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Monday, December 30, 2013

Tablenosh 'Underground' Baking...

In-home 'underground' baking that whets the appetite, sweetens the tongue 
and delights the soul.

Soooo this holiday season I had the fabulous idea of taking holiday baked goods orders to make a little extra $$ for Christmas.  Basically I created a 'baked goods' menu and emailed it out to all my friends and if they liked what they saw they placed an order.  My hubby was going to give me a full day in the kitchen to bake, while he took the kids for the day and I completed all the orders.

And let the baking begin...somehow things never quite go according to schedule or plan in my kitchen (or my life for that matter), on baking day I woke up with an unplanned cold, my 6 year old came down with an unplanned ear infection and the nurse called us to come and get him from school, then we had to organize an unplanned visit to the doctor and meanwhile I was trying to now continue to bake with all 3 kids at home...somehow I managed to get a few orders filled that day but the grand idea of finishing it all in one day was definitely an oversight (I filled the last order on Christmas Eve morning!).

I must say other than the sickness part of things I really did enjoy it and stumbled across a few fabulous new recipes, created some tricks of my own and got to jam out to my joyous Christmas songs along the way.  My favorite new discovery was making caramel pecan cinnamon buns...DELISH and not nearly as hard as I thought.  I was also reminded of how delicious caramelizing onions can make things taste...this is a must-do from now on with all tarts and quiches!

On the whole my new 'underground' bakery managed to crank out:
16 dozen cookies, 3 vanilla bean pound cakes, 2 pumpkin spice cakes, 3 pumpkin pies, 1 pumpkin cheesecake, 3 kale, caramelized onion and sausage quiches, and 1 batch of pecan-caramel cinnamon rolls.

And all of this baking is what gave me the idea of transitioning 'tablenosh underground dining' into 'tablenosh underground baking' and maybe I will occasionally still be able to pull off a dinner or two.  I probably still need to think this new concept through a little bit, but as for now I am now officially taking more if you need some home-made baked goods let me know and I will see what I can do!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wedding Pies and Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie Recipe!

Last week I had the joy of baking 8 pies for a wedding.  I made three different kinds and only had 3 little disasters along the way (the last disaster involved dropping a pie!)  The 3 pies were: pumpkin pie with a gluten free gingersnap crust, chocolate chess pie with a gluten free chocolate cookie crust and chocolate, bourbon & pecan pie.  I also made vanilla bean whipped cream to serve.  I have not heard back from the bride yet but I am hoping they were all a hit!

I realized that Thanksgiving is coming up and there may be some of you who want some of these recipes, so I thought I would post a few of my favorites for you to consider!  I have truly enjoyed working off the recipes from 'A year of pies' by Ashley English.  So I definitely need to give her the credit for most of these creations.

Pie Recipes:

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust (I think the gingersnap crust takes pumpkin pie to a new level and is the only way I will ever make it again)

Gingersnap Crust
9 inch pie pan or springform pan
10 ounces of gingersnap cookies (I use the gluten free ones from Trader Joes)
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 cup almond meal, pecans or walnuts (this is optional)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Crush the gingersnaps, nuts and sugar in food processor then mix in melted butter.  Press the mixture into the pan covering the bottom and pressing up the sides.  Bake for 10 minutes and then let cool.

Pie Filling
2 Cups pumpkin puree (I roast my pumpkins and puree them, but you can totally use canned pumpkin)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk to blend.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and bake for 55-60 minutes or until set.  Cool at least an hour before serving and refrigerate once cooled if serving the next day.  Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

few and far between

Roasted Figgy Custard Pie
Truly these posts are FEW and FAR between but I am determined to not to let my blog completely die!  Juggling a household with our sweet babies and our new six year old foster child takes up more time and energy than I seem to have!  Anyhow, I have not completely forgotten about pie but certainly have not kept up to speed with 'pie day Fridays.'

I did make a fig custard pie about a month ago which was delightful and used fresh figs from our fig tree!  I was so excited because last year the birds and the squirrels ate them all and I was left with none.  The fig pie was a recipe from Ashley English and although it was tasty, I think I would leave out all the spices next time and just go for a vanilla bean custard fig.  Her recipe called for a lot of spices which I felt over powered the figs and you could barely taste them.

I also made an absolutely divine nectarine & plum tart with walnut-mint pesto, also based on a recipe from Ashley English.  This was spectacular and a perfect summer tart.  The walnut and mint pesto just brought and extra delightful flavor that was not overpowering just the perfect compliment.

Nectarine & Plum Tart with Mint & Walnut Pesto
This week I am doing a ladies Friday Pie Night for some of the nearby college students from our church.  I am testing two pies for a future pie making job (for a wedding).  I will be testing out a gluten-free gingersnap pumpkin pie recipe and chocolate chess pie.  I also just got some delicious Asian pears in my Horse & Buggy veggie box, so I might have to make a pear tart as well!

Hopefully I can give you all a run down of my favorite pie recipes by the end of the year and you can actually try some of these out for yourself!  I am doing some baking for a local women's creative retreat next weekend (Sept. 27-28) and will be selling my edibles on Friday night at the 'Craft Fair' portion of the retreat, so if you live in RVA come and check it out!  I am also co-teaching a session on Homemade Pasta & Sauces on the Saturday afternoon.
Handmade Fair

September is birthday month and I am dreaming that for my birthday this year I could just do a 'tablenosh' style dinner for all my friends in Richmond - and of course if you want to come from Australia please do!  I have not mentioned it to my husband yet, so we'll see...and who knows if I really have the creative juices for such a thing but oh to let the noshing continue!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

pies for sale

In June I booked my first pie job for a wedding.  Pies seem to be the new thing for weddings and I could not agree more with this fabulous idea!  Pies are so juicy and full of flavor and there are so many good pies out there to choose from.  My pie job consisted of making 6 apple pies.  One might think this a simple little task but I realized that making 6 pies can take a long time when you are making every bit from scratch (other than growing the apples)!

Prior to even taking on the job I made 4 small tester pies for the couple to taste, this in itself was an experiment as I had never actually made 2 of the pies that they requested.  So I had to make testers for my tester!  Raspberry pie, strawberry-rhubarb pie, apple pie and blueberry pie were the choices so I went to work.  The blueberry pie was decent and the strawberry-rhubarb pie was fine and I have made apple pie a hundred times so felt confident about that,  it was the raspberry pie that I had trouble with.  I was not pleased with the first tester recipe for me to taste so I used a different recipe for them and I am pretty sure it was not a hit (of course later that week I made up my own recipe and it was just perfect!).  So go figure the pie that they liked the best and asked me to make was my grandma's apple pie recipe - which like I said I had made many times before.  It is super simple and always delicious.

I split the pie making up into a couple of days because I thought it would be a little easier with the babies. Making the pie crusts was the hardest and most technical part of it all!  It was a very hot week and keeping my kitchen cool seemed next to impossible, so the crusts kept going in and out of the fridge to keep them cool.  And the trick with pie crust is certainly keeping everything cool!  By the end of the pie making I decided it took me somewhere between 6-7 hours to hand make all the crusts, peel all the apples, roll out the crusts, put in the filling and then do the lattice crust on top!

Overall it was a good challenge and we had lots of fun in the kitchen - my boys were excellent amusement and just too precious!  It sounds like the pies were a hit and thoroughly enjoyed at the wedding, but I don't think I will be becoming a professional pie baker anytime soon!

For those of you who might be interested here is my grandma's apple pie recipe:

Grandma Lil’s Apple Pie

1 pie crust
4-5 large granny smith apples                                 
 1-2 tsp. cinnamon
¾ cups sugar                                                                    
6 Tablespoons cold butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel and slice apples very thin.  Mix ½  cup sugar with cinnamon and mix with apples in a bowl.  Dump apples into pie shell and mix pieces of butter throughout the apples.  Sprinkle extra sugar and cinnamon on top (optional).  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 325 and bake 45 minutes or until apples look soft.  Cool and serve w/ a dollop of whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream…enjoy J

*For a topping you can just use a second shell to cover or weave strips over and under to create lattice cover.  For pie crust I usually make an all-butter pie crust with butter, salt and flour.  Sometimes a teaspoon of sugar.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pies thus far...

Strawberry & Apricot Pie w/ Vanilla Bean Maple Cream
I can hardly believe I have not posted ANYTHING for 6 months!!!  This does not mean I have been doing nothing!  A midst caring for our 3 babies there has been a lot of baby food puree making and pie
Asparagus, Pesto & Feta Tart
I just thought I would do a quick pie update and reflect on what I have discovered.  So far I have done the following sweet & savory pies and experimented a little bit with crusts as well.  Some of these were recipes from 'A Year of Pies' and some have been my own experiment or adaptations.

Shoofly Pie
Lemon Chess Pie
Asparagus, Pesto & Feta Tart
Roasted Sweet Potato & Sage Galette
Chocolate, Coffee & Marmalade Tart
Gingersnap Key Lime Pie
Winter Greens and Cornbread Quiche
Mushroom, Kale and Chèvre Galette
Strawberry Crumble Pie
Strawberry & Apricot Pie
Chicken, Lentil & Kale Curried Pie
Pear & Apple Crostata
Rosemary Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie
Salted Pecan Mini Tarts
Spiced Meat Pie
Sweet Potato & Chicken Pie
Dried Fig Custard Tartlets
Whipped Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust (the best cheesecake I have ever made!!)
Apricot, Blueberry & Strawberry Tart

Whipped Vanilla Bean Cheesecake w/ Gingersnap Crust & Fresh Strawberries
Out of these the favorites have definitely been: 'strawberry crumble pie', 'mushroom, kale & chevre galette' and the 'rosemary, bourbon & sweet potato pie.'  The strawberry pie with fresh apricots was also really good and key lime pie with gingersnap crust is always a winner (I have been making these for years).  The chicken and lentil pie I made using a spelt crust was also pretty delicious, I just made the recipe up with lentils, kale, curry spices and some leftover roasted chicken.
Chicken, Kale and Lentil Curry Pies
In terms of crusts, I have now tried an all butter crust, butter and lard, whole wheat crust, spelt crust and a gluten-free gingersnap crust.  I was very pleased with the spelt and the wheat crust in which I just used all butter, I was amazed at how good they tasted and that they actually held together.  The whole wheat crust had half white flour and half wheat.
Salted Pecan Tartlets
Today is 'Pie Day Friday' and I am making a Rhubarb and Vanilla Bean Custard Pie...sounds scrumptious to me, hopefully it will taste as good as it sounds.  I have fresh local rhubarb from my veggie box and am excited to try a new recipe!  Here's to more PIE...

Fig Custard Tartlets 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A year of pies...

Ever since Christmas when I received a fabulous cookbook from my brother called 'A Year of Pies' by Ashley English ( I have been thinking about PIE!  For those of you who actually know me you may recall that pie has always been one of my favorite things to make and I have even had a few pie parties in my time. Moving to Australia of course expanded my understanding and taste for pie as I discovered the big wide world of savory pie...YUM!

Ashley has inspired me to take my pie baking to a new level and make this my own year of pies and hopefully Tablenosh will begin selling pie at the local farmers market this Spring!  My year of pies kicked off  about 2 weeks ago and I announced 'Friday Pie Day' in our home.  Every Friday I will do my best to experiment with a new recipe or work on mastering a favorite.  Pies will also of course include tarts, galettes, crostata, quiche and any other 'pie-like' thing I can muster up!

So far I have made 5 recipes from Ashley's pie book and each one has been pretty delicious.  I kicked off with a savory 'collards and cornbread quiche' recipe - this had a quiche like base and a crusty cornbread on top.  Then I made 'shoofly' pie and a lemon-lime chess pie.  Last Friday was an apple & pear crostata... I served it warm with some crème anglaise and it was delicious, definitely a winner.  Oh yes and the 5th pie I made a few weeks ago which was a chicken pie, very similar to other chicken pies I have made except I stuffed it full of every veggie I could find and used a regular pie crust versus puff pastry, this is one of my favorites especially for winter and so easy!
Apple & Pear Crostata with Creme Anglaise
I made a double batch of all butter pie dough last week and froze half of it, so this week I can just thaw it and put it to use.  A dear friend of mine who has much more baking experience under her belt has generously given me some top notch lard (she special orders this stuff in bulk) to experiment with as well, I have heard that using lard in a pie crust can take it to a whole other level so I am looking forward to finding out!  I am not sure what pie is next...possibly a rosemary bourbon sweet potato, depends on what I have in the cupboard.  Keep ya posted!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wedding Cake # 4

Somehow between babies, holidays, house guests and sleep deprivation I managed to step up to the task of making my fourth wedding cake.  This time around I actually took a few minutes to get some basic cake icing instruction - thanks to 'you-tube' (I should have done this a long time ago).

This cake was pretty simple in terms of the cake, filling and such - I just did my favorites.  Using the best chocolate cake recipe (I referenced this in another blog), brushed with raspberry preserves and framboise, stuffed with whipped cream and fresh raspberries, iced with vanilla meringue buttercream.

As I learned some new tricks for getting the icing a little smoother, I also learned a new trick for making my cream stiff enough to stay put underneath all the layers of cake, just add a little gelatin, worked like a charm.

The wedding was on December 29th, so it had a nice wintry festive look to it in decoration.  Personally I was very pleased with the taste and out of all the cakes I have done the icing was far smoother than any of the others!  Imagine what could happen if I actually went and took a of these days I will get there and until then I will just keep winging it and enjoying the creative outlet of cake...yum :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shifting gears...babies in the kitchen!!

I have truly not had a moment to write anything on this blog since October!  What a whirlwind the past few months has been for us...we got babies...we were blessed with our first child through adoption and we have also been blessed with a little foster baby boy (it is unknown how long we will have him)!!!!  Our precious son, Abram Joshua was born on November 3...this has been a miraculous answer to many years of prayer and we feel so blessed, but needless to I have been sleep deprived and fairly nuts especially through the holidays!  So, in terms of my kitchen activity I have gone from experimental creative cooking to making 'whatever is easy & simple' and spending much more time making food for babies :)
Our Growing Family
Cooking and noshing with babies has definitely been a slightly different ball game, but I have no doubt I will find my rhythm and figure it out...eventually :)  I have shifted my energy from grown up food to making homemade baby formula and veg/fruit purees for our 5 month old foster baby.  It has been good to know I am putting whole pure foods into these boys, especially since breastfeeding is not an option.  The idea for making my own baby formula came after hearing about a few recipes from other moms.  Through a few different sources I was steered towards an organic 'raw milk' homemade formula.  I make a double batch every other day and my little boys are loving it!  We had to buy a share of a cow in order to get the raw milk and most of the other ingredients I can find at the natural foods store or I order on Amazon.

For anyone who may be interested or feels like they need something to supplement their breast milk with you can find the recipe on this website: We currently have been blessed to get our raw milk from Avery's Branch Farms in Amelia, VA .
Roasted Butternut Squash & Roasted Apple
In the past few weeks I have also just started feeding our foster baby solids, so it has been fun roasting up veggies for him and pureeing them and then of course watching his facial expressions as he discovers new tastes!  I am roasting the vegetables because it makes the veggies so much more flavorful than boiling and I want him to be enjoying his food while he gets the nutrition he needs.  Today's new flavor was roasted butternut squash pureed with a roasted apple!  Yummy (I would totally eat this much myself).