Category Archives: comida

Recipe Wednesday: Strawberry Pie

Over at her blog, Emma has posted recipes on Wednesday for the past three weeks, this week with an entry on Crispy Sesame Crusted Brussels Sprouts.  Because I also like cooking and am especially proud of my recent success making Strawberry Pie, I thought I’d share the recipe.  It’s from this month’s Cook’s Illustrated.  The picture is mine however.



Fresh Strawberry Pie (Cook’s Illustrated, May/June 2011)
For the filling:
4 pints (about 3 lbs.) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled*
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1.5 tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes**
Generous pinch table salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 baked 9-inch pie shell

For the whipped cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar

* I only had three pints of strawberries so I used defrosted frozen ones for the puree
**Be sure to use Sure-Jell for low- or no-sugar recipes (pink box).

To make the filling, select 6 oz. misshapen, underripe or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large, about 1½ cups.  In the food processor, process the berries to a smooth puree.  You should have about ¾ cup puree.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Stir in the berry puree.  Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a full boil.  Boil for 2 minutes (it seemed to cook faster for me), scraping the bottom and sides of the pan constantly.  It will be foamy at first and then darken. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice.  Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, pick over the remaining berries and choose the most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries.  Add the berries to the bowl with the glaze and fold gently with a spatula until the berries are evenly coated.  Scoop the berries into the pie shell, piling into a mound.  If any cut sides face up on the top, turn them face down.  Remake the mound if need be until you find it attractive.  Refrigerate the pie until chilled, about 2 hours.  Serve within 5 hours of chilling.

Make the whipped cream just before serving.   Cut the pie into wedges and serve with whipped cream.


Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Walnuts Cookies

I made oatmeal cookies last night and some friends on Twitter asked for the recipe.  Here it is.  This makes a sort of crunchy oatmeal cookie — for chewier, use all brown sugar.
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup of chopped roasted walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with baking parchment.
  2. Roast walnuts until fragrant.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Beat together butters and sugar on low; increase speed until creamed and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg, vanilla and cinnamon. Scrape bowl as needed
  6. On low speed, add dry ingredients until mixed.  Then add oats.  Finally, mix in walnuts and raisins.
  7. Drop on pan by tablespoon in batches of six cookies.
  8. Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, turning sheet halfway through baking.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes on sheet and then remove to cooling rack
  10. Enjoy!


Holiday Meme: Question 1

Which do you pick Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?

Such a question!  My answer is that it depends.  I love them both in the right circumstances and associate both with Christmas.

Egg Nog if it isn’t homemade.  I like the dairy pasteurized stuff, especially from Broguiere’s Dairy (Oh My God so good!). I also like the egg nog latte they serve at coffee places this time of year, especially if they do half milk, half nog. Homemade egg nog (with or without booze) is a no go for me.  I wish it were otherwise because I’d love to be able to make some sugar free, but such is life.

The only hot chocolate I’d have over a well-made latte is homemade Mexican hot chocolate.  For those of you that haven’t tried it, Mexican chocolate comes in cake and is flavored with almonds, cinnamon.  I make hot chocolate by breaking off the right amount of cake, grating it, and then heating the grated chocolate in whole milk over a medium heat burner.  Once the chocolate is mostly dissolved and the milk is hot (not boiling), I pour it into the blender with a little pinch of chile powder and blend for 10 seconds or so until foamy.  Fit for an Aztec king!


Party on! (But watch your drink.)

cocktail As the holiday season moves into full swing, I was sad but not surprised to read on Minx and Zille’s blogs about two different cases of drink doping at scene parties and events, each on opposite sides of the country.  Zille fortunately had a helpful and supportive experience when she reported her suspicions to the event organizer. Minx, sadly did not have this experience but was, instead doubted and pressured to keep quiet.  I know it can’t have been easy to stand up and talk about what happened. No one wants to believe this goes on, especially in our nice little closed circles.  But it does and more often than should be comfortable for anyone.

As someone who worked in a university residence hall for a number of years and on a university campus for many more than that, I know how wide-spread drink doping is. Of the 10 to 15 times I took students have their blood and urine tested following a suspected doping, drugs the students had no memory of taking were found in all but one case (generally the drugs were ambien, xanax or valium rather than the rarer date rape drug “rohypnol”). Even more common is the spiking of low alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages with 100+ proof white alcohol — something that’s gone on since my mother was in college. (That happened to me years ago — though I fortunately noticed due to the oddly chemical taste.) It’s sad to say this, but communal drinks just aren’t safe and probably haven’t been for a while.  Sadder still is our not being able to leave drinks even for a moment, even at private functions.

I’d like to think that the group sponsoring Minx’s event is just unaware of how widespread this problem is and that her blog entry will prompt others who’ve experienced this to come forward and help all of us who haven’t experienced this to be more aware. Rohypnol and other benzodiazepines (used in the rarest but most dangerous sorts of doping) are found more and more frequently on university campuses along with other legal and illegal drugs. I assume this means they’re also becoming more widely used in the general population.

It’s not that there’s a lot of people who dope drinks out there, but the ones that do are good at it and rely on ignorance on the part of their victims (and hosts). What we hear about most in the press are the very worst of the worst — those who dope drinks in order to rape. But there are those who do so, as Zille points out, in the mistaken belief they’re sharing, loosening up the party or helping guests have a better time.  So anyone who might be tempted to do “share” in this fashion, can I remind you that there are those of us who have to watch how much we drink because of other medications?  Personally, I can’t have more than one drink when I’m on lithium without running the risk of becoming very ill.

Anyway, this ended up longer than I intended.  My point is, have fun but watch your drinks.

Photo credit: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Breakfast Conversation

huckleberryA snatch of conversation from over Sunday breakfast at Huckleberry’s (butternut squash with bacon and eggs for me, duck hash with eggs for Paul):

Paul: I have The Thick of It and Have I Got News.

Me: Ooo.  Very cool.  When can we watch?

Paul: Tonight if you’re good.

Me: I’m always good.

Paul: {No words, but a direct stare.}

Me: {sadly} I’m not always good.

I took the picture of baked goods with my phone as we stood in line waiting to order, it gets bigger if you click it.  Trust me, they look better in person.  Huckleberry’s sweets counter rocks.

Gingering sparkle Up

Over on her blog, Life in Motion, the lovely sparkle tells very little about her recent adventures with ginger.  (Seriously sparkle, is "fucking hurts" really enough detail?

She went on to mention in her comments that there was a whole half a root left in the 'fridge making mean faces at her (or something like that).  I suggested she get rid of it by making some cookies… after all, her beloved likes cookies, that much I do know.

To that end, and at her request, I offer this recipe.

Spicy Ginger Cookies
You'll need
3/4 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsps. ground ginger (make sure it's not too old, taste)
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbsps finely minced fresh ginger root
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. 

Beat in the egg and molasses. 

In another bowl, sift together, ground ginger, baking soda, and salt.

Stir dry mix into the molasses mixture until combined. Then gently add in the fresh and crystallized gingers. 

Refrigerate dough in covered bowl or ziplock for at least 2 hours — overnight is best.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Shape dough into walnut sized balls, dip in white sugar and place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased parchment covered cookie sheet. 
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Turn sheet as needed. Cool on wire racks.

Pavlova Dreams

So this past week my beloved turned 39.  Yeah, he’s a younger man.

scaleAnyway, one of the great things about him is that his favorite dessert is one that I had to learn how to make.  It’s called a Pavlova after the ballarina.  This dessert, invented by either Australia or New Zealand (it’s so good they both claim it) is a basic meringue topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Because I taught myself how to make it via recipe without pictures, I made an improvement to it.  Traditionally there’s just a layer of cream and then one of fruit.  Mine has cream, fruit, more cream, more fruit and so on.  I thought this was the way they were supposed to be made and by the time I worked it out, well, this seemed both more attractive and tastier.  Because who doesn’t like extra cream?

pavlova1Because of Paul’s fruit loves, the Pavlovas I make tend to be raspberry (his favorite) and strawberry (because who can afford more than a pint of raspberries in February?).    This is a lot more fun to make in the summer because the berries are much easier to come by — getting the strawberries and raspberries for this Pavlova took trips to two different supermarkets and the Santa Monica Saturday farmer’s market.  This meant that it was served Sunday rather than on Friday (his actual birthday) but hey, ya do what ya can.

pavlova2Everyone is supposed to have a signature dish.  I suspect the Pavlova has becomes mine.   This isn’t my best effort ever, but the first time I’ve gotten a picture to put up before the thing has been devoured.  So here it is.  🙂

Happy Birthday Paul!  (And before you ask, no he didn’t get spanked.  Why?  Because it was his birthday and he didn’t want to be.)