Apple Slab Pie

Image of the close up of a slice of Apple Slab Pie with whipped creamEnd of an Era
Yesterday my two sons played their last baseball game. Well, let’s just say it’s their last competitive baseball game. My guess is they will find their way to an intramural team or maybe an adult league somewhere at some point. But, the days of practice every day after school and watching the league standings to see if they make the NCS playoffs are over.

The two of them started playing thirteen years ago with t-ball. Along the way, we have experienced the highest of highs and some pretty low lows. Playing that long requires a lot of effort as well as a lot of time. There were vacation plans that had to be changed due to tournaments and plenty of split-duty weekends when plans just couldn’t be changed. Along the way, we made lifelong friends with the families of other players. The Cooperstown tournament, when they were twelve, will be an experience that the boys will never forget. And, they will be able to bore their kids with the telling of it well into their 80s. It was an experience my husband and I will also never forget—mostly because of the people involved with that team.

Six of the twelve players from that team continued playing together right up until the final out last night. This is no small feat considering how competitive it is to make the varsity team at their high school. We were all emotional, including the boys, but we did manage to get those six together for a picture.

Now the boys aren’t sure what they are going to do with this newfound free time. Our response was to get a job. So far one has managed that task. We’re crossing our fingers the other gets something soon.

It will be an adjustment for my husband and me as well. Suddenly our Tuesday and Thursday evenings have opened up. Guess we’ll just have to deal the old-fashioned way…Baseball (on TV), hot dogs, and apple pie…luckily, this recipe for Apple Slab Pie could feed the whole team!

Apple Slab Pie Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 to 18 servings

This Apple Slab Pie has a higher proportion of crust-to-filling than your standard 9-inch round double-crusted pie. And, the crusts of slab pies tend to puff into gorgeous flakes far more readily than standard pie crusts do. So, this recipe is perfect if you’re into crusts! Read more…

Amy’s Carrot Cake

Amy’s Carrot Cake PhotoThe Dos and Don’ts of Carrot Cake
I’m making a carrot cake this weekend for Easter. While it may not be the most innovative choice for an Easter dessert, it is a family tradition. So…

The hardest thing about making a carrot cake for my extended family is that there are a number of rules one needs to follow in order to make it edible for everyone. First off, it better not have any raisins. To the younger members of our family raisins—in any way shape or form—are a horror that cannot be suffered no matter the recipe. I have no idea what event occurred in their early childhoods to foment such a visceral reaction to this particular dried fruit. But, to them, raisins are the very definition of eeew.

To be fair, I have my own issues. For example, you will never see pineapple in my carrot cake. I love pineapple and will happily devour a perfectly ripe one in a single sitting. But, there is something about adding it to a carrot cake that just doesn’t work for me. Also, I will always use pecans instead of walnuts. Doesn’t matter what I am making. Pecans are better than walnuts. There. I said it.

Lastly, I gotta add some coconut. True, it may not be traditional but the added flavor makes it non-negotiable.

When all is said and done, after everyone’s rules have been followed, you are left with a truly classic Eastern celebration dessert, Amy’s Carrot Cake. Let’s be honest though, while the cake does actually matter, its most important purpose, really, is to serve as the vehicle for cream cheese frosting consumption.

Amy’s Carrot Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Read more…

Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina Frittata

Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina FrittataLoving The Tall Grass
It’s been a bumpy road to discovering my love of asparagus. As a kid, I would live in fear of the dinners where I would walk through the door and smell it steaming. If we were at my grandmother’s and I saw the hollandaise on the table, I knew it would be a rough night.

Back then asparagus wasn’t as readily available year-round as it is now. So, the arrival of those fat green stalks always heralded the beginning of spring—and filled me with dread thinking about what would be for dinner. From the moment asparagus appeared in the produce section, the regular and preferred vegetable component of our dinners switched from broccoli and frozen peas to a steady diet of asparagus prepared the same way, every time.

I can trace my change of heart vis-a-vis asparagus back to one night when I was living in San Francisco and attending a six-week cooking course. One of the many recipes we made that night was this Ragout of Fava Beans, Peas, and Asparagus with Pecorino and Crispy Prosciutto.

It was a lightbulb moment for me. Until then, I had strangely only had asparagus that was, usually, over-steamed, and I am not sure how I managed it. That recipe opened my eyes and taste buds to what asparagus is supposed to taste like. It’s a totally different experience when it is grilled…or roasted.

After having now explored asparagus used in any number of ways, you might ask what my current favorite way to enjoy asparagus is. The answer: steamed but still crunchy.

Perhaps it’s the obvious link to Easter. But, I also really like asparagus paired with eggs. This Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina Frittata recipe is a great example. It’s delicious for brunch or paired with a salad for a light lunch. And, it does work well for an Easter buffet.

Asparagus, Tomato, and Fontina Frittata
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis and the Food Network
Yields 6 servings Read more…

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb CrispRhu the Day
I am not really sure when I realized that I was a fan of Rhubarb. It’s not a plant you see a lot in Bay Area gardens, mainly because it prefers colder climates like in Washington and Oregon. That being said, I lived in Oregon for four years. There were plenty of berries but not a lot of rhubarb.

It’s only been in the last ten years or so that I have gone crazy for rhubarb. It took one great strawberry rhubarb pie to get my family hooked. For that reason, I feel compelled to try any rhubarb recipe that comes along.

Over the weekend we held a get-together for a friend who was in from out of town. This meant I was feeding a decent-sized crowd. The main course was easy to put together. Then, I went looking for something for dessert that was fresh, tasty, and said spring but would still feed a lot of people.

When I found this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe, I knew the search was over. This crisp was a big hit. My son said it was like crack…he couldn’t stop eating it.

I ended up doubling the recipe. But, even keeping the original proportion yields a decent-sized crisp. Don’t worry about leftovers. Even if you do end up with some, this makes an excellent breakfast.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
Yields 6 servings
Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

This old-fashioned recipe has a generous, crisp oat topping to complement the tangy filling. The recipe is best served warm with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Read more…