Cooking and Baking

Sophie suggested I open a cooking help tab. So here it is.

Got questions on baking? Turkey roasting? Perfect pie? Banana breads? Food safety?

Have at it- I will do my best to answer any questions. I will be checking in off and on. Ask your questions in the comments and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Happy Thanksgiving! And Merry Christmas!

This first recipe is for Uppity!

Tarte Tatin- from Jacques Pepin

preheat oven to 400

Pate Brisee (butter pastry)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

4 oz unsalted butter, COLD, cut into 1/2 bits

1/2 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

Approx 1/4 cup ice water


4 Tbsp unsalted butter

5 Tbsp sugar

3 pounds firm apples, quartered lengthwise (of course remove core section)

1/4 cup chopped nuts- I like walnuts! And I like mine chopped very fine.

For the pastry

Put flour in mixing bowl. Add butter, sugar and salt. With your fingers, break the butter into the flour. The bits of butter should remain visible as pea sized pieces throughout the flour. (You could use a food processor and pulse gently)

(The amount of water needed depends on how much the butter has been incorporated into the flour and on the hunidity, which determines the amount of moisture in the flour)

Add the water and knead just enough for the ingredients to hold together. The pieces of butter should still be visible throughout the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.


Put half the butter and 4 Tbsp of the sugar in a sturdy cast iron or other oven proof skillet – 8 inches across by 2 inches deep. Have ready a shallow pan of ice water. Cook the sugar and butter over med/high heat until amber in color. Remove from heat and insert bottom of pan in the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Arrange quartered apples over caramel skin side down and any extra apple slices on top.

Dot with remaining butter, sprinkle with remaining sugar , return to heat, add a few Tbsp of water, cover and cook over medium to low heat, 5 to 6 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally so the juices of the apples mix with the caramel. Cook til apples are soft. Remove cover and evaporate liquid.

Meanwhile, roll out the dough and trim to make a circle about a 1/2 inch larger than the pan. Fold over the edge to make the border slightly thicker. Pierce all over with a fork.

When apples are soft, remove from heat, sprinkle nuts over and cover with pastry. Press down all over.

Bake  in a 400 degree oven until browned- about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and check to see if the liquid has caramelized. If it has, place round serving plate over the top and flip the tart. If there is still a lot of liquid in the pan when you remove it from the oven, cook on top of stove over medium to low heat, shaking the pan occasionally until the liquid turns into a rich dark caramel. Then invert.

For a shinier and thicker glaze, cook 2 TBSP sugar and 1 TBSP water in a skillet over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture caramelizes. Using a spoon, dribble gently over the apples.

Cut into wedges and serve while still warm with soft, sweetened whip cream.

23 Responses

  1. Whooo Hoo!! You dd it!

    Oka..first question. Which is better for mashed potatoes: Russets, Yukons, or something else?

  2. Sophie- YAY! You’re here!
    I find the russets can be a little dry for mashed- but if that is what you have, just add a little more butter and milk.
    I LOVE the yukons for mashing. But being originally from MA- we always used Maine potatoes- but back then I don’t think potatoes had names lol! They just came in a bag and said Maine potatoes on the bag.!
    So for me- Yukons or an all purpose potato for mashing.
    Nothing beats a russet for a baking potato though!
    I use sour cream in my mashed potatoes too!

  3. Me too with the sour cream in the mashed potatoes!! I “discovered” it in this restaurant that had Smashed Potatoes with a different but good flavor in it. The waitress wouldn’t tell us what it was but then she said, “but if you have a food allergy to say, sour cream, I’d have to tell you.” LOL!

    • LOL! Gotta love a good waitress! They figure out ways to serve the guest and get around stupid rules.
      I reduce the milk and sub sour cream.
      And remember- potatoes LOVE salt!
      As a matter of fact- if you ever have a situation where you accidentally add too much salt to a soup or stew- throw in a peeled potato and it will draw the salt from the stock.

  4. Here’s a challenge for ya: I’m looking to do a Three Sisters appetizer. You probably know this but maybe your other readers don’t–the Three Sisters are corn, beans, and squash and are planted together because they each help each other. I’ve found lots of recipes for soups and stews, but I’m looking for something for the appetizer course. The beans I have are cranberry beans which have a flavor somewhere in between the pinto and cannellini neighborhood. Ever do anything with all three in one dish?

  5. Sophie- is the squash fresh or cooked in the can? And do you want cold or hot?
    LOL! Challenge time eh?
    How about a variation on the old layered taco salad? Or a composed salad? My mind just came up with those two right off the top of my head.

  6. Your mind is brilliant. The squash is fresh (though I have pureed from fresh in the freezer if that’s what the recipe wants). Never canned–the farms don’t sell it that way.

    • Oh GOOD! Fresh squash is the best! So roast it and cut it up in bite sized chunks. You can do a variation on layered taco salad by substituting the squash for the meat. I would leave out the cheese- imo it does not go well with winter squash.
      Or make a salad with the three sisters and your favorite vinaigrette. Then you can toss in whatever else you like in the salad as well. You could go for southwestern flavors or more Mediterranean depending on what you like. The spices you use will make the difference. If you like you could make the vinaigrette with lime juice and cilantro, maybe a touch of cumin. Cumin and the winter squashes go well together. The three sisters are sturdy enough to be dressed ahead of time so they can soak in some of the flavors.

      • Or you could grill the squash and the corn! YUMMY! then proceed with whichever recipe you choose!
        Be sure to toast the squash seeds (just like pumpkin seeds) and use them as garnish!

      • Fabulous!

        Re, squash and cheese: I once made a squash au gratin (exactly like the potato kind, but with butternut) and it really worked out well. But I agree that this layered dip won’t need it.

      • PMM: I ended up making this dish called Porotos granados (a Chilean Bean and Corn Stew) because the author said, “I like to serve porotos granados as an appetizer, with corn chips for dipping.” I sure hope it gets more like a dip by tomorrow, It was pretty darn good though–i had some since I missed dinner making those pies.

        As for the pies, they look reasonable. I’m not a pastry chef and I only bake two pies a year, always on the fourth Wednesday in November. The crust does look better with lots more butter in there, but it was so much easier to work with when there was less. We’ll see what they taste like tomorrow. Maybe the family won’t mind if we have the pie first.

        • Great! Sounds delicious!
          LOL- we are strict traditionalists here. Turkey, smashed potatoes, trees and cheese (broccoli and cauliflower with cheese sauce) and of course stuffing, made IN the bird. With good old Bell’s seasoning.
          I am sure your pies will be great!
          Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. Happy Thanksgiving, PMM!

  8. The pies came out well. More butter in the shell really gave it a fabulous flavor.

    The Three Sisters dip was a big hit. They ate it ALL! I served it warm with large tortilla chips.

    Thank you for all of your help.

    • Sophie- I am so glad- I think I am going to give that recipe a try! How did the pies turn out?

      • The apple pie was fabulous. Between the new and improved crust recipe and saving the Northern Spies in the freezer, it really was special. The pumpkin pie, not so much. Either I forgot something or added something twice, but the filling was not as yummy as it usually is. I can’t figure out what.

  9. Send me an e-mail from your burn address. I’d like to show you something.

  10. A couple of recipes from the good housekeeping Grill it book

    grilled Pizza

    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 pkg quick rise yeast
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup hot water
    2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

    or buy premade pizza crust or frozen bread dough

    8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese thin sliced
    12 fresh basil leaves
    2 small ripe tomatoes, thin sliced
    coarsely ground black pepper

    prepare grill for medium heat
    in large bowl combine flour – yeast- and salt. stir in hot water and 2 teaspoons oil until blended and dough comes away from the side of the bowl
    turn onto lightly floured surface,knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes

    shape dough into two 10in rounds or 4 6in rounds do not form rims.
    cover with greased plastic wrap let rest for 15 minutes

    place dough rounds on hot grill rack over medium heat and until underside of dough turns golden and grill marks appear. 2 to 5 minutes

    with tongs turn rounds over, brush lightly with some remaining oil. top with mozzarella then basil and tomato slices. grill until cheese begins to melt 3 to 5 minutes. drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

    I think once you get the crust you could use your own favorite toppings with this recipe

  11. hot buttered chili-lime corn

    4 ears corn, husks and silk removed
    each ear cut crosswise in half
    2 tablespoons butter or margarine soffened
    1 teaspoon chilli powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon fresh lime peel
    fresh lime wedges ( optional)

    prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling over medium heat
    place corn in 14 1/2 by 12 1/2 extra heavy foil cooking bag in single layer.
    in cup stir butter, chilli powder,salt and lime peel until blended.
    dot mixture on corn and fold bag to seal
    place foil packet on hot grill rack over medium heat. cook, corn turning packet over once 1/2 way through cooking about 12 minutes
    remove packet from grill
    before serving cut X in top of foil packet to let steam excape
    serve with lime wedges if you like

    if you can not find foil bags
    layer two 20″ by 18″ sheets heavy duty foil to make double thickness.
    place recipe ingredients on center of foil. bring short ends of foil up and over indgredients and fold over two or three times to seal well. fold over remaind sides of foil two or three times to seal juices

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