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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buttermilk Chess Pie

As Rose Levy Beranbaum says, "There are two kinds of people: cake people and pie people."

I am a cake person. My husband has a long standing joke that he only likes two kinds of pies: hot and cold. He is a pie person.

I recently resolved to bake more pies, and flipping through the pages of my book of choice, I remembered something I hadn't thought of for a long time. When I was living in Florida and my grandmother was getting old, I frequently took her to the Piccadilly Cafeteria, which seemed to make her very happy. As we'd go down the buffet line, there were certain things she clearly wanted, but would only get if I would get them too. Hoping to entice her to eat heartily, I'd be enthusiastic and agree to things I didn't really want. Like chess pie. Every. Single. Time.

Tonight's pie is for my husband, but it's in honor of my mammy, who always had a jar of brandied fruit on the counter-top, made the greatest chocolate pound cakes, and taught me when to flip a pancake.

Buttermilk Chess Pie, The Pie & Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum

Basic Flaky Pie Crust

I intend to master the art of homemade pie crust. Starting today. And, although I don't often blog "process" photos, I am ridiculously happy with the dough for tonight's dessert, so I took a few.

Somehow I managed to roll a nearly perfect circle. I'm not sure that will ever happen again.

A tip I learned from... somewhere. I forget where. To transport the rolled dough to the pie plate, drape it around the rolling pin. Ta da! I was able to move it without stretching or breaking it, and it landed in the center.

I shall acquire crimping skills. Someday.

Basic Flaky Pie Crust (buttermilk variation p. 25), The Pie & Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Bundt Cake

When I first started this blog back in October 2004, it was at the suggestion of my friend Sheri, whose blog is Pork Cracklins. As I am neither the accomplished cook nor the tech savvy blogger that she is, I named mine "Not As Good As Pork Cracklins". Neither of our blogs has a thing in the world to do with pork cracklins.

Though I do still occasionally blog about cooking, over the years, NAGAPC (or as another friend calls it, "Not A Bad Ass") has begun leaning more and more toward baking. I guess I've baked since I was kid, but it's only been fairly recently that I've paid attention to where the recipes come from and who writes them. I've learned that there are certain authors whose recipes can be completely trusted and whose tastes tend to be similar to mine.

Some of my baking inspirations are:

Rose Levy Beranbaum
, whose classic books are some of the greatest baking tutorials ever written, including: The Pie & Pastry Bible (I need to use it more), The Bread Bible (LOVE it!), The Cake Bible (my first "real" buttercreams), and Heavenly Cakes (destined to be another classic).

Abigail Johnson Dodge, who used to be a contributing editor for my favorite magazine, Fine Cooking. The only book I own is The Weekend Baker. "My" two signature recipes are actually hers: Double Ginger Crackles and Chocolate Banana Swirl Cake. Several of my go-to reliable, favorite recipes are hers as well: Supermoist Banana Muffins and Emergency Blender Cupcakes.

Dorie Greenspan, whose Baking With Julia(Child) should be in every kitchen. But the book of hers I love the most is Baking From My Home To Yours. The first time Carolyn did the Tahoe Triple, I baked Perfect Party Cake to celebrate, and "perfect" truly describes it. In fact, everything I've made from that book is perfect.

Try to imagine how star-struck I was last week when Dorie Greenspan commented on Not As Good As Pork Cracklins about my Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Black Raspberry Swirl! She said it looked "perfect" and that she was glad I'd made it. As I told my marathon friends, it would be like Arthur Lydiard slapping you on the back, saying "nice run"!

You might think that I reacted by baking another of her recipes so soon, but in fact, I'd already made my next cake -- her Holiday Bundt Cake -- and frozen it for Thanksgiving Day. It was all I could do to keep it, not cut into it, and not blog about it. It's moist, dense, fragrant with cinnamon, and studded with cranberries, apples and nuts. Like every other recipe of hers I've made, it too is perfect.

Holiday Bundt Cake, Baking From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nanny's Victoria Sponge

The other day, the pin in my tilt head KitchenAid somehow worked its way out. I mentioned it to my oh-so-handy husband, so that he could put it back in. What I didn't say was, "Please might you do it as soon as possible, so that I may use it if I wake up in the wee hours of the night and want to bake a cake?"

I used it anyway, figuring that the horrific noise the broken mixer made would be enough to wake him up so he'd fix it for me. But it didn't and he didn't.

The resulting cake is Nanny's Victoria Sponge, which I knew as soon as Three Many Cooks posted, I'd be baking as dessert for a Sunday dinner.

As it turns out, tonight's dessert is also Gary's de facto birthday cake. While tomorrow is his 55th birthday, tonight is the night that Eric, Monica, Mike, Sandy and Doris will join us around the dinner table. Happy Birthday, Gary!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls

I got a head start on Thanksgiving yesterday, including a dessert I'll blog about later, as well as the initial mixing and overnight rise of the dough for the dinner rolls. Today they got a second rise and then they were shaped, proofed and baked. Now into the freezer. Except one sacrificial mini roll, so I'd know if they're any good. They are.

Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls, Bon Appetit, November 2009, Peter Reinhart

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Black Raspberry Swirl

Sour Cream Bundt Cake
with Black Raspberry Swirl, 1-2-3 Bake, Dorie Greenspan

Monday, November 16, 2009

Coffee Break Muffins

Simple, plain even, and not too sweet. Very tender and quite delicious. I sprinkled with coarse decorating sugar to dress them up just a bit. A definite repeat.

Coffee Break Muffins, Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Bar Cookies

To go with afternoon coffee. And who knows, maybe morning coffee.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Muffins

"Uh oh..."

Blueberry Crumb Muffins, The Modern Baker, Nick Malgieri

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart

Since everyone seems to want it but me, I've been trying harder to make dessert a part of Sunday dinner. Kinda funny is that the past three weeks have been Rose Levy Beranbaum recipes. Well, not so funny when you consider how reliable they are. In fact, this one was chosen by Food & Wine to be included in their Best of the Best cookbook.

If you want to see Rose herself making this dessert and giving helpful hints, you can watch a video here.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Tart, The Pie & Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum

Saturday, November 07, 2009


I often try to send something home with my boy when he comes for Sunday dinner. Love that boy. Tomorrow he gets "breakfast to go" for the week. Couple of those and a piece of fruit and he'll be set.

Can't say I followed this recipe exactly, but here ya go:

Sausage Cheese Biscuits, King Arthur Flour

Monday, November 02, 2009

Draw That Line Again!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


My Bialetti treated me well. I think it was a sign that I'd have a perfectly lovely morning. And I have.