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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

'Hamburger' Just Doesn't Seem to Describe...

With the French Fridays with Dorie online cooking group this week I was making Dorie's recipe, Cafe Salle Pleyel Hamburger. (sure wish I had taken French class) I can pretty much guarantee you've never made a burger like this one before. Dorie tells the story of this dish. The woman who decided to put this burger on her menu in Paris described the burger as "the illicit... the subversive". How risky for Helene!

First of all, the list of ingredients includes capers, cornichons, fresh tarragon and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.

Dorie recommends ground beef, preferably sirloin, or a mix of sirloin and chuck. Hubby likes to get in on the gadget action.  I'm sure that's his glass of wine sitting there.

To make red onion marmalade you cook the onion in water and season with a little butter, ground coriander, salt and pepper.

Chopped the burger ingredients in the mini food processor

Burgers cooking!

Toasted the sesame seed buns; spread onion marmalade on the bun; shaved some parmesan cheese over top.

Absolutely wonderful!

Fancy Mac 'n' Cheese on the Stove

While perusing my new favorite cookbook, Around My French Table, I spotted something interesting sounding.  Dressy Pasta "Risotto".  Wait a minute, risotto is an Italian dish, isn't it?  Dorie goes on to explain how she used the term loosely here. Rice is nowhere to be seen. I read on...had to try it.  My daughter grew up eating a skillet, stove-top, macaroni and cheese dish from my old copy of the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. That recipe is a crowd-pleaser and is still in use today at our house.

Hubby bought this on a whim. I thought it perfect for this recipe.
 However, THIS recipe is way fancier but starts out very much like my earlier acquaintance. This one differs with the use of chicken bouillon cubes in the water and heavy cream.  The two kinds of cheese, don't be shocked, are freshly grated parmesan and mascarpone.  Wow. Can you imagine?  
You start out sauteeing onion in butter.

The recipe states this makes 4 side-servings. It fails to mention it also makes two main servings.  As if anyone would make this a main course. 
Well, uh...we did. It was fantastic!

Enjoy Time to Loaf

When I saw that the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group was baking Golden Brioche Loaves this week, I wasn't sure whether to feel overjoyed or helpless. Leave it to Dorie to write a bread-baking recipe that even I could succeed with.  Let's see, I haven't made a loaf of bread, without a bread machine, for YEARS, maybe even decades. Dorie used two full pages of text in her book, Baking, From my home to yours, to share her brioche-baking anecdote and describe how to pull this off.  The ingredient list is short and easy to find. The thing that stands out: THREE STICKS OF BUTTER shared between two loaves.  Woohoo!

The recipe suggests using a towel over the mixing bowl to "help keep you, the counter, and the kitchen floor from being showered in flour".  I wouldn't have thought of that on my own.  As hubby can attest, every time the flour jar comes out, I am wearing a significant amount of it.

My mixer wearing it's flour-containment uniform.
How'd that glass of wine get in the photo?

Ready for a warm place to rise

Dough rises four times before being
refrigerated over night.

On the second day, out of the refrigerator, the dough is shaped and cut into 4 pieces per loaf pan. Then it's time to rise again! An egg and water glaze makes for a nice finish.

This was the most delicious bread ever.  Light, tender, and oh, so buttery. As Dorie suggests, I saved the second loaf to make "bostock", stale brioche spread with almond cream, sprinkled with almonds and baked to a puffy and golden finish. Oh my.  More to come...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tropic Crumble

No, not a weather report. This week's Tuesdays With Dorie baking group selected Tropical Crumble from the book, Baking, From my home to yours, page 418.  I previewed the "problems and questions" link on their website and read where a few people found the finished project soggy with too much juice after baking.  Hmmm.  Would I modify the recipe somehow?  I think not. The Medical Laboratory Technologist in me just doesn't allow for veering off the written "Procedure".  Especially without trying it as written first. Creative customization is not my thing.  Perhaps even a tad rigid. But I digress.

The tropical part of Tropical Crumble consists of mangoes, bananas, ginger and a little lime zest. The crumble: brown sugar, butter, pecans, and a little butter.  Me? I would have named this recipe Tropical Praline Pie.  Is that too literal?  Well, I like it. (Later in the recipe Dorie refers to the topping as "streusel", so I wonder why she didn't go with "Tropical Streusel"?)

Whatever we call it, let's also call it YUMMY! A nice, summery treat and hey, mangoes and bananas and ginger are good for us. Can I just add, Dorie Greenspan's recipes are SO very well written.  I believe anybody could do this with a good knife and a pie plate. Oh, and a spoon to eat it with. You won't want to miss a drop.  Serve it with vanilla ice-cream- even better!

Surprise.. It's Eggplant

I was very pleasnatly surprised with this week's choice for French Fridays With Dorie: Eggplant Caviar.  (Page 23 in Around My French Table)  But then, with this list of ingredients, what can go wrong?

Eggplant, garlic, lemon juice and zest, onion, basil, cilantro, thyme, tomatoes, and piment d'Espelette (or in my case, cayenne).

And, as is mostly true about Dorie's recipes, this one is quite simple to prepare.  Prick the eggplant skins and roast them in the oven for about an hour; scrape out the flesh and mash it with a fork.  After that you pretty much add the remaining ingredients and spread it on whatever sounds good: pita, crackers or chunks of bread.  We bought a baguette, drizzled it with olive oil and toasted it just a little. 
MMMmmm.  Delicious, and I'm not a big fan of cilantro.  Covered tightly, it was just as good the second day.  You can see other French Friday's results at

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Meal in Two Jars, yes, JARS

Okay so I read this recipe, "Salmon and Potatoes in a Jar" and thought...huh? Reading Dorie's text didn't help. Hubby and I have not partaken of Gravlax or Tartare.  We don't purchase fish in jars.  But, Dorie did say this dish is a never fail knock-out.  Had to try it. Even Hubby was on-board, he LOVES salmon.

Found the jars at the supermarket, no problem. The ingredients are readily available.  I did fail to notice the time required- refrigerating the salmon first in a salt/sugar rub over night. Then packing it into a jar along with red onion, carrots, thyme, spices, filled to the top with olive oil- this sat in the fridge another night.  The second jar is similar, except instead of brined salmon you add boiled potatoes and a little vinegar with the other ingredients.

Potato Jar
Well, the packed jars were beautiful! The best part of this dish: remove jars from refrigerator and set them on the table. Eat.   What a great idea for summer. The only heat generated was in boiling the potatoes.

Salmon Jar

I have to admit, this is not likely a do-over for us.  You know what though?  It actually was pretty tasty! The flavors were fresh, clean and delicious.  I felt pretty healthy after I ate it.

It's probably more of a texture thing, particularly the fish.

Next time I entertain guests who LOVE fish out of a jar, I'll know just what to do... thanks to my online cooking group. You can check them out at And check out Dorie's book, Around My French Table.

Carrots & Spice, That's Always Nice

Very seldom can I turn down a piece of carrot cake (nuts in the frosting? Even better!).

This week's selection for the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group was Carrot Spice Muffins. Talk about a flawless recipe, this is defnitely it.  (From the book, Baking From My Home to Yours, page 14.) Once assembled, it perfectly filled my 12- muffin tin. The muffins baked to perfection in the prescribed amount of time.  A no-brainer, really. The spices include cinnamon and ground ginger. 
 Along with the shredded carrots are raisins, coconut and your choice of toasted pecans or walnuts. I had walnuts, so there we have it.

Carroty, Spicey and Very Moist.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Low Fat, Gluten Free, but don't let that stop you...Vacation Part II

So along with the delicious slow-roasted tomatoes (see previous post), I also baked along with the Tuesdays with Dorie group and made Cocoa Almond Meringues.   My summer vacation couldn't have been spiked with anything better than these lovely little morsels.  I had to use a hand mixer so the egg whites took at least twice as long to reach the "stiff peak" stage, but patience paid off.

Excellent outcome: Light and crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside and VERY chocolatey!
Tuesdays With Dorie is an online cooking group that bakes weekly from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours.  You can check them out at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Today I am happy I learned to love tomatoes.  Not on my list of approved foods when I was younger, but suddenly, in mid-adulthood, they made the list. It helps to try to grow your own,  with a certain appreciation for the miracle dangling from the branch. But my turn-around occurred prior to the garden miracle. Thank goodness!

This week's cooking challenge with French Fridays with Dorie: slow-roasted tomatoes. From page 342 in "Around My French Table". In her text, Dorie describes them as "somewhere between fresh tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes".  The recipe is super simple and provides another excuse to use other garden items: fresh thyme or rosemary. Alas, it's too late in the summer to use my cherry tomatoes. Luckily, they are plentiful in the stores.

Rockin' the Rental Range.
 GE Profile is a winner!
 Oh, did I mention?  I am not at home. I am in Sedona, Arizona, cooking in a kitchen not my own, using appliances and cookware not my own.  I did think far enough ahead to bring some of my favorite things, however.  I am up for the challenge!
Typical Sedona Scenery
On the fly I chose a couple other recipes from the cookbook to go along with the tomatoes.  Probably didn't make the best choices. Oh well.  I'm calling it a success, and it kept us out of the restaurants for two dinners anyway. (Fresh Orange Pork Tenderloin, page 273; and Broth-Braised Potatoes, page 358.)  Both recipes were pretty simple, althought segmenting the oranges was time-consuming. And I didn't bring my microplane, so the zesting was ridiculous. Also, the pork recipe called for those exotic cardamom seeds. Since I forgot to bring mine from home, thanks go to Safeway in Sedona for stocking them. Not cheaply though! Ouch. (If you are one of my local friends reading this, feel free to ask for cardamom pods. I now have LOTS.)

Slow roasting intensifies the flavors.