Thursday, August 13, 2009


Who doesn't love pie? More importantly, who doesn't love pre-made pie crusts? Just roll 'em out, fill, cover and bake. What could be easier? I know there are "purists" who insist on lard in their crusts (and I agree). But, guess what? (Am I using too many questions for this blog?) Most pre-packaged pie crusts are made with lard. That's why they're so good.

Anyway, I wanted a pie and I wanted it fast. But I didn't have enough berry ingredients. On hand were a few stalks of rhubarb, a half-filled large container of strawberries and some leftover blueberries. I put them all together and created what I now call a RHUBERRY PIE! You have to try it! Let me know if you do? It's my FAVORITE pie!!!

  • Two-crust, 9-inch pie dough
  • 2 cups chopped/diced rhubarb*
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • allspice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
If using pre-made crust, sprinkle with a bit of flour and roll to fit a 9-inch pie plate.

Be sure fruit is rinsed and DRY (rinse the berries the night before and allow to drain/dry. If you don't have time, put whole berries in a salad spinner). Place in a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and just a few sprinkles of allspice. Mix to blend. Add berries and carefully blend.

Pour into pie shell and dot with tiny pieces of butter. Roll out top crust. Cover pie. Tuck under edges. Crimp and flute. Cut air vents** and bake in a 425-degree oven for about 40-45 minutes until juices just begin to flow.

Allow to cool before cutting. Never, ever cut a hot pie. Never, ever cut a warm pie. Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt--a must!

*For large stalks of rhubarb, I peel them first. Slice lengthwise once or twice and then dice. For large strawberries, I slice in half and then into thirds.

**Why do some pies have a latticed top crust? (There I go with the questions, again!) It's science. The open structure allows the steam to escape so the filling is less watery. When the pie cools and you slice it, it isn't runny. But who has time to labor over a woven lattice? Solution? Simple. Cut about 4-5 one-and-a-half-inch circles in a circle around the center of the top crust. This looks kind of neat and allows plenty of steam to escape. Take the scraps and artistically place them on the top crust, securing with a bit of water on the underside. Cut out the holes before you place the top crust on the pie.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Favorite Chocolate Cake

This is a perfect small cake that is easy to make and pretty fool proof. It has a great, moist texture and the frosting is . . . well . . . the icing on the cake! To make things easier, I often measure out all the dry ingredients the night before so I'm ready to go in the morning. Remember, mayonnaise is nothing more than egg yolks and oil, a perfect ingredient for cake.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2.5 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup water (or strong coffee)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grease or spray a 9-inch square pan (you can also use a 7 x 11-inch pan). If you will be removing the cake from the pan in order to frost the sides, you may want to put a sheet of greased wax paper or parchment in the bottom.

Combine the dry ingredients in your favorite mixing bowl. Add the water, mayo and vanilla. Mix to stir. Add the melted chocolate and beat at medium speed until well-incorporated and blended. Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or so. The top should be slightly mounded and an inserted toothpick should come out clean. Cool before frosting.

Almond Frosting
  • 2.5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and a few drops of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon milk
In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the flavorings and milk and beat just until blended. Taste. Add more almond a drop at a time if needed. This is enough to frost the top and sides of the cake or just the top with enough left over for several very generous licks.