Pecan Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:16 pm by wingerz


I’m surprised that I’ve never posted a pecan pie recipe. It’s a staple of Liao holiday celebrations. I like this recipe a lot because it has a ton of maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s any less sweet, and it also doesn’t mean that I like pecan pie.

Maple Pecan Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
1 cup maple syrup , pure, preferably Grade B or Grade A dark amber
1 1/2 cups whole pecans (6 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

1. Prep a pie crust like the one for the pumpkin pie.
2. Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then maple syrup. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.
3. Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Food resolutions for 2010

Posted in food at 12:54 pm by wingerz


I suppose that if I checked in on these midway through the year I would have realized that I was making no progress on them.

Focus on “weeknight” recipes. I get home after 730pm most nights so this has been a tough one – mostly sauteed vegetables, food that Jen brings home from work, or leftovers. Sundays have become cooking/baking day.
Eat less meat. We eat fish at least once per week, and I rarely cook red meat at home. I think we’re doing pretty well on this one.
Learn something about wine. Nope.
Teach Jen to cook. Jen’s output for the year: several batches of rice krispy treats, tacos for my birthday, pasta. She is also pretty good with the toaster oven! In other words, abysmal failure on my part.
Pay attention to dessert. Exceeded expectations on this one, went on a baking craze this summer and finally found a chocolate chip recipe that I can make well.

I also got better at making fish this year.

Will probably carry over a few from last year, but here are some new resolutions for 2010:
Keep the kitchen clean/organized as I cook. Our tiny kitchen is a disaster area, and the mess gets into the dining room as well.
Be more creative. Work with some new ingredients, go beyond the recipes.
Post more recipes. After spending hours in the kitchen, there isn’t always time to document the successes and failures.



Posted in baking, dessert, food at 2:05 pm by wingerz


Accidentally left out some of the sugar so my snickerdoodles weren’t that sweet. Still pretty good though; I’d probably make them again. Supposed this is an ATK recipe but it’s nowhere to be found on their site. I used this snickerdoodle recipe which claims to be from ATK.

My snickerdoodles didn’t flatten out that much.

Chocolate chip cookies

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 1:58 pm by wingerz


Given their ubiquity, you’d think that chocolate cookies would be easy to bake. Unfortunately I’ve been somewhat terrified of making them due to several bad experiences, most likely resulting from using butter that wasn’t at the right temperature. Some recipes also suggest refrigerating the dough for 36 hours, but who has time for that?

I’m a big fan of this recipe, even though I overbaked the cookies by a few minutes the first time I made them. They’re chewy and have a nice toffee flavor thanks to the browned butter. Also, because I was lazy I baked two batches at once, even though the recipe calls for baking one batch at a time.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.


Pumpkin Pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food, home cooking at 1:09 am by wingerz

pumpkin pie

In a Thanksgiving mood, I baked three of these and took them to work. I haven’t eaten all that much pumpkin pie but I thought this was pretty good – almost a pumpkin custard pie. Would probably make them again, especially since I still have one can of pumpkin in my pantry.

This is a pretty fool-proof recipe. Only thing I would have done differently is to give the crust a few more minutes to brown.

Pumpkin Pie
from Cook’s Illustrated

1. Prep a single pie crust (all-butter, vodka), fluting the edges. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

2. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.


Giving thanks

Posted in family, food, personal at 3:40 am by wingerz


Thanksgiving really is the best holiday – totally focused on the most important things in life: family, friends, and food. We decided to stick around here for the holiday; Ellen and Will came up with their dogs to celebrate with us.

I’m still in a food coma so I’m going to keep this short. The menu:

Roasted salted turkey with gravy: Not bad, but not quite as moist as I expected after reading about it. I may give it another shot some time. It was pretty good though, better than the pre-brined turkey I got last year but it sounds like it didn’t match the brined turkey from a few years back.
Mashed potatoes ATK make-ahead recipe, only required 15 minutes in the microwave today.
Stuffing with fennel and sausage: “Tastes kind of like your croutons,” according to Jen. I’ll take that as a compliment. Needed more fennel-y taste.
Salad: Red leaf lettuce, Granny Smith apple slices, plumped-up raisins, toasted almonds, with an creamy apple cider vinaigrette. I discovered the raisins at the farmer’s market. They’re amazing.
Picked cucumbers: Jen’s mom made some Asian pickled cucumbers.
Bread: Plain ol’ white bread.
Maple pecan pie: I always find this pie to be too sweet but the Liaos love their pecan pie so I can’t show up without it. This version of it has no corn syrup, which is great (just one cup of maple syrup instead).
Apple pie: brought by Ellen and Will.


Fresh pasta

Posted in pasta at 2:56 am by wingerz


A few weeks ago I picked up a pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. It was a bit pricey, but I’m hoping it’ll pay for itself after a few years. Still have to work a bit to perfect the pasta, but here’s the first recipe I tried. Made a quick tomato sauce with pancetta and mushrooms to go along with it.

Fresh Egg Pasta
from Cook’s Illustrated

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
3 large eggs , beaten

1. Pulse the flour in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade to evenly distribute. Add the eggs; process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds. (If the dough resembles small pebbles, add water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time; if the dough sticks to the side of the workbowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough forms a rough ball. See figures 1 through 3 below for tips on judging moisture level in dough.)
2. Turn the dough ball and small bits out onto a dry work surface; knead until the dough is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours to relax.
3. Using a manual pasta machine, roll out the dough (see illustrations 1 – 5 below). Leave the pasta as is for use in filled pastas. Cut the pasta sheets into long strands to make fettuccine (see illustration 6 below).


Pie crust

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 3:13 am by wingerz


Jen’s pretty thrilled that peach season is over. Something about getting sick of peach pie, whatever that means. Anyhow, my pie obsession continues. For the past two weeks it’s been apple. I’m still trying to figure out the filling. I’ve pre-cooked the apples to reduce soupiness but the filling is a bit too soft; hopefully next week it’ll be perfect.

I’ve been pretty happy with this crust. Previously I posted another crust recipe, but I normally don’t have shortening on hand, only butter.

Incidentally the oven got a workout today. 16 scones, a strawberry tart, 6 mini-apple pie tarts, four loaves of bread, salmon roasted in butter, and potatoes. There’s a butternut squash tart in the fridge that didn’t make it in. Glad that the weather cooled down a bit. :)

All-butter double pie crust
from ATK Family Baking

Hopefully this is right; my neighbor borrowed my cookbook.

2 1/2 cups flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sour cream
1/3 cup + 2-3 tbsp water
16 tbsp butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes and frozen for 10-15 minutes

1. Combine flour, sugar, salt in a food processor and pulse. Mix sour cream with 1/3 cup water.
2. Sprinkle the butter cubes into the flour mixture. Pulse 10 times for 1 second.
3. Pour half of the sour cream and water mixture over the flour and pulse a few times to combine. Pour the rest of the mixture in and pulse a few more times.
4. Pick up a bit of dough in between your fingers and press it together. If it doesn’t stick, sprinkle 2 tbsp of water onto the flour mixture and pulse a few times. Check the flour again; if it still doesn’t come together add a bit more water and pulse.
5. Pour dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Split into two halves and shape each into a 4″ disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
6. Roll out into 12″ disks. One goes into the bottom of a pie plate. Both should be refrigerated for about 1/2 hour after being rolled out. Be sure to keep it from sticking to the rolling surface by throwing a bit of flour underneath every so often (or rotating it 1/4 turn between every roll).



Posted in fish, food at 1:00 am by wingerz


With summer winding down and a 2/3 lb. piece of halibut from this morning’s market, I decided to make ceviche for dinner. I threw in four scallops as well. It was quite refreshing, and the scallops were especially good. Use fresh fish that you’d feel comfortable eating mostly raw.

Ceviche with Tomatoes and Avocados
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), large sea scallops, skinless fish fillets, or a combination
1 teaspoon grated lime zest from 1 lime
1/2 cup juice from 4 limes
1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
1 small red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
1 jalapeño chile (small), stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions , sliced thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes , quartered
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 ripe avocado , pitted and diced fine
Ground black pepper

1. If using shrimp, peel them completely, devein, and slice each shrimp in half lengthwise using a paring knife (through the deveined groove in the back). If using scallops, remove the side tendon (see illustration below) and slice into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. If using fish, remove any bones and slice into 1-inch squares about 1/3 inch thick.
2. Stir the lime zest, lime juice, lemon juice, bell pepper, jalapeño, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Gently stir in the seafood, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the seafood is firm, opaque, and appears cooked, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring halfway through the marinating time.
3. Place the mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, leaving it a little wet, then return to the bowl. Gently stir in the oil, scallions, tomatoes, cilantro, and sugar followed by the avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.


Peach pie

Posted in baking, dessert, food at 2:37 am by wingerz


Sorry everyone. This one’s got too many components and requires some diagrams for construction. Some tips gleaned from the recipes that I used:

  • use 3-4 tbsp of potato starch or pulverized minute tapioca (for about 6 cups of peaches) to thicken the fruit mixture
  • freeze the lattice top strips to make it easier to work with them (this recipe uses 8 1 1/4″ strips)
  • don’t peel the peaches if you’re lazy like me
  • preheat a baking sheet and bake on the lower rack of the oven if you want a chance at a browned bottom crust

Used the all-butter pie crust from the ATK family baking book and the filling recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

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