sweets

Raspberry Opera Cake

HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

Serves: 6 to 8 people
Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

Almond Joconde

3 eggs, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
115 grams almond meal
28 grams flour

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt (a pinch!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
¾ cup raspberry jam

Dark Chocolate Ganache

12oz. dark bakers chocolate
12oz. heavy cream

Meringue Topping

½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

*Fresh Raspberries for topping

 

Almond Joconde Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


Raspberry Buttercream Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


Chocolate Ganache Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


Cake Assembly Steps

ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


Meringue Topping Steps

ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

sweets

Almond Paste-Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Custard (Butterkaka!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bread mystifies me. Something always goes wrong, whether it’s the rising or the rolling or the texture, it has taken me years to perfect. Today however, my friends, I have done it. It all started when I came across this recipe from the blog Call Me Cupcake, where cinnamon rolls got the ultimate upgrade with almond paste and ALSO vanilla pastry cream. As if cinnamon rolls weren’t incredible enough, they have now become the most decadent treat that goes beyond your morning pastry and coffee.

This is the perfect baking project for a Saturday morning, because keep in mind that it takes a super long time from start to finish. But I always love taking on big projects on an otherwise slow day; I get to make a cup of tea, set up some Netflix, and get into the baking zone! I realize that at this point it’s Tuesday which may feel like a bit of a bummer, but now you have something to look forward to for the weekend to come! This recipe works in steps, with rising time in between them, so it gives you some free time for making the filling and the pastry cream, plus some time to put your feet up and enjoy a cup of coffee and an episode of The Office. I don’t know about you but this sounds like my dream Saturday morning.

So, wherever you are on this Tuesday, hang in there a little longer and dream of these fancy rolls to come. Love, D.

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Makes: 10-12 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2.5 hrs
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~3.5 hours

Dough Ingredients

1 package (¼ oz.) dry yeast
1 cup whole milk
5 tbs salted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Scant ½ tsp ground cardamom
2¾ to 3 cups all purpose flour

Dough Steps

1. Add the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer (or large glass bowl). Heat the milk in a small saucepan to approximately 98ºF (be careful not to overheat because it will kill the yeast!), and add to the stand mixer and mix to combine.

2. Add butter, sugar, cardamom, and the first 2¾ cups of flour, and mix with the dough hook attachment or with your hands. At this point you can add the rest of the flour if your dough is too sticky, I myself used the full three cups but it may vary! Knead this dough with your mixer for about 15 minutes (20 by hand), until it has become soft and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place, like under kitchen lights or in an off oven, for between 60 and 90 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile, you can make the custard and almond fillings.

Custard Ingredients

1/3 cup + 1½ tbs heavy cream
3 tbs milk
½ vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 large egg yolk
1½ tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs cornstarch

Custard Steps

1. Add the milk and the cream to a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Scrape the seeds out of the half of the vanilla bean and add the seeds plus the scraped bean into the milk mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture is steaming and hot, but not boiling.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture is light yellow. Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture first, whisking constantly to temper without cooking the eggs. You can then add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking until fully combined. Remove and discard the vanilla bean at this point.

3. Return this mixture to the saucepan and turn the stove on to low heat. Stir this mixture constantly until it becomes thick, but do not let it boil!

4. Pour this mixture into a small bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface as it cools, to prevent a skin forming. Set aside. I know this looks like a small amount of custard, but I promise it will be enough, only a little goes into each bun anyway!

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Almond- Cinnamon Filling

1/3 cup almond paste
4 tbs softened butter
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs water (if needed)
1 tbs brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Filling Steps

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond paste, softened butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. Mix to combine. If the mixture looks dry or difficult to spread, add water here until it can be spread over rolled out dough. Set aside.

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Additional Assembly Ingredients

1 egg, beaten
Demerara or Pearl sugar, for sprinkling

Assembly Steps

1. Roll your dough out into a 10 in. x 20 in. rectangle. Spread an even, thin layer of your almond filling over the whole thing. Roll the dough tightly from one long side to the other, so that you end up with a roughly 20 inch long roll.

2. Cut this roll into 10-12 slices, and place in your desired baking dish, lined with parchment paper or generously greased with butter. Today, I used a large cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper. At this point, cover the baking dish with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for another 45 minutes or so, until the buns have grown in size.

3. Preheat the oven to 390ºF (I realize this is a random temperature, but the recipe was adapted from celsius so this was the best match!).

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4. Poke a hole in the center of each bun using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon, and pipe a blob of custard into each one.

5. Brush the top of each roll with the beaten egg, being careful to avoid the custard, and sprinkle each with some sugar.

6. Bake the rolls on the bottom rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Be sure to check often because they brown quickly, and if they look like they’re browning too much before the cooking is done, cover the tops with aluminum foil to keep from burning.

7. Remove from the oven and let cool fully before reheating to eat. Best with a fresh cup of coffee!

xoxoxoxoxD

 

savories

Penne alla Vodka

Whose idea was it to add vodka to tomato sauce? I guess if you’re thinking rationally, they were already adding wine to tomato sauces, so vodka probably isn’t a far throw? But wow I’m so glad someone did though, because there’s something about it that’s just so good. And while up until now I let my favorite restaurants do the work for me, this week’s snow day seemed like the perfect day to test some out myself. I basically followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and added little touches here and there, who needs restaurants when you can do things yourself, am I right??

Once again these weeks seem to be years long, while simultaneously flying by, is that a thing? I feel like I could fit three weeks into one Monday through Friday, but at the same time we’re almost to April already? Time is so odd. Although I will say I am overjoyed at the idea of no more snow for now. Bring on the spring air (and the spring produce, hello rhubarb!!!), I think we all could use a break from the cold. Until then however, serve yourself up a bowl of this classic pasta, with a bit of a spicy kick to clear away the last winter stuffy nose and to give some pep to your step. 

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The view from my Florence apartment; I can’t believe I ever came home!!

I’ve been in a very Italian mood lately, having studied abroad in Florence two years ago, I never really felt like I fully came back, and as silly as it is to say, there’s some part of me that’s definitely still there, and I’ll get hit with a random wave of homesickness for a place that I only lived for four months, but had such an impact on my life. I’m now slowly but surely practicing my Italian and somehow find myself in possession of both a Bialetti Moka Express espresso pot (which I now love more than anything), and a brand new pasta maker that I’m sure you’ll all be seeing a lot of in the near future. Basically what I’m saying is I’m preparing for the day that I can pick up and move back to Italy and never look back, okay? Now that we’re all on the same page here, let’s get to some cooking!

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Makes: 6-8 dinner portions
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45-60 minutes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you’re feeling brave)
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (32oz.) crushed tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes)
2 16oz. boxes Penne Rigate pasta
½ cup heavy cream
Fresh basil (to garnish), *I didn’t have any on hand so I threw in ½ tsp of dried basil, but found that it didn’t really add much to the dish so I’m not including it here*
Kosher salt + black pepper

Steps

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan or skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted and the oil has a slight shimmer to it. Add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes and sautè until the shallots are soft and the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes.

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2. Add the vodka (keep your head away because I foolishly leaned over and got hit in the face with some vodka steam and I will NEVER make that mistake again!), and allow it to reduce by half before proceeding, another 5 minutes or so.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes and give the whole thing a good stir. Now, the recipe I was following doesn’t cook this mixture for much longer, but I like a thicker sauce so I let mine bubble at this stage for about 20 minutes, to allow for some liquid to evaporate and leave a heartier tomato sauce. If you prefer a thinner sauce or you’re in a rush, bring your mixture to a boil at this point and then reduce to bubbling while your pasta cooks instead.

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4. At this point, bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it generously, and cook your pasta according to the package directions. Be sure to save some pasta water at the end before draining, as it can help your sauce some together and stick to the pasta if you need it.

5. Stir in the heavy cream and cook just until the sauce is entirely heated through. Season with salt and pepper to your liking here, and toss in the pasta, mixing to ensure everything is incorporated.

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6. Serve a generous portion of pasta with a sprinkling of chiffonade basil and a dusting of parmesan cheese. As with most of my dinner recipes, this is best served with a glass of wine and some good Italian bread. Buon Appetito!

xoxoxoxoD

savories

Beef Bourguignon

This past week, all but 1 of my siblings were home from college for break (we miss you Clare!), so what better way to welcome everyone home than with a pot of this cozy, warming, perfectly filling french stew? For so long I watched my mom make this stew for special occasions or snow days, and was always intimidated by it, until I realized that the work is very front heavy, and then, since it simmers for about 3 hours, you’re free to do other things. I myself am typing this as I watch it bubble happily on the stove with a glass of the leftover red wine- waste not!! It’s become one of my favorite decadent meals, with tender pieces of beef, buttery sautéed mushrooms, and and a heaping pile of egg noodles to carry it all. As a side note, don’t overlook the sprinkling of chopped parsley at the end, this stew has lots of (delicious) heaviness that really benefits from its bright and fresh flavor.

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We’ve had a lot of strange weather on the East Coast recently, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when I get snow days from work just like at school. Apparently it’s still not even over, and I’m definitely not complaining if it gives me a snow day, I just hope there’s some of this stew still left for me to eat in my PJs all day.

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This is the last time I cook with this many cookbooks and notes!!

This recipe comes from a combination of cookbooks, common sense, and wise words from my mom, that I finally wrote down in one place so that I wouldn’t have to keep checking between 2 cookbooks at all times, which gets risky because I am notoriously forgetful when reading recipes. The cookbooks used are Woman’s Day Famous French Cookery, and The New Basics Cookbook, both well loved books in my mom’s arsenal. They each make some excellent points, but I’ve taken the best parts (personal opinion only) of both and created this recipe that I will continue to make for years and years to come. Pro-tip: make this for future in-laws or important guests because it tastes and looks SO fancy, and they’ll think you were standing over the stove all day. Without further ado, go forth and get cooking!!

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Makes: 8-10 generous servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: ~3 hours
Total Time: approximately 3½ to 4 hours

Ingredients

12 oz. (8 strips) thick cut bacon, diced
5 lbs. beef chuck (also called stew beef), cubed
1½ cups onion, diced
1 tbs kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 cloves garlic, miced
3 cups dry red wine (I used burgundy, I also know barely anything about wine so)
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs salted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, washed and sliced
4 tbs all-purpose flour
24 oz. (2 bags) egg noodles

Steps

1. Sauté the bacon on medium-high heat in a deep, heavy pot (this is the same pot you’ll be using to make the whole stew), until crisp. Remove from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease. At this point, dry your beef so that it gets a nice sear. Drain out all but 2 tbs of the bacon grease (but save it in a cup for later) and brown the beef in batches, searing on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side.

2. Once the last of the meat is browned and removed, add 2-3 tbs more of the bacon grease and add the diced onion. Cook on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the bacon and the beef back into the pot, along with salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaves, red wine, beef stock, thyme, and tomato paste. Cover and turn the heat down to low, simmering for about 3 hours, or until the beef is tender.

4. Towards the end of the stew simmering process, melt 3 tablespoons of salted butter in a skillet on medium heat, and sauté sliced mushrooms until golden and soft, around 10-15 minutes. Add to the stew and mix until evenly distributed.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the flour with just enough water to form a thick paste, and stir this into the stew. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so until the stew has thickened. Make sure to remove the bay leaves now!!

6. While the stew is in it’s last 15 minute stage, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and cook egg noodles according to package instructions.

7. For each serving, start with a generous helping of egg noodles, ladle the stew on top, and finish with some of the parsley. Best enjoyed with bread and a glass of wine. YUM!

xoxoxoxoD

sweets

“St. Patrick’s Day” (Sort-Of) Scones with Cinnamon-Honey Butter

If there’s anything that the British have done right in this world, it would be tea and scones. There’s something about the combination of a warm, buttered scone with a strong cup of tea on a rainy day that makes me feel like I live on the moors or something, you know? But you know, until I own by own castle I’ll have to enjoy my tea and scones in the kitchen like a regular person.

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This recipe has been used by my mom and my grandma for as long as I can remember. Usually it’s dubbed the “St. Patrick’s Day Scones” recipe, but for some reason I have a thing about raisins in my baked goods, so this batch doesn’t contain them. I know, it’s pretty shameful because raisins are a staple of a lot of cookies and things, but there’s just something about the texture that really freaks me out. You could always add them in this recipe if you felt like it, just toss about 1½ cups of them with the flour before the wet ingredients are added and proceed as usual.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Jam from my favorite farm makes an excellent addition here!

This is an excellent base recipe for anything you’d like to add to your scone batter really, whether it’s fruit or chocolate chips, but I also think it’s really nice as is, and becomes the perfect vehicle for jam or this fabulous cinnamon-honey butter. These are drop scones, so no rolling out or cutting is required, it’s about as low maintenance as could be. The tops are brushed with egg and sprinkled with demerara sugar so that they bake up crispy on the outside and tender and buttery on the inside, and I’m literally eating one right now they are so good. Without further ado, let’s bake!!

Makes: 18 to 20 small/ medium sized scones
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-23 minutes
Total Time: ~45 minutes

Scone Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, very cold
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 egg + 1 tbs milk (for egg wash)
Demerara sugar

Steps

1. Heat your oven to 350ºF. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the butter in small cubes and mix in with your fingers or a pastry blender until it becomes the size of peas and is evenly distributed throughout.

3. Beat your eggs and milk together in a small bowl. Gradually stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms- you can use a spoon to mix at first, but by the end, clean hands are your best chance of fully mixing this dough.

4. Drop scoops of a little less than ½ cup of dough onto baking sheets- leave some room between them, they tend to spread just a little.

5. Whisk together 1 egg and 1 tbs milk and brush the top of each scone, then sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

6. Bake scones for 20-23 minutes until lightly golden. Enjoy with butter, jam, and a cup of tea. (Notice how most of my recipes can be eaten with a cup of tea?)

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Cinnamon-Honey Butter Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks); softened
3 tbs honey
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

Steps

1. Combine all the above ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft and well combined. This is best served room temperature (soft), but can be stored in the fridge.

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Enjoy!! xoxoxoxD

 

 

savories

Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

In my house growing up, any dish that had shrimp in it was always the first to go. My grandpa used to make gumbo and we would fight over the shrimp until the pot was just sauce and some andouille sausage left, and I have pretty distinct memories of the eight of us demolishing a Costco party-size shrimp cocktail platter in under 10 minutes. We LOVE shrimp. But the other day was one of those rare occasions where no one was home, so I actually got to share a meal with my parents, and do you know what I made? Well I mean, besides the fact that you can see from the title, you can bet that I made shrimp. I jump back and forth on what my favorite way to eat shrimp is, although, there really is no wrong way. But when it’s chilly outside and you’re in the mood for something hearty and cozy, look no further than this recipe. Adapted from this one found in the New York Times, this dish has essentially everything you need- cheesy goodness, a rich, creamy tomato sauce that you can sop up with a toasty piece of bread, and SO much shrimp. Need I say more??

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As an exciting, random sidebar, here’s a fun story! Approximately 2.5 years ago while studying abroad in Florence, I was traveling to Dublin to see my roommate, and it was my first time flying by myself. I’m naturally a nervous traveler/ flyer, so I really needed things to go smoothly, which of course, they DIDN’T.  My flight was delayed 8 HOURS, and upon seeing me approach mental breakdown, two women from Ireland welcomed me to eat lunch with them and to wait out the delay with them. Flash forward to now, we have remained in contact this whole time, and they’re COMING TO NEW YORK!! For their first time ever!! And I get to see them!! What do you make for dinner when very important Irish guests are coming? Really who knows.

BUT back to the point of this post, this meal right here is just waiting to be made by you, so let’s get to it!!

Makes: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: ~1 hour

 

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Grits Ingredients

¾ cup grits
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese
3 tbs salted butter
Salt

Steps

1. Bring 3½ cups of water to a boil in a saucepan, and add in the grits and salt. Turn the heat down to low and cover, cooking for 15-20 minutes until the water has been completely absorbed and the grits are tender.

2. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese until fully combined. Cover and keep warm until serving.

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Shrimp Ingredients

4 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil (I like a mix of butter and olive oil for this)
2 onions, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz. can of diced tomatoes (and the juice)
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
3 tbs flour
1½ lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ to 1 cup chicken stock (or seafood stock if you’ve got it)
2 tbs tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
Salt, to taste
Parsley, for garnish

Steps

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the garlic, peppers, and onion. Sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the Old Bay and bring the whole thing to a simmer. Cook for another 5 minutes.

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2. Sprinkle in the flour and mix to combine. Add in the shrimp and stir constantly as they cook; it should be about 3 minutes, shrimp cook so fast!

3. Add the first ½ cup of stock and let it simmer, then add in the tomato paste and make sure it gets properly mixed in. Stir in the cream, Worcestershire (I will literally never spell this right on the first try), and tabasco, plus more stock as needed to make the sauce thick enough to coat the shrimp but thin enough that it’s spoonable.

4. Heat through entirely (without bringing to a boil), and adjust your seasonings as necessary.

Serve with a generous helping of grits, a sprinkling of parsley, and a toasty piece of bread!

Enjoy!!! xoxoxoxD

 

sweets

Triple Berry (Accidental Cherry) Pie

Does anyone else remember that CW show Pushing Daisies? No? Just me? For those of you that don’t think about it every day as I do, it was the BEST show about a pie maker who could also wake dead people and help solve mysteries, plus it had Lee Pace and Kristen Chenoweth need I say more?? It sounds insane to type but I promise it’s so good, and so beautifully filmed and ALSO free to everyone on the CW website so 10/10 would recommend watching. Tragically, it was cancelled after two seasons, but that won’t stop me from repeatedly watching those two seasons and dreaming of passionfruit upside down pie or pear pie with gruyere baked into the crust- a strange combo but I am INTERESTED.

This is also my segue into today’s recipe for this beautiful pie- I got my baking start in pie actually, my first real responsibility for family holidays was to bake the apple pies, and as the years went by, I got the hang of it more and more and they’ve become my favorite thing to make. Today’s pie was supposed to be triple berry (blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry), but here’s the thing. I have been searching like a crazy person for sour cherries for as long as I can remember, and have never been successful. Given that I live in New York, it’s not surprising, but it’s a real bummer every year when I see cherry pie recipes and my only option is that gloopy cherry pie filling from a can. Granted, sometimes that hits the spot, but other times when I’m not trying to put chemicals in by body I would love to make one from scratch. But, I digress. Last week I was at the ~fancy~ supermarket to buy polenta for my last post (read here), and I stumbled across JARS of pitted sour cherries in juice and I almost cried. It’s not as good as the fresh ones, but you can believe that I bought some and ate most of the cherries straight from said jar with a spoon. In an effort to control myself and to stop doing that, I made my berry filling and added in the rest of the pitted cherries to the mix, and I was definitely not mad about it (if you don’t have access to sour cherries you can just leave them out, or replace them with sweet cherries since they’re more common).

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I use a pie crust recipe from the queen herself, Ina Garten a.k.a. the Barefoot Contessa, which uses a very important mix of butter AND shortening. The mix is also made in a food processor, which cuts down on how much your hands come in contact with it, which in turn keeps the butter and shortening cold before it bakes. This means that when it hits the heat of the oven, it creates steam that gives you an extra crispy (and never soggy) crust. The result is golden and buttery (from the butter, obv), but also perfectly crisp and flaky (thanks to the shortening), and I will never use another pie crust recipe. The fruit filling thickens while baking and becomes almost jammy in texture and I can’t stop thinking about it honestly. I know it’s probably irrational to bake a berry pie in the winter, but I’m dreaming of warmer weather and this is my way of coping OKAY.

Let’s bake!!

Makes: 1 double crust pie
Prep Time: about 1 hour
Bake Time: 60-70 minutes
Total: 2.5 hours

Crust Ingredients

12 tbs (1.5 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs sugar
½ cup ice water

Steps

1. Before beginning, dice your butter and shortening on a cutting board, and put back in the fridge until its needed, to make sure that it stays cold.

2. In the bowl of the food processor, add the flour, salt, and sugar, and pulse several times to combine. If you don’t have a food processor available to you, you can mix in a regular bowl and use a pastry blender or your hands, but the result may not be as flaky- it’ll still taste great though!!

3. Add in the butter and shortening and pulse the processor 10-12 times until the mixture is well combined.

4. Next, turn the processor on high and stream in the ice water gradually, continuing to mix until a single ball of dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

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Filling Ingredients

6-7 cups mixed berries (and cherries!!) of your choice, I used raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
2 tsp lemon juice, for brightness
½ cup granulated sugar (test your berries for sweetness levels and adjust accordingly, some batches are sweeter than others!)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon (it works really well with blueberries!)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbs water (for egg wash)
demerara sugar (for sprinkling)

Steps

1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Before making your filling, remove pie crust from the fridge and cut in half. Roll half the dough into a circle wide enough to fit your pie tin with excess over the sides for folding, making sure that it’s an even thickness. If you’re worried about the bottom being too soggy, sprinkle some crust dust* before adding in the filling.

2. Toss your berries with the lemon juice, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon until well-incorporated. Add on top of the bottom crust quickly so that it doesn’t sit and get too wet.

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3. Roll out your top crust next, and here you can use your creative license a little. I went with a lattice top since I haven’t done one of those in a while, but you could also go with a regular full top crust, or play around with cookie cutters and shapes, it’s up to you! For my lattice, I rolled my crust into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick, and cut wide strips using a ruffled pastry wheel cutter.

4. To make a lattice, start by laying out all your vertical strips- for some reason I had 5 vertical strips and 3 horizontal, don’t ask me why I didn’t just do 4 and 4 because I’m still mad about it. Anywho, starting from the top, lay your horizontal strips in the following way: over the first vertical strip, under the second vertical strip, back over the third, and continue until it’s fully across. For the second strip, start with the reverse so that it goes under the first vertical strip, then over the second, and so on, until it’s fully across. Continue with the rest of your strips, making sure that each consecutive horizontal strip starts the opposite way the one before it did. I find myself out loud saying “Over, under” and “under, over” when I do this just to help myself keep track. Trim the edges and fold the excess over, crimping with your fingers or a fork to seal the filling inside.

5. Brush your crust with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar. Place your pie on a cookie sheet (to catch any bubbling filling), and bake at 425º for the first 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure the top isn’t browning too fast. After 20 minutes, turn your oven down to 350ºF and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden brown. I like to turn it down to 350º because it stops the crust from burning while allowing the filling to fully cook, but if you’re still worried about browning, check every now and then, and be prepared to cover the edges of your pie with tin foil or silicone pie crust protectors.

6. Once you’ve achieved peak golden crust, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. I like to let it cool fully before reheating to eat, just to give the filling a chance to thicken and keep it together, but if you simply can’t wait, I get that too. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some homemade whipped cream and watch some Pushing Daisies!!!

*crust dust: equal parts all purpose flour and granulated sugar, mixed together and sprinkled on the bottom pie crust before filling is added, to absorb extra juices.

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Happy Friday and enjoy! xoxoxo