Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

From Smitten Kitchen, with cherries from Emily.  We ate this (and practically nothing else) for several days.  I used the pie crust recipe listed, but with shortening instead of butter (just because I have lots of the former).  I don't have a rolling pin at the moment, so I was stuck using a wine bottle, which is less effective.  I rolled the bottom crust out the best I could, then just pressed it onto the pan.  For the top, I rolled out strips and just laid them across the top.  It worked out just fine.  This would also be particularly good with rhubarb or something else tart.

Sour Cherry Slab Pie
Yield: Varies, but I cut mine into 20 2 1/2-inch by 3-inch pieces
1 1/2 All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Doughs, divided, patted into thick rectangles, wrapped in plastic and chilled for at least an hour in the fridge
6 cups sour cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen will work; if frozen, defrost and drain first)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar*
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I did this to make the glaze more interesting)
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle. I won’t lie: this can be kind of a pain because it is so large. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (and tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens too quickly; it is summer afterall) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. [See more of my pie-rolling tips here.]
Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan). I went ahead and lined mine with parchment, just to ensure I’d be able to easily lift it out. Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.
Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.
* Martha had suggested 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar for 6 cups of sour cherries. I balked, imagining my beautiful Jersey cherries drowning a syrupy death, and used 3/4 cup, which yielded a lightly-sweetened pie with the tartness of the cherries still coming through, just as we like. Please adjust this to your tastes, and according to the tartness of the cherries you brought home.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

No picture because we were too impatient.

Via Brown Eyed Baker and not altered.  You could use your own biscuit recipe, but these were perfect with the gravy.


For the Biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
¾ cup buttermilk
For the Sausage Gravy:
1 pound breakfast sausage
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon seasoned salt


1. Make the Biscuits: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (do not grease your baking sheet).
2. Place the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl or the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Whisk together or process with six pulses.
3. If making by hand, use a pastry blender or your fingertips to quickly cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few slightly larger butter lumps. If using a food processor, distribute the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with twelve pulses.
4. If making by hand, stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula or fork until the mixture forms a soft, slightly sticky ball. If using a food processor, remove the cover and pour the buttermilk evenly over the dough. Process until the dough gathers into moist clumps, about eight pulses.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and quickly form into a rough ball. Be careful not to overmix. Pat the dough into a ¾-inch-thick circle. Cut out the dough rounds with a 2-inch biscuit cutter. Push together the remaining pieces of dough, again pat into a ¾-inch-thick circle, and cut out several more dough rounds. Discard the remaining scraps. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake until the biscuit tops are light brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet to a wire cooling rack while the sausage gravy is prepared.
7. Make the Sausage Gravy: Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, crumbling it into bite-size pieces as it cooks.
8. Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle half of the flour over the sausage, stirring to dissolve it. Add the rest of the flour and again stir for about 1 minute, until all of the flour has been dissolved.
9. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly as it is added. Cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken (10 to 15 minutes). Season the gravy with the black pepper and seasoned salt and continue to cook until it is very thick. Spoon the gravy over the buttermilk biscuits to serve. Leftover gravy can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If it is too thick when reheated, simply add a splash or two of milk to thin it out a bit.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strawberry Pimm's Cup Cocktail

For the Strawberry Syrup:
16 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and rinsed
1 cup granulated sugar

For the Drink:
2 ounces Pimm's No. 1
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce Strawberry Syrup
2 ounces 7UP or ginger ale
Sliced cucumber, strawberries and fresh mint to garnish

1. Make the Strawberry Syrup: Puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and measure out 1 cup of the strawberry puree. Add it, along with the sugar, to a small saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (The strawberry syrup can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.)

2. Make the Drink: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine the Pimm's No. 1, lemon juice and 1 ounce of the strawberry syrup and shake. Strain into an ice-filled glass and top with the 7UP. Garnish with sliced cucumber, strawberries and a sprig of fresh mint.

  • The garnish is not necessary for the flavor, but smelling that cucumber and mint with each sip adds a surprisingly wonderful-ness to the drink.
  • We happened to have a bottle of lemon sour open, so we used that instead of sprite.  It's a solid choice.
  • When I made the strawberry syrup, I strained it through my wire mesh strainer and very little was strained out.  (Some of the seeds, probably not the majority.  I'm not convinced this is a necessary step.)
  • Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker (my new hero)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bacon Cauliflower Salad

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen peas (fresh would be awesome!)
1 medium onion, chopped (optional)
1 cup Miracle Whip
2 to 4 teaspoons sugar

Very good.  Instead of starting from scratch on the bacon, I just used this secret ingredient.  It's very nice to have around for salads, omelets, etc. and since people are using is with a decent amount of restraint, I can justify keeping a package around for random bacon needs.  (You know ... "needs.")

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Basic Sandwich Loaf

Adapted from this recipe.

yield: two 8"x4" loaves

Dough Starter (Sponge)

  • 12 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (2¼ cups plus 2½ T)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¾ cups water, room temperature
  • 1½ ounces honey (2T plus 1 tsp)
  • ¾ tsp instant yeast

Flour Mixture and Dough

  • 11 ounces whole wheat (or white whole wheat) flour (2 cups plus 3 T)
  • ¾ tsp instant yeast
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tsp salt
Scald the milk by microwaving it for 1 minute on high. Meanwhile, combine the white flour, honey, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Combine the water and milk, and whisk into the flour mixture briskly until smooth, to incorporate air into the starter.

Sprinkle half of the whole wheat flour over the sponge, sprinkle the yeast over the flour, then add the remaining flour in an even layer. Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature one to four hours. Set out the stick of butter to soften.

Add the salt and butter, and work the dough together in the bowl with your hand. When it comes together, knead for a few more minutes (five total). The dough will be quite sticky, but try not to add too much flour. Form the dough into a ball on the counter and turn the bowl upside down over it on the counter. Let rest 20 minutes, then knead for five more minutes. (The dough should be easier to handle this second time). Return the dough to the bowl, flatten the surface, cover tightly and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1½ hours.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and flatten gently into a rectangle, without squishing out too much air. Fold it in thirds like a letter, turn and fold in thirds again. Flip it over, return it to the bowl, and gently flatten. Let rise again until doubled, about an hour.

Turn out the dough and cut it in half. Shape each piece by pressing or rolling it into a rectangle with the long side facing you, deflating any very large bubbles with your fingertips. Fold one side in to the center, then fold the other side to meet or slightly overlap it. Starting at the top, roll up the dough, pulling on the roll to stretch it slightly as you roll. Seal the edge, and if necessary, roll the loaf under your hands until it is as long as your loaf pan. Place the loaves into greased pans, cover and let rise until the center is 1" above the top of the pans.

Set an oven rack in the lowest position. If you have a baking stone, set it on the rack. Preheat the oven to 350º. Set the bread pans on the stone and bake 50 minutes, turning halfway. (When done, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf should read 210º.) Remove from pans and cool on a rack.

Notes: Measuring by weight instead of volume guarantees consistent results with minimal effort, but if you don't have a scale, reserve a half-cup or so of the flour and add later as needed to get the texture right.

I use a Pyrex 8-cup measuring cup for the mixing bowl. It has a lid so you don't need saran wrap, it's easy to keep an eye on progress with the markings, and this recipe is doubled just when it reaches the lid for the first rise, and when it starts to lift the lid off the bowl for the second rise.

If you prefer, you may substitute water for the milk and add ¼ cup dry milk to the whole wheat flour.

This recipe stores well for about a week.