Torta della Nonna

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A friend recently posted this article on Facebook that addressed the difficulties of Christmas gift giving between adults, which is something Bryan and I have been discussing a lot. As people who are celebrating the secular side of Christmas, we’re struggling to figure out what that means now that we’re all grown up. As kids with little or no financial power of our own, gifts were the greatest thing ever (we also weren’t as smart as kids, so surprises were easier). I think we hold on to the hope that gifts will still feel the same, but they usually don’t. And while I still give and enjoy receiving some gifts, I am trying to find other ways to show my friends and family I care. Baking is one of those ways.

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Occasionally, I like to throw a real project of a recipe at you, especially at this time of year when you don’t have anything else going on. I have wanted to try this Torta della Nonna recipe since I first got The Mozza Cookbook (which remains a favorite cookbook of mine), but I have been a little reluctant because the recipe spans 3 or 4 pages of the book and sometimes even I just can’t. But I did finally try it, and am here to encourage you to do the same. It might be just the place to channel some of your gift-giving energy, and what better gift than sitting around a table eating a pastry with friends? read more+++

Black Pepper Grapefruit Meringue Pie

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I ate a lot of good food on our recent trip to Detroit, but the best thing I ate was the pie from Sister Pie. I’d heard about them through one of their bakers, who kindly wrote and offered me some advice when she heard I was traveling to Detroit. At the time, you ordered pies online and picked them up from the charming Parker Street Market . But soon Sister Pie will have their own beautiful shop, thanks to one amazing dance party, lots of hard work, and the support of the community. It is one of many reasons that I will soon return to Detroit.

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Cranberry + Sage Pie

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I am here to suggest you make someone you love a pie. Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a member of your family, maybe it’s Jamie Dornan—I don’t really care who it is (unless you actually know Jamie Dornan, in which case please send my regards along with the pie). It’s February. Love is in the air and what better way to show it than with a homemade pie? read more+++

Pineapple Pie

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[I did not intend to share a recipe for pie on pie/Pi (π) day, but here I am.]

The past year has been good for pie, and for those of us who love it. Two wonderful cookbooks were published in 2013, The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie (Chicago!) and The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, both of which I’ve written about on these pages. Now, First Prize Pies, a third (wonderful!) cookbook dedicated to pie has arrived. Its author, Allison Kave, is no stranger to Lottie + Doof. She is responsible for both the Apple Cider Cream Pie and the Dark & Stormy popcorn—two of my favorite recipes. I was eagerly anticipating this book and I am happy to report that it does not disappoint. It also completes some sort of holy (unholy?) trifecta of professional pie cookbooks.

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There are many recipes I am anxious to make (avocado! smoked almond! all of the summer fruits! summer, yes, summer!) but nothing sounded better than this pineapple pie. I have never seen a recipe like it before—fresh pineapple in a pie?! Is that even possible? Spoiler alert: IT IS.

Pieces of sunny pineapple are suspended in a lime and rum flavored custard and the whole business is encased in a deliciously rich and flaky crust. It is absolutely wonderful and Bryan and I could not stop eating it. It is the perfect pie for these last days of winter, a little sunshine on your plate.

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Salty Honey

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I sat down to write this with Tradition! from Fiddler on the Roof in my head, which may or may not have something to do with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapping this year. Bryan does a pretty mean Tevye, I suggest you ask him to sing Tradition next time you see him. He studied Russian for a semester in college, which adds a certain gravitas and authenticity to the performance. But I digress. Tradition! read more+++

Hoosier Mama

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Chicago is lucky to have a small (but mighty) pie shop called Hoosier Mama. I knew this the first time I sat in their tiny storefront shop and ate a slice of warm apple pie with a cup of coffee on a rainy autumn afternoon. I am reminded of this good fortune every time I pick up a pie from their stand at the farmers market. And I was reminded of it again last week when I bought a copy of their wonderful new cookbook, The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie.

Paula Haney and Allison Scott managed to translate everything that is charming and wonderful about their shop into a cookbook that includes the recipe for every pie I have ever seen them sell. It is an impressive (and generous!) collection ranging from sweet to savory. There are also handpies, quiches and even suggestions for what to do with dough scraps. Techniques are carefully laid out and encouragingly explained. The book is the perfect kitchen companion and one that I know I will return to often.

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Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

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I have wanted to make this tart since 2004. That is the year that Frank Stitt’s Southern Table, one of my favorite cookbooks, was published. I find the book very inspiring and I return to it regularly. Early on I noticed this tart which sounded and looked SO good, but then, without fail, I would forget to make it every time strawberry season rolled around. Major frustration. But not this year!

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Blackberry Sonker

Ashley English is one of a new classification of friends that entered my life a few years: Internet Friends. People who I know through their blogs and correspondence but have not yet met in person. Often these relationships become real-life friendships, but it hasn’t happened yet with Ashley, we live in different parts of the country. Someday!

What you all should know about Ashley is that she’s awesome. I love following her life and creative output on her blog, and I love reading her books to learn how to do more things myself.

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Apple Cider Cream Pie

I’m back!

October 2011 will go down as one of the greatest months of my life. It was all so good. I’ll share more soon, but for now let’s get right back into baking.

Traveling at the start of Autumn had me in constant awe of the bounty of food at the markets in Europe and happy(ish) to return to my kitchen and actually make something. I missed cooking! I returned to a pile of magazines, many with turkeys on the cover.

As soon as cool air flows into town, I start thinking about Thanksgiving. I use October and November as recipe testing time. Everything I try is an audition for a spot at the Thanksgiving table. Auditions have begun. read more+++

Blueberry Galette

I promised you a blueberry galette.

Blueberries are Bryan’s favorite fruit. I  could not even come close to making that claim (peaches!), but I like them. And I like to keep him happy, so I try to fit in some blueberry recipes whenever they are in season. A few years ago I famously made a blueberry cake when he was out of town, and am still hearing about it. So, guilt is involved, too. read more+++