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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Carving

Oh no, not a seasonal arts and crafts project. This time we're going to bake it and eat it!

"Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good" is our latest cooking project. Emphasis on "everything good". First, just mention the word: bacon.  We're off to an excellent start. And we love pumpkin. Did you know that when your dog has GI distress, feeding her canned pumpkin (not the pie filling, please) will put everything right again?  But I digress.

Dorie got this recipe, or at least the outline for this recipe, from her friend's sister.  She provides many options depending on tastes and ingredient availability. I stuck with her basic recipe which is basically a 3 lb pumpkin, carved with a cap like a jack-o-lantern, and cleaned of all it's innards.  Salt and pepper the inside surfaces.  It is then stuffed with a combination of stale bread cubes, cheeses, garlic, cooked bacon pieces, fresh chives and thyme (both from my garden). Pour some heavy cream seasoned with freshly ground nutmeg over top; put the pumpkin's cap back on and bake it.


Apres oven


This one's a winner, one hundred percent. Can't wait to try some of the recommended variations, perhaps on our next unsuspecting dinner guests! for more cooker's results.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Well that's how it is supposed to be pronounced, according to my Wiki search. The correct spelling is: Pissaladiere. Last week's recipe choice from Around My French Table is essentially an onion and anchovy pizza, French-style of course. Pissala being the French word for anchovy paste. Good Lord.

Here we go again with the yeast dough rising.  LOVE, love, love that smell. Who doesn't? 

It's convenient to be doing your laundry right now since the warm dryer is a great place to allow the dough to rise. Just keep it covered so no lint flies in.
Magical, Yeasty Goodness!

Six sliced onions, a bay leaf and a little thyme cook on low heat for 45 minutes while the dough does it's magic in the laundry room.  Stir in a few chopped anchovies, salt and pepper.

Roll out the dough, top with the onions, use a few more anchovies to make the traditional criss-cross pattern and accent with a few Nicoise olives. Bake until golden.

Our vote was 50/50, pro-anchovy and anti-anchovy. I'll just say I finished this dish myself the next day.Whatever the vote- this dish is a beautiful "Piece-a-Work".

The other Dorie online cookers have posted their results at, for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Believing in Blini

Well I didn't, but I do now.

Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche. WHAT??  For the love of Merlot. I never made blini in my life, let alone buy smoked salmon.  That is, uncooked salmon, meant to be eaten- uncooked.  Time to get on with it. <smile>

In Around My French Table Dorie explains how you can buy the popular blini at the equivalent of 7-Eleven, small convenience stores, in France. There they are, in the refrigerator cases, right along with the smoked salmon.  Can you picture these items in the 7-Eleven where you live?  Maybe things have changed. I can't tell you the last time I was inside a 7-Eleven.

The French version of blini (as opposed to the Russian) includes buckwheat flour, offering a nutty flavor and brown color. What I was surprised to learn is that blini are simply pancakes made with yeast as the leavening.

The batter rises for 60 -90 minutes into a beautiful, bubbling mass that smells heavenly.

After that, whisk the batter, stir in beaten eggs, and proceed as you would making any pancake. I had a little trouble making them turn out pretty, but they tasted delicious.

Even my taster was skeptical about the smoked salmon, but darned if this recipe didn't surprise us both.  Rich, tasty and a pleasant combination of flavors.  This would make great brunch fare, but only for my more gastro-adventurous friends and family. You know who you are... 

My fellow Doristas do this every week, cook together from Dorie's book, and post our blogs on the website:  Take a peek if you're interested.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Olive To Eat, Do You?

Last week's selection for the French Fridays with Dorie online cooking group, from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table, was "Olive-Olive Cornish Hens". I knew this would draw a comment or two from hubby, who has made his feelings known about these little birds in the past. Hence, in our 18 year history, I have cooked them not once. He avoids all food where the meat is still on the bone. Too much trouble to eat.  Too much mess if you end up eating it with your (gasp!) fingers.  Still, he was taking on a positive attitude since we are striking out into unknown territory with almost every meal so far in our Cooking with Dorie adventures. Onward marching into the next frontier then!

I used store-bought black olive tapenade. The only other ingredients were olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Ridiculously easy.  Loosen some of the skin, poke the tapenade into the pocket created.

I did learn to cut out the backbone and snap the breast bone to make the little guys lie flat. These got roasted at 500 degrees for 25 minutes.
 I served ours with "Asparagus and Bits of Bacon", from page 330.  Hubby wasn't crazy about the walnut oil/ lemon juice dressing. I thought it very tasty.

This meal was a winner for me. The olive tapenade added subtle flavor to the cornish hen, the skin was crispy and delectable.  Half a hen was plenty for one serving.  Bon appetit for one!

Who Wants Salt and Pepper in their Cocoa Shortbread Cookies?

Okay, I'm in.  Turns out, if there is chocolate in it, I'm in, no matter what. Bring on the coated cricket, I'd try it. (weak smile)  Comparing myself to some of my friends and co-workers, I am what I would call an adventurous eater.  Most of the time.  Just don't bother with the slimy stuff. Maybe not THAT adventurous. Whatever.

When I saw that the Tuesdays With Dorie group was baking the Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbreads I was very interested.  I like salt with my caramel too.  It's like eating plain M&M's with your peanuts. I know someone who likes M&M's with potato chips.

This is one of those recipes that requires refrigeration of the dough prior to baking.

I have to say, I believe my salt was too coarse a grind because occassionally I would bite into a discernable grain.  That was not off-putting to me, but two fellow tasters didn't care for these.  I didn't let that bother me, in fact it left more for me. Not a good thing, necessarily.

The shortbread-y texture of these cookies was fantastic and melt-in-your-mouth.  Lovely, really. 

I would make these again, using a finer grind of salt.  And I detected no real pepper in the flavor in spite of using the prescribed 1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground.

decontructed BLT, where have you been all my life?

Okay so I got a bit off the blogging track. I've been cooking away, however, so it's time to catch up.

French Fridays with Dorie for September 23rd, was creating the recipe Deconstructed BLT and Eggs from Around My French Table.  Dorie explains there was a time in Franch when everything that could possibly be deconstructed was. Dorie's idea was to deconstruct the famous sandwich, and saladize it too.  Since it didn't seem substantial enough for a lunch meal, the addition of hard boiled eggs with a spot of mayonnaise rounded it out nicely.

So what happens is, you fry the bacon and chop it up.  You use some of the fat from that skillet to brown some chunks of country bread to make bacon-flavored croutons. You chop some sun-dried tomatoes and some grape tomatoes.  You toss it all with some arugula (great choice for greens!),  and some vinaigrette. Garnish with halved hard-boiled eggs dabbed with mayo.

When I took my first bite all I thought was, "Wow, it's a BLT!!" No kidding.

Only this is much prettier.  Yum.  Load your fork already!