Catching Up

I was lucky last week to have my parents visiting me from Colorado, during their spring break. We had a great time, even though I was only able to take one day off (gotta conserve my vacation time for going to Jeremy’s graduation!): We drove to the coast last Sunday for a visit to Florence and the Sea Lion Caves, and dinner at the superb (and seemingly very popular) Tidal Raves in Depoe Bay. We went to see Inside Man on Tuesday, and Thursday we went up to Oregon City for a lovely dinner at Flambe with my aunt Stacy’s family.

In other news, my incredibly generous, wonderful parents made some major improvements in our kitchen, besides the other maintenance jobs that kept them busy while I was working during the week. They found me a perfectly sized wooden kitchen island (at Walmart, no less) to give me much-needed counter space next to the stove:

Brand-spanking new kitchen island

My dad put it together on Friday night and did a great job, even though it took rather longer than the 30 minutes claimed in the manual. If you have ever been in our kitchen before, you may have noticed another new addition to my kitchen family in the above photo, a beautiful shiny new Cuisinart. Jeremy, take a good look at it, because it is your graduation present. 😉 We tested it out on a batch of pate brisee dough in what must have been less than two minutes from start to finish, and made a gorgeous cherry crumb tart:

Cherry Crumb Tart

We also made a very tasty, but less than photogenic rhubarb meringue tart (let’s just say there were blind-baking issues), as well as a batch of asparagus-leek risotto with prosciutto and Dijon chicken stew (a Cooking Light recipe from January), both of which were fantastic and well worth repeating. The cherry tart was cobbled together from a variety of sources, and I’ll write up a recipe for it if I have a chance.

Pate Brisee

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 C) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 C ice water, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
With the machine running, add ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using. Makes enough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9-inch pies.

Source: Martha Stewart

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