July 27, 2009

Agua Frescatini

Strawberry Agua Frescatini

This weekend I made up a new martini drink using my Strawberry Agua Fresca as a base.

First you need to make the agua fresca:

1 pint strawberries
1 c. sugar
1 lime
4 c. water

Chop strawberries in small chunks (I use a chopper to make this go faster.) Add sugar & lime, mix and let the strawberries macerate for at least 2-3 hours. After 2-3 hours, stir to make sure all sugar is desolved - you should now have strawberry surup. Add water. (you can serve this as a non-alcoholic drink, or continue to make Agua Frescatini.)

1.5 oz Vodka
.5 oz tripple sec (or grand marnier)
6 oz agua fresca
1 fresh lime
1 fresh strawberry

In shaker add ice, vodka, tripple sec, agua fresca & lime. Shake and pour into martini glass. Cut fresh strawberry and fan out, place on side of glass for garnish.

July 25, 2009

Davey's Cheesecake

Davey Miksza makes a darn good cheesecake, and I stole his recipe from him. I think it is copied down by his mom Leta, who most likely originally had the recipe. The photo above is the cheesecake Leta made for Andy's 30th birthday.

Combine 1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 C sugar and 1/4 C melted butter. It is very helpful to use a food processor if you have one. Press into 8" pie plate.

Soften one 8oz package cream cheese, and beat until fluffy. Gradually blend in 1/2 C sugar, 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp vanilla (1 tsp is better), and dash of salt. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Pour filling into crust and bake at 325 degrees until set, about 25-30 minutes.

Top Layer
Combine 1 C diary sour cream*, 2 Tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla (or 1 tsp). Spoon over top of pie. Bake 10 minutes longer. Cool, then chill several hours.

Double the recipe for for filling if using a standard 8-9" spring form pan. Triple it for a large spring form (12-14"), and cook filling slower and longer. For crust double the recipe for the largest spring form, and 1 1/2 for the smaller spring form.

*1lb sour cream = 1 1/2 C

July 22, 2009

Libby's Pie Crust

Libby is the Mom of REI Berkeley, and last month she invited some ladies over for a pie crust workshop. She claimed to have the best pie crust in the west, and was kind enough to show us the ropes. It was a fantastic evening, and felt like we were in a Food Network program. I will try to put into writing what Libby does with her crusts, but it will not compare with the real deal.

Libby originally got this recipe from a neighbor back in the 70's. She still has the original recipe written down. Her best advice was to get in the right space for making the crust, relax and don't get frustrated.  I no longer am afraid to make pie crusts from scratch, and neither should you!

This crust recipe makes enough dough for a two crust pie, like peach, so cut in half if you just need enough for a pie/quiche without a lid.

What's in it
2 C white flour, unbleached, leveled with a knife - no fudging!
1 1/3 C butter (I prefer unsalted) at room temperature, but not too warm
6 Tbls ice cold water
a bit of sugar

How it's made
Start by prepping your ingredients and your work surfaces. The key is to keep everything very clean and dry. If you have a large wooden cutting board, it is perfect for working the dough. A nice clean rolling pin is key as well. Prep your butter by setting it out, and your water by putting it on ice. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Measure your flour into a bowl, and add the butter, sliced. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until it is about pea sized and pretty uniform. Gently fold in the water. This helps set the butter so the dough is workable.

Next massage the dough together until it is an even consistency. Take half and set aside. Pat other half into a ball and set on a well floured work surface. It helps to also cover the ball with flour. Using a well floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is large enough to fit in the pie pan. Tease the dough up off the board or counter with a spatula, or roll out on parchment paper so you can flip the crust onto the pie pan.  A 9" deep dish pie pan is best, and apparently metal is better than glass as well.

Pinch dough around the edges of the pan to form the crust. Prepare your filling* and put in the pie pan. Then repeat for the second half of the dough - rolling out and then placing on top of filling. Pinch edges again to form the crust, and poke decorative holes in the top. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 55 minutes or until crust is golden.  I also recommend placing a pan or foil under the pie while baking, because juices usually bubble out of the pie.

*For a filling, I recommend peaches, especially in the summer. Wash well and dry 8 peaches (not too ripe), and slice into uniform slices. Mix (with your hands) peaches into 1/2 C sugar (more or less for tartness or sweetness), and dashes of cinnamon, plus 3 Tbls flour to thicken.


July 8, 2009

White Rabbit Salad

This salad is much tastier than it sounds. It's perfect for summer, and I love it since it is a lettuce-less salad. It comes from Moosewood, but I am not sure if they are the originator or if it is known otherwise.  Mary Ann got me hooked on it, and it is a breeze to make.  

What's in it*
3 C cottage cheese
2 Tbl honey, to taste
1/4 C raisins, currants or cranberries (dried)
1/2 C toasted nuts - I like walnuts
1 Tbl poppy seeds
2 tart apples, diced small

Optional additions:
fresh peach or pear slices
seedless red or green grapes
orange sections
chunks of ripe melon - honeydew or cantaloupe

How it's made
Combine everything and chill.

*Please don't actually measure anything for this recipe - the measurements are only there as a recommendation.  It's silly to measure for a salad.