 tsp mild honey or sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided

Equipment: a spray bottle filled with water (or your hands, dipped in water)

To Make:

Stir together yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Mix flour, salt, 1/2 cup cornmeal, and remaining cup warm water into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.

Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down dough (do not knead) and fold into thirds like a letter (dough will be soft), then gently roll into a 12-inch-long log with lightly floured hands. Sprinkle a large baking sheet evenly with remaining 2 tablespoon cornmeal and put dough diagonally in center. Alternating sides, make 3-inch-long diagonal cuts, about 1 1/2 inches apart, into sides of log using kitchen shears (ends of cuts should not touch; maintain a center “stalk”). Gently pull apart cuts to stretch dough, forming rolls that are separate (about 1 1/2 inches apart) but connected to center stalk. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Set a pan of water on the bottom rung.

Spray rolls with water, then bake, spraying into oven 3 times in first 5 minutes of baking (to help form a crust), until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer roll to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

cKale: Obsession

Re: a friend’s recent commentary on my eating habits, liking Kale does not make me “from California.” Being OBSESSED with Kale makes me from California (and believe you me, I am obsessed). And, yes, I am grammatically overstating my Kale by insisting on Capitalizing it in every part of this entry.

Kale and Tomato Bird's Nest

1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch of Kale, torn from stem and roughly chopped
1 egg

To make: Heat olive oil in a large skillet on med-high heat. Drop in cherry tomatoes and garlic. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, until tomatoes start to stew. Turn heat up and stir in Kale, turning to coat and then covering. Let cook for about three minutes, until the Kale turns brighter green in color and begins to wilt. Turn heat down (medium is good), and spoon a hole into the center of the Kale/tomato mixture. Crack and drop the egg into the depression, covering the pan again to ensure that the egg will cook all the way through. Let cook until egg reaches desired consistency. Remove mix from eat and serve over toast/brown rice/sweet potatoes/pasta/whatever strikes your fancy.