Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nut Puffs

These are similar to Russian Tea Cakes and one of Christopher's favorite cookies (pictured at lower left on the plate of holiday cookies). They are delicious but messy to eat. I remember once making them for Grandmother Up Down to serve for “tea” to her friends Mary and Walter. I also made dill bread in the bread maker for tea sandwiches (with cream cheese and fresh dill filling). The bread didn’t come out just right and was unusually crumbly. So the sandwiches left breadcrumbs all down the front of their clothes. Then came the cookies, which really should be made small enough to eat in one bite. Even though they were "bite-size", Grandmother and her guests tried to bite them in half. When they did the cookie virtually exploded, leaving powdered sugar and more crumbs all over the front of their clothes. They said everything was “delicious” and were good-natured about the mess, but I really felt I should have offered to vacuum their clothes before I sent them on their way.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a food processor bowl fitted with a metal blade, cream:

½ c butter
2 T granulated sugar


1 c flour

And mix well. Add:

1 c pecans
1 t vanilla

And mix until the pecans are finely chopped.

Form into marble-sized balls (remember "bite sized"!) and put on a greased or non-stick cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and roll immediately in

Confectioner’s sugar

This will form a glaze. Cool on a rack.

Reviewed 5/14/17

Meringue Shells

6 generous sized* individual shells

I've served meringue shells with vanilla non-fat frozen yogurt/vanilla ice cream and strawberries for Christmas Eve for many years. The recipe is adapted from the original The New York Times Cookbook  by Craig Claiborne. In recent years many family members have opted for Strawberry Shortcake instead (much less sugar!). For notes on preparing the strawberries see: Strawberry Shortcake. These shells are also good with chocolate frozen yogurt/ice cream and raspberries.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.


4 egg whites, at room temperature [3 egg whites and 3/4 c sugar for 6 smaller shells]*
1/8 t cream of tartar
1/8 t salt [I omit]
1 cup granulated sugar [3 egg whites and 3/4 c sugar for 6 smaller shells]
3/4 vanilla extract

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until frothy. Add the sugar gradually, while continuing to beat. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is glossy and stiff, but not dry.

Cover a baking sheet with waxed [I now use parchment] paper and drop mixture to form 6 equally spaced round mounds on the sheet; using a spoon, press down on the mound to form a "bowl" in the center, to later receive the ice cream, surrounded by higher peaks of meringue around the edges.

Bake in a very slow oven (250 degrees F.) until firm and dry but still white, about 60 minutes, or until shells sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove the meringues from the paper while warm. Then return to warm (turned-off) oven for 30- 60 minutes.

* March 2012: Revisiting Serving Number/Size 

Having just made this recipe after a long hiatus, I would now argue that the recipe as written makes 8 very generous shells.  I made the "smaller shells" (3 egg whites and 3/4 c sugar) and found the resulting 6 shells still very large (photo at left). Forgetting they do increase in size while cooking, I made the mistake of placing them too close together on the baking sheet.

Reviewed 5/21/17

Lemon Pound Cake and Icing

This recipe is from Alex's friend Erica's mother. We had it first at the graduation luncheon Alexandra and her friends had at the Rock; then Alexandra made a cake for us to take to Maine. Yum!!!!!!!!

NOTE: When Alex asked Christopher to take the cake out of pan for her, he did so by banging the pan upside down on the cutting board. This resulted in the cake breaking into several pieces. The preferred technique is to slide a knife around circumferences of outer pan and inner tube, remove cake from side pan and then slide knife between bottom surface of pan and cake thus completely releasing hopefully whole cake from second part of pan.


½ lb (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 eggs
3 c flour
½ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 c buttermilk
2 T lemon zest
2 T lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease tube pan
2) Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
3) Beat in eggs
4) Stir dry ingredients together, add to egg mixture alternating with buttermilk
5) Add lemon zest and juice
6) Bake one hour 5 minutes
7) Cool (remove from pan - see notes above) and frost


1 lb powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3 T lemon zest
½ C lemon juice

1) Cream butter and sugar
2) Mix in lemon zest and juice

May 2017: Wow! This is a record. This cake when frosted contains 3/4 of a pound of butter. 

Reviewed 5/11/17

Orange Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

This cake is one of Christopher’s all-time favorites. The recipe is from the original Silver Palate Cookbook by Jullee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

NOTE WELL: Christopher tried making this recently and destroyed the cake getting it out of the pan. His second try yielded this advice:
"for your future reference... with a heavily buttered then flour-dusted pan, it  practically slid out."

12 Servings

8 tablespoons (1 stick) sweet butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2-½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk [I use ¾ cup orange juice instead]
½ cup poppy seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 oranges [I use organic oranges for zest]
Double recipe Orange Glaze [I find single is plenty]

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease [heavily with butter and dust with flour - see above] a 10-inch bundt pan.

2. [In a food processor] Cream butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. [I just add all the eggs at once.]

3. Siift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Mix well after each addition. [I don't bother to sift and just add dry ingredients and milk all together at the same time.]

4. Fold [fold or pulse very lightly with food processor, just barely enough to mix well] in poppy seeds, vanilla and grated orange zest. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan.

5. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until edges shrink away slightly from sides of pan and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a cake rack.

6. When cake has cooled, prick holes in it 1 1/2 inches apart with a long toothpick [or small skewer], and pour [or brush with pastry brush] the Orange Glaze evenly over top.


¼ c fresh orange juice
¼ c sugar

Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small sauce pan and simmer gently for five minutes, stirring occasionally, until a light syrup forms.

[If making above 6000 feet (see also High Altitude Baking):
decrease sugar by 1T
decrease baking powder by 1 t
increase milk/orange juice by 2T
use High Altitude Hungarian Flour]

Reviewed 5/11/17

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This recipe is from Moogie. This pie is such a favorite of Jason’s, it is his “birthday cake” of choice*.

Make a double recipe of Pie Crust


1 ¼ sugar [I use less sugar - about ¼ c sugar for each cup of rhubarb]
5 T flour
½ to 1 t cinnamon
1/8 t salt [I omit]

Spread half (or a bit less) of this mixture over a pastry-lined 9 " pie plate.

On top of this mixture add

4 cups or more sliced rhubarb and strawberries [I use ratio of 3:1 rhubarb to strawberries; 14-16 oz rhubarb = 3 c]

And sprinkle the rest of sugar mixture over top. Sprinkle with:

1 T lemon juice

Roll, fit and be sure to seal upper crust. Dot with 2 T butter (optional) [Mom and I omit butter. Cut pattern in top of crust from which steam can escape.] Bake on lower shelf in hot oven, 425 degrees F, 30 [35] – 40 minutes.

Instead of making a full top crust, Mom usually makes a lattice crust, cutting strips of crust and putting them across the top in a criss-cross latttice pattern. I think is my top crust choice.

June 2013: CORNSTARCH?  Following up on a suggestion a professional cook recently made to my brother after observing one of his Strawberry Rhubarb Pies (also made with Moogie's recipe), I tried making a Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp reducing the flour to 2T and adding 2T cornstarch.
Verdict?  The liquid was certainly thicker, almost gelatinous, but I found the crisp too heavy for my taste.  My preference is for the more delicate original recipe, and think this will be true for the pie too. Maybe just attributable  to familiar comfort food.

* 2016 Update: See also and Best Ever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie/Strawberry Rhubaarb (Ginger) Crisp and  Make Strawberry Stains Vanish

Reviewed 6/17//2017

Pie Crust (Pate Brisee)

Makes one crust.

Blend 5-10 seconds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade:

1 1/3 c flour
1 stick COLD* butter
1 T sugar

¼ c ice water (4 T) and mix until dough forms ball.

When I checked out a Pecan Pie recipe in Mark Bitman's How to Cook Everything (original edition/1998) for Thanksgiving this year, I also noticed that his method for making pie crusts is different than the one I have been using.  I guess there are really 3 method options, (1) completely by hand, (2) completely by food processor, and (3) a combination of both, the one used by Bittman (see below). Either option 1 or 3 produces a much flakier crust than the method which entirely relies on the food processor. Having once tried option 3 it is now my preferred choice.
Bitman combines the flour (he uses 1 1/8 c/5 ounces), sugar (1 t rather than 1 T) and 1/2 t salt in the bowl of a food procesor and pulses once or twice he then adds the butter (1 stick) and blends until a cornmeal texture is achieved (about 10 seconds).  He then removes the mixture to a bowl and sprinkles 3 T of ice water over it. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula he stirs to gather mixture into a ball adding another 1/2 T of ice water if necessary, finally making a ball by hand. Wrapping in plastic, flattening into a small disc and freezing the dough for 10 minutes or refrigerating for 30 minutes will ease the rolling.

Dough can be refrigerated for a day or two or frozen for a much longer time.

On Bitman's recommendation, Moogie and I sprinkled flour on the dough then rolled it between two sheets of plastic wrap.  We rolled with light pressure from the inside out, occasionally removing the wrap and adding a bit more flour to keep the dough from sticking to the wrap.  Moogie then put the dough in the pie plate and crimped the edges.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a fork, prick holes at one inch intervals in the bottom of the crust.
Cover entire crust with aluminum foil that has been buttered on the side to be placed against the crust. Weight the foil with pie weights, beans or a tight fitting pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Remove weights and foil being careful not to damage the crust.  Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is browned.  Remove from oven.  Fill warm shell or cool depending on individual pie recipe.

* June 2013: In the "Olive Oil Double Crust" recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky the authors advise, "The secret is to place the olive oil in the freezer beforehand so that it becomes partially solid. This helps the fat blend into the dough in little pockets, creating the flakiness you crave." (page 39)  This reminded me based on experience (I once ditched a crust made with room temperature butter because I knew intuitively it would be tough) how butter should be cold.  This is corroborated by Harold McGee in his Keys to Good Cooking:

     "Flaky crusts break apart in crisp flakes because the fat and flour are layered in separate thin sheets before the liquid wets the flour into a dough.
     To make a flaky crust, cut chilled fat into small pea-sized pieces in the flour, by hand or in a mixer or processor, then add liquid, form the dough, and roll out once as a single mass." (page 405)

Reviewed 6/17/2017

Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp

See also: Best Ever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie/Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.


¾ cup sugar [or less*]
4 T flour***
½ t cinnamon (optional)
4 cups or more sliced rhubarb** and sliced strawberries*
1 T lemon juice (optional)

Place in ceramic fluted tart pan or other low dish. In same bowl used to mix fruit and flour combine:

1 T butter
2 T dark brown sugar

Mix well then add

3/4 c rolled oats (not instant cook variety)
[3 T flour]

Mix well and spread mixture on top of fruit.

Cook in 350 degree F oven 35 – 40 minutes.
Cool before serving.

* I usually use a ratio of 3:1 rhubarb to strawberries, and figure a scant ¼ cup of sugar for each cup of rhubarb; if more strawberries are used, sugar can be decreased accordingly.  For example, if making with 4 cups of rhubarb and 2 cups of fresh strawberries 3/4 cups of sugar would be on the "sweet side"; I prefer and use 1/2 cup sugar (~1/4 cup sugar for each cup of rhubarb less 1/4 sugar for each additional cup of strawberries beyond the 3:1 ratio).

VARIATION:  Add to the sugar to coat each piece, then to the fruit:

1 T crystallized ginger, finely chopped***

VARIATION:  If I need to make this dessert well ahead of serving time, I cook the strawberries and rhubarb without the topping.  I mix the oil, sugar and oats together and roast in a 325 degree oven, stirring every few minutes until the oats are golden. Then just prior to serving, I sprinkle this topping over the fruit.

June 2013: CORNSTARCH?****  Following up on a suggestion a professional cook recently made to my brother after observing one of his Strawberry Rhubarb Pies (also made with Moogie's recipe), I tried the above recipe reducing the flour to 2T and adding 2T cornstarch.
Verdict?  The liquid was certainly thicker, almost gelatinous, but I found the crisp too heavy for my taste.  My preference is for the more delicate original recipe, and think this will be true for the pie too. Maybe just attributable  to familiar comfort food.

** June 2015:  1 1/2 pounds rhubarb = about 4 heaping cups as shown in photo at left.  In buying rhubarb adjust weight for any stems and/or leaves that will need to be trimmed.

*** June 2015: If using ginger, I chop the ginger and mix with flour to separate before adding to fruit.

June 2016: If necessary,  see Make Strawberry Stains Vanish.

Reviewed 5/21/17

Cranberry-Apple Crisp

6-8 servings

This recipe is adapted from the recipe of the same name in Jane Brody’s Good Food Book.

In a large bowl combine:

3 c fresh (or frozen) cranberries (1 12-oz package)
2 large apples, unpeeled, cored, quartered and sliced thin

In a small bowl mix together, then add to fruit mixture*

½ c sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 T all-purpose white flour

Transfer the mixture to a 6-c shallow baking dish [I use a 10” diameter ceramic tart dish  Since the cranberries tend to burn if left on top, I layer apples over the cranberries.]
IN THE SAME BOWL ** (no need to wash) combine:

1 T melted butter
2 T brown sugar
Mix well, then add:
3 T all-purpose white flour 
¾ c rolled oats
½ c chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) [I  omit]

Mix again (mixture should still be crumbly) then sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 40* minutes or until the crisp is lightly browned. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. [I usually serve at room temperature, sometimes with vanilla or ginger non-fat frozen yogurt.]


I sometimes make this without the oatmeal topping, especially if I am not planning to use the entire desert the same evening (oatmeal tends to get soggy). When I do this, I toss the apples and cranberries, then separate the apples and put all the cranberries on the bottom of the tart dish. I arrange the apples on top of the cranberries (as I do with Apple Tart) in concentric circles; this not only looks more elegant but I find the apples are less likely to over cook (burn) in my convection oven. Sometimes after cooking I put the same glaze used on the Apple Tart on the apples:

Make glaze by combining and heating to 225 degrees F:

¼ c apricot preserve (there will be pieces of fruit; I usually cut larger pieces into very small bits, alternatively you may choose to rub preserves through a sieve)

1 T sugar

Using a pastry brush coat the tops of all the apple slices with the hot glaze.Cool and serve as above.

* November 2012 Note:  Although it is an extra step and another dirty dish, I have started mixing the sugar, flour and cinnamon together before adding them to the fruit.  I find this gives a more consistent distribution of the cinnamon.   Since I like the apples a bit on the crisper side I check apples after 30 minutes.

** 18 November 2012 VARIATION:  I made a Pear-Ginger Crisp tonight (photo left) and used a slightly different topping which the three of us who tired the crisp really liked. This topping, using ingredients below, which are scaled up for a larger baking dish,  could be used  instead of the topping given above:

1 1/2 T  butter, melted
1 1/2 T  maple syrup
1 1/2 T  brown sugar
1/2 c walnuts, broken in small pieces (optional)

Mix well and then add:

3/4 c rolled oats
3 T flour

Reviewed 5/22/2017

Blueberry Cobbler

This recipe is adapted from one by the same name in Jane Brody’s Good Food Book. I agree with Ms. Brody who notes “I am so fond of blueberries straight from the box that I hate to use them for cooking. However, this easy desert, which takes only about 10 minutes to prepare for baking, is so delicious and universally adored that I am more than willing to donate a pint of berries to it.” I first made this on a Maine cruise from local wild berries; while the smaller berries are by far the best, the larger ones work too. This becomes an even more adored desert on cold nights on the boat when the oven warms the cabin. (To cook on-board using an alcohol oven, preheat oven to highest temp/550 degrees F, then back off to low when cobbler is placed in the oven to prevent burning the bottom of the cobbler.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or, to achieve the crispy, brown “boat oven” effect, preheat oven to 450 degrees F and REDUCE to 350 degrees F ten minutes after the cobbler is placed in oven (cook for a total of 40 minutes).

In a medium bowl combine:

2/3 cup all purpose white flour
1/2 cup white/raw sugar
1½ t baking powder

Set aside and start preparing  the pan so that the pan is ready as soon as wet and dry ingredients are mixed:

In a 9 inch diameter x 1 inch (or any pan of approximately equivalent area) melt

2 T butter (I sometimes use as little as 1 T, but it is best with 2 T)

Then mix into dry ingredients (Careful, don't forget the pan in the oven and burn butter while mixing ingredients!):

2/3 c skim milk

and stir until batter is smooth.

Take the pan out of the oven and tilt so butter evenly coats botton and sides of pan, then pour batter into pan. and sprinkle over the top

2 cups blueberries, cleaned and washed

(NOTE: I often use Wylers/Whole Foods frozen wild blueberries or berries I have frozen myself and sometimes increase quantity from 2 to 2 1/2 cups; for best results thaw and drain berries before use.)

Bake cobbler in 350 degree F oven (see notes in the introduction RE: alternate cooking method) for 40-45 minutes or until it is lightly browned.

February 2011:  It turns out some of my oldest posts are the ones lacking photos, so when I made Blueberry Cobbler last night I took photos. As luck would have it, this is about the only time the cobbler has not finished with a uniform covering of blueberries.  As luck would also have it, I had a series of photos to help me determined what went wrong --- unless it's that I didn't completely smooth the batter - I'm not sure what happened.  See August 2013 photo below for a more typical cobbler.

March 2011: HIGH ALTITUDE COBBLER:  When we were in Colorado recently, I used high altitude flour and adjusted this recipe for the altitude (- 1 T sugar, - 1/4 t baking powder, + 2 T milk).  The resulting cobbler had berries on the bottom and almost a complete crust on top.  It was also much easier to remove from the pan and place on a serving plate.  Interestingly enough, when I later made the cobbler at `6,000 feet using the original recipe, the results were similar to the "high altitude recipe", berries on the bottom, crust on the top.

August 2013:  It is cold and raining, and we are anchored in Buckle Harbor (off Swan's Island, Maine) with 2 quarts of freshly picked Maine blueberries in our galley.  Perfect time to light the flame in our alcohol stove, make a cobbler and warm the cabin!

Reviewed 5/22/2017