Monday, September 28, 2015

Basic Cornbread

Last night was a blood moon - it was also the Chinese Harvest Moon Festival.  We called and texted family, all of us sitting outside our distant doors, feeling close because our eyes were all seeing the same drama of death and rebirth as the pale pearl of the moon plunged into an eerie blood-bath shadow and then rose again pure and fair into the velvet sky.  

We oohed and ahhed together, although apart, and then those at this address went in and ate cornbread and Full Moon Soup - the food of home.

This moist, dense cornbread is so good with hot spicy soups. No need to slather on butter or honey, it's all baked in already.  I learned this recipe from years of baking a very similar version from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook - some of her optionals (butter, honey) are for me entirely required.  Though I've made this with bacon fat in place of some of the butter and served it up with lots of juicy greens and that's not at all bad.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter a large oven-proof skillet with (obviously)
Whisk together
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
In a separate bowl, combine
2 cups buttermilk, kefir, or plain yogurt
2 eggs
6 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Stir the wet into the dry, mixing just enough to thoroughly combine. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch and a blade into the center comes out clean.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Peppermint Fudgie Brownie Pie

Bittersweet: the first Thanksgiving 
without any daughters at all 
to share the cooking.
But the boys and I will still be making 
her signature chocolate pie
sprinkled with crushed peppermint.

And I'm posting the recipe here just in case she finds she needs it herself. 

Use your favorite unsweetened chocolate:
the better the chocolate, the better the pie:  
I think Mad├ęcasse has far and away the best flavor,
sprightly, with an almost citrus tang and smooth rich undertone,
beautifully and fairly made from start to finish in Madagascar.

Using a half batch of Best Pie Crust, partially pre-bake an empty pie shell to the palest light brown.  Don't forget to refrigerate shell  for 30 minutes before baking.

After baked shell is cooling on a wire rack, set oven to 350. 

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine and warm over low heat (or a double-boiler), stirring occasionally until melted
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (or 1½ sticks) 
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate 
 Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together until smooth
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
Then stir in melted chocolate and mix well.

Pour filling into the partially baked shell.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is just set.  (Give pie a quick tug to see if it jiggles).

Sprinkle with 
  • crushed peppermint stick
Transfer to a wire rack and let it cool to room temp.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cinnamon Spice Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

If you love pies, you will adore Patty Pinner's Sweety Pies
the cookbook from which this recipe is adapted.
This is our traditional dessert for Easter Sunday after a simple meal
of fresh bread, fish and honeycomb.

Make one batch Best Pie Crust.   Line pie pan with half the dough. Reserve the other half for lattice, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine in a large bowl and mix thoroughly
  • ⅔ - ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  •  ⅛ teaspoon cloves 
Add and toss gently until spices thoroughly cover

  • 3 cups halved fresh strawberries
  • 3 cups 1-inch chunks fresh rhubarb (or frozen and thawed)

Let stand 15 minutes, then toss again.  Spoon into the uncooked pastry shell.

Dot filling with
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut small

Roll out lattice (or cut flower or heart shapes with cookie cutter) and place over filling.

Brush top pastry lattice (or shapes) with 
  • heavy cream
and sprinkle with
  • coarse sugar
Bake 30-45 minutes until the crust is a lovely golden brown, the rhubarb is tender and the kitchen redolent of spices and the warm spring smell of strawberries.