Holiday Apple Custard Pie

The Brass sisters, Marilynn and Sheila, wrote Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters. For more than 30 years they have been collecting personal recipes compiled by home cooks. The book is sprinkled with photos of old cookbooks, antique cooking equipment and handwritten recipes. My favorite recipe in this book (so far) is Holiday Apple Custard Pie.

This is made with an unbaked pie crust, arrange sliced apples and pour the cream/egg mixture over and bake. It is so good you don’t need to add anything, just serve. The kind of apples you use will determine the consistency of your pie. If the apples are juicy, the filling will be loose, but that doesn’t effect the taste at all.

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Plain and Simple Almond Cake by Dorie Greenspan

I don’t know how I have missed out on Dorie Greenspan all of these years. She’s my new cooking rock star.  Almond Cake.

Plain and Simple Almond Cake by Dorie Greenspan

Every year, on Dec. 26, our local bookstore has a 20% off sale and last year I bought Baking Chez Moi. The year before, I bought Around My French Table. I love both of them. Dorie’s latest cookbook is Dorie’s Cookies and I’m sure it will be in my hands soon.

When I get a new cookbook, the first thing I do is page through the entire book. The second thing I do is go through and make a list of everything I want to try.  The very first recipe in the book is Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake (haven’t tried it yet) was first on my list. The second recipe, Plain and Simple Almond Cake was second on my list. So, I thought, at this rate I will list every single recipe!

The Plain and Simple Almond Cake, an absolute favorite with everyone I’ve served it to. It is so easy to make,  just as good the next day (if it lasts) and is gluten free. We eat it plain, but you can be served with fruit and a little whipped cream to make it look more special.

Plain and Simple Almond Cake by Dorie GreenspanAnother favorite is Odiles Fresh Orange Cake. I have always made Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Conttessa) Orange Pound Cake, which is delicious, but this fresh orange cake has won me over. Again, easy to make, but it isn’t very big and it won’t last long.

This book includes tarts, puddings and custards, Cookies, pastries and fruit desserts. Dorie has very clear, easy to follow directions with hints and reassurances to give you confidence for a successful outcome. Hope you will enjoy this wonderful cookbook as much as I do.

Click the image of the book below to buy your copy from Amazon.

 

 

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The Silver Palate Cookbook

 

This is probably my favorite cookbook of all. There may be other books that have more recipes that I use (not many), but this one has been important in getting me where I am today.  I received “The Silver Palate Cookbook” as a gift from a friend and over the years I have taken these recipes and techniques and created variations on several of them.  As a side note, I think of this friend often.

The Silver Palate CookbookHeidi, my daughter, called me one day to ask for the ingredients for Orange Mashed Potatoes. I said to her in a high pitched voice “you don’t have The Silver Palate Cookbook???”.  She said,  “I’m at the grocery store”.  Oh phew!!  After getting a hold of myself, I thought, of course she has that cookbook.

Many of the soup recipes, like Carrot and Orange Soup or Asparagus Soup, start out with chopped onions and butter, covered and cook over low heat until lightly colored (about 25 minutes). This technique changed my handed down family version of Potato Soup forever. When my mother made potato soup, she would put peeled potatoes and chopped onions in water enough to cover, then boil til done, mash the potatoes slightly and then add milk and a bit of butter with salt and pepper to taste. There was no recipe to follow, but you can’t make a mistake.

This soup was really good and I made it this same way for years then the change started. Beginning with the slow cooked onions, chicken broth instead of water (homemade if you have it), minced garlic added to the cooked onions (just for 1 or 2 minutes at the end), heavy cream instead of milk, add more minced garlic then blend to puree or to desired consistency.
Snipped chives makes for a grand finish. Here is my recipe for Potato Soup.

Another great Silver Palate recipe is for Veal Scallops in Mustard Cream Sauce. I made it one time according to the recipe (I always do it their way to start) then I started making changes. The recipe calls for 1/3 cup prepared mustard, which is way too much, I use only one tablespoon. That was my only change for a long time and always with veal. One day I decided to use two boneless center cut thick pork chops that I cut in half to make four thin cutlets and proceeded as usual. Well, the pork cutlets had deeper better flavor because they can be quickly browned without overcooking them. The veal which is more delicate (and more expensive) cannot be browned because it will get over done and dry. This browning is what will give your sauce a wonderful flavor. Next, I tried salmon filets, dusting them lightly with flour and cooking til lightly browned and it turned out so good. I serve both of these dishes year round with oven roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli. They are special enough for company.

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Potato Soup

 

Potato Soup 800

Served here with salad and a grilled cheese.

Potato Soup is so easy to make and doesn’t take long at all. If I’m in a pinch for what to have for dinner I know I can always fall back on potato soup. My version is very different than what my mother used to make. Her soup was made with water instead of broth and milk instead of cream. Cooking the onions in butter until golden makes all the difference and of course cream makes everything taste good.

Here are a few photos of the process.

Chopped Onions 800 Chopped Onions

Onions in Butter 800Onions in Butter

Chicken Broth 800Homemade chicken Broth

Potatoes 800Potatoes

Add Broth 800Broth and Potatoes added to Onions

Soup is Done 800All Finished

Potato Soup
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ½ to 2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan
Add the chopped onion and cook tender and beginning to color, about 20 minutes
Add the potatoes and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are just soft.
Remove soup from heat and pour into a blender and puree.
Return soup to the pan and add the cream.
Heat though (don’t boil).
Add salt and pepper to taste.

I like to cook the onions a little longer for a more toasted onion flavor.

You can also garnish your soup with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped chives or parsley.

Garlic variation: When onions are cooked stir in one clove of garlic, minced. When seasoning with salt and pepper, add one clove of garlic minced (this will give a fresh garlic flavor).

 

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