Chocolate Non-Dairy Gelato

Gelato

This is for all my non-dairy eating, vegan, ice cream addict friends. Thanks to this easy recipe, you can all enjoy the same creamy deliciousness you crave. You’re welcome.

Ingredients
2 Cups almond milk
2 Cups French vanilla creamer
1/2 Cup sweetener (honey, sugar)
1 Vanilla Bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 Ounces dark chocolate bar, (such as Ghirardelli 86% cacao) chopped

Directions
1. Put almond milk and French vanilla creamer into a medium-size saucepan and whisk in the sweetener.
2. Slice the vanilla bean in half to extract the seeds from inside. Place the seeds and the pod into the saucepan.
3. Place the mixture on a medium heat and allow it to simmer for five minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, and extract around 1/4 cup from the pan. Mix this with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Then mix that back into the pan, and whisk it to infuse. Cover, and allow the mixture to sit for twenty minutes.
5. Cool the mixture until cold. Remove vanilla bean.
6. Churn mixture in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes.
7. Add 3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and dark chocolate, chopped. Churn for an additional 5 minutes.
8. Freeze for several hours before serving.

You can delete the chocolate additions and add anything your heart desires. Fresh berries would be good! Enjoy!

Sweet Hood Strawberries

Hood Strawberries

We have the best strawberries here in Oregon! Pretty sure we can attribute this to the climate… lots of rain, cool nights and warm sunny days. These are perfect conditions for growing the sweetest strawberries (the weeds in my yard seem to thrive in them as well). The berries stay on the vine and ripen slowly, allowing the sugars to surge before harvest. But these lovelies don’t last long after they’re harvested, which means you won’t see them in stores across the country. They’re very difficult to ship. I guess you’ll just have to visit Oregon to try them!

The window for Oregon strawberries (especially my favorite variety… Hoods), is so short. Sometimes I blink, and miss their quick visit. On a sunny afternoon last week, I coerced my teen into taking a drive out to a local farm with me. She had just finished high school exams for the year. I thought it might be a good way to bring her stress down a notch. An hour in the sun, talking and laughing, and before we knew it, our thoughts were lighter, and our buckets were full of these sweet red gems.

Then there was this pie…

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This recipe is scribbled in a very overcrowded notebook with my other 15K or so favorites. It feels right to finally archive it here.

Strawberry Pie (recipe from my pie-baking Mother)

1 9-inch pre-baked pie crust (see detailed instructions below)
4 cups of fresh, sweet strawberries, hulled and washed immediately before use

Add about 3 cups of whole strawberries, (or however many will fit) in one layer on the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust.

In a small saucepan, bring to boil:
1 cup of crushed strawberries
3/4-1 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

1. Boil the above ingredients for 2 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Add 1 Tablespoon butter. Mix and let cool.

2. Pour the glaze over the whole berries in the pie crust. Refrigerate for about 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Pie Crust (makes 1 9-inch crust)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8-1/4 cup ice cold water

1. Add the flour, salt and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and blend for a few seconds. Add unsalted butter pieces and pulse 4 times. Add shortening and pulse 4 more times. The mixture will look like coarse cornmeal and the butter and shortening bits no larger than peas. Add cold water and blend just until dough begins to stick together. Do not over blend.

2. Remove the dough and place it in a mound on a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten into a 4-inch disk, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

3. Sprinkle a little flour on a flat, clean work surface and on top of the disk of dough you intend to roll out. (My favorite rolling surface is a pastry cloth, but I also have a Silpat that works pretty well too). Using a rolling pin, apply light pressure while rolling outwards from the center of the dough. You have a big enough piece of dough when you place the pie dish over the dough and the dough extends by at least 2 inches all the way around.

4. When the dough has reached the right size, gently roll it onto the rolling pin. Place it into a pie plate, and simply unroll. Do not stretch the dough. Finish the edges by pressing against the edges with your finger tips or a fork.

To pre-bake the dough:

Once your crust is in the pie dish, freeze it for at least a half hour, until well chilled. This is an important step in pre-baking. Otherwise the crust will slip down the sides.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil. Fill at least two-thirds full with pie weights – dry beans, rice, or stainless-steel pie weights. Bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes and carefully remove pie weights. Poke small holes in the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and return to oven (without the weights) and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool completely before filling.

Pancake Day

In honor of National Pancake Day, we had pancakes for dinner last night, just so I could share this fabulous pancake recipe with you today. Well, that and the fact that I’m running out of ideas for meals made in a skillet, in our dining room. So these fluffy little stacked cakes happened…

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Today is Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday. This day was created as a religious-based tradition. It was a good way to use up peoples’ supplies of butter, eggs, and milk, which were all forbidden foods during the season of Lent. But that’s tomorrow… Bon Appétit!

This recipe is a new tradition in my house for a few reasons. The ingredients are ones I usually have around, they are light and fluffy, and incredibly easy to make. I like to crisp the edges ever so slightly in a hot skillet, stack ‘em high, and pour on the pure maple syrup.

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Delicious Fluffy Pancakes

Ingredients
3/4 Cup milk
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Cup all-purpose unbleached flour
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Cooking spray

Directions
Combine the milk and vinegar in a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to sour the milk.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Whisk the egg and butter into the soured milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and blend with a whisk until all the lumps are gone.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with a little cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cups full of batter into the heated skillet and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface. Flip and cook on the other side until browned.

Next week I should be cooking in our new kitchen. The counters and sink are scheduled to be installed tomorrow!

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Where have you been all my life?

Homemade pies

I’m pretty sure this is the best dessert I’ve ever made! I’m really excited to share it with you! I actually made two new-to-me desserts over Thanksgiving. The second one was a sweet potato pie. Both pies were good, but this Pear-Almond Tart turned out especially fabulous!

French Pear and Almond Tart

It’s a bit time consuming to make, but once you’ve tickled your taste buds with its deliciousness, you’ll agree it’s worth the effort.

Slice of pie

Start with a base pastry that is sturdy enough to cradle the almond filling and poached pears, yet light and flaky so it melts in your mouth. The recipe I used is from Martha Stewart, but there are steps you’ll need to take to make sure the baked crust is perfect, so read through all the recipes that follow carefully.

Start with the freshest, best ingredients. A food processor comes in very handy for the crust, but it can be done by hand too if you’re feeling energetic, or you don’t own one.

Basic Pie Crust (You will be pre-baking this – don’t worry I’ll tell you exactly how to do this)
(this makes a base for one 9 inch tart)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1/4-1/3 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for just a few seconds. Add the butter and process for about 10 seconds, or until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add ice water a little bit at a time, and run the processor until the dough holds together, but not for more than 30 seconds. If the dough is still crumbly, add a little more water.

Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and press the dough into a flat circle. Wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Remove the chilled dough and let it rest for a few minutes. Roll it out so that it’s large enough, with a few inches of overhang, to fit a 9″ tart pan (that’s the one with straight fluted sides). Cut off extra dough so that it is just to the top edge. Freeze the crust for at least a half hour, until chilled. This is an important step in pre-baking. Otherwise the crust will slip down the sides.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. When the pie crust is sufficiently chilled, line the pie crust with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil. Fill at least two-thirds full with pie weights – dry beans, rice, or stainless-steel pie weights. Bake with weights for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cool a few minutes and carefully remove pie weights. Poke small holes in the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and return to oven (without the weights) and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool completely before filling. You may need to tent the edges of the pie with aluminum foil when you bake your pie, to keep the edges from getting too dried out and burnt.

Now that you have a perfectly baked tart shell, you can proceed to the filling part.

Step 1 of the filling:

Poached Pears

1 quart water
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and quartered
Additions: One cinnamon stick, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, black peppercorns or allspice berries, one lemon half, one split vanilla bean, 2-3 star anise, 6-8 fresh ginger slices
1. In a large saucepan, heat the water and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Add any of the additions that you wish.
2. Slide in the pears and cover with a round of parchment paper, with a small hole cut in the center.
3. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears.
4. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.
Optional: After poaching the pears, while the liquid is still warm, add approximately 1/4 cup dried sour cherries, cranberries, raisins, or dried currants and let them plump.
Store the pears in their liquid in the refrigerator, in a covered container, until ready to use. Remove the pears from the refrigerator a few hours prior to serving, and re-warm them gently in the liquid, if you wish. The pears will keep for up to 5 days.

Now, lets put it all together…

Pear-Almond Tart
Recipe from David Lebovitz
8 servings

NOTE: If your almond paste isn’t very fragrant with the smell of almonds, add a drop or two of pure almond extract to the filling. You don’t want to dump a spoonful in, which would overwhelm the pears, but a tiny bit highlights the almond flavors. You can use canned pear halves packed in light syrup, and drain them well, in place of the poached pears, if you wish.

6 ounces almond paste (this is sold in most grocery stores, just make sure you pick up the one without sugar added)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
3 ounces butter, salted or unsalted, cubed, at room temperature
1 large egg, plus one egg white, at room temperature
a few drops almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons rum, Calvados, or kirsch

3 poached pears, cored, drained and blotted dry, then cut into 1/2-inch slices
One pre-baked 9-inch tart shell, at room temperature (see above)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Set the pre-baked tart shell on a baking sheet.
2. In a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the almond paste with the sugar and flour, until smooth. Some almond pastes may be drier than others. If yours is dry, just mix until the almond paste is finely-broken up.
3. Gradually beat in the butter, until smooth, then beat in the egg and the egg white, the almond extract, and the liquor.
4. Spread the almond filling evenly over the tart shell
5. Fan the pears out evenly over the almond filling, then press them in slightly.
6. Bake the tart for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the almond filling between the pears has browned.
7. Cool slightly before serving, or serve at room temperature.

Oh yeah, the little pitcher nearby in my image is a bit of the sauce from poaching the pears. Just before serving the tart, reduce the juices by boiling for a few minutes in a pan and serve alongside. Pour a little, or a lot of it onto the tart… ooh and ahh over your masterpiece! Celebrate the happiness of your tastebuds!

Eat a Peach Day

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Apparently there’s a designated national day for just about anything now, and today is National ‘Eat a Peach Day!’

During these late August days of summer, gardens in and around Portland look dry and desert-like with brightly colored fruit falling from yellowed, strained branches. We can’t possibly gorge ourselves on enough fresh fruit to make a dent, and since I don’t have the time to preserve by canning, I simply wash, slice, place on cookie sheets, freeze, and then package into sealed containers for longer term freezing. This way we can still enjoy some of those sweet fruits in smoothies or desserts into the cooler months.

What’s that you say? You’re looking for ways to enjoy peaches today? Glad you asked!

I’ve recently made a couple easy desserts using peaches that I’m excited to share with you.

First up is a super quick and easy peach cobbler…

PeachCobbler

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Then there’s this yummy peach and blueberry galette…

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Of the two, the galette requires a bit more preparation, so if you’re into immediate gratification, or just limited on time, go with the cobbler. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, both are delicious!

FRESH PEACH COBBLER
from Southern Living

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-2 cups sugar, divided
1 Tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg

Preparation:
• Melt butter in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
• Combine flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).
• Bring remaining 1 cup of sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if desired.
• Bake at 375°F. for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
• Serve cobbler warm or reheat before serving.

 

PEACH AND BLUEBERRY GALETTE

Pate Brisee:
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Preparation:
• Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until dough just holds together (no longer than 30 seconds).
• Shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to 2 days), or freeze for up to 1 month.

Filling:
Ingredients:
6-8 cups fresh fruit
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large egg and 1 Tablespoon of heavy cream (for egg wash)

Preparation:
• Roll dough into a 16″ circle about 1/8″ thick. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• In a small bowl combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Sprinkle the sugar mixture onto the pastry to within 1 inch of the edges. In a large bowl, combine the fruit and 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar; toss gently.
• Place fruit onto the pastry circle and sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with butter. Fold up pastry edges to form a lip.
• Beat 1 egg and add a tablespoon of cream. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
• Place prepared galette into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes prior to baking.
• Preheat oven to 375°F.
• Bake until edges are golden brown and fruit is bubbling and cooked through, about 1 hour.
• Let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then transfer the galette to the rack to cool completely.

cakey chocolate chip cookies

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Spring turned back to fall this week. Every afternoon my daughter comes home from school stressed out. With the end of the year approaching, teachers are cramming in loads of work. I always said I wanted to be one of those moms who would have homemade treats ready when my kid(s) came home from school. It’s how I grew up. If I came home to an empty house, it most likely meant my mom was visiting with neighbors nearby. I would hear her laugh before I saw her. When I was older, if she had to be away, she left a note on the counter letting me know where she was. It makes me sad to think of all the young kids who come home to empty houses every day. I have the privilege of being able to work at home, and the flexibility to bake cookies with my daughter. I feel very fortunate!

Let’s bake cookies!

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This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie. They’re made with bread flour, which is responsible for their soft, cakey crumb. Just out of the oven, the pockets of dark chocolate melt deliciously in your mouth.

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Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 3/4 cups Bread flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (2 cubes) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Teaspoons pure vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups dark chocolate pieces or chips

Directions
Sift flour, baking and sea salt together in a smallish bowl. Set aside. Place softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or hand mixer). Add sugars and blend until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir by hand. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake in a preheated 350°F. oven for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will still be a bit soft. Leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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I hope you have a fabulous Memorial Day weekend!