Cherry Pie for Pi Day

I decided to make a cherry pie this year for 3.14.

I’m being super lazy this year and using a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – buying a 2 crust box for the top and bottom and using a can of Duncan Hines Comestock Original Country Cherry Pie Filling.

I’m spending any creativity on the top crust. I decided to go with a mock lattice,  grate pattern. Instead of weaving strips, I sliced slits in the top dough and stretched it to open it up.

Here is what I did:

Adjust oven rack to lower-third of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bottom pie crust in bottom of 9-inch pie plate and flute the edges.

Unroll remaining dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Starting on right side, 2 inches from edge with a ruler held vertically, cut 2-inch slits with a paring knife into dough, spaced about 1 inch apart. Move ruler 1 inch to the left and continue making 2-inch slits, starting parallel to center of first set, so spaces alternate. Continue working across rest of dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Gently stretch dough horizontally to reveal grate pattern (if dough is too soft or breaking, refrigerate until pliable, about 10 minutes).

Pour cherry pie filling into bottom crust. Dot top with 2 tablespoons of butter pieces. Place top dough on pie, stretching slightly to open up the pattern. Crimp to seal the top dough to the bottom dough. If there is any leftover dough, cut into a Pi shape. Beat 1 egg with a teaspoon of water and brush over top dough. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and crust is golden brown. Let cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I wanted to make a pound cake this week and, serendipitously, my parent’s next door neighbor offered to let me pick all the remaining lemons from his tree (Did you know lemon trees have thorns? I do now). Lemon pound cake it is.

Before I left New Orleans, I went to Dorignac’s Food Center to pick up some Creole Cream Cheese. This is a soft farmer’s cheese similar in texture to a mix of cottage cheese and sour cream that is both sweet and tart. Poppy Tooker has a recipe  (as does Edible New Orleans) to make your own batch. If you’re not in the area or not in the mood to make cheese, you can substitute softened cream cheese or sour cream in the recipe.

Lovely lemon flavor and scent, light texture and crumb and just the right amount of  tart to sweet. Perfect for holiday snacking with one to keep and one to give away!

Lemon Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

3 cups cake flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 ounces Creole cream cheese (or use sour cream or softened cream cheese)
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
juice and zest from 3 lemons (about ½ cup fresh lemon juice), divided

1 ½ cups powdered, confectioners sugar

Butter and flour two loaf pans (three, if they’re small). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder. Use a mixer to cream sugar, butter and Creole cream cheese until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Add eggs to creamed sugar and mix. Stir in vanilla and half of the lemon zest. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for an hour, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Let cake cool about 10 minutes. Poke 10-15 holes evenly throughout cakes with a cake tester or toothpick. Pour ¼ cup lemon juice over the top of the cakes (works out to about 2 tablespoons per loaf pan). Let cool completely.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, make the glaze by stirring together the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Stir in the rest of the zest.

Remove cakes from pans once cool. Pour the lemon zest glaze over cakes, letting it fall down the sides. Let icing set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Also good lightly toasted the next morning.

Wrap in plastic wrap to store. Wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and then in a zip top bag to freeze.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

While Hurricane Sally was inching her way closer, I needed to bake something to get my mind off the storm. I decided to use some of the sourdough starter I brought with me and some of dad’s blueberries to make muffins.

I had originally done this recipe but my dad didn’t like the cornmeal in them so I went with a more traditional muffin. Using brown sugar deepens the flavor and I used a Mexican vanilla extract in this recipe as it has a cinnamon flavor that goes well with the blueberries. The cinnamon sugar on the top adds a nice crunch.

They may not be pretty but they are delicious.

My parent’s house took 16 inches of water and a foot of debris with the storm surge from Sally so I will be dealing with that for a while. As there is no power or water, I won’t be cooking unless it can be done on a propane grill or griddle at my brother-in-laws house.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sourdough starter
½ cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
cinnamon sugar for dusting

Butter a muffin tin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, melted butter and brown sugar. Stir the wet ingredients with the dry, just until mixed. Fold in the blueberries just until blended.

Fill the cups of the buttered muffin tin; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and letting cool completely.

I can’t believe Sally hit on the anniversary of Ivan. My folks had gotten 18 inches in that storm and had barely moved back in before I evacuated there for Katrina (and ended up living above their garage for more than a year).

Please keep all those in the paths of these storms in your hearts. Help if you can as we can’t forget Lake Charles and the aftermath of Hurricane Laura so many are facing as well as those other storms that are heading our way.

Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers for me and my family. We are healthy and safe. The house may be uninhabitable but we are okay and will survive.

Blueberry Pound Cake With Cinnamon Sugar Crust

My new next door neighbor was trimming his palm tree and noticed that the seed pods had filled my gutter. He cleaned the gutter for me, so I’m making a pound cake for him and his wife.

As this recipe makes two loaves, it is a treat for me, too!

As I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand and didn’t feel like running to the grocery store, I basically curdled milk to get the same effect. I had that cup of cream left over from the vanilla ice cream I made, so I just added to it the zest and a tablespoon of juice from a lemon and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. The other benefit of doing this substitution is it adds a light lemon flavor to the cake and that goes really well with blueberries.

I have a ton of frozen blueberries and they are just as good as fresh in this dish. Don’t thaw them as the juice will stain the batter too much. They’ll thaw in the cake while it cooks.

Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, you will want to toss them with flour (steal 2 teaspoons before you sift the flour so you don’t have too much extra flour in the final dish). This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter so they’ll stay distributed throughout the cake.

Just as lemon goes well with blueberries, so does cinnamon. Instead of flouring the pans, I’m dusting them lightly with cinnamon sugar and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar to the top as well.

Blueberry Pound Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Crust

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or my substitute, see above)
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter two loaf pans and, instead of flouring them, add a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar per pan to dust the interior with sugar. Focus on the sides. It will make for a sweet crust that enhances the flavor of the blueberries.

Take 2 teaspoons of flour and toss with the blueberries. Set aside.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking power, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Gently stir in flour coated blueberries.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Lightly dust top of batter with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

One of the best things about poundcake is that it can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Summer Cocktail Piña Colada

Pineapples were on sale so I bought one, brought it home and sliced it up. I collected a little more than a cup of the slices and placed them in a bag in the freezer overnight.

Once frozen, they would be perfect for Piña Coladas!

I made one batch with spiced rum and the other with light rum. Both very good and refreshing. I ended up adding a tablespoon of simple syrup to the spiced rum to mellow it out but taste yours and see if it needs any sweetening.

You don’t need to be tired of your lady to enjoy these – they are a great way to end a week and an even better way to end July.

Piña Colada Cocktail

½ cup spiced or light rum
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup frozen pineapple chunks, plus fresh for garnish
1 cup ice

Add rum, coconut milk, pineapple chunks to a blender with ice. Blend until smooth.

Pour into 2 glasses.

Garnish each glass with a swizzle stick filled with pineapple chunks.

Meyer Lemon Pie

I’ve had a craving for lemons lately. I made a big pitcher of lemonade the other day but that just wasn’t enough. My dad was eating a slice of key lime pie from the icebox and the light bulb went off – lemon pie!

I really like the sweeter, mellow lemon flavor of Meyer lemons, so I was happy to see them in the grocery store.

I used the America’s Test Kitchen crust. The saltine crackers are a good alternative to a graham cracker crust.

The result is light and not too sweet, not too tart – Goldilocks would love this pie!

While you can top with the whipped egg whites or whipped cream, I usually don’t bother. I don’t want anything to distract from the lemons.

Meyer Lemon Pie

53 saltine crackers, about a sleeve and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light corn syrup
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, crush saltines and salt. This takes about 15 pulses. Add in butter and corn syrup. Pulse until it looks like coarse sand, about 15 pulses.

Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

In a bowl, use a whisk to mix sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, milk and zest. Whisk in salt and lemon juice. Pour into still warm pie crust and return to oven for 15-18 minutes. It should only have a slight jiggle.

Cool on the counter for 15 minutes before transferring the refrigerator overnight (at least 4 hours). The pie needs to be completely chilled before slicing.

 

Fresh Peach Schnapps and Tequila Cocktail

The Peach Tree On The Southern Wall

 

The peach tree on the southern wall
Has basked so long beneath the sun,
Her score of peaches great and small
Bloom rosy, every one.
A peach for brothers, one for each,
A peach for you and a peach for me;
But the biggest, rosiest, downiest peach
For Grandmamma with her tea.
Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

I bought a bunch of peaches from Chilton County, Alabama (home of the best peaches on the planet) and decided that I wouldn’t save the best for Grandma’s tea but rather to make a cocktail.

Sweet and juicy, like the fruit itself. Be careful of the sneaky kick from the alcohol!

Fresh Peachy Tequila Cocktail

1 ripe peach, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce peach schnapps
1 tablespoon agave nectar

Toss the peach slices in the lime juice both for flavor and for them to keep their color. Place the peaches and the liquid and all other ingredients with about a cup of ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Serve over ice.

Grilled and Filled Pears

I fired up the grill to do steaks for my Dad for Father’s Day and decided that we’d go pear shaped for dessert. I like baked pears (and apples) and figured wood smoke would be a delicious addition.

Not really knowing too much about pears, I just picked up some firm ones from the grocery. You need them to keep their shape, so don’t choose soft ones.

I filled the pears with a sweetened and flavored cream cheese, that I rolled into balls and then rolled the balls in chopped pecans.

Once the steaks were grilled and were resting, I put the pears on to get grill marks. I then closed off the vents and let the pears roast in a pan above the dying fire while we ate. Once we finished and the plates cleared, I pressed in the nut ball and served the grilled and filled pears.

Very simple and quite tasty!

Grilled and Filled Pears

3 pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 2 tablespoons water
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Cut pears in half and core. Rub the exposed surface with diluted lemon juice to keep from browning.

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into balls the size of the cored cavities and then roll the ball in chopped pecans. Place into the fridge.

Place pear halves cut side down on the grill grates and roast for 5 minutes. Drop the butter into the aluminum pan and let melt. Use tongs to remove the halves to the pan and rub the cut sides in the butter. Leave the pears butter side down and place the pan on the grill away from the coals and continue to roast until tender, about 15 minutes more or until pears have softened and yield gently when squeezed.

When the pears are done, remove the nut balls from the fridge. Flip over the pears and press a nut ball into the cored cavity of each pear half. You can leave the pears on the fire to stay warm or remove pan from the grill and serve.

Lambrusco Sangria

We opened a rather large bottle of Riunite Lambrusco to have with grilled steaks and didn’t manage to finish it that night.

So I decided to turn it into sangria. It makes a lightly effervescent and very refreshing drink. I basically used the fruit in the fridge – I would have added about a cup of grapes (peeled) had I had any or a banana. You want a mix of citrus and other mild fruit flavors that will commingle with liquids but still retain their shapes.

The basic rule of thumb is for every 2 cups of Lambrusco, add about 1 cup of other flavoring liquid – I like a mix of orange juice and triple sec. A full bottle of wine is about 3 cups.

The perfect accompaniment to the cicadas, katydids and laughter that were the music to our socially distant cocktail hour on a lovely June evening.

Lambrusco Sangria

1 orange or 3 tangerines/clementines/satsumas, peeled and cut into rounds
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 peach, peeled and cut into slices
½ cup cantaloupe chunks
3/4 cup orange juice
¼ cup triple sec
2 tablespoons agave nectar (more as necessary)
2 cups Lambrusco

In a pitcher, stir together the fruit pieces. Add in orange juice and orange liqueur and agave nectar. Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to marry.

Stir in Lambrusco and ice cubes. Stir vigorously and taste for sweetness. Add more agave nectar, if needed. If it isn’t effervescent enough, add a splash of club soda or sparkling water. Serve over ice, placing some of the fruit in each glass.

 

Small Batch Banana Pudding

Only have a couple of over ripe bananas but really want banana pudding? Here is a recipe that works with only a couple of bananas and serves 4.

I like to wait until the bananas are getting rather brown and then mash them with a fork to mix in with the pudding. It makes for better banana taste throughout the dish, too.

Very tasty!

Small Batch Banana Pudding

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash of salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork
about 20 Nilla Wafers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine ¼ cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 2 egg yolks and milk. Whisk to combine. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Beat egg whites on high speed until they begin to thicken. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Remove pudding from heat; add vanilla and mashed banana. Stir well.

Crumble up 10 Nilla Wafers and scatter in the bottom of 4 medium ramekins. Place 4 whole Nilla Wafers along the outside.

Spoon banana pudding evenly between the four ramekins. Place meringue on top, spreading to the edge to cover the pudding. Crumble four more wafers and sprinkle over the top of the meringue.

Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake in an oven for 10 minutes. Let cool before putting in the refrigerator to chill completely before serving.