PASTRY CREAM

Cream Pastry with Pomegranates

PASTRY CREAM

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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After making pastry cream for years, I found a forgotten box of Jello vanilla pudding in the back of the pantry. It brought up fond memories from my childhood, and so I pulled it out and mixed it up. Continue reading “PASTRY CREAM”

AUTUMN LEAF PUMPKIN PIE

AUTUMN LEAF PUMPKIN PIE

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Autumn Leaf Pumpkin Pie

Fall of 1996 was the year of pumpkin pies. After each test, Mark asked for more spices and a deeper dish. After this version…there were no more requests, except that it should be made more often! Continue reading “AUTUMN LEAF PUMPKIN PIE”

LEMON SHERBET

LEMON SHERBET

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Sherbet

This sherbet (sher-bit) has a great story behind it.

In the fall of 2014 we were at Courtney and John’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, where John’s mom, Barbara, was guiding me through her famous shrimp and grits recipe. The conversation eventually turned to her mother, Helen, and her lemon sherbet. To my delight, she offered to share the recipe with me.

Later, Helen told Barbara that the sherbet actually goes back a full four generations, originating from Barbara’s grandmother on her father’s side! What a treasure.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
2 cups whole milk
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (the juice from approximately 1 pound of lemons)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, firmly packed (1/8 ounce)
Place all in a 1-quart jar; cap tightly and shake to combine. Refrigerate one hour to help dissolve the sugar.

Tip: Cut lemons in half at their equators, place cut sides down and quarter. Juice with a citrus squeezer held over a mesh strainer to catch seeds.

Dissolving sugar decreases ice crystal formation during the freezing process.
Follow ice cream maker’s instructions, freezing until the mixture is quite thick (15-20 minutes). Quickly transfer to a 1-pint storage container with a bamboo spoon (strong, not heat conductive), cap tightly and freeze promptly. Bamboo introduces less temperature shock than metal utensils.

Testing Notes: The grated rind is essential for robust flavor. Omitting results in a bland sherbet.

ORANGE SHERBET
In a 1-quart jar, combine 2 cups milk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon grated orange rind. Chill and process as directed above.

LIME SHERBET
In a 1-quart jar, combine 2 cups milk, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1 teaspoon grated lime rind. Chill and process as directed above.

LEMON SHERBET II
Makes 3 cups

We love John’s great grandmother’s sherbet. After making it several times, I began toying with the idea of trying a version with a simple syrup. The result is delightfully elastic in texture and incredibly intense in flavor. I think John’s great grandmother would be proud.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
1 cup warm water
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
Add water to a 3-quart tri-ply saucepan. Add sugar in a neat mound, like a mountain surrounded by a moat. With a fork, gently stir together, taking care to avoid splashing sugar crystals onto pan sides. Cover with a tight fitting lid; bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Keep covered until misture is clear and steam escapes around lid edges (6-7 minutes). This creates a simple syrup. Trapped steam helps dissolve any sugar crystals that might be clinging to the pan sides. Dissolving sugar decreases ice crystal formation during the freezing process.
1/2 cup lemon juice (the juice from approximately 1 pound of lemons)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, firmly packed (1/8 ounce)
Add to the simple syrup. Leave uncovered to cool to 100°F (25-30 minutes).

Tip: Cut lemons in half at their equators, place cut sides down and quarter. Juice with a citrus squeezer held over a mesh strainer to catch seeds.

 Adding lemon juice and rind to syrup off heat intensifies flavor without imparting a cooked taste.
1 cup whole milk Add to a 1-quart jar; pour in the cooled, flavored simple syrup. Cap tightly and shake to combine. Refrigerate 2-3 hours to chill.
Follow ice cream maker’s instructions, freezing until the mixture is quite thick (15-20 minutes). Quickly transfer to a 1-pint storage container with a bamboo spoon (strong, not heat conductive), cap tightly and freeze promptly. Bamboo introduces less temperature shock than metal utensils.

COCONUT BARS

COCONUT BARS

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
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Grandma Miller's Coconut Bars

Grandma Dorothy used to bake these for Mark’s dad every year for his birthday. They remind me of pecan pie, but without all the work.

For party bites, cut each square into fourths and serve them on a big platter. Your guests will rave, especially if you also offer variations, such as Pecan and Chocolate Drizzled. They look fabulous together.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
1 teaspoon butter Evenly grease lower interior sides of a 9×9-inch square cake pan; set aside.
Position an oven rack just below center; preheat convection ovens to 400°F (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.
5 ounces (1 cup) bleached
all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
For the crust: In a 1-quart bowl, weigh the flour and whisk in sugar, breaking up any clumps. Weighing flour yields consistent results. Bleached flour has less gluten, which promotes tenderness.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature Use a fork or a pastry blender to mash butter into sugar mixture until no dry flour remains. Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until bubbly and amber at the edges (10-12 minutes). Set aside on a wire rack to rest. Meanwhile, start the filling.

Tip: If butter is not yet room temperature, warm on high power in a tempered glass bowl just until soft.

The crust is pre-baked to avoid overcooking the filling.
1 tablespoon bleached
all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double acting
baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the filling: Sift all together into a 1-quart bowl. Sifting leavening agents eliminates distasteful clumps.
2/3 cup (2 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut Whisk into flour mixture with a fork to coat the coconut.
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
Whisk into the flour mixture until evenly combined. Use a fork to spread thinly and evenly over the baked crust.

Bake just until the surface is amber (8-10 minutes).

Baking time varies with coconut moisture content; dry coconut browns faster.
1/16 teaspoon butter or oil Cool on a wire rack 12-15 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges to loosen from the pan. Lightly grease knife with butter to cut 16 even squares (cut in half, cut each side in half again; give pan a quarter turn and repeat). Store in sealed containers. Lightly greasing the knife yields clean looking cuts.

Testing Notes: For an egg substitute, 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water may be used.

PECAN COCONUT BARS
Add 1/4 cup diced pecans to filling when adding the coconut.

CHOCOLATE DRIZZLED COCONUT BARS
After bars are cut and cooled, transfer to waxed paper. In a 1-cup tempered glass bowl (for easy monitoring) soften 1/2 cup real chocolate chips on high power, stirring frequently to evenly distribute heat. When all but a fifth of the chips are melted, remove from microwave for the last time. Whisk until chips finish melting and chocolate is smooth and shiny. Dip fork into the hot chocolate and drizzle over bars in big zigzags. Chill 10-15 minutes to quickly solidify the chocolate (optional); separate bars and serve.

TO FREEZE: Wrap closely with plastic wrap, mark with date/contents. Defrost at room temperature in original bags (to minimize dehydration).