Strawberry & Rhubarb Season Repost

Had to repost this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe.  Now is the perfect time to pick your own strawberries and rhubarb and also to make this crisp.

A request was put in for me to bring my banana cream pie (this one I’d created the crust out of banana Cheerios) to a friend’s barbecue.  But it was forecast to be one of the hottest, most horrifically humid days of the hottest July’s on record, last thing I wanted to do was stand over the stove whisking the eggs and sugar until they reach 165°F.  So instead, I baked a crisp.  At least I could leave the kitchen while it was in the oven.

I had some rhubarb from my CSA and I bought some organic strawberries (we’re into blueberries round here now).  They make such a great sweet-tart combination and I wanted to use up the rhubarb. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
In a bowl mix: 

2 cups of strawberries, cut·
1 1/2 – 2 cups of rhubarb, cut 
sugar- about 1 Tbsp, just enough to coat them
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 Tbsp flour 

Crumb topping:

2 cups oats·        
2 cups oat flour (or wheat flour)        
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
1 stick butter (if you use unsalted add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt) cut into small pieces.  

Mix ingredients together until you notice crumbly appearance.

 Pour into 9×9 inch glass pan and top with crumb mixture.

Bake  it at 400°F for 20 minutes then at 325° for 20 minutes.  I warmed it later at my friend’s in the oven and served it with vanilla ice cream.   

My eldest son loved it! The other kids weren’t interested that evening, but had some as left-overs next day.  Next time I’ll make nectarine and blueberry pie or crisp, my other favorite combo.  

Science Backs Up My Mom (well, when it comes to dairy it does)

Last night I had a conversation about fats in milk … the other person and I were in agreement that full-fat milk, cream cheese, yogurt, etc. tastes so much better than the low-fat or fat-free versions.  I added that we were taught in my family that it’s okay to eat/drink full-fat dairy as long as it was in moderation.  They said they were as well– they were Greek. My family is from New Zealand and Germany. We were wondering if that was one reason, we stuck with the cultural norm.  When I was growing up (and for long after) everyone around us (here in the US) was saying you needed to eat/drink low-fat dairy.  My kids only have low-fat milks at school, where there is no choice. 

Today, while spreading organic butter onto one son’s bagel and full-fat cream cheese on another, I heard on the radio about the latest studies (in a string of recent studies with similar outcomes) that those who consume full-fat dairy are less obese and also do not have higher incidence of heart disease than those who eat/drink low-fat or no-fat dairy.  

“Whatever the mechanism, this association between higher dairy fat and lower body weight appears to hold up in children, too.

As we reported last year, a study of children published in the Archives Of Diseases in Childhood, a sister publication of the British Medical Journal, concluded that low-fat milk was associated with more weight gain over time.” 

It’s what I’ve been saying for years, with only anecdotal evidence, but now science is backing up the beliefs my parents and grandparents passed on to me.

One point made in our conversation last night was that if you look at the ingredient list on those low-fat dairy packages, you notice that there is often added sugar and complex artificial additives to try to make it taste like full-fat dairy.  I remember my mother once, by mistake, bought fat-free cream cheese.  I put it on my bagel and was horribly shocked when I took a bite!  It tasted like plastic! Ick!  I thought it was off/bad – but it was just fat-free.  Think about it, fat-free cream cheese is an oxymoron.  Cream=fat.  Fat-free cream?  Hmm.

A fairly new snack/dessert my eldest two kids are absolutely loving is Greek yogurt with local honey. It’s hard to find full-fat, but I’ll be making my own this week. I buy the Fage 2% plain yogurt. 

Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey.

2% Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey.

The probiotics in yogurt is great for the immune system as is honey!  And if you eat local honey there’s a side benefit– reduced seasonal allergies. (Science still has to prove this one.)

So, if your family does consume dairy– go ahead and buy your kids and yourself the full-fat dairy.  Don’t be afraid. Don’t feel guilty.  Be confident you’re making the right choice. 

Now, to get the schools up-to-date with the science!

Easy Peasy Pie Crust

I used to shy away from making my own pie crusts because I thought it was difficult and time consuming.  Then I read Mark Bittman’s recipe and how it just takes a few minutes with a food processor.  The recipe I use is adapted from Allison Holst’s pie crust in her Bacon & Egg pie recipe.  You can add some sugar for a sweet pie crust.  

Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups AP flour (more if needed plus some for dusting surface)
1/4 cup spelt flour (optional- use more AP if omitting) 
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold & cut into pieces
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vinegar

Add vinegar to milk and set aside.

Pulse dry ingredients together in food processor until mixed.  Add butter and process until butter is mostly incorporated (fine if small pieces, but don’t over do it as you want some chunky bits for flakiness).  

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Slowly add milk/vinegar.  The dough should start coming together, if too sticky add more flour.  It will be done when it forms a ball.   IMG_0961IMG_0964

Place on floured surface and split into 2 or you can wrap well and place in fridge for a couple of days. 
Roll with flour on both sides so it doesn’t stick. 
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When it is your desired thickness/thinness you can place in pie plate.  Fill and bake! IMG_0972 IMG_0976 IMG_0979IMG_0984IMG_0987

This was a version of bacon & egg pie I made because I messed up a recipe calling for egg yolks– I blended the whole egg together; actually 11 whole eggs.  

At least I have a great lunch and possibly dinner!

Now to go get some more eggs so I can make my Thanksgiving Day Apple Cream Pie (using just egg yolks!)


Thanksgiving Pie idea- Triple Layer Pumpkin Pie

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My computer died a few weeks back and I fixed it, by myself :-), a couple of days ago.  So, I’m finally back online with more than a smartphone. 


I will be creating a quick pie crust tutorial but haven’t gotten to it yet.  This year for Thanksgiving I am making a sous vide apple cream pie (not all of it is made sous vide) which I haven’t attempted before. I wanted to give anyone a fabulous recipe (actually 2 different recipes) for a great Thanksgiving Day pie.  The following recipe(s) is one of my favorite pies– Triple Layer Pumpkin Pie.  It is time consuming, so unless you’re super organized and already have 3/4 of your Thanksgiving meal cooked, I suggest it for those who only need to take an item or three to family or friend’s house. 


This is a repost from a couple years back, but made it many times and it’s always a winner.  I’ve used several different custard recipes too.  Might try a sous vide one as well next time.  Pie 1 recipe comes from a pastry chef that used to work at Tavern on Main in Westport, CT many moons ago.

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 Keep saying that I should really call it Quadruple Layer as I put another layer of Whipped Cream on Top of this.

You’ll need a couple of hours to complete this.

Triple Layer Pumpkin Pie– 2 Ways

Pie #2 Crust

2 cups flour

1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces (increase by 1 Tbsp if you don’t use lard)

1 Tbsp cold lard (optional)

1 cup milk

1 tsp white vinegar

(if you use unsalted butter, add 1/4 tsp salt)

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix milk with vinegar and set aside.  In food processor, pulse flour with butter and lard until they are size of beans.  Divide in two and place in refrigerator for 10 minutes.  Take one ball of dough and place on well floured surface.  (If you have marble, granite or any cold counter, use that.) Roll out turning and flipping every 2-3 rolls so that it will become circular and won’t stick to surface.  Ease into pie plate.  Prick center with fork and weigh down center with aluminum foil or parchment topped with pie weights (pennies, dried beans).  Bake 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.   Set aside to cool.

Triple (Quadruple) Layer Pumpkin Pie

Mix together spices:

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

 Then divide into two— one for custard layer, one for mousse layer.

Custard Layer:

1 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

spice mixture from above

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 Tbsp brandy (I used Calvados)

Preheat oven to 350F. With a whisk mix pureed pumpkin and sugars in bowl, slowly add eggs then remaining ingredients.  Pour into pre-baked pie shell and bake until set (about 40 minutes).  When you gently shake it it should move like Jello not liquid, but don’t let it go until it cracks too much (overdone).  Let cool on wire rack then place in fridge for at least an hour.

Whipped Cream Layer:

2 cups heavy cream

1 Tbsp sugar

Whip together until stiff.  Use 1 cup to spread over custard layer.  Reserve 1/2 cup for mousse layer and 1/2 cup for top.  Place pie and remaining cream in fridge.

Pumpkin Mousse Layer:

1 Tbsp unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3/4 cup brown sugar

4 egg yolks

3 egg whites (save or throw away the extra white)

spice mixture from above

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Reserved1/2 cup whipped cream

Mix pumpkin and brown sugar in a medium sausepan.  Add egg yolks (if you separate using shells or hands, make sure no yolk gets in the white) and spices.  Over medium to medium-low heat warm until boiling, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  In small sauce pan put water then gelatin, then warm to dissolve (do not boil).  Add gelatin to pumpkin mixture and whisk until well mixed.  Place saucepan with mixture into a shallow pan of cold water (don’t let water get into saucepan) helping it cool.  Cool until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon.

Whip egg whites and sugar until stiff.  (Copper bowls help egg whites stiffen) Gently fold reserved 1/2 cup whipped cream with egg whites then gently fold together with pumpkin mixture.  Finally spread over whipped cream layer heaping in center.  You can top with more whipped cream, or leave as is. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pumpkin Custard Layer #2 (Alice Water’s Pumpkin Pie)

1 cup cream

2 tsp flour

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

pinch fresh ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp brandy (optional)

In small saucepan whisk together 1/4 cup cream with flour over low heat until it comes to a boil and thickens.  Slowly whisk in remaining cream.  Continue whisking until it returns to boil.  Remove from heat.  In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin and eggs.  In another bowl combine sugars and spices.  Combine all three mixtures and whisk in brandy (Again, I used Calvados).  Pour into pre-baked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes until center is just setting.  Place foil around rim if it’s browning too much.  Let cool on wire rack then fridge before adding other layers.  This one I did the mousse next then the whipped cream. 

They were both delicious, though I couldn’t decide which one I liked better.  My kids were so excited to try it during the baking/making of it and when I was carrying it to car,  but once we got there and there were so many other foods and desserts only my eldest was as enthusiastic enough to eat any.   He loved them both too!

Either custard layer can be used as your traditional pumpkin pie without all the layers. 

Summer crisp- Nectarine & Blueberry


 While away camping with my son’s boy scout troop on Block Island last week I made dinner for 20 adults.  I also made a killer nectarine, peach & blueberry crisp (gluten-free too).  It was done in a Dutch oven on a campfire.  I decided to make another one (without peaches) but added another element by mixing a little lemon curd with whipped cream.  Delicious. 

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I had a little rhubarb and some strawberry compote so I made mini strawberry rhubarb crisps at the same time. 

Recipe below.

Continue reading

Mario the cake

So little time these days to spend time in front of the computer to actually get it all down.  This past week was Thanksgiving and my youngest son’s 5th birthday.  I co-chair a charity event for the library that Mark Twain started a hundred years ago which is happening this Friday.  About 500 people are expected to come to the champagne gala and buy fabulous art by many local artists.  Then the following week I’m co-organizing a holiday party for 75-100 people.  Then several days later I’ve got our cooking club going to a demonstration by a local chef in a neighboring town. 

Ok, so then I also work from home, have 3 kids with growing homework expectations and a teething puppy.  I am not doing so much come next year!  I won’t be doing the library gig.  I will try to turn over some of the other event planning stuff to others (it’s not like I’m getting paid for any of this).  And then I will give more time to my family, my house and getting my business off the ground. 

Well, the one thing that has really suffered is my attention to this blog. I have wanted to take the time, because I love to write and I always hope by sharing that I will inspire others to cook. 

One thing I created this past week (besides a wonderful turkey feast on Thanksgiving) that I was very proud of was the cake I made for my son’s birthday.  I Continue reading


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It’s my middle son’s birthday party/campout tonight.  I made a S’mores cake for our camping theme! Used TJ’s chocolate cake, marshmallows I softened in microwave, my own recipe vanilla cake and meringue frosting.  Then topped it with graham cracker crumbs.