Monday, June 29, 2009

Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

I love a good fruit pie, but sometimes dessert is tastier when the kitchen is a bit cooler. This pie features fruit and a quick cooking graham crust - perfect!

Once the graham cracker crust is baked, the only heat involved in this pie is in cooking the berries. The recipe calls for frozen berries, so it can be made at any time of the year. Here, I'm beginning to cook the berries down with a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest:

Once the blueberry mixture was fully cooked and cooled a bit, I spooned it into the crust and left it in the fridge to set:

The next step in this pie was the sour cream based topping. It is a mixture of sugar, cream cheese, sour cream and a bit more lemon - basically a no-bake cheesecake:

Once the topping was well blended, I smoothed it over the blueberry mixture and put it back in the fridge until time for dessert:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Key Lime Pie

As the weather heats up, I look towards cool, refreshing summer favorites. Although you need to bake (or microwave!) a graham cracker crust, 10 minutes of a hot oven on a sticky summer day is worth the result:

The trick to a good key lime pie is well beaten egg yolks. Here are my yolks, dusted with lime zest, ready to be beaten:

In the process, the yolks fade to pale yellow and get noticably thicker:

The next step is to add sweetened condensed milk:

And the final step? The challenge of waiting a few hours while the filling sets in the fridge!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Challah with Fresh Eggs from the Farm!

Happy Chickens make delicious eggs:

These delicious eggs, available at the greenmarket in New York City's Union Square from Tello's Green Farm, also make delicious Challah:
I split a dozen of these eggs with a friend every week as part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In these programs, groups pay a farmer up front for a share of the season's harvest so that the farmer has the resources to buy seed, machinery and whatever else they may need to keep the farm running. We also get a share of vegetables and in a few weeks, fruit!

The dough made of these eggs seemed a little brighter yellow to me than the dough of previous Challah I've made:

Once it was kneaded, I set it to rise:

And a few hours later, it was ready for shaping:

I split the dough into four portions this time...

to make a four-braid. Even when I've made a recipe before, it is fun to try something new with it:

The resulting rich bread benefited greatly from the fresh eggs!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lemon-Coconut Layer Cake

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Pops!
My parents celebrated 39 years of marriage this past Saturday, June 20th, and to help them start their 40th year, I made a Lemon-Coconut Layer Cake.

The start of many good cakes has nothing to do with the batter, and everything to do with preparing the pans. For this cake, I buttered my three cake pans, then placed a circle of parchment paper in each and buttered that parchment:
After the parchment paper was well-buttered, I lightly floured the pans and set them aside until my batter was ready.

The cake layers were just plain vanilla, made by creaming the butter and sugar, adding eggs, and then alternately adding flour and milk:

In between the cake layers I spread homemade lemon curd and sprinkled a bit of sweet flaked coconut:

Then, on to the frosting. I used a seven minute frosting, which is a sweet, light meringue. The frosting gets its name from the process of making it - you combine your ingredients (egg white, sugar, corn syrup and here, a bit of lemon juice and zest) and beat it while cooking over a double boiler for about seven minutes:

Once the frosting was cooled, I spread a thick layer over the cake layers:
I also added a bit more flaked coconut to the sides of the cake for a garnish. Yum!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I remembered pizza dough as being difficult and time consuming to make from one experience many years ago. This time, the experience was much different:

The dough was started like many other doughs: flour, yeast, salt, water and a bit of olive oil. Traditionally, pizza dough doesn't contain olive oil, but I wanted to try the recipe in my trusty "Breadbaker's Apprentice," so olive oil it is!

Once the flour was incorporated into the wet ingredients, this dough wasn't kneaded - instead, it was stirred by hand for about seven minutes, until it was significantly smoother than before:

I split the dough and put some in oiled bags to freeze for later use:

After resting overnight in the fridge and a few hours on my counter, I spread out a small ball of dough and added sauce...

and plenty of cheese, resulting in a simple and delicious pizza. I'll be experimenting with less classic toppings soon!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Salted Peanut Cookies

There are many more varieties of peanut butter cookies than most people ever taste, and I am delighted to keep making more of them:
This particular recipe, for a salted peanut cookie, is the least sweet I've made. This goes even farther than usual in convincing me that a peanut butter cookie is a healthy snack.

The usual suspects: softened butter, peanut butter, sugars, flour and peanuts, are lined up below:

Once you've creamed the butter and peanut butter, and creamed in the white, then brown sugars, eggs are added in one by one:

Flour is then added in two installments. This dough gets very stiff:

The last step is to add a healthy dose of salted peanuts:

I used my trick of an ice cream scoop to keep my cookies uniform and my hands clean. You can also see here that I frequently scrape the side of the bowl to make sure I use all of my dough!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I've always been a fan of lemon meringue pie, but it isn't very portable. So for a rooftop party at the beginning of summer...Lemon Meringue Cupcakes:

The base of these cupcakes is a hot milk cake, so it starts a bit differently than the usual cake batter, by whipping together eggs and sugar:

And then, once you've added flour and leavening, adding a mixture of warm milk and melted butter:

I cleaned the drops I spilled on my muffin tin with a damp paper towel and popped these into the oven for about 20 minutes:

While the cupcakes were baking, I made lemon curd. In addition to the lemon juice, sugar, egg and cornstarch, my lemon curd recipe has a hefty dose of lemon zest. It really adds to the tart flavor:

I then took the cooled cupcakes and cut a little cone out of the top of each, added a dollop of curd, and replaced the top. The top looks messy now, but the meringue will cover this, and also insulate the cake from further cooking while it is toasted:

Egg white and sugar and then whipped to stiff peaks...

Slathered on top, toasted in the oven, and eaten!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Multigrain Bread with Spelt

After my first loaf of Multigrain Bread, I knew I wanted to try making it again, with different grains. I got some spelt from Cayuga Pure Organics and decided to use that in my modified recipe. Below is the beginning of my dough - flour, yeast, salt, honey, cooked spelt and a mixture of polenta, roughly ground uncooked spelt, wheat germ and water that I left to sit overnight:
I mixed all of this into a very sticky dough that proved a bit tough to knead. I knew at that point that my recipe wasn't quite right yet, but I decided to keep going and see what might happen.

The dough did smooth out and I set it to rise:

Halfway through, you can see the volume growing, and also the light changing in my kitchen:

At the end of the first rise, I was hopeful that the bread would indeed prove tasty:

I spread it into an oval... 

and rolled it up into a loaf:

I sprinkled the loaf with poppyseeds and let it rise once more:

And the final product came out light and delicious, although I will be modifying this recipe before I make it again: