A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    Blackberry-Basil Cream Pie

    Filed under :Basil, blackberries, blackberry basil cream, cream, Desserts, pie
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    Blackberry Basil Cream Pie

    Blackberry Basil Cream Pie

    I had my first competitive muay thai fight on Saturday night.  It was an amazing experience.  The lead-up was quite intense with all the training, diet and lifestyle regimen, but it was all worth it the minute I stepped into the ring.

    For a while I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the ring.  There were three of us from my fight team who were scheduled to compete, but first, one girl broke her wrist, then the guy got called away for work and then we wound up spending an evening in the hospital with my coach; I definitely took care with every step I took to make sure nothing happened to prevent me from fighting!

    …continue reading Blackberry-Basil Cream Pie



    Pumpkin Pie

    Filed under :pie, pumpkin, pumpkin
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    The Ultimate Pumpkin Pie

    This pumpkin pie post has been patiently waiting for me to put it up for some time now.  It’s well worth the wait.  It would be criminal to only make this in the Fall when it’s that good.

    Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough published an amazing Ultimate Cookbook (the name is absolutely on point), and this pumpkin pie is their variation of their Squash Ginger Pie.  I have adapted only slightly.

    …continue reading Pumpkin Pie



    Mint- Chocolate Chiffon Pie

    Filed under :chocolate, cooking club, mint, pie
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    On Sunday night my cooking club came over for dinner, with the theme of “Mint Madness.”  Every time we get together, we have a theme that participants have to interpret.  Each person can make whatever type of dish they choose, and let me know in advance so I can round out the menu with whatever course is missing.  “Mint Madness” meant that mint had to factor into the dish, but did not have to be the star ingredient.  Highlights of the meal included a lemon-asparagus risotto, stuffed ricotta pasta, and roasted parsnips and carrots.  Sam’s dessert, however, was THE highlight of the meal, so it gets a special mention and its own picture.

    mint whipped cream

    Sam's mint whipped cream over fruit

    Sam made a mint- infused whipped cream, which he did by soaking mint leaves in cream overnight, then muddling the mint with a mortar and pestle, adding the juice, and whipping it up.  He put it over sugary-sweet peaches and raspberries, and topped the whole thing with dark chocolate shavings.

    I made a mint-chocolate chiffon pie, based on a recipe from the delectable Chocolate (my edition is an older one, hence the slight difference in name from Amazon).  The original recipe is for a chocolate chiffon pie; I added the mint.  The cooking club ate half of it before groaning from the mass amount of food we’d eaten, and my office enjoyed the other half the next day.

    Mint- chocolate chiffon pie

     

    Mint- Chocolate Chiffon Pie

    Adapted from Chocolate.

    Nut Base:

    2 cups filberts (or other nut of choice)

    4 tbsp sugar

    2 tbsp melted butter

    Filling:

    1 cup milk (2% or whole)

    2 tsp powdered gelatin

    1/2 cup superfine sugar

    2 eggs, separated

    8 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    2 tsps mint extract

    1 cup heavy cream

    mint leaves to garnish

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Process the filberts in a food processor until finely chopped.  Add the sugar and butter and process briefly to combine.  Pat the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing down and up the sides to ensure an even crust.  Bake 8- 10 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool.

    pie crust

    nut base crust after baking

     

    Pour the milk into a heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top.  Let it soften for 2 minutes, then place over a pan of gently simmering water.  Add half the superfine sugar, both egg yolks, and chocolate.  Whisk constantly over low heat until the chocolate has melted, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla and mint extracts and place in fridge to chill for 60 minutes or until starting to set.  It should just be starting to set when you take it out, but don’t worry, it will set fully later.

    Whip the cream until stiff, then fold 2/3 of it into the chocolate mixture.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form (note: I accidentally leaked some egg yolk in when separating the eggs and worried that they wouldn’t whip despite fishing out the yolk, but they did!)  Add 2 tsps of the remaining superfine sugar, whisk until stiff peaks form, then fold in the rest of the sugar.  Fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.  Pour the filling on top of the crust and chill in fridge for a minimum of 3 hours.

    Decorate the pie with remaining cream and garnish with mint leaves before serving.  To decorate, I cut a hole in the corner of a ziplock bag and stuck a star tip in.  It worked great!

    decorating bag

    ziplock piping bag