Archive for July, 2012

Rando Tuesdays: Fake Frugality Continued – Wild Berry Betty & Vanilla Custard

With the exception of Famous Dave’s bread pudding, this recipe might be the best possible solution to the fact that you have yet another half loaf of bread in your bread box getting staler by the minute.

I did use a can of blueberry pie filling, but I topped it with a few wild berries for interest. They were frozen. It still worked out.

And have I mentioned custard to you yet? Despite rarely eating it while in England, I found myself getting a little homesick for it, so I whipped a batch together for the topping. You know, as a break from all the whipped cream/regular cream/hard sauce/icing I have been topping my fruit desserts with recently. It’s likely that many of you are thinking, “Why would you wreck the natural sweetness of a fruit dessert with such exorbitant richness??” And I say again to you, “There is nothing too rich for me.”

Sweetically yours,


Wild Berry Betty

Adapted from All Things Frugal

2 cups berries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

4 cups bread cubes, about 1/2 inch square

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, white sugar and lemon  juice.  In another bowl, combine the bread cubes, brown sugar, and  cinnamon.  Fill an 8- or 9-inch square metal baking pan by alternating the  two mixtures, starting with half the blueberries, then half the bread cubes, and  so on.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Vanilla Custard

Adapted from

2 cups milk

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Heat the milk for 2 or 3 minutes in the microwave. Whisk the eggs until smooth and add them to the milk.

Add the sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir that into the milk and egg mixture until dissolved.

Run the whole mixture through a strainer and stir again. Serve as desired.

Pipe Dream #126: To Bake Savory – Truffled Barley Asparagus Stuffed Peppers

Hey, you know how I usually post sweet recipes? I actually do ingest salt occasionally. Today is another entry in the annals of my truffle love story. If you don’t have truffle oil, by all means use regular olive oil. I guess. If you live in Siberia. But otherwise you should just buy some. It’s a game-changer.

Bonus, these peppers are really healthy. Lots of protein from the barley, lots of veg, lots of flavor. My “vegetarian” sister even liked it.

Double bonus, they are pretty colors.

Triple bonus, they are topped with cheese.

Today is just a triple-bonus kind of day. Those only come along err so often, so eat it up friends, eat it up.


Truffled Barley Asparagus Stuffed Peppers

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
8 asparagus spears, grated
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 truffle oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup pearled barley, cooked
3 sweet bell peppers (red or yellow)

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Cook the barley according to package directions, removing from the heat just before the barley is fully cooked. Combine the tomatoes, asparagus, cheese, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix in the cooked barley.

Cut off the tops of the peppers as well as a small slice from the bottom to stabilize the peppers in the baking dish. Remove seeds. Place peppers in a shallow baking dish. Stuff the peppers with the barley mixture, then pour the chicken broth into the dish. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle each pepper with cheese, then bake for another 15 minutes. The peppers should be tender and the cheese browned. If you hit 10 minutes and find that the cheese is not browning, flip your oven to broil to finish ‘er off.

Remove peppers to a serving platter. Eat while hot.

Favorite Shots: Sheep Red-Handed

I just have too many happy sheep shots, including this one. I caught him red-handed. Look at the guilt in his eyes!

Sorry. I just figure that if you don’t pipe up about anything negative, I’ll just keep ’em coming. :]


Pipe Dream #125: To Appreciate The Bold & The Subtle

This was the sky in my backyard. I love love love the interplay of the bright colors and the delicate trees. My family and I recently had a conversation about colors/things/life. Some people like everything to be bold and bright and extreme. That’s fine and good, but sometimes it’s easy to miss out on the subtleties and delicacies that add nuance and support. That last sentence sounds like a bunch of waffle (yummy), but let me explain.

It’s like dahlias. They are big and bright and beautiful, but they have no scent. Dahlias look almost spare standing alone. They need other flowers in an arrangement to provide a more complete aesthetic.

It’s like pizza. Really good pizza dough needs a really slow second rise so that it can develop a deeper flavor and complement a bunch of bold toppings. If you just piled a bunch of garlic and balsamic and basil on a slab of your average pizza dough, all you would taste are the individual flavors of the toppings. Though the taste of a slow-rise dough is more subtle, it manages to complement and bind all the other flavors, making the pizza come together in one big flavor meld.

It’s like people. Some personalities are brash and bright, others are meek and quiet, but the world needs both to get along.

Today, I am in appreciation of both.

Dual-minded to a fault,


Rando Tuesdays: Leftovers – Tarte Au Citron

There aren’t many moments in my life in which I think to myself, “I have arrived. I have actually arrived,” but let me tell you. Eating a lemon meringue tart in my very own hotel room overlooking the streets of Paris after a day full of shopping was one of those moments. I don’t even feel foolish telling you that.

Ok, I feel a little foolish telling you that, but come on! It was awesome! And just to clarify, I have definitely not arrived. Mostly in every sense of that phrase.

I had tart dough left over from yesterday, and I was so pleased with the way the rhubarb tart turned out that I couldn’t even wait to continue trying out recipes. This tart was just a mini experiment, so don’t mind the pastry edges. Also, the meringue was not as perfect as yesterday’s. I think my bowl was not clean (Lauren 3 Meringues 3). The filling itself was divine, and you get to use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue. Everyone loves a kitchen torch. Surrously.



Tarte Au Citron

Patched together from The Great British Bake Off

For the crust:

See yesterday’s recipe.

For the lemon tart filling:

5 free-range eggs
125ml/4fl oz double cream
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 lemons, juice and zest
icing sugar, for dusting

For the meringue:

See yesterday’s recipe.

Roll out the pastry dough until it is bigger than your tart pan. Carefully lift the tin base off the work surface, drop it into the tin, then ease the pastry into the corners and up the sides of the tin, pressing the overhang lightly over the rim. If the pastry has cracked at all, simply press it together to seal. Press the pastry into the flutes of the tin then lightly prick the base with a fork, but not quite all the way through. Place the pastry-lined tin on a baking tray, cover loosely with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Remove the cling film from the pastry case and line with foil so it supports the sides, then fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 12-15 minutes, until the pastry is set, then lift out the foil and beans. Carefully trim the excess pastry from the sides using a sharp knife, holding the knife at a sharp angle and slicing away from you. Remove the trimmings from the sheet. Return the empty pastry case to the oven for another 10-12 minutes or until it is pale golden and completely dry. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

For the filling, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well combined. Pour the filling mixture into a jug, then into the cooled baked pastry case. To prevent it spilling as it goes in the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tart, carefully sit the baking sheet and tart on the oven shelf, then top up with the rest of the filling to completely fill it. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre.

Once cool, remove the tart from the pastry case and pipe meringue over the top in shells. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue slightly. Serve.

Pipe Dream #16: To Love My Neighbor, Revisited – Rhubarb Meringue Tart

We-he-ell, if that ain’t the nicest, smoothest, most grain-free meringue you ever did see. (Lauren 3 Meringues 2). Seriously, this is the nicest meringue I have ever made. It’s appropriate that the first recipe I made out of the Great British Bake Off cookbook should turn out so well. It works on paper (like Communism) and in my stomach (unlike Communism).

Before I continue, I am just going to tell you a little life story. Upon my return from England, I found two new items in my parents’ kitchen that have brought me endless delight and have contributed enormously to the ease of my kitchen life. One is the $7 bottle of truffle oil that my mum bought, unaware of the deep appreciation for truffles that I acquired in Europe. The other is this little scale she bought, unaware that I would need to measure out dozens of different recipe ingredients from English recipes. It makes nearly every aspect of my life more exact and digitized. The lesson learned here is this: Keep doing things. Maybe you will bring someone endless delight sometime.

We had a little neighborhood barbeque, and I had some strawberry rhubarb compote to use up, so I decided to take a stab at shortcrust pastry. Luckily, this one gave me no trouble and was surprisingly short to prepare. One of my neighbors is gluten intolerant, so I made her a little mini dish full of the strawberry rhubarb filling and meringue so she could partake of the awesome.

The meringue calls for golden sugar (I think I used white instead), which potentially would make the meringue brown up a little more golden than mine did. I left if in the oven a titch too long. Don’t be like me.

And now for a bit of wisdom I picked up this year: Always cut huge pieces/put out extra cookies for males. That way, they don’t have to feel guilty about taking seconds, which they almost always desire. Just another way to love your neighbor. We could even take this a step further and say “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but I don’t want to be accused of advising the blogging community give themselves extra dessert.

On the other hand, of course I do. And besides, this is meringue we’re talking about. Go ahead and slice it up big, friends.




Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Tart

Adapted from The Great British Bake Off

For the tart crust:
400g/14oz plain flour
250g/9oz cold butter, cut into cubes
100g/3½oz icing sugar
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
For the filling:
2kg/4lb 8oz rhubarb (I used half rhubarb, half strawberries)
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 oranges, zest only
For the meringue:
8 free-range eggs whites
400g/14oz golden caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour

1. Grease a 30cm/12in loose-bottomed tart tin.
2. To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and ground ginger, mix thoroughly then add the beaten eggs and just enough cold water to form a dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured board, knead gently into a smooth ball then roll the pastry out and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Preheat the oven to to 150C/300F/Gas
2. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm/2in lengths and place in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and orange zest then cook, uncovered, in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rhubarb is just tender but still holding its shape. Increase oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
5. Add baking beans to the tart case and bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and the beans and return the tin to the oven for about eight minutes or until pale golden-brown. Remove the tin from the oven and increase the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 .
6. For the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually add half the sugar, whisking all the time, then fold in the cornflour and remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
7. To assemble the pie, fill the tart case with the rhubarb, standing the pieces on end. Pile most of the meringue on top of the pie, keeping enough back to then pipe pointy peaks over the surface. Bake in the less than 30 mins preparation time 1 to 2 hours cooking time

Favorite Shots: Unknown Sunset

I don’t even remember where I took this. I think it was at school. I do know one thing though: God speaks to me in sunsets. Like, if I have just been off in my own little world all day or messing up again or forgetting to be thankful, God will throw a sunset. And not one goes by that I don’t remember how fun and artistic and creative and cool God is, and how much grace he shows me. It’s unreal, that kind of love. I don’t know, maybe a lot of people feel that way about sunsets, but I know sometimes he paints them for me personally. It’s the kind of thing he would do.

With one thousand thanks,


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