Sunday, April 29, 2012

Simply Said....The Best Blueberry Pie

Each year, in early June, our family travels about 30 miles east of our home in Tallahassee to Monticello (a rural almost hip sleepy town) to pick fresh organic blueberries at Green Meadows Blueberry Farm We typically pick enough to last us a year.  Last year, we picked by hand over 20-lbs of blueberries-drove down the road and picked 10-lbs of blackberries too, because we were simply feeling the love.

My husband enjoys baking-It has been busy for him, and he has not been able to spend as much time in kitchen but, like most people who enjoy cooking and baking, it just gets to the point where you need to get in there, and do it.  For him, it came in a dream.  He woke-up and said "I was dreaming about the weirdest thing-Blueberry Pie" And so it goes, by afternoon he was in the kitchen making simply stated, the BEST Blueberry Pie.

The first slice brings a firm, glistening filling with fresh bright flavor with still plump berries. 

The Best Blueberry Pie
Makes one 9-inch Pie
Adapted Recipe from Cook's

Note: The recipe calls for fresh blueberries but unthawed frozen blueberries from last year's harvest.  If using frozen berries, cook half of them over medium high heat in step 2 without mashing until they are reduced to 1-1/4 cups, 12-15 minutes.  Grind the tapioca to a powder in a spice grinder.  If using pearl tapioca, reduce the amount to 5 teaspoons

1 package refrigerated roll-out pie dough
6 cups (about 30 ounces) fresh blueberries (see note)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes or a box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground (see note)
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water

1.  Remove 1 disk of the dough, and place in the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges (note: the original recipe calls for a freshly made pie dough.  We used a ready made refrigerator dough).

2.  Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven too 400 degrees.  Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat.  Using a potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1-1/2 cups, about 8 minutes.  Let cool slightly.

3.  Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry.  Transfer apple to large bowl.  Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine.  Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces ver filling.

4.  Remove second disk of refrigerated dough on a floured top.  Using a 1-1/4 inch round biscuit cutter, cut round from center of dough.  Cut another 6 rounds from dough, 1-1/2 inches from the edge of center hole and equally spaced around center hole.  Lift gently, and lay over pie, leaving at least 1/2-inch overhang on each side.

5.  Using kitchen shears, trim bottom layer of overhanging dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold dough under itself so that the edge is flush with the outer rim of the pie.  Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with tines of a fork to seal top crust to bottom.  Brush top and edges of pie with egg mixture.  If dough is very soft, chill in freezer for 10 minutes.

6.  Place pie on heated baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.  Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.  Cut into wedges and serve.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

" Dad's Last Crop of Garlic" 
Photo submitted by Maureen Brady Johnson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turkish Yogurt Cake

My understanding is that there is hundreds of versions of yogurt cake eaten all over the world.  Although not widely popular here in the U.S., it ought to be, as it is a wonderful recipe addition to the home cook and baker kitchens everywhere.

This Turkish version is certainly much lighter than the traditional flour cake, and has a light souffle texture, that is airy and fresh tasting.  More importantly, it takes just a few fresh ingredients to put this together.  

Can we say all together that this is proof that simple is best and proof that food does not have to be complicated to be delicious? 

The combination of eggs, thick Greek style yogurt and citrus makes for a magical combination of flavors.

Don't forget to pass around the syrup, if your family or guests prefer a slightly sweeter experience. 

Turkish Yogurt Cake
Serves 6
Recipe from Arabesque

4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose-flour
1-2/3 cups strained Greek style yogurt
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

For the optional syrup:
2/3 cup water
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a thick, pale cream.  Beat in the flour, then the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until it is throughly blended.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them int the yogurt mixture.  Pour this into a round, non-stick baking tin (about 9-inches in diameter), greased with butter.  Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is brown.  It will puff up like a souffle and then subside.

Turn onto a serving plate, and serve warm or cold.

If you are making the syrup, boil the water with sugar, lemon juice, and grated orange zest for 3 to 5 minutes.  Let it cool, then chill in the refrigerator.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Martha Cummings

Friday, April 13, 2012

Clean Eating~ Carrot Soup with Ginger

No processed ingredients here only proof that a few fresh flavors combined together can make extraordinarily delicious meal.  

Proof that my belly and I were satisfied.

Carrot Soup with Ginger
Serves 6
Recipe from The Soup Bible

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
5-1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1-1/2 quarts chicken stock
7 tablespoons whipping cream
A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Melt the butter or margarine.  Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.

2.  Stir in the potato, carrots, ginger, and stock.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3.  Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until it is smooth. Return the soup to the pan.  Stir in the cream and nutmeg and add salt and pepper to taste.  Reheat slowly to serve.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Sharon Grieco- Bolden

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sugar Snap Pea and Fennel Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Welcome to Spring! Fresh, light and absolutely delicious.

Sugar Snap Pea and Fennel Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups sugar snap peas, tough strings removed, cut into strips
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into thin strips (review a few fronds for garnish)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, shallots and salt in a large bowl.  
2.  Add the snap peas, peas, fennel, tarragon to bowl.  
3.  Toss to coat and season to taste with pepper.
4.  Garnish with fennel fronds and top with toasted walnuts.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.


1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo by Tomatoes on the Vine

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Polish Pierogies-Discovering Culture through Food

I always feel lucky when someone shares a recipe with me.  Sharing a favorite family recipe is opening a window to their table, to their world and an opportunity for me to discover something new.

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to enjoy traditional Polish foods brought to me by a new friend.  Ola knows I enjoy food and she has graced me with the opportunity to enjoy handmade pierogies,  rustic European breads and a cold summer soup (a borscht of sorts) filled with beets, fennel and loads of other mild fresh vegetables.  I am honored, honored that she wants to share her food and  culture with me.  I have really enjoyed the opportunity.

To honor her, I tried my hand at making authentic Polish pierogies based on the recipe that she shared with me. Although not difficult, it was a labor of love. If you are not familiar with perogies it is a dumpling that can be filled with potatoes, meat or vegetables, that is then sauteed after being boiled.  Periogies are a traditional food that are enjoyed in Eastern Europe and Russia.

I made two types of perogies. The first was a mushroom and sauerkraut that was quite good.  The second was a potato, cheddar and bacon pierogie, a favorite of my son.

I discovered that playing with dough was almost as much fun as playing in the dirt in my garden.

The result was plenty of pierogies that could be frozen for later use and a new appreciation for the simplicity of ingredients, that produce amazing flavors.

Homemade Authentic Polish Pierogies-Mushroom and Sauerkraut
Recipe adapted from Ola Jaskolska

Ingredients for Pierogi Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of butter or oil
1 large egg, whisked
1-1/8 cups warm water

Note: I cheated here and added about a 1/4 cup of sour cream

Sift the flour to a bowl.  Make a pit in the flour, add salt, butter or oil, sour cream (optional) and the egg.  Gradually, add water,  Turn the dough out on a floured board and knead the dough till it becomes soft and flexible (about 10 minutes).

Divide the dough in sections to roll it out easily (ideally, the dough should be  about 1/8 inch-thick).  Cut circles of dough (2" for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2 " for large pierogies).  You can roll each circle again to make it a little bit stretched.  It will help to seal the pierogies after filling them. 

Mushroom and Sauerkraut Filling

A big jar/can of sauerkraut, that is shredded finely, drained
Fresh mushrooms (any variety or mixture is good)
2 onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter or oil

Melt butter in a medium frying pan. Over medium heat, add onions, mushrooms and sauerkraut, salt and pepper, until onions are soft.  Put aside.

Preparing the Pierogies:
Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle.  Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.  Each batch of dough makes abut 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.

Boil the pierogies a few at a time in a large pot of water.  They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes).  Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Melt butter in a large frying pan (you can add chopped onions too, saute until soft).  Then add the pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy.  Serve with a side of sour cream or salad.