Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It is spring here. The days have been in the seventies and even eighties, though tonight it will go as low as 35 degrees. Both flowers and trees are blooming. We are discussing and planning our annual flower selection this year. I am considering Bee Balm, which is a perennial. It is available in white, pink and purple, and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. We already have several bushes that attract hummingbirds and we would like to continue this trend. Bee Balm grows from two to four feet tall, so it will not work in the area we need to fill, but sounds so interesting that I will find a place for it, if recommended by our local nursery. It is said to have a citrus-mint fragrance. I think I have decided on Dusty Miller as a backdrop to a mass planting of purple Salvia with some violet and white Salvia mixed in. Salvia attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, also. So we will have quite the fragrant and busy backyard, if all goes as planned!

The following recipe was always one of my favorite quick dessert recipes. It can be made at the last minute for unexpected guests, almost everyone enjoys it, and it does not require a separate frosting.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Serves 9

1 8-1/2 ounce can crushed pineapple
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum, optional

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Drain the pineapple reserving the syrup. Melt the butter in a 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan. Add the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the reserved syrup. Arrange the pineapple evenly in the bottom of the pan. 

Add water, and 1 tablespoon rum, if desired, to the remaining syrup to make 1/2 cup and reserve. 

Cream together the 1/3 cup butter and granulated sugar until light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the reserved syrup mixture, beating after each addition. Spread the batter over the pineapple. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm. If there is any leftover cake, refrigerate and serve cold. It will keep for about 1 day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two Potato Salads

A city picnic. So carefree, climbing into the car for a short trip to town. Food from a favorite cafe and a picnic table with a view. Watching the water and relaxing under the gentle northern sun and balmy breezes of early summer.

I try to eat outside as much as possible.

My Mother's German Potato Salad
Serves 8

Most often the picnics of my childhood were much planned for events, awaited with great anticipation. Friends and family were invited and special dishes prepared. My mother's German Potato Salad was always made.

1-1/2 pounds potatoes
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
1 cup celery, chopped fine
8 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water

Cook potatoes in their jackets (skins) in a covered pot until tender. Slice the potatoes while hot. Combine hot potatoes, onion, parsley and celery, gently, in a bowl.

Dice bacon and fry in a skillet. Remove the bacon pieces and add to the potatoes, reserving the bacon drippings in the skillet. Add the flour, salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar, and water to the bacon drippings and heat just to boiling; remove from the heat. Pour over the potatoes and combine well.

Serve this salad warm with chopped parsley sprinkled over the top. Any leftovers are good cold.

Southern-style Cold Mashed Potato Salad
Serves 8

The first time I had a cold mashed potato salad was when I lived in the South. I do not know the history of cold mashed potato salads, but this one is a change from traditional potato salad. It must be made in the spring with early new potatoes.

12 medium baby red potatoes, cooked and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, seeds removed and cut in half
2 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
Salt, to taste
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

Combine mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, oregano, olives and salt, while the potatoes are cooking. Drain the potatoes and toss, perhaps a little roughly, with dressing while still warm. Potatoes will "crumble" and become slightly "mashed." Gently fold in the chopped eggs and chill. Garnish. 

I like this just chilled, not cold.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Caramelized Onions

Why an entire post on caramelized onions? I can eat them, and good caramelized onions are so good.

There are two types of onions - storage onions, available from August through April, and sweet onions, available May through July. Of the storage onions, Red onions, Spanish onions and Bermuda onions, caramelize well. Spring onions caramelize well, but more care must be taken in storage due to their higher moisture content. Keep both types where it is cool and dry, but take extra care not to bruise Sweet onions. Once cut, keep neither longer than two or three days in the refrigerator, wrapped securely in plastic. Do not store in a metal container. 

Serve over baked, broiled or grilled meat or seafood, or vegetables.

Caramelized Onions

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Sweet onions, if in season, or Red, Spanish or Bermuda onions
1 pinch of brown sugar, optional

Thinly slice onions. Heat oil in large skillet over low heat. Add onions and stir often. Cook for 35 to 45 minutes, or more. The onions will brown slowly. Don't burn them by trying to hasten the process. Add the pinch of brown sugar once they start browning, if you desire.  

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I am out of town at a family function as I write this. I am staying at a bed and breakfast which has a refrigerator, sink and microwave. The night before I left town, I went to the grocery store and cooked some food in preparation for this trip. Have food, will travel, is my motto! For this trip with lodging that does not include an oven, I purchased avocados, fresh blueberries, sweet potatoes, spinach, fresh salmon, organic, natural deli ham, all-natural smoked salmon, whole dates and my only packaged treat, cassava chips (a treat because they are already cooked).  On this food, and non-corn-sweetened grape juice, I will survive for a long weekend. The night before I travelled I baked the sweet potatoes and salmon. The rest of the food does not require cooking to eat. 

I have always loved the outdoors, and always packed picnic lunches for long trips during the spring and summer months to avoid fast food restaurants, so this is not a terrible inconvenience. Other than the fact that I was exhausted beyond belief and probably would have resorted to fast food in favor of an early night in bed!

Following is the best I can do without notes - my recipe for Basic Baked Salmon. My favorite salmon is mild tasting, while others prefer a stronger tasting salmon. In particular, I favor wild Pacific salmon for its lack of additives.

Basic Baked Salmon

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Arrange the salmon filet(s) in a single layer in a baking dish, I use a heavy ceramic baking dish. Place the filet skin side down. Turn the tale end under the body so that both ends of the filet are the same thickness. Turn the thinner side edge under for the length of the filet until both sides of the filet are the same thickness. Place in the preheated oven for 15 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the filet and desired doneness. I bake the filet just until it flakes, but is thoroughly cooked throughout. Finding your desired doneness and recognizing when the filet has reached that state may take some practice. I have a sensitive nose and go by smell!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Simple cakes

This, and many of my recipes, are "out-of-date." They require very basic ingredients and only a beginning knowledge of cooking. They go back to a time when "homemade" was being rediscovered, so they are indeed, very old! For me, they bring back memories. I first had this coffee cake shortly after my second child was born and he was still a tiny baby. Of all my recipes, it reminds me the most of his first few weeks. It is a quiet and gentle recipe, not very sweet, or rich, but just right. 

Aunt Nellie's Coffee Cake
Serves 16

Coffee cake:
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk

Streusel (something strewn, in old German):
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons firm butter
1/3 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped, optional

To make the streusel, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter, until crumbly. Mix in nuts, if desired.

To make the cake, beat the sugar into the butter with a mixer until thoroughly incorporated and mixture is light and fluffy. Blend in flour and baking powder alternately with milk. (I always combine my dry ingredients first, but I am a bit of a perfectionist when baking.)

Pour half the batter into a well-buttered and lightly floured 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sprinkle evenly, (or strew!), with half the streusel. Add the remaining batter and spread gently to the edges with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the remaining streusel to top the coffee cake. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 350º F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Check the cake for doneness by inserting a table knife into the center. Crumbs should cling to the knife, but all should be cooked. Cool on a rack and serve from pan. Best served freshly baked and cooled to just warmer than room temperature. It is not good, if too hot. And, make the pan a pretty one for guests. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Zen Thoughts In An English Garden

The title of my next book. 

This is a photograph taken today of a budding White Chocolate Crepe Myrtle.

This next recipe can easily be divided by half. Leave out the vinegar and mustard and I can very happily eat this dish! (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free.)

This recipe will only be as good as each individual ingredient. 

Asparagus with Sauce Vinaigrette 
Serves 8

Serve hot or chilled.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (balsamic or red wine are basics)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
4 pounds fresh asparagus
Hard cooked egg, sliced or chopped, or walnuts, chopped, for garnish

Combine extra virgin olive oil, vinegar of choice and pepper and salt, to taste. Blend in mustard. Whisk until well blended. Refrigerate if prepared in advance, bringing to room temperature before using.

Choose crisp, firm asparagus with closed tips. Break tough ends off each piece of asparagus. Wash thoroughly and place in boiling water to cover. Cook just until tender. Drop quickly in ice water to stop cooking and remove. Drain thoroughly.

Hot asparagus: Whisk sauce a second time, if prepared in advance. Pour room temperature sauce over hot asparagus and garnish.

Cold asparagus: Refrigerate asparagus until thoroughly chilled. Pour sauce (room temperature) over asparagus and garnish. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Matching palominos and pizza

My husband's grandparents opened the rodeo every Friday night, riding into the arena on matching palominos. That was a daunting thing for a young boy to live up to in West Texas.

This is the dish my husband misses the most since our diet changed. It was inspired by a ready made pizza we bought on a regular basis at our local grocer until the store ceased to carry it.

For me: Scrambled Eggs with Sauteed Onions (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, tomato-free, etc.)

Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olive Pizza
Makes two pizzas

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 to 4 tablespoons additional flour
3/4-ounce fresh yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup tomato sauce
6-ounces Feta cheese
12 Kalamata olives, remove seeds if necessary, and cut in half
Sea salt

Dissolve the yeast in a bowl with 3/4 cup warm water.  Make a well in the center of the flour in a large bowl. Place the yeast mixture, salt and olive oil in the well and combine with flour using a wooden spoon. Add more warm water if necessary to make a nice smooth dough.  Place dough in another large, floured bowl and cover. Set bowl in a warm place and leave until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Knead the dough on a floured surface until very smooth with the heel, not palm, of your hand. Divide dough in two equal parts and roll each separately to fit pans, about 1/4-inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on each pizza and spread evenly. The layer of tomato sauce will be thin. Sprinkle each pizza with Feta cheese and Kalamata olive halves. Bake in oven until browned and crusty, about 22 minutes. Remove from oven and season with sea salt. Serve hot. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two Good Strawberry Pies

Photo used with permission.

The best fresh strawberries I have ever had were handpicked in Arkansas. A friend invited me. I was intrigued. I had never gone somewhere to pick fruit before. Even more intriguing was her suggestion that we select a long branch before commencing. We were to use the branch to "swish" through the berry plants surrounding us to scare away the snakes. 

The berries were delicious.

For me: Fresh or frozen cherries. (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free.)

Fresh Strawberry Pie
Makes one 8-inch pie

Strawberry sauce:
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups fresh strawberries

8-inch pastry shell, baked and cooled

For the sauce: Crush washed and hulled berries with the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook over medium heat with water just to a simmer for 3 minutes. Sieve the sauce to remove seeds. Combine the sugar and cornstarch and add to the sauce. Cook over moderately high heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 3 minutes.

For the filling: Rinse and hull strawberries. Slice to desired thickness, or quarter.  Place one-half of the berries in the pastry shell. Pour half the sauce over. Repeat and chill.

Baked Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
Makes one 8-inch pie

4 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced
1 pound fresh rhubarb, rinsed and sliced (do not use tough ends) to the same thickness
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, (chop while cold and keep chilled)
Pastry for a double pie crust, bottom partially pre-baked with egg yolk glaze

Proceed as above for the sauce.

Filling: Combine the berries and the rhubarb. Place one-half of the fruit in the pre-baked pastry shell; pour the sauce over and repeat. Sprinkle with the chopped butter. Cover with a lattice top, or a cut a free-hand design in top crust for a steam vent. Bake at 350º F. for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and refrigerate before serving.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Prelude to Two Good Strawberry Pies

My children were the unwitting guinea pigs of many of my unsuccessful culinary experiments, and the benefactors of a few successes. Following is a prelude to the next post for Two Good Strawberry Pies. It is my sinfully simple recipe for pie crust, which is so rich it should probably be eaten just once a year!

Chloe's Pie Crust
A single crust (make 2 separately for double crust)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter (cut into four pieces)
1/4 cup ice water (at the most)

Combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Sprinkle the ice water over the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing briskly with a fork just until the mixture holds together. Using your hands, press the dough firmly into a flat round disk. Lightly flour a pastry cloth and in the center of the cloth flatten the dough slightly in the middle leaving the edges raised.  Quickly roll out from the center of the dough in all directions equally, never quite reaching the edge. A marble rolling pin works well. Roll quickly, evenly and with a sure hand until the circle is round, 1-inch larger than the pie plate and approximately 1/8-inch thick. Flour the top lightly. Raise the pastry cloth on one side and roll 1/2 of the pastry over onto itself. Lift into the pie plate, unroll and trim the edge by folding the extra crust under and pinching into a decorative shape, or crimp flat with fork tines, as desired.

To pre-bake a single, or the bottom crust, preheat oven to 400º F. Line the pie crust with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Weight with dried beans. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the bottom is set and the edges are slightly browned. For fruit fillings, brush the bottom of the crust with beaten egg yolk, and bake another 2 minutes until the egg yolk glaze is dry.

For a baked crust, follow the steps above, adding 5 to 7 minutes more to the baking time, until the crust turns amber and begins to pull from the pie plate. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Homemade - not always

Crumpets on a grill. Toast and spread with butter when done. Top with almost anything.

For me: Sweet and Savory Dessert with Fresh Cashews (Gluten-free, wheat-free and corn-free.) Probably not especially tasty to those who can eat wheat, but great when your only other option is fresh fruit.

Sweet and Savory Dessert with Cashews
Serves 16

2 cups finely chopped, raw cashews (not salted, not easily found)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup (pure maple syrup)
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine all ingredients and pour into a 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the dessert begins to puff. Do not let edges burn. Serve in small squares.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Yes! I can eat eggs!

Fried Eggs and Ham
Serves 1

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 thin slices of hickory smoked, all natural ham (no additives)
2 fresh eggs
Sea salt

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Heat the ham in the skillet, just until warm. Gently break 2 eggs onto slices of ham. Cook gently until desired doneness. Slide a spatula under each slice of ham and egg and place on a plate. Season with salt.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seriously out to lunch

One time I was flying from Phoenix to Dallas on a very hot summer night. About halfway between cities the pilot came over the speaker and said (I swear), "We don't have enough fuel to make it to Dallas." My theory has always been that flying is dangerous because of human error, and here it was - someone forgot to fill the tank up!  Which is why I pray for flight mechanics!

Time for a good sandwich.  

For me: Fried Eggs and Ham. Yes! I can eat eggs! Recipe tomorrow.

Grilled Rueben Sandwiches
Makes 6 sandwiches

Spread six slices of rye bread with Thousand Island Dressing (mix 2 tablespoons of ketchup with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, for homemade). Top each with a slice of Baby Swiss cheese (or Swiss cheese of your choice), 2 tablespoons of very well-drained sauerkraut, thin slices of premium corned beef and a second slice of rye bread. Butter tops and bottoms of sandwiches with softened butter. Grill or broil on both sides until browned, cheese is melted and all is warm. Slice on the diagonal, in half.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Praying for all flight mechanics

I am so afraid of flying that I even pray for the health of the flight mechanics before I fly!

(Flying is hazardous for those with severe allergies. If you fly, please don't wear scented products. If a person near you says they are allergic to a certain food, don't eat it if they say it will bother them. Ask. It is just one snack or dish. Their life may depend on it in an enclosed space with poor ventilation.)

For me: The roasted chicken, scraps, juices and vegetables must be leftover from the recipe for my roasted chicken. See Sunday Roasted Chicken, posted on March, 10, 2009. This is a staple in my kitchen. (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, etc.)

Homemade Chicken Stock

Roasted chicken carcass, scraps and giblets (giblets, if available)
Leftover juices with vegetables from roasted chicken
Cold water
An 8 - 10 quart stock pot

Place all ingredients, except water, in the stock pot. Add water to cover other ingredients by 1-inch. Bring water to a simmer (do not boil) and skim as necessary. Barely simmer for 4 to 5 hours. This can be done over several days/evenings. Continue to skim fat, solids and foam as they appear. Simmer stock to taste. Season. Cool and strain through cheesecloth into bowl. Refrigerate until fat has hardened on the surface; carefully and thoroughly remove. Use the broth within a day or two, or freeze.  I freeze 1-cup portions for ease of use.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring is here!

A cluster of blossoms on the Bradford Pear tree in our front yard yesterday afternoon.

Many of my meals use roast chicken in some form. Following is my original recipe for Sunday Roasted Chicken, which is delicious. (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, potato-free, carrot-free, etc.)

Sunday Roasted Chicken
Serves 2-4

One 3-1/2 pound chicken
4 medium onions, quartered
1 large head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Dried thyme

Preheat over to 450º F. In a large roasting pan (I always use a dark enamel roasting pan - always), scatter the onions and garlic. Place the chicken over the vegetables. Generously brush the chicken with olive oil, including the cavity. Heavily season the chicken with kosher salt and thyme. Place the chicken over the vegetables and cover.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the chicken is nicely browned, the chicken juices run clear and the vegetables are tender. Let the chicken rest 10 minutes before serving. Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and carve the chicken.  Arrange all on a platter. I often roast two chickens at one time in different roasting pans, just for the leftovers.

Of extreme importance - do not discard the leftover juices, chicken bones or meat. These will be used to make Homemade Chicken Stock tomorrow. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

No special talent required

Recipes can require practice to perfect technique, ingredients that are difficult to attain and hours in the kitchen, all with excellent results. Some are like simple gifts. No special talent required, basic ingredients and delightful results. This is one of those recipes. (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, etc.)

Cauliflower Browned in Garlic Olive Oil
Serves 2 to 4

Cook flowerets from one head cauliflower in simmering water 12 to 20 minutes or until tender. Drain in colander, then on paper towels.

Saute 2 finely chopped garlic cloves in 1/4 cup olive oil briefly. Add cooked cauliflower and saute until edges are nicely browned. Serve hot.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A silver fork, anyone?

The ambulance arrived and carried me from house to hospital. The hospital emergency room staff were the most warm, caring and efficient medical staff I have ever encountered.  I had a silver fork break or fracture, and my hand was partially paralyzed.  A surgeon was in the hospital, just completing another emergency surgery; I would not need to wait.  I made it to the wedding.

After a second surgery, I recovered full use of my hand and wrist; however, the trauma of the surgery(ies) was/were the apparent trigger of my allergies. This is the most serious I will be in this blog.  I am lucky I survived the fall!

Now it is time for some serious comfort food.

For me, a very special treat is fresh Rainier cherries in July. (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free.)

Bread Pudding with Whiskey
Serves 8 to 10

1 loaf stale French bread
1 quart milk
10 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup raisins
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons whiskey

Pudding: Crumble the loaf of French bread into a bowl. Pour the milk over the bread, and let stand for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 325º F. Grease a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish with 1 to 2 tablespoons butter.

In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir into the bread mixture, and then stir in the raisins. Pour the pudding into the prepared baking dish, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned and set; about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 

Sauce: Combine 8 tablespoons of butter and the powdered sugar in the top of a double boiler and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very hot. Remove from the heat. Beat the remaining egg well and whisk into the sugar mixture.  Remove the top pan from the base, and continue beating until the sauce has cooled to room temperature.  Add whiskey to taste.

To serve, cut the pudding into squares and transfer each square to a heatproof serving dish. Spoon the whiskey sauce equally over the squares and place under a preheated broiler until bubbling.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I fell down the stairs

My daughter was getting married.  On schedule!  (More about that later.)  It was the morning of her wedding day and we were having our hair and make-up done at her best friend's house. In the midst of her make-up session, I ran down the stairs to answer the phone.  Well, actually, I meant to run down the stairs to answer the phone.  Instead, I tripped on the top (yes, top) step and fell down the stairs, head over heel.  Once at the bottom and in a daze, I wiggled my fingers and toes.  All fours were there!  Then I noticed my wrist, and it did not look good. Maybe an understatement!  I gently covered my injured wrist with my other hand and assured my sobbing daughter that I was just fine.  I then asked my daughter-in-law to call an ambulance since I wasn't entirely sure that I hadn't broken my back.  Not my finest hour!

Time for some comfort food!

For me:  Fresh blueberries, thoroughly rinsed (frozen will do). (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free, not related to a nightshade family plant.)

Chloe's Brownies
Makes 16 brownies

These brownies are very light in texture and taste.

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon cocoa (the only way to go), or 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans (my Southern roots), or walnuts (my Northern roots), finely chopped

Melt the butter and cocoa, or unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat; cool. Beat the eggs with a mixer (a hand-mixer is just fine) until very, very, very frothy (the secret). Stir in the sugar by hand, then gently stir in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gently stir.  Pour into an 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan and sprinkle the finely chopped nuts over the top.  They will form a crispy top crust.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350º F  for 30 to 35 minutes. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

How did I get here?

It all started out so innocently. (Photo used with permission.)  

But first, the recipe for the Apple Slices.  

For me:  A cold, slightly crisp, fresh pear.  (Gluten-free, wheat-free, corn-free.)

Apple Slices
Makes one 9 x 13 x 2-inch sheet cake pan size dessert

3 pounds tart cooking apples
1 cup water
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pastry crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup lard*
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup water

Filling:  Bring the water, sugar, cinnamon, and salt just to a boil.  Add the apple slices and lower the temperature, cooking  slowly for 10 minutes.  Blend the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water; add to the apple mixture and stir.  Cool 5 minutes, stirring gently.

Pastry crust:
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut the lard into the sifted ingredients.  Mix the lemon juice, egg yolk and water together, and sprinkle over the flour mixture.  Blend lightly, forming a soft dough.  Divide the pastry dough into two parts, on part just larger than the other.

Roll the larger piece of pastry dough to fit a 9 x 13 x 2-inch sheet cake pan and line the pan with the pastry crust.  Fill with the cooled apple mixture.  Roll the remaining dough to fit the top; cover the filling with the top crust and seal the edges.  Cut simple vents or a design in the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450º F for 20 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350º F and bake 30 minutes longer.

Ice the Apple Slices with a thin powdered sugar icing.  This dessert is excellent, both warm from the oven (allow to cool first!), and cold from the refrigerator.

*Please note that lard is a monounsaturated fat, as are avocado, olive, peanut and sesame.