Pie Crust Cookie Search

Thursday, July 27, 2023





Adapted from: Alton Brown
Yields: about 10 (I usually double since these are easy to freeze and use later)

2 eggs
3/4 c milk
1/2 c water
1 c flour. all-purpose or a mix including some whole wheat
3 T butter, melted
1-2 T sugar, if you want sweet crepes
1 teas vanilla, ditto

Place the eggs, milk and water into a blender and mix until well combined. The add the flour, butter and extra ingredients, if you are using them. Run blender until all is well mixed and smooth.. You may need to use a scraper to push flour off the sides of the blender. AB recommends letting this sit in the fridge for 60 minutes for greater ease of cooking (less tearing), but Kókó and her daddy often don't wait to cook.

Heat a crepe pan or a small nonstick skillet (or best of all, a ponnukokupanna, an Icelandic pancake pan), over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Butter the pan and use a teaspoon full of batter to test whether the pan is hot enough. It should take 30-60 seconds to cook on one side and fewer than that to cook the second side. Use a quarter cup measure to pour the batter in the pan, pick it up and turn and swirl so the batter slides into a thin covering of the bottom of the pan. When the edges dry slide a thin spatula under and flip the pancake carefully so the other side can cook. AB says he always plans on the first pancake being for the dog so don't get discouraged if your first few are not "beautiful". They will taste good. You can butter your pan between pancakes but I don't always do so. In addition, I prefer vegetable oil to butter. I think butter tastes better, of course, but for me oil is easier to work with. 

These can be treated as crepes but also as pancakes and you can use any topping including macerated fruit or berries. My favorite involves lemon juice and vanilla sugar. Other family members are fans of Nutella, powdered sugar, or cinnamon sugar, often all mixed together!

Forager's Pasta

This recipe comes from a lovely book titled, I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To) by Ali Slagle. Her recipes are in a narrative form and allow for tweaks and substitutions and are flexible in amounts, so I'll set this up the way I made it. I'm glad to have run into this recipe since I'm fond of savory dishes which include sweet spices. 


Forager's Pasta

Source: I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To)
Serves: 4-7

1 pound mushrooms of any variety or several varieties, cut or torn into bite size pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste, remembering you'll use some of your pasta water which will add to total salt
2 strips of lemon zest and 3 T lemon juice
8 T butter, cut into 8 pieces and kept in fridge until needed
cook's choice of herbs and spices, such as 1 teas black peppercorns or fennel seeds, 1 half cinnamon stick, broken, or some fresh grated nutmeg, at least 8 sage leaves, 4 bay leaves, 3 thyme sprigs, and or 2 rosemary sprigs
3 T olive oil
12 oz short pasta but not necessarily tiny pasta

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or a Dutch oven and cook the mushrooms and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until contents are browned, 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, start a pot of water to boil. If you cook the pasta in a smaller amount of water, you'll have starchier water which will be good for your final product. But you'll have to stir the pasta while it cooks so it doesn't clump.

Coarsely grind or smash the spices you want to use and strip the herb leaves off their stems. If desired, you can chop the sage and/or rosemary. 

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. Reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water and drain.

When the chickpeas and mushrooms have finished, add the butter around the edges of the pan. Stir in the herbs and spices and cook while the butter foams and turns golden. Add the pasta to this mixture and cook, stirring while dribbling in some of the pasta water until the butter and the water form an emulsion. Taste and season if you need more salt and pepper. Pull out any sticks or stems left from the herbs and serve. 

Note: I used fennel seed, cinnamon stick, sage and bay leaves. For serving, I garnished with chopped parsley. In the summer I may garnish with basil. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Greek Salad

This briny salad hit the spot this week, with the start of summer. I use the recipe as a framework, adapting as needed to what I have on hand. I've used dried oregano, fresh red peppers instead of jarred, yellow onion instead of red, and whatever tomatoes are convenient. It's especially nice in the summer with my back porch oregano and mint and garden tomatoes.


Greek Salad

Serves 6-8
Source: Cook's Illustrated


3 T red wine vinegar 
1 1/2 teas lemon juice
2 teas minced fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teas salt
1/8 teas black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
6 T olive oil


1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise
2 hearts romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn in to bitesize pieces
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into wedges
1/4 c loosely packed, torn fresh parsley leaves
1/4 c loosely packed, torn fresh mint leaves
1 c (about 6 oz) jarred, roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips no longer than 2 inches
20 large kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
1 c feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the onion and cucumber, toss, and marinate for 20 minutes. Add lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and bell pepper to the bowl and toss. Sprinkle with olives and cheese, then enjoy.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

We're both experiencing a glut of strawberries, Mom from her garden and me from my favorite local grocery store that has had cases on sale. Here's a favorite way to enjoy them.  



Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

Yield: 4 servings plus extra shortbread (about 50 cookies, if you follow size directions)

For the shortbread:

1 c unsalted butter, preferably cultured (European-style), at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teas fine sea salt
1 T vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded with a tip of a knife 
1/2 teas orange blossom water or grated orange zest (optional)
2 c AP flour

For serving:

1 pint strawberries, sliced
granulated sugar, to taste, remembering the cookies are on the sweet side
1 c heavy cream
1/2 teas vanilla

Attach a paddle attachment to either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, salt, vanilla (extract or seeds), and orange blossom water, if using and beat. Add the flour and stir until smooth, occasionally using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Place a 12-inch long piece of  plastic wrap on a counter and place the dough in the center. Using the wrap to form a barrier between you and the sticky dough, form it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can also form 2 logs if you find that easier. Wrap tightly and place in the fridge until it's completely cold, at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.

Preheat oven to 350F when you are ready to bake and place parchment paper or baking liners on 2 baking sheets.

Remove the plastic wrap from the dough log and slice it into quarter-inch rounds. Place the dough on the prepared sheets and place in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes until they are golden at the edges. These spread a little so keep that in mind. I successfully placed 4 across with 1 1/2-inch cookies. 

Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack and allow them to cool thoroughly before removing. These can be baked up to 4 days ahead as long as you store them in an airtight container at room temperature. 

About 20 minutes before serving, sprinkle the sliced berries with a little sugar and stir. Allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes while they release their juice.

Whip the cream using a mixer with a whisk or a whisk and a bowl (more effort on your part). Add a teaspoon or so of sugar. Again, the cookies are so sweet you may not need sugar in the cream.

Divide the strawberries into serving bowls saving a little juice for drizzling. Top with the whipped cream and drizzle the cream with some of the juice.  Tuck several cookies into each bowl and eat with spoons. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Shrimp and Grits

When I leave my landlocked state and spend time oceanside, this is one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant. Thankfully, freezers make it possible to enjoy this dish other places and other times. 


Shrimp and Grits

Source:  The 150 Best American Recipes by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens
Serves: 4


4 c water
1 c grits (preferably stone ground)
1/2 teas salt
2 T butter
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz)
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground white pepper, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg, all to taste


6 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
oil for frying
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined if desired, rinsed and patted dry
2 c wiped and cleaned mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sliced scallions
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 teas fresh lemon juice
Hot pepper sauce to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

I found it easiest to prep the ingredients for both portions of the meal before starting to cook either. 

To make the grits:

In a large heavy saucepan, bring the water to boil and gradually stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to it's lowest point and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  When grits are thick and tender, stir in the salt, butter, and cheeses. Add about a pinch of each of the spices and taste to see if you would like to add more.

To make the shrimp:

This can be started as the grits finish up. You may want to keep the grits in a warm oven if they finish first, as mine usually do.

Cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet and remove bits from the pan when they are finished. You may pour off all but a couple tablespoons of bacon fat.

If you wish, you can add some neutral cooking oil to the bacon fat in the skillet, so you have a thin layer of cooking fat. Bring the fat in the skillet to a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the shrimp and cook until the shrimp start to color. Quickly turn them over and add the scallions, bacon, and garlic. Stir in the lemon juice and some hot pepper sauce, if you wish. Top with a sprinkling of parsley or save it for garnishing each serving.

Place the grits on warm plates and top with the shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Here's another baked item (but in a waffle iron) made with a vegetable and some whole grain flour. These make your kitchen smell delicious. 


Pumpkin Spice Waffles

Yield: five to seven 7-inch Belgian waffles

ATK prefers store-bought oat flour with a very fine grind. They suggest if you don't have access to the flour, grind some old-fashioned oatmeal in a food processor into as fine a meal as you can get, about 2 minutes. They warn that it will be different, more dense. They also warn against using toasted oat flour in the recipe.

I made no adjustments for altitude.

2 1/2 c oat flour
1/2 c AP flour
1 teas ground cinnamon
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas baking soda
3/4 teas salt
1/4 teas ground nutmeg
1/4 teas ground cardamom
1 (15-oz) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 1/4 c plain low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt if that is all you have
2 large eggs
1/4 c oil (ATK recommends expeller-pressed canola oil)
1/4 c sugar
1 teas grated fresh ginger (if you like ginger, use more)

Heat your oven to 200F for keeping waffles warm after baking. start heating your waffle iron.

Place both flours, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, salt, nutmeg and cardamom in a large bowl and whisk together.

Measure yogurt in a large liquid measuring cup and add pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, and ginger and stir until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth and well combined. If you use Greek yogurt, you'll need to add some milk or water until the texture is like cake batter or a thick pancake batter. 

When ready to bake, brush the iron with oil. Add a scant cup of batter and close the lid, cooking according to manufacturer's directions. Cook until waffles are deep golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven on a cooling rack. 


The original recipe found here instructs cooks to reduce the liquid in canned pumpkin by draining on paper towels. This worked well; in fact, too well. I had to add liquid and it was guess work, basing my guesses on what I thought waffle batter ought to look like. I added extra milk several times. The second time I made the waffles, I didn't drain the canned pumpkin and still had to add more liquid to attain the correct texture. 

You can substitute whole wheat flour for some of the oat flour, if needed. 

Add-ins are nice. I've used chopped fresh cranberries, blueberries, nuts, pepitas, and/or chocolate chips. I had to oil the griddle more often with some of the add-ins. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Tomato Rice Soup with Caramelized Onions

I have a quite a collection of tomato soup recipes, considering how I detested it as a child. Of course, I was served only canned soup, so I don't blame my younger self. Here's the latest addition. The caramelized onions add texture and sweetness, while the rice makes it heartier than some.  


Tomato Rice Soup with Caramelized Onions

Source: Milk Street
Serves 4-6

1 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 teas white sugar
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 teas dried thyme
1/2 c long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained (see note below if you prefer brown rice)
1 14-1/2 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 quart chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/2 c parsley or basil leaves, chopped
optional basil pesto or grated Parmesan cheese, or both

Over medium flame, heat oil in a large saucepan or medium Dutch oven until it shimmers. Stir in the onion, sugar and half a teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is well browned and quite soft, stirring occasionally. Place half of the cooked onion in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the thyme to the onion in the pan and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, tomatoes and juices and broth. Turn heat to medium high and bring the soup to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, covered, until the rice is tender around 20 minutes. Stir from time to time. 

When the rice is cooked, take the soup off the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste it to check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Top each serving with some of the onion and drizzle with oil. Or add either of the optional garnishes.


The magazine indicates you can use short grained rice if that's what you have although authors preferred long grain white. I made mine with brown rice and it needed twice the amount of cooking time. 

I think I'll caramelize 2 onions next time, particularly if I let them get quite brown. One isn't enough for all the servings of the soup and leftovers are easy to use.