Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remembering Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

My Sweetheart Sherwood rode in the Tour de Farms a couple of weeks ago. He biked 100- yes one hundred- miles! This on very little training (we had just reached our 1000 mile mark on our tandem, but only in 10,20, 30 and 40 mile rides- no long ones!) AND we had been out swing dancing the night before (so he had only about three hours sleep). I am so proud of him!! One thing he mentioned after the ride, was the peanut butter and bananas. I try not to make it a big deal- but I have an allergy to nuts. It's not the rush-me-to-the-hospital-immediately allergy, just an inconvenient tongue tingling- I really don't feel well- allergy. So, I don't eat peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower or sesame seeds anymore. Now, mind you, I never want to deprive the family of a food they want to eat- I guess I just forgot to buy peanut butter for a couple of years. Unless I've needed it for a particular recipe, I've avoided the whole nut thing. Until now... Sherwood decided that a big scoop of peanut butter on a mashed up banana was his answer to cycling-energy-food nirvana. It reminded me of this pie- that everyone LOVES. So, here's my nod to peanut buttery goodness.
If you are a peanut butter fan- this is the pie for you. The filling is a light peanut butter mousse that tastes great chilled or almost frozen. You can make it a day ahead and the flavors will just get better.
Makes one pie
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons melted butter plus a bit more for greasing
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Make crust: Grease a 9 inch pie plate. Mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press evenly into the pie plate. Chill one hour.
Make Filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and peanut butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add 1 cup of confectioners sugar. Beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip to stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Gently fold in the remaining cream. Spoon into chilled crust. Chill until firm- about three hours.
Make topping: In a small saucepan,, heat the cream to a simmer. Add the chocolate. Stir until smooth and melted. Cool to room temperature. Spread over pie. Chill again until firm.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's in the Pantry?

I've been hard at work on my latest book all about desserts. As I was writing down 157 recipes- some of which have been saved for later publications- I came to a fun realization. Having your pantry stocked with the following items allows you to whip up that birthday cake for a friend, cupcakes for your child's class, biscuits for supper or that special goodie tray for the bake sale- without going out to the market for anything. This list can be accumulated over time. Many of the ingredients have an extended shelf life. The perishables listed at the end are those that you probably have on hand in the fridge anyway. This list is helpful when you're getting started as a baker. Lots of the items can be found in the bulk section of your local health food store. Rising Tide is my favorite local shop in Damariscotta. They carry many different types of flour and sugar to suit whatever recipes I can think up.

In the Pantry
Baking uses many of the same items to create a myriad of different recipes. Here are some things to keep on hand in your pantry to make baking a snap. You can gather them over time to have the staples necessary to whip something up when you need it.
Flour- white, wheat, soy...
Pastry or cake flour
Wheat germ
White sugar
Brown sugar- light and dark
Baking powder
Baking soda
Bakewell Cream- cream of tartar
Sea Salt
Cocoa powder
Confectioners sugar
Corn starch
Buttermilk powder
Egg white powder
Espresso powder
Dry milk
Corn syrup
Crisco or other vegetable shortening
Peanut butter
Various pure extracts- lemon, anise…
Nutmeg- whole and ground
Black pepper
Chocolate- bits, bars and unsweetened squares- white and dark
Dried fruit
Seeds and nuts- flax, sesame, poppy, caraway, etc...
Unflavored gelatine
Vanilla bean
Coffee beans
Jams and jellies of assorted flavors
Food coloring

In the icebox:
Sour cream
Cream cheese
Fresh citrus fruit
Pastor Chuck's applesauce and apple butter
Savor,Linger, Enjoy! -Cynthia

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pear Bisque- Looking Toward Fall and the Harvest

Down East blog4
Apples and Pears are ripe and delicious. It's time to go picking. I've had a hankerin' for this pear soup. Its thicker than most bisques with the pulp of the fruit left in the soup. You could use apples instead if you've got them on hand. We talked about apples, squash and poultry at the last Aspiring Locavore class at the Morris Farm. A gal from Alna brought some honey crisps and mccouns from her trees. They were sweet and sour in turn. Apple crisp is definitely on the menu at home this week. Next month- the fourth Tuesday- the Aspiring Locavore will be talking about potatoes, turkey and oysters. Hope you can join us at the Morris Farm.

Pear Bisque
Serves 6
For an elegant first course, serve this bisque with a medallion of Appleton Creamery chèvre (goat cheese) and a sprinkle of pecans. Preferred wine is the Demi-Pear Wine from Winterport Winery.

3 T unsalted butter
1⁄2 c minced onion
1 T freshly grated ginger
1 small turnip, peeled and finely diced
2 T finely minced crystallized ginger
4 c chicken or vegetable stock
21⁄2 lb firm but ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1⁄4 lb dried pears, coarsely chopped
11⁄2 c heavy cream
1⁄3 c pear wine
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
3 T Maine maple syrup
1⁄2 t nutmeg
1⁄8 t allspice
1⁄8 t freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
extra cream for thinning
Garnish (optional):
1⁄4 c finely chopped pecans
6- 1⁄2-inch slices from a log of chèvre
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and turnip about 8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.
Stir in the fresh and crystallized ginger and sauté another 2 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring the ingredients to a boil. Add the fresh and dried pears. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pan from the heat. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pan or, working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan. With heat on low, stir in the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Simmer about 30 minutes, stirring often. Thin with additional cream if desired.
Serve in pretty bowls, with a slice of chèvre and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.