Friday, September 28, 2012

Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust Recipe--Illustrated!

For a little over a week now this URL to "Another Kitchen Blog" kept coming up as a referring site in my blog stats. But I couldn't figure out why! (The English translation had not yet been added). Of course I loved the adorable pie crust recipe illustration, but my eyes got lost amidst the Italian words, and it took me a few visits until I finally spotted a few familiar English ones--"nothing in the house". I sent the link to my friend Marina for translation. She replied with the answer:

"I have started to illustrate the recipes I try. Here is one from Nothing in the House, (which, if you're looking for tarts and pies, is an excellent find.)" Then she illustrates your simple crust recipe.
Amazing! The Nothing-in-the-House pie crust recipe, now in Italian--and illustrated! I just love the style--the handwritten European script, the little salt shaker, the bottle of apple cider vinegar, the finished heaping pie--I wish I could hang a print of it in my kitchen! I'm so flattered that Anna chose to illustrate my recipe and I can't wait to see more as she posts them. In the meantime check out this one for... forgive my Italian... leek croquettes?!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Tart


The best meals are the communal ones. When friends and family crowd the kitchen, taking turns stirring the pot, sampling the dishes and adding just a touch of pepper or a pinch of salt, singing along to the stereo together (or to a live serenade?) while you roll crusts and whip cream. Though the deliciousness of those crab cakes we made on our "cousins" Carolina beach trip, or that homemade pizza baked in a friends' backyard wood-fired oven, or my dad's Christmas Eve potato-leek soup, help trigger the memory, it's the collective energy-- the communal process, accomplishment and then enjoyment of the whole thing that make for the most memorable eating experiences. They're something I seek out, and for me are an important part of socializing, wooing, and quality family time.

Though there have been so so many special ones, some that come to mind are my friend Joe's birthday party in West Virginia last fall, a cookout 'n' honky-tonk show at the Dollhouse this spring, all of our Portland, Maine Thanksgivings, and almost every NELP dinner. Another one to add to the list, was a very magical communal dinner for which I made this whole what plum crumble tart (and also the tomato-ricotta galette! Which is NOT a pizza).



This communal dinner was hosted by the incredibly wonderful, totally hilarious, creative genius and all-around wonder gal Morgan Hungerford West! Among many other projects that I try but can't totally keep up with, Morgan writes Panda Head blog, and publishes the corresponding magazine. For the upcoming fall issue, she and her Panda Head Mag partners put together a communal dinner for some of the magazine friends and contributors. I can't say TOO much because you'll want to see the full photographic and written treatment in the mag, but I will say that it took place at a rustic local restaurant that we've been wanting to go to (during off-hours) with a long farm table, that there were many many large jars of various types of homemade pickles, homebrew that didn't even taste like homebrew (more like a delicious IPA!), and an incredible spread of GOOD FOOD. And I mean it that way--perfectly prepared homemade food brought by all of the guests and hosts, nothing too fancy or showy, just really really well-done delicious dishes.

There were also lovely place settings--including a communal reading and little buttonhole sewn napkins, good records (the DJing was also communal), and really cool people who were excellent conversationalists! (I think we were sitting amongst a group of  butchers, bakers, and candlestick maker--LITERALLY?). So maybe I said too much. But hopefully that leaves you wanting more, and you can find it in Panda Head Magazine's Issue 7. In the meantime, here's something I can tell you more about--that plum tart.

Whole Wheat Plum Crumble Tart
Adapted from The Kitchn, tart crust from Dorie Greenspan

Makes a 9-inch tart, though an 11-inch tart is pictured

Ingredients  
For the crust:  
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. salt  
9 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cold & cubed  
1 egg yolk

For the crumble:
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
1 lb. plums, pitted and sliced into halves or quarters, depending on size
1 Tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions
For the crust:  
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to form together.

2. Roll out the dough and pat it into your greased and floured tart pan. Freeze the tart shell for about 30 minutes while you assemble the rest of the tart. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
 
3. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it tightly over the tart shell. Partially bake it (no need for pie weights) until golden in color, approximately 20-25 minutes. Remove the foil, gently pushing down any part of the crust that has puffed, and bake for 3-5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the tart crumble & filling.

For the crumble & filing:
1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flours, sugars, cinnamon & salt. Stir in the melted butter and form small clumps with your hands. 

2. Toss together the plums, 1 Tblsp. sugar and 1 tsp. lemon zest and arrange over the bottom of the crust. Scatter the crumble on top of the plums, leaving some of the plums visible (you want to see that deep purple color!)

3. Bake about 40-50 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the filling begins to bubble. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.


Above you can see the plum tart in its natural habitat a.k.a. the Panda Head communal dinner dessert table, though I snapped this pic before an incredible wild blueberry pie appeared out of nowhere! And just so the tart isn't totally overshadowed by its surroundings, you should know that it is a really wonderful dessert for the end of plum season--the whole wheat crumble adds a nice texture and heartiness without being overly heavy (or hippie) and provides a sweet balance to the tart plums. This will definitely be a standby of the season for me, hopefully at many communal dinners to come.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nothing-in-the-House Fall Pie CSA!


Well, I'll be. In all the busy-ness here at the end of summer, starting Nothing-in-the-House Baking Co., selling at the DC Meet Market and working on various other projects, I somehow neglected to mention here in this space that the Nothing-in-the-House Fall Pie CSA (CSA standing for "community supported agriculture," though this is really "community supported pie") has launched! We had our first pick-up on Labor Day weekend and are gearing up for the second round this Sunday!

The way it works is that members sign-up for a three month fall "share" or half share, and then receive one or two fresh, local, seasonal, handmade pie(s) a month! They can pick-up or have them delivered for an extra cost. So far it has been WONDERFUL. I've really liked dreaming up pies based on what's fresh at the market, and I also love knowing who I'm baking for and having that personal connection--no matter what I end up pursuing in the baking business, I think I will always retain that homebaker's motivation. It's also been really heartening to have friends support this project in words or promotion or CSA membership--in the true sense of a "CSA" it's turned out to be a genuine community supported venture.

If you'd like to be a part of that community or perhaps more importantly, bring home a fresh pie with you each month, don't worry--there's still time to join! You can get in on the full season if you sign up by this Friday, September 21st and after that, pro-rated memberships will be available for October and November. You can find all the information here or shoot me an email at nothinginthehousepie at gmail dot com.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Berry Tartlets

Photo by Stephanie Breijo for BYT

As the weather turns to mild and the evening falls a little bit earlier, my mind wanders to the joys of fall...all sweaters and boots, Brit folk and bonfires, apple butter and pumpkin pie. But for that Indian Summer that's bound to come before the true cold sets in, here's one last reminder of those dog days we've just left behind. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, berries are pretty much gone from the farmers' markets, but if you're lucky, you might be able to find a few stragglers of the fall crop at nearby pick-your-own farms. If not, though, stash this away in your recipe box until next year.

Though I've made several variations of these berry tarts and tartlets this summer, for markets and birthdays and going-aways, these particular treats were baked for that BYT Urban Picnic photo shoot back in August. This version, which is adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe and uses Dorie Greenspan's tart crust, is probably the most simple of the pastry cream (crème?)-'n'-berry pairings, calling for relatively inexpensive, staple ingredients. You can use any combination of seasonal berry and even throw in some other fruits if you like--kiwi, for instance, would be quite nice.

Berry Tartlets
Filling adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Makes 6, 4-inch tartlets

Ingredients
For the crust:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
9 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 egg yolk

For the filling:
3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
1 Tblsp. flour
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2/3 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. raspberries & blackberries (you can really use any type of seasonal berry!)
confectioner's sugar (optional)

Directions
For the crust:
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to form together.

2. Roll out the dough and pat it into your greased and floured tart pans. Freeze the tart shells for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Bake the tart shells until they are golden in color, approximately 20-25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the tart filling.

For the filling:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, lemon zest, and egg yolks until incorporated. The mixture will be thick and pale yellow in color.

2. In a saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. While continuing to stir, pour half of the milk into the sugar mixture until combined. Then pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and place over medium-low heat. Whisking constantly, cook the mixture until it becomes thick and begins to bubble, 1-2 minutes. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

3. Divide the pastry cream evenly into the 6 tartlet shells. Arrange the berries on top and dust with confectioner's sugar, if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


This shot had us driving out to one of DC's most beautiful spots--the Tidal Basin--frequented by tourists and neglected by locals. As we set up our picnic across the water from the Jefferson Memorial, passersby seemed confused by our focused attention on our food spread and disregard for the monuments. With fall setting in, the Tidal Basin would still be a lovely spot for a picnic--berry tarts or not--and you won't have to deal with the crowds of summer, though you may encounter a few  Canadian geese, looking for a snack on their journey South.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pie Sign in Portland


A retro pie sign in Portland, Oregon, spotted by my friend Angela on her way to work!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Savory Heirloom Tomato-Ricotta Galette


Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, what'd life be without homegrown tomatoes? Only two things that money can't buy--that's true love and homegrown tomatoes. Purty true. Though I unfortunately didn't grow any of my own this summer, I'm lucky to have friends who did and are willing to share. Just this past weekend at Rockbridge old-time festival, everyone seemed to have brought the last of their summer tomato bounty to share with other friends and fiddlers. Late Friday night I wandered over to the Jubal's Kin camp and was promptly handed a "hobo bruchetta"-- homegrown tomatoes and fresh mozarella wrapped in a tortilla, which essentially served as a mere vehicle for the goods inside. Then on Saturday morning, as the skillet was heating up for breakfast, my friend (and a fantastic chef) Sebastiaan sliced up some meaty red 'maters he'd grown, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and basil, drizzled them with oil and put them out on the picnic table. They were gone in seconds. Throughout the weekend we had them in eggs and stews, sammiches and scrambles. A last hurrah of summer, for as Guy says, "winter without 'em's a culinary bummer."

I've made this heirloom tomato-ricotta galette a few times this tomato season. The first was for a delicious dinner with Brent, which also included bacon-wrapped scallops with spicy mayo, a beet and greens salad, and a bottle of wine. This time, I made it for an even more delicious communal dinner, at a magical candlelit undisclosed location with undisclosed people for undisclosed reasons. I promise to tell you more soon.

But for now, what you need to know is that, though any tomato will do, this galette is the best when made with those beautifully colored heirloom tomatoes (again with the tri-colored galette!), whether homegrown by you or someone else. I used Green Zebra, Early Girl, and Yellow Valencia tomatoes from my local co-op. The tart capitalizes on the winning combination of the classic Harriet the Spy-approved tomato sandwich, but upgrades the cheese and gives it a pastry crust, which pretty much hits it out of summer's ballpark.



Savory Heirloom Tomato-Ricotta Galette
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved and leaving out the sugar
1 c. whole-milk ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 c. sliced heirloom tomatoes, variegated colors preferable!
2 Tblsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions but leaving out the sugar. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out into a 10-11 inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Put the rolled crust and parchment on a cookie sheet and return it to the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cheeses, eggs, and chopped basil. Remove crust from the fridge and brush with olive oil. 

3. Evenly spread the filling over the crust, leaving a 1-inch edge. Place the sliced tomatoes on top of the filling and fold the crust over the tomatoes. Brush the edge crust with olive oil and sprinkle the entire galette with salt and pepper.

4. Bake 35-45 minutes or until tomatoes are just dry. Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

One detail of the communal dinner I can share, is that immediately after dinner was served, before I had even sat down from the buffet table, someone called out to the crowd, "WHO MADE THIS PIZZA?!" Repeating themselves a few times after no one answered. "It's not a pizza," I mumbled under my breath, after realizing that they were talking about the galette. He kept repeating it, so I mustered up the courage to repeat myself louder... "It's not a pizza!" I exclaimed, in half-jest, knowing full well the thing is essentially 'za's kin. "Well whatever it is," he said,  "it's delicious!"

Monday, September 03, 2012

Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette


Unusually colored vegetables can be a bit of a disappointment. When I worked on a farm in Vermont, I brought home a bushel full of those purple and Dragon's Tongue "green" beans and planned what I thought would be a variegated bean salad, only to find that they turn to regular ol' green beans once cooked.  Purple "tie-dye" carrots similarly lose their color once heat is applied. Not so, though, with purple/blue potatoes. Their hue persists, even intensifies, when sautéed or baked. We had a lot of them growing up--my Indiana potato farmer uncle would bring them, usually roasted, to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, adding a colorful novelty to an otherwise beige meal.

A few weeks ago I had coffee with Stephanie Breijo, the Associate Editor and talented photographer (she took all of these beauteous photos) of Brightest Young Things and she asked if I was interested in providing baked goods for and collaborating on a DC Urban Picnic Guide. With eating en plein air being one of my favorite ways to pass the time, I agreed.

In planning the menu, I needed portable, picnic-conducive items that would be both delicious and photogenic. I also definitely wanted to include a substantial savory tart, for a real picnic ain't just sweets. Re-enter then the purple potato, with its royal purple tint, reminding me of one of my favorite quotes in The Wicker Man, "Some things in their natural state have the most VIVID colors." Rosemary and caramelized onions are natural 'tater companions and my cheesemonger housemate Mary recommended the addition of goat cheese, for complementary flavor and color. Then I threw in a few other potato varieties for a tri-color potato, caramelized onion, goat cheese and rosemary savory galette.


Tri-color Potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese & Rosemary Galette
With guidance from Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House Pie Crust, halved and leaving out the sugar
1 medium onion, sliced
6-8 small purple, red, and yellow potatoes
2 oz. goat cheese
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, diced
2 Tblsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions but leaving out the sugar. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out into a 10-11 inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Put the rolled crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling. 

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add 1 Tblsp. olive oil and sliced onions to a cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Stir to coat onions with olive oil. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Sprinkle onions with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 25-30 more minutes until onions are caramelized.

3. While the onions are cooking, thinly slice the potatoes in rounds. Place the rounds on paper towels to let them dry slightly.

4. Remove rolled crust from the fridge and brush the bottom with 1/2 Tblsp. olive oil. Place the potato slices in concentric circles over the crust, leaving a 1-inch edge and scatter the caramelized onion slices on top. Sprinkle the goat cheese and rosemary evenly over the potatoes and onions. Fold the edge of the crust over the top of the filling and seal. Drizzle remaining 1/2 Tblsp. of olive oil over the entire tart and sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper over top. 

5. Bake tart for 35-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown and potatoes are cooked through and almost crispy. Enjoy on a woodland picnic or 'round your kitchen table.


The day of the photoshoot had us trekking to DC's most beautiful and romantique spots--Malcolm X Park, where I assembled for protests in college and have since visited for Sunday Times reading and well, picnics; the Tidal Basin, just across the Potomac from the Jefferson Monument; and the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden. This galette was shot in Rock Creek Park, one of my favorite District locations (and closest to my home) with woods, fields, and trails perfect for running & biking, long walks, experimental sound installations among the ruins of the capitol building (it happened and it was incredible), and yes, snacking. For after we were done snapping these photos, we turned this galette into lunch.

P.S. I said it once, and I'll say it again--thanks to Stephanie Breijo for the amazing photos! Check out more of her work here.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Kentucky Lemon Chess Pie


Nothin' too fancy here, after all it is just pie. jes' pie. chess pie. See what I did there? That little abbreviation and perhaps mishearing is one of the many cited stories for how chess pie-- a very unassuming dessert of eggs, butter, sugar, flour and lemon or vinegar--got its name. Another guess is that the monniker came from "chest pie," (pronounced in a Southern accent) as in a pie that kept well in a chest or cupboard. I've also heard that it was a treat served in chess houses, though to me that sounds a little too literal to be likely. Whatever the story though, chess pie originated from England, and traveled across the pond, landing in the colonies and dispersing to New England and the South. It's related to vinegar pie, mock lemon pie, or Jefferson Davis pie, and when vinegar is substituted for lemon, it's a true Nothing-in-the-House pie, made with cheap, readily available ingredients. Don't be deceived though, its economy in no way compromises its deliciousness.

I got this recipe for a Kentucky lemon chess pie from the New York Times Heritage Cookbook, which features traditional recipes organized by region and specific to each state. It's just a tad fancier than a straight chess pie, but is still very simple. The cornmeal adds a little substance to the filling and the lemon zest and juice make it taste almost like the lemon bars familiar to my Midwest upbringing. Once baked, the top of the pie should form a crust, with the oozy lemony filling lying below.

 
Kentucky Lemon Chess Pie
Adapted from the New York Times Heritage Cookbook by Jean Hewitt

Ingredients
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 Tblsp. yellow corn meal
3 eggs
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the rolled and fitted crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer. Then beat in the cornmeal.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and salt until well combined. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top of the filling forms a crust and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Serve with blackberries and whipped cream.


I made this lemon chess pie last Saturday, which also marked the day that the pickles we made at our pickling party were ready for the eatin'! So on Sunday morning (err, afternoon?) after a late Saturday night, we took to brunch prep, making as many items with our pickles as we could (none in the chess pie, though, don't worry). My friend Lars made amazing fried chicken that was brined in pickle juice, and Luigia mixed up bloody marys also spiked with pickle juice as well as dilly beans, pickles okra, and cucumber spears. I cooked some eggs, and we took the porch for a leisurely meal on a rainy afternoon. Nothin' too fancy-- chess brunch.