How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Honey Ginger Pie

I always like to try a new dessert recipe for Thanksgiving. This year I made Honey Ginger Pie from the Teeny's Tour of Pie cookbook. This custard-filled tart was a definite hit among the foodie friends with whom we shared our holiday meal.

I first made the Buttery All-Purpose Crust as directed by Teeny:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 3/4 c. cold unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 c. cold vodka (I took mine straight from the freezer)
  • 6 T. cold water

I sifted the dry ingredients together, then added the butter and shortening and cut everything together with a pastry cutter. The liquid ingredients were added next, a little bit at a time. Everything was mixed with a rubber spatula and formed into a ball. The ball was divided into two, and each was pressed into a disc. I placed one disc in the freezer for later use, the other I refrigerated for one hour, then rolled out and placed in a greased pie pan and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes.

The filling also took a bit of work. Ingredients include:

  • 2 c. whole milk (divided)
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 t. freshly grated peeled ginger (Teeny recommends a microplane, and I followed this advice and can assure you that Teeny is absolutely right about this)
  • 3 T. butter

First I whisked together the 1 3/4 c. milk and the honey until the honey was dissolved (this did not take long). Next I whisked the remaining milk with the cornstarch and yolks until smooth. This then went into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and honey. Everything was cooked over a medium heat while whisking constantly, this continues even after it starts to boil (when constant whisking and scraping becomes even more important to prevent scorching). The mixture boiled until thick, but still pourable and removed from the heat. The grated ginger and butter were stirred in, and then the mixture was poured into the pre-baked pie crust. The pie was then covered with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and placed in the refrigerator to set. Teeny says it needs at least two hours. I had made this the night before, so it was nicely set and easy to cut after our meal on Thursday.

Teeny also admonishes bakers (and eaters) not to "skimp on the whipped cream". Right again, Teeny!

Sweet Potato & Refried Bean Tacos

I made this dish a few weeks ago, and as I was getting ready to blog about the divine pie I made for Thanksgiving, I remembered that I never posted about this fabulous meal. The recipe has two parts - one for the filling, and the other for the poblano salsa. I dutifully asked James to procure the poblano, tomatoes, and lime but unfortunately assumed onion and garlic were already on hand, only to discover I was wrong. Further complicating the problem was the less than stellar set up I had for roasting the pepper. We usually roast them directly on the flame of our gas stove, but we were at our beach house which has the inferior electric stove top. I attempted to roast the pepper by placing it in an indispensable cast-iron skillet on top of one of the burners and turning it several times, but it didn't work very well. I ultimately decided to simply add the diced tomatoes and diced (semi) roasted pepper to a jar of prepared lime salsa - not an ideal solution, but a solution nonetheless.

The sweet potatoes were roasted in the oven at 425 for half and hour after drizzling with olive oil, chili powder, salt, and pepper. The roasted sweet potatoes were simply served on warmed tortilla shells with a helping of refried beans and topped with salsa and cilantro. We also added some sour cream. A very delicious and hearty vegetarian meal despite the problems with making the salsa.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homebody Pork Chops

Having settled in for an early weekend, I was looking forward to grilling some locally-raised pork chops from Crescent Ridge, and hoping to do so without getting dressed up enough to go to the grocery.

During my first scan of recipes on Big Green Egg (yes, I was too lazy to get the printed cookbook from the shelf -- it's been a long week), I noticed something involving sriracha. I did not think we had any, and was beginning to consider recipes that would involve a run to Stop & Shop.

I did eventually check the fridge, however, and found that we had almost everything on the list for Sriracha Pork Chops. We had no bouillon or broth, so I used extra lime juice and sriracha. We had parsley (for scallops I prepared last week), which I substituted for the called-for cilantro. Last week I could not find fresh ginger at said Stop & Shop (I know, right?), so we have a little tub of partly-dried ginger. It seems to be working well, though I'll get the real stuff next time I see it.
In progress; in the foreground are small potatoes that had been roasting with olive oil, Old Bay, and a little water to prevent scorching (based on prior experience). I left them uncovered for the last 10 minutes or so.
NOTE: no measuring cups or spoons were involved in this recipe. It's marinade, not a cake.

ALSO NOTE: I do not play ziplock bags (called reclosable bags in the recipe for copyright reasons) for marinade. I just used a plate. I wrote this line prior to cooking, and now I am rethinking it. I do not like to waste plastic bags, but a tight bowl would have been a better option than a plate. I do not think the marinade did as much tenderizing as it could have. 

Completing the no-going-out-required program: brunch was berry waffles, which I can almost always make with ingredients on hand, and Pam noticed we have small potatoes that I can roast with some Old Bay once I heat up the Egg for the porkchops.

Plus, it is a cliché, but last weekend I visited Bolton Orchard and made some ... wait for it ... apple sauce! Pam had recently found an old-school apple corer at a yard sale.
Although the peeling apparatus does not work well, the coring and slicing are fantastic, and made short work of a half-peck of apples. I had put them in the slow-cooker for a few hours last weekend. We enjoyed some hot then, and the rest cold this week.
The end result was scrumptious and -- unlike much of what I have cooked lately -- fairly photogenic. The combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures was just right, and of course it all went very well with Malbec.
Pork Chops & Apple Sauce! (Plus potatoes and Malbec)
Having a Brady Bunch scholar in the house means that my weak imitation of Humphrey Bogart's "pork chops and applesauce" line (though he never said it and I could not remember that he was the guy we all think said it) led quickly to the definitive use of the line by Peter Brady.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Burned Toast Soup

Two weeks ago one of James' colleagues brought him some bread from her brother's bakery - a loaf of sourdough and a loaf of rye. We used most of it to make some sandwiches, but as we were getting down to the tiny pieces and the heels, this recipe showed up on my Facebook feed. Since it called for bacon (which we already had on hand) and sourdough bread it seemed like a good thing to try. It is not difficult to make, although it calls for several rounds of "letting it stand", so it does take more time than one might expect. I also make a small mess with the immersion blender. The soup splattered out of the pot, and onto my clothes, as well as the stove top and kitchen walls. We used both the last bits of the sourdough and the rye, and the flavor of the rye was quite detectable. It was a good recipe for using up the last few pieces of bacon and the bread that was beginning to go stale, but I wouldn't make it again otherwise.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Sauteed Greens

This recipe came from a relatively recent acquisition - Best Simple Suppers for Two. This recipe was a winner on several levels. It was indeed easy to prepare, and I simplified it further by using my cast iron skillet so that I could transfer the sauteed chicken directly into the oven without use of the baking rack the recipe calls for. This really was a tasty meal - one to keep in my bag of tricks for a delicious meal in under 30 minutes.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I made this side dish from Deborah Madison so long ago I can't even remember what our main dish was, but I do know it was not a nueva receta. I think we must have gotten the sweet potato from the last Fairhaven Farmer's Market of the 2017 season. I do remember adding some "pumpkin spice" to this recipe by sprinking on some cinnamon and ground cloves. Madison never lets us down.

Pumpkin Blondies

I picked up The Pumpkin Cookbook about a decade ago at a going-out-of-business sale for an independent bookstore - one I had not heard of before getting the flier for said sale. This cookbook is not for those who are wondering what to do with that can of pumpkin you bought as soon as the leaves starting changing color. Everything in this book calls for an actual pumpkin. I imagine that a person might be able to get away with canned pumpkin for any of the recipes that call for pureeing the pumpkin flesh once it's been separated from the shell and cooked, but such was not the case for pumpkin blondies, which calls for whole chunks of pumpkin.