Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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I had never made any kind of dessert with cooked strawberries before, and I was nervous—berry pies are often too sweet and syrupy for me. But we had the berries, and we had the rhubarb, and there is a Smitten Kitchen recipe, so I made a go at it. I’m glad I did!

I used a lattice crust instead of her two-crust pie, and the only drawback is that you can see the tapioca pearls in a few places. Because I was supposed to be making dinner, also, I had a baking sheet on the top rack with some frozen taquitos. I think this got in the way of my browning—it took an extra 15m at 350F and 5 minutes at 400F at the end to get any browning at all. Oops. But the result was delicious!

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Homefries for 2.5

I wanted to make home-fries for brunch for Father’s Day, because who doesn’t love fried potato products. But they are kind of a pain—standing over a skillet for an hour with a kneebiter (sometimes literally, one of her molars is coming in and we’re still working on getting her to reliably tell us “I need something to bite” before trying out Mommy’s leg) is not my idea of fun. Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe in Jan/Feb 2012 for “Homefries for a Crowd” that seemed like a good place to start, but 3.5# of homefries is *way* more than we could possibly eat before they went bad in the fridge. So I decided to scale down. Also, since I didn’t know exactly what time they’d be served (since the guest of honor was also granted the privilege of sleeping in), I didn’t want to do the final cooking, but I did want to get as far as I could before pausing. CI’s test kitchen also wanted to save time over a skillet, so they parboiled the potatoes in water with a bit of baking soda (to roughen up the outside of the potatoes). This worked beautifully—I used the same amount of water and the same amount of baking soda, so I wouldn’t need to worry about whether my pH was correct. Then, just as CI did, I returned the potatoes to the pan, stirred in some butter and salt and paprika (they used cayenne, but I wanted my Junior Chef to have some) and then, since I don’t have any more regular baking sheets (only rimless ones, since my last jelly roll pan finally retired) put them in a disposable foil roasting pan with a bit of vegetable oil. 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (CI used russets, but I don’t have any)
10 cups water
.5 tsp baking soda

Put the water in a big pot/dutch oven. When it boils, add the baking soda and potatoes, return to a boil and cook 1 minute.
Drain, then put back in the pan and cook off the remaining water (about 2 minutes). Add the butter and a little more than half the salt, and the paprika (or cayenne). Stir for 30s to 1m, until the potatoes are well coated with a starchy layer.

1 large onion, diced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt, divided between onion and potatoes
.5 to 1 tsp paprika
a little (1 tbsp?) vegetable oil, divided between potatoes and onions

Stir together the onions and the rest of the salt in a bowl with a little oil. Put the rest of the oil in the pan, just enough to coat the bottom. Put the potatoes in the pan and wait until 40m before you want to eat.

Preheat oven to 500F
Roast potatoes 15 minutes. Then take them out, stir them up and make a spot in the middle of the baking sheet for the onion.
Put all the onion in a pile and roast another 5-15m (Mine were starting to burn after 5). Then stir everything together and roast another 5-10 minutes, until it’s all golden-brown. Serve immediately!

Pie Crust, with shortcuts

I love The Pie and Pastry Bible, and the lovely, flaky-tender pie crusts that come from her recipes. But I sometimes feel like the numerous steps are a little bit fussy. When I am baking with my Junior Assistant Baker, they are *way* too fussy. Anything that involves multiple “wait 30 minutes” steps is not going to happen—if I lose the JA’s attention, getting her back and scrubbing her back in to be food-safe (-ish) will take way more than 30 minutes, and we’ll never finish making anything.

So here’s what we *actually* did:

  • Put dry ingredients (1 1/3c flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp baking powder) in the food processor. 
  • Let JA push the pulse button until she gets bored with it. 
  • Add three individual containers (each 1oz) of cream cheese to the dry ingredients, try to keep JA from running the blades while you are adding it. 
  • Now let her run it for under a minute. 
  • Add 8 tbsp of butter, ideally frozen and in little pieces, but at least cold from the fridge. 
  • Let JA run the blades again, until none of the butter is larger than a pea. 
  • Add 1.5 tbsp of ice water and 1.5 tsp of cider vinegar through the liquid feed tube, and let JA run the blades again, until it starts to thump together and rock the food processor. 
  • Stop, put her stepstool out of the kitchen so she can’t reach the dough and try to eat it raw.
  • Remove the dough from the food processor to a piece of cling wrap and put the food processor in the sink where JA can’t get to the blade. 
  • Squish tightly into a disk and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (or, in this case, 2 days, which is the most that Beranbaum says is allowed).
  • Sweep up all the spilled flour and *then* let JA wipe the sponge around, once it’s almost all clean. 

This makes enough for a lattice pie (bottom crust and lattice top) in a 9″ pie plate.

Watermelon Salad (and baked noodles)

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Because I love you, Gentile Readers, I have brought you a picture of my dinner.

I’ll let you soak up the beauty for a moment.

Ok, back? Great. While we were on vacation, E became… very fond of a certain fruit. To the point where she had her first non-hide-in-Mommy’s skirt interaction with a waiter. Today, the only way I was able to convince her to go grocery shopping with me was by saying we’d try to find some. (I was really, really glad Costco had watermelon!)

Since I was cutting it up anyway, and I had some salad greens to use from the CSA, I looked up some recipes to put them together. A great many of the watermelon salad recipes have no greens: just black olives, feta and sometimes mint. I don’t have any feta (someday I will learn to plan dinner before going shopping) so I used the end of a rind of Romano. One recipe assured me that I could just toss in some greens and it would be fine, so I did. And that was it! Brian put some balsamic vinegar on, but I didn’t bother and quite liked the combination of flavor. I could have put in mint, but totally forgot. Next time. Just this was good enough to pass the empty bowl test.

Meanwhile, I took the leftover pasta from Monday night (bowties with homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, olives and seitan sausage), covered it in mozzarella and cheddar, and baked it for 30 minutes at 350F. Not a lot got eaten, but this was a huge improvement over microwaving leftover noodles, and now there is *cheesy* leftover pasta. It all went very well with some black tea.

Braised and Glazed radishes with radish greens, tomatoes, eggs and strawberriesi

I am not a huge radish fan. Or, should I say, I wasn’t. These were really good!
I removed and washed the greens and set them aside, quartered the radishes and trimmed the tails, and melted 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan. Once the butter was melted, I tossed in the radishes and let them brown a little before putting in .5c of water. From that point, I followed Bittman’s “Braised and Glazed” recipe for the roots. E declared them “French fries” and was begging for more while everything else cooked.

For the greens, I chopped a clove of garlic and fried it in a bit more butter, then tossed in the radish greens and some grape tomatoes, as well as some chives—vaguely following yhis reicipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sauteed-Radishes-105226
but just the greens part and with some tomatoes. Then I fried a few eggs and served them and the greens and the radishes over rice.

The greens were still a little bitter, but not so much that they weren’t edible. The tomatoes and some fresh, very ripe strawberries helped round out the flavors of the meal, and I made some Upton Tea Formosa Keemun (our favorite black tea) to go with it all. What I did not do is take any pictures, so you will have to use your imaginations.