Spinach & Cherry Tomato Quiche

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Summer’s here. I checked: a high of 94F in Long Island today. It’s totally official. Never was there ever a better afternoon for an iced coffee!

I checked out a beautiful farm in Eastern Long Island this past weekend. They were up to the brim in plump blueberries, greens, rhubarb and herbs. A lovely reminder that tomato season is soon upon us! Perfect raw, roasted or thrown into a quiche like this. I used cherry tomatoes, but you can use whatever you like. The best part? Throw in whatever you have (the sadder it looks in your fridge, the better) and give it new life in a quiche or frittata. This is my favorite way to use up veggies. All that protein in there makes this dish a triple threat– good for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All summer long.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1 package store bought pastry dough or frozen pie shell
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach leaves, trimmed and washed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup grated sharp gruyere cheese
  • 6-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. If using frozen pastry, take dough out of the freezer to defrost 2 hours before you’re ready to use it.
  2. Fit the dough into either a 10-inch quiche or springform pan, making sure you have enough dough to form a crust around the edge. Sprinkle the gruyere onto the crust.
  3. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil.  Cook spinach and until wilted, about 5 minutes. Spread the spinach over the cheese.
  4. Beat the eggs, creme fraiche and garlic together. Pour mixture over the spinach and cheese mixture. Slice cherry tomatoes and arrange on top. Sprinkle with chives and black pepper.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

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Beignets

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

“I’d give my right arm for one of those beignets!”

I still laugh when I remember hearing those words. The request came from one of my husband’s friends. In order to save her precious limb, I immediately went into the kitchen and made a big batch of these babies. I love my husband so much that I woke up at 4:30am that next morning to fry them so they’d be super fresh. That, my friends, is true love.

If there’s one thing I learned from making these doughnuts, it’s this: don’t overwork the dough and be *very* gentle when handling before frying. You want as much puff as possible before it hits the oil. And, drop into the oil ever so gently so they don’t collapse.

Secondly, pile on the powdered sugar!!! There is not much sugar in the dough itself, so I promise it’s okay. Pair 3 of these with you morning coffee.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Yield: 24 beignets

*Dough needs to be refrigerated overnight

  • 1 package instant dry yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) I prefer SAF Red Instant Yeast)
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (100-115 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 7 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • vegetable or canola oil (for deep frying)
  • confectioners sugar (for dusting)
  1. Put the warm water into a large bowl, then sprinkle in the yeast and a couple teaspoons of the sugar and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Let sit (also called proofing) for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk. Gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and thoroughly blended. Beat in the shortening, then add the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating it in with a spoon until it becomes too stiff to stir, then working in the rest with your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight in a greased bowl.
  3. Roll the dough out onto a floured board or marble pastry surface to a thickness of 1/8 inch, then cut it into rectangles 2-1/2 inches by 3-1/2 inches with a sharp knife.
  4. Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 360 degrees F.
  5. Gently transfer the dough to the oil (don’t over crowd the pot). Fry the beignets about 3 or 4 at a time until they are puffed out and golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per batch.
  6. Turn them over in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown, since they rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff out.
  7. Drain each batch on paper towels, place on a platter lined with several layers of paper towels, and keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until all are fried.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Apple Tart

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Although March is not apple season, we’re a week away from Spring and my heart is already thinking about Autumn! I picked up pink lady apples and decided to try out this tart. What could be more simple and delicious than store-bought puff pastry? Almost nothing. When you’re in a pinch, it’s texture can’t be beat. It’s a beautiful canvas for just about anything. The apples are slightly cooked in a little caramel sauce and baked till super soft, contrasting beautifully with every bite of crispy pastry. You can try this with any tart apple like honeycrisp, granny smith or braeburn. Quick, easy and with so much reward. This is my new breakfast on rotation.

  • 5 tart apples (such as pink lady) peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sheet fresh puff pastry (14 oz package)
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut apples as close to core as possible into three lobes. In a small, heavy pot, add sugar, water, and scrape in vanilla seeds; discard pod. Cook over medium heat until sugar comes to a boil is dissolved, as it starts to caramelize, 6–8 minutes. Keep at a boil (under 375 degrees with a candy thermometer). Don’t stir! When it becomes a nice amber color, remove from heat immediately and shock pot in an ice bath. Stir in butter, vinegar, and salt.
  2. Add apples into a skillet and cook until they start giving up some of their juices and shrink slightly, 5–8 minutes. Remove apples from skillet and combine with  caramel, pouring into prepared 9″ baking dish. Carefully turn apples so the cut side is facing up and scoot them together so they overlap slightly. (The apples will shrink more as they bake, so they need to be tightly packed.)
  3. Gently roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface just to smooth out creases; cut into a round that will fit snugly inside your pan. Drape puff pastry over apples.
  4. Bake until pastry is puffed and starting to brown in spots, 20–25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown and cooked all the way through, 20 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes before inverting onto a platter. Don’t wait too long to invert or else the apples with stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Blood Orange Cream Doughnuts

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Confession: doughnuts are my guilty pleasure. When you’re craving a pillowy cloud of dough filled with cream, chocolate or jelly, nothing else will do. Long Island is seriously lacking in good doughnuts (sorry, Dunkin, you don’t count) and this recipe is going in my arsenal for good!

Citrus season is in full swing. Those beautiful blood oranges are begging to be used. Their color is so vibrant and their flavor, robust. This cream filling is to die for. Punchy, zesty, but not too sweet. Try not to eat it by the spoonful before you fill the doughnuts. I dare ya! My husband took these all to work so I snagged this ONE photo before he ran off with them… Oh well. I’ll just have to make more.

Makes 12 doughnuts

Doughnut Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 cups bread flour (I prefer King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 qt vegetable oil, for frying

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice (from about 6-7 oranges)
  • 1 tbsp fresh blood orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast, warm water and sugar. I have best luck with luke-warm water. You can’t have it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes, until it begins to foam.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, mix salt, eggs and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the milk and 1 cup of flour. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated.
  3. Change your attachment to the dough hook. Turn mixer to medium-low and add in the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. The dough will come together in a sticky ball. Turn mixer to medium speed and “knead” the dough until it slightly elastic.
  4. Turn the dough out into a large buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set it someplace warm to rise until it has doubled in volume. I find the best place to do this is on top of a warm oven. I let mine rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to be about a ½ inch thick and cut into 3 inch circles (you can use a biscuit cutter, or a drinking glass). Place the dough circles on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps. You an fry them separately for snacking, or discard them.
  6. Allow to donuts to rise one more time, until they have at least doubled in size, and appear to fluffy and filled with air. I let mine rise about an hour.
  7. While the donuts rise, preheat cooking oil to 370 degrees in either an electric fryer, or on a stovetop in a heavy bottomed dutch oven.
  8. Fry each donut until it is golden on the bottom, flip and fry until the other side is golden. Be very careful when transferring the donuts to the oil, if they are handled too much, they will collapse. The finished donuts should be golden on each side, with a white ring around the middle, this shows a perfectly risen donut, and will ensure that it is nice and light in the center.
  9. Place fried donuts onto a paper bag or paper towels to drain any extra grease.  Toss donuts in granulated sugar, and place on a cooling wrack to cool to room temperature.
  10. To prepare the filling, in a small pot whisk in blood orange juice, zest, sugar and eggs. Continue whisking on medium-low heat until it starts to thicken slightly. Whisk in butter one tbs at a time. Once the butter has been added, continue whisking until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or until it has cooled completely.
  11. In a mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream and salt together until it forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the blood orange mixture. Place in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes.
  12. Right before serving, cut small holes in the side of each donut, I do this with a paring knife in the shape of an X.  Place filling in a piping bag, fitted with a round tip (a long tip works best). Fill and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bakeaholic Mama.

Weekend Waffles

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

It’s Saturday morning. You roll out of bed at 10:12 am after a week of stress. If you’re like me, you have a laundry list of things to do today. But, first things first. You offer waffles to your husband and he nearly tackles you as he leaps out of bed.

I don’t know about you, but a hot stack of waffles gets me pretty excited! I’ve come to love the act of preparing waffles our pancakes on a weekend morning. Something about it is ever calming. Maybe it’s because your day job is a distant memory and you’re not going to give it one thought for the next 48 hrs. Maybe it’s the sizzle of the batter on the hot skillet. Whatever it is, it’s intoxicating. It’s the weekend.

I’ve probably tried half a dozen waffle recipes. All, up until this point, have been hardly memorable. This one is via my friends at Food.com. I tell you no lie: these waffles are killer. Absolutely genius. Lord knows why I didn’t whip egg whites into the batter sooner. This means only one thing: crispy exterior, fluffy and light interior. I mean, what more could you ask for?

It gets better. Freeze the leftovers and toast them the next day or the next week.

Lazy weekend, commence.

Prep Time: 15 mins / Cook Time: 5 mins / Serves: 6-8

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

bew-2-process

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups flour (I prefer King Arthur All Purpose)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1-3/4 cup milk of your choice (dairy, almond milk, etc)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.
  2. Add milk and melted butter to dry ingredient mixture and blend.
  3. Gently fold stiff egg whites into mixture.
  4. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack so they retain their crispiness. Enjoy with butter, maple syrup, and fruit! I also freeze these and re-heat in a toaster oven. Excellent waffles in a pinch.

This recipe is adapted from Food.com.

Sweet Pea and Avocado Toast

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I know this isn’t exactly breaking news, but: Avocado Toast began to have it’s moment in the spotlight in the last 2 years and is still shining strong. There’s just something about it that makes everyone all happy, including me. I’ve had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I almost always top with a fried egg (or poached like this, if I’m feeling fancy). It always begs for a generous sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Sometimes some black sesame seeds. Any way you slice it, this toast trend is here to stay. In my last post, I showed you my take on Giada De Laurentiis’ mushroom pizzettes. I’m working my way through another 3 of her recipes this week. Today, I present to you her recipe for this toasty number: Sweet Pea Avocado puree topped with a pretty poached egg. #PUTANEGGONIT is a thing, and that thing makes all toast better. What I love about this recipe is the addition of the pea to the avocado. The lime juice and mint in there add such freshness! It’s a complexity that you don’t get from avocado alone. I always love a kick of red pepper flakes. This is the kind of breakfast or brunch you make for yourself on your off-day from work, when you can sit back with the paper (or your Instagram feed, let’s face it) and a nice cup of coffee. Take your time and savor this one.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp graded lime zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and diced in the skin
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 (3/4″) slices of Batard loaf or other small rustic bread loaf, toasted (I used Sourdough)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Flaked salt (I used sea salt)
  1. In a food processor, combine the peas, mint, lime zest and juice, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until the peas are coarsely chopped. Spoon out and add the avocado and pulse to combine and form a coarse spread. Set aside.
  2. In a shallow medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with the vinegar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Adjust the head to maintain the gentle simmer (don’t allow it to boil). One at a time, break each egg into a small bowl; swirl the water with a spoon, creating a vortex, and gently slide the egg into the simmering water. Use a slotted spoon to gently coax the egg white up and around the yolk.
  3. Repeat with the remaining eggs (depending on the size of your pan, it may be easier to do just 2 eggs at a time so you can keep and eye on them and not crowd the pan). Cook the eggs 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolk is still soft when touched. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain well on a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. Spread a good amount of the pea puree on each piece of toast. Top with a poached egg. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, Cook Happy, 2014.

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

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Photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

Here comes a bold statement: these are the BEST blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. Ever.

Yesterday, I made 6 huge muffins for my family’s Easter brunch. After nearly devouring one, I had to make 6 more knowing how quickly they’d disappear! I haven’t had the best luck with muffins in the past, but these by far have turned out the best. Soft and fluffy on the inside with a crunchy, sweet crumb top. Bursting with blueberries (frozen, but you’d never know) and there’s a hint of cinnamon that’s delightful. Perfect with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

Yield: 6-8 large muffins — Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line your cups with pretty parchment paper liners.
  2. Combine 1-1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in your mixer. Add the vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in *blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To make the crumb topping, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Break up with fork and sprinkle generously over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Perfect, bakery style muffins! Eat them warm!

*Be sure to rinse frozen blueberries in a strainer under running water at least 3 times. This will prevent the berries from running their color. In the colder months, frozen blueberries work perfectly. You won’t be able to tell the difference. I buy a big bag of frozen berries at Whole Foods and they are delicious.

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com.

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Photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

 

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Breakfast Cookies

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I’ve been making these breakfast cookies for about a year now–and I kid you not: 2 or 3 days later, my husband and I have eaten them all. While I see them as perfect for breakfast, he’ll eat them at all hours of the day and night (when hunger strikes at 1am while studying medicine). Also perfectly acceptable. But, what makes them so great for breakfast are the ingredients: a whole mashed banana, Greek yogurt, old-fashioned oats and coconut oil. There’s no egg or butter. Making these lighter and almost muffin-top like. If you want to bump up the health factor even more, you can try substituting some of the sugar out for honey or maple syrup.

This is a particularly happy morning. I woke up early to start thumbing through Giada De Laurentiis’s new cook book, Happy Cooking. Clearly we’re on the same wavelength! It has so much more than I expected– hundreds of recipes that put her in her happy place along with carefully placed tips, tricks and advice for the happy cooker. Insert: me. *happy dance* I can’t wait to start cooking from it. I think I’m going for her House soup or Roasted mushroom and kale pizzettes first… Get Giada’s book here. Happy Friday, everyone!


Yield: 24-30 cookies (medium size) — Prep time: 30 mins (plus 45 mins for chilling) — Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup wildflower honey
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups old-fashioned or steel-cut oats
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Be careful not to over measure the flower– the correct way to do this is to spoon small amounts into your measuring cup a little at a time, gently shaking until it overflows. Then level off evenly with the backside of a knife.
  2. In a separate bowl, mash the banana. Add the melted coconut oil, brown and granulated sugars, yogurt, and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the oats and chocolate chips.
  4. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Take about a tablespoon of dough, form a ball and drop the cookie dough ball on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, spacing the cookie dough balls about 1-2 inches apart. For best results (thick, fluffy cookies!) refrigerate baking sheets with cookie dough balls for 45 mins to 1 hour to chill the dough. This will ensure that cookies, when baked, will not flatten out.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes until cookies are slightly golden brown. I had perfect golden-brown at 10 minutes in my gas oven. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Women’s Day.

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Kendra Vaculin’s witty post for this cake on Food52 had me giggling:

“There are two types of people in this world: the ones that resist baking with pumpkin because it is an annual fad, and the ones that go full-tilt cuhrazy until bars and muffins and cookies and pie tumble out of every shelf in their fridge and pantry…”

I’m going to confess…I air on the ‘full-tilt crazy’ side when it comes to baking with pumpkin. I mean does anyone actually resist baking with pumpkin? I think not. The fad is great, join on in people! It only comes but once a year so you may as well enjoy it as long as possible. For instance, my sweet mother enjoys the autumn season so much that she decorates her home in August. Some call it crazy. I call it thorough enjoyment!

I was so excited when my NordicWare Bundt pan came in the mail. I think I squealed. I love the simple, elegant spiral design. Then I went on a mission to find the perfect fall-inspired recipe. Be still my pumpkin-loving heart! This confection combines pumpkin, maple glaze and a crumble center for the ultimate upgrade. So versatile, I have no doubt this goes for both dessert and breakfast. And there is no lack of maple flavor– all components of this cake get a little. All I can think about is waking up tomorrow morning, brewing my favorite Kona coffee and slicing off a piece or two at my kitchen table. I also love my landlords so much that I’ll gladly part with a few slices for them. A happy cuoco shares the fruits of her labors with the world!! Savor this cake with the ones you love this season.


Serves 8

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups packed pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Crumble and Glaze Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, syrup, buttermilk, and vanilla until well blended. Add wet mix to dry ingredients and fold to incorporate. The batter will be thick! Don’t worry, all is well.
  3. Next, assemble the crumble. Place butter, flour, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and cinnamon together in a bowl, cutting the cold butter into the rest with a fork, mixing until small chunks form. Set aside.
  4. Pour half of the batter into a prepared pan that has been well greased. I used a medium-sided bundt pan, which worked out really nicely, but a loaf pan or a small casserole dish situation would also be clutch. After the first half of the batter has been poured, sprinkle the crumble all over the dish, and then top with the remaining batter.
  5. Bake cake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cake cool while you assemble glaze (whisking milk and remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup into powdered sugar). If using a bundt pan, invert cake onto a wire rack to cool. Drizzle glaze over cake once it has completely cooled. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food52, www.food52.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Classic Pumpkin Pie

1Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I stepped out of the house this morning and thought: aaaaah. This autumn morning crisp is here to stay. You know what that means. It’s pie season! Where to even begin with such a staple: good ole pumpkin pie. My mom has been making this pie on Thanksgiving Day for as long as I can remember. Subtle pumpkin flavor, not too sweet and even better when topped with a dollop of whipped cream. That slice you see in the photo above was my breakfast yesterday morning. It was perfect! If the thought of making a pie from scratch has you nervous, don’t sweat it. I can honestly say that pumpkin pie is the easiest pie you can make. The filling takes less than 5 minutes and there is only a single crust to make. Leave it to King Arthur Flour to make one of the best crusts I’ve ever tasted. It’s part shortening, part butter, and 100% flaky and delicious! I’ve got some extra tips and tricks below. Happy baking!


Yield: 1 pie, single crust

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp shortening
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 to 5 Tbsp ice water

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp ground cloves (or, use 1 and 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice Mix)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can Organic pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  1. For the crust, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.* Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones. Add 2 tablespoons of water (must be ice cold!), and toss to combine.
  2. Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky mixture. It should barely hold together when you squeeze a handful, though the remainder may look quite dry. Scoop the mixture out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and flatten it out a bit. Take a spray bottle of water, and spritz the dry parts with the water.**
  3. Using the parchment or waxed paper, fold the dough over on itself — first from one side, then from the other. You’ll find that the dry crumbs are becoming incorporated with the cohesive dough. If there are still dry areas, spritz them with additional water, and fold the dough in on itself again. Keep folding and gathering until just a few dry crumbs remain unincorporated; this should only take a few folds.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk about 1″ thick, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out. When you’re “ready to roll,” remove the dough from the fridge. If the dough has been refrigerated longer than 30 minutes, let it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling, to allow the butter to soften up a bit.***
  5. Roll the dough to the size needed (about 12″ for a 9″ pie). Place it in a pie pan, and refrigerate it while you prepare your filling.
  6. To make the pie filling, mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves (or spice mix) in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour mixture into pie shell.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake 40-50 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before serving. Serve or refrigerate. Enjoy!

Crust recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com

Notes:

*Add the shortening 1 Tbsp at a time and mix with pastry blender between additions. The goal is to coat the shortening crumbs with the flour. You’re just trying to cut the shortening into the flour, which is why a pastry cutter is best for this! Do the same with the butter, adding and mixing 1 Tbsp at a time. A little trick for the butter: freeze the 5 Tbsp of butter for 5-10 minutes and then grate with a cheese grater. This cuts the butter into smaller pieces, making it much easier to incorporate into the flour.

**My grandmother taught me to roll out dough between 2 layers of plastic wrap. I have had best success with this method. Also, be cautious of adding too much water. You only need enough to get dough to stick together. If you add more than necessary it will be too sticky to roll out. You can always add a tiny bit more flour to combat that, but be careful! It’s a balance between not too dry and not too wet. Stick to the recipe measurements for best results. This is something that will get easier to eye and feel with practice.

***You don’t have to refrigerate. Feel free to roll out the dough immediately.

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco