It’s hard to believe Labor Day weekend is already here. Fall will be coming soon and thoughts of hosting a tea party are on my mind. I would really like to change up my standing menu by changing the tea sandwiches and lightening up my quiche. I thought different fillings on top of crostini would offer a nice change. Egg salad is one of my favorite sandwich fillings so I want to start with that. Instead of the plain mayonnaise I added a little Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, fresh chopped chives and salt and pepper. Because I’m a bacon lover I fried up some bacon to add a little something extra. The seeds on the baguette work nicely, adding flavor that works well with the egg and bacon. These little egg crostini turned out delicious and look elegant on the plate. Just what I was envisioning. I will be working on a tuna and chicken salad crostini next. I would also like to lighten up my quiche. My favorite quiche is loaded with three different cheeses. It is delicious but a bit on the heavy side. I’m going for a classic French quiche in which the filling has a delicate custard and crisp diced ham. I love that it’s a light bite and oh so delicious. I’m still struggling with the tart crust. I need to find the perfect dough. My dough turned out a bite gummy. However the filling taste just right. So please don’t judge my crust just yet! It’s a work in progress. I will post my final result soon. But here’s a sneak peak at my French quiche.
Egg Salad crostini:
4 Tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 Tablespoons fresh chopped chives, or green onion
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
French baguette, seeded or plain, toasted
Boil the eggs and cook the bacon till it’s crispy. Prepare the mayonnaise dressing. In a small bowl add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, chives or green onion, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to mix well. Chop the eggs and add the mayonnaise dressing over the eggs and gently blend together. Reserve just a small amount of the mayonnaise dressing to spread on your crostini.Toast your baguette rounds in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes till golden brown. Lightly spread the crostini with the mayonnaise dressing place a piece of the bacon on each crostini and top and put a dollop of the egg salad on top.
I just love baking homemade pie. It is such a satisfying feeling. When I slip the pie into the oven I can barely wait for the sweet aroma to permeate the air throughout my home. My favorite summer pie is blueberry. I’ve been patiently waiting for that little container full of blueberries that say Hammonton, NJ I love that they are local. I wouldn’t dare bake my pie without these fresh berries, and I’d never bake this pie any other time of year. I’m day dreaming in the cold winter months of baking the pie. It’s the anticipation that makes it even sweeter on that first bite. I will be sharing this pie with my Mother-in-law Helen. She is turning 89 years young on the 23rd of June. I happen to know that she too loves blueberry pie.
4 heaping cups fresh blueberries
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¾ cup of pure cane sugar, or granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Place washed berries in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornstarch, and salt. Combine the mixture with the blueberries stirring gently to coat. Pour the blueberry mixture into a prepared pastry crust. Tuck dots of cold butter into the berries. Top with your 2nd crust. Flute the edges of the pie. Cut a hole in the center for an air vent. Then cut slits in the top of the pie around the circle. Refrigerate the pie for 30 minutes. Please don’t skip this step; it gives you a flakier crust. Use whole milk with a pastry brush to wash the top of the crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the crust is golden and the pie is bubbling in the center. About 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cool completely. I cool my pie for 3-4 hours before cutting into the pie. After cooling my pie I refrigerate it overnight. I love it ice cold. You can serve the pie room temperature as well.
Double crust pastry
2/3 cup solid shortening, very cold
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 tablespoons ice cold water
*For a sweet crust add 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
In a medium bowl stir the flour and salt with a whisk. Add the shortening and cut in using a pastry blender till the mixture resembles tiny peas. Add the ice cold water 1 tablespoon at a time mixing with a fork until the dough starts to form a ball. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead just to form a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
November’s here and there’s a chill in the air today. I’m remembering the yummy comfort food dinners I made for my kids when they were young. One of their favorites was their Grandmother Janet’s beef stew. We made this stew together on one of her visits to Washington, State where we lived at the time. I have used this recipe ever since that day with just a few tweaks of my own. One of the magic ingredients in this stew is the fresh lemon juice. It gives the stew a fresh flavor. The beef, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, and Worcestershire sauce are mingling together in the pot. Then I add a big squeeze of half a fresh lemon. When the lemon juice hits the bottom of the pan the fragrance makes you instantly hungry. When I’m really craving a heartier dish, I omit the quartered potatoes and mash potatoes and top them with the stew and yummy gravy. I serve homemade biscuits with soft butter to dip in the gravy. I’m making this stew today and cherishing those memories of the past.
Janet’s Brown Stew
2lb. boneless beef chuck, cut into 1”cubes
¼ cup flour to dreg the meat, optional
4 cups hot water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, ½ chopped and half sliced in half
2 bay leaves
Fresh thyme, 3 sprigs
2 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. pepper
6 carrots, sliced into rounds
4 potatoes, diced
Canola oil, as needed to brown meat
In a heavy saucepan, brown meat in canola oil. I like to dreg the meat in flour with salt and pepper this is optional. You don’t want to crowd the meat the browning is very important to the flavor of the stew. Do the meat in batches and set aside. Add chopped onion cook 4-5 minutes till tender and then add the garlic cook 1-2 minutes. Add the meat back to the saucepan, bay leaves, fresh thyme leaves, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper, and lemon juice. Add the potatoes and carrots. bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer after the boil. simmer 3-4 hours. If you want a thicker gravy use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the stew then boil for 1 minute. Serve with biscuits or crusty bread.