Nov 22

Nutmeg Tarts

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After the apple pie contest last summer I want to develop a less finicky pie dough recipe. Things of been rolling around in my mind using the three or four or five different recipes that I have used and I combined them into one. At the same time I also wanted to develop an old school nutmeg custard pie recipe. So I put the two together and here it is.

The crust is light and flakey…tender as can be. The filling is luscious and sweet, but not too, too much. And since the pie crust isn’t sweet at all, the two together made a little magic. Here is what I did.

Easy-as-Pie-Dough

Easily makes enough for 4 dozen tartlets or two 9” crusts

• 3 C flour

• 1 cup of shortening

• 1/4 cup lard or butter

• 5 Tablespoon water

• 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (cider vinegar will work too)

• 1 egg, beaten

• 1 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350°

Cut the shortening and lard or butter into the flour. Mix together the water, vinegar, egg, and salt. Add that to the shortening flour mixture and mix together until a ball forms. No need to chill – you can roll it out right away. Roll half the dough to about a 1/4” thickness. Cut out rounds slightly bigger than the bottom of your muffin tin and push the pastry dough into the tin forcing the dough up the sides.

Nutmeg custard

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

• 3 eggs, yolks separated from whites

• 1 T vanilla

• 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground (if you can) nutmeg

• 3 heaping Tablespoons flour

• 1 can evaporated milk, adding enough water to it to make 3 cups

Mix together the sugars the egg yolks the butter and flour and milk. Whip your egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the sugar mixture. Scoop this into custard your tart shells (I used a quarter cup measuring cup) about 3/4 full…making sure to mix it every now and then because the mixture will settle and separate in no time at all.

Bake in the preheated 350° oven until the pastry is lightly browned and the custard just barely has a little wiggle left in it. Remove from the oven place on the cooling rack and allow to cool using a butter knife by the tarts out of the muffin tens and let cool all the way. Enjoy

Apr 01

A New Baked Pasta and Cheese

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I had a hankering for macaroni and cheese…but I don’t really keep pasta in the house…but I wondered. Why can’t I used a fresh wide pasta, like a parpardelle? 

This is what I did

1 diced red or green bell pepper1 diced medium onion

1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (optional of course–all these veggies are optional…can use any…more…less…go for it)

2 cloves garlic minced

2T olive oil

1 1/2 cup heavy cream (you could use milk, but why)

4 oz, or 1/2 brick cream cheese

2-3 cups shredded cheese. (I used gruyere and sharp cheddar)

Salt and pepper to taste

A few grates of freshly grated nutmeg…or about 1/2 tsp

3T butter

1 cup bread crumbs (panko, flavored…your choice)
Pasta

Of course you can use dry pasta of your choice. I would say a box1 lb of any pasta of your choice. but don’t cook it all the way…keep it a bit under cooked because it’ll cook more in the oven) I used home made pappardelle (a wonderfully wide noodle and I kept them on the thicker side when I rolled them) based on:

1 1/2 cup flour

3 eggs

2T olive oil

1 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients and knead for 10-12 minutes. Rest covered for 1/2 hour during which time you can make the cheese sauce. Then cut the ball of dough in quarters and roll out each quarter to the thickness of your choice. Flour and stack the sheets of pasta roll up the short way and cut 1 1/2 -2″ wide noodle. Boil water and add the noodles and stir so they don’t stick together. Cook for 30 seconds (really just 30 seconds). Drain the noodles and add them to the cheese/vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350

In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high flame. Add the peppers and onions and salt and sautéed for a few minutes. Add the garlic and pepperoni and sauté a bit longer until the vegetables are soft, and the pepperoni crispy, but be careful not to burn the garlic or pepperoni. This will thicken over time. It looks loose, but no worries. 

Add the cream or milk, the creamed cheese, and the cheeses and lower the heat to medium…mix until the cheeses melt. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and mix into the cheese sauce. 

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over a medium high flame. When melted, add the bread crumbs and toss or stir constantly until they are light-golden brown. 

Spray a 9×9 (or 8×8 or any baking or casserole dish you like) with cooking spray. Pour in the cheese pasta mixture into the baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes until it’s bubbly and nicely golden brown. 

Mar 31

Dr Mr. Trump

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Just gonna put this out there

Remember when you said you had a secret plan to defeat Isis? And then you said that you’d ask your generals for the plan within 30 days?

Remember when you said you wouldn’t take the presidential salary?

Remember when you said that you would repeal Obamacare on day one and then said oh I never said that?

Remember when you told everyone that you were going to build a wall along the southern border and make Mexico pay for it?
Then you told everyone that you’re going to have congress pay it?

Remember when you called Hillary Clinton a liar?

Mar 20

My Soda Bread

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Due to lots of chorus activities around St. Patrick’s Day, I completely forgot to make my Soda bread. I love soda bread. I love its simplicity and plainness. No wonder it is such a good companion for tea. But.  And no apologies to those vocal defenders of soda bread. Yes I know you got your recipe from your Irish ancestors and I know how dear you hold the simplicity of your soda bread. But I firmly believe that a basic soda bread can be a canvass for other flavors. My research has found that a daily soda bread is a simple dish…no butter, no sugar, no eggs…often, no raisins. But on festive occasions and feast days, the humble soda bread was “dressed up” and additives like butter, dried fruit, even nuts were added. Here is mine. I added a pinch of sugar, rubbed in some butter to help the bread keep for more than a day, and I added some toasted pecans. A brush of an egg yoke wash and a sprinkling of flaked sea salt before baking pushes this over the top. 

If I have offended your delicate sensibilities of what soda bread “should” be, please save your energy and hold as tightly to your narrow definitions. I’ve waged bigger battles over other firmly held food beliefs (sugar in corn bread, etc). This is my soda bread. Don’t like it? Don’t make it. 

1/2 lb whole wheat flour (or about 1 3/4 cup)

1/2 lb all purpose flour (white)

1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cup butter milk (or half buttermilk/half cream)

4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold,  cut in small cubes

3/4 cup raisins soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then drained)

1/2 cup coarsly chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 and make sure a rack in in the middle of the oven. 

Mix the flours, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined. Rub in the butter until no large chunks remain. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. Mid way through give it a feel with your hands…you’ll feel if it needs more buttermilk…you will also see lots of flour in the bottom of the bowl. You want to work this dough as little as possible so you have a tender bread.  On a piece of parchment paper, form into a ball. Brush with a beaten egg yolk mixed with a Tablespoon of milk, sprinkle with sea salt. Cut your traditional cross in the dough, and Darina Allen (the Julia Child of Ireland) pierces each of the four quadrants with the knife, to “release the fairies”.

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 425 and bake until the bread is gold n brown and sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom. 

Try, if you can (I often cannot) to let the bread cool. Of course slather with butter and enjoy

Jun 20

Bunnies and Flowers

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The mystery of the black and white bunny is solved! And flowers are blooming. 

Bunny love #colorblind


Here she is with her wild bunny friend munching on grass in the back yard. Until last night we thought she was just a loose domestic bunny. Turns out she is out neighbor’s pet! A free-range domestic bunny, she said. The rabbit (whose name I forget) goes out each morning and comes home every day. Since she hasn’t eaten flowers or anything so she is welcome to visit…her little grey friend too. 

I never noticed any Philodendron flower with this subtle shading before…just the top petal! Maybe I didn’t look close enough. But it’s quite pretty. 

Philedendron White with yellow


And then this amazingly rich orange-red day lily. And the fragrance. 

Day Lily


That’s it from here. We will leave it without any ugly commentary of other happenings. Let’s hope we get to work intact, though. 

Jun 18

Really? Again?

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It’s just in my nature to obsess— to try and try and try, tweaking here and there, until I feel I’ve reached perfection. These are not perfection. But I was wondering how the end biscuit would be if I cut them out AND baked them in my cast iron drop biscuit pan

Not drop biscuits in a drop biscuit pan


The results are really good. Flakey and tender. Just not that explosive height that I like. So future experiment are certain. 

THEN I had an idea. Why not make and egg and biscuit sandwich (admittedly stolen from Carole who made some recently). But how to make the egg the same size as the biscuit? Cook it in the same pan, silly-while it’s still hot from the oven. 

Egg biscuit!


Now that’s perfect! (IMHO)

Jun 07

Ever since I posted pictures of the newly planted garden, people have cautioned me to put up a fence against woodland critters. I am certain there is a groundhog who lives in our back yard. 

groundhog digs (get it? a little double meaning)


So I bought some chicken wire (twice…don’t believe the measurement in the package. Because apparently, 25′ may not mean 25’…mine was more like 24’4″. Not enough to to go around my raised beds.) I spread out some cedar mulch to discourage critters from getting into the garden. Maybe some will get in. But hopefully most will stay out. 

Out new fenced-in garden.


Will I be cleverer than the back yard critters? Time will tell. 
Oh. I almost forgot. Right when I got home the skies opened up. And I had to wait to work on the garden. And then this happened. 

Rainbow over Harris House

Jun 04

I think it is fair to say that I might be obsessed with biscuits. As simple as they are to make, it seems there are an infinite number of recipes and techniques.

I love most of the recipes, the richness of the Pioneer Woman’s Cream Biscuits (I swear I saw an episode where she used heavy cream in her recipe), or the quickness, simplicity, and deliciousness of Clara Parkes’ drop biscuits. I feel like I am coming close to my ideal recipe (a riff off of King Arthur’s Flour biscuits as taught in the Craftsy.com class, “Tea breads, biscuits, scones, and more.” (I think it’s a great class by the way.)

But, my biscuit cutters were lost in the move, so I ordered some more. Only, they haven’t come yet. And last night, Michael showed me this: 

Cooks Country Magazine


Square biscuits using the addition of cream cheese? Intriguing. So I jumped. 

Cream Cheese Biscuits


Easy to make if you happen to have cream cheese on hand (oh yeah and cake flour-which I don’t always have). 

The end result—yum! Not quite as flaky as “mine”—these have a little more structure. And I don’t always have cream cheese and/or cake flour. But tender and light with lots of flavor. A very good recipe in my humble opinion. 

Cooks Country Cream Cheese Biscuits


Anyone hungry? These are best fresh! I got extra!

May 27

Things are falling in place. You all know how important this room is to me and with my favorite things in place, it is becoming home. 

Some other random thoughts:

  1. I have a lot of knitting books. The EB Library Knitting Annex?
  2. I have a lot of cookbooks…see #1 above
  3. I love walking in the grass in my backyard in bare feet!
May 26


Michael set up the Sun Room. It’s such a lovely room…you’re sort of outside, but away from the mosquitoes (yeah…living by wetlands, bound to have ’em). It has sliding screen doors on 3 sides giving an amazing cross breeze. We’re going to enjoy that room a lot this summer! 

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