Friday, November 3, 2017

Quest for Healthy, Light and Flaky Pie Crust for Raspberry Pie.

One of my favorite restaurants will close at the end of this year due to the owner's retirement.

Along with my daughter, we have gone there as many times as we could which was 5 times since we learned of the pending closure.

This owner/operator couple has a lot of talent in the fresh food arena.

The husband creates stunningly tasty sauced entrees which has brought him a devoted following over the past 39 years.

The wife has faithfully made fresh from scratch lovely desserts for years and years.

I really wanted her raspberry pie recipe before the 12-31-17 closure.

I got it from her.  Today I am making a version of it.

Out of respect for this couple, I am not revealing their recipe.

And as is usual, I am changing it up with healthier ingredients.

I have made holiday pies plus a few others over the years.  I'm not a pro at making pies, but I can get the job done.

Now I am in search of my favorite pie crust recipe.  I've pinned a great number of them.

I prefer staying away from hydrogenated vegetable shortening.  My daughter suggested I look for shortening that is healthier. 

I found what I was looking for in the health food section of the grocery store.

It's Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening and it is non-hydrogenated.

I've even made crusts with only butter and others with lard.  I think they were all good, but not as light and flaky as I would have liked.   Probably was a lack of understanding and technique.

I have an ally in my husband who brought me 4 packs of fresh raspberries, a bag of Bob's Red Mill Unbleached White Fine Pastry Flour and a package of unsalted butter.

The crust recipe has a lot of sugar.  No wonder I like it.  I hope to post pictures and other pie crust experiments in the future.

I used an old fashioned pastry cutter to cut the flour into the butter and shortening to obtain pea size pieces. also added salt and sugar.  Then ice water at the end and mixed it as little as possible.

My current experiment is in the fridge getting cold for the next step.

Put rack on bottom of oven.

Preheated oven to 500 degrees.

Assemble the pie.

 Fresh raspberry pie ingredients in Emile Henry clay (glazed) pie dish.

Turn the temperature down to 425 degrees.

Put pie in the oven and bake 25 minutes.  Covered the rim with a silicone ring.

Rotate the pie, reduce temp to 375 degrees and bake another 30 minutes until deep golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack to room temp. before serving.


End result was that the pie crust was too stiff.  Not light and flaky.  I don't know if the recipe with the altered ingredients was the problem or the high starting temperature.  Maybe both, so the experiment continues.

Next experiment will be this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma, Farmer's Market cookbook.  The picture looks so flaky and beautiful.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fig Pizza

This is an amazing recipe.  My favorite.  There are still children in my household who refuse to try it.  It's okay...leaves more for me.

Takes awhile to prepare so start early in the day.

A closer photo:

For starters, I had lunch out with a girlfriend last week and had the best pizza crust I've ever had.  

That's saying something.  I have made a LOT of home made pizza over the years plus dined out on pizza.  I rarely meet a pizza I don't like.

I set out to create a pizza crust like that one.  Not too thick or dark or heavy.  It was thin and slightly chewy.

Thin Chewy Pizza Crust 

Started with a pizza crust recipe from "Gourmet" and adapted to my taste.
Makes two 12 inch pizzas.  

2+1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 + 1/2 cups 115 degree water
2 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 + 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all purpose white flour (Wheat Montana)
3 teaspoons avocado oil  (olive oil would work too)

Combine, yeast, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 cup warm water and let stand for 5 minutes to proof yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, oil, proofed yeast.  Mix together.  It will be soft and sticky.

Knead by hand, adding flour to my fingers as needed to keep it from sticking.  About 7 to 9 minutes of kneading should do it.

Let it raise for an hour or more, covered.

Roll out into two 12 inch rounds and let raise about a half hour to an hour.

I put them on a clay pizza stone.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes.  Oven was preheated.

Pull out of oven and add toppings.  See below.

Bake another 6 to 8 minutes with toppings.  Serve hot.


A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an idea for an unusual pizza.  I liked it and wanted to try it with this new crust idea.

 Toppings for Fig Pizza

Started with a Taste of Home recipe and adapted it to my own taste.

Do ahead all these steps so ingredients are ready to quickly add to precooked crust:

Mix first 3 ingredients together and spread over crust
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon oil

Saute one Walla Walla Sweet Onion in one tablespoon oil
add 2 cloves, minced garlic at end of cooking and cook another 2 minutes 

Chop 9 ounces dried figs in small pieces

Thin slice and chop 2 cups of cooked ham

2/3 cup pine nuts
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese

Add the ingredients to the pizza in the order given.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spanish Rice from Coaching Partner Kristen

Today I had a delightful coaching partner call with my associate, Kristen.

Our coaching session evolved into talking about the challenge of keeping everyone fed.

This is a quick and easy recipe she makes about once a week and her children and husband love it.

So I am hoping this will be an easy go-to recipe for our household too.

I am making it right now for tomorrow night's dinner to be served with coleslaw and refried beans if I need to stretch it for guests.

One pound ground beef, cooked with
One chopped onion,
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chili powder

Top with

1 cup white rice, cooked (about 2 cups cooked)
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
grated cheese (about 1.5 cups)

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Or if baking directly from the fridge, 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

First layer is the meat with onions, garlic and chili powder added.  
I used ground sausage instead. I also substituted chipotle chilies which was too spicy.

Second Layer is 2 cups of cooked rice.

Third layer is one 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes.

Fourth layer is about 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

This is ready for tomorrow night's supper.  It's going in the fridge at this point.

Next day update:  I thought this tasted great.  The kiddos weren't too keen. 
I liked it even better a day later.

Gluten Free Apple Pies

My uncle eats gluten free.  So I made these for his birthday.

I made it home  from the store with gluten free bread mix instead of flour so I improvised rather than go back to the store.  He said they were good.

I have misplaced the recipe and anyway, as I said, I improvised and can't remember what I did.

Even so, I like how they turned out.

I will make them again sometime and put new photos and the recipe.

My uncle would love it if I make more for him.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jalepeno Chili Cornbread Stuffing Waffles

My dear friend Patty and her husband came for dinner tonight.

This is her guest post.

She showed me this photo she had taken of Thanksgiving left overs.

I will be trying this recipe out.  It sounds wonderful.

She made cornbread stuffing with jalepenos for Thanksgiving and the leftovers became waffles with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy on top.

She sent the recipe and today it arrived.  It was adapted from a recipe from

Patty's Cornbread Stuffing with Chilies and Jalepenos

1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1  Eight ounce package Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing
1/4 pound sage Jimmy Dean's Sausage
1 4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Jalepeno Peppers (she did not say how many)
craisins (she did not say how much)

1.  Heat oven to 350
2.  Melt butter, add onion and celery.  Cook to tender, crisp.  Remove from heat
3.  Add broth, stuffing, cooked sausage, chilies, jalepenos, craisins and cilantro.
4.  Mix lightly.  Spoon into greased 2 quart casserole.  Cover the casserole.
 5.  Bake for 30 minutes until mixture is hot.

Sour Dough Pizza Crust

Y'all know by now that I'm enjoying sourdough in every way I can think of.

Over the past few days I made 4 batches of sourdough cinnamon rolls.  That might have started a new family tradition.  They were spectacular.

Now I have 2/3 cup of left over sourdough starter and company coming for dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday.

He suggested home made pizza.  I have been making pizza dough for years and years.  Probably over 30 years as I was given a home made pizza dough recipe by a relative for my wedding shower.

Here is that original recipe.  I used it as the basis for this new one today.

Homemade Pizza Dough
From Cheryl Ross

4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 1/3 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt

Knead 10 minutes.  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 2 hours.

Makes enough for 2 twelve inch pizzas.

Sprinkle pan with corn meal prior to placing dough on baking pan.

Bake 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.

Put pizza toppings on and bake for a few more minutes to melt cheese.

Sourdough Pizza Crust

4 cups all purpose white flour, I use Wheat Montana brand
2/3 cup proofed sourdough
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
1 3/4 cup water about 125 degrees.
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Herbs

Knead in Bosch mixer for 8 minutes.

Let sit for a couple hours.

Roll out on clay baking stone.

Since my baking stone is well seasoned I don't use cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking.

This dough was quite soft and sticky so I rolled it out with my unique dough roller from Pampered Chef.  You can see it in one of the pictures.

Then I let it raise in a warmish oven for 1 3/4 hours.

Take pizza stone with dough on it out of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a fork, poke the pizza dough in several places so it does not puff up too much.

The first time I did this, it made a pocket bread because it puffed up so much.  Guess that would be a fun idea for a future batch.

Put in preheated oven and bake for 17 minutes.

Remove from oven, add toppings.  I used Ragu Pizza sauce, grated cheddar, grated Mozzarella, precooked sausage and pepperoni.

Return to oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sour Dough Cinnamon Rolls

My friend Gretchen, shared her sourdough starter about a year and half ago.

Since then I've made many recipes with it and have had a very fun time experimenting.  Mostly I make sourdough pancakes or dinner rolls (see a Feb. 2016 about that).

Today is the first time I have ever made sourdough cinnamon rolls and it was a success.

They came out of the oven just as dinner was going in the oven tonight, so we ate cinnamon rolls and drank milk before supper.  Is it any wonder we didn't have much appetite for anything else?

Here are the steps and the recipe is at the end.

Proof the sourdough twice.  Here it is starting it's second proofing.   Mix equal parts sourdough starter, white flour and water.  I use Wheat Montana White Flour and Strong Alkaline water from our water machine.

I left it sitting on the cupboard overnight under a towel.

Next morning this is what it looked like.  I used one cup in the pancake batter.

I put one cup of this starter in the fridge for future use and there was still a half cup left over so I fed it again in equal parts and let it sit another day.  This would be the third proofing.

On my lunch break today I mixed up the dough for cinnamon rolls.  The steps are shown here:

Rolled out dough on the roul'pat.

Spread with one cube of soft butter

Sprinkle generously with ground cinnamon.  This was about 4 Tablespoons.

 Spread about one cup loosely packed brown sugar over everything.

 Then roll it up.

Using dental floss, cut sections.

Place the rolls loosely in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Let raise for 4 hours in a warm place.  I placed a towel over the top.  I had turned the oven on for lunch and our Large Le Cruset Soup Pot sits on the burner that has the oven vent.  So it was warm and retains heat.  That was the perfect warm spot for this.

Four hours later...perfectly raised.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 13 minutes.  And this is what it looked like:

Flip it out on a tray and this is the result.  It's still warm and we really did eat dessert before dinner tonight.

Here is the recipe I used.  I adapted another recipe I had in my file:

In the Bosch bread mixer fitted with dough hook, put in the wet ingredients:

1/2 cup room temp whole milk
1 cup sourdough starter, proofed at least twice
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs, room temp

Blend in 

1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten

Then add
2.5 cups all purpose white flour, I use Wheat Montana 

Add just a little more flour (12-27-2016 I added 6 tablespoons) if needed to pull it together.  The dough should still be soft and sort of sticky.

Roll out onto a baking mat such as the Demarle Roul'pat

And spread on

One cube softened butter
3 or 4 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar.

Roll up, cut pieces with dental floss and place in a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish.

Raise 4 hours in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.

Turn out onto a tray and be sure and taste them while warm.

For the next time I'm going to do this the way my mother does. 

These are her words:

 To make them really gooey put 1 cube melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar and more cinnamon in the bottom of the pan and mix well before adding the cinnamon rolls.

This is the photo of the cinnamon rolls tipped upside down when I used my mother's recipe on 12-25-16.