Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where Pies Go When They Die

While Mr. Homewrecker has been busy rearranging the house plants every day, I've been making myself at home in the new apartment by getting friendly with the oven. Perhaps not the best activity in 90 degree heat...

But I simply had to have pie after watching (20 years late) the Twin Peaks series! Pie and some good, hot, black coffee.

Even though my apple pie looked sort of effed up, it tasted damn good. Especially my homemade crust which tasted a bit like shortbread. Apparently the trick in making a successful pie crust is in keeping the dough chilled, but I managed to create a sticky, lumpy disaster zone nonetheless. If anyone has any pie crust tips to get the dough thinner without it becoming too warm or sticky, please tell me. Perhaps tip #1 would be, don't try to bake a pie in 90 degree heat.

Still, results = delicious, if not attractive. Next I will try my hand at Twin Peaks Cherry Pie, especially now that the fine people at CSN Stores have hooked me up with a time-saving pitter!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Don't Get Caught With Your Plants Down

Almost as if the gods of homemaking were listening (as opposed to the imps of homewrecking who live under my bed with the dust bunnies), I received an offer this week from the good folks over at the CSN network of shopping sites. Magically aware of my need for some new, affordable housewares for the new apartment, they have offered to send me a new clock to adorn the big empty space above our charming-yet-not-functional brick fireplace. Pics of the clock and the living room coming soon as we start to deck out the place.

Meanwhile, the bathroom and bedroom are almost totally put together! Mr. Homewrecker painted the bedroom a pleasing shade of tan and painstakingly restored the beautiful molding to its proper glossy white.

Rather than fight the super yellow bathroom, I embraced it with some coordinating yellow totes from Target mixed with some dark brown baskets. We also took a cue from home & food blogger A Hawk From a Handsaw and disguised the exposed sink pipes with a snake plant. Smart!

Now Mr. Homemaker has been on mission: PLANTS filling every window with green leafy things. He spray painted mismatched pots black to coordinate in the sunny bathroom window.

While I wait for my awesome new wall clock, check out CSN's 200+ specialized shopping sites -- everything from waterbeds to tailgating supplies!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Warm Weather Recipes: Lemon & Rhubarb

With the onset of warm weather here in Brooklyn, and in celebration of a kitchen finally unpacked from the move, this past week I've whipped up two refreshingly fruity treats. Finding rhubarb was a challenge though. Not typically found at grocery stores, I had to trek down to the neighborhood farmer's market -- normally not a big deal, but challenging as I recently underwent foot surgery and am only days out of wearing a surgical boot. But dammit I limped down there, and just when I thought no one had my sought after stalks, the last vendor in the row (a meat vendor, oddly) had a pile at $4 a pound. Success! On to the cooking...

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.
  2. Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  4. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.
Recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

HSHW Notes: This turned out awesome, and Mr. Homewrecker was super impressed saying they were the best lemon squares he'd ever had! The crust, however, took way longer than 20 minutes to bake. Maybe 40 minutes in all. Not sure if it's the recipe or if my new oven is wimpy. Ditto for the filling -- I left it in an extra 10-15 minutes. Never got around to removing them from the pan to cut into squares. We just keep cutting pieces out of the dish and eating them immediately.

I swear I'm going to save a few for the upstairs neighbors who are letting us share their internet. Right after I eat one more...


Pork ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, ground in spice mill or in mortar with pestle
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins (about 2 large or 3 medium), trimmed of fat and sinew
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Rhubarb ingredients:
  • 3 cups 1-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (from about 1 pounds)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
How To:

First the rhubarb: Combine all ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until rhubarb is very soft and begins to fall apart, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer compote to medium bowl. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, about 3 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.) Serve cold.

Then the meat: Mix 3 tablespoons olive oil, ground black pepper, salt, dried sage, and ground fennel in small bowl. Rub oil mixture all over pork tenderloins; place in large baking dish and let stand 20 minutes.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, turning pork occasionally, about 8 minutes longer for medium tenderloins and 10 minutes for large.

Transfer pork to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Sprinkle with parsley; garnish with sage sprigs. Serve with Rhubarb Compote & orzo seasoned with lemon zest and chopped parsley.

Recipes from Epicurious.

HSHW Notes: I was making the pork dish for a food swap with several lady friends, so Mr. Homewrecker advised I make thinly cut, bone-in chops instead so they wouldn't dry out before people got to eat them. I'm not sure if it really made a difference or not, but I gave it a shot. The only real change to the recipe was frying the chops for 3-4 min on each side -- which was a time saver in the end.

There's a shot of my meals ready for swapping. After trading, I came home with a spicy shrimp dish, sesame noodles with poached chicken, a lemony rice and chicken dish and a couple other great summery meals I'll be enjoying all week. Sharing rules! Best of all, the swap hostess has a beautiful roof deck where we sipped Prosecco, munched on grilled garlic scapes, fought to keep one guest's dog from flopping off the roof, and enjoyed a late spring NYC sunset.

Plus she has a box of kittens that need adopting -- come on, you know you want one:

Here's to summer time cooking, baking, grilling and to cute kittens!