Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pecan Pie

At first I was going to share this recipe before the holiday (in case any of you wanted to make it) - but then I realized it would be strange to share a recipe that hadn't actually been eaten yet. Sure the pie smelled amazing, but I'm pretty sure most people get the real enjoyment out of their pies by eating them. So I decided to wait until after the Thanksgiving meal to make sure that the pie really did taste as good as it looked/smelled.

And boy did it! It was sweet, but not too sweet. The crust was flaky and buttery and not tough at all (which can sometimes happen if you overwork the dough). So, in the unlikely event that you are still hungry, or didn't have enough pie yesterday, or just feel like celebrating for one more day. Here is a recipe that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser or even just a "you-pleaser."

Happy Holiday Season!

Pecan Pie

Pie Crust (trusty recipe from smitten kitchen)
2 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

1 cup, chilled water

1. Cube the butter and place the butter back in the fridge. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.

2. Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture and using a pastry cutter (or two knives) to blend the butter into the flour. The texture when finished will resemble small peas.

3. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the cold water and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula bring the dough together. When Almost completely combined, use your hands to bring all the dough together. You may need to add a little more water to bring it all together. *don't over mix*

4. Split the dough in 1/2 and wrap each ball in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Or until ready to use.

5. When ready to use, place the dough in between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll out to a circle big enough to fill a pie plate. Transfer to the pie plate and punch holes in the crust using a knife. Place back in the fridge until ready to bake.


3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup pecans

1. Mix the syrup, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the milk, flour, and melted butter and mix in the pecans.

2. Pour the filling into the unbaked crust.

3. Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes, until set.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

courtesy of

I don't have a recipe to post today. Not that we didn't cook this week or that I don't have a pile of great new things to try staring at me as I sit here typing this. My plan is to bake a pecan pie later this week to bring to my in-law's house for Thanksgiving, or maybe a French apple cake. I just haven't decided yet. I'm trying to be a little more in the moment. And I think that means that sometimes you just don't plan out exactly what recipe to make and post for the week. I'll try not to make a habit of it.

But in the spirit of my favorite holiday, a day when I will set aside the law books and try as hard as I may not to discuss heightened pleading standards and conspiring tortfeasors, this week especially I am celebrating how wonderful my family truly is.

Today my parents drove all the way up from PA just to spend the day at an event hosted at my law school. And, while I'm not sure they actually enjoyed being cold-called by a nutty British contracts professor, I sure enjoyed watching it! I am so truly thankful of how invested they are (and always have been). And of course for my amazing husband with out whose support I'm not sure I would survive law school. (even if he hid at home today to escape the wrath of cold-calling professors)

There is so much to be thankful for. And so many reasons to be in the moment. I hope you get to spend the holiday with the people you are most thankful for.

Stay tuned for a pecan pie later in the week - or French apple cake - or maybe something totally different - who knows :o)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baking Powder Biscuits

I didn't really need a baking powder biscuits "recipe." And if you like to bake you probably don't either. But I do love this cookbook from Williams-Sonoma. The pictures are gorgeous and they did something really neat with the instructions. They give you instructions to make the recipe by hand and by machine of choice (mixer, food processor, etc.), which I think is great. Sometimes I don't feel like carting out the stand mixer. And all of the food processor parts? Forget it. But this book is a little reminder that those things really aren't necessary, if you're willing to put in a little work.

So in that spirit, instead of using a pastry cutter, I used two knives (you know, how Grandma used to do). Well, if I'm being honest I wish I had just used the cutter. For two reasons: 1. my triceps started to really hurt after a minute (which is just a little glimpse into how out of shape I really am right now) and 2. when the butter and flour combine it should be like small peas and I got too fed up before then and went looking for my pastry cutter to finish the job. But couldn't find it, which just seems like the universe laughing at me, doesn't it??

But in any event, no matter what recipe you use, biscuits really are a quick way to make Sunday morning a little extra special - which I love.

Baking Powder Biscuits from Essentials of Baking, Williams-Sonoma

2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup whole milk

These instructions are to make by hand. For food processor steps, see below.

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and lightly butter a 1/2 sheet pan.

2. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add the butter and using a pastry cutter or 2 knives (see above) and cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas.

4. Pour in the milk and mix with a rubber spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead gently, just a few times, until it clings together. Pat the dough into a round about 3/4 inch thick.

6. Using a 3-inch round biscuit cutter (or the top of glass) to cut out the biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared pan. Gather scraps and repeat until all the dough is used.

7. Bake until lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.

By Food Processor:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and lightly butter a 1/2 sheet pan.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in the food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix.

3. Add the butter and pulse 3 or 4 times until the mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas.

4. Pour in the milk and pulse for a few seconds just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

*go up to regular instructions and follow from #5.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Handmade Pesto

I don't usually go in for fancy kitchen utensils that only have one use. It seems so silly to have a special tool for zesting a lemon or poaching an egg. This is doubly important in our tiny apartment (and tinier kitchen) where things have multiple uses or they just aren't worth the space they take up.

But, when we made our wedding registry I knew that I would include one very specialized (seemingly silly) item that breaks all of the rules above. A mezzaluna. I had to have one. And considering how much Tom loves pesto, it wasn't too hard to convince him that it belonged in our kitchen.

So almost 7 months after receiving the mezzaluna I finally got around to making pesto without a food processor. And please believe me when I say it's worth the 30 minutes of chopping. In fact the 30 minutes is exactly WHY it's worth it. Because with my mezzaluna, it was basically 30 minutes of relaxing meditation. I highly recommend it. If you're stressed, or just want to not think about law school finals for a little while, it will work wonders. And in the end, you get yummy pesto. What's better than that?

Handmade Pesto from 101 Cookbooks
2 handfuls of basil leaves, washed and dried
3 cloves of garlic
1 handful of pine nuts
scant 3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1. Place 1/3 of the basil and 1/2 of the garlic on the cutting board and run the mezzaluna through until chopped. Add the remaining garlic and another 1/3 of basil and repeat. Add the remaining basil and slice until a fine mince.

2. Add 1/2 of the pine nuts and slice until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the cheese and repeat. Add the remainder of the pine nuts, slice. Add the remainder of the cheese and slice until all ingredients are evenly minced.

3. Form the pesto into a basil "cake" and place in a small bowl. Cover with olive oil and stir if using immediately. Otherwise, refrigerate and stir just before using.