Category:Dessert’

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

 - by Elizabeth

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Ice Cream

I seem to be haunting Smitten Kitchen a lot these days, as this one is another of her recipes, updated and improved since she had the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie contest and didn’t come out so well.  Read the whole story on her blog–it’s in vintage Deb language, and I love reading it.  I was in the market, thinking about this pie, and luckily it was online, so I picked up the pound-and-a-half of rhubarb and the strawberries, then went home to make it.

Strawberries and Rhubarb

I’m sure hacking the rhubarb out of your own garden would be the Best Thing, but the local grocery store is the best I can manage, and it seems they only carry rhubarb for a very limited time, so I have to jump right on it, when it shows up.

Crust

You’ll also need your favorite recipe for a two-crust pastry pie. Here’s my favorite: Quick and Easy Pie Crust.   AVOID those nasty pre-made pie crusts in the grocery store.  It’s quick and easy to make your own.

3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
OPTIONAL: 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze — see below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (I like to roll it up over my rolling pin — gently — then lift it over to the pie plate and unroll it.  I then ease it into the plate.)

Strawberries and Rhubarb

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.

Filled with Butter Dots

Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Trim bottom pie crust even with pie plate edge, then moisten the exposed edge by running your finger, dipped in water, over the dough.

Top Crust

Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. (I used a tiny heart cookie cutter for my vent holes.)  Transfer it to center over the pie filling, as above. Trim top of pie dough so that it hangs over the pie plate by 1/2 to 1.”

Prebaked Pie

Tuck rim of dough underneath the bottom crust and crimp it decoratively.  (I sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the pie crust.  But others like to use the egg wash mentioned above.  Do one or the other.)

Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.  Mine weren’t visible, so I lifted the pie to the stovetop, and listened — I could hear it bubbling.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When full cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

Strawberry Rhubard Pie

She notes that pie can be made 2-3 days ahead.  But why?  Make it fresh and eat it all up.

IMG_1885

Something we like to do at our house is to place the cut pieces of pie dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon-sugar, then bake at 400 degrees until they are lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  We call them “crusties.”

Apple Galette

 - by Elizabeth

10_Finished Apple Galette

This recipe is another from the Smitten Kitchen website, who got it from Alice Waters, who got it from Jacques Pepin.  Smitten Kitchen calls it “Simplest Apple Tart,” but my husband, who lived two years in Belgium and France, calls it a “galette.”  I’m going with his title.

1_Cut Apples

I learned to cut chunks of apple like this from my sister Christine, a stellar cook who taught me a lot of Kitchen Truths.  None of this coring business–just whack if off from around the core. Now on to the recipe.

Dough:
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85 grams) butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3  1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) chilled water

Filling:
2 pounds (910 grams) apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar

Glaze:
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚˚

To make the dough:  Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

3_Galette Dough

Add a bit of water, toss, then add a little more water, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it mostly holds together. If too dry, that is — it won’t be gathered into a ball — add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk and slip into a ziploc bag and then refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove. Let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.

5_Greased small Tart Pan

I held up my pan to make sure it was the right size.

4_Dough Into Pan

Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan.  (You can go free-form, by simply using a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish; that’s where my husband gets the name “galette”). Heat oven to 400°F.

6_Filling the Tart

And now the filling: Overlap apples on dough in a ring up to the sides if using the tart pan (or 2 inches from edge if going free-form). Continue inward until you reach the center.

7_Filled Tart Pan

I lay another layer in the center, as the first time I made it, the center collapsed.  I sprinkled some granulated sugar lightly over the apples, about 1 Tablespoon.  Then fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

8_ Brush with Butter

Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over dough edge and apples.

Smitten Kitchen notes that if you can’t get that much sugar onto the apples, that’s fine, as it makes a lightly tart/sweet dish that way.  (I think by putting one Tablespoon on before folding the dough back, I was able to get all of my sugar on.)  And here’s my true confession: I forgot the butter and sprinkled the sugar all over everything, THEN remembered the butter.  So I just slathered on top of the sugar.  My first one of these I did it correctly, but they both turned out in the end to have the same amount of deliciousness.

10_Finished Apple Galette

Bake in center of 400-degree oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes. Yes, do that.2_Apple Peelings to cook

In the meantime, while the galette/tart bakes, make the glaze by putting the reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes.

9_Appley Juice

She notes to strain syrup through cheesecloth. But I just used a pastry brush from the pan, pushing the peels to the side to get at the syrup.

Remove tart from oven, and set onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes. (If you made the free-form galette, slide the parchment paper-with-galette onto the rack.)

Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

Two-cup Measure

And just asking. . . but why don’t they make two-cup measures like this anymore?  It’s a treasure.

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookie

 - by Elizabeth

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookies

I had planned to make biscotti for the church ladies this week, then remembered that they all sort of nibbled around the corners of that cookie, not wanting to make it sound crunchy, even though outside of their happy mouths no one can hear the crunching, so thought I’d try and find a Valentine Cookie that was quieter.  I found this while searching and proceeded to make them up as directed.  Except I tripled them–Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!  Just make them in a single batch and you and your mixer will be much happier.

I also noticed in the comments that many substituted out the peppermint extract for almond extract.  I think that would be a better choice, as I found the peppermint in full strength to impart an almost bitter taste to the cookie.

I also have an ancient sugar cookie recipe that mixes the ingredients a little differently: cut the butter/cream cheese into the flour, add the eggs/liquids, and go from there.  I am thinking that would have been a lot easier than the mess I made in the kitchen today.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze
1 (12-ounce) package (2 cups) real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Directions

Combine all cookie ingredients except flour in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half; wrap each half in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight until chilled.

Heat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies with 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to wire cooling rack; cool completely.

Melt chocolate and shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, 4-6 minutes or until melted. Dip half of each heart into chocolate. Place onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheets; refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Store refrigerated.

Mom’s Mint Surprise Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_1882

I don’t know where my mother got this recipe, or if she invented it herself, but it’s a cookie I always associate with her and with holiday baking. When I baked up a batch and brought them as a gift to each child at her 75th birthday party, all of us children nodding a knowing smile.

As a child I loved them warm, right out of the oven, or set in the sun on cooler day to warm the mint chocolate surprise waiting inside the spiced cookie.  I liked nibbling the edges of the cookie, freeing me to separate the two halves like those sandwich cookies, and lick off the chocolatey goodness before finishing up the cookie.  However you choose to eat them, they are a winner.

IMG_1871

You’ll need these: Trader Joe’s UFO’s Mint Chocolate Wafers.  Better get two bags because the wafers seem to disappear quickly.

UPDATE: I went in to Trader Joe’s yesterday (December 2013), and they no longer make, nor carry these.  I’m leaving this post up anyway, as it is a good childhood recipe, and maybe someone, somewhere, will make these again!

UPDATE, APRIL 2014: I found some Dark Chocolate Mint Wafers at Kitchen Krafts.  I’ll try them out and see if they work okay.

Barbara Sessions’ Mint Surprise Cookies

2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3  1/2 to 4 cups white flour
2 tsp. each: salt, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
12 oz. bag Trader Joe’s UFO’s Mint Chocolate Wafers

Cream shortening, butter, sugars and honey.  Add eggs, beating well after addition.  Mix together whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup white flour and spices.  Blend and add to creamy mixture.  Add the rest of the flour, depening on the size of eggs you used. Chill.

IMG_1872

Wrap one Tablspoon dough around one chocolate mint wafer.

IMG_1876

Bake 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on rack, if you can stand to wait.  They freeze well.

IMG_1883

Sugar Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

Sugar Cookies

This recipe is for plain old sugar cookies.  The kind that you roll out and cut with shapes, while your granddaughters (and you) try to sneak the dough.  I first made this recipe about 40 years ago while in high school, when we had to bake giant football-shaped cookies for the football players, a fund-raiser hosted by Girls for Gunn.  I was in leadership that year, so took over my mother’s kitchen making 8″ cookie footballs, decorating them with icing, cutting cardboard to fit and stretching plastic wrap over them to deliver on the morning of Homecoming. I have made it multiples of times since, first with my own children and now with my grandchildren.

You can make it ahead and store it in the refridgerator; it may need a few minutes to warm up a bit before you can roll and shape them.  These cookies are good with a shake of sugar over them just before putting them into the oven, or, if you leave them plain, decorated with frosting and sparkles/candycorn/M&Ms, or what have you.  These granddaughters were fascinated by the physics of placing candy corn on the uncooked cookies, then watching the corn melt into strange and unusual formations while in the oven.

Elizabeth Eastmond’s Sugar Cookies           

3 cups sifted (or stirred) flour
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup soft butter (don’t use margarine)
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 Tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

400° F oven  Yield: approximately 72 cookies

Sift flour, sugar baking powder, salt into mixing bowl.  Using electric mixer (or pastry blender) cut in butter until particles are fine.  Add egg, cream and vanilla extract.  Blend thoroughly.  Gather dough into ball.  Chill, if desired, for easier handling.

Roll out on floured surface 1/2 at a time to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch.  (The thinner the cookie, the crispier.  The thicker the cookies, the softer they will be.)  Cut into desired shapes; place on ungreased cookie sheet. {If you don’t plan to frost them, sprinkle them with granulated sugar before baking.} Bake 400°F for 5-8 minutes or until golden.

Lime Sugar Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

Lime Sugar Cookies

It’s been unbearably hot here this past couple of weeks, and it came time to make a treat for the ladies at church and all I could think about was cool things: icy drinks, ice cream, and lime, because for some reason I associate lime with cool summery things.  And I usually make the ladies a cookie, so I went hunting for a recipe.  What I present below is a variation of a recipe found on Epicurious (first published in Gourmet Magazine in July of 2000), incorporating a few of the reviews.

Lime Sugar Cookies_1

While I don’t usually like cookies that take too many steps (I believe you’re just supposed to throw stuff into a mixing bowl, then onto the cookie sheet, then pop the resulting warm baked treat into your mouth), this extra step of making lime sugar is a good step to add, for these cookies are pretty tender, and getting the lime-infused sweetness into them and onto them adds to their appeal.

Lime Sugar Cookies_2

If you don’t have a food processor, I suppose you could use a rasp to grate the lime peel, then blend into the sugar WELL, and it will probably work.  This batch made about 55 cookies.  Last caveat: the dough is really soft and must be chilled for easier handling, so while these are easy to whip up, be sure to chill them at least four hours.  As far as shaping goes, I used a small cookie dough scoop to get them uniform; alternatively you could roll the dough into the size of a golf ball with your hands.

First make your Lime Sugar
9 limes
2  1/2 cups sugar

Preparation
Remove zest from limes in strips with a vegetable peeler being careful not to strip off the white pith along with the zest (a little won’t matter, but pith imparts a bitter flavor). Unchopped, the zest measures a healthy one cup (see photos above).  Place sugar in the food processor, add lime peels and grind until mixture is pale green with bits of zest still visible. Lime sugar may be made 3 days ahead and kept, chilled, in an airtight container, but could also be frozen for longer storage.  NOTE: The sugar becomes aerated in the food processor; do not pack when measuring.

Now make the Cookies
2 and 1/4 sticks (18 tablespoons) butter, softened
6 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
3 cups lime sugar
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

Preparation

Beat together butter, shortening, and lime sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt together then add gradually to the egg mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.

Cover and chill dough until firm, at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lime sugar in a bowl.  Using a small cookie scoop about the size of a golf ball, scoop balls of dough into the sugar mixture, then roll to cover well. (At our house, we put the sugar mixture in a ziploc bag, add the dough balls to that and shake gently to cover them in sugar.)

Lime Sugar Cookies_3

PROPERLY PLACED COOKIES

Shake off excess, then place 2-3 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Press lightly with bottom of a drinking glass to flatten slightly.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven 11 to 12 minutes, or until pale golden with slightly dark golden edges. (Don’t overbake.)  Immediately transfer with a metal spatula to a rack set. Cool cookies.  Dough can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap.  Cookies keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 2 days.

 Lime Sugar Cookies_4

FAIL.

This is why you shouldn’t crowd the cookies.  They were still good, but required 13 minutes to cook and were slightly square. Confession: I still packaged them up and gave them out, but put the prettier ones on top.

Quick and Easy Pie Crust

 - by Elizabeth

Strawberry Rhubard Pie

Based on the old-fashioned taste test, this is a winner pie crust recipe, and it’s easy, too.  And it tastes WAAAAAY better than those things you buy in the store, although if you have broken your hand or something, you’ll just have to buy those instead.  This recipe makes a one-crust pie shell.  For a two-crust pie, please double.

In a medium bowl, place:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend together, then cut in 1/2 cup shortening until the pieces look like little peas.  Here’s a video, with an annoying beep, with the cook using a pastry blender, OR, here’s a video, with narration, of the cook using two knives.

pastry blender

I’ve done both (the pastry blender is easier).  Pictured above is my favorite kind.  If the dough stuff gets caught in the loops, just run a knife over it to get it out.  You’ll know what I mean when you use it.

Toss in 3-4 Tablespoons of really cold water, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, fluffing and tossing with a regular dinner fork, until the dough starts to hold together in clumps, and when you try to gather it together in a ball with your hands. . . you can.  The less you work your pie crust, the more tender it will be.  And the least amount of water you can put in keeps it from being soggy.

getting dough into pie plate

Roll it out to the desired size, usually about 11″ round for a regular pie, then roll it back onto your rolling pin, and lift it onto your pie plate.  This website has some pretty good pictures of the process, including the cutting in business (it’s where the picture above was taken from).

Crust

Follow the directions in your recipe for baking and filling, but generally, if you are going to cook an unfilled pie crust, you’ll need to weight it down with a square of tin foil, on which you’ve placed uncooked rice or beans.  Bake for about 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Above you see my Foley Pastry Frame, which is a square of canvas stretched between two bars and held in place by wire thingies.  I also have a stockinette for my rolling pin.  I wash this only when it becomes heavily spattered with food, and believe it or not, I store it in the freezer to make sure the cupboard moths don’t find it.

And one last detail: I think a rolling pin with ball bearings makes life easier, but you get to choose.

Reindeer Christmas Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

My daughter informed me that these are all over Pinterest, but I found them by following a series of links to *this* page, where I swear this cook has photoshopped her cookies to look that good.  Or maybe she’s just a better baker than I am, or maybe it’s because I substituted a cube of butter for some of that shortening — thinking it would taste better — but forgot how soft it makes cookies.  So note to self: don’t swap out the shortening.  Now, prep your stuff.

I couldn’t find baby chocolate-dipped pretzels, so if you think I was going to dip them all, you don’t know me very well.  Spend your time where it counts, and improvise the rest.  So I cut all my sort-of-mini pretzels in half.  Antlers are kind of hoary looking, aren’t they?

I purchased minty white chocolate M&Ms for the nose.  They come in a package with red and white.  We ate all the white ones, while saving the red ones for this project.  I had also purchased mini M&Ms for the eyes.  We decided we liked brown and blue, and that the reindeer with the green eyes looked like Zombie Reindeer (so that would be for a different holiday).

Make up a double batch of the dough in the Christmas Kiss cookies. Roll them into 1-inch balls, but I have to admit that I used my cookie scooper, which I think is 1 and 1/2 inches. Place a couple of scoops of sugar in a large plastic baggie, drop in the balls of cookie dough, and shake lightly to coat them with sugar (so much easier than rolling them around in a dish).

Flatten them slightly with the bottom of a glass, then pinch their “nose” slightly, to get that elongated shape.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.  QUICKLY set in a matching pair of antlers, then do the nose, then the eyes last.  Or get someone to help you: my husband did all the antlers while I was throwing on noses and eyeballs.

Let cool on the cookie sheet.  When mostly cool, transfer to a rack.

NOTE: you can see I used parchment paper on this batch.  You can buy it in rolls from the grocery store or (now) from Costco.  If you don’t use parchment paper, the world won’t end.  However, you may want to transfer your cookies to the cooling rack when they are still sort of warm, instead waiting until they are really cool.

Christmas Kiss Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

Cream together:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar.

Add:

1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not flavoring, use extract!).

Mix together then add to creamed mixture:

1 3/4 cup flour  (I use 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 cup white flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Form into balls about 1 inch in diameter, roll in granulated (white) sugar.  Bake in 350 oven for about 8-10 minutes or until set.  Take out of oven and immediately press a chocolate kiss into center.  Remove to wire rack  to cool.  Kisses will get soft as they take on the heat of the cookies, but will firm up again as the cookies cool.

Cranberry, White Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

I found this on the web, and decided to try it out for my monthly treat for the ladies at church.  That’s usually never a good idea, but it turned out fine.  I do think, though, that these could benefit from a little something or other to make them pop: maybe a touch of cinnamon?  nutmeg?  If you figure it out, leave a comment and let me know.

I had just purchased a huge bag of fresh cranberries and wanted to bake something using them.  I found scads of recipes on the web using dried cranberries, but few with fresh cranberries.  I adapted one to make these cookies.

I think these bake up best when the dough is cold, so if you are going to have everything at room temperature, please leave time to chill the dough before baking.

1 cup cold butter, or barely softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rind of one orange, grated (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 bag (12 oz) white (or vanilla) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed & picked over, then coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Measure out cranberries, then place in a wire mesh strainer and rinse, picking out the wrinkled or barely ripe berries.  Place in a food processor and pulse one or two times, or until coarsely chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor, it can be done by using a heavy knife, but it is tricky.  Be of good courage.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until it is light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in vanilla extract and orange rind.  Mix well, then add in oatmeal.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Add to the butter mixture until blended, but don’t overbeat.  Add chopped fresh cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate chips, stirring well to incorporate throughout.

Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto parchment-covered cookie sheet about 2 inches apart; cookies will be about the size of a small plum.  (I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator at this point to chill before baking, but if you chilled the dough after mixing, you should be fine.)

Bake for 19 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown.  Let set 1 minute outside of the oven, then drag the parchment sheet with cookies on it, onto a rack to let them cool.  Yield: about 24 large (3″) cookies.

Cook’s Note:  Parchment paper can be purchased at any grocery store. I noticed that Costco carried it last time I was there.  One recipe said you could just grease the pan, but be vigilant during baking so the cookies don’t burn.