Dakotaberry Pie

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Things to do when you’re broken-hearted:

1. Return your curtain rod that you know you will never hang yourself.

2. Go to Barnes and Noble, partly to buy 52 Loaves and Heartburn, but mostly to ride the escalator for fun.

3. Contemplate why “cheesy” is that and not “cheesey.”

4. Eat a whole box of vegetarian fried spring rolls from the creepy place that has flickering fluorescent lighting.

5. Call your dad at his office. He will book you a flight to Phoenix, where he will be a self-proclaimed “seafood pimp.” You will bathe in hot sun and probably ride the water slide post poolside drink.

6. Call your mom. She will say something that Buddha himself would say.

7. Go to dinner with your little brother. He will tell you his phone is broken due to his pocket being “moist like a summer day in the south.” Give him the other half of your sandwich because he is a poor college kid and you are holding out for the three pints of ice cream in your freezer.

8. Have a dance party with yourself to Robyn’s, “Dancing On My Own,” a.k.a. girl power song of the century.

9. Write a blog post about your Dakotaberry pie that your old lover’s family loves.

Makes 1 pie//Kate Lebo

1/2 recipe of any double crust pie dough

For the filling

  • 5 cups (about 2 pounds) fresh or frozen marionberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Big pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons tapioca flour (depending on how juicy the berries are, Kate says)

For the topping

  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-tablespoon-size pieces

Make the dough and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out the bottom crust and place it in a 9-to-10 inch pie plate. Tuck the crust under itself and crimp the edges how you like. Freeze the crust while you prepare the filling.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

To make the filling, combine the marionberries, sugar, lemon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Kate recommends tasting it at this point. I generally like more lemon. Heck, throw in a pinch of zest if you’re feeling wild. I am. Gently stir in the tapioca flour and set the filling aside.

To make the topping, put the hazelnuts, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts are well chopped. Add the butter and process again in 1-second pulses until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Get the crust from the freezer. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top. With your hands, crumble some of the topping into small balls to make it pretty. Cover in a thick layer.

Bake the pie on the middle rack for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is blistered and blond. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for about 50 minutes more, until the topping has browned and the juices bubble slowly at the pie’s edge. If the topping is browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil.

Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Kate says store it on the kitchen counter wrapped in a towel for up to three days.

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Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits

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I live with a character. She is nearly 6-feet-tall with the greatest legs in Washington state. She has red hair and would describe her own body as looking like a carrot.

Her family is Jewish, but this year they celebrated Hanukkah with a night on the town and ate barbecue pork.

She graduated with a degree in theater. She has more rings than fingers, and hoops dangle from her ears daily.

She is easily one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

At a Mexican restaurant once, the waitress asked us if we would like our chips refilled and Halle responded, “Oh you temptressss.”

We eat popcorn together. She talks up my cooking abilities. I remind her she is one of the most hardworking people I know.

Naturally, when her 23rd birthday rolled around last month, I had to make something special. She has raved about the biscuits in Portland, ones with spicy jalapenos and the chew of cheddar. I made a take on this, which we happily gobbled up.

Makes 12 little biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

To form and finish biscuits

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour distributed in rimmed baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse all of the dry ingredients for the dough, until combined. Scatter butter cubes over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add grated cheese, jalapeno and chives. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated.

To form and bake biscuits: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour and form into balls. Tap off excess flour and place into the prepared cake pan. Arrange nine balls around the outside of the pan and three in the center. Brush the tops with melted butter, being careful to not flatten them. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake five minutes, then reduce temperature to 450 degrees. Continue to bake until biscuits are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan two minutes, then remove and serve, preferably with more butter.

Vanilla Pear Galette with Mascarpone

Happy New Year!

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Contrary to my hermit personality, I went out on New Years Eve. I even had people over. We dressed up, took pictures in front of a white sheet, ate cheese and popped champagne. I wore a velvet dress and gold heels. Tommy arrived wearing a tie adorned with rockets.

2014: Year of the donut
Some things never change. We can’t take a normal photo.

Though Tommy and I pulled out our best dance moves at the club, the best part of the day was eating this pear galette with Julie. We had our late-afternoon coffee to rev up for the evening and paired it with forkfuls of flaky pastry. I used a galette dough recipe by Kate Lebo and stuffed it with sliced pear tossed in Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup. Purely Syrup is a line of organic syrups made in Northern California. Though they are intended for cocktails, I used it for baking. Why not? The syrup added a light sweetness with a touch of vanilla bean.

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After it came out of the oven I topped it with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone and a drizzle of honey. Later we sipped on a drink of 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of pure cranberry juice, 1 ounce of Ginger Root Purely Syrup and a splash of club soda shaken with ice.

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Galette dough//Kate Lebo

  • 1/4 cup sour cream or room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 egg (For egg wash)
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Whisk the sour cream, lemon juice and water in a 2-cup spouted liquid measuring cup and put it in the freezer during the next steps.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cube the butter and cut it into the flour using a pastry blender until the butter is mostly pea sized.

Take the liquid out of the freezer and pour in a steady stream into the flour mixture, stopping halfway to toss the dough with your fingers. The dough should hold together and feel a little wet. You may not need all of the liquid.

Gather the dough into a ball, make a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days before rolling.

For the filling

  • 3 pears
  • 1/3 cup Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup

For the mascarpone topping

  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • Honey for drizzling

To assemble

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll each into a circle about 6-7 inches in diameter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I use my pizza stone and flour it. Place each circle onto the sheet.

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Slice pears 1/2-inch thick and toss with the syrup. Arrange the pears in the center of each dough, leaving about a 1-inch border. Fold the border in on the pears, creating an edge.

Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake until flaky and golden, about 25 minutes. Watch carefully as this may vary.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, whip mascarpone with vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

Remove galettes from the oven. Let cool slightly and move to serving plate. Spoon half the mascarpone onto the top of each galette. Drizzle with honey and serve.

Chard and Sausage Strata

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Christmas morning my mom and I woke up and cleaned the kitchen. I looked down at the dishes I was scrubbing and said, “Mom remember when I would wake up at 6 am Christmas morning and sprint to my presents? I want to feel that sugar plum fairy excitement.”

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Presents no longer seem to give me that feeling like they did when I was a kid, but Christmas brunch does. I pulled my grandmother Bunny’s coffee walnut chocolate chip muffins out of the oven, a sentimental smell permeating the room. My mom made a citrus salad. We bantered back and forth about how much honey to drizzle over the top. My brother and dad knocked on my door. My dad told my mom she really needs to start aging and then they bonded over their mutual plantar fasciitis. (I’m going to get a text from my dad after this post goes up saying yet again I’ve put him on “blast.”)

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We opened our stockings, and I pulled my strata out of the oven. We swooned over the soft, custard center with a crunchy top. The bread was crusty in all the right places with ribbons of chard throughout. Everyone loved it.

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Generally we make Grandpa Mackey’s famous breakfast casserole with white bread and cream of mushroom soup among other things. It’s one of those really bad Midwest treasures that is remarkably satisfying. This year my dad requested that we take it up a notch.

Makes 1 hefty casserole//Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces wild mushrooms like shiitake, chanterelle, button or oyster, sliced
  • 1 pound chard, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 ounces cheddar, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cut bread into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups loosely packed bread.

Place sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the same pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet and toss in the mushrooms. Cook until tender and then transfer to a bowl.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the chard and plunge the chard into a bowl of ice water. Drain again. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Roughly chop and add to the bowl of mushrooms and onions. Add the sausage, bread, chives and thyme. Reserve 3/4 of a cup of the cheese and then stir in the remainder. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the greased dish.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Pour over the rest of the ingredients. Use a spatula to press down on the bread and submerge it as much as possible. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is golden and the center is firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Cowgirl Creamery

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When parents divorce, you are forced to create new traditions. In high school I began spending Christmas Eve with Mom and Christmas with Dad. The first year we did this, my mom successfully subdued my laments about Christmas as a family…with a cheese plate.

She went to the Delicatessen down the street in Missoula and picked up a few cheeses wrapped in butcher paper and a twine bow. She spread the cheeses out on a large, white plate, each with their own small knife. She sliced apple, like she used to, and set it next to the cheeses, offering a crisp, fruity bite to contrast with the fattier, creamier nibbles.

We plopped on her sandy-colored, Pottery Barn couch with simultaneous sighs. We dove into the plate, clutched the corresponding knives, and dug into our respective cheeses.

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Christmas Eve a few years ago, a round soft cheese found its way onto our plate. Someone behind the cheese counter recommended Cowgirl Creamery’s Mount Tam. I don’t generally like the rind on any cheese, but Cowgirl Creamery’s are mild and only enhance the center’s flavor.

This year, thanks to the Cowgirl’s themselves, three of Cowgirl Creamery’s cheeses dominated our plate: Mt. Tam, Devil’s Gulch and Red Hawk. We went back and forth but ultimately decided Mt. Tam remains our favorite.

Puff Pastry with Dijon, Ham and Sharp Provolone

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Congratulations to Lee for winning my cheese giveaway. She wrote a hysterical rap about her need for our favorite dairy friend. I will admit, when I was thinking about how someone could qualify to win a box of cheese, I was looking for entertainment.

The first entry came in one day, and I chuckled, scrolling down my phone. I busted through the door and proceeded to rap it out loud to Tommy. We laughed and I said, “Keep ’em comin’.” And they did.

Though all were wonderful, Lee’s took the cake. Alana, my brother’s girlfriend, took second place. I will reward her when she comes home from NYU for Christmas.

What else have I been doing with my seven mighty cheeses? I made this quick puff pastry and filled it with a layer of Dijon, ham slices and BelGioioso’s sharp provolone. Though the pastry didn’t have hundreds of layers like a croissant, my friends were impressed. We carved up the fatty rectangle, eating it with our fingers and washing it down with red wine.

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (2 cups), unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1 cup grated sharp provolone

Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into a small 1/2 to 1/4 inch dice. Place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. Measure the water and dissolve the salt in it.

Coarsely dice remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Add flour to food processor. Add the remaining butter. Pulse until combined, about 10 pulses.

Add the plated cold butter and pulse only once or twice more. Add water and pulse 3 to 4 more times, just until the dough forms a ball. I used my hands to finish forming the ball once it started coming together.

Flour your work surface. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and place between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap to create a rectangle about 12 by 18 inches.

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Peel away the plastic wrap and flip it over so the exposed pastry is on the flour. Then peel away the second piece of wrap. Fold the sides in, making a 6 by 18 inch rectangle. Roll it up from one of the 6-inch ends.

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Make sure the ending flappy part is rolled under the dough, making the top smooth.

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Press the dough into a square and refrigerate for an hour to firm.

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Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take dough out from fridge and cut in half. Roll each ball out into a rectangle about 6 by 12 inches. Spread with a layer of dijon mustard leaving a one-inch border. Layer with ham. Sprinkle with sharp provolone.

Make egg wash with egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush borders and layer the other pastry on top. Pinch the edges closed with your fingers or a fork. Brush the whole pastry with egg wash. Cut a few vents in the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool slightly and cut.

Fruit, Mascarpone Cream and Almond Crust

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This year I will host Christmas. Enough of the back and forth divorced parent stuff. I’m going to get a massive tree, make an impossibly delicious breakfast casserole and we’re all going to sit down to do a puzzle.

On a shopping venture Hayley told me I couldn’t spend $90 on a Noble Fir. We walked up and down the pine laden columns looking for the perfect tree. After a moderate amount of huffing and puffing on my part, I decided on an economically-sized tree. The Christmas tree guy (yes, dressed in plaid) scooped my tree up. Hayley made a comment about how he must not need to lift weights because of his occupation. I rolled my eyes and shoved more complimentary candy into my pockets.

Once home, Hayley threw the tree over her shoulder and hauled it into my house. (She also hung all the pictures in my house when I moved in and wipes my unforgiving black counters after I cook.)

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Later that night I made this pie, and we decorated the tree. Our friend Ashley, who gets a stomach ache after more than one bite of dessert, ate a whole piece of the pie. She was silent when she took a bite. I took this as a sign of distaste, but Hayley said, “Oh. Ashley likes it.”

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I was unsure about the crust. I made my own almond meal by grinding up whole almonds in my food processor. I didn’t get it as fine as I would have liked. If possible, grind yours finely or buy it at the store. The mascarpone filling, however, was luscious with a touch of sweetness that sang amongst the tart berries.

Makes 1 pie//Inspired by Kate Lebo

For the crust

  • 2 cups almond flour or meal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, beaten

In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and stir until the mixture is moist. Add the egg and stir. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Press the “dough” into a pie plate, going up the sides as well. Flatten and smooth the rim. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is lightly toasted. Set it aside to cool.

For the filling

  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh marionberries
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Over medium-low heat, combine the marionberries, almond extract and cornstarch. If the fruit was frozen, allow it to completely thaw. After bringing to a simmer, set aside to cool.

With an electric mixer, whip the mascarpone and sour cream together. Add the honey, vanilla and salt. Spoon the filling into the cooled piecrust, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Lay thinly sliced pear across the top of the filling in any pattern you’d like. I went in a circle. Top with cooled marionberries and serve.