Tag Archives: Tipsy Tarts

Frozen Berry Dessert, Part Deux: The Delivery (sans celebrities this time around)

July 2012

My fascination with food is not limited to the how. I’m curious about the who, the what, the where and perhaps most importantly, the why. We associate memories with food. We bond over food. We pass our stories as we pass our plates, and we make friends via our tastes. I already showed you the how for a very memorable frozen berry dessert. It was a failure of sorts, but the revisions succeeded in a way that utterly surprised me! However, the dessert’s story did not end there. I was making that dessert for a summer Sunday-the type of summer Sunday that perfectly reminds me of the happiness growing underfoot!

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” ~ James Oppenheim

(A summer Sunday can be downright torturous for a dog who has eyes only for saaaaaausages!)

If we don’t make time, summer’s golden ears will quickly disappear, and grills will enter dormancy.

If we do make time, we might use more butter on golden kernels than we should, just because it’s fancy butter. We might sip more sangria than we should, just to reach the wine-soaked, sangria peaches, bursting with the flavors guarded best by local growing.

If we don’t make time, we might miss the show (sometimes the show is a little racy)…

If we do slow down, we might see what a cold beverage can do to a lady on a hot day. ;P

If we do slow down, we can learn more of our own food story from those who taught us, and we can pass it to those who who care to share it.

If we do slow down, the sky might put on a show in our honor. In our case, the Pittsburgh sky sure was feeling fancy!

The show transitioned to flickering candles and second rounds of adult root beer floats then a downhill stroll to fall asleep to the hum of a fan.

May your hot oven be worked minimally. May your frozen desserts refresh you maximumly! May you enjoy summer’s best hues and lights until a quiet stroll leads you peacefully home!

Just in Thyme for the Holidays, Part Deux

December 2011

Growing up with three sisters fostered a preternatural appreciation for matching [and poofy perms apparently]:  Exhibit Q.  The moment would arrive when my matching would dawn on friends, acquaintances or even complete strangers.  They would stare, fascinated by my diligence to evenly dispersed color combinations.  At some point, my preoccupation with matching (and themes) permeated other aspects of life.

One of those crossover arenas was food.  What I might now call “parallel flavors” is really just two words describing “matching.”  I’m not claiming to be paving new territory, but I am announcing a new focus:  desserts and cocktails!  They should go together like toast and tea!  Cocktails and desserts should skip blissfully hand-in-hand.  My wonderful photographer friend Adam Milliron and this aspiring stylist have found a new focus:  boozy sweets and matching alcohol treats!  Without further a do…

Presenting Another With The Grains/Adam Milliron Collaboration!

A bit behind the scenes…

Agave Sweetened Lemon Thyme Bars and Whiskey Thyme Lemonade

I already mentioned I’m on a lemon and thyme kick.  Due to the agave route, the whiskey, vanilla and filling flour, these bars are more of a rustic shade of lemon, but they pair ever so nicely with the caramel and copper tones of whiskey.  Though I frequently sipped a similar cocktail this past summer, something about the bright copper tones atop a frosty base made this combination have a winter appeal as well.  Whatever the season, ’tis the season for this cocktail!  Santé!

(Click the image to enlarge.  Photos by Adam Milliron.  Baking, Mixing & Styling by Moi!)

Agave Sweetened Lemon Thyme Bars

Crust Ingredients

Butter, for greasing
1 1/2 sticks organic, unsalted butter, diced
1 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporate cane juice sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon organic almond extract

Filling Ingredients

4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
½ cup agave syrup
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
Fresh grated zest from one organic lemon (about 2-3 teaspoons)
note:  I used the pulp from juicing whole lemons
1 cup freshly juiced lemons (from about 5-6 whole lemons)
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 sprigs of fresh thyme


Confectioner’s Sugar
Lemon Peel

For the Crust

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with olive oil or butter and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; grease the foil with oil.

Pulse the butter, both flours, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.  Add the almond extract and pulse to combine.

Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks.

Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile For the Filling & Finale

Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar, agave syrup and flour in a bowl until smooth.

Whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, whiskey and vanilla.

Remove the thyme from the stem/stalk and add to the filling.

Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees F.

Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven.

Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with fresh thyme and lemon peel before serving.

Whiskey Thyme Lemonade on the Rocks


Thyme Simple Syrup* (recipe below)
Organic Sparkling Lemonade
Thyme for garnish
Lemon peel for garnish

For the Cocktail

This is a game of matching, not precision (I’ll work on that).  For one tumbler of sparkling lemonade on ice, add 1-2 shots of bourbon (depending on your southerness), 1-2 Tablespoons of thyme simple syrup, a drizzle or two of honey (depending on your buzzz) and watch it all come together for a spell before stirring, garnishing and enjoying!

*Thyme Simple Syrup


1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup water
~12 sprigs of thyme, plus 2 for garnishes

For the Thyme Simple Syrup

Combine 1 cup turbinado sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add thyme sprigs.

Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

Strain thyme from the liquid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Cheers to all and to all some cheer!

~With The Grains

A Pie for A Fall Dinner: Squash Pie w/ Cinnamon Crumble & Bourbon Whipped Cream

October 2011

Who died and made pumpkin the princess of the pies?!?  There are so many other viable squash options for pie making.  I had dinner plans on the horizon and plenty of squash around the house.  Whether or not my friends were expecting dessert with dinner (they should have been if they know me at all), I had pie on the mind… then I had a little bourbon craving!

The Grand Recipe

With the exception of the bourbon whipped topping, each component of this recipe made a little more than necessary for one pie.  I put the extra dough in the freezer, the filling in the refrigerator and the crumble in an airtight container.  I have plans for these leftovers!  Remember my motto?  Leftovers are just new opportunities, and on top of that, I am the daughter of invention.  Stay tuned for the fall dinner I keep mentioning and maybe even a creation with those leftovers.  Ahem…most positively a creation with those leftovers!

Crust Ingredients
*Makes enough for two crusts

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks organic, unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup local chevre
2-3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon organic almond extract
1 1/2 Tablespoons organic agave syrup
2 Tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
3-4 Tablespoons cold water
Chocolate Chips, to taste

For the Crust

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles course meal.

In a separate bowl, whip together the maple syrup and chevre.

Cut the chevre into the flour mixture.

Add the vanilla, almond extract, agave syrup and apple cider vinegar.  Without over kneading, use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine until the dough starts to form.

Add the water, one Tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.

Form into a disc, cover with foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Turn the chilled dough onto a floured surface.  Divide it in two.  Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough.  Keep the other disc chilled until ready to use.  Press the dough into a buttered pie plan.

Chill the pie pan thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the chilled pie crust for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden.

Remove from the oven, and spread a layer of chocolate chips over the crust.  Return to the oven to melt the chocolate slightly.

Cinnamon Crumble Ingredients

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup organic quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

For the Cinnamon Crumble

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.

Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture.  Use your fingers to roll the butter until the butter and flour are well combined.

Pat the mixture evenly onto a small, parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces.

Keep the oven on.

Filling Ingredients

3 large eggs (local/free-range)
3 large egg yolks (local/free-range)
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
1/4 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar
2 Tablespoons molasses

1 1/2 cups fresh butternut and acorn squash puree
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus more for the top
1 Tablespoon fresh ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Pie

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

To make the filling, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, both sugars and the molasses together in a medium bowl.

Mix in the squash puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

Whisk in the heavy cream, milk, and vanilla extract.

Whisk in the butter.

Pour the squash mixture into the shell (there will be extra).

Bake until the filling is set around edges but the center still jiggles slightly when shaken, 45 to 60 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream

1 cup local heavy cream, very cold
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons bourbon

For the Bourbon-Maple Whipped Cream

Combine the cream, vanilla, maple syrup, and bourbon, in a large chilled bowl, and user an electric mixer to whip until soft peaks form.

Pipe onto the pie.

Serve to two lovely ladies over candlelight!

Dear The South, I Miss You. (Chocolate Pecan Pie w/ Bourbon Whipped Cream)

June 2011

It was time to celebrate the June birthdays at my day job, and though I was pretty freshly returned from my Southern Sojourn, I was already missing the South.  Accordingly, I rather selfishly picked the theme, so I would, in the least, vicariously return to my road trip state of being.  The party did not disappoint.

(Click on the above image to see the party pictures)

I even propose that it was our best fulfilled theme so far… fried chicken, fried fish, homemade cornbread, chess pie, buttermilk biscuits, beans ‘n greens, science ice cream (not so much Southern, but we are an R&D group, so science has to creep in somewhere) and this decadent pie by yours truly…

Southern Style Chocolate Pecan Pie
with Boozy Bourbon Whipped Cream
*makes two pies (one w/o cream for the kids, one w/ cream for the adults)


Leftover and frozen from the birthday pies
Keep frozen until the filling is ready.


2 cups local, pure, maple syrup
2 cups organic, light brown sugar
*1 ½ Stonyfield chai ice cream, melted
2 Tablespoons molasses
8 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
10  large egg yolks lightly beaten (local/free-range)
3 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 bar of Ghirardelli’s chocolate (72% cacao)

*Most pecan pie recipes will call for heavy cream.  Being very short on both heavy cream and time, I looked into the freezer at an ice cream option that was admittedly a little freezer burned.  Not wanting to waste it, the little tub had sat idly in the freezer door until this new daughter of invention moment!

Bourbon Whipped Cream

2 cups organic heavy cream
4 Tablespoons bourbon (Bulleit)
½ cup organic, light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Heat the maple syrup, sugar, ice cream and molasses in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool, about 5 minutes.

Whisk the butter and salt into the syrup mixture until combined.

Whisk in the egg yolks until they are incorporated.

Scatter the pecans evenly in the pie shell(s).

Break the chocolate bar into chunks and disperse over the pecans.

Carefully pour the filling over the pecans.

Place the pie in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Bake until the filling is set and the center jiggles slightly when the pie is shaken gently, 45-60 minutes.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool for one hour, then refrigerate until set, about 3 hours to one day.

Bring the pie to room temperature before serving.

For the Bourbon Whipped Cream

Place a large bowl in the freezer until chilled.

Remove the bowl, and add the cream, bourbon, sugar and vanilla.

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to whip the mixture until stiff peaks form.

Pipe onto one pie (the adult pie) and store additional cream for the big kids who dip into the kid-friendly pie.

Birthday Boy & The Pie Club A La Mode

May 2011

It was time for the birthday boy’s grand weekend of festivities.  Friends were flying into the Steel City from major metropolises for a weekend of quality time to include good food, good drinks, all around good times and… a party bus?!?!  This was the first time I was to meet most of these friends, and I knew one thing about this group:  they had a predilection for pie!

As I understood it, this propensity to the pie spectrum of baked goods stemmed from ye olde Harvard days when a group of business school gents would gather around their favorite pie bakery’s best offerings to discuss politics, philosophy, the world and let’s face it…probably the opposite sex.  They developed pie business schemes and even reconvened in other major cities for the same purpose.  In conclusion, a large percentage of the incoming party visitors had serious opinions on pie, and having been briefed on my pie past times, they had high expectations of my oven and me.

Consequently, there was pressure on my pie performance (mostly …ok, maybe completely self-induced pressure), so I went epic and experimental (the experimental part being pie for the course… har har).

I squeezed in any and all kitchen opportunities throughout the weekend’s planned activities, and then I spent one full day with the rosy glow of oven hovering while the kids played in the park.  I packed up the multiple pies and the ice cream, spread my tablecloth, made my arrangement, lit the birthday boy’s candles, joined the chorus of the birthday song, and then I held my breath until the Pie Club and friends took their first bites.

Success!  Aside from the happy faces, the sneaking of seconds, thirds and fourths throughout the night, what really sealed the deal was receiving this comment in an email weeks later, “Was trying to sleep and got a craving for mango pie, strawberry pie, oat pie and creme fraiche icem cream. WTF.”  Even after all that pie love, I have yet to receive my pie club invite.  Apparently Pie Club is harder to join than an ivy secret society.

Oh Pie Club!  Please return soon!  I have so many more delicacies in store for you!

Mascarpone & Lemon Custard
(enough for two cherry tarts and one mango experiment)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
17.6 oz cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add half of the mascarpone cheese and beat at low speed until combined. Add the remaining mascarpone cheese, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and cream and beat just until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the surface.

Set the tart pan on a sturdy baking sheet. Position racks in the bottom and center of the oven. On the bottom rack, place a roasting pan filled with 1 inch of water. Place the tart on the center rack and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is puffed and set.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

This mango pie was inspired by necessity after a collapsing crust during the pre-bake, as well as this delicacy and this delectable treat from my meanderings in Brazil, once again proving the importance of travels and affirming my inclusion of my ventures on this blog.

La Mode
Makes 12 cups
(enough for a Pie Club and then some!)
Adapted from here.

For Creme Fraiche:

4 cups local heavy whipping cream
4 Tablespoons organic buttermilk

For Creme Fraiche Ice Cream:

2 ½ cups whole milk
5 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar in the raw
1 cup local, pure maple syrup
14 egg yolks from local, free-range eggs
crème fraîche (see recipe)
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Juice from 1 lemon

Key Equipment

Ice cream maker

For the Crème Fraiche

Pour heavy cream into a large bowl.

Add the buttermilk, which will act as the culture.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap loosely and let it sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened to approximately the consistency of yogurt.  Depending on the room temperature, the mixture will take 12-48 hours to thicken.

Once thickened, stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least a day before using.

For the Crème Fraiche Ice Cream

Whisk milk and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan with the salt and the maple syrup.

Whisk egg yolks in another bowl with the sugar.

Turn the heat to medium-low and bring cream mixture up to just before a simmer, whisking frequently.

Ladle a quarter cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and beat thoroughly, then pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture.

Switch to a spatula and run it along the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.

When cooled, whisk in the crème fraîche and vanilla.

Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for two hours.

Whisk in the lemon juice and freeze per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Quite A Pie: Apple Bourbon & Bacon Pie

April 2011

I had just returned from the market with my Vanilla-Infused, Bourbon bacon of the month from the Crested Duck Charcuterie when Julia sent me a message saying, “Want to have an impromptu dinner party?”

“I’ll bring dessert,” I said gladly.

(Click on the “Quite A Pie” image above to see the recipe photo series)

PS:  This was the first time I ever incorporated bacon into a dessert.

Ceci N’est Pas Une Recette

November 2010

Ceci n’est pas une recette. This here is more of a memory.  It was kitchen play.  There was butter sizzling in a cast-iron skillet, followed by oats and brown sugar and perhaps some honey.  There were slices of pears made perfect by proximity.  Pears met brandy, and brandy met pears, and they both met butter.  There were cranberries and pecans- hints of the coming holiday.  There was a warm oven, a carpenter and cold ice cream.  Then there was a pie plate on the dish rack.