Is there anything better than pie? Well okay, maybe cake. Cake is better than pie. But in the fall, there is nothing better to ME than a beautiful concord grape pie. I’ll never forget the time my mother, the strict vegetarian, gave me a concord grape pie from a shop in Rochester and one of the main ingredients was lard. She was appalled. I was delighted. This particular recipe uses vegetable shortening as opposed to animal fat, but if I could bring myself to buy a tub of lard without literally feeling like a tub of lard, I’d use it.
Salted caramel apple pie from Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn
4 cups flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Blend together with a pastry cutter until crumbly. In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Blend into flour mixture. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
*Note: I realize this is just the recipe for crust and not for filling, but that’s because this is my standard, go to, fool proof crust recipe. It is deliciously flaky and not too sweet to use in literally any fruit pie you can come up with.
Sometimes I read other food blogs and I feel inspired. And then there are times when I read food blogs and feel legitimately angry that I didn’t think of this first.
photo c/o Because I'm Addicted
Banana bites! Not healthy in the least, but what a delicious and adorable dessert. You could also roll the slices in caramel or toffee and sprinkle them with jimmies or Nerds or rice krispies. Good thing I have all the ingredients for this in my kitchen as we speak. Or maybe not a good thing at all.
You know how sometimes you just need something chocolatey? You crave it? It consumes every thought in your head until you race home from work and scrape together the ingredients from your kitchen to produce something to satisfy that itch? No? Just me? Here’s the recipe, friends.
On the menu:
Chocolate pretzel cookies
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pretzels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, blend together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, blend together oil, sugar, and cocoa powder. Add eggs, blending one at a time. Add apple sauce and vanilla. Add flour mixture. Fold in pretzel pieces.
Roll dough into walnut-sized rounds and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until firm to touch.
One of the most depressing things about living in New York is the closing of your favorite restaurants. This summer brought about the death of two of my most favorite Italian spots: Carmine’s Italian Seafood in the Financial District, and La Focaccia in the West Village. If I had to name my top ten favorite restaurants in New York City, those would have been numbers 1 and 2. And now… well. I’ll spare you the tear-stained details.
In honor of the closing of La Focaccia I bring you a recipe for the dessert I always ordered there: strawberries with zabaglione. The perfect cap to a meal of penne vodka and gnocchi, zabaglione can be served over any fruit or cake, it’s thick and creamy like custard, and is easy as all get up to make.
On the menu:
Strawberries with zabaglione
1 quart strawberries, washed and quartered
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small, metal bowl whisk together the yolks, sugar, wine, and vanilla. Place the metal bowl over a saucepan half full with bowling water; make sure the bowl does NOT touch the water! While constantly whisking, cook yolk mixture over the simmering water for around 10 minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy*. Serve warm over strawberries.
*Note: taste the mixture before you remove it from the heat. If it’s not to your liking, add a bit more sugar.
Summer always ignites my love of fresh fruit, and life in general ignites my love of cheese. So allow me to plant an idea for a delicious little snack/meal/appetizer that I’ve been feasting on lately like it’s my job.
Slice and toast a baguette, and slather with ricotta cheese.
My mother always tells me, “You had the only Italian grandmother who couldn’t cook.” Grandma Mel may have made more imitation-crab salads than meaty lasagnas, but she made one dish that I will never forget. And in this CONSTANT heat and humidity, my craving for it hit me like a Mack truck.
On the menu:
Rosa Marina Pasta Salad
1 lb of Rosa Marina or Orzo (I had to use Orzo because my local grocer doesn’t carry Rosa Marina)
1 small bag of shredded coconut
1 9 oz container of Cool Whip
2 eggs, beaten
2 large cans of crushed pineapple packed in 100% pineapple juice (no syrup!)
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup cherries, chopped (this recipe typically calls for maraschino cherries, but I had just bought fresh so I used them)
1 large can of mandarin oranges*
3/4 cup of sugar*
*I’m not sure if once again this was my local grocery or a trend in canned fruit, but I could only find mandarin oranges packed in light syrup instead of real fruit juice, which I HATE. Because I could only find the sugared oranges, I only added 1/2 cup of sugar. You really don’t need all that extra anyway.
Cook noodles according to package. Drain pineapple and oranges, but save juice. In juice, cook eggs, sugar and flour until the mixture comes to a boil. Let cool for 5 minutes and then pour over noodles. Cover and refrigerate over night. Next day, loosen mixture with spatula. Fold in chopped cherries, pineapple, oranges, coconut and Cool Whip. Mix well and chill. Eat in front of a fan with a glass of lemon water with a little Buona Fortuna by The Four Sicilians playing in the background…
Today was hot. VERY hot. I drank some ice water, I ate a popsicle, I took a cold shower. And guess what? I am STILL. SO. FREAKING. HOT. And you know what is on my mind? I think you can guess.
Ice cream. There is no better cold weather treat. I thought, in lieu of cooking or eating or even moving from the whisper of a breeze that blows through my apartment window every hour, I would do an ice cream roundup. Yum.
Time Out New York did a roundup of what they think are the eight best ice cream sandwiches in the city. I have yet to taste any on their list, but I highly suggest you pick up a copy of the magazine, if only just to drool while you melt into a puddle in your air-conditionless apartment. No? Just me?
Did you know the month of July is National Ice Cream Month? Who cares if it’s true! It’s an excuse to eat ice cream like it’s going out of style. And for the month of July, chefs at Kimpton Hotels across the country are offering special ice cream dishes like vanilla bean gelato with caramelized popcornand caramel sauce (New York, NY) and Pennsylvania sweet corn ice cream with elephant heart plum and ginger gelato (Philadelphia, PA). For more info on your local Kimpton Hotel and their cheapo ice cream deal check their website.
If you live in New York City, you will literally trip over the endless ice cream options offered in and around New York. Two of my favorites include the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich at Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a split red velvet donut, or cookies and cream ice cream sandwiched between a plain cake donut) and the pistachio ice cream at Sweet Melissa in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
Ice cream! Way better than the Mr. Tasty blaring his abominable song on your street corner, and way more legal than taking a dip in the Lincoln Center fountain.