Buttermilk Pie with Berries

I have to admit something. Up until I was in my early twenties, I believed that I disliked pie! Yes; in all truthfulness, I never came across a piece that I truly desired. Pies were also never something that commonly graced our dessert tables. If memory serves me right, there were two times my mother attempted to make a pie from scratch while I was growing up. She made a lemon meringue pie, and an apple pie. My mother is a fantastic cook, anyone who knows her will tell you that; but a baker she is not. I hope she is not offended by my writing this, but I have memories of her making the pies and none of me eating or tasting them. The Martha Stewart "Pies & Tarts" book I adore. It is out of print but you can still find old ones online.

To be honest though, the majority of pies I had encountered up until that point were purchased from a store, or baked fresh from a freezer section of your local supermarket. They always appeared to have gloopy fillings and the crust was always a bit on the soggy side. It wasn’t until a neighbor I had when I was first living on my own made a sweet potato pie that she insisted I come over and try. To be polite I accepted, and with in the first couple of bites I was weak in the knees. It was so well balanced because it was not too sweet, and the crust was tender. She thought me how to make the pie, and from then on I was on a pie mission. It wasn’t much longer after my pie euphoria that I came across a book from Martha Stewart appropriately entitled “Pies & Tarts” and purchased it. I have used it over and over again through the years. It thought me a ton and opened my eyes to the pie world. In many ways has become like a pie bible for me.

Pouring the Buttermilk Filling into the pie crust.

The other day we were going to a BBQ and I thought to myself: ‘What better to bring then a pie?” I walked over to my book shelves and pulled out my trusty Martha Stewart book. I flipped though the pages when I came across one of the recipes I alway wished I had tried but never got around to it- Buttermilk Pie. You make your pie dough as usual, whisk together a buttermilk custard, pour it into the shell and bake it. Sounds simple and straight forward. I imagined the buttermilk custard to have a sweet and lemony tang, and since berries are in great abundance right now I felt it was perfect to top the pie with some supper ripe ones.

The Buttermilk Pies cooling out of the oven. (Okay I admit it, I made two pies. One for the BBQ and one for us!)

So the evening before the BBQ I rolled out the pie dough, and chilled it until it was set. I made a nice border out of the crust with a circle cutter because I cannot sit still in the kitchen and I thought that with the berry filling it would somewhat look like an blossom when it was all done. I whisked the buttermilk filling together, poured it into the crust, and baked it off. It smelled mellowly sweet and buttery. I let it chill overnight and in the morning I went to the market to pick up the berries. I am sure that any berries would be great with this; but I asked the vendor what is at it’s peek and they pointed me in the direction blackberries, blueberries, and golden raspberries. After washing and drying the berries I piled them onto the center of the buttermilk pie. The pie looked beautiful and it got a tone of compliments. I will admit that it tasted wonderfully. The ripely sweet berries played nicely with the lemon tang of the buttermilk custard. It was lightly rich in flavor and in a whole they were a match made in heaven. I cannot believe I have not tried this pie until now. I really enjoy a good pie!

Buttermilk Pie with Fresh Seasonal Berries

Buttermilk Pie with Berries (makes one 8-9 inch pie)

1 recipe of Pate Brisee

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 tbsp flour

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup melted butter, and slightly cooled

1 cup buttermilk

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

4-6 pints of berries, depending on their size

First, roll out your pate brisee to about 1/2 - 1/4 inch thick in a circumference large enough to fit your pie pan. Gently lift your dough and lay it into your pan. With a sharp knife trim the edges overhanging. You can gently crimp the urging with your fingers. Or you can use a 1-2 inch circle cutter to cut out the remainder of the dough, pressing each one into the crust, while gently letting them overlap. Place the prepped pie crust into the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm and set (at least 1 hour).

Next, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl combine the sugar and flour. add in the eggs and whisk it all together. To this add in the melted butter, buttermilk, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and nutmeg. Whisk it all together to combine it evenly.

Then, place your prepped pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour the prepared filling into the crust, and place it in the center of the oven. Bake it for about 30 - 45 minutes. You are looking for the filling to be slightly golden and set when giggled. Remove from the oven and cool. can be refrigerated for a day until serving.

Meanwhile, wash your berries gently. Lay them out on a kitchen towel to it dry until ready.

Finally, when ready pile the berries into the center of the baked pie. Let them fall naturally about to fill your pie. Leave room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Can be held out for a few hours, but refrigerate if there are leftovers. But do not hold for longer than three days, or the berries will lose their luster.


Raspberry and Rhubarb French Tart

I ate a brownie the other day. I admit, that it was everything that I thought it would be: soft, chewy, moist, and had a deep chocolatey flavor. I ate a third of it and found myself wrapping it back up because I wanted to savor the rest of it and make it last. On a recent trip, while trekking though a terminal to catch my next flight, I stopped and grabbed a salad and that brownie. Somewhere over the mid western states I finished the rest of that brownie…I made it last and it got me through the last hour and a half of travel without my belly rumbling. Always roll out dough in the shape of your pan. This helps forming the dough to the pan without patching.

I should confess that as I hurried to eat my salad before my next flight boarded I started to think: Could it be that airport food improved - this salad is quite good?!? Then, I grabbed a coffee as I was back at the airport heading home to Seattle and it was terrible. Maybe there have only been small improvements where airport food is concerned? Either way, I am ready to be home. I miss my husband, I miss my dogs, I miss my everyday life.

By letting the fruit sit within the sugar allows the tartness of the rhubarb to mellow out.

I was talking with my husband the night I was packing to leave on this trip and he asked if I was putting the tart recipe I recently made on here. I told him it was just an average recipe, but he assured me that there was nothing average about something that tastes really good. You see, I have been making these tarts for years. It is one of those effortlessly recipes that you can always whip together and serve. You can alway change up the fruit you fill it with, and if you have cold butter and flour on hand the crust is just your basic pate brise that you can make within minutes - probably why I always have some in the refrigerator or freezer.

All ready to bake.

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over for dinner and I made a Raspberry and Rhubarb French Tart for dessert. We were having pizzas and I wanted a straight forward, simple, no fuss dessert to accompany it. This fruit tart is light and tasty without being heavy on the palette. It pairs well with just about any meal really. I am thinking that If the rhubarb I still had on hand before I left is still good I will be making it again once I am home. I love baking something once I am home. It makes everything seem right in the world and the nice aroma always shakes the “travel dust” off.

Raspberry and Rhubarb French Tart Fresh out of the oven.

Raspberry and Rhubarb French Tart (makes one 9 inch tart)

(*Note - For this tart I used a rectangular pan for the ease of cutting and serving easy pieces, but any round or square pan works well too,)

3 cups raspberry (fresh or frozen)

1 1/2 cups sliced rhubarb, about 1/2 - 1 inch pieces

2/3 cup of sugar

1/4 cup of honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp of flour

1 tbsp of butter

1/2 batch of Pate Brise (tart/pie crust)

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Roll your dough out on a well floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Try to roll it out to the shape of your tart pan. (This makes it easier when assembling.) Press the dough into your pan gently. Dock it with a fork or knife along the bottom and place the pan in the freezer to chill.

Next, in a bowl place your raspberries, rhubarb, sugar, honey, vanilla, and flour and toss it all together. Set it aside and let it macerate for 20-30 minutes.

Then, remove the tart pan from the freezer and place on a sheet pan. Gently, Pour the raspberry filling into the prepared tart pan. Be sure that the filling is level and even all the way across it. Place thin pieces of the 1 tbsp of butter across the top of the filling staying clear from the edges. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes rotating it half way through.

Finally, remove from the oven when the edges of the tart crust (pate brise) are golden and the filling is bubbly and reduced a bit. Let it cool about 15 minutes before removing the tart pan sides and serving. This can stay at room temperature for a couple of hours. If placing in the refrigerator wrap in foil, but before eating / serving be sure to bring it back to room temperature for it always tastes better that way.

Raspberry and Nectarine Pie with Almond Streusel

It is really uncommon to have either day of the weekend off when you work in a restaurant. Miraculously, I ended up with this Saturday off a week ago! This means I was sharing a day off with Brian – an extremely rare event. We treated it like it was a mini vacation touring about the city. We went to a special bakery for “breakfast”, hit up an obscure coffee shop you enter through an alley, walked through one of the neighborhood farmer markets, had lunch at my favorite whole in the wall Indian restaurant, walked my uncles’ dog, came home and walked our own girls, and then watched a three hour documentary on J.D. Salinger . It was a fun filled and packed day to say the least. Completely, and totally in a vagabond style. I personally think it is the only way I do things, random and then see where you end up. There is always an element of surprise that way. The downside is you end up tired and you don’t feel like you really had a day off! Also, you don’t feel like really cooking or baking anything.

My girls, tiered from a long afternoon walk with us. They look like I felt.

So when Wednesday of this week rolled around and I had another day off I was determined to hang out around the apartment and get a bunch of relaxation in. Relaxing and hanging out indoors was not hard considering that the temperature dropped below 70 degrees and never really saw the sun come through. I had a small flat of raspberries from a local farm in the refrigerator along with really rip nectarines sitting in a bowl on my counter. This was the perfect opportunity to combine the two and make something, like a pie perhaps?!?

Rspberry and nectarine Pie with Almond Struesle Topping. Latte watching over to be sure it is all good!

Yes, it was time for pie. A Raspberry and Nectarine Pie topped with Almond Streusel. As it baked the lovely smell of the fruit comingled with the almond topping. It really brightens the cool and unsunny day of summer. As I pulled it from the oven it continued to bubble as it cooled, I was mesmerized a bit as I watched it cool. I wanted to stand right over that warm bubbly pie with a spoon and dig in, but with much restraint I held back and waited a few hours for Brian to come home. After dinner we indulged in two slices a piece. They were so vibrantly tasty, like the summer sun worked some magic into the fruit that went into this pie. The sweet and slightly tart fruit filling against the crisply toasted almond topping was scrumptious. We continued eating a slice each night after dinner until there was no more. It is defiantly time for more pie!

Eating my second piece of pie.

Raspberry and Nectarine Pie with Almond Streusel (serves 10 – 12)

Almond Streusel

¾ cup of AP flour

½ cup of sugar

½ tsp of sea salt

3 oz butter, cold and cubed

½ cup of slivered almonds

1 tsp of vanilla extract


3 pints of raspberries, washed and picked over

3 nectarines, pitted and chopped into 1 – ½ inch cubes

½ cup of sugar

2 tbsp of A.P. flour


1/2 recipe of Pate Brise

First, follow the recipe for the pate brise. Once it is mixed and chilled roll out in a circular shape to about ¼ inch thickness. You are looking to fill a 9 – 10 inch pie pan. Gently lay the crust into the pan and gently fold the edges over and crimp it with your finger to flute the edging. Place the whole pan in the freezer and chill for about 30 minutes.

Pate Brise prepped in the pie plate,

Next, in the bowl of a food processor place all your streusel ingredients and keep pulsing until your almonds are ground finely and your butter in in tiny lumps. Place it half of this mixture in a bowl and place in the refrigerator to keep chilled. The other half wrap tightly and store in the freezer for a later use. You may store it up to three months for another use.

Raspberry and Nectarine filling.

Then, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl place your raspberries, nectarines, sugar, and AP flour. Toss it all together well (it is okay id the berries start to break down). Remove your pie crust from the freezer and place the pie plate on a rimmed sheet pan. Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie crust and evenly distribute. Remove the streusel topping from the refrigerator and evenly place over the top of the fruit filling.

Almond Streusle topping all piled on.

Finally, place in the middle of the oven and bake about 45 min to an hour. Be sure to rotate the pie half way though. Keep an eye on it as the topping may brown too quickly. If this is the case you can drop the oven temperature to 375 degrees for the remaining of the baking. When you crust and topping is evenly golden you should remove from the oven and let cool a few hours before serving.

Key Lime Pie

Don’t ask me why, but ever since we started the whole moving process I have had the desire for a key lime pie!?! I am not sure where the craving came from, but I wanted it and I needed to make it. I wandered over to one of the small markets in our new neighborhood and as luck should have it, they had everything I needed. It was a sign. I had to make it now. A good Key Lime Pie is wonderful, and a good one takes no more than a few simple ingredients. I love recipes like this…where the biggest fuss is pressing the crust together and separating your eggs. It was perfect to make this week while still being busy organizing the new apartment. Also, while the days here are still quite warm - a cool and tart piece of Key Lime Pie topped with fresh whipped cream is complete. Rather the only way to end a long day. Dig in for yourself. The ease of this recipe is wonderful.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie (feeds 8 – 10)

Note: This pie is extra tart, designed to complement the crunch of the crust and have the Vanilla Whipped Cream cut through it's puckering nature. The sugar in the raw is there to add texture and crunch to the crust so it is not lost on the rich, thick filling.


4 oz (1 package) of graham crackers, ground finely

5 tbsp of butter, softened

3 tbsp of sugar in the raw

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then in the bowl of a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment add in your three ingredients and mix until it is thoroughly mixed and sticks together when pressed with your fingers.

Next, gently pour your mixture into a 9 – 10 inch pie plate. Evenly press the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of your plate (as far as it will go). Place it in your preheated oven and bake about 10 minutes.

Finally; once your crust is lightly golden, remove from the oven and let cool about 15 minutes before proceeding with the following recipe.

Key Lime Filling

6 egg yolks

2 tbsp of key lime zest, grated

1 can (14 fl. oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of Key Lime juice, strained

First, place the first three ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk them well until your yolks are well combined with your condensed milk.

Next, little by little add your key lime juice whisking it into your yolk mixture. Whisk it until it is all together and emulsified.

Then, gently pour the mixture into your par-baked graham cracker crust. Place your filled crust back into the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the center of your pie is set and not too giggly.

Finally; when pie is set, remove from the oven and cool about 20 minutes. Then place your pie in the refrigerator and chill at least 2 – 3 hours (up to a day) before serving. Serve with Whip Cream recipe following

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 pint of heavy cream

1/4 cup of powdered sugar

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

First, place all the above ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer mix on medium speed until it becomes slightly thickened.

Next, change the speed of youth mixer to high. Continue mixing until your cream has doubled in volume and holds a medium peek.

Finally, to serve your pie you can spread the Vanilla Whipped Cream all over the top of your pie if you like. Then just slice and serve. Personally I like to slice and serve the pie as is and individually top each slice with the Vanilla Whipped Cream. I personally feel the more whip cream the better, but go about it as you wish.

Using a Pecan Crust for both sweet and savory.

The other day we were invited to a BBQ. Like always I asked what Brian and I could bring. We were told that there would be plenty of fish on the grill to make tacos with, so if we would like to bring a snack or a dessert it was more than welcomed. Dessert! Now you are talking my language. With hardly anything in the house I ran to the market. I had Chocolate Chip Cookies on my mind and thought it would fit with the tacos. I was walking to the checkout with the butter and chocolate chips in my hand as I passed the fruit. Right there I spotted these huge, ripe, luscious looking, local figs. I had to have them. Not only did I have to have them, but I had to scratch my plans of chocolate chip cookies and design a dessert around these figs.

Roasted Fig Tart with a Pecan Crust, along with slightly sweetened Whipped Creme

A roasted fig tart with a pecan crust topped with whipped cream sounded so good it was making my mouth water as I thought of it. When I got home I started in on the pecan crust. That is when I faced a dilemma. The recipe I use for the pecan crust only uses one egg and makes enough for three tart shells. Then I thought of how I can show you here that the same crust can go both ways; sweet as well as savory. So I baked two of the pecan crusts, and wrapped the remaining dough so I could freeze it and bake off at another time.

Formage Fort filled Pecan Crust

With both crusts I par-baked them and then finished them with their fillings. To roast the figs I tossed them with some local honey and vanilla and sprinkled the top with some cinnamon sugar. On serving, I had lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side. The end result was scrumptious, and I'll admit that I had seconds, it was so good. It was equally enjoyed by all. By the end of the night all that was left - a scoop of whipped cream and some tart crumbs. About two days later I pulled the other par-baked pecan crust out of the refrigerator and filled it with a double batch of fromage fort recipe I had written on here a while back. It was delicious, and so savory. I served it along some sautéd green beans and favas topped with basil. To be honest I am not sure what I liked better. The sweet, roasted figs or the savory, gooey fromage fort? I will have to decide and make it again.

Roasted Fig Tart with a Pecan Crust (serves 10 or more)

2 baskets of Figs, trimmed and quartered (I used at least 11 figs in this tart)

¾ cup of honey

2 tbsp of sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

(Recipe for pecan tart shell to follow)

First, line your quartered figs evenly across your par-baked tart shell.

Next, drizzle the honey over your figs. Be sure to evenly coat over the fig quarters.

Then, mix the cinnamon into your sugar. Once combined sprinkle mixture over the top of the figs and the honey.

Finally, place the completed tart back into a preheated 375 degree oven. And bake about 25 minutes, or until you see your figs start to caramelize along with the honey and the cinnamon sugar bubbly. Allow to cool about 20 minutes before removing from its tart pan and serving.

Pecan Tart Crust (enough for three 9 – 10 inch tarts)

10 oz of pecans

1/3 cup of sugar

3 cups of AP flour

8 oz of butter, softened

1 egg

1 tsp of vanilla extract

(*Note: This recipe is enough for 3 nine inch tarts. You really cannot cut this recipe in half because of the one egg. You can, however use what is needed and tightly wrap the rest and freeze until your next use.)

First, place the pecans in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Do not over pulse or you will end up with pine nut butter! Add sugar and flour and pulse until combined. Also, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Next, place your pecan mixture in a bowl and add the butter, egg, and vanilla extract mix until incorporated. Divide dough up into three even parts, wrap tightly and chill at least 10 minutes before using. Meanwhile, butter and flour your tart pans.

Then, take the dough from refrigerator and using your fingertips press out the dough into the tart pan until the pan is covered evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess if it is needed.

Finally, bake crust for 10 minutes and the rotate and bake for another 10 minutes more. At this point your crust should be par-baked. If your re looking to fully bake your crust bake about 30 minutes total…the crust should be golden. Remove from oven and cool until ready to fill and finish.

Fromage Fort filled Pecan Crust (serves 8 – 10)

**See here for Fromage Fort recipe, and double it.

Place the filling into the pecan crust on a sheet pan and place under a low broiler for about 10 minutes. Timing will depend on your oven and how far away your tart is from your broiler.

Keeping an eye on your tart, you are looking for the filling to be all bubbly and golden.

Once filling is golden, remove from oven and let cool about 15 minutes before removing from pan and serving. Enjoy while warm.

Christmas Eve, Uncle Jimmy, and Chocolate Bottom Pecan Pie

Christmas Eve at my father’s Uncle Frank and Aunt Fran’s home was always so special to me. It was not because it was Christmas, it was not due to presents, and it was not due to the food (although it was always awesome). It was because it was one day out of the year that my father’s family was all together. It was a night that I got to spend with all my family and I cherish the memories that I have from those nights. What I value more than anything else of those times is the time I would spend with my uncles. I have more respect for them then I will ever be able to express. I have formed much of the way I view life by what I have learned from all of them. I also knew that if I was to ever marry, that man had big shoes to fill because I would compare him to all of my uncles.

My father in the center with the bow tie. My uncles and cousins surrounding, My sweet Uncle Jimmy in the bottom right corner.

I do not have favorites; but my Uncle Jimmy (married to my father’s Aunt Marge) was kind, sweet, gentle and had a good soul. He will always have a special place in my heart. Very often on Christmas Eve I would find myself sitting on the couch next to him. He has given me many words of wisdom on that couch. One year he explained to me that he did not know how many years he had left, that he was an old man now. He went on to explain how much he adored my boyfriend (now my husband), that he knew he was the right one for me, and how he looked forward to us getting married.

My wedding day, with all of my Father's Uncles and Aunts. (Uncle Jimmy is holding my hand.)

But of all the Christmas Eves, my most favorite memory of him is the year that my father, along with all of his cousins got Uncle Jimmy a pecan pie as his present. You see often my family would go out with my Aunt Marge and Uncle Jimmy for coffee and dessert. It never failed that every time my uncle would express that he wanted to order the pecan pie, my Aunt Marge would cut him off exclaiming that they will be ordering an apple a la mode with two forks! My father said “If I can get anything for my Uncle I will get him the pecan pie he always wants.” All the cousins followed hoping my Uncle Jimmy would find the humor in it all. As we sat opening presents my Uncle ended up with about “five” pecan pies. He was grinning and laughing at all of them when he turned to me and said, “Danielle, why are they all giving me pecan pie? I am not sure if I even like pecan pie!” I laughed so hard, I cried.

My Uncle Jimmy passed away a few years after that. He did get to see my husband and I get married, and I miss him something terrible. When I had my bakery I thought of him often and created this dessert in his honor: A Chocolate Bottomed Pecan Pie. I think it was worthy of his love, and all the wisdom I gained in life from him. Below is the recipe for the pie followed by a recipe for the crust. I hope you will give it a try and share it with someone as special as Uncle Jimmy and make some memories like I have of him. Happy Christmas!

Partially eaten Chocolate Bottomed Pecan Pie

Chocolate Bottom Pecan Pie (Makes a 10 - 12 inch pie or 3 small 4 inch pies)

(***This recipe easily doubles...even triples.)

6 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped (60-70% cacao recommended)

2 cups Pecan Halves, toasted and cooled

3 Eggs

1/3 cup of Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

¼ tsp Salt

¾ cup of Real Maple Syrup

1 nine inch pie shell (recipe below)

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle of oven. Place your chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a double boiler stirring frequently until melted. Also, have your pies lined with your Pate Sucree (recipe following) and par baked for at least 15 minutes.

Next; in a large bowl whisk together your eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup until evenly smooth.

Pare baked pie shells, melted chocolate layer, and toasted pecans

Then, pour your melted chocolate into the base of your pie shell and spread it to completely cover it evenly. Place the toasted pecans evenly over the melted chocolate.

Finally, pour your egg and maple syrup mixture over the pecans. Tap the filled pie gently to shake out any air bubbles that may be trapped within the nut filling. Place it in the middle of your oven and bake about 45 minutes until the center is set and slightly puffed. Remove and cool before serving. (Can be held up to 4 days refrigerated.)

Pate Sucree A.K.A. Sweet Crust (enough for two 10 – 12 inch pie shell or six small 4 inch)

2 ½ cups of AP flour

8 oz of cold butter, cut into small piece

¼ tsp of salt

3 tbsp of four

4 tbsp of sugar

2 egg yolks (large), beaten

¼ cup of ice cold water

First; in the bowl of your food processor place your flour, salt and sugar. With the dough attachment pulse it all together to mix.

Next, place your cold butter into your food processor and pulse with your flour mixture is combineded and your butter is no bigger than the size of peas

Then, whisk the yolks and the water together. Slowly add it to your butter and flour mixture. Keep this up until all of your mixture forms a ball.

Finally, remove the dough from your food processor. Kneed it lightly and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use. After chilling in the refrigerator, remove and roll out until you have a desired thickness and lay into your molds (Pie shell, Tart, or mini pastries). **If pare baking be sure to place it in a 375 degree oven and bake about 15 minutes, or until slightly golden.

Hiking leads to a Ganache Filled Raspberry Tart

There is a park down the road from where we live that is just beautiful called Golden Gardens. It has nice grounds, a beach, hiking trails, an off leash dog park, picnic areas, and just about anything to make you realize how beautiful it is here.  I have been taking the girls (Martini and Latte) here since we moved and they love it as much as Brian and I do. I have had my eye on a set of stairs that runs up the big hillside with meandering hiking trails off of it since I first went here. I kept thinking to myself: Someday I will climb up those stairs…Get more active and in shape! Nearly two years have gone by and I have done no such thing. But recently Brian and I finally decided to do it. We got off to an early start and hit the park, climbed the stairs, did two of the trails and climbed our way back down. It felt good, invigorating, and also made me realize how out of shape I was. New motivation - eat better and do a good stair climb more often. So far we have been off to a great start.

But my mind wonders and as I hike I think about making Caramel! No, no, I cannot think about caramel while I am achieving a healthier living attitude. I try to rationalize with myself that this form of thinking is an occupational hazard (being a pastry chef and all). Still my mind wonders back to something sweet, like “How can I make my Peanut Butter Icing better?” Well, at least peanut butter is a protein; yes, that is how I rationalize. Yet, I want to think about food that is good for you; like berries for example. Raspberries, dark chocolate ganache, a cognac infused whip cream – and round it goes. Although; it did result in a great dessert that I created in my kitchen when I got home. You have to start somewhere I guess. I will hike more and climb more stairs to work it off. I do wonder what cooking will come from my next hike.


Ganache Filled Raspberry Tart (makes one 9 inch tart)

1 large container of fresh raspberries (or two small ), washed and picked over

4 oz of bittersweet chocolate (chopped small)

1 cup, plus 2 oz of heavy cream

2 oz of cognac

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 tbsp, plus 1 tsp of sugar

Powdered sugar for dusting

½ recipe of Pate Brise

First; with your Pate Brise made, well chilled, and rolled out to about a ½ inch – ¼ inch thickness and large enough round to fit your tart pan. Place the Pate Brise gently in the tart pan and trim away the excess dough if necessary. Place in the tart pan in the refrigerator while you heat your oven.  You can then place your oven at 375 degrees.

Next, make your Ganache. In a double boiler place your chocolate and 2 oz of your cream.  Place all over medium heat and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and is all smoothly mixed in with the cream. Remove from the heat and place the Ganache in a piping bag (I prefer the disposable plastic ones) and with an elastic tie a not at the top so you do not have a lose opening.

Meanwhile; your oven should be at temperature. Place your tart pan lined with the pate brise on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden and baked though.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature when done. (Feel free to line you pate brise with parchment and pie weights if you feel necessary to bake off.)

Then; with a plate that your raspberries can stand upright in – or lean to do so – get ready to fill your raspberries. Trim the end of your piping bag to expose a small opening and gently fill the raspberries with the chocolate Ganache. Stack and lean them as you go until you have completed all your raspberries and place them gently in the refrigerator to chill and so the Ganache has a chance to set up.

After your Ganache filled raspberries are chilling you can make your whip cream. In the bowl of a standing mixer place your 1 cup of cream, the sugar and the cognac. Place the whip attachment on and whip all together on high speed until the cream is thick and whipped.

Finally, to serve your tart remove the pate brise shell from the tart pan gently and place on your serving plate. Spread your cognac whipped crème evenly across the base of your tart bottom.  Remove your filled raspberries from the refrigerator and gently pile them onto your crème filled tart. Dust the top with powdered sugar to your liking and serve.

Rhubarb Pie

Our local farmers market has started to get in Rhubarb. I do not know about you, but I just adore Rhubarb. I am fascinated by its sour tartness, and how lovely it becomes when combined with a bit of sugar. I have had it many ways but I wanted to make a pie…not combining it with other fruits, just a strait forward Rhubarb Pie.

As I was making the lattice top to the pie I started to smile thinking of my sister. When we were little (and in the 80’s) The Beastie Boys came into popularity. Their video was all the rage on MTV – Fight for Your Right to Party. Jaclyn (my sister) and I thought it was the best thing since Michael Jackson’s – Thriller. In the video two nerds decide to have a party serving soda and…PIE! Hoping no bad people show up; and of course the Beastie Boys show up and wreck the party throwing the pies at the nerds.  I was thinking how funny Jaclyn and I found the video, how we would act the video out, and how upset I would be if someone throw this beautiful pie I was making at someone. I guess we grow up.

Anyhow, this Rhubarb Pie is delicious. The crispness of the crust with the juicy rhubarb filling is a wonderful contrast.  It was tart and sweet, not sour. The texture of the rhubarb filling was still somewhat firm, and not mushy. The garnet color of the rhubarb was glistening against its golden crust; it was just as beautiful to look at as it was in flavor. If you can get your hands on some fresh rhubarb you must try it out. But please withhold the urge to throw it at someone Beastie Boy style!


Rhubarb Pie ( serves 8 – 10 )

1 ½ pounds of Rhubarb; trimmed and chopped into ½ slices (about 5 cups)

1 ¼ cup of sugar

2 tbsp of corn starch

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 recipe of Pate Brise

Flour, for dusting and rolling out dough

¼ cup of heavy cream

1 – 2 tbsp of sugar for sprinkling

First; with one batch of Pate Brise ready and chilling. You should preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile; place your sliced rhubarb in a large bowl and toss with your 1 ¼ cup of sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract.  Set it aside and remove your Pate Brise from your refrigerator.  Using ½ your Pate Brise recipe on a surface dusted well with flour and roll out dough to about ¼ of an inch thick. Trying to keep the dough in a circular form as best as possible.  Place the dough in the bottom of an 8 – 9 inch pie plate (it is okay of it overhangs and is not perfect.) Fill it with your rhubarb mixture and set aside.

Next; roll out the other half of your Pate Brise (again be sure your surface is well floured) to about ¼ inch thick. With a sharp knife slice the dough into even strips (no more then and inch a piece). Take your two longer strips and place them cross wise on top of your filled pie.

Then; you will want to alternate your other strips of dough and form a lattice pattern. Be sure to alternate your lattice, and to space your strips evenly apart. When done be sure to crimp your bottom edge with the lattice edge of the top of your pie and trimming away the excess dough as needed.

Finally; your crimping is done you can brush the lattice top of your dough with the heavy cream. Sprinkle it evenly with your tablespoon of sugar. Place your pie on a sheet pan and into your preheated oven for about 40 minutes. (Rotating it half way through.) When your pie top is looking golden and your filling is bubbling in between all of the weaved top it is ready to be removed and cooled. Be sure to cool about and hour before slicing and eating.

Note:This pie can be held at room temperature wrapped in foil, for no longer than four days.

Veggie Pot Pie

The saying goes: “March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb.” If you would have stated this last weekend I would have agreed. Seattle was beautiful; it was sunny, in the 50’s, flowers and trees everywhere were blooming, and the sweet smell of spring was in the air. Fast forward and today it is windy, damp, has been raining hard since last night, and it is in the chilly 50’s Funny how the sun could make such a difference. Where did my lamb go? The lion feels like it is back and ready to roar. Believe it or not I had to cater an event today. And yes, they were planning for nicer weather because we were practically outside for this event. They were expecting over 200 people and were hosting the party in a covered area, but not in the open. My chef jacket was completely wet by the time I parked my car and helped get all the desserts in and under covering. By the time we were done plating all the desserts I was so ready to go home to my nice warm apartment and have a nice comforting meal.

As I drove across downtown at rush hour my mind was wondering to all the things I could make for dinner. Pasta and Vodka Sauce? Pizza? Soup? Roasted Veggies? My imagination was not peaked, and then I remembered the extra Pie Dough (Pate Brise) I had in the refrigerator. It was a perfect kind of evening to have a Pot Pie. It is easy to whip up, homey feeling, and make this lioness weather seam mild in my mind.

A pot pie is terrific way to use up some of those veggies you have laying around in the refrigerator. I have made it with any variety of combinations. In this one I used brown rice, but I have used barley in the past as well. Either the brown rice or the barley end up lending a great texture to the pot pie. For a veggie pot pie I have flavored the gravy with curry and also with herbs de province in the past, but tonight I was looking for a strait forward classic pot pie. Vegetarian of course, but you can make it with chicken so easily. Having a Veggie Pot Pie for dinner is uncanny. You will love it.


Veggie Pot Pie (serves 6 – 8 )

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

½ onion, chopped small

½ bell pepper. Chopped

¾ cup of peas (frozen is fine)

1 ½ tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of flour

2 cups of stock, veggie or chicken

3/4 cup of milk

½ tsp of dried sage

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1 ½ cups of tofu, cubed (can use chicken if you like)

1 cup of cooked brown rice or barley


½ batch of Pate Brise


First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place a medium pot over high heat and melt your butter. Add in your onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and peas and stir well. Let it all simmer together about 5 minutes. Sprinkle your flour over your veggies and stir well again.

Next, pour your stock over your veggies stir well to break up any flour lumps that might have occurred. Sprinkle in your dried sage and bring to a simmer about 10 minutes. Add in your milk and season with your salt and pepper. Bring back to a simmer about 5 more minutes; your milk might bubble while boiling – so keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, place your pate brise onto a well-floured surface. Also, get a 9 – 10 inch pie plate ready by placing it on a sheet pan for baking. Roll out your pate brise onto your floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness. Your pate brise should be about 12 inches round. You can trim the edges to be sure it is an even circle. Using a cookie cutter of any shape cut out a few wholes so that your pie filling can release its steam while cooking. (I like to cut out some extra pate brise to use for decoration)

Finally, pour the rice and the tofu into your pot with your veggies and stir well. Pour the mixture form the pot and into your pie plate. You want to come within ½ inch from the top of your pie plate. Gently place your pate brise over the top of your filled pie pan and crimp the edges any way you like. You can use the cut outs of your dough to decorate the top at this time. Place it in the oven on the sheet pan for about 20 minute, or until your filling is bubbling and your top is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool about 10 minutes before serving.