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I’m back, with Pie!

3 Jan

Happy New Year fellow bloggers and readers!!

Wow, it feels like forever since I have updated my blog.  Well in the blogging world I guess it has been forever.  As you can tell from my last post I have been pretty busy lately with Charlie.  It’s almost been three weeks that we got her and she’s growing at an incredible rate, so much so I’m a little concerned that she’ll most probably outgrow me..lol. She’s been adapting very well to our home and sleeping throughout the entire night, God bless her.

The house training in getting better as well, of course being a puppy she’s had a few accidents but she is definitely getting better at letting us know when she has to go.  This morning for example I went to take out the trash and when I came back inside there she was waiting for me at the front door not moving, her sign that she has to go.  I would think that in about two weeks or so she should be house trained, or at least I’m hoping she will be.  Am I going on a little too long about Charlie, this is a baking blog after all?  Ok, just one more quick update.  She’s already learned to sit, give her paw, high five, sit pretty and crawl, all for a treat of course. Oh, and I’m slipping in a picture for you all to see.

I found that it has been pretty difficult to spend much time in the kitchen the last couple of weeks.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been baking, I have.  I just haven’t been baking and taking pictures is all. I did make a point of taking out my camera a few days back when I made a Lemon Meringue Pie. I know what you’re thinking, “A lemon meringue pie in the winter, really?”.  Yes, really.  Aside from it being a request from my husband I was craving something tangy yet sweet, I wanted to bring a little summer to our pallets. 

I felt the need to make something that had nothing to do with the holidays or old man winter, and what could be more perfect than lemon meringue pie?  And I don’t mean lemon meringue pie from a box with a graham cracker crust.  I’m talking the real thing; a flakey butter crust filled with a tangy lemon filling and topped off with a luscious cloud of sweet meringue.

The pie crust is my tried and true recipe that can be found in my Apple Pie post, just half the recipe ingredients for a 1 9-inch pie crust.  Or you can make the double batch and freeze 1 crust for later use which is always handy. The lemon filling and meringue is a recipe that from a wonderful book called Baking by James Peterson.

This is one of the first filling recipes that I have used that didn’t call for any corn starch or flour to act as a thickening agent.  The thickening agent here my dear friends is patience, you’ll need lots of it as you stand over your stove as you’re trying to convince yourself with every passing minute that the custard is getting thicker. You many even want to chant (in your head of course), “you’re getting thicker, you’re getting thicker” and before your arm has a chance to completely go numb the custard finally thickens!

I know the boxed lemon meringue and using a premade crust is way quicker than making a pie from scratch, but I tell you all the difference is in the taste.  I would not lie to you and make you spend indefinitely amount of time in the kitchen if I really didn’t believe it.  Make it; it’s worth the extra effort.  And make it in the winter; your taste buds will thank you.

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Tarte Tatin

10 Dec

Well winter has hit Toronto.  I knew it was too good to be true, almost half way through the month and not a trace of snow, well until this morning. Once we get the first snowfall the summer days of just a couple of months ago are nothing but a faint and distant memory.  I would post a picture of the first snowfall, but it actually looks pretty nasty outside.  You see first it snowed, then it rained, and now it’s nothing but a slushy filthy mess.  Yep, that’s pretty typical of the first snowfall….nothing pretty about it my friends.

I really don’t mind the snow, when it’s the nice fluffy kind reminiscent of a country road painting.  It’s the darn cold that I have an issue with.  Aside from what it does to my hair, it’s just unbearable.  And it doesn’t even get that cold here compared to other parts of the country. It days like this that I find the most comfort in baking, especially on days when venturing outside seems like mission impossible.  Enter the Tarte Tatin in all its buttery goodness.  Have you ever had a slice of warm tarte tatin? No, well you absolutely must.  It’s pretty much the French version of apple pie, just with a heck of a lot more butter.

I know you’re thinking that it’s probably more butter than your arteries can handle, but looking at the positive it also has fruit and we all know fruit is good for you even if they are swimming in a sea of butter and caramelized sugar.  Now if that doesn’t peak your interest I would really be at a loss for words.

The tarte tatin was another first attempt for me.  As you can see it’s not going to win any prizes for being the prettiest tarte tatin, but the taste was all there.  The recipe I used was Dorie Greenspan’s from her book Baking: From my Home to Yours.  For the crust I went with her recipe for sweet tart dough which came together rather quickly.  I didn’t change anything else and tried to follow the recipe as best I could.  I should have been more generous with the amount of apples I put in the pan; I underestimated how much shrinkage there would be.

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Vanilla Bean Tart

20 Nov

It’s just a fantastic feeling when you wake up in the morning and not have to think about going to work, especially when it’s not the weekend.  I thought I would treat myself today by taking a day off, just to you know, relax, take a leisurely walk, spend some time in the kitchen and of course update my blog.

Well, since I knew I wouldn’t have to work today, yesterday evening I baked up this Vanilla Bean Tart that I found on a new blog that I just fell in love with Broxholm Road.  The recipe was rather simple to follow, aside from the differences in measurements (thank you Mom for giving me my  very own scale).  Let me tell you the best thing about this tart is the unbelievable amazing scent coming from the oven when it’s baking.  I tell you it’s like nothing you have experienced before, if I closed my eyes I would have thought that I was standing in a Parisian Patteserie…yeah that good!

These are the type of simple desserts that I enjoy, plain but with a burst of flavour.  As I mentioned, the recipe is pretty simple to follow, my only word of warning is be gentle when handling the dough.  It’s even more finicky than pie dough, so work fast and make sure your work surface is well floured.

There are a few things that I did different, while the recipe called for whole milk I only had 1%.  I must admit, I was a little worried that my custard wouldn’t thicken, but it did.  By using 1% all I may have compromised is some of the richness in the taste, but to be honest who would really notice. The recipe also called for lemon rind in the dough, now this was just a personal preference on my part, I just felt that the lemon taste in the dough would take away for the vanilla custard, again just a personal preference. Although, if I make this again I may very well but a dash of Rum or Bourbon in the custard for a little extra punch.  And lastly for both the custard and the dough I used regular granulated sugar, and it worked out fine.

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Italian Apple Cake

20 Oct

 

You know that feeling you get when something triggers a memory and you’re suddenly transported back to your childhood? 

It can be something as simple as the smell of bubblegum, for me it was a little Italian recipe book from Bertolini that my mom has had for years.  I was over my moms the other night and I asked her for her apple cake recipe or torta di mele.  She then came back with this little recipe booklet that I haven’t seen in years. 

Aside from the great recipes it holds, the one thing I remember most is the story at the end of the booklet, the story of Maria Rosa. As a child I used to beg my mother to read it to me over and over again, I loved the characters, the pictures and of course the story.   Flipping through the pages I felt like a little girl again in my mother’s kitchen, I almost asked her to read it to me …almost.   The booklet itself according to my mother is 40 years old and she has kept it in pretty good condition.  I asked her to borrow it so that I can scan it to have a copy for myself (not sure if I am breaking any copyright laws here, no copyright notice on the booklet itself). 

 

The first recipe I made was the Torta Di Mele or Apple Cake.  My mom has been making this for years and everyone who tastes it asks for the recipe.  Continue reading

Weekend baking…for dinner!

5 Oct

What we have here is a cake, but not your typical cake or maybe it’s a pie…after all it does have a crust, but it’s also layered, confused yet? 

This is a potato “cake”; I’ve been making this for years.  It’s one of those recipes that’s been in my family for decades, my mom made it, my grandmother made it and now I’m making it.  I learned not from a recipe but by watching my mom.  The only difference between my version and that of my mom’s it that she puts the bread crumb crust on the top of the cake and I out it on the bottom. 

This cake boasts two luscious layers of mashed potatoes, sandwiched in between is homemade salami (I’m Italian, is there any other kind of salami?) , mozzarella, hardboiled egg and parmesan cheese.  It’s assembled and baked to delicious goodness in a 9-inch spring form pan. Continue reading

Apple Pie

8 May

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I love all things pie, but I never really ventured into the land of pie making until this year…especially Apple Pie. I have only ever made two types of Pie in the past, either Lemon Meringue or Cherry Pie.  We have a cherry tree in our front yard that boasts the most perfect and sweet cherries imaginable.  So it’s only natural that I make Cherry Pie, which has become one of my favourites.

But for some reason I had never before attempted to make Apple Pie until this year when my husband (Anthony) requested it. I was always worried about making a double crust pie, and I am partial to butter crusts so I wasn’t too sure how an Apple Pie would turn out.  I used my basic pie recipe (recipe to follow) and really don’t follow a recipe for the filling.  I do always use Granny Smith apples; I prefer their firm texture and keep its shape nicely when baking.  Granny Smith do tend to me more tart, so I do add a little extra sugar.  Another trick that I picked up is to scatter some bread crumbs on the bottom crust before putting in the filling; this will prevent a soggy crust.

I made this particular pie posted here for a dinner party, and it was a huge success!

Recipe to follow after the jump 🙂

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