It’s not hard to make your own cookie mix, and you can use any of your favorite recipes. Just mix the dry ingredients together ahead of time. Then later add the butter, eggs and vanilla, and bake. The cookie mix makes a nice gift when you package it in a canister with a ribbon and label… and, of course, instructions. Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography
I am always on the quest for the perfect pie – the holy grail of baking. We have three blueberry bushes that were loaded with berries, perfectly ripe, so it was time to give it another try. I used 4 inch quiche pans to make tarts for the experiments – making several small pies. Cook’s Illustrated has an incredible recipe for the pie dough that they call “Foolproof Pie Dough for a Single-Crust Pie. It uses vodka, which makes the dough easier to roll out. But as good as the recipe is, I can’t resist tinkering a bit, and that’s where the problems start. I insist on making it with only butter – no lard or shortening. What can I say – butter just tastes better. In the past, I have been able to make the change with a few other adjustments and make a perfect free form tart – a tart that I would put up against any. This time, I wanted to make a perfect pie, complete with decorations. But butter spreads, making decorations …
We started several projects this week. After reading a simple method for sprouting in the “Bar Tartine, techniques and recipes” cookbook, we decided to sprout some lentils. We needed a clean, non reactive container that we could put cheese cloth over in order to quickly rinse the sprouts. The answer was a glass jar. Later, I was organizing the pantry, and decided I wanted all the containers to be uniform, not expensive, easy to move around, easy to clean, easy to find for sale in bulk, and clear, so I could tell what was in it. Again, it ended up that the answer was a common glass jar. I tried several other containers – cute ceramic jars, plastic flour containers. But, who knew, it was the common canning jar that would work best? Oh, I guess my Grandmother knew, since she always used them, but other than her, who would have guessed? The 32 oz size was really useful for all the different grains we have, and the 32 oz wide mouth for the various …
We set about to make the best Thai basil fried rice. Knowing that a dish is only as good as the individual ingredients, we wanted to used the best Asian sauces and the freshest ingredients. We have tried a lot of Asian sauces, and there is definitely a difference between the brands – and these are some of our favorites. Jasmine rice, fried on a wok using a Big Kahuna outdoor burner. The outdoor burner has a much higher temperature and allows the rice to get that authentic wok fried flavor. The rice was dried overnight and then fried using peanut oil with a sauce made of Lee Kum Kee premium oyster sauce, Kwong Hung Seng thin soy sauce, Three crabs fish sauce, Panthai chili paste with soya bean oil (Nam Prik Pao), and organic sugar. Then yellow onion, red bell pepper, thai basil, carrots, green onion, jalapeno, was fried separately and mixed with the rice. The Chicken was dry brined with Tom Douglas’s chicken “rub-with-love”, then cooked indirectly on the Weber grill and smoked …
Beet salad with rose petals and cilantro flowers
Crostini with fresh pea puree then topped with pea tendrils and flowers from the garden. Drizzle with a really great olive oil and sprinkle with fleur de sel and you have the perfect spring time appetizer. The puree was made by sauteing garlic in olive oil and then adding frozen petite peas – no need to defrost. After a minute or two of cooking they were tossed into the food processor. The frozen peas were just as good as the fresh, and a whole lot quicker.
For Thanksgiving I made a pecan tart with a foolproof crust recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. It seriously is foolproof and the best crust ever. The secret is that it uses vodka. We had some Seagram’s Sweet Tea vodka left from a summer backyard party, and that was the perfect thing for a pecan tart.
The cake designer used the brides artwork to create a very unique wedding cake for the couple. Cake: The Glass Slipper Gourmet
Valentine’s Day cupcake from Cutesy Cupcake.
Football game day tradition in Santa Clara California starts at Stan’s Donuts. Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography of Santa Cruz, California.