Archives for June 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Whole Wheat Crust

Written by Elizabeth of Guilty Kitchen.

I‘ve been challenged before by people to create foods or meals that are unique and intriguing, being not the norm but having the same or similar appeal. It’s not a challenge I take lightly. I was once challenged by a pregnant women (while also being pregnant) to create a vegan brownie that you could not tell was vegan. After only one try, I had it in the bag and it is definitely one of my proudest achievements in the kitchen.

So when Aimée, my editor for Simple Bites, asked me what I thought of whole wheat pie crust, I didn’t skip a beat in replying. “Challenge accepted!” What could be so difficult about it? I use whole wheat flour in just about everything from baked goods to breading for chicken and fish. I grew up with nothing but brown bread and never knew any better, so it doesn’t phase me one bit to rule out white flour.

The challenge of working with whole wheat

Everyone knows that whole grain whole wheat flour is better for you because it contains the germ and the bran, retaining all the vital nutrients (like protein, fibre, calcium, iron, etc.) of the original plant.

The biggest problem when using whole wheat flour in baked goods is the way it rises. It is denser and therefore requires the use of more liquid and longer rising times when using it in breads, muffins, etc. [Read more…]

Poor Girl Gourmet Cookbook Review, Peach Crostata & Giveaway!


This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winners: John, Kim and Ella!

This post could very well be titled My New Favorite Cookbook, but I wanted to lure you in with promises of a summery dessert recipe and a (yes, another!) giveaway.

Hang on, because I’m about to wax lyrical on another cookbook.

This on comes to me from the amazing Amy McCoy of Poor Girl Gourmet, one of my daily reads in the food blogosphere. She’s such a cool gal, and I was super excited to be asked to review her brand new cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget.

For the record– I LOVE it!

Before I could even flip through the book, I had to beat back my little sister, who happened to be here when the cookbook arrived and attempted to make away with it

“But. But. It’s perfect for me!!” she protested when I removed it from her bag.

Indeed, it’s perfect for everyone, because who doesn’t want to eat like a gourmet, but still stay within their monthly food allowance?

Amy kick-starts the cookbook with some highly practical pointers on how to save money. Head over to Simple Bites to read 10 Tips to Help You Conserve Some Coin, an article inspired by Poor Girl Gourmet, plus get another fabulous recipe!

With the tagline ‘Eating in style on a bare-bones budget’, the Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook takes us on a low-budget, high-quality food adventure. Every recipe is gorgeous, gorgeous, and makes you want to jump up and COOK.

Like this one, for example. Oh, and stick with me until the bottom for your chance to win Amy’s cookbook!!


Cornmeal Crust Peach Crostata

Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget
by Amy McCoy/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Cornmeal Crust:

  • 2¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (½ cup) very cold vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ to ¾ cup ice-cold water

Peach Filling:

  • 6 medium peaches (approximately 2 pounds), halved, pitted, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
  • ¼ cup honey

For Finishing:

  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk (any kind)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (sold as Sugar in the Raw), for dusting the crust

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt, mixing well to distribute all of these dry ingredients. Add the shortening and butter to the flour mixture, and blend until the fats are incorporated into the flour yet remain the size of peas.

2. Using a fork or pastry blender if not using a food processor, add the ice-cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together, meaning that no loose flour remains in your bowl. Form the dough into a ball. Place a piece of plastic wrap approximately 9 by 12 inches long on your work surface. Turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap, and flatten it into a thick round. Cover all parts of the dough round with the plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the peaches and honey, allowing the peaches to release their juices, or macerate, for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F and get out your 10 by 15-inch rimmed baking sheet.

5. On a lightly floured surface, working from the center of the dough round, roll out the dough to a misshapen rectangle approximately 10 by 15 inches. I like to do this on a piece of reusable silicone parchment, which makes the transfer of the dough to the baking sheet infinitely easier, as I also bake the crostata on this piece of parchment. You can do the same by rolling the dough out on regular parchment paper and then sliding the dough and parchment paper onto the baking sheet before filling it with the peaches.

6. Place the honeyed peaches and their accumulated juices in the middle of the misshapen dough rectangle, spreading the peaches around so that there is a 2-inch peach-free border of dough. Working from the long sides first, fold that 2-inch dough border back over the peaches, then fold the short sides’ 2-inch dough border over the peaches, tucking the corners up and over the dough to be sure all peaches at the edges are sealed in and leaving a center of exposed peaches, like a window of golden summer fruit.

7. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and milk, and then brush the egg wash over the crust. Sprinkle the crust with the turbinado sugar, then bake until the crust is golden brown and the peaches are bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving it forth.

Estimated cost for four: $3.17.

Hungry yet?

GIVEAWAY!

This giveaway is now closed.

Congratulations to our winner

John, Kim and Ella!

John, Kim and Ella said:

“My favorite is to buy local and in season! I’ve been trying to do this for the past year, and have loved it!
Thanks for the great post, can’t wait to get the cookbook and make the tart!

John, please contact me with your address and you will be receiving your cookbook shortly!

Thank you to ALL who entered!
* * *

OK, Amy McCoy is generously offering you a chance to WIN the Poor Girl Gourmet cookbook. I strongly suggest you do not miss this chance to get your hands on this book.

Here’s what you need to do to enter this Giveaway:

1. Read 10 Ways to Conserve Some Coin over at Simple Bites.

2. Jump back here and leave a comment on this post.

3. In your comment, tell me ONE of Amy’s money-saving tips you will implement into your lives, OR one thing you already do.

4. Optional: For an extra entry, you can TWEET this giveaway. Leave a second comment, letting me know you have tweeted. Thanks!

That’s it! This giveaway is open until midnight on Friday, June 18.

Winner will be selected by random.org and announced sometime on Saturday, June 19.

Good luck!!

Amy, thank you so much for the opportunity to get to know you a bit better and for your inspiring cookbook. You better believe that the next time I am coming through RI, I am stopping in for a cup of tea and your very own honey.

10 Tips to Help You Conserve Some Coin

We all want to know how we can trim our monthly grocery bill and yet feed our families real, wholesome food. Anyone who has shopped for organic ingredients, knows that there is a price to pay for bringing home pesticide-free, all-natural foods. So what can be done?

Fortunately, Slow Food Rhode Island leader Amy McCoy of Poor Girl Gourmet has some solutions for us. In her brand new cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget, she takes us on a low-budget, high-quality food adventure, offering proven tips for eating wholesomely on the cheap, as well as providing reliable recipes to back the tips up. Her suggestions for frugal eating are one hundred percent applicable for every household and well worth reading about.

Here are ten money-saving tips that I gleaned from her cookbook, as well as a recipe that demonstrates how a less desirable (read: cheaper) cut of meat can be absolutely amazing. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading: Frozen Bites Edition

We touched on frozen treats this week, but really, there are so many more options than semifreddo, popsicles, and iced coffee. Here are a few more ideas to inspire for you the upcoming scorching months.

Enjoy! [Read more…]

Happy Birthday to You (recipe: Very-Vanilla Buttercream)


June is a month of birthday’s around here. This week there was one every day in my extended family & friends. Whew!

Today, however, is a very important birthday for a super cool mom, Nicole. She’s turning thirty, folks, and for those of you who have been there, it ain’t easy saying good bye to the twenties.

Won’t you join me in wishing her a happy birthday?

Happy 30th, Nicole!

Now, Nicole, take a deep breath and repeat after me: everything is going to be OK.

It looks like the thirties are going to be kind to you, as far as I can tell. I mean, you’ve got that great hair, a super cute and decidedly edible baby, and a pretty rad husband.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he sent me this letter:

“Aimee,

My name is Jonathon and I am writing to let you know that my wife, Nicole, is a big fan of Under the High Chair. She has made several of your recipes, all of which were delicious, and she loves reading about your family.

We recently had our first child, Eric, who is now a bouncy 6-month old baby boy. During the pregnancy and after Eric was born, we were so busy that we got away from cooking (something we both love). Your blog has encouraged Nicole to get back in the kitchen and become passionate about cooking again. Thank you.

Anyway, I have a request, and please feel free to decline. Nicole (my wife) is having her 30th Birthday this Friday, June 11th. I know that she is feeling a little down about the age thing (however, to me she has never been more beautiful than she is now holding our boy).

Would it be possible for you to email her a short happy birthday email? I know it would tickle her to death and would be an unexpected surprise. You could even include some sage wisdom about cooking and/or motherhood.

I apologize if this is a strange request. We don’t put a lot of stock in Hollywood, but right now you (and your recipes) are a celebrity in our household.
I will attach a photo of Nicole and Eric to this email. I am proud of both of them.

Thanks,

Jonathon”

Thanks for your email, Jonathon. It pretty much made my night!

As for sage wisdom about motherhood, well let just hope people pipe up in the comments section, because I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Nicole, I hope your birthday was stellar and really, the thirties rock!

Oh right, I almost forgot. The cake!

It’s all components that you’ve seen before… Yellow Butter Cake, layered with buttercream and homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, and iced with a classic Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s finished with rolled fondant, and by now you’re probably thinking you’ve seen this cake before. Yes, you have, right here.

I kicked everything up with about four vanilla beans, however. Here is my new favorite, very-vanilla frosting:

Swiss Meringue Vanilla-Bean Buttercream
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 vanilla bean, split plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating until the mixture if fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to have separated after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again.)

With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla pod and add to icing. Beat on low speed to eliminate any air bubbles. Stir until smooth.

Frosting is now ready to use or it may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Before using, bring to room temperature.

Also, a big “Happy Birthday” to all my friends & family who celebrated a birthday this week: Josh, Laura, Peter, Rachel, Daria and Melanie!

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