Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Pie Crust and Pumpkin Pie- A Story of Passion

When I moved from Utah to Virginia, I boxed a lot of my belongings into boxes and then packed them away into a storage unit: not knowing they would be there for over 5 years. When I moved to Arizona, I was excited to open all of my boxes marked Cookbooks! There were many. I rediscovered old friends whom I had not seen and sadly had forgotten.

One such cookbook, All Recipes Cookbook, I got when I lived in Hanbury Manor in Logan, Utah. I was part of a dinner swap. I cooked dinner one night a week for three families and took two days off...and had a homemade dinner delivered to me!!! It was fantastic food and super fun. My friend Whitney and I found great recipes online and ended up buying the online hardback cookbook. This is the cookbook I am now rediscovering and LOVING.

I have been on a quest for quite some time. A pie crust journey. I found a pie crust in this cookbook that I really love! The recipe can be found at but I will add it here as well. Just look at those flakes! It was so tender and flaky and simple. Now it wasn't a thing of beauty or of exquisite taste but oh to have perfect texture. Tender yet able to hold up to a strong filling. And biting into something that just melts in your mouth and turns your lips that it happiness. Peace in a slice of pie...serenity now.

This pie has rejuvenated my love of baking...or maybe it is just the timing of turning over a new leaf and taking better control over the chaos that is my life.

Grandma's Secret Pie Crust- Felicia Bass

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tea salt
1 1/4 cups shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 Tb white vinegar
1/4 cup water
smidgen of sugar-It doesn't call for it but I am going to add it next time.

Preheat oven 425 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Whirl in food processor to mix. Add shortening and pulse a couple times. Mix egg, vinegar, and water together in measuring cup. Add to processor and pulse till combined.
Divide into two pieces and roll out. Put in pie plate. Bake 12 min.

Monday, April 4, 2011

ABC Zebra Cookies

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl cookies that are so breathtakingly beautiful! I would like to try the flavor variation that Flo added at the end of the recipe. My only complaint was the lack of flavor for such a fantastic looking cookie! It needs some flavor POW to go with the grand looks.

It always amazes me when a dough looks like it is just now going to work and then Wham-there it is...the perfect dough!

Two flavors of an amazing textured dough.

I rolled it out in the exact shape of my pan so that I would not have to trim or shape later.

Then I just plopped it in the pan and pressed it down.

The layers were great...but I wish I would have rolled it a tad more because I did have a couple places that had gaps.
Cutting with my new Christmas present from my in-laws. What great in-laws I have!!

Not having an apothecary jar like Flo saw these cookies in..I used my pub cup that I use for jello! They look fun.

After trying the cookies plain, I decided to try a mixture of:
1 tea sugar
1/8 tea pepper
1/8 tea chili powder
1/4 tea cinnamon

I mixed it up and brushed it on the cookies before baking. They were great!! I think on the side would be enough to spice it up but I didn't have the patience for that. They made a lot and the dough stayed well in the fridge. Would be a perfect recipe to keep on hand and throw in oven when guests arrived.

Joel said he expected a layered taste extravaganza and was disappointed by the bland taste of the Zebra cookie

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl Cookies-Zebra Cookies!!
From Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker

Vanilla Dough

2 3/4 C (11 ounces/310 grams) cake flour
1 C plus 2 T (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar
1/4 t salt
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter at room temperature
1 t vanilla extract

Chocolate Dough

2 1/4 C (9 ounces/255 grams) cake flour
1 C plus 2 T (4 ounces/115 grams) powdered sugar
1/2 C plus 1 T (2 ounces/55 grams) natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
8 oz (2 sticks/225 grams) butter at room temperature
1 t vanilla extract

2 C (about 15 ounces/430 grams) nonpareil sprinkles for decoration

For the Vanilla Dough:
Combine flour, sugar and salt and mix on lowest speed just to blend. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Wrap a kitchen towel around the mixer bowl to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed just until it starts to appear lumpy. Stop the mixer and add the vanilla. Mix on the lowest speed just until the mixture is combined. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

For the Chocolate Dough:
Use the same instructions above, placing the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl and mixing on the lowest speed to blend. Add the butter and proceed as above, then add the vanilla. Transfer the dough to a bowl and if too soft, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

To form into logs:
Divide the Vanilla Dough into thirds, with each piece weighing about 7 1/2 ounces (215 grams). Divide the Chocolate Dough the same way. You will work with one-third of each dough at a time.

On a piece of parchment or clean work surface, flatten one piece of Vanilla Dough into a 8" x 8" square. Repeat this with a piece of the Chocolate Dough. Place the chocolate square on top of the vanilla rectangle, then stack in a square baking pan with aluminum foil. Repeat till dough is gone. Chill.

Slice and Bake!!!

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Use a sharp knife to cut generous 1/4” slices and arrange 1/2" apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silpat.

Bake one sheet at a time just until they are no longer shiny on top and are lightly golden on the bottom, about 10 - 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.