Ginger adds a warm, earthy, autumn kick to this classic dessert.
Years ago, my mother taught me how to make a skillet pie. This is much like a regular pie, but quicker, and quite a bit more rustic. Simply start with a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet. Melt butter, add a touch of flour and sugar and fruit, and heat in the skillet till the fruit starts releasing it’s juices and forming a syrup. Then top it with a pie crust and pop it in the oven. So simple and easy.
I started combining ginger with blueberries in dishes recently, and I just love the flavor combination: down home with a kick. A few weeks ago, my friend Diane baked me a blueberry and nectarine pie, and that inspired the addition of the peaches.
I wanted a simple dessert like that, but I did not want to bother with pie crust, so I substituted with a standard crisp topping – with a touch of ginger for a little more kick. Toasted nuts would be delightful in this topping as well.
We are fruit smoothie people, so our freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit; this recipe was easy to whip up with ingredients we keep on hand all the time.
As always, delightful kitchen helpers make the food taste more delicious.
Tom Douglas, the guy who arguably put Seattle’s culinary scene on the map, took his place behind the stove of the demonstration kitchen at Macy’s, and started off by saying: “Today I want to talk to you about effort. If there is one thing I want you to take away today, it’s that it’s worth the effort.”
He was talking about cooking at home for your friends and family. He was talking about sharing not just the family recipes, but the stories that went along with them, such as the way the house smelled when his Grandma came to visit and made her famous schnecken, and the benefits of being the biggest kid in a very large family, when they all reached in to grab their favorite bits of the gooey treat.
Take 3 recipes, he said, say for instance one pie, one cake, and one cookie recipe, even if you’re afraid of baking – especially if you’re afraid of baking. Make each one three times, following the directions exactly. The trick to baking well is following the directions. By the third try, you will OWN that recipe.
Pick recipes you want to be known for, and be the person who’s known for bringing it. You don’t have to be a great cook, just well practiced at a few recipes. You can grow your repertoire later, just start with three.
Tom prepared three recipes for us: Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Broccoli Rabe and Fontina, Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy, and Pear Tarts with Dreamy Caramel Sauce.
Now, I don’t have room enough to share all three recipes in one post, so I’ve picked one to share today, perhaps more on another day. You’ll just have to come back and visit my blog again some day. Two of the recipes are from Tom’s new cookbook that he is promoting, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Of course, the recipe I chose to share has something to do with coffee, Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy. This recipe is from the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook.
“Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out they add a nice toasty-smoky aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey’s done. If a few slip out at the table while I’m carving, it’s a good conversation starter.”
Get this one ready for Thanksgiving:
FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was paid to attend this event, but as always, my opinions remain my own.
When it comes to food and travel, whenever possible I like to eat where the locals eat, tourist traps rarely have the best food. I have also come to believe that Alton Brown will never steer me wrong when it comes to food. Both of those rules turned out to be true on this my trip to New Orleans.
I didn’t have a big list of things to do in New Orleans because I was bringing my homework along with me (yeah, this girl knows how to par-tay), but I was not going to leave that city without tasting a beignet.
World famous fried dough, topped with powdered sugar, and served up with cafe au lait? Carbs on top of deep-fried carbs? Served with coffee? What’s not to love? That was definitely first on my list.
The first name in beignets, is Cafe du Monde. It’s world famous. Mention New Orleans, and people who have never set foot in Louisiana will tell you to go to Cafe du Monde. I was going to Cafe du Monde if it was the only thing I did in New Orleans.
Luckily it wasn’t the only thing I did in New Orleans.
My friend, Jen, did her homework before our trip, including watching The Best Think I Ever Ate: New Orleans. “We have to go to Cafe Beignet!” She insisted. “Alton said it was the best thing he ate in New Orleans.”
How lucky I am to travel with someone like Jen who can straighten me out on these things – I might have missed Cafe Beignet altogether.
Hidden away amongst antique shops and art galleries in the French Quarter, I might have stumbled across this little gem, but I might have also been saving up my caloric allowance for the beignets at a shop with more name recognition. How sad that would have been.
I would have missed this lovely french cafe, with it’s menu that goes well beyond pastries, jazz from the street musicians wafting in on the breeze, the cobblestone floors, and the charming little birds that flitted around as we ate.
I would have missed the subtle flavor and delicate texture of these little pillows of heaven.
I fully intended to get a shot of these as they were delivered – both times we visited – but it just didn’t happen. I dug in. Yum.
We hadn’t even finished the first beignet when we decided we needed to hit Cafe du Monde as well – same day – so we could do a little comparison. Also, so we could have more beignets and coffee (but lets just keep that between us, ok?)
We had to walk several blocks farther, through Jackson Square, to get to Cafe du Monde. Surely that was enough walking to burn off all those carbs… No?
Cafe du Monde was a completely different environment.
It was packed, there were street musicians as well, right next to the table seating, but the music that pulsed in was more aggressive and in your face (perhaps intended to keep customers from lingering too long?). Pigeons dive-bombed tables, and snacked fearlessly from tables in the middle of this crowded restaurant.
The food the server plopped down in front of us was a little different as well.
The beignets were hard, and flavorless.
But at least they had sugar. A lot of sugar.
Once we finished eating the beignets, there was a good 4 ounces of sugar still left on the plate. Thank goodness we decided to share that order.
I will say in Cafe du Monde’s favor, that I preferred their coffee.
But for beignets, (and other foods, we found out at later visits), and ambiance, I’d recommend Cafe Beignet over and over again.
Alton Brown was right. So was the Concierge. Thanks, Jen.
It was a grey, blustery day, perfectly suited to my grey, blustery mood. I was dragging my cranky toddler and cantankerous husband through that most soul-suckingly dreadful chore: grocery shopping.
All the while I was complaining about the fatigue I’m still battling, and my ever growing list of things I STILL haven’t gotten done yet.
What happened to my inspiration, I wondered. What happened to that drive that kept me up all night, not because I had to do something, but because I was so passionate about that project that I couldn’t not work on it?
“You used to find inspiration everywhere,” my husband said – rather insensitively, I thought.
That comment pissed me off a little bit, mostly because he was right. (Is there anything quite so infuriating as a spouse who is right?)
I used to be able to look around wherever I was and find something, some little something, that lit something in me.
I looked around at the displays of produce. Those peppers are really orange. Look how the water beads up and sparkles on the broccoli.
It started coming back. Not the up all night because I’m so driven type of inspiration, but enough for me to come back to the store then next day with my camera.
Not a thing changed in that store to bring about that change in me, not the lighting, not the moods of my companions, just a little shift in what I was noticing.
Also: dinner tonight is rainbow chard, black beans, mushrooms, and quinoa. No recipe, I just felt inspired to put those things together. We’ll see how that turns out.