Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

This recipe of choice for this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie was Tall & Creamy Cheesecake. I had good intentions to make it over my five-day weekend last week, despite the fact I don’t really enjoy cheesecake, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I appeased Mr. Penpen by bringing our dangerously wonderful ice cream maker out of retirement and making peppermint ice cream instead.

Luckily, thanks to the relaxed TWD December schedule, I have a reserve recipe for the last Tuesday of 2008. I made Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies, which Ulrike of Küchenlatein hosted back on December 9th. I baked these to bring to a party where there would be a lot – well, seven seems like a lot – of small children. I had the adorable idea that I would bring cookies and icing to the party so everyone could decorate cookies, and then I could post photos of everyone’s creations on my blog the following Tuesday. I barely ended up having time to make the cookies, much less dig out my decorating gear and make various colors of icing. The cookies were delicious with just sanding sugar, though I can’t help thinking how fantastic they would have been with crunchy Royal Icing.

Thanks for reading my new blog in 2008, I look forward to more culinary adventures in 2009. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TWD: Butterscotch Pudding

I was thrilled when I saw that Butterscotch Pudding was on the December schedule for Tuesdays With Dorie. I tagged a bunch of “must-try” recipes when I first purchased my copy of Baking and this was one of them yay! The night I decided to make the pudding was my first night home alone with our new dog, Eloise. I had a sweater sleeve to finish for my knitting class, but my little gray ghost tends to behave better when I am in the kitchen than when I’m on the couch knitting. I decided my sweater might bear greater resemblance to a wearable garment if Mr. Penpen were around to help ward Eloise away from it. I also knew I would be serving kind of a boring/healthy squash dinner the next evening, so a special dessert would be appreciated.

I wasn’t completely delighted with the results; I suppose my expectations might have been a bit high since I had book-marked this recipe back in August. I thought the pudding was tasty and creamy, but nothing special. The scotch to butter ratio was a bit high for my taste. If I made it again, I would add the scotch while the pudding was on the stovetop so the alcohol would evaporate. Or leave it out – I sampled the pudding pre-scotch and really liked the flavor. This recipe exemplifies why I am so happy to belong to a baking group: I have loved some of the recipes I never would have glanced twice at and one I had been anticipating for months was disappointing. I gave this recipe a 6 for D and 3 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.

Many thanks to Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews, and Suitcases for picking one of my “must-trys.” You can find the recipe on Donna’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see the other bakers’ puddings.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Zuni Roast Chicken

The Zuni Café has been on my short list of restaurants to try since I bought a copy of the Michelin Guide over a year ago. (And no, I do not eat at Michelin Star restaurants all the time. The book has a lot of great recommendations for moderately priced restaurants, and I have quite a penchant for food guides.) Somehow it keeps getting passed over for other restaurants. I’ll see a place I want to try on "Check Please Bay Area," or we’ll call too late to get a reservation and end up eating somewhere more local, etc. – it just hasn’t happened.

Upon delivery of my most recent CSA box, I went to the library to check out Chez Panisse Fruit for the second time, and I saw a copy of The Zuni Café Cookbook. Since the Zuni Café is known for its use of seasonal ingredients, I went ahead and grabbed it, too. The Zuni Café is much lauded for its Roast Chicken with Bread Salad, so when I saw it in the book, I knew must make it. Later that night I was browsing the internet, and saw that the inimitable Deb of Smitten Kitchen had just posted about the Zuni Roast Chicken! She had lovely pictures of the chicken and salad, along with reassurance that the recipe is worth your while.

I made the recipe several days later and it was fantastic! I don’t usually get overly excited about chicken recipes, but this is an exception. And the chicken part is actually very simple; you just have to salt the bird a day ahead of time (my second bird is in the refrigerator as I type this) and not get too scared by chicken crackling on high heat. The bread salad is wonderful, too, though not essential to the enjoyment of the chicken if you aren’t in the mood for an involved side dish. If you would like the recipe, I would recommend going over to Smitten Kitchen, where there is an excellent abbreviated version of the original four-page recipe. Or purchasing The Zuni Café Cookbook, which is definitely on my wishlist this Christmas – I have made three recipes from my library copy in the past week, which makes it a keeper.

This recipe rates a 10 for D and a 4 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.5. Eloise agrees, too. She always stops by the kitchen to check what I’m working on, but this is the recipe that she has been most interested in. And hopefully I will dine at the restaurant one day, but for now, I am happy to make this terrific dish in my own home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

When I first saw the recipe for Buttery Jam Cookies, I thought it sounded a little boring. However, this was my first weekend with a curious Weimaraner underfoot, so I was quite relieved that this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was lacking the multiple steps and chilling periods that many recipes have. And they didn’t turn out to be boring!

I made mine with apricot jam and the suggested ginger chunks, and they were delicious. The cookies didn’t spread too much (I mixed a little more than I should have and ended up having to refrigerate them for several hours before baking), but they weren’t dense. I would definitely agree with Dorie’s assessment that they are a cross between sturdy cookie-jar cookie and a tea cookie. I appreciate that they aren’t too decadent – I haven’t been making Mr. Penpen eat all the treats this week – and that you can easily make them with pantry staples. (Unless you discover your apricot jam has gone moldy and have to send your boyfriend to the store, like I did.)

This recipe rates a 7 for D and a 3 for E, giving it a very respectable EDR of 2.3. Many thanks to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl for picking this simple, flavorful cookie at just the right time. You can find the recipe for Buttery Jam Cookies on Heather’s site and you can check out the other TWD bakers’ cookies via the TWD blogroll.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Introducing Eloise

This is meant to be a cooking blog, but I can't resist introducing the newest member of our household. Eloise (or Elle for short) is a very sweet Weimaraner rescue dog and we are delighted to have her as part of our family. So far she has been very well-behaved when I've been cooking, though she did want to help put some cookies in the jar earlier today. Eloise is an excellent runner, so she'll make sure any extra calories consumed during the holiday season are burned off (we even ran in the rain tonight, something that usually does not happen). Don't be surprised if you see Eloise drop in to assist me with recipes in the future!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD: I heart Linzer Sables

When I first read that the Tuesdays With Dorie baking schedule would be flexible for the month of December, I didn’t think much of it. After all, I had been diligently concocting every treat proffered the whole four weeks I had been a member of TWD. Then Thanksgiving happened and my normal culinary enthusiasm was nowhere to be found. I was then grateful for the relaxed schedule, since I still wanted to bake the Linzer Sables and thought Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies would best “saved” until closer to Christmas.

I was pleased to find a Linzer cookie cutter for only $6 at Sur la Table. The cut-out has a heart, which would be better suited for Valentine’s, but for $6 you can’t be too particular. I wasn’t so pleased with the actual cutter. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say I had to learn to be smarter than the cookie cutter. That aside, making the Linzer Sables was a rewarding experience, as the recipe does deliver a very tasty and quite impressive looking cookie.

The recipe says you can use almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts for the cookie dough. Hazelnuts sounded tempting, but I had a bag of almonds on hand, so I went ahead and used those. I filled the cookies with the traditional raspberry jam, though I was too lazy to heat it with water as suggested—they still tasted great!

This recipe rated an 8 for D and a 5 for E, giving them an EDR of 1.6. As I have explained before, the EDR system is subjective, depending on factors such as mood or tiredness. This was definitely a case where the E got bumped up due to my frustration with the cookie cutter and overall time in the kitchen last weekend. Thanks to Dennis from
Living the Life for picking such a gem! You can find the recipe on his site and you can go to the TWD blogroll to see the other bakers’ take on Linzer Sables, though many may be on to Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies by now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It’s Tuesday, but I shirked on baking for Tuesdays With Dorie this week. After hosting my--very first--Thanksgiving last week, I channeled all my domestic energy into knitting rather than baking. I have been meaning to post about this pear tart, though, so here is a Tuesday post, with a little Dorie thrown in.

I have received four CSA boxes, and three have contained pears. This has posed a bit of a problem as, I am a little embarrassed to admit, I don’t really like pears unless they are macerated in sugar. Instead of trying to appreciate the nice fall fruit on its own, I have been turning the pears into desserts. The first two times I made crisps, which were very easy and delicious. I had been eager to make a cranberry-pecan tart the week the third batch of pears arrived. I decided a pear tart would be a good compromise: I would still get to make the type of dessert I wanted and I wouldn’t feel guilty about not using the fresh produce in my kitchen.

I then set upon a mission to find the perfect pear tart recipe. I consulted several different cookbooks and searched the internet, and ended up making a hybrid recipe from three different sources. The crust was The Art of Simple Food’s Sweet Tart Dough (Pate Sucree), the pastry cream was from Chez Panisse Fruit (with inspiration from Dorie Greenspan for the almond flavor), and the instruction for poaching the pears came from Dorie’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.

I don’t know if this was the perfect pear tart, but it was very tasty. This recipe rated a 7 for D and a 4 for E, giving it an EDR of 1.75. Here is the recipe:

Sweet Tart Dough,adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
1 ¼ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
One stick cold butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in food processor for approximately ten seconds. Add the butter and process until the dough is crumbly. Once the dough is crumbly, add the egg yolk and vanilla, and pulse until incorporated. Remove the dough from the processor and knead until no flour patches show. Form dough in disc and refrigerate for at least four hours. Roll the chilled dough on a floured surface into a twelve-inch circle and shape into a nine-inch tart pan (it could also be patted in rather than rolled). Lightly prick the dough to prevent air bubbles from forming. Chill the dough in the freezer for thirty minutes. Remove the shell from the freezer and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes at 350 degrees. Since the dough is very cookie-like, the recipe calls to bake blind. My crust puffed quite a bit, so I would use weights next time. Remove the pan from the oven and cool.

Almond Pastry Cream, adapted from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
11/4 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 pinch salt
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Warm the milk and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour and sugar mixture when milk is warm, about five minutes. Whisk for about eight to ten minutes, until flour mixture is fully integrated to milk; it should look thick and creamy. Whisk egg yolks in a bowl, then add to mixture and cook for one more minute. Remove pastry cream from heat, stir in the almond extract and butter. Refrigerate until cool.

Poached Pears, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
4 medium-sized pears
1 cup sugar
lemon juice (from one lemon)

Peel the pears, leaving them whole. Place water, sugar, and lemon juice in small saucepan and bring to boil. When liquid is at a boil, add pears and reduce heat so the syrup is simmering. Simmer the pears until tender, which should take about fifteen minutes. Remove saucepan from burner and cool pears to room temperature.

When all components are cool, slice the pears, fill the tart shell with pastry cream, and top with the sliced pears.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer

I am curious to know how many weeks it has taken for all the other TWD bakers to question whether or not joining a baking group was a good idea. It’s taken four for me. It’s great fun getting to try a myriad of recipes that I may not have attempted and see what all the other bakers do. However, I am a little concerned about all the sugar and butter I have been consuming. I am not a dieter by any stretch of the imagination, but the combination of each week’s Dorie recipe and all the other recipes I cannot resist could easily lead to trouble. (Although I am happy to say Mr. Penpen picks up a lot of the slack on finishing treats around here.)

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a Thanksgiving Twofer Pie (pecan and pumpkin), which would be perfect to serve at Thanksgiving. We were even given permission to post late for that very reason, and I could have even skipped TWD this week, as participation is only required two out of every four weeks. Instead, I managed to convince myself that it might be better to test out the Twofer recipe the weekend before in case it didn’t work out or people would be upset that I wasn’t serving a classic pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.

Luckily, the recipe did work out just fine. I’m sure no one would have been disappointed to eat it on Thanksgiving, either. If I make it again, I will probably not pre-bake the crust: the inside could have used about ten more minutes while the crust was shy of burning. I thought the pie was excellent; the pumpkin filling was flavorful and creamy—I’m sold on using cream instead of condensed milk, and the pecan part was nice and crunchy. I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, except for adding a bit more spice to the pumpkin part and not using all of the pecan mixture (I didn’t want the dish to flow over). I also used my favorite pie dough recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Until recently I was terrified of making pie dough from scratch, so I figured I might as well stick with one I’ve had success with. I gave the recipe a 9 for D and a 4 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.25, very good.

This week’s recipe was chosen by Vibi of La Casserole Carrée, and you can find the recipe on her site. To check out all the other Twofer pies, go to the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Arborio Rice Puddding, White, Black (Or Both)

I was pleased to see this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Arborio Rice Pudding for two reasons: 1) I think rice pudding is a very delicious and comforting food; and 2) Making rice pudding is a great way to whittle away my supply of Arborio rice. I bought a jar of it last December to make Giada’s fabulous Champagne Risotto for New Year's Eve, and have used it only one other time.

I was fortunate enough to read the P&Qs on the TWD site right after Dorie herself posted the correction to the recipe (55 minutes cooking time instead of 35!). Mine actually took closer to 90 minutes; I don’t think I had the heat up high enough in fear of scalding the milk. Even after 90 minutes, I thought my pudding still looked a bit thin, but it turned out just fine. I made the half chocolate (though I don’t think I added as much as the recipe called for) and half vanilla, and my boyfriend and I both preferred the chocolate. Mr. Penpen liked the chocolate one so much that I actually almost didn’t get a picture of the finished product; luckily I caught him before he gobbled up the entire bowl.

This recipe was chosen by Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa, and you can find the recipe on her site. To check out everyone else’s ricy creations, go to the TWD blogroll.

Monday, November 10, 2008

TWD: Kugelhopf

The recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie was kugelhopf, a yeast cake originating from Alsace or Austria, depending on who you ask. I had never heard of kugelhopf, but I was certainly up for the challenge. Kugelhopf is traditionally baked in a special swirly pan, similar to a bundt cake pan. I was oh-so-tempted to buy one for this occasion, but the only one I found was $36, which I found a bit expensive for such a superfluous kitchen item. I had the good sense to ask one of my co-workers if she owned a kugelhopf pan. She did, and she kindly lent it to me, along with a fantastic article by David Lebovitz about kugelhopf and Thanksgiving. In return, she was the recipient of some kugelhopf on Monday morning.

I had good intentions to start my kugelhopf dough on Saturday and bake it Sunday morning. Mr. Penpen was a bit taken aback when I told him at 3:30 PM on Saturday that I would not have time to both run and prepare the kugelhopf dough before we had to leave for a 7:30 movie. Somehow exercising (well, and a bit of television) won and I didn’t start the dough until Sunday morning. It was quite the process: I started around 9:00 AM Sunday morning, and we sliced into it around 5 PM. I don’t have a lot of experience working with yeast dough, so I was a bit nervous about the dough rising properly, but I actually didn’t have any problems—yay! I am glad I left the house to run errands for the final three-hour rise; otherwise I might have been tempted to constantly check the progress of the dough.

I would say the kugelhopf was well worth the wait, though. My cake turned out very fluffy and moist, and I loved the rich flavor the butter and sugar soak added. The recipe receives a 10 for D and a 5 for E (all it really required was patience), giving it a solid EDR of 2.

This week’s recipe was chosen by Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl. You can find the recipe on her site. Thanks for choosing such a great recipe! You can check out all the other bakers' blogs to see what they did here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Betting the Farm

Kale and pumpkins are two items you would not typically find in my grocery cart. Neither are potatoes, for that matter. However, Farm Fresh to You delivered these items, plus a bunch more, to my house. Each delivery of produce contains a different assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables, but you don’t know what the contents will be until the box arrives, so paying for unknown produce in advance is a bit of a risk. I enjoy cooking, Mr. Penpen likes to gamble, and we both love to get things in the mail, so I figured getting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box would be ideal for us. In addition to the excitement of getting a bi-weekly produce delivery full of surprise fruits and vegetables, I also like the idea of supporting local organic farms and eating seasonally. I try to do this anyway, but there are certain vegetables that make it into my repertoire far more often than others.

The CSA box is giving me the opportunity to experiment with otherwise-ignored vegetables and appreciate simple, healthful food. I did not know what to do with kale or
rapini (also known as broccoli raab) until I consulted my copy of Chez Panisse Vegetables. I extracted tips from a couple recipes in the book to turn the two greens into a fast weeknight dinner. Basically it just consisted of sautéing the greens with onions and garlic, adding a little water and vinegar, and tossing them with pasta. This meal rated 7 for D and 2 for E, giving it an EDR of 3.5—excellent marks!

After serving as a cute fall decoration for over a week, I decided to turn the two mini sugar pumpkins into pie. I had only used canned pumpkin pie filling before, and I found it was very satisfying--and not that much more difficult--to make the entire pie from scratch. I gave the pie a 7 for D and a 4 for E, giving it an EDR of roughly 1.7. Okay, but definitely room for improvement. Perhaps by Thanksgiving?

I haven’t yet figured out if this is the most cost-effective way for me to purchase produce. (I do have to supplement it with other purchases.) I think I will take it box by box for now, and enjoy the challenge of finding recipes for the contents

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rugelach

I am delighted to announce that I have joined a baking group. I will be joining hundreds of other fabulous bakers each week with the group, Tuesdays with Dorie. Each week the group bakes a different recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my Home to Yours. I purchased my copy of Baking two months ago, and have been averaging about one recipe per week on my own. I figured I may as well join in on the fun and camaraderie a group offers. I think joining the group will give me the opportunity to bake a lot of recipes I normally wouldn’t try, and hopefully meet some fellow food bloggers. This week’s TWD was hosted by Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal. The recipe Piggy chose was Rugelach and you can find the recipe on her site. I never would have attempted to make rugelach, as I have never been much of a fan, but making it turned out to be a lovely way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

I followed the recipe almost precisely, though I used cranberries rather than the suggested currants and a bit less chocolate than the recipe called for. I also didn’t press the goodies on top into the dough ‘cos I didn’t have any wax paper and I was afraid of making a huge, sticky mess by trying saran wrap or parchment paper. Luckily it didn’t seem to make much of a difference; my rugelach rolled just fine. My first batch turned out a little crunchy on the bottom, due to my temperamental oven; they still tasted great, though. I gave this recipe an 8 for D and a 6 for E, giving it an EDR of 1.33. I am kind of sad I gave most of them away. I guess I’ll have to make them again soon.

I look forward to next week’s TWD!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mad Men and Casseroles

I enjoy cooking theme dinners and treats when the occasion arises. Some of the best ones have been muffin tops for the DVD release of “Seinfeld” and baked ziti for the series finale of “The Sopranos.” Mr. Penpen and I started watching the first season of “Mad Men” On Demand this summer, and it immediately became our new favorite show. Even though Season Two premiered just a couple weeks after our viewing of the first season, I decided it definitely merited a theme dinner. And what is more sixties than a casserole? We were over at Mr. Penpen’s parents’ house the Friday before “Mad Men” started, and, luckily for me, his mother had a Better Homes and Gardens Casserole Cook Book published in 1962! I borrowed it and made a classic tuna noodle casserole. Mr. Penpen enjoyed it and it was super-easy, but unfortunately, a recipe containing mayonnaise, cheese, and potato chips cannot be made on a regular basis. This recipe rated a 7 for D (deliciousness) and 3 for E (effort), giving it a pretty good EDR of 2.3.

Since we enjoyed the gooey, unhealthy casserole so much, I decided that I should find another occasion to make one. AMC had the nerve to take a one week break from “Mad Men” for the Emmys, so we had to wait a whole two weeks for a new epi. I happened to go running twice on the Sunday it returned, so I figured it was a good time for a hearty casserole. I didn’t go retro this time, instead I made a Creamy Chicken Biscuit Bake from America’s Test Kitchen’s Fast & Fresh issue. The recipe is available with a (paid) subscription via the Cook’s Country web site. I did make some modifications to the recipe (I kept all the cheese and cream, though) but I’ve read that the people at ATK/Cook’s Illustrated/Cook’s Country get testy about their recipes being printed without permission. I apologize as I do cook quite a few recipes from their magazines (which are usually available with a paid subscription online as well), therefore my blog will contain a lot of recipes that I cannot provide links to. The casserole was tasty and fed us for many meals, which is certainly another consideration when rating the effort. This rated a solid 8 for D and 3 for E, giving it a very impressive EDR of 3.33.

Speaking of which: the third casserole, made in celebration of the “Mad Men” season finale, was from my beloved copy of Cook’s Illustrated’s “Fall Entertaining” issue. This was an updated, homemade version of the classic Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole. Campbell’s recipe originated in the fifties, so I was not being entirely period specific (again). It was certainly more work than dumping a can of soup and green beans together and baking it; however, the flavor of the homemade sauce and the texture of the topping mixture made it well worth it. Cook’s Illustrated does not give free access to this recipe on their site, and I feel uncomfortable breaking their rules and putting the recipe on my blog, but I did find the same one on Recipezaar. This was certainly my favorite of the troika of casseroles. This dish gets a 10 for D and 5 for E, giving it an EDR of 2.

Now that “Mad Men” has ended its second season and we are mad for casseroles, I must start thinking of other fun theme dinners and excuses to make casseroles.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Introducing EDR and some Apple Desserts

I signed up for a blogger account in December 2004, which means it has taken me nearly four years to write my first post. I wasn’t sure what to write about; it seemed very self-indulgent—not to mention boring for anyone who might read it—to share the idiosyncrasies of my daily life on the internet. A couple years ago I thought about using my little piece of internet real estate to vent about the (six!) housemates I had at the time. I chose not to for fear one might discover the blog, and there was definitely enough tension in that house already.

I have always been fond of photographing food, so I thought maybe I’d start a food blog. That was a year and a half ago. I recently moved in with my boyfriend, Mr. Penpen, and started cooking a lot more. Impressed with how quickly a wonderful meal can be prepared, he implemented an “effort to deliciousness” rating, which we often use to rate our kitchen concoctions.

The Effort to Deliciousness Rating (EDR) works like this: The finished product of each recipe is evaluated according to two different criteria – Effort (E) and Deliciousness (D). In terms of Deliciousness, the food is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst-tasting concoction imaginable, up to 10 for super-deliciously awesome. The Effort rating also uses a scale of 1 to 10, but 1 is actually the “best” rating for the chef as it indicates the least amount of effort possible (think bagel & cream cheese), while 10 is used for a dish that would exhaust all but the most patient chefs. Once these two scores are created, the numbers are displayed as a fraction, with Deliciousness as the numerator and Effort as the denominator (in other words, the ratio “D/E”). Once the fraction is created and the resulting ratio is calculated (dividing the D score by the E score), the product is the Effort to Deliciousness Ratio (EDR). The highest possible EDR is 10 (10D/1E), but this score is obviously exceedingly rare. Most of the EDR scores in the “good” range lie in the area of 1.5 to 3, with anything higher than 2 generally demonstrating a dish that would definitely be worth preparing again. An EDR of 1 is just an average dish, as it lies exactly in the middle of the range of scores, and an EDR less than .5 should indicate a dish which was probably not tasty enough to be worth the effort used in creating it. The EDR is also subjective, depending on factors such as mood and tiredness.

I have made three apple-based desserts in as many weeks. The first one was an
Apple-Cranberry pie from Cook’s Illustrated’s “Fall Entertaining” special , available on newsstands through December and definitely worth the $7.95. It was quite laborious to peel several pounds of apples, construct two separate sauces, and make pie crust from scratch. Not to mention the five stores Mr. Penpen drove to in order to find cranberries—seriously, fresh or frozen. (Turns out we were just one week too early, they are now available at our local market). I rated this dish a 6 for E and a 10 for D, giving it an EDR of 1.66, a good but not great score. I would make it again, though probably not on a day when I wasn’t also chopping up a butternut squash to make lasagna.

The next recipe was Chaussons Aux Pommes, or apple turnovers, from this month’s issue of Bon Appetit magazine. I had seen the recipe when I thumbed through the magazine and put it in the back of my mind, figuring I may remember it one day when I saw puff pastry sheets at the grocery store or something. However, Mr. Penpen happened to notice the recipe and expressed interest in the turnovers. I figured that since I had made an entire pie the weekend before, this recipe would be a breeze to put together, and I was right! It was quite quick to peel and slice the four apples and it was great to just roll out the frozen puff pastry rather than fuss around with homemade pie crust. I only made four turnovers since there are only two of us and I figured they were probably best right out of the oven. This left a lot of leftover “applesauce” filling, which was delightful on its own—not all of my apples must be consumed wrapped in buttery carbs. This recipe rated 3 for E and 7 for D, giving it an EDR of 2.33.

Normally I wouldn’t make another dessert in the same category so quickly, but our first
CSA box arrived just days after the turnovers. The box contained a lot of pears, which were unlikely to be consumed unless turned into a dessert. I remembered that my Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook had a recipe for a Pear, Apple and Cranberry Crisp. I checked the Food Network website, and Ina’s recipe for a simple Pear and Apple Crisp (the same recipe sans cranberries) had a lot more ratings—good ones—so I omitted the cranberries. I cut the butter by half a cup and the white sugar in the topping by a quarter cup, and the crisp was absolutely fabulous. There were quite a few apples and pears to peel and chop, but that was the only mildy time-consuming element of this recipe. (And it was very mild because Mr. Penpen helped me. I guess I now know to bake apple desserts on Friday nights when he’s around rather than Saturday mornings while he is sleeping.) I gave this recipe a 3 for E and a 10 for D, with an EDR of 3.33.

So there it is, I finally had to post my first blog entry before I baked a fourth apple dessert to prevent this post from becoming even longer. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the web!