Aunt Emma's Never Fail Pie Crust

3 c sifted flour
1 1/4 c Shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg, well beaten
5 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vinegar

Cut shortening into flour and salt.
Combine egg, water, and vinegar in a separate bowl.
Pour liquid into flour mixture all at once. Blend with spoon until flour is all moistened.
It can be re-rolled without toughening. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks or divide into balls enough for one pie and wrap in Saran wrap and freeze indefinitely.

Makes 2 crusts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nacho Mama's Fruit 'n' Jell-O Mold

I was sold when I read Dorie's comment: "...the French accept gelatin with the same equanimity with which they accept salt and pepper: as just another ingredient."  Indeed. The full-size color photo helped. Citrus-Berry Terrine, page 399 in Around My French Table, is the French Fridays With Dorie selection of the week.

 Buy a bunch of fresh berries, some citrus, OJ and a box of unflavored gelatin. Presto. She advises that waiting for the (refrigerated) primary gelatin mixture to resemble the texture of egg whites might take about 2 hours. Mine got there much quicker. I wasn't watching very closely. I had a solid rubber disc in the bottom of my bowl.  Oops. That bodes the question: Can one dissolve the set gelatin by re-heating it? I decided not to bother looking it up. I started again. That must be why there are 4 packets of gelatin per box.

 I un-molded the finished product the next day. Perfection. Trust me, this does not begin to resemble what I grew up with- that can of Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in the strawberry Jell-O. (The cherries and the grapes were my favorite, topped with Cool Whip!) These flavors and textures are really refreshing. 
This dish is good enough to stand on it's own.
Pun intended.

Check out to see how the other Doristas fared with their gelees.

Hubby and I had Roasted Salmon and Lentils, from page 300, that evening. If you've considered trying that one, it's absolutely delicious. Definitely guest-worthy. I'm including a photo since Dorie didn't!


Friday, July 22, 2011

I love to buy food I've never cooked with before...

Nothing like heading out to buy things like lemongrass, unsweetened coconut milk, Madras curry powder, cardamom pods, and celery root!  Oh, I had some random, generic curry powder in my spice cabinet. Would it suffice? Why settle? I never did find the Madras variety, but what I bought (Muchi) seemed to work out well.

Cardamom pods w/ seeds

I had to look up what other name "pork butt" might go by, but as it turned out, the meat counter at Whole Foods had theirs labeled "pork butt".  Well, it's not a real buttocks, in case you're wondering.  I made my recipe with the optional boiled vegetables as recommened by Dorie Greenspan in her book "around my French table", page 274.

Oh. My. Curried Goodness.
This smelled amazing. Tasted even better.

On the second day the sauce is thicker. 

We served ours with brown rice, it was delicious. Even my hubby, who didn't recall liking curry, LOVED it!  Win/Win.

Sunday Scones

I think I'm getting the hang of scones. These were mah-vel-ous!  Chestnut flour though?  Never did find it and wasn't about to drive around in the 107 degree heat to too many places.  The Tuesdays With Dorie group had some advice for substitutes: coconut flour, almond flour. I bought hazelnut flour. Measured it and mixed the dough just as if it were chestnut flour.  These tender morsels were terrific and not overly sweet. I'm liking this book, "Baking, From my home to yours" more and more. There are several scone recipes awaiting trial. Lucky me!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Merry Melon Days- It's Summer!

Fifty per cent of the people in this house were anxious to try Cold Melon-Berry Soup, this week's French Fridays with Dorie selection, from page 101 in "Around My French Table". That rounds out to be one, me. 
Finding the dead-ripe cantaloupe required was easy and the mint came from my garden. We had an orange muscat in the refrigerator, purchased at a winery in Paso Robles, CA.
I have to admit, processing half of a 2.5 lb melon didn't seem to add up to much!  I added more.  Following the directions, chilled it all for 2 hours. My other half poured the muscat into glasses.  At serving time I splashed some onto the soup in the serving dish, spooned in the melon balls and berries. 

Well, it was just okay.  Like some of the other Dorie bloggers, I found it difficult to stretch this into four servings. It wasn't as sweet as I would have liked it. Very pretty though!

The Currant Occurance

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie cooking group chose "Cream Scones" for their baking challenge.  Interesting to note the ingredients list includes currants; the actual directions do not.  Oh well, nobody's perfect.  Me, I forgot to buy currants. I chopped up some dried cherries to use instead. Interesting to note I forgot to add them due to the faulty instructions.  There was my dough, divided and ready for the oven, chopped cherries sitting there waiting.  I did put the dough back into the bowl, and kneaded in the cherries. Not totally sure how these were supposed to turn out; I've never made scones this way before.  Reminded me of pie dough what with the cutting of the butter into the flour mixture.  Also, I think they could have used less oven time.  Nonetheless, delicious warm with a little butter and/or jelly.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

That's a Wrap!

This past week, the French Fridays with Dorie group chose "Salmon and Tomatoes en Papillote", from page 302 from the book, "around my french table"  I had only one small reservation about this dish. How does one pronounce "en papillote"? I've been reading the other bloggers posts and nobody has provided the phonetic pronounciation of this French term.  Okay, so I took Spanish in high school!

I didn't get too hung up over it though and was lucky enough to have several of the ingredients in my garden:

Great timing!  My cherry tomatoes are still ripening on the vine. I picked rosemary and thyme and made two packets of each so we could compare. I seared the tomatoes on the stove, as Dorie suggests, plus lined the sheets of tinfoil with parchment paper, to keep the foil off the food.

This was a GREAT dish. A definite do-over. There is a real distinction between the rosemary and the thyme flavored packets. Both tasters liked both flavor profiles, however one of us wished there was less lemon flavor.


Cooking With Friends

On a regular basis, hubby and I join friends and cook dinner for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House on the campus of Phoenix Children's Hospital. Anyone can sign up, it's a worthy effort.  We have a higher than average goal- we attempt to knock it out of the park. Convenience, simplicity, portability and costs are not considered. What is considered: outstanding quality, homemade goodness, and feeding these folks a dinner they don't see in the hospital cafeteria, at the nearest fast food joint, or any average night of the week at their temporary home. Thusly, we have been known to produce stuffed beef tenderloin, or prime rib, with sides that measure up, along with the ubiquitous Skillet Macaroni and Cheese (it's always a hit too!), and homemade desserts. We made dinner over the Fourth of July weekend and our head chef, Dan, decided that a mixed grill was in order. He literally spent the day (with a temperature that reached 115) at a public barbecue, grilling this spread, while the rest of us made appropriate sides and desserts.
Grilled items: ribs, sausages, peppers and tri tip steaks. Sides, broccoli salad, fruit salad, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni and cheese. Dessert included blueberry cobbler and strawberry tiramisu trifle.
Freedom is a wonderful thing, and that includes the food we celebrate with.

Chocolate with Chocolate, a Winning Pair

From the Baking recipe book by Dorie Greenspan, the selection was Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins, page 19. This one is a WINNER!  The ingredients went together easily, didn't even have to use the mixer. Everything about it was just right. Even Dorie's suggestion of serving warm with black cherry jam.  Oh my...yes.

                                                                    Nuff said.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Let's Hear it For Beets


I don't remember ever buying a beet.  Never ate them as a kid, except sometimes the pickled, canned version would be on our table. Ick.  Hubby often claimed beets are the only thing he didn't like to eat.  Come to find out, it was the pickled, canned version he had been served also. Then, a couple of years ago, we were served a beet soup made by my Polish friend. It was delicious!  Since then I've had them at restaurants, in salads, as side dishes.  All yummy.  I was happy to see this week's French Fridays With Dorie recipe: Chunky Beets and Icy Red Onions, on page 123 from "around my french table". Dorie says this is her go-to beet salad. I can understand why. We invited a dinner guest in honor of his birthday. He loves my go-to dish: Individual Beef Wellingtons. I thought the beet salad would make a great accompaniment.  Dinner guest is a former Canadian farm-boy, now pediatric oncology nurse, and will eat just about anything as long as meat is on the table with it.  He doesn't even care about dessert.  It's the least I could do.
Assembling the Beef Wellingtons:
I got the recipe from a Rachael Ray magazine a few years ago. It's fairly simple: half sheet puff pastry, seared filet mignon, sauteed mushroom-shallot mixture, duck pate mousse.
Wrap it up, bake, serve. It's a crowd pleaser.

You might be wondering why this amateur didn't take a nice photo of her plated work. First reason might be she'd been into the cooking sherry and forgot.  But really, between fetching the Wellie's from the oven and setting the pan on the counter, I sustained significant oven burns on my forearms!!! ( Hubby suddenly needed the kitchen towel dangling from the oven door handle, which, with the oven door being open, was now near the floor.)  While tugging on the towel, the oven door popped up into the underside of my forearms. Hubby felt awfully bad while I held ice cubes on my arms, and later, looking at the blisters.
No, I didn't spill the food.  A girl has to have priorities.
Check out the other bloggers at