Archive for July, 2012

Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Blueberry Nectarine Pie with smile and odd center piece

Blueberry Nectarine Pie with smile and odd center piece

This was easy! I loved having a two part task – first the pie crust and then the filling. I decided to stick with the pie crust recipe in the book but I have to admit that I wasn’t all that comfortable with it. I have always used the King Arthur cook book pie crust recipe and I’ve always felt successful with that recipe. However, I went with this one and, I think, I did okay. I made the dough for the crust two days ahead.

The filling was easier, of course. I went to a farm stand and bought freshly picked nectarines and blueberries. After reading everyone’s comments about how runny the filling was, I decided to use only one really juicy nectarine and the rest were hard (as I like to eat them). I then cut the sugar in half and used a bit more flour than called for. Oh and I dotted with lots of butter. I left the pie to cool and guarded with lots of plates, pots and pans and other items around the pie to deter counter cruising pooches (the hounds are as tall as the counter).

The result was terrific. Although the picture looks like the pie was underdone, it wasn’t (just poor photographing skills).  I even tried to get creative with extra pie crust dough and make a center piece. I hoped that my ‘juices’ would emerge from the center – instead I got a smile.  That’s all good too because instead of a pie that looks like an erupting volcano, I have a smiley face. (Well, it looks like that to me!)

My husband (without asking for compliments or criticisms) offered that it was too sweet. I said it was not. So we differed and I didn’t fish for compliments. They came naturally.

What would I do differently? I would add cinnamon.

A Slice of Blueberry Nectaring Pie

A Slice of Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Semolina Bread

Semoling Bread with horse potholder

Semolina Bread with horse potholder.

Once I found semolina flour, this TWD recipe was easy and lazy one to do.

It took me several days and a look-see in 5 grocery stores to find the flour. At Whole Foods and health food stores they had it but were out of stock. This made me think that there were many TWD baker/ bloggers in my area!  When I was about to give up making this recipe on time, I was driving past a large chain grocery store no where near my home when I decided I would pull in and look to see if they had the flour.

They did.

I planned to bake the following day. And I did.

The sponge rising went well. It was kind of exciting to watch it rise since I had never worked with yeast this way before. A little wary, I kept checking up on it throughout the rising time. I loved how it turned out – spongy! Once it had doubled in size, I went right for the flour and dough hook.  I got through these next steps and left it to rise. Due to circumstances I could not get back to the bread for four hours. No worries. It was in good shape. The next rising was over 4 hours as well.

Then I baked.

It turned out wonderful. I experimented with toppings – trying to find the right combination of foods to put on this bread. I tried many toppings including melted cheddar and Gorgonzola cheese as we as tabbouleh and hummus. My favorite? A classic toast with melted butter and a dollop of homemade cherry jam. It was good.  Really good.

Hazelnut Biscotti – Without the Hazelnuts

Biscotti with Pisachios and Dried Cherries

Biscotti with Pistachios and Dried Cherries

I tried to find the hazelnuts, but time got away from me and the only hazelnuts I could find were in tiny little bags and salted. I re-thought the recipe. I remembered another TWD baker said ‘pistachios’ and so I thought, ‘Why not?’ I like pistachios better than hazelnuts anyway. (I really only pursued the hazelnut to practice the skill of taking the skins off – but then decided, this could be learned at another time.)

So I moved on to pistachios. That led me to the brandy. I went to the package store and moved to the brandy section – which took a while to find as the store sold mostly wines from all over the world and sections were marked (very cutely, I might add) by countries. It was a great geography lesson. Well, I found the brandy after walking through Europe and then I was confronted with t no less than 12 different types/ flavors! Brandy comes in flavors????  Who knew?  So, I tried (I really did try) to find just plain brandy. No go. Maybe they had it hidden in France – I don’t know. – but I was tired of trying to find the least risky brandy and one that would compliment the pistachios.

So I decided, right then and there and standing next to Australia, that I would choose the wild cherry brandy and add, not only the pistachios, but also dried cherries. What a risk taker in the kitchen I’m becoming! So now I have changed two ingredients and added another. I grabbed the wild cherry brandy, walked through Germany, and paid for the booze.

When I got home, I tried a bite of cherry and pistachio together and thought, ‘Not bad.’ and so I proceeded to bake something I have never done before (biscotti) and hoped for the best.  I went to work. I did well until I had to cut the logs. I don’t know how others cut them into the longish strips, mine came out looking like little toasts from small baguettes.  So I sawed away and did my best for width continuity. It sort of worked. I considered for a very short instance getting out my ruler and using a sharpie to mark the one inch width marks on the logs, but canned that idea as I thought the sharpie may change the over flavors. So after agonizing about the width, I just sliced away and eyeballing width.

In the end, it worked out.  My husband loved them.  He was happy with the shape of the biscotti – saying that he didn’t like the long ones that much.  I was so excited that it all turned out well, too!  I kept fishing for compliments from my husband all night long – which he gladly gave to me. He stopped being creative at about the third time and repeated his compliment word for word, but I didn’t mind.

HOWEVER

Just before we fell asleep and I was reeling in my final compliment, my husband added to his mantra about how good they were with, “But, you know, they could have been thinner.”

And that was the last thing I heard about the biscotti with pistachios and dried cherries.