Archive for February, 2013

Last summer, a friend asked for my recipe for blueberry pie. Technically, it’s my mother’s recipe. Here’s how I make it:


2 1/2 cups of flour
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
4 oz of neufchâtel/cream cheese
1/4 cup cold water

1 quart of wild blueberries (or more, depending on pie dish depth)
4 tablespoons of Minute tapioca
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 ounces of milk


Combine berries with 1 cup of sugar and tapioca in a bowl at least half an hour before baking, preferably 2 hours or so. Set aside.

Preheat over to 425 degree F.

Sift flour into large mixing bowl. Cut butter and neufchâtel into flour in small pieces. Pinch pieces of shortening between fingers until no globs remain. Add cold water, mix until dough comes together but no longer. Split into 2 balls, chill in fridge for 4 hours. (Possible to use immediately if needed but try to plan ahead!)

Dust counter top or big cutting board and a rolling pin with flour. (If you have access to a ceramic rolling pin, chill it prior to baking.) Roll out first ball of dough until it’s 1 inch wider than pie plate diameter on all sides. Fold into half and then once again to transfer into plate, then unfold after moving it over. Press closed any cracks.

Add filling. Roll out the other ball of dough, this time making an oval (for lattice) or circle for closed pie. Slice into 1/2″ strips. Weave into lattice over the pie filling. (If pie top is one piece, make sure to cut 8 1″ slit into it to allow steam to escape.) Press the top and bottom crust together with two fingers to form a wave.

Brush the top of the piece with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Put pie into over in the middle rack, preferably with a cookie sheet below it to catch any overflow. (If you have a crust protector, put it over the edges.)

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if blueberries are bubbling. If not, check back periodically every 10 minutes. If crust is browning too fast, reduce heat further to 325.

Let cool for at least a few minutes — filling will be boiling hot and will gel as it cools.

Goes exceptionally well with cold milk, tea or a la mode.

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Valentine's Day dinner: seared sea scallops, fresh lemon... on Twitpic

Seared sea scallops, fresh lemon pepper fettucine, roasted red pepper, shitake, zucchini.

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Lemon chicken schnitzel. Perfect for a chilly November dinner. Not a bad pairing with a good Riesling, either. Tangy capers, citrus and sweet wine. Yum.

We’ll be back to Central.

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Proper Maryland crabdip

In our family, Maryland Thanksgiving means crab dip is the prime attraction until the bird is done.

Cream cheese, shallots, sour cream, sherry, white pepper, 2 pounds of backfin lump.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Keep warm.


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Making the classic family giblet gravy is a decades-old practice in my clan, from browning a proper roux to sautéeing wild mushrooms to separating turkey droppings and adding stock and flour.

In recent years, we’ve been trying gluten-free flours. Some Thanksgiving traditions are well worth preserving and evolving, as needed.

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Last year, when I visited Sebastapol, Californina, I stumbled upon a terrific restaurant, the Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House.

I enjoyed a delicious pumpkin chicken masala, with organic pumpkin from a nearby farm. Rather good, with garlic cilantro naan and an IPA. Great service, fine ambiance.

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We brewed beer from the White House’s Honey Porter recipe last October.

The home brewer who kindly offered his home and equipment adapted the recipe slightly but we hewed to its spirit.

The homebrewer I'm working with today adapted the White House thusly.

There was no way to get White House honey so we substituted the product of my friend’s father’s apiary in Maryland and a few ounces of local Virginia honey.

Not @WhiteHouse but it *is* from bees in an apiary from a home owner in Bowie, Maryland. Honey Porter, here we come.

Below, we’re about to remove the grains from the kettle.

Brewing White House beer today. About to remove the grains from the kettle.

Adding malted barley extract to the wort.

Adding malted barley extract to the wort.

Cooling the wort using a clever cold water system, transferring the heat energy through a copper coil and hoses.

Cooling the wort using a clever cold water system, transferring the heat energy through a copper coil and hoses.

Transferring the wort.

Transferring the wort

Hoppy discovery: The beer we brewed using the White House Honey Porter recipe was not only drinkable – it was actually quite good. I pulled my first taste December 8th and I was proud to share it with guests the next day.

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We roasted a duck tonight for a belated Valentine’s Day dinner. No picture for this post, I’m afraid.

The bird was paired with a blueberry sauce & an Argentine Malbec, preceded by a roasted cauliflower soup and accompanied with an arugula salad with craisins, nuts, crumbled sharp cheddar & sweet potatoes.

Duck recipe:

To prepare it, I trimmed fat from the neck and body cavity, removed the giblets, washed it and patted the duck dry.

I scored a grid in the breast and back fat with my knife and then rubbed it with salt, pepper and sage. I put two halves of a lime and 3 shaved strips of fresh ginger in the cavity.

I preheated the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. I put the bird on a roasting tray in my cast iron wok, breast up, and left it uncovered.

After 45 minutes, I turned the duck over. After 45 more, I turned it back over for 10 more minutes.

Cauliflower soup recipe:

The soup was even easier to prepare. I sectioned an entire head of cauliflower into small pieces, added 3 peeled garlic cloves and a small onion, quartered, and then tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper.

After 45 minutes in the oven, I added the roasted vegetables to a soup pot with 3 cups of boiling chicken stock, one cup of water and a teaspoon of dried thyme. I immediately reduced heat and after simmering for 10 minutes, used an immersion blender to puree the soup. I added 2 cups of plain yogurt, seasoned to taste and served.

It all came out even better than expected, particularly for a certain nearby greyhound eager to help with extra skin disposal and cutting board cleaning.

I love it when a dinner comes together.

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