and everything was sweeter

My older son finished high school! He’s been so busy this summer we just got around to celebrating. A few friends came over one Sunday evening and my son wanted pie, so we had pie. Well, also tarts, because I don’t know how to make that many kinds of pie.

Here’s a photo I snapped at the beginning:

We had:

Cherry pie, with the usual canned filling.

Apple pie from Costco, easy enough

A cherry tart with what is, I guess, a frangipane or at least frangipane-esque filling. I’ve been fiddling with the recipe, and I’m still not completely satisfied, but I love the concept so I have three more changes I want to try. It’s a Martha Stewart one from Long Ago:

Tarte composée, this one was cookie crust filled with pastry cream and topped with sliced strawberries. Again, ancient Martha, from the archives:

The cookie crust recipe makes two tart shells, so I needed to fill the second with something. Therefore,

Lemony tart, which was a cookie crust filled with lemon semolina pudding and topped with lemon curd. The pudding recipe is from Jacques Pépin. I think, as a stand-alone food, it’s possibly the best dessert in the world. It performed nicely in the tart, but, truth be told, I still prefer it on its own. Here’s the recipe for the pudding; it’s very rich, something to keep in mind when you’re serving it:

Blueberry galette, just a butter crust with blueberries, sugar, and a little cornstarch to thicken.

Chocolate pie, done in the lazy way with boxed filling, because that’s how the day went.

I’m glad my son had this idea! It was fun, and I’d do it again.

Also, I finished this small boat recently. It’s one of Ann Wood’s templates; you can see this one and others on her website. I copied the colors of her boat because I thought they were so pretty. For the paper mache, I used some recipes for potatoes and lines of Sappho’s, because potatoes are delicious, and who writes more perfectly about love and longing?

I Shuffled through another Day

I made a tiny flower pin for my mother-in-law, which I still have in my possession despite all my ambitious plans to place it in an envelope and mail it to her.

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Today’s chocolate cake is too ugly for words, so here is an apple cake I made last week. It was delicious and dense in that way you pay good money for at the bakery. (Recipe from this book.)

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Is it still January? Really?

An Easy Winter Soup

We eat a lot of soup, and this one always goes over well at our house. It’s a corn chowder, and I generally use this recipe, with a few minor changes.

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I don’t use the butter, and often use more garlic. The thyme and parsley are dried, because it’s winter and also because I haven’t planned ahead. I use chicken stock, rather than vegetable, although I’ve made it with vegetable stock and it’s delicious that way, too. More potatoes. Frozen corn (again: winter, poor dinner planning).

This time, I made a topping for the soup, and I want to always have it that way in the future. The idea for the topping came from Sarah Britton’s blog, My New Roots. I can’t find the specific post–she has so many recipes! And I know this idea is from years ago.

As an aside, all the recipes I’ve tried from her blog have been really good. I used her idea as a template, but not an actual recipe, for this topping.

Here are the ingredients, adapted for the person who be neither shucking corn nor storming the grocery for fresh herbs tonight:

2 tablespoons oil

1 onion, diced, or more than one, if you want

4 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup flour

2 quarts chicken stock

2 cups heavy cream

4-6 potatoes, depending on size, peeled and diced. In this last batch, I used approximately a bag of mini potatoes. I think a bag is about a pound and a half.

4 1/2 cups frozen corn

1-2 tablespoons dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

I follow the same basic directions, with small changes. I don’t add the cream with the potatoes, because I don’t want to boil the cream. I’m superstitious about doing that.

The short version is to saute the onion & garlic in the oil for a few minutes, then stir in the flour. Pour in the stock, and that’s when I throw in the herbs, too. And the potatoes. Crank it up to boil hard until the potatoes are falling apart, then add the frozen corn, bring it back to a boil, and let it cook a few minutes. Only after everything is cooked do I add the cream, turn down the heat, and simmer just a little while to let it all meld together. Maybe 20 minutes? That sounds right.

The topping I made has raw garlic in it, so it’s definitely not for a romantic evening. It is so, so powerfully garlicky. And delicious. I live with a provisional faith in the healing powers of garlic, and I think I feel less like I have a cold after eating this for a couple of days.

The topping is about 1 part garlic to 5-6 parts parsley, although you could have more garlic if you want. Chop both very finely, put in a bowl, and add salt to taste. Then, just enough olive oil to make it the consistency of thick pesto. I also added red pepper flakes to mine. You can do this with cilantro instead of parsley, too, and it’s really good to plop onto soup, or if you’ve got a grain & vegetable bowl you can put it on top of that, or on whatever bread you’re eating with your meal.

Hope you have a good weekend, and stay warm.