Everyone has a story. A story about where they came from. A story about what they've accomplished. A story about who or what inspires them. My story starts here ~ in the house that Grandpa built.
My playhouse sat adjacent from our house, next to the driveway, with a flower garden on each side and forsythia bushes growing in front. Custom-built by my grandfather, it was painted tan and trimmed in white and when the door opened, you were immediately transported into the land of make-believe.
There was a couch, a chair and a coffee table all handcrafted by my grandfather in his work shop. There was a shelf to hold all of the miniature cans and boxes of play food that Santa was kind enough to bring the year that I was good. And of course, there was a refrigerator and a stove but the absolute best part ~ and what made me the envy of every other playhouse owner ~ was the sink. My grandfather built the double sink with two recessed plastic tubs that I could fill with water. He had cut holes in the tubs and a vacuum cleaner hose ran from the hole in each tub down through the floor and drained under the house. I would carry water from the big house in a little silver bucket and wash my fine plastic china.
This is where I first learned to make biscuits and pies, albeit from Play-doh and mud. My first dinner party was hosted in this little house with such VIPs as Raggedy Ann and Ballerina Barbie at my table. This is where I gazed out of the curtain-clad window and conjured up new recipes. The make-believe that happened in this little house would eventually give way to a successful catering business, two blogs, and numerous real life dinner parties with friends and family.
On October 25th, the greatest playhouse builder ever was called home to walk the streets of gold. I'd like to think that he has dusted off his wood-working skills and has already started building the grandest playhouse ever imaginable behind those pearly gates. And while my grandfather had a huge hand in helping my story get started, it is far from over but when it finally is, I hope he'll be ready to enjoy a fresh batch of Play-doh biscuits together in the sky!
Be thankful that I ripped this recipe for Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue from the pages of Bon Appetit back in November 2007 and saved it.
Give thanks that if you missed having it for Thanksgiving (due to my inability to EVER get a blog post up in a timely manner), you can now have it on your Christmas dessert table.
I, for one, am thankful that once I realized I had eaten all of the graham crackers intended for the crust, I was able to scare up a couple of store bought pre-made crusts from the depths of my pantry. It worked out that the GINORMOUS sweet potatoes that I used made enough filling for two pies so I was able to have one for Thanksgiving dinner with the family and one for a Christmas tree trimming party with friends a few days later.
The marshmallow meringue was mile-high ooey-gooey good and the pie received rave reviews from everyone. Enjoy and give thanks that calorie counting has been suspended until after the first of the new year!
Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue
Bon Appetit, November 2007
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (made from about 7 1/2 ounces graham crackers, finely ground in processor)
3 tablespoons sugar
6 to 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 pounds medium red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 7-ounce jar Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add 6 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding 1 tablespoon melted butter if crumb mixture is dry. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish, building up sides 1/4 inch above rim of dish. Bake crust until set and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on rack. DO AHEAD: Pie crust can be made 2 days ahead. Cover pie crust and let stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pierce sweet potatoes all over with fork; place potatoes on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are very tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes open and scoop out pulp. Transfer pulp to processor and puree until smooth. Set aside 2 cups sweet potato puree for filling; cool completely (reserve any remaining puree for another use). DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 2 cups sweet potato puree, sweetened condensed milk, and all remaining ingredients in large bowl; whisk until well blended and smooth. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until puffed around edges and set in center, about 50 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Refrigerate pie at least 4 hours or overnight.
For marshmallow meringue:
Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Using rubber spatula, scrape marshmallow creme into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until foamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form. Add 1/2 cup beaten egg whites to marshmallow creme and stir with rubber spatula or spoon just until incorporated to lighten (marshmallow creme is very sticky and will be difficult to blend at first, but blending will become easier as remaining whites are folded in). Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions just until incorporated. Spread meringue over top of cold pie, mounding slightly in center and swirling with knife to create peaks.
Bake pie just until peaks and ridges of marshmallow meringue are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Let stand at room temperature until meringue is cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let pie stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Nothing good ever comes of an addiction. Cigarettes make you cough up a lung. Alcohol rots your liver. Porn scorches your eyes. And snacks...well, snacks make your jeans shrink up real tight. They make the scale tip way too far in the wrong direction. Extra pounds appear seemingly overnight. Yet despite the horrible side effects, we think nothing of bending our elbow toward our mouth for another hit from the snack crack pipe.
My latest snack addiction is these Sensible Portions Pita Bites. You'd think they'd be all good-for-you healthy and stuff and they probably are, but the words sensible and portions should be a clue that CONTROL is key to proper addiction management. When my beloved Harris Teeter advertises these little bites of cracker meth for BOGO, you can bet my pantry is stocked for just those occasions when I'm in desperate need of a hit.
So what do you think happened the one night that I rounded the kitchen corner, peered into the pantry and suddenly realized I was facing an empty shelf? I got an adrenaline rush, my heart raced, my blood pressure sky-rocketed, I shook like a leaf, my pupils dilated as large as saucers, my hairs stood on end, and I broke into a cold sweat. Classic symptoms of the DTs.
Thank heavens for Smitten Kitchen's rendition of Gourmet magazine's Crisp Rosemary Flatbreads. Now I can feed the addiction any time I damn well please. If you're a straight shooter like me, you'll enjoy these on their own but they're also perfect with cheeses and any dip or spread that you can conjure up.
Pass the pipe over this way, would ya? And get me some bigger jeans while you're at it.
Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2008
Stolen shamelessly from Smitten Kitchen. (All notes are those of SK's)
Nothing could be easier than making this cracker, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell people you slaved all day over it because they’re going to be impressed, really impressed, and I see no reason not to milk it.
I think you could easily swap the rosemary for other herbs, such as thyme or tarragon, or punch it up with black pepper or other spices, but personally, I like it just the way it is here.
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus 2 (6-inch) sprigs
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 450°F with a heavy baking sheet on rack in middle.
Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in center, then add water and oil and gradually stir into flour with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead dough gently on a work surface 4 or 5 times.
Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of parchment paper into a 10-inch round (shape can be rustic; dough should be thin).
Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt. Slide round (still on parchment) onto preheated baking sheet and bake until pale golden and browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer flatbread (discard parchment) to a rack to cool, then make 2 more rounds (1 at a time) on fresh parchment (do not oil or salt until just before baking). Break into pieces.
Flatbread can be made 2 days ahead and cooled completely, then kept in an airtight container at room temperature.