New Cook Book Always Makes Me Happy


I enjoy Paul Hollywood’s cookbooks.  I have the one that came out before the above mentioned one and even thought it is quite good, the newest one explains everything in much more detail and will lots of great photos.  I made the Ciabatta a second time yesterday and it came out perfectly with his improved description.  How to Bake

I have decided it would be fun to try to make every recipe in the Bread Book, sort of like the movie Julie and Julia, but a lot less recipes.  Baking makes me happy.  Today I made the first recipe in the book – Bloomer Bread.

He called it the bread to learn the technique of baking bread.  It is simple and straight forward and if you see the piece missing, you know I tried it.  I like it a lot.  It crusty and wonderful, while light and airy.  I would make this for a dinner party.  He has great videos online and easy to find.


  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for kneading (Best to weigh it)
  • 10g/¼oz salt (1.5 tsp)
  • 1 x 7g sachet of instant yeast   (1 tsp)
  • 320ml/11½oz cold water
  • 40ml/1½fl oz olive oil, plus extra for kneading (my glass measuring cup has ml)
  • extra oil and flour, for kneading


  1. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl, taking care not to have the salt and yeast touching. Add the oil and 240ml/9fl oz of water.

  2. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together. Gradually add the remaining water (you may not need it all), until all the flour leaves the side of the bowl and you have a soft, rough dough.

  3. Pour a little oil onto a clean work surface. Sit the dough on the oil and begin to knead. Do this for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and silky. Once the correct consistency is achieved, place the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until tripled in size.

  4. Once risen, place the dough onto a floured surface. Knock the dough back by folding it in on itself repeatedly. Do this until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth.

  5. To shape into the bloomer, flatten the dough into a rectangle. With the long side facing you fold each end into the middle then roll like a Swiss roll so that you have a smooth top with a seam along the base. Very gently roll with the heel of your hands.

  6. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper, cover and leave to prove for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or until doubled in size.

  7. Lightly spray with water and dust with a little flour. Make four diagonal slashes using a sharp knife across the top.

  8. Preheat the oven to 220/425F/Gas 7 and place a baking tray filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven – this will create steam when the loaf is baking. Place the loaf on the middle shelf and bake for 25 minutes. After this time lower the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Paul Hollywood Ciabatta


– 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

– 10g salt

– 10g instant yeast

– 40ml olive oil

– 400 ml tepid water

– Fine semolina for dusting (optional)

Makes 4
Prep 2 hours
Bake 25 minutes

This straightforward ciabatta recipe is relatively easy and satisfying to make To get that classic ciabatta shape and open texture, you need a very wet and sloppy dough, so you really have to make it in an electric mixer. Serve this thin-crusted, light-textured bread warm for breakfast, with soups or salads, or split, toasted and filled with salami, prosciutto or cheese for an Italian-style sandwich.

1.Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).

2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer.

4. Heat your oven to 220°C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.

5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half lengthways and divide each half lengthways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough lengthways a little and place on prepared baking trays.

6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.


New Cook Book Always Makes Me Happy

Rhubarb is still growing!


Rhubarb in the garden is beautiful.  When I first added it to my yard, before I had raised bed gardens, I just thought it was pretty.  Now I actually harvest it and make things with it.  Last year I made nothing fresh, but this year, so far I made a Rhubarb Custard Pie and today I added a Rhubarb-Almond Cake and Rhubarb Oatmeal Cookies.


The Rhubarb-Almond cake smelled heavenly while baking and tasting a tiny bit of it, I think it is a winner.  I used the following recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine.  They said to use either a 8″ X 11″ tart pan with a removable bottom, or a 9″ round tart pan.  I had the 9″ round and a little bigger one.  After thought, use the larger pan.  This went over the edges and I think would be better a little thinner.

Rhubarb-Almond Cake

It might feel like you’re beating the batter for a long time, but that’s what gives this cake an airy lift. Stay with it!



  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • ¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup blanched almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Special Equipment

  • One 11×8″ tart pan or one 9″-diameter tart pan with removable bottom


Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into ½” pieces.

Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and ¾ cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 Tbsp. sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Rhubarb Oatmeal CookiesIMG_5262

My husband really liked these, but in all honesty they are not my favorite, but I am not a big cookie eater.  This recipe was on a blog called  Half Her Size.

Rhubarb Oatmeal Cookies
Prep time  –  20 mins
Cook time  –  12 mins
Total time  –  32 mins
Rhubarb recipes often pour on the sugar overwhelming its natural flavors. In this recipe fresh ginger and lemon zest add a bright flavor without overpowering the rhubarb’s signature tang. These soft rhubarb oatmeal cookies are perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. They would make a lightly sweet addition to an afternoon shower or garden party menu.
  • 1¼ cup (5 ounces) finely diced fresh rhubarb, 3-4 medium stalks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon all spice
  • ¾ cup rolled oats (not quick cook)
  • ⅓ cup (75g.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (I used Lime juice, as I did not have a lemon)
  1. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  2. Toss the rhubarb pieces with 1 tablespoon of sugar and let set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl — Sift together flour, baking soda and all spice. Whisk in the oats.
  4. In a larger bowl — Use a fork to whip the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. When fluffy mix in egg until combined then add the vanilla, ginger, and lemon zest.
  5. Gently mix the flour into the batter until just combined. Once all dry ingredients have been blended, fold in the rhubarb pieces and any juice.
  6. Spoon the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets using a small, leveled, cookie scoop or by the rounded teaspoonfuls. Bake the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 cookie Calories: 83 Fat: 3.6g Carbohydrates: 13g Sugar: 5.5g Sodium: 38mg Fiber: .5g Protein: 1gWeight Watchers Points Plus: 2
It is always fun to try new recipes.  Let me know what you think?
Rhubarb is still growing!

Everyone should move a little rock sometime.

Days when I am not cooking or painting or sewing something for my granddaughter, I like to work in my garden.  This project was not one that was particularly fun.  I ordered half a yard of river rock (small pick-up truck or 4′ x 4′ x 2.5′) and a yard of -3/4 gravel for where we park POS.  (of course you know that means Point of Sale – not Piece of Sh..)IMG_5213

My point is that is a lot of rock and gravel.  So I decided when it arrived, I did not to wait for the gardener to come and move it.  Four or five hours later I knew I deserved a nice glass of champagne and a long bath.  At 67, maybe next time I will wait for the gardener. But it does look good, and it is done!  Most days I think I can do as much as I could when I was 25 or 35 or even 45.  Then the next day I know I can’t.  So today, I just baked a pie.

Everyone should move a little rock sometime.

Dutch Apple Pie

Farmers Market in Kingston had a new farmer from Yakima today with all sorts of apples, so I bought about ten.  It will be interesting to see how the pie turns out, for I used Delicious apples like like to use in a Tarte Tartin.  The recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen.  Not hard, not simple and a little time consuming.

Dutch Apple Pie


To create a flavorful, deep-dish apple pie recipe worthy of presentation, we sautéed a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples in sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter. Once they were softened, we removed them from the pan and added heavy cream to reduce and deglaze the pan. Combining the apples and cream mixture in a prebaked pie crust and topping the pie with a crunchy streusel were the finishing touches on our Dutch apple pie recipe.

Read More


Pie Dough

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, chilled in freezer for at least 30 minutes
4 – 6 tablespoons ice water

Apple Filling

2 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 medium)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup heavy cream

Streusel Topping

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/2 ounces)
cup packed light brown sugar
cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted



The most efficient way to make this pie is to use the dough’s chill times to peel and core the apples and prepare the streusel, then cook the apples while the dough prebakes. We prefer ceramic or metal pie weights for prebaking the pie shell. If you don’t own any, rice or dried beans can stand in, but since they’re lighter than pie weights, be sure to fill up the foil-lined pie shell completely. For a finished look, dust the pie with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

1. For the pie dough: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until combined. Add shortening and butter and process until mixture is pale yellow, rides up sides of bowl, and resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water bit by bit over mixture; with rubber spatula, use folding motion to evenly combine water and flour mixture until small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in palm of hand (dough should feel rather wet). Add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if necessary. Turn dough onto clean, dry work surface; gather and gently press together into cohesive ball and flatten into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll out on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9-inch pie plate, or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of 9-inch pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Trim dough edges to extend about 1/2-inch beyond rim of pan. Fold overhang under itself; flute dough as desired, refrigerate or freeze dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 1 hour in refrigerator or 30 minutes in freezer.

4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough-lined pie plate from refrigerator or freezer and press doubled 12-inch piece heavy-duty foil inside pie shell and fold edges of foil to shield fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place until dough looks dry and is light in color, 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering corners of foil and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until pie shell is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven.

5. For the apple filling: Peel, quarter, and core apples; slice each quarter crosswise into pieces 1/4-inch thick. Toss apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl to combine. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over high heat until foaming subsides; add apples and toss to coat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until Granny Smith apple slices are tender and McIntosh apple slices are softened and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes longer.

6. Set large colander over large bowl; transfer cooked apples to colander. Shake colander and toss apples to drain off as much juice as possible. Bring drained juice and cream to boil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and wooden spoon leaves trail in mixture, about 5 minutes. Transfer apples to prebaked pie shell; pour reduced juice mixture over and smooth with rubber spatula.

7. For the streusel topping: Combine flour, sugars, and cornmeal in medium bowl; drizzle with melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms many large chunks with pea-sized pieces mixed throughout. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread streusel in even layer on baking sheet. Bake streusel until golden brown, about 5 minutes; cool baking sheet with streusel on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle streusel evenly over pie filling. Set pie plate on now-empty baking sheet and bake until streusel topping is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack and serve.


My husband loves Apple Pie, so we will see how he likes this  one.  To make sure the bottom was cooked through, I put a baking pan in the oven, while I doing the first round of baking the crust.  I put the pie pan on the hot baking pan, so it had a little heat to start.

Dutch Apple Pie

Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

Asian Style pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw

The other day at the grocery store there was a package of pork at a very reduced price, so I grabbed it, never knowing exactly what I might make. It was getting past its prime so looked for a recipe online.

America’s Test Kitchen has yet to let me down for a good result, so this one looked interesting and it was very tasty.  My husband prefers flour tortillas, so I bought the fresh ones from our local Central Market, where they make them while you watch.  I have yet to find a good source for homemade corn tortillas.  If anyone has a local source please share it with me.

I threw the ingredients in the slow cooker about noon, and it was ready for dinner.  I have an All-Clad slow cooker that cooks much more evenly than any other I have used.  It is worth the extra money to have no burn spots.

Slow-Cooker Asian-Style Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear and Cucumber Slaw


This incredibly easy and multidimensional recipe features tender shredded pork, flavorful sauce, and a crunchy pickled slaw. We found that we could make a sauce and season our pork all at once by combining hoisin, ginger, and Sriracha in the slow cooker. Boneless country-style pork ribs were a great choice for the slow cooker; after a few hours of braising, they were moist and extra-tender. We let the cooked pork rest briefly before shredding it and stirring it back into the sauce. To add freshness and crunch to our tacos, we made a quick pickled slaw while the meat cooked. A simple combination of Asian pears, carrots, and cucumber tossed with rice vinegar provided the perfect balance to our rich taco filling. A little bit more sesame oil and Sriracha in the slaw brought together the flavors of the dish while keeping it light and fresh.


2 Asian pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup  hoisin sauce
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 ½ pounds boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of all visible fat
  Salt and pepper
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
12 (6-inch)  corn tortillas, warmed


  1. Combine pears, carrots, cucumber, and vinegar in bowl; set aside until ready to serve.
  2. Microwave onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon oil, and ginger in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in hoisin, water, and 1 teaspoon Sriracha. Nestle pork into slow cooker, cover, and cook until pork is tender, 2 to 3 hours on low.
  3. Transfer pork to carving board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks, discarding excess fat. Stir shredded pork into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, remaining 1 teaspoon Sriracha, and cilantro to pear and cucumber slaw and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide shredded pork among warm tortillas and top with slaw. Serve.


Asian Pulled Pork Tacos with Pear & Cucumber Slaw


Dinner tonight was simple, at least the salad was and easy.  When I was out and about I picked up what I needed to make a simple Mac & Cheese for my husband for dinner.  It is one of his favorites, but it cannot be too complex or out of the ordinary.  It has to taste like the Mac & Cheese he grew up eating (sort of)

I thought we were going to have a simple green salad, but realized the greens were now brown and throwaway-able. But I had corn from the night before, lots of avocados (bag from Costco), and cherry tomatoes.  My way of finding a recipe for what I have, is to put them all in a search and see what happens.  Well, it seems that a corn, avocado, cherry tomato salad is quite common.

Here is what I came up with and I was wonderfully delicious.


2 Ears of left over corn – cut off kernels

1 Cup cut up cherry tomatoes of various colors.

2 Avocados, cut into 1/2 in cubes

2 TBS Champagne vinegar

1/4 Cup of your best EVOO ( Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 Tsp Dijon Mustard

3 cloves of garlic pushed through a garlic press.

A touch of pepper and tiny touch of salt

Mix it all together, put in a couple of pretty white bowls, so the colors show and enjoy.


I subscribe to about a dozen foodie newsletters and email lists, so get new ideas of what might be good every day.  Epicurious is one of the ones from which I receive daily ideas. This morning their Favorite Macaroni & Cheese Recipe arrived.  Since my husband is a big fan and this looked simple, we had it for dinner.

Serves 12
Cooking time = 40 minutes
Total Time = 1 hour


  1. For the topping:
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
    • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 ounces finely grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  2. For the macaroni and sauce:
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
    • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups whole milk
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
    • 16 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (about 6 cups)
    • 2 ounces grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
  3. Special equipment:
    • 9- by 13-inch baking dish ( I used an oval Le Creuset baking dish)


    1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle of oven. Butter the baking dish.
  1. Make the topping:
    1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil until butter foam subsides. Add panko and garlic; cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 4–6 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, stir in Parmesan and salt, and set aside.
  2. Prepare the macaroni and sauce:
    1. Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to boil. Add macaroni and cook until just al dente (avoid overcooking). Drain macaroni and set aside.
    2. In a large wide pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle flour over butter, whisking to incorporate and make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until roux is light golden, about 4 minutes. Gradually pour in milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate and make a béchamel sauce. Raise heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until béchamel sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more.
    3. Add 2 tsp. salt, pepper, and mustard powder. Add the cheeses in three batches, whisking until each addition is completely melted before adding more. Remove from heat.
    4. Add the drained macaroni to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir well to coat. Transfer macaroni mixture to the buttered baking dish and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 18–22 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

It was a hit, but boy it made a lot.  So I made labels; Mikie’s Mac & Cheese and put a lot in our extra freezer!  Happy cooking and hope you all had as glorious a day as we did in the Pacific Northwest.




Published On 05/11/2016

Chefs preparing ingredients
roasted veggies
eggs in bowl
eggs in microwave
Microwave hacks
Cast iron

Commission Artwork

Tara's House

One of friends that sells real estate asked me to do this for home she is selling.  I had such fun doing this today.  It was challenging, as the photo from the MLS was very small, but I think it turned out well.  I used water color pencils to give the orange a little punch.  Let me know if I can do one for you or one of your clients.


Commission Artwork

Blackberry Pie along with some dang tasty Ribs…


My husband said he loves Blackberry Pie, so yesterday I tried a sort of new crust and added blackberries to the inside.  I used Vodka in place of half of the water for the pie crust, as it is supposed to make the crust lighter, as it evaporates and your crust will not have a chance of being soggy.

Why this works: We wondered how to make pie dough that is tender, flavorful, and—most important—consistent. Since water bonds with flour to form gluten, too much of it makes a crust tough. But rolling out dry dough is difficult. For a pie dough recipe that baked up tender and flaky and rolled out easily every time, we found a magic ingredient: vodka. Using vodka, which is just 60 percent water, gave us an easy-to-roll crust recipe with less gluten and no alcohol flavor, since the alcohol vaporizes in the oven.



  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, (12 1/2 ounces)
  • teaspoon table salt
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • ½ cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  • ¼ cup vodka, cold
  • ¼ cup cold water



NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor—do not substitute extra water. The alcohol is key to our recipe; if you don’t have vodka on hand, you can use another 80 proof liquor. This dough will be moister and more supple than most standard pie doughs and will require more flour to roll out (1/4 cup must be used to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter).
  1. 1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

    • 2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

      I roll out between two floured pieces of parchment.  This is a very tender crust, so not one for a beginner.

      Blackberry Pie


      • 4 cups fresh blackberries
      • 1/2 cup white sugar
      • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
      • 2 tablespoons milk
      • 1/4 cup white sugar


      1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
      2. Combine 3 1/2 cups berries with the sugar and flour. Spoon the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup berries on top of the sweetened berries, and cover with the top crust. Seal and crimp the edges, and cut vents in the top crust for steam to escape.
      3. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
      4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

      Using this recipe, the bottom of my pie was a little too soggy for my taste.  I would put a pizza stone in the oven to reflect more heat on the bottom.  Put it on the rack below the pie.

      … And since I believe in eating dessert first here is the rib information.  I made the sauce and cooked it in a slow cooker.  I mentioned this might be great for The Fourth of July when we invite family and friends, and my sweet husband commented, why don’t you make a second one where you just pour in a bottle of BBQ sauce for my sons.  Moments like this are frustrating.


      Slow-Cooker Barbecued Sticky Ribs

      Why This Recipe Works

      In order to fit our ribs into the slow cooker for our barbecued sticky ribs recipe, we arranged the full racks of ribs standing up around the perimeter and finally spiraling in towards the center of the slow cooker, pouring the sauce over the top. Because we had left space between the ribs, they cooked evenly, and because the sauce was poured on top of the standing ribs, they slow-basted during cooking, absorbing more of the sauce’s flavors.

      • tablespoons paprika
      • tablespoons packed light brown sugar
      • tablespoon salt
      • tablespoon ground black pepper
      • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • pounds baby back ribs, or St. Louis-style spareribs (see note)
      • cups barbecue sauce


      SERVES 4 TO 6

      NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN Authentic baby back ribs weigh about 1 1/2 pounds per rack, while St. Louis-style spareribs weigh about 3 pounds per rack. (Note that commercially packaged “baby back” ribs are often just mislabeled St. Louis-style spareribs.) Both types of ribs, however, will work well here. You can either make your own barbecue sauce, or use your favorite store-bought brand—we like Bull’s Eye Original
      1. 1. Combine the paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl, then rub the mixture evenly over the ribs. Transfer the ribs to the slow cooker and arrange them standing upright with the meaty side against the interior wall of slow cooker. Pour the barbecue sauce over the ribs. Cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, 4 to 5 hours.

      2. 2. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium sauce-pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until the mixture measures 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes.

      3. 3. Slice the ribs between the bones and toss them with the barbecue sauce. Transfer the ribs to a warmed platter and serve.

      Barbecue Sauce

      From Cook’s Country


    We found that simmering the sauce on the stovetop concentrated the flavors and thickened the sauce. A little Worcestershire sauce provided rich, savory flavor and a combination of chili powder, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce provided just enough heat to register, but not so much that it overwhelmed the other flavors.


    This recipe was developed using relatively mild Frank’s RedHot hot sauce.



    1. 1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

      2. Add ketchup, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Blackberry Pie along with some dang tasty Ribs…

Tapas for our Spanish Flavored Wine Group

Roasted Bell Pepper Salad

Roasted Bell Pepper Salad from a Tapa cookbook that does not post recipes online.  The recipe calls for red and yellow bell peppers.  I thought I would add orange ones too.  Can you tell?  I sure can’t see the difference.  Can you?  I cut the bell peppers in quarters, so I could broil them all at once and not have to constantly turn them.  I saved the ones I did not use and squished them to get the juice.  I thought it was a lovely appetizer, but not many people tried it.  Maybe too Bell Pepper intense.

Roasted Bell Pepper Salad Recipe

Next up was three different Cherry tomato stuffings.  I loved these little treats and they seemed to go over quite well.  It took a bit of time to figure out the easiest way to empty the baby tomato of its insides.  Best and easiest without destroying the tomato was to cut the edges of the center membrane and use a small melon baller to take it out.  That with a little help from my fingers.  (Don’t worry I did wash them & the tomatoes)

Stuffed Cherry tomato recipes

Cherry tomaoes page 2

I added a little brandy to the anchovy recipe to mellow it out a bit.

I must have been on a roll that day, as I also made these Latin Devilled Eggs (spelling from the book.  There were none of these guys left at the end of the evening.

devilled eggs recipe

Oh yeah, and I kept going. I put a spray of olive oil on the baguettes I posted the other day, put them in the oven for about 20 minutes and topped them with a Fennel and Fig Pesto from Fine Cooking Magazine.  That was my favorite! Not the prettiest, but pretty dang tasty.

Fennel & fig on Custini

Fennel & Fig Pesto


  • 1 medium fennel bulb (about 1 lb.), trimmed, cut lengthwise into quarters, and cored (reserve the fronds)
  • 1 large head garlic, top 1/2 inch cut off to expose the cloves
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 oz. dried figs (2 to 3), preferably dark
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated Asiago
  • 1 tsp. finely grated Ruby Red grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425°F.
  • Put the fennel and garlic on a small rimmed baking sheet, toss with 1 Tbs. of the oil, and season lightly with salt. Cover with foil and roast until very soft, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Transfer the fennel to a food processor. Squeeze the cloves from the garlic bulb (or remove with a knife), and add to the processor. Add the remaining 1/2 cup oil, the walnuts, figs, cheese, zest and juice, ginger, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Process until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the reserved fennel fronds and pulse until combined but with some green flecks, 4 to 5 times. Season to taste with salt. Use right away, or cover and refrigerate.

Boy, this is long blog.  I made a Spanish Flan too, but I had posted that previously.  I learned that you cannot skimp on the size of the water bath,  I tried to do a smaller one, and it took too long to cook, so was not as soft and delicious as my last one.  I decorated it with a little chocolate, so at least it was pretty.  Everyone loved it and ate the whole thing, but I know it could be better. It is hiding beside the pig’s but.  So this is the table and then every one came with lots more food and lots of great Spanish wine.



Tapas for our Spanish Flavored Wine Group