Friday, December 17, 2010

FFWD: Speculoos

Spices are for the holidays. It's the time of year when we crave bold flavors and anything warm. These speculoos fit the bill perfectly. They're crunchy and have a blend of spices that will make you want just one more. I'm usually a soft, chewy cookie kind of girl, but I wouldn't want these little gems any other way than what they are: crisp and crunchy,while still having a melt-in-your-mouth quality that is seriously addictive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010



Christmas traditions are sacred to me. These are the things that make a certain time of year feel like a holiday. They make a memory tangible and the best part is they can be old or they can be new. The important thing is that you remember. My little Trio cookies are a new tradition; this is the second year I have made them and they say "Christmas is here!" I love them because they look so festive and especially because they are delicious.

Friday, December 10, 2010

FFWD: My Go-To Beef Daube

A snowy night calls for comfort food. Which is exactly what this is: the perfect winter meal. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for this dish. It snowed the entire day and I spent it chopping, browning and braising. Absolute heaven. This meal surprised me. I wasn't prepared for the depth of flavor to be had from a chunk of beef, some root vegetables, a bottle of red wine, and.... Grand Marnier? 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranberry-Cornmeal Quick Bread


It's been a while since I've shared one of my recipes with you. The baking/cooking groups are fun, but they've been monopolizing the real estate here, just a little bit. So here is a recipe of my own choosing, a recipe that I love dearly. I've made this bread for our Thanksgiving breakfast for the last two years and every time I taste it, I fall in love again. Meet a loaf of cornbread kissed with maple syrup and studded with toasted pecans and dried cranberries. I think it would look great on your kitchen table on Christmas morning.It would also be perfect for any breakfast from  September to February, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Sweet and Salty Brownies


These brownies are killer. A lot of brownies probably get that label, but these are the real deal. I've had some practice with making caramel and now I can't get enough. This caramel not only has cream in it and a generous pinch of salt, but also sour cream, which was a first for me. It's so rich and creamy and the salty kick at the end just makes you want more.

Friday, December 3, 2010

FFWD: Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts


I have two words for you regarding this recipe: Double it. I'm in love with the simplicity of this recipe and by how much these resemble the cinnamon almonds that you find in the malls this time of year. This recipe is the perfect holiday snack: Quick to make and completely addicting.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Nutella Scones

Well, I've joined another baking group. I had to, though. It's for the Baked cookbooks and I'll get to cook through the entire book (both of them) while getting feedback from other bakers making the same things. It's a great set-up and I'm loving my French Friday group. This one will be amazing too. I mean, just look at the scones. This also just happened to be the recipe I wanted to make from this book first. It was meant to be. And oddly enough, it is also my very first chocolate scone creation. Ever. Sad, but true. I'm so glad Matt and Renato were kind enough to fix that for me. I can't imagine needing any other chocolate scone recipe after trying this one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

All the convenience of a bowl of cereal, all the elegance of a French dessert. Would you ever guess that this cake is made with Cream of Wheat? I never would have. This recipe is usually made with a box mix by the French; Dorie says that our Cream of Wheat cereal is a very close approximation. I have fond memories of winter mornings spent doctoring up bowls of porridge with a pinch of this, a dash of that     (mostly butter and sugar, and most importantly, salt). This tastes a lot like I remember, actually. The big difference is the caramel because the base is simply milk, cereal, egg, sugar and vanilla. Put them together and what do you get? A custard! Love. Love. Love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FFWD: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

This week I roasted a chicken and it was easy. Because it was designed for lazy people (les paresseux).  There is a secret to this chicken; you can't see it in my pictures, but it's there and it's the real star of this dish. For me, anyway. Before you add the chicken, you put some bread on the bottom of the pan for the bird to rest on. The result will blow your mind. I've never tasted the essence of chicken before. I've never tasted anything so rich and so intensely chicken in my life. This is huge, really. It changed the way I will cook chicken from now on. There will always be bread underneath. I used a halved baguette and it was so caramelized at the end of the cooking time that I thought it was burned. But not quite, because it was so delicious I almost forgot to eat the rest of the meal. Oh yes, and the chicken was delicious as well, as were the vegetables that got basted and roasted in all the chicken fat.

This was another surprise and another gift from Dorie. Thank you so much for sharing this little secret. I'll never look at a chicken the same way again. Be sure to see what everyone else decided to cook this week over at French Fridays with Dorie.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans

This month the FFWD bloggers get to choose what recipe to make week to week. I picked the flan this week and I can think of a couple of words to describe this little starter. Sophisticated and easy. I love a custard in any shape or form. I also am crazy about pumpkin and blue cheese and walnuts. Could there be any other combination that says "Autumn" more than those? Well, apart from pumpkin and cream cheese, of course. But I love a savory pumpkin just as much. I opted for the drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of sour cream to finish it off. It was divine. Instead of making six of them, though, I only made two and put them in an oven-proof skillet filled halfway with water. The rest is waiting for me in the refrigerator, just because I wasn't having a dinner party that night. I might have tried to eat them all myself anyway, but now I can look forward to a luxurious little custard whenever I want. Delayed gratification. I could get used to that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

These beauties are from my latest cookbook obsession, Baked Explorations. I love the concept of sweet and salty in a cookie, I love the name and I love anything that comes out of this bakery. Pretzels and chocolate in an oatmeal-espresso cookie? I'm sold.... and now addicted. So I wanted to pass these along to you, because everybody needs an obsession.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake


This is a French apple cake and it's the easiest cake I've ever made. Really. No mixer required. This is also about half apple, half cake, so it's kind of healthy. Sort of. Something about this dessert is so comforting, so simple - and yet so decadent. The interior is like a custard, chock full of apples and laced with rum and vanilla. Sure, it looks like dessert, but just between you and me....I ate most of it for breakfast the next day.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Country Captain


Need an idea for dinner? Something different, yet easy to make and absolutely delicious? Let me introduce you to this tasty number, Country Captain. Not being from the south, I wasn't familiar with this dish, but it was given a make-over by Bon Appetit and one look was enough to convince me that I needed to try this. Originally, it's a saucy chicken dish flavored with curry powder and served over rice. There's an interesting article on the history of how it got its name here. But all you really need to know is that it's easy and mouth-watering and (if you're interested) good for you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Hachis Parmentier

It's time for another visit with French Fridays with Dorie. This week we made Hachis Parmentier, which is essentially a French shepherd's pie. I almost didn't make this. It didn't seem like it would taste like much. Just meat and potatoes? I wasn't inspired, I'll be honest. However, this is another winner and maybe the best example of approachable French food I've come across. The base is browned ground beef and sausage in a sauce with a hint of tomato. The topping is mashed potatoes, but potatoes elevated to a whole new level. It's so simple, yet full of flavor. This is comfort food at its best: easy to prepare and it has a big payoff. The man in your life will love you for it, I promise!

I read someone's response in the Problems and Questions post for this assignment that a Parmentier is a person who sings the praises of potatoes, or something like that. So this is a dish for potato lovers. It glorifies the humble potato and makes it ethereal. If for no other reason, I love the French for the way they love and respect food. The preparation for these mashed potatoes will be my go-to recipe for the fluffiest, creamiest, most flavorful potatoes ever. And the cheese on the top? Gilding the lily, my friends. It's browned Gruyere and Parmesan and it's a thing of beauty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Ribbon

Well, I've finally decided which of my pumpkin recipes I'm trying first. I went with pumpkin bread because I liked the idea of a little cream cheese tucked inside of these loaves. I love how the filling turned into Amazon smiles.  I promise this bread will make you smile, too, because it's easy and delicious.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grilled Pork with Cider Jus and Browned Butter Cauliflower Puree


Okay. I'm ready to jump headfirst into fall foods. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. No other season inspires me as much to get in the kitchen and create things.  This is actually one of my favorite savory meals to celebrate the season. I can't get enough of the cider reduction--it smells like everything that makes autumn special. It's sweet, spicy, aromatic and complex. I've made it three times and I'm thrilled to share the recipe with you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gerard's Mustard Tart


Welcome to my first installation of French Fridays with Dorie. This is an on-line cooking group that enables bloggers (or anyone with a camera and a kitchen) to cook the same recipes from the same book and compare notes and photos of the results. The book in question is Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. It was just released last month and this is the first recipe I've made. I'm in love..

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Orange and Oat Scones


For the first of what promises to be one of many scone recipes on this blog, I wanted to start with this one. I made it for the first time only last week and it is now one of my favorites. And I've consumed quite a few in my life. This one is a keeper.  Thank you, Heidi, for sharing this gem and I'd like to pass on the word that this is one delicious and comforting recipe.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Italian Vegetable Soup


This one goes out to all my vegetarian friends. The more recipes I see that are vegetarian, the more I am drawn to them. I've found myself craving greens, beans and grains and not even missing a meat protein. I couldn't even tell you why, exactly, because as much as I love furry animals, I don't really mind eating them. I do respect that decision to not eat meat; I'm just not quite prepared to not have a little taste of bacon or cheese every now and then. They add a lot of flavor. However, something as good as this soup doesn't need anything else added to it to make it delicious. Except for a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rosemary-Semolina Round with Sesame and Sea Salt


My mom loves to bake and she taught me to love it too. I'm so grateful to her for showing me techniques like cutting in butter for pastry or kneading dough for bread. It never occurred to me to be afraid of these things. I grew up in the kitchen by my mom's side, if not actively participating, then observing (and tasting) and at least getting familiar with the more involved aspects of baking. I'm pretty sure I was first introduced to the magic of yeast in the form of Butterhorn Crescents, which are a staple at our house every Thanksgiving. I'll be sure to share that recipe with you, but first, let me introduce you to the bread I'm convinced you'll want to have around this fall for all those soups we're going to  make together.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Peanut Butter S'more Cookie Sandwiches


Southern cooking. It's something I am not familiar with as a Mid-western-raised girl. It's been around for a while and I'll confess I wasn't head-over-heels about it at first. Features were popping up in my favorite magazines about biscuits and greens.....and I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. But something about the home-style, comforting, made by hand aspect about it drew me in. Because everything about that says "love" to me. And now I'm smitten.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Fest: Stuffed Tomatoes


These little gems are Marglobe Tomatoes all dressed up for summer. I thought about doing some sort of savory, cheesy tart to highlight garden tomatoes, but my husband requested a lighter meal for dinner. I wanted to do something a little more special than a salad, with more components than simply roasting them....and then, while flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit,  this recipe jumped off the page and was exactly what I was looking for.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Fest: Almond-Plum Buckle


Meet the perfect transition from summer to fall. The plum. Would you like to hear a secret? I've never baked with a plum before. That's a crime; baking affects fruit the same way roasting does. It intensifies the flavors. It magnifies them. It concentrates them. This lovely cake, with its moist, crumbling texture has pockets of melting, fragrant, jammy plums and I'm officially in love.  Perhaps the perfect late-summer breakfast, I'm baking this buckle every week until plums disappear from the markets, because, my friends, this is perfection.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Fest: Chicken Under a Brick with Fresh Herb Sauce

Welcome to my first post for a wonderful idea called Summer Fest. Some clever bloggers have organized this party over at Pinch My Salt and A Way to Garden to celebrate the produce of summer. Every Wednesday in August a different category will be featured. Corn was highlighted last week and you can take a peek at all the recipe ideas on the participant list on these blogs (and all the others listed on their sites). This is a great way to find new favorite blogs, get fresh inspiration and tap into all the creativity that is coming from some very talented people.


The featured category this week is Beans, Herbs and Greens, so my contribution is this recipe for Chicken Under a Brick with Herb and Garlic Sauce. It's from a featured menu in Bon Appetit celebrating California Cuisine and it's absolutely perfect to celebrate the best of summer. I also make the side that was featured, a Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette, which also has a bunch of fresh herbs. They were perfect together.


I will definitely be making this dish again. It defines, for me, the essence of summer. I love to grill. I especially love to grill chicken with the skin on so it gets charred and smoky. I'm not sure the brick was necessary, though. That technique might work better for pressing down a butterflied whole chicken, rather than a boneless breast. Mine didn't get too flattened and the brick makes it a little difficult to check underneath to make sure the chicken is browning properly. As you can see, mine is a little on the dark side.  It was just slightly more charred than I like my skin, but it was still wonderful, especially with the bright, zingy herb dressing that went with it.


I hope this is inspiring for anyone looking to get the most out of their summer produce. And if you haven't already, start planning that vegetable and herb garden for next year! It is so worth the work to have fresh produce at your fingertips. It makes all the difference in flavor and it's so convenient to just step out the back door and have what you need on hand. Right now I'm growing mint, rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, chives and dill. And I love them all.


And don't forget to take a peek at what's happening at Summer Fest 2010. Just click here to join the party. Start planning how you're going to use all those zucchini, corn and tomatoes; summer flies by in a blur of sun, cook-outs, and vacations. I'm planning on soaking up the season the best way I know how: eating it!

Summer Fest 2010  

Chicken Under a Brick With Fresh Herb and Garlic Sauce
Bon Appetit

Serves 8

12 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1 1/2 c. (packed) Italian parsley sprig tops
1/3 c. white balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. (packed) fresh mint leaves
1/4 c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper 
1 c. olive oil
8 large boneless chicken breast halves with skin
Nonstick vegetable spray
8 bricks, wrapped in foil (optional, in my opinion)

Cook 8 garlic cloves in boiling water 2 minutes. Drain garlic. Place in processor and cool. Add remaining 4 garlic cloves and next 6 ingredients. With machine running, gradually add oil, blending until thick sauce forms. Season with salt. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag. Add 1/2 cup sauce and turn to coat evenly. Chill at least 1/2 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally. Spray grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place chicken, skin side down, on grill. Top each piece with 1 foil-lined brick. Grill until skin is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Arrange chicken on platter. Spoon some sauce over. Serve, passing rest of sauce separately.

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette
Bon Appetit

Serves 8

3 T. red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped chives
1 T. chopped basil
1 T. chopped dill
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. lemon juice
3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

20 asparagus spears, trimmed to 5" lengths
8 green onions, green tops trimmed
4 medium zucchini, each cut lengthwise into 1/4"-1/3"-thick slices
2 large ears corn, husked
4 medium heads of Belgian endive
2 small heads of radicchio, halved through core
6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Olive oil (for brushing)

For vinaigrette: Combine first 9 ingredients in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; season with salt and pepper. For vegetables: Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Arrange all vegetables on baking sheets. Lightly brush all vegetables with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill asparagus, green onions, zucchini, and corn until lightly charred and just tender, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes for corn. Return vegetables to same sheets. Grill endive and radicchio until lightly charred, turning often, about 8 minutes. Transfer to baking sheets with other vegetables. Place tomatoes, skin side down, on grill and cook until just charred, about 3 minutes. Turn tomatoes; grill until just beginning to soften, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to sheets with other vegetables. Cut asparagus, green onions, and zucchini crosswise into 1-inch pieces; place in large bowl. Cut corn kernels from cobs; add to bowl. Cut endive in half lengthwise. Remove cores from endive and radicchio. Chop into 1/2"-to 3/4" pieces. Add to bowl. Coarsely chop tomatoes. Using slotted spoon, add tomatoes to bowl. Mix vinaigrette into vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Peach Ice Cream


I love fruit ice creams. I may be a big fan of chocolate, but when it comes to frozen cream and sugar, I want it to be simple. A creamy custard base, a burst of juiciness and a spoon are all I need to make me happy. I can walk right by the Moose Tracks, the Rocky Roads and the Brownie Fudge Swirls. It's strawberry, blueberry and peach that make me swoon.


So I found this recipe for Peach Ice Cream in one of Gourmet's summer issues and I promised myself that I would make this and make it for my children and grandchildren. This was IT.  I could imagine the perfection it would be, because I have often made a peach pie ( it happens to be my favorite, just so you know) with vanilla ice cream and that combination seems destined to be an ice cream. It just goes. And I've tried the store-bought kinds, but was always disappointed in the lack of peach flavor. I had to make it myself.

You know I would love to tell you we lived happily ever after. This ice cream takes lovely pictures. It had such potential. It still does. But I've made this twice, now and I have yet to achieve a silky smooth texture. I'm blaming the cornstarch. I've never seen cornstarch in an ice cream recipe before and I'm skeptical. I'm going to try it again, maybe combining this recipe with another one I've seen, because, my dear readers, this recipe has almond extract in it and that is peach's best friend. Mine, too, actually. I love it. I can't get enough of it. Ever since I tasted my mom's peach pie for the first time, I knew that it would be one of my favorite flavors--ever. That, and her signature cheesecake. I've been spoiled for anything else after that introduction to desserts. There is only one way for me.....the way my mother made it.


Peach Ice Cream
 from Gourmet June 2008

makes about 2 quarts

2 lb. ripe peaches
2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 c. plus 2 T. sugar, divided
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 3/4 c. heavy cream
1 3/4 c. whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. almond extract

Cut an X in bottom of each peach, then blanch in boiling water 15 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking. Peel peaches and cut in 1/2 inch pieces. (I'll be honest. I just peeled my peaches with a paring knife. Not much more time consuming than this whole process, I'm guessing.) Toss with lemon juice and 3/4 cup plus 2 T. sugar in a large bowl. Let macerate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours. Whisk together cornstarch, 1/4 t. salt and remaining 1/4 c. sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Add cream and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Add to yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly, to temper, then pour mixture back into saucepan. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, just until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 1-2 minutes (mixture will be thick). Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl and stir in extracts. Chill custard, its surface covered directly with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming), until cold, at least 4 hours. Transfer 2 cups peaches with slotted spoon to a bowl. Puree remaining peaches and liquid in a blender until smooth. Add puree to custard and freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to a bowl and stir in reserved peaches. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 2 hours.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad


Not your average pasta salad. That was what I was craving when I found this on Smitten Kitchen's site. The dressing is made from roasted red peppers. It's full of flavor; it's light, not heavy and it's not bottled Italian dressing. One could, I suppose, use jarred peppers. They're good. I use them for lots of dishes. But for this, I wanted soft, meltingly tender, sweet and charred peppers. Roasting them in the oven is actually less involved than charring them over a gas flame (I've done that too. It takes a long time.).          

I might try grilling them, the next time I make this, to get an even smokier flavor from them. But they get so soft in the oven after roasting, it really is a perfect application for peppers. The skins fall right of the flesh, you can save the juices to put in the processor when you're ready to blend, and then wrap the skin and seeds and core in the foil and toss it. No fuss, no mess. That's my kind of cooking. I don't mind involved recipes, if I have the time, but I love a short cut as much as the next girl. (Said the girl who just roasted her own peppers.)


The other reason I wanted to make this salad were the colors. We love peas in this house and I will try any recipe that includes them. I would have loved to use fresh peas, but I never see them in the grocery store. So frozen it is, and fresh snow peas, which we also love. They are so crisp and sweet and add a freshness to anything you put them in. The different contrast of soft peas, chewy pasta and crisp snow peas is a genius combination, especially with the sweetness of the pepper vinaigrette. It's colorful, healthy, light and delicious. It's exactly what I want to eat in the summertime.



Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad 
as written by Deb, of Smitten Kitchen

This salad would also be fantastic finished with some slivered herbs, like basil, bits of soft goat cheese or crumbled feta or grated Parmesan, but really, it doesn’t need any of that to taste great. Promise.

1 pound of small pasta (I used shells because I imagined the peas would nest in there and gah, such cuteness)
1/4 pound snow pea pods, ends trimmed
1/2 pound fresh summer peas, which yielded about 1 cup once shelled
3/4 to 1 cup Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a small ice water bath. Boil the snow pea pods for about two minutes, or until just barely cooked but still crisp. Scoop them out with a large slotted spoon and drop them in the ice water bath. Cook the peas for about 10 minutes (once again, this will be al dente, you can cook them longer if you prefer them softer), scoop them out with a large slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water bath as well. Drain both peas. Cut the snow peas into thin slivers.
Add the pasta into the boiling water and cook it according to package instructions. Drain and let cool, then toss in a large bowl with peas and Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette, seasoning to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Please don’t limit your use of this to just pasta salad, though, I can say withabsolutely no bias that it is awesome in it, but that’s no reason not to toss this with white beans for a quick bean salad or what your choice mix of greens are.
I like to slow-roast bell peppers in the oven at 350 for one hour, giving them a quarter turn with tongs every fifteen minutes so they get evenly blistered — then letting them cool and peeling them. I know it’s faster to blacken them over a gas flame, but the pepper never gets as supple and sweet as I want it to, but hey, that’s just personal preference. You know, in case you wanted to know.
Makes about one cup of dressing

1 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned and seeded or the equivalent from a jar, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (and up to 2 tablespoons more if you, like us, like that extra bite in your dressing)
1 tablespoon chopped shallot (about 1 small)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black pepper

Puree the red bell pepper in a food processor or blender as much as possible, then add the remaining ingredients and running the machine until the dressing is silky smooth. Adjust the vinegar level and seasonings to taste.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two-Layer Key Lime Pie


This is the pie you need in your refrigerator this summer. A slice of this is kind of like jumping into a cold swimming pool. The freshness is immediate and it engulfs you. It takes your breath away. This recipe calls for  a lot of limes. A total of nearly a cup of lime juice. I think I used about 7-8 limes which would have been a small fortune in produce, had I not seen them for something like 2 dollars a dozen at a local flea market. I snapped them up with this exact pie in mind.

The inspiration for Key Lime Pie came from a visit to Chicago in May. We were there to visit one of my brothers and his family one last time before they moved to Boston. One night he had a craving for key lime pie. I didn't know this about him. It's kind of a funny feeling, discovering something about a family member. It's like you're meeting them for the first time. This was never a dessert that my mom made, so he must have developed a taste for it later in life. That's one of the weird things about living so far away from my family--so far away from my siblings, in particular. We grew up together, but spent our adult lives far apart; still close in spirit, but I miss knowing little things like brother loves key lime pie. And now, so do I.


This is another new recipe for me. Again, it's from Bon Appetit, the R.S.V.P. section, which I've noticed, many of these post recipes have come from. This is the part of the magazine where they publish recipes from restaurants requested by readers. I don't know what that says about me. Am I the kind of person who wants to have what someone else has? Am I the kind of cook who aspires to cook restaurant food? Maybe. All I know is that some recipes call to me louder than others. I can taste them in my mind and I just KNOW that the result will be amazing. Sometimes they meet my expectations, and sometimes they don't, but fortunately for us, this was one of those times when my imagination and expectation were both satisfied.

One of the unique things about this pie is the crust; it is a graham cracker crust with crushed granola mixed in with melted butter. It's not fancy schmancy granola. Just plain jane sweet oats hiding in the cereal aisle. It's so good in this. It's a nuttier taste than the cracker crumbs would be by themselves and it gives the crust more texture, which, you should know by now, is one of my things.  


The other part of this pie that makes it unique is the layering. It has a lime baked custard layer, and then it's topped with a lime cream cheese layer, and as heavy and cloying as that might sound to you (but then to me, it sounds like heaven) believe me when I tell you this is the lightest, most refreshing cream pie I have ever eaten. You remember at the beginning of this story when I told you how you need this pie? You need this because it tastes like paradise, for starters. But you also need this pie because it's a dessert that spends minimal time in the oven, most of the time in the refrigerator, and not nearly enough time on your tongue. It could be my favorite summer far, anyway.


Two-Layer Key Lime Pie
from Bon Appetit
Serves 8

A small note about assembling the pie. I piped the whipped cream around the edge because I thought it would look pretty and also, the recipe instructs you to do this. You could also pipe/spread the cream over the whole surface of the pie; this would slightly mellow the citrus punch this pie hides behind it's sweet, demure appearance.

3/4 c. granola (with no raisins or other dried fruit)
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (from about 6 whole graham crackers)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 T. sugar

Baked Layer:
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. Key lime juice or lime juice
3 large egg yolks

Chilled Layer:
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. Key lime juice or lime juice
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

Sweetened whipped cream

For crust: Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees. Using on/off turns, blend granola in processor until coarsely ground. Transfer granola to medium bowl. Mix in graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of 9" deep-dish glass pie dish. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Remove crust from oven and cool completely.
For baked layer: Whisk condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Pour into pie crust. Bake until custard is set, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
For chilled layer: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, condensed milk, lime juice, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Pour over cooled baked layer, smooth top. Cover and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Pipe sweetened whipped cream decoratively around edge of pie. Cut into wedges and serve.