September 12, 2015

Shaker Lemon Pie

Summer may finally be releasing its hold. After near-100 degree temps the past couple weeks, this weekend is cool, breezy, blue-skied, and lovely. The temperature always affects my mood, and I've been sweaty and crabby since school started three weeks ago. Right now, however, I am perfectly content as I sit outside drinking coffee and soaking up 60 degree sunshine.

I love the fall so hard...and all I can think about is wanting to pick apples and make pies, spending the afternoon at a winery near the river, and having picnics of crusty breads and cured sausages and pungent cheeses. I want to make hearty pastas and soups and stews. I want to curl up in a blanket next to a campfire with a glass of red wine or a dark beer. You know...all the stereotypical autumny stuff. BRING ON THE PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING!

But, if you're more of a summer person and are lamenting the dying light and warmth, you should make this's the ultimate bright, sunshiny dessert.

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I was so excited to try this recipe a few months ago, a treat I was taking to our annual Shakespeare in the Park outing. I love tart lemon desserts, and this one sounded so slice whole lemons, let them candy in sugar overnight, mix with eggs & flour, then bake in a pie crust. 

While it was simple to make, I thought it was too tart and chewy for my taste. The lemons didn't soften as much as I'd hoped, and the texture was just....weird. 

Such is the nature of Shaker Lemon Pie, however, with a filling that is a cross between lemon curd and marmalade. 

Epicurious suggests coarsely chopping the sliced lemons so that the smaller pieces will soften more.

I'll try this recipe again, but next time I'll peel the lemons first to remove the bitter rind and pith. I'm thinking this would work beautifully with winter citrus as well. In fact, I may have to try it with blood oranges in the upcoming months!

Shaker Lemon Pie
recipe from Beth Howard

September 8, 2015

A Chia Pudding Experiment

Sometimes a new recipe that I try is not awesome. This is one of those times.

In looking for some make-ahead breakfast recipes that I could take to school each morning, I decided to try some chia pudding. Pinterest seems to like chia puddings, and they sounded pretty tasty. Chia seeds (which come from a flowering plant in the mint family) are also said to be a mega healthy superfood... rich in omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber & protein, with lots of calcium & magnesium, low in calories, and loaded with antioxidants.

So, I gave it a shot.

I made two kinds: a simple vanilla pudding with almond-coconut milk (that I ate with granola & dried fruit) and a richer, less sweet chocolate-espresso version (that I topped with whipped cream & raspberries). While the flavors were good, I didn't really like either one. It was the texture that didn't wow me...almost kind of slimy...think tapioca pudding. Yeah, that.

BUT, if you LIKE tapioca pudding then you will probably like chia pudding. If that's the case, it's so easy to make, it's worth, click through for the recipes I used.

Me? I'll stick with adding chia seeds to my morning smoothies.

Almond-Coconut Chia Pudding

August 13, 2015

Blue Crab Boil

I've been wanting to cook crabs at home ever since I went to Florida in April 2014. I was so excited to eat at a crab shack during that trip, but we drove 45 minutes just to discover that they hadn't caught any crabs that day.

No worries, I thought...I'll buy some live blue crabs at Seafood City when I get home and have my own boil. Sadly, if the Florida fishermen aren't catching any crabs then there will be none in St. Louis either.

Cut to earlier this year: My friend Theresa and I decided we were going to have a crab boil one spring afternoon...but there were only two, pathetic, disabled crustaceans left in the bin. We ended up having dinner at Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co. instead.

THEN...yesterday, I get this text from Theresa:

But wait. "We could totally do a boil today," I replied. And so, Theresa showed up with 5 pounds of blue crabs, some tiger shrimp, and red potatoes. I supplied the giant stock pot, boil seasoning, lemons, andouille sausage, and beer.

One thing about crabs that you buy at an Asian market....they don't come with rubber bands on their claws. And these were feisty little fellows:


It was hard to pick them up...they kept striking out at my tongs, kept grabbing ahold of the tongs, the bag, each other. I ended up getting out the long BBQ tongs to avoid injury.


(Yes, I talk to my food. Yes, I cackle-laugh. And, yes, I said "sorry" to each one.)

August 5, 2015

Scotch Eggs

Despite the name, Scotch eggs originated at a department store in London in the 18th century...or so goes one story. Another story is that the idea of cooked eggs wrapped in meat made its way to England via North Africa by way of France. Others say Scotch eggs are an Indian export from the 1600s. Still, many maintain that this recipe is a variation of the Cornish pasty made by northern Scottish pig & chicken farmers.

The name may come from a man by the surname of Scott, who may have originated the recipe in Yorkshire...or the name could be a corruption of the word "scorch," as the eggs were cooked over an open flame in Elizabethan England. Other explanations, from The London Telegraph, are that "the snack's original name was 'scotched egg,' which [...] simply means 'an egg that has had something done to it.' Tom Parker Bowles has a likeable theory to do with the fact that 19th century recipes often included anchovies in the meat: 'Scotch,' for some reason, was a title applied to a number of dishes which contained these salty fishes."

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Scotch eggs always seemed like a daunting recipe to me...a lot of work for a few bites of food. Really, though, they are quite easy to make. I made these, with the help of my (Scottish) boyfriend's sixteen-year-old daughter, on Sunday...and they were given the thumbs-up by the BF and his brother. I ate leftovers for breakfast on Monday. I wish I had more today. 

Scotch Eggs

August 4, 2015

Quick Pickled Jalapeños

As summer is winding down, you may have an abundance of peppers from your garden. What to do with all those jalapeños? You could, of course, make pepper jelly. But, you could also pickle some of those peppers.

If you've never pickled before, don't be afraid...this is surprisingly easy. And with jars of pickled jalapeños in your fridge, you have a reason to make nachos for dinner!

Quick Pickled Jalapeños 
recipe from Eats Well With Others

1 cup white vinegar *
1 cup water
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
16 jalapenos, stems trimmed and sliced

* I used apple cider vinegar.

In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, coriander seeds, and garlic. Bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar and salt. Add the sliced jalapenos to the pan and push down on them so they get submerged in the liquid.

Cover, turn off the heat, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the jalapenos and garlic to a mason jar. Pour the pickling juice over them until the jar is full. Cover tightly with the lid & let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.