First of all, let’s start with a picture
Right? That thing was delicious. The filling wasn’t perfect…something about the flavor combo that just wasn’t the best ever. Which is why this is post is called “the very best pie crust ever” instead of “the very best pie ever.” Still, I was happy to serve it and even happier to eat it up. See?
The genius of the recipe, courtesy of the genius that is Cooks Illustrated, is that it replaces some of the water with vodka. This allows you to make the dough wetter and easier to roll out, while still maintaining a tender, flaky crust. Basically, water + flour = gluten, but vodka + flour = magic. That’s just one of the awesome tricks that CI came up with.
||cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
||teaspoon table salt
||tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
||cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
||cup vodka , cold
||cup cold water
- Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
- Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
- Bake your pie as directed in whatever recipe!
See how you can sort of see the little chunks of butter and shortening in the picture? You want that because it creates layers of yummy flaky crust
This is the lighter, healthier version. I promise you that you would never guess that this creamy, deliciousness has so little fat and dairy in it. I wish I had a million recipes like this one. Sigh.
3/4 lb carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 Cup orange juice
4 oz sharp cheddar, grated
3 Cups (~9oz) rigatoni or other large pasta
1 T fresh tarragon (chopped) or 1.5 teaspoons dry tarragon
Salt & Pepper
- Put carrots and orange juice in a pot with a lid. Add as much water as necessary to cover the carrots. Season with a sprinkling of salt, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender (~30 min). If the carrots start to dry out before tender, just add a bit of water.
- Puree carrots and liquid until smooth. Note that steps 1 & 2 can be done 1-2 days ahead
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season liberally with salt and add pasta. Cook until al dente. Using a pyrex measuring cup or similar, remove 1 Cup pasta water before draining.
- Drain pasta. Combine carrot puree and half of water in empty pot. Over very low heat, stir until completely combined and add cheese and tarragon. Stir until combined into creamy cheese sauce.
- Add pasta, stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
The other title of this dish is “Rabia’s Delight,” because one of my friends lost her sh*t over it. It’s super easy and really scrumptious. It is not the best dish for a “come by whenever you want” brunch because the grits really don’t hold for all that long. I’ve decided that it would be a delicious dinner too. Try it!
Green Tabasco cream sauce
- 1/3 cup green Tabasco
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
Creamy, Dreamy Grits
- 5 cups water
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 2 cups corn grits (I like yellow better than white)
- 1/2 C shredded white cheese (mild chedddar or havarti are great)
Gulf shrimp & Andouille topping
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 ounces smoked andouille sausage, sliced
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- ~30 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half
- 14oz can chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- Combine hot pepper sauce, wine, shallot, lemon juice and vinegar in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cream. Note: Can be made ahead and stored in fridge
- Bring 5 cups water, milk and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Add salt and gradually whisk in grits. Simmer until grits are very soft and thickened, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Stir in grated cheese
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add sausage, bell peppers, onion and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Add shrimp, tomatoes, Cajun seasoning and sauté until shrimp are opaque in center, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Bring hot pepper-cream sauce to simmer. Spoon grits onto plates or bowls, spoon shrimp mixture over grits and drizzle hot pepper-cream sauce over and serve.
I think I can safely say that I make no other dessert that consistently knocks people out of their chairs like pavlova. While it certainly looks lovely, there is something innocuous about it sitting on the plate…just this white puff with some yogurt and berries. Nothing special, right? W-R-O-N-G. It’s crunchy on the outside and melt in your mouth fluffy on the inside, a heavenly pillow of dessert. AND you can make it in advance. AND it is secretly the best breakfast ever. Just trust me on this one, ok?
Makes 1 medium “cake” or 6 individual “cakes”
4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw multiple 3-4 inch circles on the paper. I usually end up with 6-7, but draw 8 just in case. They don’t spread in the oven, so you can fit quite a few on one sheet. If it does take two pans, make sure your pans both fit in the oven before you start cooking. No harm in over lapping them a bit.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, OR using a hand-held mixer with both beaters and a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold very soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds very stiff peaks. It’s hard to over-beat meringue, so if you’re not sure, give it another minute.
- Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and fold in with a rubber spatula,.
- Gently scoop and spread the meringue inside the circles drawn on the parchment paper. They should be nice, high mounds, 2-2.5 inches high. With a spoon, swirl the middle slightly to create a small well in the center. This will hold your yogurt or whipped cream.
- Bake for 1 hour or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven (about 1 hour). The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you may get a little cracking.
- Serve with whipped cream (sweetened and with vanilla) or Greek yogurt (sweetened and with almond) and top with diced berries and fruit (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, kiwis, blackberries, etc.)
One of my all-time easiest, most delicious desserts. Adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen. They say you can sub other berries for raspberries, but I haven’t tried.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries
- Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
- In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in almond extract. Add egg and beat well. (NOTE: I only have a hand mixer and my stuff never ever gets light and fluffy until I add the egg. Don’t fret if it is just crumbly and weird until then)
- At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
- Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Distribute raspberries evenly over top, cup side up, and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.
- Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (Note: Original recipe says 25 minutes, but I have never had it take that long. The first time you make this, start checking around 15 and note the time. The sugar on top is a neat natural timer. It’s usually done by the time the sugar turns golden). Cool in pan 15 minutes
- Eat it up!
Make your own buttermilk: No need to buy buttermilk especially for this or any recipe. Add one teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit until it clabbers, about 10 minutes. Boom!
This sauce is excellent with artichokes and (I think) would be great with a sturdier fish. I loved it. A+
½ cup dry white wine
8Tbsp. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup finely grated parmesan, or more to taste
1 t lemon, or more to taste
S & P
- Pour the wine into a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low, and whisk in the butter a couple of pieces at a time.
- Whisk in the Parmesan. Taste, and adjust with lemon juice, salt and pepper or more Parmesan, as needed.
I am in love and the bread that I love is focaccia. Holy salty, chewy, crisp goodness. And it wasn’t even hard! I blatantly used Cook’s recipe with minimal edits. Frankly, only a fool would monkey with a bread recipe the first time. It’s science, no? So, I am blatantly copying and pasting below:
Makes one 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch rectangle. Published May 1, 1997.
Rapid-rise or instant yeast reduces the preparation time by more than an hour. If you use an equal amount of regular active dry yeast instead, let the sponge in step 2 develop for thirty minutes rather than twenty, and increase the first and second rises to one and one-half hours each.
||medium baking potato (about 9 ounces), peeled and quartered
||teaspoons instant yeast
||cups unbleached all-purpose flour
||cup water (warm, 105 to 115 degrees)
||tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus more for oiling bowl and pan
||teaspoons table salt
||tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
||tablespoons fresh rosemary
||teaspoon sea salt , coarse, (or 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt)
- For the dough: Boil 1 quart water in small saucepan; add potato and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain potato well; cool until it can be handled comfortably and put through fine disk on ricer or grate through large holes on box grater. You will need 1 1/3 cups lightly packed potato for this recipe.
- Meanwhile, in large bowl of electric mixer or workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, mix or pulse yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup warm water until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (or put workbowl lid on) and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. If using mixer, fit with paddle attachment and mix on low speed (number 2 on KitchenAid) until dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium (number 4 on KitchenAid); continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. For food processor, process until dough is smooth and elastic, about 40 seconds.
- Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy and doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- With wet hands (to prevent sticking), press dough flat into generously oiled 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly roll pan (see illustration 1). Or, halve and flatten each piece of dough into 8-inch round on large (at least 18 inches long), generously oiled baking sheet (illustration 2). Cover dough with lightly greased or oil-sprayed plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy and doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. With two wet fingers, dimple risen dough (illustration 3) at regular intervals.
- For the topping: Drizzle dough with oil and sprinkle evenly with rosemary and coarse salt, landing some in pools of oil.
- Bake until focaccia bottom(s) are golden brown and crisp, 23 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Cut rectangular focaccia into squares or round focaccia into wedges; serve warm. (Focaccia can be kept on counter for several hours and reheated just before serving. Or, wrap cooled focaccia in plastic and then foil and freeze for up to 1 month; unwrap and defrost in 325-degree oven until soft, about 15 minutes.)
I’ve revised this recipe a few times since I first made it and think I have it pretty nailed down. This is absolutely one of the best dishes I make. Seriously Sick Delicious.
- 1 Acorn squash
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sweet curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1-2 teaspoon dark brown sugar (will vary depending on how sweet your squash is)
- 1/2 cup half & half
- Salt & white pepper to taste
- Split squash and remove seeds & fiber. Set aside the junk. Cut each half into ~4 even pieces. It’s easiest to do wedges.
- Heat butter in pot with a steamer basket (you’ll use the basket later) until foaming subsides. Add fiber/seeds and cook for 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Cover with 1-2 cups water (enough to cover seeds and provide steam, but not so much that it touches the bottom of the steamer basket).
- Place steamer basket over simmering squash broth and nestle cut pieces in. Simmer until tender- about 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and set aside squash pieces. Strain broth into measuring cup, pressing on solids. Once cool enough to handle, remove rind from squash and place 1/2 to 1/3 of squash in a blender with a similar portion of squash stock. Puree until smooth and add to no clean pot. Repeat until all batches are pureed and smooth. NOTE: There is no need to use all of the stock. You still have 1/2 & 1/2 to add, so you’re looking for a nice, thick creamy soup. You can always add in more squash broth later, but you can never take it out.
- Bring soup back to low simmer and add seasonings and sugar. Let simmer on low for about 5 minutes. NOTE: Your seasonings bloom in the heat, so will taste stronger after they have warmed up thoroughly. Make sure you give the soup a few minutes to warm up with the seasonings before adjusting.
- Add 1/2 and 1/2 and season to taste with salt & white pepper. Serve plain, with fried shallots or a dollop of greek yogurt mixed with lime and cilantro.
I would like to note that I almost threw the whole mess away after pureeing/ before adding the seasoning, it was that gross. A few dashes later and Sick Delicious. Don’t give up. I’ll get more specific with the measurements next time.
I don’t know what it is about this dish that drove me bananas. I LOVED it, but don’t think my hubby felt the same. I just loved the strong leek flavor, the gooy yolk, the little crunchy bits of rice, ginger and garlic. Heaven.
This recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation of a Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe. Kudos to all that came before me and kudos to you for trying it!
1/4 Cup peanut oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
2 Cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and dried
4 Cups day-old cooked rice. Jasmine is best, but great with brown.
4 Large eggs
2 Teaspoons sesame oil
4 Teaspoons soy sauce
- In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
- Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned.
- Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. If you like crispy bits, cook at medium-high and stir less frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Be generous with the pepper
- In a nonstick skillet (it just makes it easier) fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
- Divide rice among four dishes. I scooped mine into a small bowl and inverted it onto a plate (made a little dome), but it would also be good in a bowl.
- Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger and serve.