Comfort Foods and Indulgences

Pillowy Anise Espresso Custard

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by Hillary Davis

anisecustardI bake and make desserts all winter. It might be something to do with cocooning or comfort or simply loving desserts, but this winter especially I have been baking up a storm. To change it up a bit, I made a pillowy-soft cloud of star anise scented espresso custard and piled it on top of crisp Italian lady fingers. A spoonful alone transported me to Italy…….to a little cafe where I stood at the bar and spooned anise froth into my mouth from an espresso cappuccino.

So simple. So wonderful.

It starts with steeping anise seeds and star anise in milk. You add egg yolks and sugar to begin making the custard. Whip cream till stiff, fold it in, and there you have it.

It was luscious. Light. Frothy. And less expensive than a plane ticket to Milan, a car drive to Turin, and a memory to remember where that wonderful little cafe actually was.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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by Amy Sherman

lemonricottapancakesWaking up is hard to do. Really hard. For some, a strong cup of coffee or tea helps. Not for me. I wake up slowly and after being up for at least an hour or two I tackle breakfast. Left to my own devices, I would probably just eat brunch and save the real breakfast food for dinner, but Lee prefers something a bit more traditional.

The big problem with breakfast for me is always--what to have? Savory or sweet? Both are appealing but if I eat something sweet I may not get enough protein and as a result I'm ravenous barely an hour or two later. Nutritionists recommend a "balanced" breakfast meaning both carbohydrates and protein. Easy to do with eggs or cheese but harder to do with sweets like pancakes. Having sausage or bacon on the side is another way to go but probably not the best choice everyday. French toast or crepes are both sweet and have protein but I'm always looking for more protein-rich sweet options.

Ricotta pancakes are a perfect way to go. The ricotta gives you plenty of protein, they only have a couple of tablespoons of flour so you're not filling up on carbohydrates and best of all they are really delicious and cook up in a flash. Of course, serving them with bacon is up to you...

31 Days Of Pie, Day 31: Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie

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by Matt Armendariz

Day 31 of 31 Days of Pie is Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie, via Joy.

GABY SMORE PIEWell here we are at the last day of our 31 Days Of Pie. I won’t bother with a count, but I’m sure there were dozens of eggs, pounds and pounds of butter, endless calories, and tons of wonderfully sweet moments throughout the month. I don’t know about you, but I’m beyond excited to ring in 2015 and see all the wonderful things it will bring. I saved this pie for last because I think it’s one of the most beautiful pies I’ve ever seen thanks to Adam, and it comes from the world’s-best-friend-anyone-could-ever-hope-to-have Gaby by way of Joy, another fantastic friend of mine. It has a little bit of everyone in it, and it sums things up about how I feel about pie: they bring people together. And thank you for reading and commenting about this pie thang, it’s been so much fun!

Gaby’s S’more Pudding Pie

So Gaby says she took a few recipes from Joy’s latest book and crafted her own creation. This pie is the result. And it is FANTASTIC. Thank you, Gaby! Thank you, Joy!

Caramel-Challah Bread Pudding

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by Susan Salzman

caramel bpuddingThis dish is so good that I had to hold my self back from eating the entire dish. A new Sunday morning favorite has just arrived. I inevitably always have left over Challah.

We start our weekend, each Friday night by celebrating Shabbat dinner. Inevitably, we always have left over challah. Eli usually gets egg in the hole on Saturday mornings, Isaac and Levi like it toasted with a little cinnamon butter smeared on top and sometimes I make croutons or bread crumbs with the left overs.

Last night, I was watching an episode of Nigella Lawson. She was making a caramel croissant bread pudding. Bingo. I was inspired to use up our challah and make something similar for breakfast. I changed it a bit yet I am sure the results are just as good as the original!

31 Days Of Pie, Day 30: Key Lime Pie

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by Matt Armendariz

Key Lime PieDay 29 of 31 Days Of Pie is Lemon Meringue Pie from Kate McDermott, Art Of The Pie

Our 31 Days Of Pie is drawing to a close, and yes, I am sad to see it go! Will we stop making pies? Never. Will we take a quick break from them? Most likely, but I’m sure it won’t be long. Today’s pie comes from America’s Test Kitchen, and happened rather last minute as we looked at the calendar and realized we made 30 pies, not 31, over the course of the month. We were at home enjoying down time and not at the studio, so this pie was whipped up quickly at home and photographed in the backyard. A quick sidenote: I’m always trying to keep myself busy creatively and realized “hey! I have the afternoon off! hey! it’s sunny! hey! I want to photograph a little backyard vignette!” I’ve included that photo and it also explains why this luscious key lime pie doesn’t match the series all that much. But no biggie, right? As with all things America’s Test Kitchen, it works and is delicious. Whenever you crave that zippy zing of citrus I hope you’ll think of this.

31 Days Of Pie, Day 29: Lemon Meringue Pie

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by Matt Armendariz

KATE QUEEN OF LEMON MERINGUEDay 29 of 31 Days Of Pie is Lemon Meringue Pie from Kate McDermott, Art Of The Pie

I refused to let our 31 Days Of Pie go by without one Lemon Meringue. Of course, it’s not just any Lemon Meringue, but a Lemon Meringue from Kate McDermott’s grandmother Geeg. It’s a perfectly balanced pie which earned her the title The Queen Of Lemon Meringue. It’s certainly majestic and for me I’ll never need any other recipe for a lemon meringue. Thank you so much Kate for being you! And to Geeg, too!

Lemon Meringue Pie from Kate McDermott, Art Of The Pie

1 pre-baked single pie crust

For the Filling

Pizzoccheri, the Comfort Pasta of the Season

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by Evan Kleiman

pizzoc 6The refrigerator is suffering from in-between celebration emptiness. A lonely cabbage sits there with a nice head of garlic, a elderly chunk of fontina and some grated parm. And yet it’s enough to create a world of comfort because I have a package of Pizzoccheri purchased several weeks ago.

Prounounced Peets-OH-keri, they are short tagliatelle shaped noodles made of 80% buckwheat and 20% wheat flours. I bought my bag of Pizzoccheri from Roan Mills at the Farmers Market so they are a bit more rustic (more buck and whole-wheaty) than the traditional pasta. The dish comes from the Valtellina, one of the most northern regions in Italy, a place where they understand the comforting combo of greens and cheese during cold weather.

Think of Pizzoccheri as a super northern version of a pasta al forno or baked pasta, but instead of the ziti with red sauce and mozzarella you have the aforementioned buck-wheaty pasta with cabbage and or green chard , diced potato, (I add caramelized onion) and sage all enriched with fontina and parmesan. It’s a big old cheesy mess of goodness.

31 Days Of Pie, Day 26: Macadamia Nut Pie

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by Matt Armendariz

Day 26 of 31 Days Of Pie is a Macadamia Nut Pie

Macadamia Nut PieIf you’ve noticed a theme here (other than pies), you’ll notice a love for the nuts+pie combo. Perhaps it’s a contrasting textural thang, or maybe it’s a way of rationalizing eating so many pies (i.e. nuts are healthy, right?) At any rate, this pie is a tropical breeze in a pie shell, using macadamias for crunch on top of sweet vanilla pie filling. It’s a good one from Epicurious. Enjoy!

Macadamia Nut Pie

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
2 cups roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Baklava Cookies

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by Hillary Davis

baklavacookiesYesterday I started out wanting to make traditional Baklava and ended up making cookies! I saw a picture in a magazine where filo dough was cut and placed in mini muffin tins then filled with a quiche mixture. My Baklava Cookies evolved from that idea, and I absolutely love them.

I started by putting pecans, bread crumbs, sugar, honey and spices in a food processor and whizzing it all up. It looked a bit dry, so I drizzled in a bit more honey and mixed it well.

Then I layered filo sheets with melted butter and cut them into small enough pieces to fit into mini muffin tins. Once I put them in the tins, I placed a teaspoon of the nut mixture in each one, added one chocolate chunk, and then folded the filo sheets over and pressed down.

I brushed each with melted butter and baked them into wonderful little balls of nuttiness.

Evan’s Caramelized Apple Gallette

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by Evan Kleiman

AppleGalletteSometimes you want a gallette instead of a pie.  You’re shocked hearing that from me? Well, don’t be. Apparently I enabled a gallette to be the winning “pie” at the last pie contest.  And you know why?  Because of the increased caramelization possibilities of more exposed crust and the ability to make a really big one for a wow presentation. 

Like this one here which served almost 20.  Also, I find that for bakers who are nervous about the whole cooking fruit inside a crust + thickener thing, cooking the apples separately can be an easy anxiety fix.

To size up the recipe just use more dough to make a bigger circle for your gallette and prep more apples.  For this gallette that was 14″ across I made my Ratio Dough using 15 oz of flour.  I used 10 small apples.  You actually don’t need to use many more apples than for a regular pie, they’re just spread out in a much thinner layer.

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