Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Secrets and Cherry Pie

Secret number 11. Sometimes I wish I lived in a fictional town called Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada. I wish I lived on a farm in Avonlea with lots of animals, wear pretty dresses with a corset underneath and pin my hair up. I want to be known throughout Avonlea for the excessive number of cherries in my pies, gossip with the ladies at the sewing circle, bake for the church bake sale and have hot tea and scones in the afternoons. I want to live like the characters on my favorite show Road to Avonlea (RTA). Is that weird? RTA has been off the air now for over ten years, but I'm able to relive every episode through my collection of DVDs...all seven seasons.

I've been watching it a lot lately. So much so that Mr. Incredible knows the names and relations of all the characters. I'm fairly confident he would be able to answer an RTA trivia question or two. This show has remained a favorite of mine because the acting is superb, it's heartwarming, and wholesome...which are the adjectives I would use to describe this cherry pie :) I hope you fit making it into your sssshedule.

Sweet Cherry Pie

adapted from Smitten Kitchen
dough for double-crust pie (recipe here)
4 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 2 pounds unpitted)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (adjust this according to the sweetness of your cherries)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water


Preheat oven to 400°F. Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and vanilla extract gently together in a large bowl. Roll out half of chilled dough on a floured work surface to 13-inch round. Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, either by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan or by folding it into quarters and unfolding it in the pan. Trim edges to a half-inch overhang.

Spoon filling into pie crust.

Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling, and trim it, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Brush the egg wash over over pie crust.

Cut slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack.

Slice and serve.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Bagels

I didn't have the pleasure of eating a freshly baked bagel until the age of 28. Tragic right? After that first bite of crusty bagel exterior and tender insides, I shot my fists in the air and vowed, Scarlett O'Hara style, never to eat frozen or 2 day old bagels again. I kept that vow (because I'm hardcore like that).

I'm not going to lie to you...making bagels is quite a process, but the end result is so worth it. The recipe I use comes from a Julia Child (may she rest in peace) cookbook and requires it be refrigerated during the 2nd rising. So if I want bagels on Sunday morning, I would make the dough the night before and pop it into the fridge overnight to rise. That way, when I wake up, the dough is ready for me to turn them into delectable bagels. Another thing about making bagels is they need to be boiled in water before being baked. Just a brief soak in the hot tub will give them the chewiness we all appreciate and expect.  After having said all that, I advise that you read through the recipe thoroughly. You can do this! Now get to it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Farewell to Summer with Lemon Blueberry Pull Apart Bread

With work starting up again tomorrow, my summer and Lady of Leisure days have come to an end. This has been one of the more enjoyable summers. I celebrated my one year wedding anniversary with Mr. Incredible, I road tripped, gambled, spent time with my family, and did a whole lot of baking. Although I'm sad to see summer go, I look forward the cold fall season (even though that probably won't be until November in Texas), the holidays, and of course the baking that goes along with celebrating the holidays. So I bid farewell to my summer vacation with a bread full of flavors that remind me of summer...blueberries and lemons.

This bread is a variation on Flo Baker's Lemon Scented Pull Apart Coffee Cake. The name was a bit deceiving because it's not a cake or quick bread, but a yeasted sweet bread. The addition of blueberries complemented the vibrant, tangy lemon zest. Topped off with a sweetened cream cheese frosting, it reminded me of a lemony cinnamon roll in loaf form.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cheese Buttons Fit For a Lady of Leisure

I declared today my "Lady of Leisure" day or LOL for short. Naming it offered a legitimate excuse to bum around in pajamas all day. First order of business was sleeping in until 7:30am. I then made the bed and threw on all the decorative pillows (ones you don't actually sleep on and are used only for decorative purposes), dragged myself downstairs for some coffee, walked back upstairs with cup of coffee and laid back down in the bed I had just made. It felt awesome. Around 9am via text message, Mr. Incredible asked what I was up to today.  "Celebrating lady of leisure day. Duh." Send text.

9:05am movie time. This morning's feature, Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. I could learn a thing or two from the ultimate LOL. I really wanted to do this day correctly. I took detailed notes. I will need a bouffant styled white wig, a corseted ruffled gown, petit fours, liquor and a lady's maid. 

Having none of those items on hand, I settled for cheese buttons and a diet Coke. Perfect for nibbling in a leisurely manner :)

Cheese Crackers


  • 1 1/2 cups aged cheese such as cheddar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter (cut up)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste and is optional)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt for sprinkling


Put all of your ingredients (except the milk and kosher salt) into a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined and look like fine crumbs. Add milk and pulse until the dough comes together.

Remove dough from food processor and knead in your hands for a few minutes. Fold in half, fold in half again and continue until dough is soft and well mixed. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness. Any thicker and the crackers will be soft in the middle. Cut dough into desired shape. I used a round cookie cutter and a slightly smaller cutter for the button like detailing.

Place cut dough on parchment lined baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Using a tooth pick make a small holes in dough. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Bake crackers approximately 25 minutes or until lightly browned around edges and crackers are firm to the touch. Some softer centers may occur if the thickness of the dough was not uniform.

Remove crackers to wire rack to finish cooling.