Sunday, June 21, 2015

Blackberry Cobbler

I've had a cobbler problem. And when visiting my cousins Dan and Carolyn Hale last week in Maine, I realized I'm not the only one. A lot of cobblers call for leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder. Last summer, I made a cobbler that called for four TABLESPOONS of baking powder. The result was acrid, bitter crust. I had to throw the whole thing away. I tracked down the contributor of the recipe to a compendium cookbook from B&B owners and she confirmed that she uses four TBSP. in her recipe and likes it just fine. Blech. Last week, Carolyn's otherwise delicious blueberry cobbler suffered the same fate; dough that wouldn't quite cook through and vaguely fizzy from baking soda. I took a look through six or seven of my cookbooks and found this gem. No leavening required. It's a little more like an upside down pie, but nonetheless perfect. 

Blackberry picking with Boy #2

Looking for the tiny crayfish in the creek

Hyde Farm Blackberry Cobbler (Adapted from Rob and Suzanne Boas, All Saints Cookbook)

5 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
¾ cup sugar (I used 2/3 cup)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter

Place berries in bottom of 9” square baking dish. Combine sugar, starch and salt and sprinkle over berries. Dot with butter. Set aside.

1 c. All Purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
Quite a haul; next week there will be way more
1/3 cup shortening
~2 Tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. almond extract (my addition for flavor)
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. sugar

The finished product. Perfect! 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour and salt in bowl. Cut in shortening until coarse. Sprinkle with water and add almond extract and stir with fork until mixture holds together. Roll out onto wax paper (I fold wax paper in half and put the dough in the middle of the “sandwich” before rolling, so both sides of dough are on wax paper). Place rolled dough over baking dish. Cut slits into top. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mr. Zee and that Whole Processed Food Thing

This is a very sweet story, an apple with teeth, so to speak. It was created by Bettina Elias Siegel, the wonder woman behind The Lunch Tray blog. It is well worth your 12 minutes, and that of your kids as well. We make a lot of choices regarding the foods we bring into our homes. Children need to understand why industrial food is not necessarily a winning choice. And kids need to understand that they're being marketed to in a way that directly affects their decision making. Click play!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pizza Party

We recently hosted a pizza party for friends on a Saturday night. This was a kid-friendly event, specifically because I'd already spent a fortune on a babysitter the night before. 

With the farmer's market now in full swing, I got several items for the pizzas there. Some of it came from the cold frame, and the rest, friends brought. 

I made two batches of pizza dough the day before (it takes a day) and had that ready to go before the guests arrived. Ditto the prep on the veggies. I also made a batch of ricotta for one of the toppings. One friend is Gluten Free, and brought her own pizza crust. 

Here's what we did: 

Pizza Dough
Make one day in advance

7/12 cups all purpose flour, plus some extra
4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Mix flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add three cups of warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. You may use your hands to make sure that the flour in the bottom gets added in. Cover bowl completely with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a draft-free place for at least 18 hours. 

After that time, the dough will look very bubbly and very voluminous. Punch it down to remove from the bowl and put in on a floured work surface. If it feels a little wet, sprinkle a little extra flour on it. Here, you will divide the dough into six portions of roughly the same size. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel for one hour (resting time) before baking. 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. 

Pizza Sauce
Make four hours in advance, or use jarred sauce

3 cans diced tomatoes in tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. majoram or thyme
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)

Open cans and put in a medium sized sauce pan over the lowest heat. Press the garlic, add the salt, and herbs, and stir every 1/2 hour or so. It should not come to a boil, but reduce over time. It can take three to four hours to start to thicken. Season to taste and use as sauce for pizza. 

Suggested Toppings

Spring green onions
Grape Tomatoes
Diced Bell Peppers
Pitted olives
Pepperoni or Salami
Queso Fresco
Ricotta Cheese

Participants were given a baking sheet and parchment to line it. Then, they did whatever moved them. Bake pizzas in the 500 degree oven for about 12-14 minutes until the crust is lightly brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and cut as you please. 

We did have toppings left over the following day, and I incorporated those into an egg strata for dinner that evening. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Fridge, Again

Mr. Jeffrey Immelt
Chief Executive Officer
General Electric Company
3135 Easton Turnpike
Fairfield, CT 06828
(via mail)

Mr. Charles Blankenship
President and CEO
GE Consumer & Industrial
Louisville, KY

GE Appliance Headquarters
AP6, Room 129
Louisville, KY 40255
(via mail)

Dear Mr. Immelt, Mr. Blankenship and other GE Appliance Professionals:

My name is Tina Engberg. I am a food blogger and a cheese maker in Atlanta. I am also the wife of a UPS executive, PTA volunteer, Scout Leader, and mother to two wild and crazy boys, ages 7 and 10. I rely on my GE Monogram refrigerator, which we purchased through the GE Appliance Store through the “friends and family” program on 12/20/2005, for a variety of things, the least of which is providing safe food storage for my family. At the time we purchased the refrigerator (along with several other appliances), my brother, Charles Brickley, was an employee of GE Capital.

We purchased the ZIS480NR, Serial number AL031077, and the ZIFI240PII Custom Panels. We even sprung for the GEN0010B48 Four year in-home Service plan. That coverage, which we never made use of, ended 1/20/2011.

We installed the appliances into our new home in May 2007, in time to move in on June 16th, 2007. While we waited for the construction of our home to be complete, the refrigerator sat, in the garage, in its original crating. A professional installer put the refrigerator in for our contractor.

Since I want to get to the meat of the matter, which incidentally, is warming right now in an IGLOO cooler, this refrigerator has been nothing but a source of contention for our family. It is the worst appliance I’ve ever owned, and I want my money back. I have spent thousands of dollars I didn’t need to spend to replace food that shouldn’t have gone bad. My next door neighbor graciously allows me to put food in her deep freezer when ours is out, which is more often than anyone should endure.

I could go on and on about the fridge itself, but it might bore you, since I have the impression that I’m not the only one who owns such a poor excuse of a refrigerator. The ice-maker stopped working within the first three months of operation; we lived without. We would experience unreasonable fluctuations in the temperature between the freezer and the refrigerator. The “chiller drawer” in the bottom went out at about a year. We have had our trusted appliance person (whose father worked at the Lynn, MA GE Plant for over 40 years) replace the motherboard, HMI Board, Touch pad, Icemaker, and Damper and the Crisper Control Panel. Nothing. Right now, it’s 62 degrees in both sections. Thank goodness our technician responds immediately to my phone calls. He doesn’t charge me for more than the parts he orders and waits to receive (three weeks for a single part to be delivered on a rush order; impressive JIT Manufacturing GE!) GE, on the other hand, charges for Home Calls (where else would this appliance be?) just to walk through my door.

At one point, in April 2012, we even tried to take advantage of what my husband called “a good factory service deal” that he learned about through one of the GE online newsletters he receives. On 5/15/12, your technician Henry Pomocnik (Tech 60) came to “Unblock the air return” and put a new stripper in the ice-maker. When we tried to reach Henry a few days later when what he fixed became unfixed again, we were not able to reach him. Successive messages to GE’s Consumer Service went unanswered. Since then, we’ve found a responsive service person to help us, but this refrigerator is beyond repair, and I want you to buy it back from us.

The IRONY of all of this is that my husband’s maternal great-grandfather, Charles Tripp, headed the refrigeration unit at GE’s Lynn, MA plant; there’s a statue outside the plant dedicated to his service to General Electric and the innovations he made in home refrigeration for your company. We wanted to buy GE products because it really meant something to the family, to support the business that provided great opportunity and prosperity for Mr. Tripp and his daughters.

I would appreciate hearing from you, especially, Mr. Blankeship. My cell is 678-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you,

Christina B. Engberg

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Henan Chicken Stew

This is from this week's "Slow Food Fast" series in the Wall Street Journal. I made it this afternoon for tonight's dinner, and my house smelled so good that I have to share this with you tonight. While it requires a lot of different spices, you won't be disappointed. Your house will smell like an Asian marketplace, minus the goats and cigarette smoke.

Henan Chicken Stew

Boiling in a big, deep pot

Beer Braised Henan Chicken
Adapted from Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food
From Wall Street Journal

Total time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6


1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds, broken down and cut into 10 pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (I used canola)
1/2 cup dried red chilies
2 Tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns or whole black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 pieces star anise
4 pods green cardamon
2 Tbsp. Chinese chili paste or Sriacha
2 cups chicken stock or water
16 oz. lager-style beer (Budweiser, Tsingtao, etc.)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
4 small russet potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch dice
Sherry vinegar to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs

First, season the chicken with salt and two tbsp. fish sauce and let sit five minutes. Meanwhile, set a heavy, deep pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil is hot, work in batches to brown both sides of chicken pieces, about six minutes per batch, transferring chicken to a bowl as you go.

Return chicken to pot, increase heat to high and add all remaining ingredients except the vinegar and cilantro. Bring pot up to a rolling boil, cover and cook until chicken and potatoes are tender and sauce is reduced, about 20 minutes.

Season with vinegar and extra fish sauce to taste. Top with cilantro.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dulce de Leche Goat Cheese Cookies

This recipe is decadence upon decadence. It was printed out on a recipe card for work, and since we'd just salted a batch of goat curd, I thought I'd give it a try. Wow. The other aside is that 1. I had a free afternoon, and 2. happened to have a jar of dulce de leche sauce in the pantry. In any case, dulce de leche sauce may be a little tricky to find. Stonewall Kitchens makes it, I found it at Your DeKalb Farmer's Market. You may always look for a recipe and make it yourself. It really isn't that difficult. 

The trick here is the sable-style cookies. You really do need to roll them and measure out the cookies as indicated. Use a very sharp knife to score and slice the dough. If it is too soft, they won't cut right. 

Dulce de Leche Goat Cheese Cookies
Origin unknown


2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
7 oz. Dulce de Leche sauce
3.5 oz. CalyRoad Creamery Fresh Plain Goat Cheese
Powdered sugar for dusting

In a mixing bowl, blend butter and sugars together until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, and whisk well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour into the bowl. Mix until dough is roughly the same texture throughout (I found it to be a bit crumbly). Stir in pecans. 

Divide dough into two balls. Place each ball on its own sheet of plastic wrap. Using the wrap to press the dough, roll the balls into eight inch logs. Twist the ends of the wrap tight and refrigerate the dough from two hours to overnight. When ready to bake, remove rolls from refrigerator and proceed. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Unwrap dough and place on a cutting board. Starting from the center and working your way out, score the log with the blade of your knife to mark 24 cookies on the log. Cut half, then half, then each 1/4 into sixths for a total of 24 cookies per log. Slice the log into the marked pieces. Do this with each roll. 

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Space cut cookies on parchment so that they are about 1 inch apart. Place baking sheets in hot oven, and after 10 minutes, rotate sheets, baking for a total of 20 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Warm the dulce de leche in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When just warm, remove from heat and stir in goat cheese. Cool the goat cheese de leche mix. 

To finish cookies, take about a teaspoon of the mixture and spread it on the bottom of one cookie, and sandwich it with another cookie. Continue until finished. Dust cookies with confectioner's sugar. 

Makes approximately 24 cookies. 

Dough ball

Logs chilled and ready to cut

Note the score lines in the dough to the right

Goat cheese prior to mixing into Dulce de Leche

The finished cookie

Thursday, December 27, 2012


I seem to have been able to fix the issue I had with the site. I will post again shortly.