Strawberry Pie

It is strawberry season finally.  I bought a two pound box of them at the store and then wondered what I should do with so many berries.  We were having our friends Anna and Chris over for dinner, and I thought it might be nice to finish the meal with a strawberry pie, which I had never made before.  I looked up a bunch of recipes, but nothing struck my fancy.  I ended up taking a few ideas from some different recipes and making up my own.  I was pleased with the end product.  It is not a particularly quick pie to make, but it screams summer.

To begin:

Make and pre-bake a pie crust.  You can use my basic pie crust recipe, or use your own.  You could even use a store bought one if you want.  I used a butter/flour crust, but I think a graham  cracker crust would work well too.

The glaze:

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

optional: lemon juice and/or zest

Cook over medium heat until thickened.  It should take about 10 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

The Cream Cheese filling:

4 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 sugar

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

Put all ingredients into a stand mixer and mix until combined and smooth.

To assemble the pie: 

Spread the cream cheese filling on the baked pie shell.

Hull enough strawberries to cover the bottom of the pie plate.  I stood mine up straight with the points in the air.  Once they are all in place on the cream cheese filling, spoon the cooled glaze on top of the berries.

Put it into the fridge for an hour to set up the glaze.

 

 

 

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

I have been terribly busy with the end of my semester so I haven’t been cooking or posting as much as usual.  The good news is that I am almost done.  The bad news is that I still have about three weeks left of stress.  So, here is a recipe that I made a while ago but was keeping for a rainy day.

Flourless Chocolate Cake is both incredibly easy and incredibly tasty.  It looks good when guests come over too.  You do need to make it over two days, so you need to plan ahead, but otherwise it is a breeze.

This recipe is  slightly modified from the America’s Test Kitchen actually.  I have made it a couple of times because Alec loves it, and it is often what he suggests for desserts.  Feel free to dress it up with some whip cream or fresh berries.  It is a real treat.

Ingredients:

8 eggs

1 pound bitter-sweet chocolate

2 sticks of butter

1/4 cup coffee (I use espresso)

Method:

The recipe says to melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the microwave until smooth.  I found this to be a terrible method.  I melted it in a double-boiler.  If money weren’t an issue I would do this with really nice chocolate. However, I am not made of money here so I made it with regular old chocolate chips.  It still tastes good.  Let it cool slightly.

Meanwhile whip the eggs in an electric mixer until very light yellow and fluffy.

Mix the eggs into the chocolate–put about 1/3 of the eggs in at each time.

Try not to over mix the cake batter.

Once it is combined, put the chocolate mixture into a greased spring foam pan that has been wrapped in tin foil.

The cake is going to bake at 325 in a water bath.  So put the spring foam pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water around.  I find it easiest to put the pan into the oven before I pour in the water.  The water should come up about an inch and a half around the pan.

Note: you should probably use a bigger pan for the water bath.  I just don’t have one.

If you are using a 8″ pan bake for 22-25.  If you are using a 9″ pan, bake for 18-21 minutes.

Once the cake is done baking, pull it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature.  Then put it in the fridge and let it cool overnight.

Then you can eat some for breakfast the next day! I am kidding, though I am occasionally known to eat dessert for breakfast.

Lucy and the Carrot

Lucy recently hit the developmental stage where she gets upset when we take things away from her.  This is making life a little harder, especially because she wants everything I have.

Yesterday I felt like a carrot.  So, I went and peeled one and sat down by Lucy.  She grabbed it from me because that is what she does, and this is what followed…

She was quite excited about the carrot.

She was not going to let it go without a fight.

However I eventually did need to take it from her.  As you can see she was not okay with that.

Then she tried to get it back.

When that didn’t work she decided to roll around angrily in her boppy.

Trying the sad look…At this point I took her outside to look at flowers in hopes she would forget about the carrot.

We found a dandelion which made her happy again.

Lime Basil Mini-Bundts

This Mother’s Day I got some pretty great presents.  Two of these were a mini-bundt pans and a new bundt book.  The mini bundts are so cute.  They are supposed to be single serving, but they are a large single serving.  They take about a cup of batter per mini-bundt, which actually makes good size cake.

The book I got is called Kiss My Bundt.  It is a recipe book from a bakery in California that specializes in bundt cakes, which is a pretty funny idea.  I like it because it has some bundt ideas I haven’t seen before, like the Basil Lime recipe I made yesterday.  Luckily I had just bought a basil plant, so I was ready to go.  Although Alec, my dad, and my brother were all skeptical, they were very good cakes.  The flavor was not particularly basily or limey, but it was tasty nonetheless.  I made some butter cream frosting to put on the top.  The frosting would not have been necessary, but it made a nice addition.  If you have only a big bundt pan (the 10-12 cup) you can still make this recipe–just bake it longer.  I usually find that big bundts take about an hour, but start checking it at 45 minutes depending on your oven.

Basil-Lime Bundt

1/3 cup basil leaves without stems (I just grabbed a few big leaves off my plant.  I don’t think this needs to be all that specific.)

1 1/4 cup milk

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, room temp

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 eggs, room temp

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lime juice (I used a lot more–juice from 3 limes)

1 teaspoon lime oil or zest from 4 limes (I had zest from three limes because that is all I had.)

Chop the basil and put it in the milk.  Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.

Cream the butter with an electric mixer until soft and smooth.  Add in the sugar, mix well.  Add in the eggs, mix well.

At this point, add in the lime zest, the juice, and the vanilla, and mix.

Beginning and ending with the flour, add 1/3 of the flour mixture in.  Then 1/2 the milk mixture, then the flour, then the milk, then the flour, until all is mixed together.

Transfer the batter to the bundt pan(s) which have been prepared with Baker’s Joy.

Bake at 350.  The book says to bake it for 18-22 minutes.  I baked mine for about 30 and honestly I wish I would have left it in a little longer.

Let the cakes cool in their molds for 15 minutes.  Pop them out and let them cool to room temp on cooling racks.

Meanwhile make the frosting…

3/4 cup butter, room temp

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

1-2 tablespoons milk

Cream the butter until soft and smooth.  Slowly add in the sugar.  Add vanilla, and enough milk to make it creamy and spreadable.  I also threw in some lemon extract to give the frosting a little something extra, but it certainly is not necessary.  It is easy as that.  It is ready to spread on your mini-bundts.


Happy Mother’s Day, and happy bundt making!

Weird Recipes from Yesteryear: Prune Whip–not sure why we thought this could be good in the first place

I am starting to see why these weird recipes did not stand the test of time.  For our second instalment of Weird Recipes from Yesteryear, we decided to make a dessert called Prune Whip.  We actually thought it might be good, and I am not really sure why we did.  It wasn’t.  I did like it more than the Tomato Soup Cake, but Anna and Alec thought it was much worse.

I started to think about why these recipes are bad.  I think it boils down to a lack of access to ingredients in the 1940s.  Many of the recipes have prunes, dates, or canned pineapple.  I think you can attribute this to the fact that fresh fruits and veggies were not as readily available in off seasons.  In Minnesota where it is cold most of the time, our fresh fruit season is very short.  Cooks would have had to make the best with dried and canned fruits.

Anna and I did go through the recipes after the prune disaster and found some other recipes that sound good, not just weird.  We hope to give you a recipe worth eating in the next edition of Weird Recipes from Yesteryear.  Until then, here is Prune Whip…

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked prunes

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method:

We took about 1 1/2 cups of dried prunes and simmered them in water until they were nice and juicy.  Once they had cooled some we chopped them.  However, they didn’t so much chop as mush up.

Meanwhile, mix the egg whites until stiff.

Add in the sugar.

Okay, Lucy isn’t really putting in the sugar, but she was pretty interested in what was going on.

Fold in the chopped nuts and prunes.

Once mixed put the mixture in a pie shell that had been pre-baked.  I made a butter pie crust and baked it for 375 for 30 minutes covered with tin foil and pie weights.  This worked well.  I used the pie shell I used in my key lime pie recipe if you are interested, but any pie shell would work.

Bake for 20 minutes.

It was not very good.  As you can see from the photo below, none of us finished the dessert.

Asian Dinner Party: Spring Rolls, Steamed Dumplings, and Key Lime Pie

Yesterday we had our friends Caleb and Kara over for dinner.  As you can see from the photo to your left, Lucy did not want me to spend my time making the meal.  So I strapped her to me, which is not the easiest way to make a meal, and started cooking.  Here I am making spring rolls, and she had finally fallen asleep. Despite having a baby strapped to me, it was a very fun evening.  I had only met Kara a few times before so it was great to get to know her better.

For the dinner we made the yellow Thai curry that Alec and I like so much.  Here is the link to that: https://meteaandlucy.com/2011/04/05/yellow-coconut-curry/

To accompany the main dish we made vegetarian spring rolls and pork steamed dumplings.  To finish off the meal I meal I did a key lime pie.  I have been making key lime pies for a number of years and slowly improving on it.  I think I might have perfected it last night (not to sound too arrogant about my pie or anything).

To be honest, I made too much food like usual.  You would not need to make all these things for a dinner.  You could probably have a nice appetizer dinner with spring rolls and dumplings for example.

Spring Rolls:

This is a recipe you can easily modify according to taste.

Ingredients:

Spring Roll Wrappers (You can find these at Asian grocery stores or the ethnic food aisle at your grocery store.  They are large, hard, translucent discs)

Warm water in a large dish

Thin rice noodles

Cilantro

Green onions (cut lengthwise)

Radishes (cut very thing)

Carrots (I use a peeler to cut carrot ribbons)

Avocado

Firm tofu (cut into long strips)

Method:

Take the hard wrappers and soak them in warm water until they are soft and flexible.  It will take about 30 seconds to a minute depending on the water temp.  Move the wrapper to a large cutting board and lay it flat.  Put the fillings in the center of the wrapper:

To fold them up I do it like they roll burritos at Chipotle ( I am guessing most of you know what I am talking about here).  So you take the bottom of the shell and bring it up over the filling, then fold the sides in, then roll it up.  Make sure all the folds are nice and tight.

I served them with soy sauce and Sirachi sauce.  You could serve them with any number of Asian sauces though.

Steamed Dumplings:

I had made these years ago when Alec and I were first dating.  It is a recipe I modified from a Thai cookbook called Easy Thai (the recipes are not as easy as the name would imply).

Ingredients:

1/2 pound ground pork (cooked and slightly cooled)

1 egg

1 small can of water chestnuts

1 carrot

A sprig or so of cilantro

1 dried red hot chili (you could leave this out if you don’t want them to be spicy)

Salt and pepper to taste

Wonton wrappers

Method:

Take all the ingredients and put them in the food processor, and blend until nice and smooth.

Once it is blended you are ready to fill the wrappers.  I put about 1 teaspoon of filling in the middle of each wrapper.  I line the outside edges with water and then seal them up.

I don’t really have any advice on rolling them up because mine did not look all that great.

To cook them, fill a large pan with water and put a colinder in it.  If you have a steamer, use that.  I do not have a steamer and this worked fine.  Put about 5 dumplings in at a time and cover.  It will take a few minutes to cook them.  You will be able to tell when they are done.  The wrappers get kinda translucent looking.  You can always eat one or two just to make sure though!

Key Lime Pie:

I really hyped this up, but it is good.  I originally found a recipe online.  Since then I have drastically changed it.  I think the real trick is using a flour/butter crust instead of a graham cracker crust.  I know this sounds weird because they are always made with graham cracker crusts, but I swear this is better.

The pie crust:

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks of butter (cut into 16 pieces and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes)

1/3 cup very cold water with 3 tablespoons of sour cream or full fat yogurt mixed in–it really doesn’t matter which one

Method:

Put everything except the water mixture into the food processor and pulse until blended.  Add the water mixture bit by bit until it is the right crust consistency.

Once it is mixed, divide into two.  Shape into a 5 inch disc which will be about 1 inch thick.  You only need one crust for this dessert, so put one in the fridge to cool and put the other in the freezer to keep for later (when you want to use it just take it out and thaw it in the fridge over night).

Roll it out and put it in a a glass pyrex pie plate.  Here is an easy pie crust tip I got from Jaime Oliver.  If you aren’t into rolling out pie crust, cut the dough into thin strips and press it into the pie plate.  It works just fine.  Cover the shell with greased tin foil and fill with pie weights.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

While the pie crust is baking make the filling.

Filling Ingredients:

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup lime juice (I used to use key lime, but I can’t tell the difference between key and regular limes.  Regular limes are much cheaper and it is much easier juicing big limes instead of all those little limes.  Make sure you use fresh limes juice not any of that bottles stuff).

Zest of one or two limes depending on size

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Once the pie shell comes out of the oven, drop the oven temp to 325, fill the crust with the filling, and put it back into the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes.

Let the pie cool until room temp and then put in the fridge.  When you are ready to eat top with whipped cream.  I whip my own cream because it is really good.  For a pie this size put about 1 cup of whipping cream and one tablespoon of white sugar.  Whip until thick.