10 European Desserts to Try

One of the things I love about travel is trying all the different foods that countries are famous in each area.  I try to do a little research before traveling to make sure I know what I should try.  I found the following article helpful and can’t wait to try the following.  I do not have recipes attached, but I might have to start finding them and trying them at home.

On The Great British Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood had the contestants attempt to makePastéis de Nata, and it was not one of the more successful endeavors, so not sure if I am going to try that one.

Europe’s cultural diversity manifests itself in its cuisine, from Italian pasta to French escargot. But for those travelers with a sweet tooth, this appetizing variety extends to the continent’s many mouthwatering desserts. Forget about your diet if you’re planning a trip soon, here are ten European desserts you have to try.


You’ll find fruity rødgrød if you visit Denmark, but the similar rote grütze can be found just across the border in northern Germany. Served hot or cold, it’s bursting with summer berries like redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. The fruit is cooked with sugar and some form of starch, like semolina or potato starch is added to make the pudding. Custard or cream often accompanies the dish to balance the acids in the fruit.

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is the traditional Portuguese custard tarts that are small enough to fit in your mouth in one go. The best place to find them is in the Pastéis de Belem bakery that’s been churning them out in their millions since 1837. The proof of the quality is in the length of the queue, which snakes around the block whatever the time of day. They sell about 50,000 of these delicious tarts every day, which surely makes them a contender for western Europe’s favorite dessert.


Italy’s dessert menu might encompass tiramisu, pannacotta, and zabaglione (all fabulous!) but its gelato is legendary the world over. Every imaginable flavor can be found, on street corners, at pavement cafes, and in fancy restaurants. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same as ice cream, however. If what you see is heaped high above the edges of the container, it’s full of air and not the real deal.


This baked French dessert originates from the Limousin region and was popularized in the 19th century. It is usually made with black cherries, though raspberries, plums or blackberries are occasionally substituted. The fruit lines a baking dish and a thick batter is poured over the top. Traditionally, the cherry stones are left in, adding an almond-like flavor to the dish.


Apfelstrudel is one of Austria’s greatest exports. Layers of thinly-rolled dough are filled to bursting with sweet apples, juicy raisins and a liberal measure of cinnamon. The first recipe dates from Vienna in 1696 and it’s just as popular today in the city’s many coffee houses.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding
Peruse the menu in any British gastropub and you’re almost guaranteed to find sticky toffee pudding. This dense, dark pudding is topped with lashings of toffee sauce and served with cream, ice cream or custard. It’s rich, so save plenty of room for dessert if you plan to try it.



A flan is not a flan when it’s from Spain. Instead of receiving a small tart or quiche, order flan in Spain and you’ll be presented with a tasty crème caramel. To make it, a caramel syrup lines a mold and warm custard are poured on top. It’s cooked in a water bath to ensure the custard doesn’t curdle and flipped over to serve once cooked and set.


If there’s one dessert synonymous with Belgium, then it’s surely waffles. Known as gaufre to the nation’s French speakers and waffels to Flemish speakers, the two most popular kinds hail from Brussels and Liege. Buy one from a street stall and eat it straight from the paper, dusted with icing sugar. In a cafe, you’ll find them served with fruit compote, Nutella or Chantilly cream, but hold off on the maple syrup as that’s not the way it’s done on home turf.



Layer upon layer of rich, flaky filo pastry bound together with sweet honey and lavishly sprinkled with nuts, baklava is understandably the Greeks’ most popular sweet treat. But though they’ll argue the toss, it actually originated in the city of Istanbul in Turkey before migrating east. That’s still Europe, at least in part. Wherever you try it, it’s delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Gateau

Black Forest Cherry Gateau
Germans know a thing or two about cake, but its most famous cake is not quite what it appears. That signature bake, Black Forest Cherry Gateau, was invented, so they claim, in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It’s so popular it even has its own food festival. The key ingredient is the “Schwarzwälder kirschwasser”, a potent cherry brandy which made its way across the border from Switzerland but is named after the Black Forest region of Germany. Without the kirsch, it’s just a chocolate and cherry cake.

10 European Desserts to Try

Chicche Verdi Del Nonno



A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.  A regional dish from the Italian province of Parma, these plump spinach gnocchi are excellent sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.



1 lb. russet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
4 oz. spinach
14 cups semolina flour, sifted, plus more
2 eggs, beaten
18 tbsp. unsalted butter
16 leaves fresh sage, minced
14 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. finely grated Parmesan


Put potatoes into a 4-qt. pot of salted water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are tender, 25 minutes. Drain; let cool. Peel potatoes; pass through medium plate of a food mill into a bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and 1 tbsp. of water; cook until wilted. Press on spinach in a sieve to extract liquid. Finely chop spinach; stir together with potatoes and semolina and form a well in the center.
Add eggs and salt and, using a fork, beat eggs into potato mixture.
Transfer dough to a work surface dusted with semolina; knead to combine.
Divide the dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 1⁄2″-thick rope. Cut ropes into 1⁄2″-wide pieces; transfer to a semolina-dusted sheet tray.
Melt 10 tbsp. butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat; cook, swirling, until butter browns, about 6 minutes.
Add sage and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat; set aside.
Working in 4 batches, add 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil to a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add dough pieces and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 3–4 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet.
Wipe out the skillet and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and dough pieces.
Toss dumplings and brown butter sauce in the skillet until hot.
Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.
Chicche Verde  .jpg
Here is the photo of my version.  Served with a lovely red wine!
Would definitely make for friends.
I made the gnocchi about three in the afternoon, and just put them all together right before dinner.
Chicche Verdi Del Nonno

Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

I found this article interesting, as all three of my sons and my daughter-in-law love to cook and have made some wonderful meals.  My sons would make me breakfast in bed for my birthday and for Valentines Day, starting when they were eight or nine.  They are all excellent cooks and they definitely know what and where to put a butter knife.  We sat down and ate with candles and cloth napkins whenever we could at home.  I thought it was important that they have good manners and know the basics in the kitchen. I always wanted them to be comfortable with any and all dining situations!  And, you what!  It worked.

According to Tasting Table, Millennials Are the worst generation of cooks in the kitchen

Only 60 percent can confidently identify a butter knife
Millennials Don't Know How to Cook

They might be able to apply Snapchat filters better than you can, but if there’s one thing millennials can’t do, is find their way around the kitchen.

According to a study from Porch, between millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers, millennials rate themselves as the worst kitchen cooks of all, with only 5 percent of twenty- to thirtysomethings considering themselves “very good” at home cooking. They rate themselves last in being able to tackle (very) basic dishes like fried eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and lasagna. (Though, they do feel more confident than baby boomers at baking store-bought plop-and-drop cookie dough.)

And while many baby boomers aren’t so great at identifying a salad spinner, Thrillist notes it’s not so bad once you consider about 40 percent of millennials can’t even recognize a butter knife.

The one thing they are good at? According to the study, millennials are the top generation investing in meal delivery services and utilizing internet videos for cooking advice. Hey, at least they’re trying.


Worst Generation of Cooks in the Kitchen

10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers


Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t yet jumped into the depths of all of the great seasonal produce, we’re thrilled to let you know some great ways to enjoy it all. These bite-sized spring appetizers are perfect for that backyard party you’ve been waiting to have all winter. Check out the roundup of our ten favorites that have truly given us Spring Fever.

1.) Radish and Arugula Crostini with Brie

One word: radishes.  It simply wouldn’t be spring without a heaping helping of radishes on our plates and of course, in our appetizers. These crostini bites pair radishes, brie, and arugula leaves on toast for a crunchy and bright flavor experience.


2.)  Savory Carrot Ribbon Tart

You know it’s spring when suddenly carrots are everywhere. Easter is this Sunday (can you believe it?) and a tart like this makes for a perfect pick-me-up before dinner is served. Serve up a hearty and clean appetizer like this that fits in all of the festive carrot flavors of the season on one pan. Using rainbow carrots is a great tip that incorporates all different kinds of colors into this festive spring tart.


3.) Buttery Deviled Eggs

What kind of meal would it be without deviled eggs around Easter? Keep in mind that deviled eggs (or any recipe requiring hard-cooked eggs) are great.


4.) “Spring Roll” Pot Stickers

Turns out you can get the fabulous flavors of takeout from your very own kitchen with these awesome pot stickers. The extra crispy-ness of this classic takeout item is enough in itself, but when you factor in all of the homemade goodness packed inside, they become out-of-this-world good.


5.) Spinach-and-Green-Pea Empanadas

While these empanadas are a little heartier than the average appetizer and can definitely be served as an entree if desired, their fun hand-sized nature makes them a great grab-and-go food for backyard parties or get-togethers. Not only are they a delicious golden-brown, but they’re chock full of great spring veggies.


6.) Blackberry-Brie Pizzettas

It’s true, blackberries reach their prime in the summer months, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to snag some blackberries from your local market right now, they go wonderfully with brie on these golden-brown personal sized pizzas. Not only do these colorful appetizer pizzas bring out even more of that Spring Fever, but they’ll get you all excited for the vast array of yummy produce still to come in the summer months.


7.) Grits-and-Gumbo Tarts

All of the iconic flavors of this southern stew come together in perfect bite-sized portions with these tarts. Shrimp, okra, and polenta rounds pair perfectly in one bite and would make a great accompaniment to this warm spring weather.

These bright and colorful crostini appetizers are reminiscent of spring with their bright green colors and fresh flavor. Appetizers like this are a great way to combine multiple seasonal flavors in one bite. Fava beans get the spotlight here, but the goat cheese balances out the overall flavor.


9.) Cucumber-Tomato Skewers with Dill Sauce

It doesn’t get much easier than these super simple veggie skewers. If you’re planning on serving a heavy meal, these light and fresh appetizers are the perfect pairings to round out the flavor palate, and the creamy dill sauce is a great accompaniment.


10.) Fresh Spring Rolls with Pork, Mango, and Mesclun

This great appetizer comes with an essential peanut sauce, which lends a sweet and spicy flavor to these bright and fresh spring rolls. These rolls are held together with clear rice-paper wrappers, which allow for tons of great flavor to be packed into one edible snack.


10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers

What is your state’s dessert?

Here is how to explore desserts, one state at a time by “The Daily Dish”

Minnesota: Seven-Layer Bars


“I’m a northern girl, who tries so hard to cook southern delights — this cake does not disappoint. It was a HIT!”

Idaho: Spudnuts

Louisiana: Brennan's Bananas Foster


What is your state’s dessert?

More Carbonara Tips

bucatini-carbonaraCarbonara is the ultimate easy and fast dinner, so every time I see another article on it with new or a more interesting approach I feel the need to share it.  Well Done is a food blog that I follow, as it has quick and easy suggestions.  Read on…

It has bacon, it has eggs, it has cheese, it has carbs. Why isn’t spaghetti carbonara the most popular breakfast food ever? People think it is difficult and time consuming to make, which it is not.  It is fast simple and simply delicious.

Maybe you are afraid you don’t have the right technique for making Carbonara. There is little to be afraid of.  Just follow a few very simple directions and you will have the best easy breakfast, lunch or dinner ever.  It was I make when I don’t feel like cooking.  I know I have all the ingredients in the pantry or refrigerator and can through it together in as fast as the pasta can cook.  I use bucatini as it has a hole in the middle and holds the sauce.

For the recipe you just need a couple of whisked eggs, some bacon chucks cooked with a chopped onion and the best parmesan cheese you can afford. The better the cheese, the better the carbonara.

Find a large skillet or pan that will fit all the dried pasta. If you can’t lay the spaghetti flat across the bottom, then use rigatoni or another loose pasta. Sprinkle with salt, cover with 4 inches of cold water, cover, and put on high heat. Yes, this goes against everything you’ve been taught. But it works!

While that’s going, cook your chopped-up bacon in a small skillet and, when it’s about halfway done, throw in some chopped onion. Keep cooking until they’re golden and the bacon is crisp, then set aside. No need to drain or anything.

In the biggest bowl you have, whip up your eggs until solidly yellow, then add the cheese.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, get your tongs. Use thm to stir the pasta to make sure it’s not sticking. When it’s al dente, start pulling out with the tongs and and throw it directly into the bowl with the egg/cheese mixture.Don’t drain! You’ll need that extra pasta water to temper the eggs and make it a sauce. Toss in some pasta, toss, toss in more pasta, toss again, and just keep going until it’s all in. Sounds like a lot of tossing, but it really takes less than a minute. You don’t need to place it  back into a pan, as the eggs are fully cooked thanks to the heat of the pasta.

Add in the bacon and onions in, keep tossing and plate with more cheese. Wasn’t that the easiest dinner ever?  Add a salad, or if you not diet conscious a great loaf of crusty bread is perfect.  I love mine with a good red wine.

Get with gusto!

More Carbonara Tips

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Aren’t we all looking for a million different ways to use chicken.  I found this recipe on Cafe Delites, a blog I follow, but will make a few changes next time I make it.  The sauce was very heavy.  I made it early in the afternoon and put it in my warming drawer.  This is one you need to make and immediately serve or the sauce gets gummy and too think.  I served it over sautéed spiraled squash and the sauce was great on that.   Pasta is always a wonderful choice or rice when the a sauce is creamy and garlicky!  And whatever you do, do not count calories on this one.  It comes in about 600 calories per serving.  Not a diet night!
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 10.03.01 AMMushrooms:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (I only used two and it made enough for four)
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (Fresh is always better to me)
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese  (I prefer fresh Mozzarella, so substituted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced or finely chopped (Okay so I love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)   [I do not recommend, as it made the sauce way too think]
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.

  2. Melt butter in a large (over 12-inch or 30 cm) oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
  3. Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

  4. Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket. (I was using fresh, so put about four or five slices)

  5. Divide the mushroom mixture into four (in my case two, but next time I would cut each in half, as they were large) equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushroom, you can use them later. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

  6. Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink. (I always check temperature to be sure it makes it to 170 degrees)

  7. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.  To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.

  1. Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half .

  2. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. (If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the centre of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately). [oh yes it did and it was way too thick to look good]

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve. (I like to plate my food, so could not imagine serving dinner from a pan) . 

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Chocolate Bark


Last week I had some friend over for “Fondue” and to play “Cards Against Humanity”. So we drank wine, ate fondue and had a lovely evening.  I had served dried figs and dried apricots to dip in the fondue. (along with a lot of other stuff) One container of apricots had been in brandy for about a year.  I siphoned off the apricot brandy to try late.  My sweet husband drank it before I had a chance to try it.  He liked it.

But I had left over dried fruit and chocolate in my baking drawer, so I decided to make some very simple Chocolate Bark using what was left over.


  • 1/2 cup finely diced dried figs
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. each ground allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, and aniseed
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 lb. dark chocolate in block or bar form (I had some milk chocolate, so added that into about 8 oz of 70% cocoa)
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup finely diced candied orange peel ( I used the left over dried apricots and some of the brandied apricots.)   

Nutritional Information


  • Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment, and tape the parchment to the baking sheets. Put a piece of parchment on the counter, too. Have ready an instant-read thermometer.
  • In a small bowl, toss the figs with the spices. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and sift out the excess spices; reserve for another use.

Melt and temper the chocolate

  • Finely chop 2 lb. of the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl that fits snugly over a 4-quart saucepan. Cut the other 1 lb. of chocolate into two pieces.
  • Fill the saucepan with about 2 inches of water (it should not touch the bowl). Bring the water to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and put the bowl of chocolate over it. Gently stir the chocolate occasionally with a silicone spatula until it is fully melted and reaches between 115°F and 120°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the pot, wipe the bottom dry, and add one of the 1/2 lb. blocks of chocolate to the bowl. Constantly fold the solid chocolate with the melted chocolate; the solid chocolate will melt somewhat but not fully. Take the temperature of the chocolate now and then. When it drops to 95°F, after 4 to 5 minutes, take what’s left of the solid chocolate out of the bowl. Add the second block of chocolate and fold constantly. When the temperature drops to 90°F, take the block out. (The chocolate blocks can be reused for other recipes.) Gently stir the melted chocolate for 1 minute more.

Spread the chocolate, top, and cool

  • Divide the melted chocolate between the prepared baking sheets, and working quickly, spread it to about 1/4 inch thick with an offset spatula. Immediately sprinkle the figs, almonds, and orange peel over both sheets of warm chocolate, pressing down lightly.
  • Place in a cool (60°F to 65°F) room or refrigerate it for just 5 minutes to set. For best results, let the bark sit for 12 hours before breaking it into shards.


If your chocolate does not come in large blocks, use the biggest pieces you can, such as two 4-oz. bars in place of the 1/2-lb. chunk. The large size makes it easy to retrieve the unmelted chocolate once the melted chocolate is in temper.

And here is the Brandied Apricot Recipe just in case…


  • 500g soft dried apricots
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 5–6 star anise flowers
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 cups (750ml) brandy


  1. Layer the fruit and spices in sterilised jars and cover with brandy.
  2. Screw on the sterilised lids and leave to stand in a cool dark place for at least one month before serving.
    *Will last up to six months once opened.

Cook’s notes:

  1. Try preserving the apricots in gin, vodka or a fortified wine, such as white muscadel.
  2. Un-sulphured, dried, organic apricots give the best results, although they might be darker in colour than sulphured ones.
  3. Serve with cheese, in baked puddings or chopped up and stirred into thick cream, mascarpone or ice cream.
  4. Drain some apricots and dip them in melted dark chocolate for an after-dinner treat with coffee. You can even serve small nips of the leftover spiced brandy as a digestive after a meal.

This recipe makes ± 2 cups (500ml)

Chocolate Bark

Easy as Pie

Earlier this week I took a pie baking class that was offered for free via our local library at the Village Green in Kingston, Washington.  A local baker taught the class and it was quite entertaining and I did learn a couple new tricks.  I don’t make many pies, but do enjoy the process.  I personally use the basic pie dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, but do it all by hand rather than using a food processor.  Here is their recipe that I use:


2 1/2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

12 Tbs cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into 1/4″ slices

1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening cut into 4 pieces (Crisco or lard)

1/4 cup Vodka – cold
1/4 cup cold water

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. 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.


Key Steps to Foolproof Pie Dough

1. MAKE A FAT AND FLOUR PASTE:Completely blending part of the flour with all of the butter ensures a consistent amount of fat-coated flour in the final dough.

2. ADD MORE FLOUR: Pulsing in the final cup of flour ensures a consistent amount of uncoated flour in the final dough.

3. ADD WATER AND VODKA: Sprinkling with water and vodka ensures even distribution. No need to skimp—unlike water, vodka won’t make the dough tough.

Making Foolproof Pie Dough Without a Food Processor

If you don’t have a food processor, you can also prepare this recipe in a stand mixer: Start by bringing your butter and shortening to room temperature. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium-low speed until just combined, 4 to 5 seconds. Add butter and shortening to mixer and mix on medium-low speed for another 15 seconds, until dough starts to form around paddle. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle with spatula. Add remaining cup flour and mix on medium-high speed until dough has broken into smaller pieces, 2 to 3 seconds. Empty contents into medium bowl and continue recipe from step 2.

***Here are the notes from the class I took.  I enjoyed the class, but was not successful with her dough recipe. I don’t like egg in my dough and could never get it to come together.  Maybe my hands are not warm enough?

~It’s as easy as Pie~

Per the paper handed out in class (My notes in italics)

There are simple steps to creating a beautiful handcrafted flaky crusted pie, which do not require you to be a professional baker.  At the bakery we are often asked about how we make such beautiful pies. The answer is of course, practice. (smile) When you follow these simple steps you will get not only a pretty looking pie, but one that tastes delicious as well. I will have to say it looked great and tasted good.


Notes to start:

  1. The filling

Fruits: Simple always tastes better.  When we bake or cook we are often under the pretense that the more spices the better it will taste.  With pies it is the opposite.  The more you let the fruit speak for itself, the better. Everyone wants their peach pie to taste like fresh picked juicy peaches.  So use simple ingredients and you will achieve that taster perfection.

Sugar: Sugar is good, don’t ever let anyone tell you different.

Cream: If you can make you own pudding it will always taste better. The trick is constant stirring and whole milk! You can add whatever flavor you like to a plain vanilla pudding recipe.

Savory: Once again, simplicity is better.  A classic bacon and cheese combination for the carnivore or a simple spinach, tomato and feta for the vegetarians will always satisfy the savory taste buds.

  1. The “elusive” flaky crust (cook with clarified butter)

Flakiness is achieved through several steps

  1. Low gluten – choose an all-purpose flour instead of a bread flour (They use Sheppard’s Grain bread, which is available in bulk at Central Market)
  2. Use butter
  3. Butter. Flakes of butter will melt away leaving little tiny pockets that turn into the flakes you love in pie crust.
  4. Little contact – When you add moisture to flour it almost immediately reacts. The proteins in the flour start to form gluten strands and the dough starts to have a spring to it. This great when working with bread, as you want it to rise. But with pie crust, you don’t want that.  The more you work the dough the tougher the crust becomes and that is when you start having shrinking dough or dough that won’t roll out. (I used to do mine in the food processor, as I learned to do in the 80’s, but it was always a little too tough)       
  5. The Temperature – This is the key part to baking your pie. You want the pie to set.  This means you want to bake it on a high heat for 15 minutes. 425 for the first 15, then drop it to 350 for the last hours.  (In class she said to heat the oven the 425, then turn down to 350 when you placed the pie in the oven)

Bakers Tips

  • Partially frozen fruit will bake better and won’t leave you with a soggy crust
  • Flour and sugar on the bottom of the crust will soak up liquid (This is one of the main things I learned from the class.)
  • Dough is better if it’s a little floury, a warm hand will melt the butter and make an easy roll out
  • If making apple pie, precook the apples stovetop to remove the liquid or as The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose L. Bernbaum. Mix your sliced apples, sugar, and spices together. Let sit for 30-40 minutes. Then drain off liquid and boil in a small pan until reduced by half. Mix this “syrup” back into your apples–add a little flour, then pile apples in crust and bake

Lacey’s Pie Crust Recipe

One crust                                            Double crust

1.5 cups flour                                      4 cups flour

1 tsp sugar                                          1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp salt                                             1 Tbs salt

1 egg                                                   1 egg

½ cup butter (cold)                             ¾ cup butter (cold)

½ cup Crisco                                        ¾ cup Crisco

3 Tbs cool water                                 Never really wrote or said how much,  6 Tbl ??

  1. Grab a bowl large enough that you will be able to move flour around without getting too messy. Measure out four, sugar & slat into the bowl and stir briefly.
  2. Add your eggs (she said to only use one) to the flour mixture. Break the yolks with your fingers and stir gently until the eggs are mixed into the four – about 15 seconds.
  3. Cube your butter into ½” squares. Add it to your flour mixture. Squeeze the butter between your fingers with the flour till your mixture looks like bread crumbs – about 2 minutes
  4. Slowly add in your water, folding the mixture onto itself, until it is a cohesive dough. This part is important.  You may not need all of the water, so go slowly.  If you add too much water the dough will become too soft and will tear during rolling.  Do not over knead the dough or it will become tough. When you squeeze the dough in your fist and it hold together in a ball it is done!
  5. Cut the dough in half. Fatten each half in to a disk. At this point you can roll the dough, refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days, or freeze the dough for up to two months.
  6. T roll the dough, sprinkle flour on the surface, not so much that you will have mounds of flour, but not so little that your pie dough will stick to the counter.
  7. Sprinkle a little flour n top of the dough and begin the rolling process. Start in the middle of the dough and roll out.  I like to pretend the round dough is a clock.  I roll to 12, then to 3, then to 6, then to 9 and then I flip the dough over.  Sprinkle with a little more flour and repeat the “clock” process.
  8. Roll the dough until it is the size you need based on your pie plate. If you have a 9” pie plate, you will need to roll the dough an extra three inches to account for the deepness of the plate and the edges of the pie.
  9. Fold your dough in half and transfer to the pie plate centering it. (I learned to roll the dough around my rolling pin and then unroll atop the pie plate centering it.)


If you are making a cream pie, crimp your edges, poke holes in the bottom of the crust and place your pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.  When the 10 minutes is up, place pie weights in the bottom of your crust and place in a preheated over ~350 degrees for 10 minutes or until brown. (I always put the pie weights atop parchment, so they are easy to get off when done and easy to put back into a container.) Let the crust cool before adding your cream mixture.  Refrigerate an hour before serving.

If you are making a fruit pie, decide if you want a top crust or if you want a crumble topping.  If you want a top crust, follow steps 6 – 8 and fold dough in half.  You will need to prep your bottom crust for the fruit, as fruit has a lot of moisture in it and will make the bottom crust soggy.  If you sprinkle a layer of flour and sugar mixed together with your fingers on the bottom before the fruit, the problem should be eliminated.


Next add your fruit, and either sprinkle with the crumble or lay your top crust over the fruit.  The excess dough should the touch the counter as it hangs over the edge of your pie plate.


Gently fold the top crust up and around the edge of the pie plate collecting the edge of the bottom crust as you do.  Crimp the crust using your thumb and pointer fingers.  Poke holes in the top for steam to escape. Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon, making sure to get sugar in the crimped edges.  Bake at 425 for 10 min, then turn the oven down to 350 for 45 minutes or until the pie is done.

Your pie is done when it does not jiggle, and fruit has a slow bubble to it.

If you are doing a savory pie, do not add sugar atop the crust or on the bottom before adding your savory, but do add the flour.

Apple Filling

8 medium/large golden delicious apples.  Goldens are juicier and have a higher water content. Hard apples like Granny Smith will hold the apple shape better and will be crisper to the bite.

¼ cup flour

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

I learned to put flour and sugar in your crust before you add your fruit and if it is savory just add the flour.  Simple tip that really works.  I realized I liked the recipe that I use from America’s Test Kitchen more than the one we made.  Now I need to make more pie!  



Easy as Pie

Perfect Pasta

Must be the weather….  Rain – Rain – and more – Rain.  I found an article by Claire Saffitz in the recent edition of Bon Appetit and could not find it online, so scanned it (thus a tad crooked) and share it here.  I think it makes some good points.  

At restaurants, those noodles get coated in a silky, glossy sauce—the secret is an emulsion of fat, pasta water, and cheese.

Here are the 5 key steps to replicating that at home.

There’s something about pasta at a restaurant that just seems different. The sauce clings to each noodle perfectly, as if separation were physically impossible. That alfredo or carbonara is so sublimely smooth that it could never be replicated at home, right? Wrong. Here’s how to make pasta at home that is every bit as saucy and glossy as it is at your neighborhood trattoria. Get out your Dutch oven (or sauce pan or large skillet), and follow these 5 easy steps to at-home pasta perfection.

Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

1. Start in a Dutch Oven

A big one, so you avoid half-cooked pasta caking onto your stovetop, which can happen easily when saucing with a skillet. Higher sides mean the pasta won’t flip out as you’re tossing—and there’s going to be a lot of tossing.

pasta-dutch-oven add-flavors-cheese
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

2. Build Your Flavors

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the Dutch oven (enough to cover the bottom) and heat over medium. Add some aromatics like garlic or shallots, then cook mushrooms or other veg in the oil until they’re tender.

Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

3. Drop the Pasta

In a pot of very salty boiling water, cook noodles until they’re several minutes shy of al dente. Transfer them to whatever you’ve got in the Dutch oven, along with a ladleful of pasta water. The noodles should swim, and the liquid should be bubbling.

Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

4. Marry the Noodles and Sauce

Toss, toss, toss as the pasta finishes cooking. Then add a bit more pasta water. Toss some more, then slowly stir in some finely grated hard cheese—Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano—little by little so it melts evenly and completely.

5. Finish It Right

Keep tossing until each strand or shape is coated and no bits of cheese remain. Remove from heat, stir in a spoonful of butter, and top with more cheese and some crispy bits (prosciutto FTW), then serve directly out of the Dutch oven at the table.

Perfect Pasta