Thursday, November 5, 2009

bourbon pecan pie

My sister just requested my bourbon pecan pie recipe. It inspired me to update my blog and day dream about cooking great food. She wanted to add a little southern flare to a thanksgiving celebration this weekend. I will see if I can bribe her into taking a picture for the blog.

This is the bourbon pecan pie I made for christmas when my whole family was out here in 2007. If you want to make it super easy on yourself you can buy the pastry already put together--then assembling and baking is easy. But making pie pastry is really easy--just remember to have all of the ingredients cold. Having cold ingredients is the key to great pastry.

pie pastry:

1 c all purpose flour plus more for dusting

1/4 c finely ground pecans

1 T sugar

pinch salt

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter cold and cut into small chunks

2 T ice water plus more as needed.


1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

3 large eggs

1 c sugar

3/4 c dark corn syrup or sugar cane syrup

1/2 t pure vanilla extract

3 T bourbon

1/4 t sale

1 1/2 c pecan halves

To make pastry: combine the flour, ground pecans, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. add the butter and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (i sometimes use the food processor) Pour in the ice water and work it in to bind the dough until it just holds together without being too wet or sticky. squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly add a little more ice water 1 T at a time. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 min.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 12" circle.(Try using two sheets of wax paper and roll the dough between. Peel the top layer and use the bottom layer to flip the dough into the pie plate) Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin and lay it inside a 9" pie pan. Press the dough into the pan so it fits tightly and trim the excess around the rim. Place the pie pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling: melt the butter and chocolate in a small sauce pan over medium low heat, remove from heat and let cool. beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until frothy and then blend in the sugar. Stir in the syrup, vanilla, bourbon, salt and the melted butter mixture until well blended.

Arrange the pecans in the bottom of the pie crust and carefully pour the egg mixture over them. Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed--about 45 min. Test for doneness by sticking a thin knife in the center of the pie. if it comes out fairly clean you are good to go. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before cutting.

I always add another few tbs of bourbon once the pie is slightly cooled. The other alcohol cooked off and this gives the pie a little kick...otherwise you can also make bourbon whipped cream by adding bourbon to the whipping cream as you beat it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

mason jar candle lanterns

so i grew up on a blueberry and honey bee farm tucked in a sweet little hollow in the ozark hills. arkansas was and is HOT, but when you turn off the paved road onto the soft smooth dirt and coast down the hill past the ancient oaks the temperature drops ten degrees. as a child i only lived in cris hollow for my first 4 years. i returned as an adult living in the converted barn with my eventual husband for 5 years. the combination of vivid memories from my early childhood and those that i created as a young adult tie me deeply to that hollow. and though i have moved 900 miles away my roots are there...the tiny little white roots that you look at and wonder how they create life--tomatoes and basil. on my last visit to arkansas i had to visit the farm and just take in a deep breath--tickle my roots a little. evan and i crawled into one of the old crumbling barns in search of treasure. amongst layers of brown leaves and boxes were stacks and stacks of mason jars--once the stock for my fathers honey venture. i found a number of gallon sized jars and had to bring them back to colorado. as a child my mother kept all of her grains and dried beans in these large mason jars. i remember the colors and textures open on the shelves like specimen in a museum. and art museum for me. with a little reluctance from evan (he knows too well my collections and unfinished projects) we loaded the jars into our little car and headed west. in the spirit of proving myself wrong--i finished this project. suspending votive candles in the mason jars as simple lanterns. we had a good bye summer dinner outside and decorated the table with flickering light. everytime i look at these jar lanterns i think of my mother and that feeling of dropping into the valley and feeling the repressive heat of summer lift and the coolness of cris hollow take over.

summers end dinner

as the sun gets a little lower in the sky and we can feel fall creeping in i gathered a few of my favorite people and celebrated summers end with a feast. We had lemon and herb roasted chicken, pine nut studded rice, sweet potato biscuits, fried okra...topped off with cucumber mint spritzers and ended with watermelon granita. mmmmm. summer in a meal.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

fast pizza dough

I had a request from my friend Donna to send her this recipe for quick pizza dough. This is my number one secret in the kitchen for quick, go-to entertaining food. If I get a last minute invite to a potluck or last minute dinner guests I can always whip this up and use whatever random ingredients I have in the fridge to top off pizzas or focaccia.

I first received the recipe from my friend's mom who uses it for quick bread or dinner rolls when you dont have the time for all of the raising and proofing and just want homebaked bread.

I reccomend prebaking the crusts on a pizza stone for 8 min before topping.

Pizza crust recipe

Pizza Dough

1 pky yeast

1 c. warm water

1 T sugar

1 t salt

2 T oil

21/2-3 c flour

Dissolve the yeast in water, mix in the sugar, salt, and oil. Mix in about 2 1/2 cups of flour. Dough is still a little sticky, turn out on a floured surface and knead in about 1/2 c more flour, just till you can handle the dough and it doesn't stick to your hands.

For pizza, I let the dough rest while I get all the pizza fixins together. Then I spread it with oil covered hands on a pizza stone, cover with toppings and bake at 400 for about 15-20 min.

For bread I shape it in a french bread loaf shape, slice the top diagonally a few times, let it rise in a warm place (I heat my oven to the lowest temp available) for about 20 min. Then bake it at 375 for about 20-25 min till it starts browning.

Ooohhh, yummy yummy!

Love you,


[i left the "love you, mom" part because its just so sweet and always makes me love the food connections between moms and daughters--and daughters friends. That is what passing on recipes is for me: little bits of love in everyone's kitchen]

I will post pictures of my various toppings--if I can ever get the camera out before the pizza is all gone.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

cherry pitting lunch (nutritional yeast/lemon dressing)

Of course before we could pit cherries we had to eat a quick and wonderful lunch. I had made spicy chickpea hummus with carrot sticks. Kara had some wonderful field greens from the Durango Farmers Market. We tossed in tomatoes, olives, cucumber, cashews and a little peperoncini and then drizzled my all time favorite salad dressing on top.

Oh my mouth waters just thinking about it. The dressing is as simple as it comes and is full of flavor and packed with nutrients from the nutritional yeast. Because of the simplicity of the dressing, I recommend using really good ingredients don't skimp on the olive oil, or the salt, and definitely do use fresh lemon juice.

Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff) over the bowl of salad greens
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon
Add 1 tsp or 2 sea salt (try fleur de sel or grey sea salt)
Sprinkle a handful of nutritional yeast
Toss everything together.

Nutritional yeast can be found in most bulk sections of your local health food store. It can be used on all sorts of dishes. It is often used in place of Parmesan cheese (for those no dairy folks). Amazingly nutritional yeast is a complete protein and a great source of b vitamins.
I love it on popcorn with a little butter and salt.

cherry pitting and gossiping

Although Kara and I are not very hip to the gossip we try to carry on the tradition of our mothers and grand mothers of picking fruit and spending hot summer afternoons in the shade chopping, pitting and talking. Sunday we harvested choke cherries ( I think thats what they are) from Kara's yard and pitted them until we were coated in sticky red juice.

The cherries are very small--almost more pit than cherry which makes filling a bag a long task. But it gives you all day to chat and they make a darn good pie.

the empty cherry bowl ready for more pickin

my cherry bag and pits

picking from the trimmed branches

Stay tuned for something wonderful and cherrylicious. Any ideas?

Monday, July 6, 2009

roasted beets

I dont know what I will do with them but while I was roasting the garlic for the rosemary red soup i decided to roast a few beets in the oven. I havent ever done this before but the flavor is out of this world. I could barely get the skin off before I had to bite right into the beet. Unlike steamed or broiled beets (i will post basalmic roasted beets recipe soon) these beets roasted in their skins had a sweet smoky even earthy flavor--similar to baked sweet potatoes.

I scrubbed the beets, careful not to puncture the skin. I chopped the tops leaving at least 1" as well as leaving the "tails" on. I placed the beets on the rack in a preheated 350 degree oven. They took about 1 hour + or - to roast (similar to baked potatoes). The skin got tough and the sweet beet inside sort of shrank. I determined they were done when there were air pockets between the skin and the meat (and the tails fell off).

With a small paring knife i removed the tops and skin. They smelled so smokey and sweet I had trouble waiting and had to bite right in. I ate the first one like an apple--I couln't help myself.

I dont know how I will serve these--maybe chopped over a bed of spring greens or sliced thin with goat cheese on home made focaccia. oh how I love to dream.

rosemary red revised

Stephanie made this amazingly colorful soup for me last year when i visited her in seattle from "feeding the whole family" by Cynthia Lair. I fell madly in love with the soup based on the color alone. Everytime I make beets I want to dye everything that wonderful red. The soup (per Cynthia's recipe) is delicious but needed a little tweaking for me. I have changed it up a bit to enhance the creamy-ness--with the yellow potatoes-- and added roasted garlic to deepen the flavor. This soup is perfect for entertaining as it can be made in advance and makes for a dramatic presentation.

the prep

garlic drizzled with oil--ready for roasting

chopping the beets

saute the vegis

The recipe:

In a large dutch oven or stock pot
1 large purple onion chopped

in olive oil until tender.

4 carrots roughly chopped
4 medium yellow potatoes roughly chopped
8-10 beets peeled and chopped
2 tbs fresh rosemary chopped
2 bay leaves
salt to taste

Saute for 8 minutes longer with lid on

Add 8-10 cups stock or water
simmer until all vegitables are tender

roast 1 whole head of garlic

Removed bay leaves from soup

Blend (in a food processor or with immersion blender) entire soup and roasted garlic in batches (depending on your kitchen equipment).

Serve with a dollop sour cream and chives, or a swirl of heavy mexican cream, or a spot of puree'd roasted butternut squash...the possiblities are endless and every color combination will inspire.

root vegitable pancakes and garden fritata

so...not the most amazing pictures but some wonderful dishes none the less.

I LOVE fritatas. The are a wonderful way to make a hearty breakfast and use lots of random ingredients from the fridge. This also seems to use fewer eggs per person than say scrambled eggs. I start by sauteing garlic and onions in the iron skillet (or any skillet that can go into the oven). Add green chilis, squash, zuchinni (any vegis you have on hand). Saute for 5-7 min until everything is soft. Spice with salt pepper, cumin, red pepper.

Beat approx 6-7 eggs depending on the size of the eggs and the size of your skillet with a little water and milk. Spread the sauted vegis evenly over the bottom of the pan. Pour the beaten eggs into the skillet. You want the eggs to cover the skillet and and vegis--I have had to beat a couple more eggs and add them to fill. Dont touch anything and let the eggs cook on the range for 7-10 min with a lid on the skillet until you can see that they are just about cooked through. Top with cheese and fresh tomatoes and place under the broiler for 6 min or until the top is puffed and the cheese is melted. Let rest a couple of minutes before slicing and serving.

Root vegetable pancakes--from "The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook".

It seems i have to have potatoes at every meal--its the Irish in me, or the lack of eating bread. These "pancakes" are a fantastic way to mix it up and increase your vegetable intake.
You will want a food processor with a shredder plate for this one. Although I have made this dish many times with a box grater--it just takes a while and tests your patience.

1 small onion
1 small yam peeled
2 med yellow or red potatoes
1 carrot
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t herbamare or sea salt
1 T dulse flakes
extra virgin olive oil for cooking

mince the onion and place in a large bowl. Using the food processor or box grater grate the yam, potatoes and carrot. Place in bowl with onion. Add brown rice flour, dried thyme, sea salt, dulse flakes and mix well. I like to add cayenne pepper and black pepper too as a contrast to the sweetness of the yams.

Heat a med sized skillet over medium heat. Form the mixture into thin patties with your hands. They will fall apart when raw but when cooked the starches will be released and they will hod together. Add some olive oil and one or two patties to the heated skillet. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for approx 5 minutes, then flip cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Place onto a serving platter. Add a little more olive oil to the pan for each batch you cook. You may need to adjust the temperature to prevent burning.

These are a little cumbersome to cook and I often have 3 skillets going at once and warm oven to transfer them to. The nice part is once you cook these up they are super easy to keep and reheat. I will make a full batch and then we will eat them for a couple of days with breakfast.

kennebec ride

teff pancakes

my sister in law, stephanie, sent me this wonderful recipe for teff pancakes. they are egg, gluten, and dairy free. plus teff is very high in calcium and iron. supposedly it has lysine levels higher than wheat or barley. for such a tiny little grain it is a nutrition powerhouse. i am always excited to experiment with different grains and ingredients--especially when they turn out this amazing. i have already made these pancakes twice. the first time i added blueberries. just this past weekend i used an extra banana chopped roughly and fresh wild strawberries. both times i used hazelnut milk instead of the water or dairy milk. they were light and fluffy and nowhere near as heavy in the stomach as regular pancakes.

i added frozen blueberries too

cooking up

light and fluffy

(i promise to become a better food photographer)

topped with butter and homemade apricot preserves--this was one spectacular breakfast.

here is the recipe from Stephanie. it is sure to become a favorite.

Teff Banana Pancakes

1 cup teff flour

1⁄4 cup tapioca flour

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water or milk (TRY USING GOAT MILK)--I used Hazlenut milk

1⁄4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 small banana)

2 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil or butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

In a small bowl mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together.

Heat a stainless steel skillet over medium-low heat until hot. Add a little coconut oil. Drop batter by the 1⁄2 cupful onto hot skillet. Flip pancake after tiny bubbles form. Cook for another minute then transfer to a plate. Add about 1⁄2 teaspoon coconut oil in between cooking each pancake.

*** Note: the batter is thicker than regular batter, you have to help it along a litte to spread out on the skillet.

the first post

i had an amazing day yesterday. a true "tess day" if ever there were. i made a huge breakfast of root vegetable pancakes and a squash and zucchini fritata with fresh tomatoes (all from our local CSA). i worked on sewing creatures for my googlie mooglie collection. went to Kara's and picked and pitted cherries for the afternoon. then i came home and made a scrumptious roasted garlic and rosemary beet soup. i roasted beets for the first time( i had tons from the last few weeks of the CSA). then to top it all off i have started experimenting on a custom BBQ sauce--the first round went very well. i might have to spread these pictures out to last me a few posts.