Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Authentic Dutch Apple Pie

Sometimes friendships find you and then happily take you through the years. When you reflect, suddenly you realize that the memories appear to be more abundant than you realized.

This past October, my friend Lisa organized an intimate housewarming party. Our small group decided that we would each bring something for the celebration. The evening was lovely beyond words, as we passed the hours away with a delicious dinner (thanks to our hostess Lisa, a.k.a. ‘Cupcake’), fantastic bubbles and wines (thanks to our resident sommelier John, a.k.a. the ‘Wine Ninja’), and great company (all of the above plus Leon, Ursula, Eric, and Zara). The hours flew by as we chatted, laughed, and shared stories al fresco. To close out the already perfect evening, the featured dessert was a stunning homemade pie. Or, as I like to think of it, my very first introduction to Dutch Apple Pie- made by the lovely Ursula. Since that night onward, I’ve chased this recipe. I am no stranger to apple pie, but this was beyond compare.

As time passed my questions to Ursula continued, I just wanted to understand the history of this glorious recipe. You can imagine how excited I was when I asked her to guest blog her coveted recipe; and she agreed to share it with all of you.

HINT: Bookmark this page – her Dutch Apple Pie is a showstopper.

Now, a bit more about the woman behind the magical pie. Born in the Netherlands, Ursula is a (micro)biology teacher, currently studying ecology and evolution. She has taught me most everything I know of importance about insects- in particular butterflies. And from her shared stories, I know that she delights in working with students both young and old, teaching them about almost all life science subjects. Yes, she is a college teacher! Her favorite hobbies are baking, reading, and playing video games. She takes delight in telling terrible puns like this one, “When a clown farts, does it smell funny?”

Enjoy Ursula’s following story and her treasured multi-general recipe. Thank you, Ursula!

I cannot remember when I had my very first taste of this apple pie. I know that I did not truly appreciate it or even realize how special this dessert was until I compared it with other apple pies throughout my travels. Most apple pies I’ve sampled have been bland in taste and soggy in its consistency, with a crust that was completely forgettable.

After exhaustively trying the gamut of homemade and store-bought apple pies, I now always think twice before asking for a slice. In most cases, none of these other apple pies can hold a candle to this recipe. Trying these other pies has helped me to appreciate the awesomeness of this very special version. Admittedly, I now realize that my recipe set a high bar for my apple pie standard. Perhaps I am spoiled in that way, and a few others are now also spoiled. For example, during family gatherings hosted by my gran or mom, if there was apple pie, it would be the first dessert choice that people would request. And if it somehow wasn’t on offer, some family members would still ask for it.

As I grew up, I started having open house parties of my own– hosting people that would drop by for a visit throughout the day. As time progressed, I began noticing something peculiar, this trend was changing. You guessed it; most people would visit in the morning to have coffee or tea, and a slice of my apple pie. Of course, I never asked why they preferred to come during the morning, sacrificing their precious weekend sleep to be the first to visit. I originally thought it was because they could not wait to see me, but deep down I now think it had to do with their unconsciousness telling them they needed to hurry or risk missing out on my apple pie.

What makes this recipe better than others found online? Well, this one is a tradition amongst the three generations in my family. For decades it has been a coveted, traditional old-world Dutch all-time favorite, for many of my family and friends. The best thing about Dutch apple pie is that you can tweak it however you like! For example, I enjoy adding cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg when I bake this pie during wintertime. During the summer I like to add chopped apricots, pineapple, or mango. However, the best version on this Dutch apple pie is this original one, right here.

Authentic Dutch Apple Pie

Serves 12 people (or 10 really hungry ones!)

45 min. preparation

1 hour waiting

1 hour baking time

Ingredients

1 medium size egg

1 lemon, scrubbed clean

2 cups (250 g) self-rising flour

1 cup (125 g) caster sugar or bastard sugar

3 pinches salt

5 pinches ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (85 g) currants or raisins

6 TBS (125 g) unsalted butter, cold

8 (3 pounds or 1.5 kg) Granny Smith apples or another fresh and sour apple

2/3 cup (150 g) almond paste

Kitchen utensils

9-inch springform (Ø 24 cm)

Rolling pin

Mixing bowl

Directions

Separate the egg and grate the zest of the lemon.

Put the self-rising flour, 3/4 cup plus 1 TBS (100 g) sugar, and the salt in a mixing bowl. Using two knives, cut the butter and mix it all through until you get a crumbly dough. Add the egg white and lemon zest. With cold/cool hands, quickly knead the crumbly dough into a dough ball. Press flat, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C). Grease the springform. Dust the work surface, the rolling pin and the dough ball with a bit of (self-rising) flour and roll out 2/3 of the dough into a 1/3 of an inch (1 cm) thick slice. This will cover the bottom and the edges of the springform. First, cut out a circle with the springform and place the dough on the bottom. Line the edges with the remainder of the rolled-out dough.

Mix half of the egg yolk with the almond paste and spread over the bottom.

Peel the apples cut them into quarters and remove the core. Cut the quarters into thin slices or pieces and place them in a bowl. Cut the lemon in small parts and mix the cinnamon, the currants/raisins, and the remainder of the sugar with the apple. Spoon the apple mixture on the almond paste.

Roll out the remainder of the dough into a square piece. Cut into strips of 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) wide and place in a diamond pattern on the filling. Brush the rest of the egg yolk on the dough.

Adjust baking rack to just below the middle of the rack. Bake the pie for about 1 hour until golden brown and done. Allow the pie to cool in the pan.

Storage tip

You can bake the apple pie 1 day in advance. Simply let the pie cool completely and keep it wrapped in aluminum foil. You can also pre-make the dough 1 month in advance and store airtight it in the freezer.

Personal tip<

Serve the pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or with a spoon of custard. If you want a different finishing touch, you can instead of making strips, crumble 1/3 of the dough on top of the pie.

Substitution tip

If you find the pie too sweet or if you have a nut allergy you can withhold the almond paste and add extra raisins/currents to make up for it.

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars & Other Musings

As I post this long overdue note, I am reminded how quickly life can change – and it has. Week One of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in my part of the world saw the initial lockdown expanded from local pockets in the Bay Area to all of California. It has us all looking for ways to stay connected. Virtual is the new every day- and respectful in-home space is a necessity for the new work and study from home evolving culture. I’ll be sharing more recipes and thoughts but for now, let’s get back to a day, not oh, so long ago when this Black Swan event wasn’t even a blip in our consciousness.

Written on January 2, 2020.

Heading into a new decade- the roaring ’20s carries with it a lot of Gatsby-esque lore. But things have changed. A lot. Not just on a personal level but as a nation. In the ’20s a nation was separated by their limited transportation or financial options. Now we are isolated by choice. By the option to do things in our own desired timeframe, creating our own moments. I am feeling a definite nostalgia for the monoculture of yore. The last decade was riddled with one word across multiple experiences- overload. Practically a sanity-endangering overload that took hold in 2000 and by 2020 manifests in a liquidity of information in excess – original content, streaming music, algorithms of your preferences served like a dessert buffet, less thinking involved and less time for shared group experiences. It’s no wonder that I now cling to things that foster a shared sense of unity in our small circles like watching The Godfather on TV at Thanksgiving, complete with annoying commercials, or trying to find a movie that we all like to watch together vs all sitting in one room, on our devices doing different things. In the last decade, it has become easier to be alone, and simultaneously feel stretched. Even despite all of the things we lost, in the rubble and ashes of our collectiveness is the interest to work together as a team. And from the ashes rise the phoenix. New things we never thought or dreamt of like mimes, podcasts and binge-watching are now creating their own communities. AI themes are becoming a reality, yet somehow shared temporality continues to exist. The world is full of change and possibility.

This last decade was not to be taken lightly on the personal front either. In it all, thanks to modern technology, I cheated death. Well, technically, I did it twice. I’ve discovered my ability to find humor, treat myself with less seriousness and that when I am stressed, I find myself in the kitchen. Simplification is my talisman. #GetWhatYouWant is my 2020 motto and the more I say it, the more it becomes true. And that is exactly what I’ve set my sights. From cars to getaways to special moments to spending time with those I adore to rediscovering fun again in my art of words and strategy. For the first time, it feels as if the sky is the limit. The culmination of life and love and dedication and persistence.

One of my constants is people. Good people make the special moments memorable, the important professional milestones less difficult / more rewarding and are IMO the true testament to who you are – your sense of humor, ability to handle stress and find your happiness. Lately, I’ve found a lot of incredible moments. This one leads to a recipe. The reader’s digest version is that in January some good things happened, and I found myself in London at a meeting in a drop-dead gorgeous spot, way too early to be having breakfast and then this unassuming ‘bar’ turned my head. I ate one and followed it with another, then sheepishly asked for the recipe. ACCESS DENIED. They did offer to let me take a few of these bars home. Then the real fun began as I attempted to deconstruct and reconstruct this magic.

These bars, filled will nuts and seeds, make a tasty snack. Toasted seeds and oatmeal give this bar extra flavor, and the addition of gingery/chocolatey goodness makes for a great blend of textures and flavors. This super easy granola bar is what says it is. Super easy, seedy and amazing! Other flaked grains like quinoa or rice flakes can be used. Substitute nuts with more seeds to make them nut-free. So many possibilities! Added bonus, these bars are both vegan and gluten-free.

Seedy Chocolate Ginger Slice Bars

Ingredients

1 cup old fashioned oats, certified gluten-free if necessary

1/4 cup toasted/roasted pumpkin seeds pepitas or sunflower seeds

2 TBS sesame seeds or hemp seeds

2 TBS chia seeds

3 TBS raw cashews

1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

3 TBS chopped candied ginger

pinch of salt (optional)

protein powder (optional)

1 TBS sugar (optional)

3/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate

2 tsp coconut oil

Directions

Toast the oats on a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and the color changes slightly which is approximately 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the oats and set aside. Add the pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until they start to change color; approximately 4- 5 minutes. Then add in the chia seeds and continue to toast for a minute longer; add it to the bowl with the oats.

Chop up cashews, walnuts, and candied ginger into small pieces and combine. Mix in a pinch of salt. If using protein powder, you can add it in now and mix until well combined.

In a double boiler or the same skillet over medium-low heat, add chocolate and coconut oil and continue mixing until most of the chocolate is melted. Add 1 TBS sugar if you tend to like sweeter bars. Remove from heat and continue to whisk until smooth. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute. Next add the toasted oats, seeds, nuts, candied ginger to the skillet.

Transfer the mixture to parchment-lined 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Using another piece of parchment on top, press the mixture down evenly.

Chillfor 15 minutes. Slice and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been in hibernation mode. Taking a planned break to just have fun cooking and spending time with people I miss engaging with regularly. I remember as a child looking at my grandparents in awe of how many friends and acquaintances they had. The list of contacts seemed endless and my daughter made a comment over the weekend that reminded me of that feeling. I understood her perspective and the sheer awe of the network.

The last few years have taught me one thing loud and clear- spend time only with those that are worth your time. Laugh and smile and make everyday fun. There is a lot we have to be grateful for…don’t waste a minute of it wishing your life could be otherwise.

When I was sick a few years ago, one of my good childhood friends was also sick. Separated by great distances I remember he called me from his hospital bed while I was in mine. We laughed and cried and while our conditions were vastly different our mindset was indeed similar. This past week, after years of only being able to connect by phone and text, we met for a coffee, a walk, and a very long talk. While our lives are incredibly different, our views on life were nearly identical.

1) Never taking one conscious moment of any day for granted; we were given a second chance. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a second chance. How we both managed to get so very lucky I’ll never know. For now, it really doesn’t matter how or why, just that it isn’t squandered.

2) Never say no to opportunity, no matter how crazy it may seem.

3) Spending time with those you enjoy.

4) Appreciating the beauty around us.

5) The fight is better than the alternative. Fight for life. You can live every day- you can only die once.

This is a recipe I played around with this past week—low in glycemic sugar, gluten-free, and just the right hint of sweet. It was the perfect sweet cheat for a few people in my life that don’t often get to indulge in sweets! Need to make it vegan? Well, that is easy as swapping in your favorite vegan butter. We joked that these cookies are practically “free”; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free (if you so choose)! Need to make them nut-free? No problem, substitute in your favorite spread.

As a connoisseur of peanut butter and jelly desserts, I’ve long been searching for a recipe that would combine peanut butter and jelly in a cookie. These cookies take their flavor cues from the lunch-box favorite or at least my version of it where chocolate is included! This thick chunky cookie is not overly sweet, and if you are a fan of the PBJ (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich then it will be a recipe you want to keep close at hand. Any jam or jelly can be substituted for raspberry.

PB&R Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/3 cup unsalted butter or vegan butter, softened

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut sugar

2 TBS almond milk

½ fresh raspberries, well mashed

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add butter, peanut butter, vanilla sugar, and milk into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is fluffy.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. And combine with peanut butter mixture by hand. Then fold in chocolate chips and raspberries.

Drop walnut-size cookies (2 TBS) onto a baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Noli Style Limoncello Tiramisu

When creating this summer dessert, I was transported back in time to last summer in Italy. The dreamy days spent in Sorrento with my mother were filled with sipping on endless cordials of limoncello as we traversed the Amalfi Coast in a surreal state of unencumbered happiness. It was a special trip to have this mother/daughter time together after surpassing so many of life’s hurdles. It was special beyond words. Continue reading ‘Noli Style Limoncello Tiramisu’

Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake

Calling all summer lemon lovers! I have to say, after having taken a much-needed blogging hiatus, YOU passionate dessert foodies have all inspired me to come back to share my adventures in the kitchen. Let’s get right to business. >I know, all this time away from blogging and I am suddenly robbing you of a story but maybe you are done with my insights and just looking for a good recipe “sans” deep thoughts. Maybe.<

This Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake recipe glows of summer and is the perfect refreshing crowd-pleaser to close out a good BBQ. Continue reading ‘Lemonicious Blueberry Slab Cake’

Put the Lime in the Koloa Coconut Rum Jell-O Shots

It’s your lucky day. No really, it is. St. Patrick’s Day carries with it the stigma of good luck and good fortune. There is no better way to celebrate than to skip the long story and go straight to the recipe. The clock is ticking and you need to get those celebratory Koloa Coconut Rum and Lime Jell-O shots chilling. Continue reading ‘Put the Lime in the Koloa Coconut Rum Jell-O Shots’

The Pops Special Sunday Breakfast Sandwich

It was just a simple sandwich. He was a simple man. He was kind-hearted and quiet, he is what many would call ‘the salt of the earth’. That was my paternal Grandfather, Nunzio Alioto. He was always there with a smile and a helping hand for family or someone in need. He to me was the embodiment of Continue reading ‘The Pops Special Sunday Breakfast Sandwich’

Champagne Jellied Treats & Tailsmans

Talismans. Do you have them? I do. Maybe not as my driving force but they do exist in my world. Sometimes they are for me those ‘angels’ that I think maybe watch out for me and guide me. For me, they are often the reminders I have of ‘those’ that are special to me.

I’ve recently had a lot of my ‘angels’ on my mind. I recognized that having something of theirs with me, during especially busy or stressful times, gave me an extra reason to smile and relax while being a bit in the eye of a hurricane. I only realized my gravitation toward these seemingly magical objects while speaking with a friend over dinner. It must have sounded incredibly peculiar when I blurted out that my new favorite dress is one of my Grandmother’s. I mean, is it normal to say you are rocking your grandparent’s clothes? Maclamore and Ryan Lewis sing it about it Continue reading ‘Champagne Jellied Treats & Tailsmans’

Portobello, White Wine and White Truffle Polenta

When you get a text from your Italian friend, that your teenage son intercepts, there is quite a lot of laughter that prevails. It will probably be one of those stories that goes down in our family history book of crazy things Secondo thinks I’ve done. I often joke that he may very well be in therapy later in life for all of the mistakes in parenting I’ve made but at least I hope I’ve given him some of the funniest stories to share, ergo, THE BEST MATERIAL.

I was texting with an Italian friend of mine that lives here in the States and after the initial message my son intercepted the subsequent texts. Continue reading ‘Portobello, White Wine and White Truffle Polenta’

Candied Crisp Lemon Peels & Quitting Christmas

This year I tried to quit Christmas. I know, what a bah-humbug thing to say. I started my campaign to escape the holiday in early December of 2017. And yet, even with a plan to take 2018 off, it was a bust. When I realized my failure about 45 days out, I was in disbelief. How could I have had such a failure of epic proportions?

At the risk of being overly honest, the holidays carry with them a hint of childhood grandeur sprinkled with magic AND Continue reading ‘Candied Crisp Lemon Peels & Quitting Christmas’