Blackberry Slab Pie

“I will forgive you; the words are so small, but there is a universe hidden in them. When I forgive you, all those cords of resentment, pain and sadness that wrapped themselves around my heart will be gone. When I forgive you, you will no longer define me. You measured me and assessed me and decided that you could hurt me. That I didn’t count. But I will forgive you, because I do count. I do matter. I am bigger than the image you have of me. I am stronger. I am more beautiful. And I am infinitely more precious than you thought me. I will forgive you. My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you. When I forgive you, my forgiveness will be a gift that I give myself.”

– Desmond Tutu

I’ve been focusing on forgiveness in my daily meditation practice these last two weeks.  Forgiving myself; forgiving others.  If you had asked me last week how my forgiveness practice was going, I would have said, “Great – like a weight has been lifted.”  Rarely is anything a straight path, though.  I was struggling with my forgiveness this morning, until I read Tutu’s quote above, which now resides in a place of prominence next to my desk.

There’s a Taoist parable about how collecting various betrayals and hurts is like collecting potatoes in a sack.  One potato may not weigh heavy on us, but if we continue to collect these potatoes, allow them to rot in the sack, never forgiving, never letting any go, soon the sack becomes burdensome, fetid with rotting tubers, and so heavy we cannot move forward. We carry this ever-growing weight of negativity with us everywhere, day after day.  Forgiveness is not about the person who wronged us; forgiveness is not about letting the other person off the hook or lightening their load; forgiveness is not about being weak.  It’s about lessening our own heart’s burden.  It doesn’t matter if the other person is aware of our forgiveness.  Forgiveness is saying, “I will no longer be hindered by the betrayals you’ve placed upon me.”  Once we are able to set the sack down, we are free to walk forward, unencumbered by another’s misdeeds.

You are probably expecting some sort of potato recipe at this point. Forgive me.


Blackberry Slab Pie

No fork or plate needed – just cut slices and serve hand-pie style with a napkin for the flaky crust.


Ingredients

    Crust
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Filling
  • 8 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, unthawed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Finish & Glaze
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, preferably turbinado, like Sugar in the Raw
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Make pie crust: Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough. Separate the dough in half and roll into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes to chill.
  2. Prepare filling: In a large bowl, toss together all filling ingredients except Panko bread crumbs.
  3. Assemble pie: Preheat oven to 375⁰. Line bottom of baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle one dough disk with a bit of flour and, in between two sheets of parchment paper, roll into a rectangle about 10 x 15. Transfer to your prepared baking sheet and peel off parchment. Sprinkle with Panko breadcrumbs, spread filling evenly over bottom crust and freeze while you roll out second crust. Roll the second dough disk into a similar sized rectangle, sprinkling with flour and using parchment. Drape over filling and fold the bottom crust overhang over the edges, sealing them together, and crimping. Cut small slits to act as vents all over top crust. Brush top crust with 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water and sprinkle with 3 Tablespoons sugar. Bake pie on lower rack of oven until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and water until a pourable glaze consistency is reached. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve slab pie in squares or rectangles, warm or at room temperature. Will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Almond Orange Mini Gateaux Bretons

A plate of mini gateaux bretons

I came across the following post today, written 12 years ago, on September 2, 2008. What surprises me is that very little, really, has changed.  My fundamental characteristics, it seems, remain…well…fundamental:

N said something at dinner tonight that surprised me.  He said that he didn’t know anything about my fundamental characteristics; my foundational principles.  N and I have known each other for almost 15 years.  Admittedly, we haven’t had a long growing season for our friendship – we’ve always been in and out of touch – mostly out.  It’s been seven years since our last dinner together.  Still, I thought that my life’s philosophy was evident to those around me.  I’m discovering that I was wrong.  So, here’s the five things my friends should know about me – in no particular order:

1. I am a sensualist. I delight in the sensations I experience in the world around me: super-saturated colors, the scent and patter of rain, the graininess of aged cheese, the creaminess of Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles, the smoky, crackling warmth of a fire, the sounds of the forest, the softness of cashmere, the simplicity and contrast of B&W photos, the tingle and bite of Fleur de Sel on my tongue, and the sweet scent of a narcissus blossoms, to name just a few.  My pleasure is found through the senses.

2. I’m fiercely loyal to those close to me and I expect it in return.  If you’ve betrayed me, it is difficult to regain my trust. Betrayal cuts me deeply. Trust, respect and loyalty are essential. [Editor’s note: Something I’ve been painfully reminded of recently.]

3. I strive for balance; I’m always looking for the Yin/Yang in my life, my work, my spirituality passions, my relationships.  When I’m balanced, I feel the most in tune with life’s pulse.  Yoga, meditation, cooking baking and playing in the dirt help me to balance.

4. I’m an introvert. I spend large chunks of my free time by myself and I like it – need it – that way.  I enjoy my time with others, but need down time alone to “recharge”.  I’m shy and usually uncomfortable around those I don’t know. [Editor’s note: This last year, I’ve been in a phase of more interpersonal connections, but I’m still an introvert at heart. This often surprises new friends.]

5. Contentment is not the same as complacency.  I detest complacency and seek contentment.

My Favorite quote right now:  “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” – Rumi  “You can’t change those around you, but you can change those around you.”

Only slightly updated, September 2020


Almond Orange Mini Gateaux Bretons


Ingredients

    Orange Cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour, toasted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon orange flower water
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Almond Cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • sliced almonds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, toasted almond flour and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time, combining between each addition.  Mix in orange flower water and zest.  With the mixer on low,  add flour mixture in 3 additions mixing just until blended (don’t over-mix).
  2. Scrape dough into a piece of plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes or until firm. Preheat oven to 325⁰ F. With floured hands, roll dough into 10 gram balls.  Press dough into the bottom of mini muffin tins.  Dollop with a rounded teaspoon of almond cream and sprinkle with 3 sliced almonds.  Refrigerate again for 10 minutes.
  3. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until tops are golden. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then release from pan using the tip of a very sharp knife.

Grandma Jo’s Kolache

A Tray of Kolatche

This was not the initial introduction for this recipe.  Crafted two weeks ago, the original was black and grim and utterly fitting of my mind at the time. I write best when I’m in one of those melancholy moods – the words soar off the page, even while the rest of me steeps in the mire. 

But in this morning’s dusky hours, humming between the cool sheets, I realize my gothic words no longer fit my current mood.  In the first version, I was a victim, lamenting, keening and tortured.  Today, I no longer suffer. A strong and determined bird ascending from the ashes, I will survive the surging fires that 2020 has kindled at my feet, smiling, irrepressible and radiant, as I rise towards great heights. 

Finally, after weeks of failed yeasted sweet dough recipes that were never quiet right, I’ve created these kolaches, based on my friend’s grandma’s recipe.  Here’s to brighter, delicious days ahead!


Grandma Jo’s Kolache

  • Servings: About 2 Dozen
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This recipe was inspired by my friend, Pamela’s, grandmother’s kolache recipe.


Ingredients


Dough
– 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
– 1 ¼ cup whole milk (105-110⁰ F)
– ½ cup sugar
– 2 egg yolks
– 1 teaspoon lemon zest
– 3 – 4 cups bread flour
– ⅛ teaspoon mace or ½ teaspoon vanilla
– 1 ½ t. salt
– 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
Raspberry Jam
– 7 oz. frozen raspberries
– 1 cup sugar
Cheese Filling
– 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
– ⅓ cup sugar
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
Posipka Topping
– 3 Tablespoons sugar
– 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. Make the kolache: In a small bowl, combine yeast and warm milk and set aside for 5 minutes to bloom. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla (if using). Add milk mixture. Switch to a dough hook, add 3 cups bread flour, mace (if using) and salt and mix on medium speed. Add additional flour (up to 4 cups total) until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add unsalted butter, a little bit at a time and mix on medium speed until soft and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover and let proof in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Make the fillings while dough proofs.
  2. Make the jam: Combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a small deep-sided saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. When the sugar is melted, increase the heat and boil for another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Leave to cool and set.
  3. Make the cheese filling: Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Make the posipka topping: Sir together all ingredients until topping resembles rough sand. Set aside.
  5. Once dough is proofed, roll into 24 1½ oz. balls, flatten slightly and place on a silpat or parchment-lined sheet pan about 1½” apart. Cover and let proof again for 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400⁰F. Make a large well in each with fingers. Fill with about 1 Tablespoon of cheese filling. Dollop cheese with about 1 teaspoon jam. Sprinkle kolaches with posipka. Bake for 12-15 minutes until brown.

Unbaked Kolache ready for the oven

Julie’s Pound Cake

Pound Cake on a cake plate

I am unmoored, adrift on an alien sea without a recognizable land mass in sight. I’m anxious, a bit panicked even, scanning the horizon for a hint of familiarity, only to be met with unending waves of strangeness. I’m utterly lost and unsure how to be Julie during these times.

Until recently, the reality of the daily consequences of this pandemic somehow didn’t leave its mark upon me. Sure, my life was inconvenienced, but never changed beyond recognition. Last week, however, something shifted and I’ve been going through the unease that everyone else faced months ago. It’s disconcerting to be in this untethered mode while the rest of the world has moved past these initial discomforts and are now humming along nicely within this state of the “new normal.”

Nothing feels normal.

The only time my footing becomes sure is within the confines of my kitchen, when all else fades away and my mind becomes firmly focused on baking, like this tender pound cake just waiting for some fresh summer berries and a dollop of whipped cream.


Julie’s Pound Cake

  • Servings: 10-12 servings
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This recipe requires a bundt pan and results in a tender version of the well-known classic.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325⁰ F. Butter and flour bundt pan. Stir together flour, salt, cream of tartar and cardamom. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to low and gradually add sugar. Return speed to high and continue beating for about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, blending completely between each addition. It is helpful to add a tablespoon of the flour with each egg to stop the batter from curdling. Beat in yogurt and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and a tester comes out clean, about 70 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

*Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Elote Corn Salad

A dish of elote corn salad
I’ve been cleaning house here. Tidying up. I’ve been sharing my thoughts (and baked goods) on this site since May 30, 2008. Twelve years. Twelve. Years. This was my very first post. Two-Bit Tart didn’t start out as a food blog. It didn’t start out as anything more than a place to share the thoughts that cluttered my brain and a safe place to exercise my desire to write. I was still practicing yoga then, still dabbling with Buddhism. I had lost my father, but my mother was still alive, although Alzheimer’s was already robbing her mind. I shared it all here. This blog saw me through culinary school in 2009 and was my therapist in 2011 when a breakup hit me much harder than was warranted. I finally shared my blog’s existence with family and friends in 2016. Before that, it was my secret.

My very personal history is in these posts, but it’s time. It’s time to cull the words that no longer represent me, my pathetic early attempts at food blogging, my poorly written pabulum of self-absorption. Most will stay, but it’s time to allow parts to fly away. It’ll be a process, but most things worth doing usually are.

Someone once asked me why I so enjoy purging my home of the stuff that collects there. Purging allows me to make space, whether it’s a shelf, or a cabinet, or even an entire room – space for hope, for possibilities, for growth. I want this blog to be ready for any and all of those things, too.


Elote Corn Salad

  • Servings: 8-10 Servings
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A creamy salad with all the flavors of Mexican street corn, perfect for BBQs.


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. frozen corn
  • ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Mexican crema
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, plus zest from one lime
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. Defrost corn and broil until lightly browned, stirring once, about 8-10 minutes total. Do not roast too much, or corn will become crispy.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the corn and stir to combine. Serve at room temperature.