July 11, 2016

Triple Cherry Pie

Updated: This is damn near the best pie I've ever made. Seriously perfect.

Last week, I thawed out the remaining sour cherries from last summer's harvest. I had a couple bags of fresh cherries in the fridge, and I wanted to make a quick pie with all three varieties.

Yes, it's near 100-degree temps in St. Louis right now...I know it's crazy to turn on the oven in my 115-year-old house that only has central AC upstairs.

But...but...pie-baking always makes me feel better (and with the world as it is now, we could all use something to feel better about...if even it's something small for just a few moments). #peacebypiece

Besides, I can fit a full-sized pie plate in my toaster oven. ;-)

So, I said this was the best pie I've ever made. It's true. The filling was the perfect consistency, thick and "gooey" (for lack of a better word). The cherry pies I've made in the past were always too liquidy inside. This time, however, I used quick tapioca instead of flour or cornstarch. It thickens the juice better and doesn't taste so pasty. If you haven't tried this ingredient before, I highly recommend it. I will do this from now on in all my berry pies.

Triple Cherry Pie
adapted from Art of the Pie

July 7, 2016

Spaghetti with Lobster

When we ate at Joe Beef in Montreal earlier this year, one of the best dishes we tried was the Spaghetti Homard-Lobster (pictured above). In their cookbook, the Joe Beef guys explain, "We take this name from an old Iron Chef episode when the host declared 'Battle Homard Lobster!' Yes, homard and lobster mean the same thing (like 'minestrone soup'). Among other things that don't make any sense: this is probably the most popular Joe Beef dish."

I'd been ogling the recipe before our trip and was excited to try it. However, by the time the TWO pasta dishes arrived--after FIVE other courses--we were so full that we could only take a few bites. Almost immediately, we talked about recreating the dish at home.

That finally happened last week.

I used 3 medium-sized lobster tails instead of a live lobster. I cooked the tails, pulled the meat out, then used the shells to make the sauce in the same water that I boiled them in. I think I used too much cream, though, as my dish was a bit too saucy. No worries, though, because it was still pretty delicious. And I kept the extra sauce to eat with more pasta later.

Spaghetti with Lobster
recipe from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef

June 27, 2016

Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cream Sauce

Confession: I taught the most difficult cooking class I've ever had last night. It was a demo class featuring all shrimp recipes: smoked shrimp salad, shrimp and corn fritters, coconut shrimp bisque, shrimp enchiladas...with watermelon-blueberry margaritas, strawberry shortcake, and mascarpone sorbet.

Thanks to Ruth Sparrow for letting me this photo from Kitchen Conservatory's Instagram feed.

It was...ambitious. To say the least.

I used 10 pounds of shrimp total and cooked for 19 people. For the first time, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been, even thought I got there 2 hours before class started. I didn't make the recipes in the order I should have, and by the end of the night I still hadn't made the sorbet or the shortcakes. Luckily, I had a great class that didn't care if I improvised the dessert. I ended up serving Grand Marnier macerated strawberries with mascarpone whipped cream. Everyone was too full at that point for shortcakes anyway.

In fact, I had to improvise a couple other recipes in order to finish at a decent time (and still went 30 minutes over). I ended up leaving out some of the chopped vegetables (onions, carrots, etc.) in the rice and enchiladas. I kept the spirit of the recipes, but took a few shortcuts (like combining steps and eyeballing measurements) to save time. Plus, I used the opportunity to talk about adapting recipes and "winging it." It was a teachable moment, at least.

Everyone left happy and full, so that's all that matters. They said everything was delicious. I told them it was because it was all made with love, sweat, and panic. ;-)

The best dish of the night were the enchiladas...corn tortillas layered with spicy sautéed shrimp and spinach, sprinkled with cheese, and topped with a creamy sauce. 

Click through for my adapted recipe.

June 18, 2016

Brown Sugar Pie

I made this brown sugar pie, a traditional French-Canadian recipe, last fall when I wanted to bake something for school but didn't have much in the way of ingredients at home. The brown sugar melts into a caramel-like filling. Think pecan pie without the pecans. It's rich and sweet, almost too sweet.

But, I'm thinking this would be a lovely dessert topped with summer berries...something fresh and tart to balance the sweetness. I can also see lining the bottom crust with big juicy blackberries and pouring the filling over them. 

Yes. That.

Brown Sugar Pie (aka Tarte au Sucre Brun)
recipe from Pizzazzerie

1 pound light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or extract
1 pie crust 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Prepare pie pan with a bottom crust of dough, crimp edges.
  • Whisk together eggs and add in sugar, butter, and vanilla.
  • Whisk together until combined well and smooth.
  • Pour into pie pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. (It might need longer. Check to see that pie is baked through; it will be gooey but it should be set all the way through.)

June 8, 2016

Roasted Eggplant with Grilled Flatbread

Whenever I'm feeling down or need to feel inspired, I watch cooking shows like Parts Unknown (or anything with Anthony Bourdain), Chef's Table, Michael Pollan's Cooked (a new Netflix series), and my favorite The Mind of a Chef

While the newest season of Mind of a Chef (season 4) isn't yet available on Netflix, you can watch two episodes on the show's webpage.

In the first episode, New York chef Gabrielle Hamilton roasts eggplants over a gas burner just like you would roast a red bell pepper. When the eggplants are charred and meltingly tender, she mixes the smokey flesh with lemon, garlic, and olive oil. This simple spread is served with grilled flatbread. 

I've watched that episode three times now.

Disclaimer: I know this does not make the most appetizing-looking dish. I couldn't even get my boyfriend to taste it. But trust me when I say that it is quite delicious. Think unpureed, unadulterated baba ganoush. Please. Just trust me.

Incidentally, this is perfect at room temperature, so it's a great addition to summer picnics. Leftovers are good when mixed with cooked pasta and cheese or layered in a lasagna.

Trust me.

Smokey Eggplant
from Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton