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Amish Sugar Cream Pie

Paul is a great baker, where I am definitely not. He follows recipes slavishly, whereas I use a recipe as a guide and modify it to hell and back. Which doesn’t work when it comes to baking, because of the delicate balance of food chemistry and physics. Baking is not much more than kitchen science, and I’m not good at following directions. What is amazing to me is that this handful of simple ingredients makes something almost magical. I’ve had sugar pies in the past, but this recipe is the best one I’ve found, and so easy to make.

Amish Sugar Cream Pie

Amish Sugar Cream Pie
Recipe courtesy

3/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup real butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In sauce pan combine, white sugar, salt, half-and-half and whipping cream.
Bring to a boil.

In another sauce pan, combine brown sugar & cornstarch.

Gradually whisk in hot mixture into brown sugar mixture.
Add margarine/or butter (to me this makes it even better.).

Cook over med. heat, whisk constantly, 5 min or until thick.
Simmer 1 minute and stir in vanilla.

Pour into uncooked pie shell and sprinkle w/cinnamon and nutmeg.
Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes.

It’s French…It’s Full of Meat…It’s Cassoulet!

Original Post Date: 10/10/2010

For a long time, Becke’s had a favorite wintertime meal from North Market Poultry and Game. That meal was, and is, their cassoulet.

Cassoulet is French comfort food — a hearty, meat-heavy bean stew cooked for hours in a cast-iron pot either in an oven or on a stovetop until the beans are very soft and the meats are fall-apart tender. The initial clear appearance of the broth, by the time the cassoulet is done, has become a murky, thick, starchy gravy redolent of the flavors of all the meats as well as the added vegetables and aromatics (you’ll find a bouquet garni used to season any good cassoulet — this one included).

The problem I’ve always had with cassoulet is that it’s such a chore to make, and usually pretty expensive. Ours was no exception. I started with a half-kilo of flageolet beans (available for $3.49 a pound at the North Market’s Greener Grocer), a bit over a pound of bone-in lamb shoulder chops ($5.49 a pound at Blues Creek Meats) from which I removed the bones with a fillet knife, four (six would work just as well) Long Island duck legs ($5.99 a pound at North Market Poultry & Game), two quarts of NMPG’s fantastically flavorful duck stock (again from NMPG @ $5 per quart), about 3/4 pound of a really really flavorful white-rinded French-style pork salami sausage from Curds & Whey ($24 a pound; ask Mike what he suggested I use in my cassoulet and he’ll sell you the right one), and finally, about 2/3 pound of Thurn’s double-smoked slab bacon ($5 a pound at Thurn’s Meats on Greenlawn Avenue; open 8am-6pm Thu-Fri and 7am-1pm Sat, closed Sun-Wed).

To finish the recipe, we bought one batard (a crusty, large French loaf with a dense crumb) from Eleni Christina Bakery on Russell Avenue in the Short North. I suggest you call ahead, so they’ll hold aside one or two batards for you at $3 per loaf.

If you think this dish is a bit pricey to prepare, understand that the one local vendor from whom we buy prepared cassoulet, North Market Poultry & Game, charges $8 per pint for it, and it’s worth every penny. It truly is a time-consuming pain in the butt to make, but is worth the effort.

The finished cassoulet was quite pretty. Here it is, in all its aromatic and meaty glory:

Paul's Cassoulet

The recipe I borrowed and adapted was the Duck Cassoulet Recipe by Only Slightly Pretentious Food:

500g lingot beans (I used flageolet beans)
300g lamb shoulder or boneless lamb, cut into 4cm cubes (I used lamb shoulder chops, trimmed of bone and cut into approximately 2.5cm cubes)
200g smoked bacon slab (I used 300g of double-smoked bacon slab)
6 pcs raw duck legs (no need to chop in half if using local ducks, which are smaller) (I used four larger legs)
3 pcs sausages (I used a single 340g piece of French-style pork salami with a white washed rind)
100g duck fat
200g roughly chopped white onions
50g chopped garlic
100g or 4 peeled and chopped tomatoes (I used peeled canned San Marzano tomatoes)
4 Tbsp tomato paste (I used 2 Tbsp Amore double-concentrated tomato paste)
1 bouquet garni (i.e. a handful of herbs like thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, parsley stalks, celery leaves, tied together with twine)
2 carrots
1 whole onion
2 cloves (stick the cloves into the peeled onion)
4 whole cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1.5 litres water (I used 1.5 liters of NMPG’s fantastic duck stock in place of the water)
1 sheet of greaseproof parchment paper
(Optional) 1 cup breadcrumbs (I omitted this)
One French batard loaf, cut into 3/4″ to 1″ thick slices

* Lingot Beans are dry white beans, a little like kidney beans. They are available in Singapore from Culina. Only butchers like Hubers/Meat the Butcher/Swiss Butchery will sell smoked bacon in a slab and not pre-sliced. Feel free to use substitutes.


(1) The trick is that because the stew cooks itself, it’s important to use the best and freshest ingredients you can get, as all the flavours get leached out and into your stew. It’s really what sets apart a quality and home-made dish from a commercial one.

(2) In a sturdy pot (prefably a cast iron pot) large enough to hold all the ingredients, place the beans and bacon slab and fill with enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Remove the bacon and strain the beans under running water to wash away the starch. Set both aside. ***I skipped this step, choosing instead to soak the flageolet beans overnight in clear cold water, then draining and rinsing them***

(3) Dry the pot and use it to sear the duck legs with a bit of the duck fat. Sear the lamb pieces and set all the meat aside. When you sear, you are aiming only to brown the meat surface, not to cook the meat through and through. If you cooked it through, there’s no point in stewing, is there!

(4) Using the remaining fat, cook the chopped onions and garlic till they soften. Add the tomato paste and continue to fry for 2 minutes. In all this searing and frying, remember that you are not to burn anything, only to lightly brown them – heat control is important.

(5) Add in the fresh tomatoes, salt, remaining duck fat, the beans, duck legs, bacon and lamb Add in 1.5 litres of water and turn the flame down to a simmer. ***I cut the pork salami into fifths and added it at this step. Also, substitute the duck stock for water here.***

(6) Add the peeled onion studded with the cloves, the 2 carrots, 4 cloves of peeled garlic and the bouquet garni.

(7) Cut the parchment paper into a circle to fit the circumference of the pot, cut a hole out of the center of your circular baking paper, then float the baking paper circle on the top of your stew. The idea here is you don’t want to cover the pot, because that doesn’t allow for evaporation. You don’t want to leave it open either, because then too much evaporation will occur. So you create a chimney, from the baking paper and lay it over the surface of the stew, to allow for moderate evaporation and to soak up some of the oil. ***The hole I cut in the center of the parchment paper was approximately 3 inches in diameter.***

(8) Place the entire pot in a pre-heated over at 170C for 1 hour 55 min. Make sure your pot has no plastic handles to it!

(9) After 1 hour, poke holes in your sausages (to break the sausage skin), place them into the pot and keep cooking the stew for another 40 minutes. ***IGNORE THIS STEP, AS YOUR SALAMI WILL ALREADY BE IN THE CASSOULET AND THERE WILL BE NO NEED TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE TO THE CASSOULET UNTIL THE VERY END.***

(10) At the end, test that your beans have softened to the consistency of baked beans. You should have a stew with the meat blending well into the gravy, not a clear soup, which you started off with.

(11) Remove the chimney and the bouquet garni (you can leave the herbs in if you choose but I would remove the twine). An additional, optional step is to add 1 cup of breadcrumbs into the mixture and cook it in the oven for another 10 minutes. ***DO NOT USE BREADCRUMBS. INSTEAD, FOLLOW STEP 11A, BELOW.***

(11A) Take the slices of the batard, and butter only one side of each slice. Press the unbuttered side of each slice into the top of the cassoulet, leaving the buttered side facing upward. Cover as much of the surface of the cassoulet with the slices, leaving the absolute minimum of exposed beans/meat/liquid. Return the pot to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the buttered side of the batard slices are crispy and browned to your liking.

(12) If you are making this dish early (good for you), let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to re-heat and eat. One benefit of refrigeration is that the fat will congeal on the top of the stew and you can cut all of it away before serving.

Spicy Fideo and Black Bean Pie

Other food blogs are a constant source of new recipes for me – it’s amazing how many recipes that are on regular rotation in my household either come directly from or are inspired by other bloggers. This one is extremely filling, and is easily made with ingredients I usually have on hand. What are your favorite weeknight recipes?

Spicy Fideo and Black Bean Pie

Spicy Fideos with Ground Beef and Black Beans
recipe from What Geeks Eat

1 pack age of fideos
1 pound ground beef
1 onion diced
¼ cup Penzeys spicy taco seasoning
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
1 jar canned tomato puree
1 can black beans drained
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded

Brown the ground beef in the skillet. Drain it if necessary. Add the onion and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the fideos and stir to combine. Add the seasonings, water and tomatoes and stir to mix it up. Let this bubble and cook for 10 minutes. The liquid should be mostly absorbed by the fideos. Add the black beans. Preheat the oven to broil. Top the fideos with the cheese and stick the pan under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese. Serve with a salad alongside.

Pots de Creme

I first saw this recipe in Food Network Magazine a few months ago. Once in a while I get an intense craving for chocolate, and this is the perfect cure – highly chocolatey, super creamy, and so easy to make that even a dolt with egg-based recipes like me can keep from screwing it up.

Pots de Creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

9 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons granulated sugar (add an extra tablespoon if using bitter chocolate)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Place the chocolate in a blender. Whisk the milk, 1 cup cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula and almost boiling, 5 to 6 minutes.

Immediately pour the milk mixture over the chocolate in the blender. Cover and hold the lid with a thick kitchen towel; blend until combined and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins or small cups and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the confectioners’ sugar with a mixer or in the blender until soft peaks form. Top the chilled pots de creme with whipped cream.

Mighty Migas

I think I have a love-hate affair with Rachael Ray recipes. So many of them sound great in theory, but when it comes to execution, some aspect is lacking, and requires many changes to make them edible, let alone good. This is one of the notable exceptions. It is one of my favorite ways to use up corn tortillas after a taco night.

Mighty Migas

Mighty Migas
recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 lb. raw Mexican chorizo, casings removed
5 6-inch corn tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
5 tomatillos, husked and diced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
8 eggs, whisked together
Hot sauce, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack chese
1/2 c. sour cream

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tbsp. Add the chorizo to the pa and continue to cook until the chorizo begins to get crispy, 4-5 minutes. Add the torn tortillas to the pan and cook until crispy and golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the onion, jalapeno, tomatillos and garlic to the pan and cook until the veggies begin to get tender, 5-6 minutes.

Once the veggies are tender, add the eggs and hot sauce to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are close to your desired doneness. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and stir in the tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, and cheese. Continue cooking until the eggs are finished scrambling. Portion the migas into serving bowls and top each with a dollop of sour cream.

Farm Fresh & Local Produce 10/31/09

Halloween was the last regular farmers market day of the season for Clintonville and Worthington, and barring any visits to one of the winter markets, the last update until spring.

As much as I love my farmers market runs, by the end of October it gets harder and harder to drag myself out of bed and down to the markets when it’s still dark out. So while I know that I’m dealing with something that’s just about done, part of me is glad that I’ll actually be able to sleep in the next Saturday. Then, like this year, by New Year’s Eve I’m chomping at the bit for the first spring market of the season.

Not much left by this point, lots of repetition, like these apples that are sold at least a couple of different people at the different markets. We’re really pleased with the selection and quality of The Orchard of Bill and Vicky Thomas.

Apples from the Orchard of Bill and Vicky Thomas

And I savored my last bag of salad of the season.

Salad Greens

Got plenty of potatoes for storage, too.


Ditto with a diverse selection of winter squash, which I’m trying to work into my diet while it’s still good.


And of course, the ubiquitous cauliflower can’t be overlooked.


And super looking forward to the selection of veggies from Wayward Seed.


So, there’s your season – took me long enough to get all the entries posted, but I’m glad it gave me the opportunity to look back and remember. Are any of you hitting any of the winter markets? Any recommendations?

Farm Fresh and Local Produce 8/26/09

I usually don’t hit mid-week markets, but after tasting the fabulousness that was the Paul Robeson tomatoes from Wayward Seed Farm the past weekend, I headed out in hopes of scoring some more without having to wait until Saturday. I’ve got to say that I’m really thrilled with the Wednesday Dublin Community Farmer’s Market. It’s the first year it’s being held, and it’s a really active market. I’ve been trying to make a point of getting there at least once or twice a month.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have any (but did have another dark tomato called Chocolate Stripe, I think), so they gave me that one to try and assured me that they’d bring some of my favorite variety to Saturday’s market. Not that there was any shortage of heirloom tomatoes at the market. All shapes, sizes and colors.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I’m not a huge fan of fennel, but there’s a type that they sell at Wayward Seed Farm that is perfect for me – the anise overtones are subdued, so while you get a hint of that in every dish you make, it doesn’t overwhelm it as fennel often does.

Fennel from Wayward Seed Farm

Hot peppers were also out in full force. The end of August is typically when pepper plants are at their most prolific, so there was no shortage of variety or heat level. I love local jalapenos, serranos, and poblanos, and use them often.


I’ve also been buying a lot of shallots lately. With all of the risotto I’ve been making, it’s been an absolute necessity.

Shallots from Wayward Seed Farm

With pears appearing at the market, I guess that means that apples aren’t that far behind…

Pears from Eshelman's Fruit Farm

And Brussels Sprouts! Tempted, but holding off until the weekend…

Brussels Sprouts

Did you check out the Dublin Farmers Market this summer? If so, what did you think?

Review: Anna’s Sunday Brunch Buffet

You know that saying, “sometimes you have to break up in order to make up”? Well, it’s never been so true as with my on/off  love affair with Anna’s Greek Restaurant, a place I had stopped going to for a couple years after a few bad experiences in a row, which I explained in my last review of the place.

Well, she has won me back! The love affair is back on. I was convinced to give it another try when we scheduled a Meetup there last year. The food was outstanding. I went with a friend a few weeks ago. Still outstanding, and the buffet was beyond my wildest dreams. So not even three weeks later, I’m back yet again, bringing my husband and mother along to enjoy the glory that is their Sunday Brunch Buffet.

Most of the time I’m fairly indifferent about buffets, because for the most part, what’s included is super-cheap to prepare, more carbs than you can shake a stick at, or just stuff they need to move quickly. Not so with the buffet at Anna’s. They truly bring their “A” game, bring out the big guns of the menu as you’re about to see.

At $14.95, it’s an absolute bargain. Not only do you get unlimited access to regular menu items that are normally expensive a la carte, but the items are refilled promptly as they are eaten, kept meticulously clean and organized, and you’re guaranteed to get the same experience if you show up at 2pm as you will when the buffet opens at 11am. And the best part? It happens every Sunday from 11am to 2:30pm.

So what exactly does one get for $14.95? Take a look. There’s a table of appetizers/salads/soups, including a delicious tahini-rich hummus, a nice garlicky tzatziki sauce, a couple of types of soups (avgolemono and lentil), pita, a couple of types of salad, cheesy scrambled eggs and potatoes. And that’s just on the first short table.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Salads and Soups

Once you move over to where the entrees are, you’re met with a myriad of choices, with standbys like gyro meat, pastitsio, and moussaka, to Anna’s-specific dishes like the Chicken Corfu and a rice dish, a Greek tomato based spaghetti dish, to other delicious items like dolmathes (beef and lamb stuffed grape leaves covered in a rich lemon sauce), spanakopita and tyropita (spinach/feta and cheese turnovers, respectively), cod and calamari, grilled chicken, side dishes like lemon potatoes and green beans with tomatoes, and much more. So much more that even with two trips up to the buffet proper, taking tiny samples of each dish, I still didn’t have enough appetite in order to try everything. They even make Greek omelets to order, all you need to do is ask.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Main Dishes

If you still have room left, there’s a huge dessert table, with classics like rice pudding, baklava, galaktoboureko (a farina/filo sweet dessert), waffles and fresh fruit, Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts, lemon cake, and more.

Sunday Brunch Buffet at Anna's - Desserts

Service has always been friendly and attentive, with Anna herself often checking in with her diners to see how they’re doing or how they’re enjoying the food. If you do go, make sure to fill out the survey, as she will send coupons to those who are on the restaurant’s email list.

We missed Anna’s, we truly did. We missed the beautifully muraled space (decorated with a seascape of Santorini with it’s beautiful blues and whites), we missed the people, and we missed the food. If you’d like an introduction to the place, and the dishes it offers, the buffet is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted.

If you’d like to go: Anna’s Greek Cuisine, 7370 Sawmill Rd, Dublin. 614.799.2207

Anna's Greek Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Review: Anatolia Cafe

My husband and I are die-hard Middle Eastern food fans, and luckily, we have a lot of choices for that type of cuisine here in Columbus. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that one of our favorite holes in the wall, Anatolia Cafe, offers a weekday lunch buffet. And what a deal it is!

Without knowing exactly what (or how much food) is on the buffet, we ordered one of their meze platters at first, thinking we were going to order a la carte. The meze platter is huge, with lots of different appetizers, both spicy and not, to suit everyone’s tastes.

Meze Platter from Anatolia Cafe

But back to the buffet. For $6.95, one gets more food that one can realistically eat. Let’s start with the soft and crusty pide (Turkish bread), which they bring out to you as soon as you sit down.

Pide from Anatolia Cafe

And soup is part of the buffet! Yay. You need to ask for it, but they’ll bring it right out to you. A nice vegetarian red lentil soup that really hit the spot.

Red Lentil Soup from Anatolia Cafe

And the buffet line? Awesome. Not a ton of different things, but enough to let you have a little of everything. On my plate you see a mix of gyro meat, rice, a very tomatoey chicken dish, their version of moussaka, Greek Salad, what seems for all the world to be a Turkish version of a spinach and cheese quesadilla, just to name a few…

Buffet Plate from Anatolia Cafe

And the buffet also includes dessert, which unfortunately we didn’t photograph. So if you work in the Polaris area, or in the northern reaches of Worthington, this little restaurant set in a strip mall at the intersection of Worthington Woods and Worthington Galena Road (behind the McDonalds) may be just the reasonably priced lunch time option you’re looking for.

If you’d like to go: Anatolia Cafe, 1097 Worthington Woods Blvd, Worthington, OH 614.781.0700

Italian Frangipane Plum Tart

I think late summer/early fall is truly the best time ever for baking, because you can get virtually any fruit or veggie available, with the exception of some early summer berries. But there are apples, pears, peaches, winter squash, just to name the few. And then there’s one of my personal favorites – Italian plums.

Italian plums are smaller and tarter than traditional plums, but they’re ideal for baking. I like to make my Oma’s traditional German plum cake, but after that, the sky’s the limit. I decided to branch out a bit by making a tart with some.

The plums are only available for a month or so, and I saw them at the market as of last week, but who knows how much longer they will last? I’m submitting this recipe to the Eating with the Seasons blogging event. 🙂

Plum Frangipane Tart

Italian Frangipane Plum Tart
recipe courtesy Carole Walter


1 11-inch Sweet Tart Pastry crust, baked (see recipe below)

2 ounces almond paste (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon unsifted all-purpose flour
1 large egg white
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped, divided

1 1/2 pounds Italian prune plums or other dark purple plums, pitted and quartered
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons water


Place the almond paste, sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a small bowl. (If almond paste is too hard, soften it in the microwave on defrost setting for 30 to 40 seconds). Mash the ingredients together using a pastry blender or fork. Blend in the flour. Add the egg white and mix with a small whisk, making the mixture as smooth as possible.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the toasted almonds. Stir the remaining nuts into the frangipane. Spread the mixture smoothly over the cooled tart shell.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven shelf to the lower third of oven.
Place plum wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the plums and shake the bowl to distribute throughout the fruit.

Starting with the outer edge, arrange the plums on top of the frangipane in concentric circles, placing the slices close together. The points of the plums should be wedged high against the side of the tart pan. For the second circle, again position the points of the plums higher, wedging them against, and slightly overlapping, the first row of plums. Fill in the center with the remaining plums.

Place the tart on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the fruit starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.


Place the apricot preserves and water in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Strain and let cool briefly. Using a pastry brush, dab the warm apricot glaze on the fruit. Garnish with the reserved almonds.

Sweet Tart Pastry
recipe courtesy Carole Walter

1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, firm
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 to 4 times to blend.

Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse 6 to 7 times. Then process for 6 to 8 seconds. The crumbs should be about the size of coarse meal.

Empty the crumbs on to a cool surface. Form the mixture into a mound. Make a 4 to 5-inch well in the center of the mound. Combine the egg and vanilla, and pour the mixture into the well.

Using a fork, draw the crumbs into the egg mixture, about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. When all of the crumbs are added, toss the mixture a few times with a pastry scraper to form large clumps, then scrape into a mound.

Using the heel of your hand, fresage or push about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dough at a time, outward in 6 to 8-inch sweeps. This will incorporate the fat and flour together and give the crust a delicate texture. If your hand becomes sticky, flour it as needed. Repeat the process until all of the dough has been worked. Gather the dough into a mound again, then repeat the entire procedure 2 additional times.

After the third fresage, flour your hands and gently knead the dough 5 or 6 times to make it smooth. Shape into a 4 to 5-inch disk. Dust the disk lightly with flour, score with the side of your hand, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before shaping. Do not let the dough become to hard or it will be difficult to roll. If it does, let the pastry soften at room temperature.