Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blueberry Pie

How did you celebrate Memorial Day Weekend? My weekend was a croquet-playing, bloody-mary-drinking, poolside-reading, floppy-hat-wearing, guacamole-dipping, bbq-grilling, blueberry-pie-eating kind-of-weekend. 

And it was good.

Blueberry Pie is a summer classic, and this recipe pays due homage. The filling is rich and tart; the crust, and I quote a friend and fellow pie-consumer, "tastes like flaky butter." Give it a try at your next BBQ or this 4th of July! Happy eating, friends :)

Blueberry Pie 

yields one 9-inch round pie

2 cups flour
12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, chilled
2 tablespoons ice water

4 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

For the crust: In a food processors, pulse the butter and flour until it resembles a coarse meal. With the processor on, slowly add the cream, vinegar, and ice water until the dough begins to hold together. Press the dough into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times until smooth. Flatten dough into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling: Toss blueberries with lime juice, sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside.

For the pie: Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside 1/4 of the pie dough. Roll the rest out on a lightly floured surface into an 11" round, then fit it into a 9" pie plate. Transfer filling to pastry bottom and scatter the 3 tablespoons of butter over fruit. Roll the remaining 1/4 of dough out on the lightly floured surface and cut out shapes for the top. Place on top of filling. Brush crust and cut-outs with 1 teaspoon cream. Bake until pastry is deep golden (cover edges of crust with foil if browning too quickly), 60–70 minutes. Set pie aside to cool for several hours before serving.


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Beet Ice Cream with Orange Zest and Poppy Seeds

Eating beets has never been an attractive choice for me until now. I'll be honest: I made this ice cream for the color. That's all natural fuschia, my friends. Earthy and tart, beet ice cream is not your typical after-school special, but it's worth every spoonful (and the poppy seeds add a nice crunch!).

Beet Ice Cream with Orange Zest and Poppy Seeds
adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

yields one generous quart

2 cups milk
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup puréed roasted red beets (two medium-sized beets will get the job done)
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the roasted beets: Preheat oven to 450°F. Wrap the beets in a sheet of foil. Bake until very soft, about 1 hour. Let the beets cool slightly, then peel them while still warm. Cut into chunks and puree through a sieve.

For the ice cream: In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside. In a saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, syrup, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add orange peel. Cook for 4 minutes; stir in slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot milk mixture; whisk until smooth. Then whisk in remaining milk mixture; stir in beets. Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; add poppy seeds; process according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to a storage container and freeze until set, about 4 hours.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Instead of complaining about another Tucson summer, I've decided to be proactive. I'm going to make new flavors of ice cream to get me through these trying times. Let's be real - I'll probably still complain to you anytime it gets above 105, but - hey - at least you get an ice cream recipe every time I do. You can thank Jeni for inspiring me.

I just received Jeni's book in the mail from my Mom! I officially have a major girl crush on Jeni. Her book is delightful. If you don't believe me - the James Beard Award thought so, too. Here's the book description from

“Ice cream perfection in a word: Jeni’s.” –Washington Post
At last, addictive flavors, and a breakthrough method for making creamy, scoopable ice cream at home, from the proprietor of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, whose artisanal scooperies in Ohio are nationally acclaimed.
Now, with her debut cookbook, Jeni Britton Bauer is on a mission to help foodies create perfect ice creams, yogurts, and sorbets—ones that are every bit as perfect as hers—in their own kitchens. Frustrated by icy and crumbly homemade ice cream, Bauer invested in a $50 ice cream maker and proceeded to test and retest recipes until she devised a formula to make creamy, sturdy, lickable ice cream at home. Filled with irresistible color photographs, this delightful cookbook contains 100 of Jeni’s jaw-droppingly delicious signature recipes—from her Goat Cheese with Roasted Cherries to her Queen City Cayenne to her Bourbon with Toasted Buttered Pecans. Fans of easy-to-prepare desserts with star quality will scoop this book up.
How cool is that? 

Oh, it's cool, Jeni. So for my first post, I made Jeni's sweet potato ice cream and added some candied ginger pieces. Smooth, creamy, and rich with sweet potato and molasses, this ice cream is like having Thanksgiving for dessert! Enjoy.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Candied Ginger
adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

yields one generous quart

1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled sweet potato (I used frozen, already cubed potatoes)
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup diced candied ginger pieces

Make sure the ice cream maker has been in the freezer overnight or for at least 10 hours.

In a medium saucepan, combine diced sweet potatoes and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are soft and easily pierced by a knife, 8 to 10 minutes.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.  In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch.  In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese, cinnamon, and salt.

Once potatoes are cooked, transfer to a food processor and puree.  If pieces still remain, return to pan and puree using an immersion blender.  Add heavy cream, sugars, corn syrup, and molasses to potato puree.  Place pan over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a rolling boil until the sugar dissolves, 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and gradually whisk into cream cheese mixture until smooth. Set the bowl in the ice water bath, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.

Once ice cream base is chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Sprinkle a layer of toasted marshmallows on the bottom of a plastic ice cream container.  Lightly spoon a layer of ice cream on top.  Continue to alternate layers of candied ginger pieces and ice cream until the container is full.  Sprinkle a few more marshmallows on top.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Carrot Cake and a Red Balloon

Last week, my good friend Cecilia asked me to paint a mural on her staircase wall. Ever since, I've had five legitimate paid offers to paint people's rooms/nurseries/furniture. I'm FUNemployed as of 10 days ago, so this is sweet, sweet music to my ears. If you hear of a job that involves solar physics, baking, astronomy outreach, mural art, and/or Excel spreadsheets, please do pass it along - I'm your girl. Back to Cecilia's wall...

Project 99 (minus 98) Red
Balloons was launched. The mural is based on the famous Banksy graffiti art of girl with balloon. I gave her long air to look like Cecilia and the cutest little red rain boots.

All the while, I couldn't help but want to rock out to the 80s classic 99 Luftballons (this will now be stuck in your head for the next three days. I'm sorry that I'm not sorry about it).

99 Luftballons

Hast du etwas Zeit für mich
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Denkst du vielleicht g'rad an 
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von 99 Luftballons
Und dass so was von so was kommt...

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

We of course then had to take pictures of ourselves with the girl and help her get her balloon back. It was a great afternoon...

Carrots with leafy tops make me almost as giddy as Cecilia was when I completed her project. There's something happy, wholesome, and genuine about carrots that don't come in plastic bag. These were on sale at the market, so I had the perfect excuse to make a carrot cake.

This carrot cake is moist, dense, and flavorful. And, you know, it's "healthy" because it has a vegetable in it... Never you mind that the recipe is from Paula Deen, the butter queen... 

I've used this recipe to make cupcakes in the past (these carrot cake basket cupcakes) and will continue to use it in the future. I simply shred the carrots in a food processor instead of using a cheese grater and I add pecans to the frosting instead of the cake, but you could easily add pecans, walnuts, raisins... to the batter. Make it your own. This is the kind of cake that quickly becomes a classic staple in your recipe box. Enjoy.

Carrot Cake
Paula Deen

yields two 8-inch round cakes (I made one very tall 8-inch round cake)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour round pans. Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots.

Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Add all ingredients, except nuts, into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer. Stir in the nuts. Spread frosting on top.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jalapeño Beer Cornbread

I have returned from Mexico! Some friends and I headed south of Tucson until we hit the Pacific to get SCUBA open water certified. It was a great trip, and much needed after this semester. We camped on Himalaya Bay. We pitched our tents mere yards from the ocean (In the morning, I'd open the flap to see pelicans flying across the water's surface). We dove and snorkeled in crystal clear water, and encountered amazing sea life: eels, slugs, sting rays, fish, coral, sea cucumbers, crabs, urchins, jellyfish... We watched amazing sunsets. We gathered 'round the campire at night. Suffice it to say, I did not want to come back to landlocked Arizona.

The water really was that blue... I've got a fever in this 100-something-degree weather, and the only prescription is more ocean. I also really, really, really want a fancy underwater camera case that I cannot afford in the foreseeable future. It's a whole other world beneath the surface. A photo could never capture the true wonder and tranquility of swimming at depth, but I wish I could share just a little piece of it with you.

I made this recipe for a going-away-dinner for our dear friend Emily, who is too smart and fancy to hang around Tucson anymore and is headed to Princeton. Emily can be sweet, corny, and spicy (red head - the girl has some sass) and loves beer, so this Jalapeño Beer Cornbread with a Honey Glaze seemed only fitting for my ex-neighbor. I also recently found these nifty cast iron pans at the thrift store for only a few dollars, so this was a good excuse to take them for a test drive.

This cornbread is buttery, sweet, spicy, moist, and beer-y (just roll with it). What more could you ask for in a cornbread? Whole corn kernels, diced jalapeños, and a beer-butter-honey glaze -- Yes, please. The cornbread can be made in the oven or on the grill. If you are afraid of the spice, simply omit the peppers, but in my humble and open-minded opinion that would just be foolish. I used a Hefeweizen, but feel free to use your favorite beer, because you might have to drink the rest of it while the cornbread is cooking. Darn. This recipe is sure to reappear in my kitchen this summer. I hope you find it as delicious and satisfying.

Jalapeño Beer Cornbread
adapted from Huffpost Living (Canada)

yields 1 10-inch round pan of cornbread

3 ears grilled corn kernels, or 1 cup of canned corn
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup of your favorite beer
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, membrane removed, and finely diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/4. cup honey
1/4 cup of your favorite beer

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together eggs, milk, beer, jalapeños, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Add 1 cup of corn and enough extra beer (if necessary) to moisten batter.

Melt butter and coat entire inside of pan. Pour in batter.

Place pan in oven for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cornbread from oven and let cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold cornbread from pan. Brush all over with glaze. Serve.


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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Unicorn Rainbow Cupcakes

These rainbow cupcakes (click HERE for recipe or see below) with glitter unicorn cupcake toppers celebrated my friend Ingrid's birthday. Thanks for being wonderful and fierce, Ingrid! Remember, a unicorn is just a horse with a birthday party hat on...

Rainbow Cupcakes (in six easy steps)

1. Make a WHITE cake mix, and preheat oven accordingly. I KNOW, I KNOW! I am usually religiously against cake mixes but you want a runny, wet batter. Plus these cupcakes look labor intensive, even though they aren't at all, so your friends will already be impressed. Stop over achieving.

2. Divide batter equally into bowls and add food coloring for each color. I used six colors from Ateco food gels.

3. Place liners in cupcake tray and spoon 1 teaspoon of each color in the center of the cup. The cake cups should be about 1/2 full.

4. Bake according to mix (I'm cringing, too. It's okay.) instructions.

5. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

6. Enjoy, and show off your colors!

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I never, ever have to take another planetary science class. ever. Celebration Pie.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

yields one 9" pie with top and bottom crusts.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons ice cold water

2 cups fresh, diced strawberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coarse, sanding sugar

For the crust: In a food processors, pulse the butter, flour, and salt until it resembles a coarse meal. With the processor on, slowly add the ice water and vinegar until the dough begins to hold together. Press the dough into a rough ball, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times until smooth. Divide dough into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other, and flatten each slightly to make a flat disk. Wrap disks individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the filling: Toss all filling ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

For the pie: Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll the larger disk of dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 11" round, then fit it into a 9" glass pie plate. Transfer filling to pastry bottom. Scatter the 3 tablespoons of butter in small pieces over the fruit filling. Roll the remaining disk of dough out on the lightly floured surface into a 10" round, then cover the pie, fold edges of dough under, and crimp edges. Brush top crust with milk and melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until pastry is deep golden (cover edges of crust with foil if browning too quickly), 60–70 minutes. Set pie aside to cool for several hours before serving.

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