Posts made in November, 2012

The Perfect Pie Crust?

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Desserts | 1 comment

Another claim to the perfect pie crust usually appears near holiday time.  No matter how lovely the filling, the flaky well seasoned crust is the cornerstone of homemade pie.

I have been making the same pie crust for over 40 years—always using Crisco, and vinegar to tenderize the crust.

Foodie types sneer at those of us who still use Crisco so I set out to make an all butter crust.








Tonight we are celebrating Ty and Britton’s birthdays.  They both turned 40 this month.

Britton makes Ty a Chocolate Banana Cream pie every year—and he makes her-- Ina’s Coconut Cake.

He doesn’t really.  I thought that would sound impressive.  But I usually make that cake for her.  Britton also loves caramel.

As a result, I had this crazy idea of creating a special pie that would carry banana, coconut, and caramel to a new pie high.  If this pie turns out well I will share it with you.

Banana Coconut Cream Pie with Salted Caramel

Here is how I made the crust.







A simple cast of ingredients.  Flour, cold butter, sugar, salt, and ice water.








Whisk the salt and sugar into the flour.








The cold butter is added in small cubes.







Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter.  This tool is essential.  Some instructions say to use two knives. Huh?







I still have my mother's pastry cutter which is rusty, missing a piece and tired.

I purchased a new one a few years ago.








Using the blades of the cutter blend the butter into the flour until the butter bits resemble small peas (whatever that means).  This will take a few minutes and you will need to scrape the butter of the blades now and then.








I switch to a fork when I begin adding the ice water.  Fickle flour sometimes takes more or less water.








The best test is to add less and squeeze the dough.  If it holds together--you are done.  Wet dough is "no bueno".








Using two hands with a light touch, form the  dough into a disk.








Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill while you clean up and prepare the board and pie dish.








Instead of using bench flour on a board, I cover the board with plastic wrap and cover the dish with plastic too.  It is cleaner but not "greener".








Begin rolling the crust from the center out.  The plastic also allows the freedom of rotating the crust as needed.








Here is where my method becomes rather unconventional.  Remove the top film of plastic wrap.








Center the pie dish over the crust.








Slide your hand under the plastic securing with an open hand and turn the plate over.








There you go!

Carefully remove the plastic  wrap.  I refrigerated the crust for a few minutes to firm up the butter







before trimming and crimping the edge.








Cover the crust with parchment paper--not deli wrap.  Fill the crust with pie weights or old dry beans before blind baking the crust.








After 15 minutes remove the crust from the oven.  Gather the four corners of the paper and lift out the weights.







The crust is slightly underdone. Return the crust to the oven for a few more minutes until it is golden brown.








After the pie crust is cool it is ready to fill.  I am happy.

What is your secret to a fabulous flaky crust?

Perfect Single Pie Crust


  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold butter
  • 4-6 Tablespoons ice water


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt; cut or work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a cold pastry cutter until you have large pea sized chunks scattered throughout.
  3. Add the ice water slowly while stirring with a fork. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Blind bake for 15 minutes, remove paper and weights and bake an additional 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Cool completely before filling.
  6. The pastry may also be prepared in a food processor.


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Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in New | 0 comments

Taking your show on the road takes practice--even then-- stuff happens.  I f you were curious about The French People who were not present in the last blog post they are accounted for here.


On the Saturday after MP and I arrived in Montana we walked Main Street in Bozeman.  We perused the shops and stores, lamenting the closure of some and taking in new trends.

On that particular Saturday with snow still piled up from Brutus (an earlier blizzard producing 18 inches of blowing snow over Northeast Montana), downtown was overflowing with football fans.

The 25 year old cross state rivalry between the University of Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State University Bobcats is epic. Also known as Cat-Griz, Griz-Cat, and the Brawl of the Wild, the game's winner receives the Great Divide Trophy.

Since the game was being played in Missoula this year, the locals were spilling out of the taverns and restaurants in preparation for the big game.

MP and I slid down a side street looking for lunch.








Tucked inside an old storefront was a French Cafe in Bozeman!

This is the family story from the restaurant website.

The Cafe Francais des Arts is dedicated to bring the full French experience. , we are welcoming our customers to enjoy high quality organic coffee and original French pastries. Our menu caters to diverse tastes; where else can your party enjoy a  pain au chocolat, a brie sandwich, a salmon crepe, and Parisian salad simultaneously?

We are located in the historical downtown area on 25 South Tracy, our interior is decorated with the watercolors of the owner Francoise Alexandre who is also the mastermind behind the delicious pastries freshly made on a daily basis.

Our family moved in Bozeman MT almost five years ago and we  felt in love with the community and the quality of life Montana can provide. We are originally coming from the Loire Valley in a town called Orleans where some of our recipes  are coming from such as the Tarte Tatin.

Take a moment and enjoy this You Tube video.  Turn up the sound!

Greeted by the Grande Dame of pastry herself, we ordered the perfect lunch.




MP chose the Sandwich au thon--a simple tuna sandwich on a crisp golden baguette.



For me?


Salade Parisienne

Organic baby lettuces and sliced scallion with a light vinaigrette.

French Potato and Leek Soup with thin slices of baguette and a splurge of remarkable delicious natural butter.



Francoise invited us back for crepes and accordian music on Sunday but we were chasing turkeys.

The Bobcats defeated the University of Montana Grizzlies with a final score of 16-7.

Go Cats!





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Jake Merriam

Posted by on Nov 23, 2012 in Thanksgiving, Wild Game | 0 comments

Jake Merriam

--part two








After 16 hours MP retrieved the wild turkey breasts from their suspended state in brine land.

Competition rules were not clearly stated.

MP selected the prettiest breast for himself--then he proceeded to cheat.

MP called home.

He texted our friend and Italian chef, Alessandro Pirozzi.







Proscuitto, yellow sweet pepper, smoked mozzarella, and Marsala were the items MP gleaned from the conversation.

I reminded him he doesn't like Marsala.








The breast was butterflied, pounded flat,



and lined with thin slices of proscuitto.





I suggested he saute the pepper with fresh garlic; cooling them before topping it with the







smoked mozzarella and fresh sage.








Rock, roll, and tie the breast.  Brown the turkey in olive oil and butter.








Deglaze the pan with stock or Marsala.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees  until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.








While Jake Merriam rested, I made gravy and finished up his ugly brother--








Surgery saved the wounded twin--



which I prepared with a light citrus and thyme sauce.



The precious wild turkey was lean and tender profiting from a foraging diet of native grasses and bush seeds.








Wild Turkey Braciole with Proscuitto, Sweet Pepper, Smoked Mozzarella and White Wine Sauce.

Our dueling turkeys are the talk of the town!

Glazed Orange Turkey Roast


  • 1 fresh turkey breast (about 2- 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Peel of one medium orange, cut into strips
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet. Salt and pepper the turkey breast and place skin side down in the oil. Cook until the skin is golden brown and turn the breast over.
  3. Pour the orange juice over the turkey; add thyme and orange peel.
  4. Cover and bake, basting occasionally until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. (30-35 minutes).
  5. In a small cup, combine cornstarch with cold water.
  6. Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a cutting board.
  7. Remove thyme sprigs and orange peel from marinarde.and discard.
  8. Stir brown sugar into marinade remaining in skillet. Bring to a simmer and stir in cornstarch mixture. Stir until slightly thickened.
  9. Slice roast into thin slices. Place on a heated platter and top with orange glaze
  10. Serves 4


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Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, Wild Turkey, Wild Turkey

Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in Thanksgiving | 0 comments

Of course I was at Target when I got the call.  Target in Bozeman is the best shopping for socks and tights.  I follow that with a well defined Super Walmart excursion.  I buy all new spices for the holidays and chat with friendly strangers who shop in slow motion.

When I answered my phone MP asked me where I was-- in an unusual hushed breath.  He really didn't care because it was his moment.

He almost secretly went on,"You will never guess what we got."








I leaned on my shopping cart and had a flash back to a novel I read.  Dead foxes were left hanging on out buildings as a warning to tourist interlopers by gun toting cigarette smoking locals.

I hurried back to see the gift in person.  Meet Mr. Merriam.   As I admired the beautiful almost metallic sheen of his polka-dot feathers I contemplated just how the game bird might be prepared.

I do know that a wild turkey isn't eaten like our fattened domestic birds.  Wild turkeys fly at night to escape their predators.  Their legs are not drumsticks--but strong and sinewy for running.

Because we are in Montana and because I love to cook doesn't make me The Pioneer Woman.

MP delivered the plucked bird to me--but just the breasts.

First up.








I assembled what I thought would bathe the breasts for a whole day.

Apple juice, Kosher salt, brown sugar, orange peel, peppercorns, bay leaves, fresh rosemary, and garlic.








I brought the brine to a boil








and simmered it for a few minutes before








cooling it completely.








We added the breasts to the brine and covered them with pure water.








We put Mackenzie River Pizza on speed dial.  MP gave me a breast and kept one --the competition begins.

--to be continued

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Grateful Dread

Posted by on Nov 17, 2012 in Thanksgiving | 4 comments

Grateful Dread

MP and I are on a holiday road trip to Montana. Thursday began too early for description.  He called me, "Chuckie" at one point.

After breakfast recovery in Las Vegas we began talking about Thanksgiving sides from our childhood.

Image result for Jello salad image with layer of sour cream image

photo source:

Remember the Jello made in the  9  x 13 Pyrex dish?   Our salad , green Jello with crushed pineapple was gelled on the bottom --then topped with sour cream and another layer of red Jello with canned cherries .  It was the first dish entrusted to me as a girl.  The sour cream layer was key to the red one.  Green and pineapple set.  Sour cream layer set.  Pouring on the red Jello was a developed skill because if the sour cream flaked it was a semi-defeat.

Jellied Cranberry Sauce is not part of my families table fare.  I do remember watching it slide out of the can, lined and shivering,  on to a glass plate somewhere.

aka The Grateful Dread

Thanksgiving is less than one week away and I have part of my kitchen in the back of the Jeep.

I prepared our Orange Cranberry Sauce at home.

Combine one cup of  fresh orange juice with one cup granulated sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, and 5 whole cloves.

When the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is dissolved, add 12 ounces of rinsed cranberries.

Within a minute or two the berries will come to a full roiling boil and begin to

pop, pop, pop.

Don't walk away.

After 5 minutes turn off the heat and add the zest from an orange and a lemon.

In addition to one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and

2 tablespoons of Grand Mariner.  The berry mixture will bubble up and-- settle down

Cool the mixture completely; then, store in the refrigerator.

Spiked cranberry sauce...

What's your secret?



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