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Blueberry Blackberry Crumb Pie

30 Aug

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There is no good way to ease into this, so I am just going to say it– WestCoastKef has left us the City of Angels. And when somebody who has been THERE for your husband the way WCK has, you throw a party and bake the man a damn pie.

Intel from his Beloved led me down the berry pie path, and Smitten Kitchen brought me to this mixed berry crumb pie. They are better at life than I could ever hope to be, and so I will reproduce the original recipe verbatim below.

But, first, some photos.

Immediately upon arrival, WestCoastKef had my living room looking like a photo shoot for his debut album, Bojanglin’ Back Home, which drops late 2017. COP THAT.

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What’s the number one sign your people are really ready to celebrate your ass? Double fisting bottles.

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… which escalated quickly. One bottle down approximately 1 hour into party.

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There are many hilarious interceding #turntup photos and videos, but we are grown ups with bills to pay and the internet is a scary place so instead… a jump to the group shot at the end:

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WestCoastKef– we will miss you mightily. And while I will pretty much never forgive you for bringing Settlers of Catan into my husband’s life, you can bet we will still be on the first spring break flight out to LA.

And now, the pie:

Smitten Kitchen’s Blueberry Blackberry Crumb Pie

For the crust

  • 1.25 c all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea or table salt
  • 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 c very cold water

Forthe filling

  • 4 c blueberries
  • 2 c blackberries
  • 3/4 c sugar (for a moderately, but not very, sweet pie)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 7 TBS tapioca flour/starch or 5 1/2 TBS  cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
  • Pinch of salt

For the crumb topping

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.3 c all-purpose flour
  • Two pinches of salt

Assembly

Make pie dough:
– By hand : In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. (Some people like to do this by freezing the stick of butter and coarsely grating it into the flour, but I haven’t found the results as flaky.) Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add another tablespoon of water.
– With a food processor: In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and pulse machine until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of tiny peas. Turn mixture out into mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup cold water and stir with a spoon or flexible silicone spatula until large clumps form. Use your hands to knead the dough together, right in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary to bring the dough together, you can add the last tablespoon of water.
– Both methods: Wrap dough in a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Longer than 2 days, it’s best to freeze it until needed.

Heat oven: To 400°F (205°C).

Roll out crust: On a floured counter, roll the dough out into a 12 to 13-inch circle-ish shape. Fold dough gently in quarters without creasing and transfer to a 9 1/2-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about 1/2-inch. Fold overhang under edge of pie crust and crimp decoratively. Save scraps in fridge, just in case.

Par-bake crust: Freeze for 15 minutes, until solid. Dock all over with a fork. Coat a piece of foil with butter or nonstick spray and press tightly against frozen pie shell, covering the dough and rim and molding it to fit the shape of the edges. Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully, gently remove foil. (Set the foil, still molded, aside. It will come in handy later.) If any parts have puffed, just press them gently back into place. Patch any tears or cracks with reserved dough scraps. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and leave oven on.

Meanwhile, make filling: Mix all filling ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

To make crumb topping, stir sugar, zest, baking powder, flour and salt into melted butter in a large bowl with a fork until crumbs form.

Assemble and bake: Pour filling into crust and scatter crumbs over the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes with these two important things in mind:

1. This crumb browns much more quickly than the pie is done. Grab that piece of foil you set aside from the parbaking phase and upend it over the top of the pie to protect it against further browning once it reaches the color you want. This might only take 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Fruit pies are done when you can see bubbles forming at the edges, with some creeping through and over some crumbs. If it takes longer, that’s better than an underbaked pie.

To serve: Try to let the pie cool until close to room temperature before serving. This gives the pie thickener a chance to help the pie set. The pie will be even better set after a night in the fridge. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.

 

12 Jul

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My grandfather died last week at the age of 91. I count among my greatest gifts my relationships with each of my grandparents. Grandpa Joe was the last living grandparent I had, and it’s difficult to imagine my life without him.

Most summers, my siblings and I would happily ship off to Grandma Ann and Papa Joe’s house, where we would spend the first leg of our summer vacation. I hold the memories of these trips so closely that their physicality remains with me–the sharpness of just-cut grass on my skin as I rolled down the front hill, the smooth pine of the wooden swingset he built for us by hand, and the cold sensation of rainbow sherbert against my teeth after church on a hot Saturday night.

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I have often said of my grandfather that they “just don’t make them like they used to.” He was a member of the first graduating class of King’s College, and would go on to work there for the next 70 years. He was a man who did the right thing without so much as a thought toward cutting corners for convenience or popularity. His contributions to the community where he spent his entire life are too many to count, but among them is a long history of service to his church, alma mater, and country.

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His was an absolutely unconditional love of and loyalty to his wife, so much so that he often joked he would list the slides of he and my grandmother’s “trip of a lifetime” to Ireland among his assets in his will. In 51 years of marriage they never spent more than 3 consecutive nights apart; when my grandmother was helping to take care of a sick family member, he would drive 45 minutes to visit her through a screen window and then drive back home, as he had a cold and couldn’t risk passing it to my cousin. I once joked that my grandmother’s only downfall had been that she didn’t like beets. He looked at me over his glasses and said simply, “Your grandmother had no flaws.”  I knew that, in his eyes, she truly hadn’t.

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Even as the world’s most upstanding citizen, he had a wry sense of humor and a wonderful capacity for sentimentality.  When I mailed him an absurd glamour shot of my brother and I snorkeling in Sharm El Sheikh, he emailed me in response, “Thanks for the great snapshot, Chrissy. That’ll make the wall.”  He loved all sports (except the NBA), often bragged that he had been diagnosed with a “football fetish,” and had one word for Philadelphia sports fans: “crude.” He loved sweets unabashedly, and was known to meet a dessert menu with a joyful “Oh, boy!” The first Christmas after my grandmother died, I gave him a box engraved with her name for his keepsakes, and he called me later to tell me that it was the best gift he had ever been given.

EK_0015DSC00675_edited_1There are a million stories I could tell– that he taught me how to bowl, listened to me read Charlotte’s Web in its entirety over the phone for my 2nd grade read-a-thon, and once brought my husband to “a little place with great chicken noodle soup” called Bob Evans. I have the lucky distinction of getting him to pose for his first selfie, taken during the visit we revived our root beer float tradition after a two-decade hiatus.IMG-20130908-WA0000And, hilariously, he was wearing the same shirt 4 years later when I introduced him to Facetime. He was less impressed by technology served without a side of ice cream.IMG_7972But his life spoke for itself — the longer I go on here, the more I realize I’ll never capture how extraordinary he was. A friend shared the idea that we only die when our work is done, and my grandfather left this world complete with i’s dotted, t’s crossed, and ledger balanced. I’ll think of him often– in small moments like when I see a beautiful cardinal or blue jay, and in large moments when I hear his voice in my head as my moral compass. It’s terribly sad to know I’ll never visit him on Cherry Lane again, but I take some solace in knowing that the lessons I learned from my grandparents in the past will serve me well into my future and that, one of these days, I’ll get to make memories with my own grandkids as happy as the ones I have with my grandparents.

If, like me, you just can’t get enough Grandpa Joe, you can read his obituary here.

 

 

 

A Blueberry Treat Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

30 Jun

Some things that I love, in no particular order: carbohydrates that defy definition, blueberries, and GingerKef’s cousin. So when I got the chance to bake a blueberry kind-of-cake/kind-of-bread WITH PresidentKef HIMSELF, I knew it was going to be a good night.

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PresidentKef and I go way back to the early days of this blog, when he was just a young man searching for Emerald City and I was a young, imprudent woman living on Lincoln Rd. Since then, we’ve been basically #BFF.

PresidentKef came into town last week and requested some time in kitchen with Kef, and I was only too happy to oblige. This recipe comes from the 1940s, and has an obnoxiously-appropriate-of-the-era name to boot: Blueberry Boy Bait. Blech. Good to know that in the 60 years between this recipe’s publication and the Neptunes’ production of “Milkshake,” America held true to the ideal that a hefty amount of saturated fat and sugar would snag you a suitable life partner.

Anyway- PresidentKef and I had a blast whipping this guy up. Here’s a mini lesson on when to be precise in baking and when to just go with your gut:

Sadly, there is no chocolate in this recipe– but there is a bunch of butter, sugar, and gluten. I’ve made this two or three times for large groups and it has always been met with demands for an encore appearance (but somehow, not one suitor… hmph). It’s “cake” in the way that coffee cake is, which is to say somewhere in between bread and cake (cread? brake?). Whatever you call it, it’s awesome, and I think you should make it.

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A Blueberry Cake Whose Name We Shall Not Mention

Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 16 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first)
  • 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 13×9 pan (pyrex or metal).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand or electric mixer on medium high, beat butter and sugars until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Scrape down bowl between egg additions.
  3. Reduce speed to medium, then beat in one-third of flour mixture. Once incorpated, beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture.
  4. Toss blueberries in about 1 tsp of flour (optional). Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  5. Make the topping: scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

A Chocolate Cream Pie to Welcome 2017

3 Jan

Another year has come and gone. I don’t have a lot of deep reflections on 2016, but I do have this delicious pie to share today. And that’s got to count for something, right?

fullsizerender-6Like every year, 2016 brought some great times and some not-so-great times. I worried lot, ate a lot, studied a lot, and missed my grandmother a lot… but I also laughed a lot, learned a lot, and ran  a lot, so it’s all probably a net gain once the counting’s done. Bring it on, 2017.

Back to the pie. My dear friend FlailKef turned 31 on 31 December, which means it was a GOLDEN birthday. She loves the chocolate cream pie from Waffle House, so I doctored up my own little version of the classic diner pie because she is wonderful and a GOLDEN birthday deserves a special treat. In what will probably be my only culinary achievement in this life, my pie was gone before the one from the inimitable MOM’S was–which I will take to mean this is an out-of-the-park homerun of a recipe.

fullsizerender-7I made very minimal changes to this pie recipe and followed Martha’s vanilla bean whipped cream recipe to a “T”. Complete recipes with my small tweaks reposted below because I hate having to have two different windows open for one recipe–but, as always, you just do whatever your little heart and personal code of internet-recipe ethics would lead you to.

FlailKef is clearly winning at life– she got golden goblets for her birthday AND has friends like these:

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Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients

For the crust

For the filling

  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 c whole milk
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 oz milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.25 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream

  • 2 c heavy cream, cold
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 c sugar

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you are making and serving this pie on the same day, see step 6 and be sure to chill the cream about an hour before you want to make it.
  2. Crush cookies into a fine crumb using a food processor (or, throw ’em in a ziploc bag and pound ’em with a wine bottle). Add sugar, and pulse to combine cookie crumbs and sugar. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in butter until mixture is moist and sticky, but not wet. Press into the bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will thicken).
  4. Strain filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (I used my mesh colander), then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely (on the counter, not in the fridge), about 2 hours.
  5. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.
  6. Pour heavy cream into metal bowl of stand mixer. Cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape seeds into cream and whisk to combine. Throw the bean pod in the cream, cover bowl, and chill cream in fridge for about an hour.
  7. Once cream and bowl are thoroughly chilled, remove bean pod and discard. Using the whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, sprinkle in sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Chill for 1-2 hours, then spread over top of pie and serve.

New Favorites: Gingersnaps and a Mug

15 Dec

Aren’t yall glad I came out of my school-induced blog silence to post ten million cookie recipes? I am. Today, we’ve got ANOTHER iteration of my all-time favorite cookie, the gingersnap. First, be sure to check out the mambypamby version with bizarre secret ingredients or the super-easy fail-proof recipe MamaKef swears by or this paleo-fied one I like to use a method of procrastination. After you’ve made all those, come back to make the 2016 edition, which adds an air of sophistication to the classic gingersnap with some cardamom.

Best if eaten with a steaming cup of coffee from Harrar out of this brand new Oiselle mug (a perfect stocking stuffer for the runner in your life!).

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These are made straight from a Food52 recipe. I made some fatal errors when mentally running through my pantry’s contents so had to sub half of the molasses with maple syrup, subbed all purpose flour for the bread flour, and threw some all spice in with the nutmeg–all of which I have noted below, so you do you in terms of substitutions. I am duplicating Food52’s great work here only for fear of losing this amazing recipe, but you should absolutely click on the above link and show them some love.

Smoky Cardamom Gingersnaps

Ingredients

  • 14 TBS butter
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4  c molasses (or 1/8 c molasses and 1/8 c maple syrup)
  • egg
  • 1 c bread flour (I used all-purpose flour and they were still wonderful)
  • c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp nutmeg + 1/4 tsp all spice)
  • 1/8teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2cup sugar (for rolling)

Assembly

  1. Crack open the cardamom pods and remove seeds. Grind seeds with a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and empty cardamom pods in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low until the butter has completely melted and begins to foam slightly. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove and discard the cardamom pods and transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl. Cover and let the butter cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, spices, black pepper, and reserved ground cardamom. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. Fill a small bowl with 1/2 cup of sugar.
  5. Scoop heaping tablespoons of batter, form into balls, and roll in the sugar. Place on a baking sheet two inches apart.
  6. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

The Best Ice Cream I’ve Ever Made (Or: Why Your College Roommate is the Best Person To Keep in Your Life Forever)

25 Aug

Sometimes you gotta let the world know: something INSANE just came out of your kitchen. So, here I am telling you- this ice cream is gonna change the whole game. And I’m not talking about a pickup soccer match cut short for rain– this ice cream is a game-changer on the level of an epic Cricket battle that has gone into days-long overtime. That’s how good it is. OH- and it’s vegan, refined-sugar-free, and off-the-charts easy to make.

You already know- SO not my picture. Thanks to the Tasting Table for this recipe and picture!

But before we get to that, a word from our sponsors. As I’ve written about before, QueijoKef and I spend a lot of time texting/emailing/’graming each other delicious things we’d like to cook or eat. It’s just one of the reasons she is so great (see also: our quick trip to Miamithe epic bike ride inspired by our friendship’s soundtrack, the gnocchi we both die for, and her signature non-dairy creamy sauce). She has an excellent track record of picking awesome recipes (this matcha gingerbread cookie is a fan favorite), so when she sent me this turmeric-cardamom-coconut milk ice cream, I knew she was on a mission to keep her streak alive.

This ice cream has a seriously complex flavor profile (how’s that for food blogger lingo?) that is somewhere between sweet and savory. In another life when I never have to go to school again, I would make grainless graham crackers, slather this ice cream between ’em for an ice cream sandwich, and make my millions selling them on Georgia Ave. A girl can dream.

I followed this recipe exactly, and you should all go over there to give credit where it’s due and support The Tasting Table with all the clicks you can muster. Because I love this recipe so much and would be devastated if it ever went away, I am reproducing it here for posterity (because if Cooking Up Kefi can outlast Gawker, clearly I’ll be here long after The Tasting Table is gone).

Golden Milk Vegan Ice Cream from The Tasting Table

Ingredients

  • 3 c coconut milk
  • ½ c cream of coconut (here on amazon)
  • One 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • ¼ c honey
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (I used 1-1.5 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Chopped candied ginger, for garnish (optional)

Assembly

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients, minus the candied ginger, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cool completely, then refrigerate overnight. Make sure you freeze the bowl of an ice cream maker during this time.

2. The next day, strain the base into the bowl of the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a shallow dish and freeze for at least 4 hours. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and drizzle with honey. Garnish with chopped candied ginger, then serve.

22 May

Chrissy grandmaYesterday, this world lost one of the greats: my sassy, vivacious, tough-as-nails Grandma Rita.

Her love of dogs, gambling, and gossip (though she maintained she was merely “sharing information”) are well documented, but my most cherished memories of her will be how much she supported my writing–she read every word I ever published in The Hoya, bought every copy of Newsweek in Sugar Notch the summer I worked there (even when I didn’t have a byline), and always laughed at the jokes no one else found funny on this little blog. Even after I became a nurse and writing was no longer in my career path, there was almost never a phone call that went by without her reminding me, “You are a tremendous writer, you know,” and then, a crescendoing giggle, “And funny as hell.”

She was also the first person outside of the immediate family to meet MrKef, and I’ll always be grateful for how immediately and warmly she embraced him as part of the family. They bonded over paczkis and poodles, and he was an admitted and unabashed favorite of hers.

Here we are on our sort-of-secret first wedding day with her, because I couldn’t imagine getting married without her:

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And while I could go on and on about her, I’ll leave you with this absolutely-typical email she once wrote me, after she saw on the Facebook that I had gone to a shooting range, subject line: Annie Oakley:

chrissy—-so pleased that you have taken up the fine art of target shooting.  I told Jeannie and she was thrilled–she and I in our younger years were on rifle teams we competed every sunday.  Jeannie was a sharpshooter and all the guys wanted her on their team.  she never missed a target…….. she was one lady not to tangle with.  It is a great way to spend a day/////  hope all is well with you….the puppy is teething and driving this ole lady nuts.  To date he has eaten/chewed my new boots , the electric wire on my fan,one of Rose!s throw blankets last night he was very quiet, I was thrilled, after awhile I checked him he had my cell phone, chewed all the leather from the case top and bottom===we checked he did not make any calls.  Have a great day.  Love you                       rita and ryley

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