Category: Pie crust

How to Make Quiche out of Just About Anything

How to Make Quiche out of Just About Anything

French home cooks always seem to have a dozen wonderful things up their sleeves to make on the spur of the moment. Great ideas to use up leftovers come awfully naturally, as well, and they all appear to know about how to feed 6 people with a cup and a half of milk, 3 eggs, a bit of ham, and a handful of grated cheese. How DO they do it? These folks are always frying croutons, whipping up homemade hot chocolate, baking an apple tart using apples from the backyard tree, simmering cream soups or vegetable pastas, stirring up something tasty with canned tuna … or even making quiche! How is it that even carbs aren’t a problem for them? This is proven routinely by the unending ubiquitous photos of yard-long baguettes being carried home by slim citizens riding bikes down tree-lined sunny Paris streets. (Well, right now they’re limited to an hour out a day and can’t go far from home. Sigh.) Over the years I’ve been writing the blog, I’ve read and seen quite a lot about this phenomenon, but staying in France for two weeks a couple of years ago gave me a much more complete and definitely personal insight. I’m finding it all definitely useful in today’s cooking world.

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Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

While our world feels like a fearful, indescribable mess — and it is, dear friends — I can handle it better if I’m baking. Especially for a holiday and, like it or not, Easter’s coming. Think renewed life, rebirth, clean beginnings — positive thoughts for anyone of any faith or none. We need this now, even if only two are gathered. A holiday for a duet is a tender occasion and while there’ll be a gorgeous lamb chop a piece and not our huge traditional Italian roasted leg of lamb for a crowd, we’ll also have dessert to remember this spring by.

One of my Easter tables.

I’m looking at Susan Hermann Loomis’ recipe for lamb chops. You might, too. (Do you know Susan’s work? She’s one of my very favorite cooking teacher/writers.) I squirreled away the chops weeks ago, but there’s still time for you to get some. Or something else you fancy more.

Need more Easter or Good Friday ideas? Just type “Easter” into the search window. You can also type “brunch,” “eggs,” “lamb,” “Friday Fish,”etc.

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Cherry-Berry Pie for the 4th of July

Cherry-Berry Pie for the 4th of July

BEST SUMMER SIDES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE HERE.

It’s more than ironic that many of the best fruit pies need to be made when the weather is sizzling, sultry, humid, or plain old drippy hot. As a cold-weather fiend, I particularly find this one of the most unhappy cooking situations. I am thus incredibly blessed to live in Colorado where the summer days may be hot, yes, but might also occasionally dip down into the 40’s and even more often into the 50’s with the advent of a good, old-fashioned hail and/or rain storm. In fact, nightly fifty-some temps aren’t unusual even without rain. (Of course that’s why our tomatoes don’t do squat. Thank God we have the best beer in the country to partially make up for that.)

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Mother’s Day Bluebarb Pie with Violet’s Pie Crust

Mother’s Day Bluebarb Pie with Violet’s Pie Crust

Chris, left and Violet, right

I think of Violet as my loving friend Chris’s mom because that’s who she was to me. Of course Violet was VIOLET. And if you lived in Atwood, Kansas (population 1,222), you knew who that was.  You knew her rather well indeed if you happened to be a member of Atwood United Methodist Church where she directed the choir, organized many church suppers, and was the leader of the Altar Guild for oh-so-many years.

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THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

THANKSGIVING BAKING FAVORITES FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE

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 More Time’s Apple-Pear-Cranberry Pie 

More Time’s Thanksgiving Basics and Organization

More Time’s Thanksgiving Starters, Soups, and Sides

More Time’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Buffet

More Time’s Cranberry Thanksgiving or How to Get the Kids Involved

Baking at Thanksgiving. It’s a big deal to some people and a late afternoon stop at the grocery for others. Perhaps because often folks are cooks OR they’re bakers and rarely both. The pumpkin pie may have all the memories the turkey never garnered and the homemade yeast rolls and butter just might be why your grandson shows up.  On the other hand, it could be all about the dressing, gravy or even the ham at your house where no one looks twice at dessert. I once brought turkey and dressing to a summer potluck, where a close friend refused to eat a bite. When I asked why, she said, “You didn’t make gravy. I don’t eat dressing without gravy.” She truly had some serious food traditions and it’s not unusual.  Listen to your friends and family talk about Thanksgiving and you’ll see.

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Peach-Blueberry Pie

Peach-Blueberry Pie

As the bittersweet arrival of the last of the northwest blueberries coincides with the happy coming of the first glorious Colorado peaches, the two together feel exactly like a match made in heaven in my kitchen on a beautiful cool morning.  With just a smidge over 5 cups of beginning-to-pucker and wilt Oregon blueberries in the fridge, I had not quite enough for a 9-inch pie. A case of peaches sat wafting their keen aroma from the mudroom, so I followed my nose out there and snagged a couple of not-too-ripe beauties to peel and slice for the bottom of the pie, filling that empty extra inch of space. The buttery sweetness from the berry mixture on top would provide plenty of juicy goodness for the still somewhat tangy peaches.  Making something with peaches that aren’t quite ripe or up-to-snuff?  Add a pinch of ground mace to increase their flavor.

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Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

Pie 101-Cherry (Helen’s Cherry Pie- Constructed, Deconstructed and Reconstructed)

 

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?”

She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother….  is poor Billy’s lament.  She can, however, bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can blink an eye!  (Click on above link to hear the song; guitar chords included.)

I was just minding my own business.  I had stuck the hot cherry pie on a rack on an empty shelf in a kitchen cupboard.  A good place to cool pie if you have two golden retrievers. (I made four different pies for Thanksgiving; everyone deserves their favorite once a year.  I’m convinced.  Cherry is my sister Helen’s favorite.   Hence “Helen’s Cherry Pie.”  Also my loved “niece,” Kathy’s.)

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Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

Pie 101 – Alyce’s Step by Step Instructions for Making and Baking Pie (Rhubarb is the Sample Lesson Pie)

R for Rhubarb

This post now featured on Rachel Rappaport’s PIE FAIR LADY blog!  
Thanks, Rachel.  Bake pie! 

I don’t know why you want to make pie and searched for Pie 101.  Me-oh-my.  You love pie? (I adore the movie “Michael”)  Someone you love loves pie, maybe?  You want to make beautiful things and don’t paint–right.  You want to bring pie to Thanksgiving dinner:  “Oh, I’ll bring the pie,” would be fun to say. You’d like to celebrate Pi Day in a more meaningful way.    Making pie, or wanting to make or eat pie, is sort of a passion.  It’s not anything like, “I think I’ll scramble eggs and make toast because I’m hungry.”  Or even “Let’s make a pot of vegetable soup; it’s cold outside and sounds good.”   I mean, no one really needs pie.  People, do, however, desire (is not too strong a word) pie and are sort of sometimes heart-starved and/or breathless for it.  Think of the look on your uncle’s (aunt, cousin, boyfriend, co-worker, super) when words like, “coconut cream” or “strawberry-rhubarb” cross their lips.  Or the rush through a potluck meal if a pie sits alone, waiting, down at the end of the counter in the kitchen.    Is it fond memories of  your aunt’s pumpkin from Thanksgiving of 1967 or your best friend’s apple (from her own tree) in 2009?  Is it the crappy diner crust on a short, slim piece of pecan late one night after a restaurant shift when you had to have something sweet and that’s all there was?

If, by chance you’re looking for gluten-free pie dough, please just go to Gluten-Free Girl…a great blog; here’s one post on pie dough there.

I’m just guessing that usually there’s a lot of love goes into pie.  Making it is not an endeavor one embarks on lightly.  Like weeding the flower bed out back or picking up a gallon of milk at the store.  It’s kind of a devoted, warm-fuzzy, all around commitment.  Bake with a band on sort of thing.  (Being both a cook and musician gives me license for such sentences.)

Whatever reason brings  you to pie, I hope this little (not really so little) tutorial will be of help.  It contains the story of my own pie-making, a photo-essay on making the rhubarb pie (including crust), and the recipes/basic info you’ll need to make it all happen.  FYI:  This long pie post is truly a work in progress.

No fear.  Pie is near.

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Pie 101 —  Apple Pie              (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Pie 101 — Apple Pie (Kathy’s Apple Pie)

Kathy’s pie

Why my Pie 101 — Apple Pie is called “Kathy’s Apple Pie”

My hairdresser works about a half-a-block from my house.  Her name is Kathy.  I chose her because… she works about a half-a-block from my house.  When we moved here, I cried at leaving Jen, my hairdresser of 13 years in Colorado.  So I didn’t even look for anyone special; I just chose the closest “girl” and tried her.  I mean, you’ve seen my hair.  What could go wrong?  And, if it did, how much time would it take to grow a bit?  Luckily, everything has worked out fine.  My hair’s just right.
When Kathy did it the first time, I sent Jen a pic on my cell phone.  “She’s got the color spot-on, but it’s a wee bit short,” said Jen.

My hair’s been the same for…let’s say for a while.  (With Britta last March.)

Outside Kathy’s shop is a sign that says, “Curl Up and Dye.”  Underneath:  “For Hair.”

Kathy and I hit it off right away.  We’re both “of an age,” though she still has a couple of kids running around sometimes at home.   She also has lots of dogs–more than I do.   There’s tons of great stuff about her, but I like her because you can just talk about anything when you’re in her chair:  houses, food, kids, husbands, church, jobs, horses, dogs, clothes, shopping, shoes, ETC.   She’s given me the info on great places to find and do all kinds of things, but mostly helped solidify my forever dedication to the lovely institution of the St. Paul Farmer’s Market where her family has a bagel breakfast sandwich and coffee stall.  (Dave and I frequent that hot spot.)  Sometimes we talk about whether or not it’s worth it for them to start baking their own bagels.  Having watched Dave make bagels (I don’t make them!), I lean toward buying them from the great bagel maker down the street–just like they have been.  Why mess with a good thing if you’re still making a tidy profit?

One time, in a whimsical voice, Kathy said, “Ah, gee.  In fall, I really miss apple pie.  My Mom always made great apple pie.”  She was sad.  I don’t think Kathy bakes apple pies, but I think she was missing her mom as much as anything.  So I figured next time I went to get my hair cut, I’d bring her a pie.  I make a lot of pies, though I rarely eat them.  In fact, pie makes people so happy that I don’t know why I don’t eat them. (Naturally, I eat the great coconut cream pie in the cafe on the square in Santa Fe… or my own cherry pie from our Colorado cherries.  I’m more of a chocolate woman overall.)

Late this morning, I started Kathy’s pie.  I had no idea how her mother made pie, but my pie wouldn’t be like Kathy’s mom’s no matter what, so I just baked the pie.  Pretty much like I always do, but with a little bit of a twist all around.  Lots of butter, great Honeycrisp apples, Penzey’s cinnamon right on top of the unbaked bottom crust.  Cream brushed top crust.   A recipe I’ll share.  You might like it for Thanksgiving.  If you make it now and don’t bake it, you can wrap it tightly in foil, freeze it, and bake it frozen (on a foiled sheet pan) early Thanksgiving morning.  It’ll take longer to get done, but done ahead is done ahead.

Kathy’s Apple Pie  makes 1 9″ pie; serves 6-8

2 9-10″ pie crusts (recipe below)

5-7 medium Honeycrisp apples, cored, peeled, and sliced thinly+
2t fresh lemon juice
3/4 t Chinese cinnamon, divided (some for crust and some for the apples)
1/4 t grated fresh nutmeg
1/8 t salt

3T flour
2/3 – 3/4 c granulated white sugar  plus 2 tsp for bottom crust and top crust (use 2/3 for sweeter
apples and 3/4 for tarter ones like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
2T cold butter, diced
1t heavy cream, half and half or milk

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place one pie crust in the 9″ glass pie pan, trim, and crimp (pinch) edges.
3.  Use about 1 tsp of the sugar and mix with 1/8 tsp cinnamon.  Dust the entire bottom crust with the cinnamon-sugar  mixture.
4.  In a large bowl, mix apples and lemon juice.  Add flour,  3/4 cup of sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, the nutmeg and the salt.  Toss gently, but well.  Carefully pour or spoon apple mixture into the crust.
5.  Drop the diced butter evenly over the apple mixture.
6.  Place top crust over the pie and trim so that there’s about an inch overhanging the pie.
7.  Pinch together the crust and either press edge of crust into the pie plate with the tines of a fork or crimp.
8.  Using pastry brush, brush top crust with cream or milk and dust evenly with the last teaspoon of sugar.
9.  Make several small slits (evenly spread) through top crust for venting the filling as it cooks. You can make a design; I made a “K” for Kathy and a few “arrows.”
10.  Bake 15-20 minutes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake another hour or so until pie is golden brown and juices are bubbling out of the slits. *  Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

+Honeycrisp apples, developed at “The U” here in Minnesota, hold their shape well.  Because of that, I slice them thinly.  They won’t get terribly soft and break down.  If you’re using a softer apple, cut them in larger slices.  Also, some folks like the skin left on their apples for pie.  Do as you like.

*If it’s getting too brown, carefully lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely on top of the pie.

Prep note:  I usually prep the apple mixture and put  that aside.  Then I tackle making the crust.  I roll out the bottom crust and place it in the pie pan.  In goes the apple mixture and I set the whole thing aside while I take the second crust out of the frig and roll it.  I next roll the second crust loosely around the rolling pin (or you can carefully fold it in half and then in half again) and gently lay it on top of the buttered apples. Trim, crimp, and it’s ready for the oven.

Here’s the pie before baking.
I had enough for a coffee cup pie for Dave.

Double Pie Crust Recipe — Pâte Brisée*

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup salted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup iced water  (Use a 1 cup measuring cup and pour in 1/2 water; add ice and use quickly.)

*In food processor, place flour, butter and salt. (This may also be done with a pastry cutter or two knives.)  Pulsing, cut butter into the flour until there are 1/2″ sizes pieces (and some smaller and some larger) of buttered crumbs.
*With machine running, pour in water slowly.  When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the machine, stop the machine, and turn dough out onto a well-floured board or counter.
*Gently and quickly pat dough into a ball and divide ball evenly in half.
*Wrap one half and refrigerate it.  Take the other half and press it into a flat disc.  Dust the dough with flour, and, with a floured rolling pin, roll from the center out to the edges moving clockwise around the dough until the dough is about 10″ in diameter.  Move the dough every few rolls of the pin so it doesn’t stick.  You may need to keep putting a bit of flour sprinkled underneath.
*Remove dough from frig and repeat for top crust.

All baked up with somewhere to go.

*The recipe for this dough is from an old CUISINART cookbook–one of those thin, small books that came with my first CUISINART in the early ’80s maybe… This was the first Pâte Brisée I ever used and I’ve been using it ever since. Thanks, Cuisinart!

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood…..

Next Monday, November 21, I direct a pick-up choir at St. Frances Cabrini Church,  1500 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, MN,  for an Ecumenical Thanksgiving.  Want to sing?  Show up at 6pm for rehearsal of easy anthem,”Simple Gifts” for worship service that begins at 7pm.  Hope to hear you!

This is up on the blog next–a braised leg of lamb with vegetables.  Perfect alternative Thankgiving.
The start of a neighborhood birthday/wine-tasting dinner….I did the lamb above.  It was potluck.
Friend Mac at the table Friday night.
Long night, eh, buddy?
We have a monthly concert series at Prospect Park–Here’s SHOUT! from Lake Harriet U Methodist
Today’s cardinal + flowering geraniums still living in neighbor’s window boxes!
Floor’s done and I’ve been painting.  The color, appropriate to the season, is “Pumpkin Pie.”
Gorgeous trees still golden ’til just a few days ago.
Last roses of summer….

We haven’t had any really cold weather yet and that’s unusual.  Several days ago, I finally cut the last of the roses and brought them in for a vase.  I rarely cut my flowers, thinking they look best where God placed them.  But when it’s going to be 22 degrees F, I cut them all!

Still blooming the second week of November

A foil packet salmon done in 20 minutes I wrote for Examiner.com.

Dave said, “This is the best salmon I’ve ever tasted.” I couldn’t believe how tender it was.

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust or Get a Pedicurist Who Cooks

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust or Get a Pedicurist Who Cooks

Having my toes done is one of the guilty pleasures in life.  I guess you might call it getting a pedicure.  I go every month in the summer, sit with my feet soaking, and allow someone to trim and paint my feet.   And I love it.  I do it in the winter, too, but not so often.
There’ve been a few toe-artists over the years, but the latest may be the best.  She’s great at what she does, but also likes to cook.  Double dose of fun for me.

Over Christmas, when my toes always turn bright red (called “I’m Not Really a Waitress” though I was for years of high school and college), she described this gratin that’s baked in a crust.   In fact, she described it so well (after a story about her new pans) that I knew I could go right home and make it.  Being able to describe a dish and its prep that well is a definite talent.
Still, by the time I got around to making it (after Christmas!), I thought I’d see if I could find the recipe online.  Search, hunt.  Well, well.  The recipe came from SOUTHERN LIVING (which I knew), a notoriously fattening publication, but the award-winning food blog, The Bitten Word had blogged it and I got the recipe there. 
Clay Dunn and Zach Patton of The Bitten Word blog (photo-Chris Leaman/CC)
I’ll share it here, but note that it calls for store-bought pie crusts and I like to use my own.  Si place, as my conducting instructor (Angie, Angie)  at University of St. Thomas would say.  It means, “Do as you like.”  I have nothing against store-bought crusts, but can make a crust at home faster than I can drive to the store.   And I do like mine better.
This is a show stopper dish.  Touted as a side for tenderloin or something equally luscious at holiday time, it could also be a brunch dish or a lovely vegetarian lunch with a big crunchy salad.
I’m leaving the pics all in a row for you to see…
While it was quite a process, it wasn’t difficult, and was well worth the effort.
I agree with The Bitten Word that it needs to bake longer than the recipe allows, but then again, I’m at altitude.  I’ve made notes for adjustments.
Just when I know you needed salads or stir fries (frys?)….here’s something gooey, warm, heartening, and fattening.  Sorry.  Check out examiner.com (Colorado Springs Entertainment–Food and Drink) for a healthy Chicken Minestrone–quick version I published yesterday if you need something slimming.  Meantime, this should be shared. Dave and I ate it twice and then I shared it with my book club.  I froze a little bit just to see how it’d hold.  I couldn’t throw it out.
P.S.  As is sometimes the case, the Gruyere was cheaper at Whole Foods than at King Soopers.  (This is true of chicken broth, orange juice, other cheeses and other stuff, too.)

Here goes… I forgot to photograph making the pate brisee (pie crust made with butter) in the food processor.

I made my own version of pate brisee in the food processor.  Carefully possible.  You might want to wait to put the rosemary and cheese on until after you put the first crust in the pan.  See pic below as I roll the crust onto the pin.
Do buy Gruyere.

Grate the cheese in the food processor if you have one.  Save your hands.

This is one way to move a crust from the counter to the pan–wrapped very loosely around the rolling pin.

The edge of this crust is purposely quite thick and will be very crunchy.  There’s no way to get it looking perfect.  (Though is will taste that way!)

Get a kitchen scale.  Don’t guess at weights. Scales at groceries are inconsistent.  3 potatoes can weigh 3/4# or 1.5#, depending on their size.

I slice most potatoes in the food processor.  The mandoline, while perfect for some, is dangerous for me!

Warm the cream and garlic in the microwave.  Buen idea!!!

After removing foil and before second baking.  Looking yum already.

Oh dear.

 

Ready for its closeup.

Once more for grins and giggles.

And now that you’ve gained a pound just looking, you’re done.  Hey, let me know if you make this.  It’s not any harder than scalloped potatoes really…and the presentation is just WOW.  Here’s the recipe:

Total: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 10 servings
Ingredients

  • 1  (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts* (I make my own–recipe at end.)
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • 2  cups  (8 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese, divided (Grate in food processor)
  • 1 1/2  pounds  Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2  pounds  sweet potatoes
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 2/3  cup  heavy cream
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Unroll piecrusts on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle rosemary, pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese over 1 piecrust; top with remaining piecrust. Roll into a 13-inch circle. Press on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch springform pan; fold edges under. Chill.
2. Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice Yukon gold and sweet potatoes. (Slice in food processor.)
3. Layer one-third each of Yukon gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, and salt in prepared crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layers twice, pressing layers down slightly to fit.
4. Microwave cream and garlic in a 1-cup microwave-safe measuring cup at HIGH 45 seconds; pour over potato layers in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake at 450° for 1 hour.  (I added 10 minutes here.) Uncover and bake 25 minutes (I added 5 minutes here) or until potatoes are done and crust is richly browned. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate, and remove sides of pan. If desired, carefully slide gratin off bottom of pan using a long knife or narrow spatula. Garnish, if desired.  Note:  At altitude, I still though this could have used an extra 10-15 minutes.


Alyce’s Double Pate Brisee Crust Made in the Food Processor


2 2/3 c unbleached white flour
1/4 t kosher salt
12 T salted butter, quite cold, cut into chunks
1/2 c ice water (you might need a tad more if flour very dry)

In the bowl of your food processor, blend flour and salt.  Add butter and pulse until some pieces are pea-sized, some are smaller and some are bigger.  With machine running, pour water through food tube and process until dough comes together.  Stop machine and remove dough.  Carefully pat together into a ball and divide in half.  Sprinkle counter with some flour* and place one half of the dough on it.  Sprinkle dough and rolling pin liberally with flour.  Quickly (trying to keep it cold here), roll out into 12-13″ circle.   Roll the dough loosely around the pin and place crust in pan.  Sprinkle crust with the cheese and rosemary.  Refrigerate pan.  Roll out other crust, roll it around the pin, and place on top of refrigerated crust.  Press top crust into bottom briefly and turn edges under, trimming crusts if needed.   Pinch edges of crust together quickly; don’t spend long on this.  Continue as above.

* You can also roll dough between  two pieces of waxed paper (some of the crust will escape!) and leave out the floured counter entirely:

First–dampen the counter by wiping it well with a very damp cloth.  This insures the waxed paper will stay put and not slip around.  


-Place half of the dough between two sheets of waxed paper, place “package” on damp counter and, with rolling pin, roll out (start at center, roll to edge, and repeat- Go around the crust clock-wise) until crust is 12-13″…

–  Flip the crust over, quickly give one roll with the pin on that other side, take off that paper, flip again and, as you gently ease the crust into the pan, peel off the second piece of paper. 

–  Throw that paper away, get new paper and repeat procedure. 

Reading, Listening, Viewing, Whatever else and Cooking Currently:

I’m so late.  I just finished THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein for book club.   I love the idea of a dog talking, but wish he’d re-write this in 20 years.  The club, over all, liked the book and, I think, all of them read it! 

I am reading -all at once!- DEVIL’S TRILL by Gerald Elias (2009), THE APPRENTICE  by Jacques Pepin (biography) and MATHILDA SAVITCH by Victor Lodato.  I continue to read Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book, AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE, as well as Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.     Want cookbooks?  Buy these gems.

I am listening to Hildegard von Bingen…a Christmas gift.

We saw “The King’s Speech” last weekend and were bowled over.  Stunning film.  Go.
This week, I made a point to find out when “Glee” was on and watched an episode.  Interesting, but I couldn’t figure out what all the hoopla was about.   Maybe because I’m a choir director.

I am playing things I haven’t played in months.  Did Advent intervene here?  Maybe.  But I spent an hour playing and singing last night before I read DEVIL’S TRILL.  Singing your heart out is good for you.  Remember singing around a camp fire?  Or on a road trip?

I am not dreaming this week (I’m not a big dreamer), but I did wake up over and over one night thinking about a new job I’ve applied for.  As I glanced out the windows in the dark, I saw (and  I’m near-sighted) a white bird–a big one–fly into a tree in the wildwood between our house and Mike and Sara’s.  I laid there a minute or two, wondering if I’d imagined it and finally got up to put my glasses on and peer out into the gloom of early morning.  No bird then, but there was a falling star!! I haven’t seen one since Emily and I beat it up the road of the campground in Brown County, Indiana to hit the outhouse in the middle of one long night.

I talked to Tina from Prive (lovely, lovely Oregon winery)  today about our upcoming shipment.  While they did make wine, they made a lot less.  Oregon weather just didn’t cooperate for a large yield.  A cool fall meant delaying and delaying picking, though they had pruned hugely in September and knew they might not get much, but they’d get tasty.  And so it happened.  She’s concerned that the wine being shipped now (last year’s) will travel through places with temperatures under freezing, thus not just compromising, but ruining the wine–blowing the corks for the cardboard to drink the fine Pinot.  Tina and her husband Mark have a capital T Teensy vineyard in Oregon Pinot country, where they make boutique Pinot Noir (there’s another name, I’m thinking) from their own on-site grapes and also a couple of other wines  from grapes they borrow and whip into shape from Washington (a Syrah and a red blend).  Between the pristine, reminiscent of France winery and their house is a comfortable patio replete with tables, chairs, plants, flowers and, the piece de resistance, an outdoor pizza oven.  Now I envy Mark his vineyard and Tina her winery, but what I really covet is the pizza oven.  Wineries like Prive sell pretty much on futures only; you must buy ahead (barrel tasting that vintage sometimes) or  you get no wine.  These wines don’t appear in stores or restaurants often, though you might have a better chance in Oregon itself.  So our wine, waiting for shipment in her cellar, is well worth the wait for good shipping weather.   It’ll keep just fine right there.  Our Sunday weather promises a snow storm and -12.

Our friends (and students)  Jacque, Tom, Joel and Miss Ellie moved this last week.  Current cooking includes a big pot of bean soup (I do this a couple of times a winter and make 20 qts or so), a slab of corn bread and hazelnut brownies (with Valhrona chocolate frosting)  I’ll take to them tonight for dinner.  A big, fat bottle of Cotes du Rhone goes with it, along with some sparkling apple cider for the kiddoes.

For dinner, I’m trying a halibut with pico de gallo in the oven in foil.  Yes, I actually do have to stop eating things like Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust.  Let you know how it comes out.

Two-Dog Kitchen–

Was this a self-indulgent blog?  Surely was, but it’s been a while since I did one.  Thanks for putting up with and reading as you
Sing a new song,
Alyce