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Foolproof Apple Pie

After a fun morning picking apples at Sunset Orchards we are ready to make some delicious apple pie.


Precooking the apple filling makes this pie foolproof and fun to make with kids! My 9-year old twins always love to sneak a taste of the filling while it’s cooling down.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ½ pounds apples, peeled and cored, then cut into thin slices

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 recipe all-purpose pie dough

1 egg, lightly beaten

Melt butter in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat and add apples to the pan. Stir to coat fruit with butter and cook, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk together the spices, salt and .75 cup sugar, and sprinkle this over the pan, stirring to combine. Lower heat and cook until apples have started to soften, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch over the apples and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add cider vinegar, stir and scrape fruit mixture into a bowl and allow to cool completely. (The fruit mixture will cool faster if spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.)

Place a large baking sheet on the middle rack of oven and preheat to 425. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator and, using a pin, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 12 inches in diameter. Fit this crust into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming it to leave a .5-inch overhang. Place this plate, with the dough, in the freezer.

Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface until it is roughly 10 or 11 inches in diameter.

Remove pie crust from freezer and put the cooled pie filling into it. Cover with remaining dough. Press the edges together, trim the excess, then crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Using a sharp knife, cut three or four steam vents in the top of the crust. Lightly brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.


Place pie in oven and bake on hot baking sheet for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 375. Continue to cook until the interior is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes more. Remove and allow to cool on a windowsill or kitchen rack, about two hours.


Based on a recipe by Kierin Baldwin and published by the New York Times. She is one of the great pie makers in New York City and the pastry chef at The Dutch in SoHo.

more info on Sunset Orchards

Spinach Croissants

My son Massimo loves anything made with spinach. These are a blast to make with kids and freeze really well.

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1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

3/4 cup crumbled feta

3 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup very finely minced onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chopped dill

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 large eggs

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-ounce package), thawed, rolled out to a 12-inch square, kept chilled

Using your hands, squeeze spinach until dry, forcing out as much water as possible (too much water will make for a soggy filling; you should have about 2/3 cup well-drained spinach). Mix spinach and next six ingredients in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg to blend; fold into spinach mixture.

Cut puff pastry into 3 equal strips. Reserve 1 strip for another use. Cut each remaining strip into 3 squares for a total of 6. Place a square in each muffin cup, pressing into bottom and up sides and leaving corners pointing up. Divide filling among cups. Fold pastry over filling, pressing corners together to meet in center. DO AHEAD Spinach puffs can be assembled 3 hours ahead. Cover puffs and chill.

Preheat oven to 400°. Beat remaining egg to blend in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash (this will give the pastry a nice sheen). Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let puffs cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp paring knife around pan edges to loosen; turn out puffs onto rack to cool slightly before serving.

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recipe adapted from bon appétit test kitchen

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

These scones are simply the best and they can be made & cut out ahead of time – then stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic (up to 2 days) before baking. The recipe is from the first “Barefoot Contessa” book Ina Garten published in 1999.


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

1 lb cold, unsalted butter, diced

1/2 cup cold buttermilk

4 extra-large eggs, slightly beaten

1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash

for glaze

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add quickly to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough may be sticky.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface and be sure it is combined. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4 to 1 inch thick. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.

Cut into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.

To make the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. When the scones are done, cool for 5 minutes and drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. I like to sprinkle some uncooked oats on the top, for garnish. The warmer the scones are when you glaze them, the thinner the glaze will be.

makes 14 large or 25 bite size scones


Ottolenghi’s Meatballs with Fava Beans & Lemon

This recipe is from the “Jerusalem” cookbook – a fantastic volume I reach for again and again. There are many great recipes, but also many entrancing photographs that highlight the diversity of cultures and flavors in this great city.

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4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/3 cups fava beans, fresh or frozen
4 whole thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, sliced
8 spring onions, cut at an angle into 3/4 inch segments
2½ tbsp lemon juice
2 cups chicken stock
salt and black pepper
1 1/2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and cilantro, to finish

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for the meatballs
10 oz ground beef
5 oz ground lamb
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, dill and cilantro, plus ½ tbsp extra of each to finish
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
4 tsp baharat spice mix
4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp capers, chopped
1 egg, beaten

Put all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Add 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper and mix well with your hands. Form into balls about the same size of ping-pong balls. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in an extra-large frying pan for which you have a lid. Sear half the meatballs over a medium heat, turning them until they are brown all over – this will take about five minutes. Remove from the pan, add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the other batch of meatballs. Once browned all over, remove these from the pan, too, then wipe it clean with kitchen towel.

While the meatballs are cooking, throw the fava beans into a pot with plenty of salted boiling water and blanch for two minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, then remove and discard the skins from half the fava beans. Note: I also used frozen lima beans, which work great.

Heat the remaining oil in the meatball pan, add the thyme, garlic and spring onion, and sauté over a medium heat for three minutes. Add the unshelled fava beans, one and a half tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1/3 cup of the stock, 1/4 tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. The beans should be almost covered by liquid. Pop on the lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.

Return the meatballs to the pan, add the remaining stock, cover again and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If it is still very runny, remove the lid and reduce a little. Once the meatballs stop cooking, they will soak up a lot of the juices, so make sure there is still plenty of sauce at this point. You can leave the meatballs now, off the heat, until you’re ready to serve.

Just before serving, reheat the meatballs and add a little water, if needed, to get enough sauce. Gently stir in the remaining herbs, lemon juice and the shelled fava beans and serve immediately.

makes about 20 meat balls – serves 4


Irish Soda Bread

My kids love Irish soda bread and I make it often (not just on St. Patrick’s day)…this version turns up the volume by adding freshly grated orange zest and a bit more sugar than usual.


4 cups all-purpose flour

6 tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken (in a pinch I use 6 tbsp of dried buttermilk powder mixed into dry ingredients and 1 3/4 cups cold water)

1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten

1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest

1 1/4 cup cried currants

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

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Great recipe to make with kids! Mine love to knead the dough and then eat the warm bread with butter…

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.

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Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes one loaf.

adapted from a Barefoot Contessa at Home recipe



DIY: Homemade Mint Chocolate Milano Cookies

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with these delicious cookies!

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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

1 1/3 cups sugar

whole eggs

egg white

2 tsp vanilla extract

oz dark chocolate (I prefer Valrhona), chopped

1 1/2 tbsp organic peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine flour and salt together and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add in whole eggs and egg white, then vanilla, and continue to beat on high until light and fluffy. Lower speed and gradually beat in flour mixture until just incorporated.

Transfer batter to a ziploc bag with a 1-inch hole snipped in one corner. Pipe batter into 2-inch long strips.

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Bake for 13–15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks. Allow cookies to cool completely.

Arrange cookie halves in pairs of similar shape and size. Melt chocolate in a double boiler until smooth, stir in peppermint extract –  then remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

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Spoon the chocolate onto one cookie half. Gently press the other half on top until the chocolate just reaches the edges.


Repeat with the remaining cookies and let the sandwiches sit until the chocolate has set. Any extra cookies will keep well in an airtight container in the freezer.


Orange Milano Cookies: follow recipe, but omit the peppermint extract. Spoon the melted chocolate onto one cookie half, and sprinkle on a pinch of freshly grated orange zest. Gently press the other half on top until the chocolate just reaches the edges.

based on recipe from food52– inspired by a cupcakes & cashmere post