Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perfect Pie Crust

My mom and I have a tradition that every Thanksgiving Eve, we bake pies together for the next day. How fortunate that just last month, I found a recipe for perfect pie crust while making a chicken pot pie. This dough was beautiful: pliant, easy to work with, and with all the best qualities of both butter (rich flavor) and shortening (flakiness and holding its shape). This makes 2 pie crusts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Perfect Pie Crust

1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. cold unsalted butter
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. ice water

Mix the shortening, butter and salt into the flour with a pastry blender until very crumbly. Add water until the dough comes together into a ball. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or as long as 24 hours.

When ready to make pie, roll the dough out on a floured surface until it fits your pie pan. Fold in half, then in half again, and transfer to the pie pan. Now unfold it. Do the same with the top crust, tucking the extra dough under and crimping the edges. Bake as indicated in your pie recipe.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bodega Bay

This is how we began: cerulean sky and an expanse of water, right outside our window.

The next morning was more like:

Every day I spent there, I wrote. Not literally as I must when at work, but as a poet might. I tried to see everything as an artist. I'd nearly forgotten I had it in me.

But I found plenty to inspire...

Crab sandwich and clam chowder? Check. Salty wind and view of the Bay? Check. Random bluesy Elvis crooner? Check.

When the clouds blew past us, we were left to enjoy a silver-tinged landscape.

So we did.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On Being Cozy

Cozy is the name of the game this week

Things I love about this week:

- Soup is on the menu 3 times! Lentil, Split Pea, and Tomato, oh my!

- After an eternity of procrastination, I finally knit a perfect square. One perfect square. That means I am on my way to a scarf ... soon!

- Looking forward to a weekend in Bodega Bay, Sebastopol, Freestone, and the ocean. It’s been months since I’ve seen the sea. Plus, the last time we went there it was simply awesome.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Food Lover's Seattle

When people ask me what we did in Seattle, I never really know what to say except that we ate. Some people learn a new place by sight-seeing, but it seems that we do so by eating.

We couldn't have asked for a better start to our trip than a sunny corner of Volunteer Park Cafe with a hot cup of hot chocolate and a slice of wonderful slice of blueberry coffee cake. (A copy of Bon Appetit and a rustic wooden table didn't hurt either; I felt right at home instantly.)
From there, Seattle's food continued to wow us at every turn. I got to eat the best sandwich of my life, a cuban roast pork sandwich from Paseo. Believe the hype, the flavors were outstanding.

We had breakfast at The Crumpet Shop before hitting Pike's Place. Here's my lemon curd-ricotta crumpet.

I have to say that one of the highlights of the trip was visiting Delancey, the restaurant owned by famed blogger/author Orangette and her husband.

There was just something about experiencing physically what I'd only read about and imagined - actually tasting the wood-fired pizza, roasted raddichio salad and the bittersweet chocolate cookie sprinkled with salt. We opted for a pizza with homemade sausage and roasted padrone peppers:

I think the best thing I ate on the whole trip was likely the maple walnut trifle we had for dessert. It was the kind of dish that you take one bite of and tell yourself, "I have to figure out how to make this at home." I'll work on that one.

We ate Chicken-Spinach Manicotti made by Mario Batali's father at Salumi:

And bacon-wrapped Mehjool dates at Tango, a tapas restaurant:

On a cold Saturday morning, we made a trip to a great Farmer's Market, where I bought salted caramels, allium flower bulbs and fresh pasta and stuffed it into my suitcase to take home with me. Then, our noses frozen, we curled up in a cozy spot appropriately named Nook...

...where everything on the menu is based on biscuits:

And then it was time to head home. But of course we couldn't leave without one last tribute to this wonderful city:

Cheers, Seattle! Thanks for a lovely trip.