Today, for the first time ever, I made a peanut butter pie. What took me so long?
Mike Perillo, husband of blogger Jennifer Perillo, nudged me into the kitchen. I'll have to send a little word of thanks into the universe for Mike to hear. See, Mike died early this week.
On Monday morning, my first day back from vacation, I caught up on my Twitter feed. I saw several tweets mentioning Jennifer. I quickly realized that her husband had passed away. I paused. I shook my head. I re-read. Perhaps I'd misread? I didn't. My heart sank.
Jennifer isn't someone I know personally. But in my on-line circle, she's someone I know. And you know how that feels right? Think about the people you've met on-line. I'm sure there are some "big names," like blogger Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. But I bet there are other smaller, but no less important, people too. On Facebook alone I've connected, and re-connected, with lots of folks. These folks are no less "real" to me than the person I chat with at my local grocery store. Community is community. That I know for sure. And in 2011, a part of our community might be "virtual" but it's still community.
When I learned that Jennifer lost her husband suddenly, my heart broke open for her and her family. And I wanted to do something. But, for the moment, there wasn't anything practical I could do. Then Jennifer posted a simple request: make a peanut butter pie to remember Mike. Jennifer shared that this was his favorite pie and she kept meaning to make it "tomorrow" for him.
I love tomato tarts! The other day I shared a recipe for a caramelized onion and tomato tart with a Parmesan crust in my "Gluten-Free Tuesday" column on SeriousEats.com. (Do you read my column there? I hope so!) As I said in that piece, I love (love, love, love) tomato tarts. So today I want to share another one of my favorite tomato tart recipes with you.
This time, however, it isn't a exactly a tart. Let me explain.
Galettes, sometimes called "rustic tarts" or "open faced pies" are made by piling a filing (sweet or savory) into the center of a piece of pastry. The type of pasty used is up to you. For sweet galettes (like apple or blueberry), I often use a pie crust-tart hybrid. For savory galettes, I use a sturdy short-dough. Unlike traditional short doughs which contain lots of butter, this dough contains only four tablespoons. Since a galette is baked on a flat baking sheet, and not in a tart or pie pan, the dough needs enough integrity to hold it's shape while baking. And this dough does just that. In fact, thanks to the zucchini and fresh mozzarella (which gives off lots of liquid during baking), my galette "leaked" a little during baking. The crust, however, was fine. It didn't get soggy at all--even with a little cheesy goodness running out of the top.
After spending two weeks reviewing the edits on my upcoming cookbook (and what a week that was!), my husband and I headed to Maine for a week.
Do you know what culinary treat is all over Maine? (Beside lobsters and blueberries, of course.) Whoopie Pies! I LOVE whoopee pies and having to pass them up everyday ignited a desire in me that I've rarely experienced since going gluten-free.
While we'd rented a hotel with a kitchen and I cooked every day, I wasn't about to bake while on vacation. I mean, the beach called. Not the oven. But when I got home? Different story! It was time to bake.
Before making a batch of whoopie pies, I glanced at my "to bake" list. On the list? Chocolate zucchini bread! Hmm…Chocolate zucchini bread. Whoopie Pies. Inspiration hit: Chocolate Zucchini Whoopie Pies. I couldn't get into the kitchen fast enough.
To create the recipe, I kept the cinnamon-scented notes from chocolate zucchini bread and the dense, moist texture from whoopie pies. The resulting whoopie pies are some of the best I've ever eaten. And I've eaten a lot of whoopie pies.
You know those foods that you just prefer a certain way? I'm like that with chowder. I like my chowder thick but not ultra rich. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Let me explain.
Often chowder's richness comes from cream. When too much cream is used in the recipes, I find the flavor of the chowder a little blunted. To get around this--and still enjoy a thick consistency--up the amount of flour in the roux to thicken the soup. Instead of a 1:1 ratio of fat to flour, I use a 1:2 ratio and omit the cream altogether. This lends a nicely thick soup without being too rich. If you prefer a thin chowder, add an additional cup of chicken or vegetable broth.
By the way, this chowder has a little spicy kick under the sweetness of the corn. If you'd prefer chowder without the kick, just leave out the hot sauce.
Remember "Funfetti"? The sprinkle-studded cake mix that Pillsbury sells? My memories of Funfetti include disappointment. The mix was introduced when I was a kid--and completely susceptible to advertising. I don't remember the exact ad but, like most ads of the late 1980s and early 1990s, I'm sure it promised something bordering on magic.
The ads hooked me and soon I wanted to make a Funfetti cake. I decided that Funfetti was THE BEST CAKE EVER! And surely the most fun to make! I mean, "fun" was included right in the name! . . .
Way back in 2006, I created a recipe for Pigs in a Blanket. It used a savory muffin-like batter to coat the wieners. I thought they were delicious. My friend, Jessica, did not. "Pigs in a blanket need to have a blanket! Not be encased in batter and baked." For someone who eats "Pigs in a Blanket" once or twice a year, she clearly had strong feelings about them.
And so did you! My original recipe appeared in the little gluten-free baking newsletter I used to write. (A print newsletter! Can you imagine?) Most people said it was good but not what they really wanted.
Back to the kitchen for me! I set out to create a recipe that used a wrapped around the wieners. After a bit of putzing, I created this recipe. It's an easy recipe to make. It's just . . .
How's winter treating you? Around here, it feels like one storm after another. Last week, during one of those storms, I wanted a cookie. Badly. Storms do these things to people! You want cookies and you want them now!
Since there were no cookies in the house I needed to bake a batch, which was fine with me. Baking during a storm gives me something to do and allows me to avoid laundry.
I mentioned on Facebook that lately I've had a thing for chocolate-covered raisins. Isn't it great how tastes change? For years, I didn't like raisins. Now, I'm a fan. Staying with my newfound love for chocolate-covered raisins, I decided to make a batch of chocolate-chip-raisin oatmeal cookies. Only I didn't stop there.
When I went to pull the raisins and chocolate chips off my shelf of "stuff", I noticed coconut. The bag came off the shelf. Then I spotted the bag of almonds. It, too, came off the shelf. Finally, I noticed the bag of flaxmeal. And, you guessed it, it joined the other ingredients on my table. Now cookies with just chocolate chips and raisins seemed boring!
I didn't want to build a cookie recipe from scratch, I decided to modify my tested oatmeal cookie recipe. In addition to replacing the white rice flour with brown rice flour, I also dropped the cornstarch. The cookies, thanks to all the ingredients I decided to add, just didn't need the structure of the starch to hold them together.
And the result? Let's just say they were so good, I didn't even mind the weather.
A few years ago, while at a Christmas Open House hosted by a fantastic local art shop, I noticed a little sign next to a coffee urn that said, Chocolate Eggnog. "Well, that is either terribly amazing or amazingly terrible," I thought. I mean, the components are all there. You've got eggnog (good) and chocolate (great) Yet with food just because components work separately does not mean they are all that great combined---like spaghetti tacos, for instance.
After checking out the ingredients, I tied a sample. And it was…amazing. The spiciness of the eggnog worked really well with the chocolate.
For some silly reason, I didn't ask Beth, the owner, for the recipe. At home I tried to recreate this drink. I failed. My attempted version of the recipe (eggnog and cocoa powder) was just off. When I headed to Artifacts this year, I was determined to get that recipe!
The recipe Beth provided looked deceptively simple: eggnog, hot fudge sauce, nutmeg, and vanilla. But over the years I've learned that chocolate-anything (bars, cocoa powder) varies from brand to brand. A Hershey bar is very, very different from a 70% Cocoa Dark chocolate bar, even though they are both chocolate. Therefore, I wanted the fudge sauce Beth used in her recipe.
Here is a confession: Until recently, I'd never had the classic marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole. Sure, we had sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving but they were roasted and not marshmallow topped.
Apparently the sweet potato fairy decided that I needed to try this dish. So I looked up some recipes. Most of the recipes I found started with a can of candied yams. To that, they added copious amounts of sugar or coca cola/ginger ale and, of course, marshmallows. I know that this is classically a really sweet side dish. However, for my tastes, the recipes I found looked a bit too sweet. I decided that I wanted to honor this dish but make it without using a canned sweet potatoes, soda or a ton of sugar. . . .
This week's Baking with Dorie challenge seemed to be: How much chocolate could a baker could jam into one cookie? Dorie's Greenspan's answer? Five different kinds! That's right! In just one cookie recipe, she managed to get: cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate . . .
I was surprised to learn that salt potatoes are a central New York dish. I'd never heard of the practice of boiling "new" potatoes in copious amounts of salt. Somehow this dish didn't make the 150 mile jump from Syracuse to Albany. I'm sorry it didn't! These potatoes are . . .
This is one of those stories that starts out, "A friend of a friend needed...". So if you are just here for the chocolate cupcake recipe, by all means scroll down. If, however, you want to hear how I managed to volunteer to make several dozen cupcakes for a friend of a friend's wedding. Well, this is for you! . . .