“Oregon Drizzle,” TM Jeff B.


Erythronium, a native plant to Oregon, is happily blooming this time of year thanks to the rain or drizzle we’ve been experiencing!

I got into a conversation with a friend who also likes to cook about our food phobias. One of hers if frying things. I have two: pie crust and yeast anything. Se was generally giving me credit for being able to make anything when an idea was launched for a mutual cooking challenge. It wasn’t a competition, but rather a moment to support the other in trying something new and challenging.

I’m not sure how it came to her, but she decided I should make a Baked Alaska. She was going to fry something like donuts or beignets or sopapillas. As our mutual March birthdays approached, the idea became to do it in the week in between and get together with our mutual friends for a mostly dessert dinner with a little something else.

I did a lot of internet searching for Baked Alaska ideas and inspiration. It seems like you can essentially do anything you want as long as you have a cake layer, 1-2 ice cream layers, and meringue of some kind on the outside. Traditionally it’s made in a curved metal bowl to make the dome shape, but I did see some that were made in bread pans. Given the packed nature of my freezer, I decided to do the bread pan for my first foray into B.A. territory.

Making a Baked Alaska could be considered hard if you make all of the discrete parts. I’ve seen some recipes where they make the ice cream but use a store-bought cake. I’ve seen some where it’s the opposite. Martha might be one of the few who makes all of the elements.

I had had a rough week and I don’t own an ice cream maker, so I opted to make my life a bit easier by buying ice cream. I don’t know what the classic flavors should be for the dessert, but in my head, it’s pistachio. Rather than do two flavors since my space in a bread pan is limited compared to the classic dome, I only bought one flavor: Umpqua (a local brand) pistachio almond ice cream.

This is an easy recipe but it does take time. For a party on Tuesday, I realized I needed to start my prep on Sunday.

I decided to bake the cake, but I did a “cheat” by using an online “mostly homemade” recipe. I had some sour cream I wanted to use up before it spoiled, so I made a sour cream white cake that starts with a basic box white cake mix and then gets made with the sour cream (1 cup), 3 eggs, vegetable oil (1/2 c.), and a bit of vanilla.

The recipe was made for a 9 x 12 pan, but I wanted just enough to fill about half of a bread pan after it baked (accounting for the amount it would rise while baking). I put a little under half in my bread pan and then put the rest into a 6-cupcake pan where the cupcakes are pretty large. I started baking for 20 minutes which was good for the cupcakes. The cake for my dessert took about 25 minutes, but it was all guessing at that point to make it work for my size pan. I let it cool in the pan 10 minutes and then released it and placed it on a rack to cook the rest of the way.

While it was baking, I had let the ice cream sit on the counter to soften. In a different bread pan, I spread two layers of cling wrap so I’d be able to pull the whole mess out of the pan easily when it was time. On to the wrap, I scooped in the pistachio ice cream. You fill and spread, trying to make it as smooth as possible and getting rid of any air gaps that might mess up your layer. I filled to the point where I guessed my cake might go, but I really had no idea so I was guessing. All of the recipes I saw encouraged you to put it in the freezer at least a couple of hours or overnight. I put it in the freezer overnight and put the cooling cake in a same place.

On Monday, I added the cake layer into the bread pan of frozen ice cream, pressing the cake down to hopefully “fuse” with the ice cream. I had incorrectly guessed but a small amount, but rather than cut the small bit off the bottom of the cake, I decided to instead just compress the whole thing gently. I then put a layer of foil over the bottom of the cake and put it on a tray upside down – ice cream now on top – to aid the compression and fusing of my two layers. Back in the freezer it went for Tuesday.

My friend got sick. Or was getting sick.  She had texted me so I had some warning.  I didn’t necessarily care that our challenge would have to be delayed, but I did want some friends around who would still eat this ice cream/cake concoction filling my freezer.

Using Martha’s lead, I was planning to make a recipe of swiss meringue as the coating for my baked alaska, but when my friend told me she wasn’t coming probably, I decided to instead just think ice cream cake and come up with a sauce.  I had happened to catch an episode of “Martha Bakes” on PBS where she made a warm rum and raisin sauce.  I figured that might be good with my simple cake and ice cream and I had just enough corn syrup to pull it off, so I headed to the kitchen to make that Monday night.

It’s super easy:  equal parts (1/2 cup) brown sugar and corn syrup with equal parts (1/4 cup) dark raisins, light raisins, and rum. And a little butter (1 tablespoon) for richness and mouth feel.  You only heat it a short time so I had it ready to go to just reheat when it came time to unveil and eat the dessert.

Everyone who was feeling well still came over for soup and “baked alaska.”  I explained the challenges and how I decided to modify when I knew the challenge wasn’t going to happen as we had planned.  My friends are game so they were up to try it, no matter what happened.

As the cake was first unveiled, it looks pretty wrinkled and unattractive.  You can see why the impulse is to hide the surface in fluffy meringue.

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Once cut in half, you could see how the slices themselves were actually quite pretty.  So, armed with the sauce reheated gently, we set out to eat the ice cream cake.

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It was delicious.


Toying with a new name for this creation, we thought about Baked Salem.  Baked Oregon.  But nothing got “baked” like the meringue in the classic.  Finally Jeff hit on Oregon Drizzle.  So, Oregon Drizzle it is, trademark Jeff B.


Pie crust, second try

183Happy pie/pi (3/14/15) day!

My contribution to the celebration this year was to try out another crust recipe recently given to me.  I volunteer for an organization and we have an event that is held at an annual quilt show.  Every year there are many attendees, mostly women, so it’s possible to get into all sorts of interesting conversations about quilting and other topics.  We happened to be talking about cooking challenges and I mentioned that I have two:  yeast dough and pie crust.  Coincidentally, one of the attendees within earshot of my comment came over and told me her recipe for making pie crust.  Unlike other doughs that use butter, shortening, or lard, Judith’s recipe uses oil and is mixed directly in the pie pan.  Rather than rolling it out, you press it into the crust shape and then you’re ready to make a pie.  She says it’s the only recipe she uses and it works for filled pies or when you need to blind bake (bake the crust without any filling).  The only time it doesn’t work is if you need a top crust.

We’ve been getting lovely new spring greens from the farm and last week we got the beginnings of sprouts on broccoli plants.  I wanted to use it for something like a quiche, so I figured now was the time to test the recipe.  I also had a red pepper and some turkey sausage I wanted to use up along with some spring onions and flat leaf parsley, so I thought even if the crust was a flop, I’d have a lovely quiche filling.

Timing was a bit of a challenge.  I wanted to have some caramelized onions, too, so I started there.  It seemed like a lot of onion so I started cooking them in their own pan with a bit of salt and sugar.  As they cooked down, I realized I could have made everything in one pan, but it wasn’t clear at the start.

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As the onions were browning, I made the pie crust.  As Judith advised, I mixed the dry ingredients together first.

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 T. sugar (I omitted the sugar since my quiche is savory)

In the middle I made a little well and added the wet ingredients.

  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1-2 T. milk

Judith’s directions were to start with 1 tablespoon of milk and to add more milk if the dough doesn’t stick together.

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It looks a little sketchy at first, but eventually it does come together.  If I were to try this again, I would mix it in a separate bowl and then press it into the pie plate.  I get why the allure of one dish might be appealing, but I do think it could have used a little pressing/kneading to come together and that got harder in the pie plate.  At least for me.  I also think I worried it was too dry so I added in the second tablespoon of milk.  If I had been more patient, I think my end result would have been flakier.  As it was, mine was probably too wet and therefore a bit loose in end result.  Next time…

I was using a Mark Bittman recipe as the basis for my quiche recipe and his instructions say to freeze the pie crust 30 minutes before blind baking.  I went ahead and put my crust in the freezer while I worked on the filling.

In a second saute pan I sauteed my red pepper, turkey sausage, green onions, and parsley.  When the caramelizing onions were done, I added them into the mixture.


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In another bowl, I mixed up Mark Bittman’s quiche formula:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups cream, half-and-half, or milk.

I used some leftover milk and then cream.  Given the size of my pie pan, I could have halved the recipe.  Next time….

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I added in some dried dill and thyme and plenty of black pepper.

Then it was time to start cooking.  Into a 425 degree oven, I blind baked (foil and dried beans in my crust to weigh it down) for 15 minutes and then removed the beans and baked the crust about 4-5 minutes to dry it out.


I had forgotten to put fork holes into the bottom to keep it from puffing up, so I did this when I removed the beans.


I then let the crust cool about 10 minutes on the counter.

I then put a small layer of cheese on the bottom, topped it with some of the cooked veggie mixture, more cheese, more veggies, and then cheese.  I overfilled my filling, so I’d use less when I do it again.  Next time…

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I then ladled in the egg/cream mixture.  I could only get about half into the shell, so the other half will be very decadent scrambled eggs tomorrow, probably.


I put the quiche into a 325 degree oven (again using Bittman’s general directions) for about 35 minutes.  His recipe said 20-30 minutes, but I think mine took longer because my filling was too heavy with veggies.  Next time…

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It was flaky, but I think it would have been flakier without the extra tablespoon of milk.  It doesn’t get a lovely crust edge like other pie crust, but maybe that doesn’t really matter most of the time.  For home cooking, it’s super simple.  Super fast.  If I wasn’t thinking presentation, I’d surely make it again for a quick dinner if a crust was needed and I didn’t have the time or energy to make a proper crust complete with chilling and rolling time.

I was thinking it might be really nice for a tomato tart with a little cornmeal in the crust.  Next time…

If you like this blog…

SAV_15_SBA_LOGO_finalIf you like this blog’s voice and content, you might consider nominating it for a Saveur blog award:  http://www.saveur.com/article/contests/blog-awards-2015-nominate?utm_content=buffer9e5c8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer.  Nominations close on March 13th and then folks get to vote March 30 to April 8th.  There’s no way this blog could win, but it’d be cool if you think it’s worthy of nomination.  If not, that’s ok too.



The cakes of February…

032…which seems ridiculous now that it’s March!  That should give you some indication of how February went.  Most of the month, I had this idea to share three great cake recipes — one a tried and true favorite and two that were new discoveries that turned out so well they had to be shared (and hopefully repeated).  Well, there you go.

Still, I think of them as February cakes.

Now I didn’t create any of them, and I’m happy to credit others for really great ideas.  If you want the original recipes, they are:

The applesauce cake was a find from one of my favorite websites, Food 52.  I made it a few years ago for my parents and it’s become a favorite for us both ever since.  The best part is I usually have all of the required components, including canned homemade applesauce, and it comes together with a spicy secret — black pepper.  It’s not much, but it adds that special something that you can’t quite put your finger on…  The glaze is a thick, deeply satisfying “caramel” made simply with brown sugar, butter, cream, and powdered sugar.  The brown sugar gives it the color and the feeling of caramel.  One note:  sift your powdered sugar.  If you don’t, you’ll see little blobs of it in the glaze that don’t dissolve.  It doesn’t harm anything (I’ve never had anybody refuse to eat it!), but if you’re trying to impress, then take the effort.

Also, it’s easy to not thin the glaze enough.  In that case, you get odd looking layered glaze like I did.  Again, nobody refused to eat it!


The banana bread coffee cake was a revelation because of the browned butter.  I toyed with the idea of skipping that step, but it really did improve the end result.  The cake itself is not particularly dense or hearty and there’s a lot of streusel on the top, so the extra nutty flavor of the browned butter helped the cake stand up to the streusel.  I’ve been obsessed with pecans, so I used pecans instead of walnuts, but either would be delicious in the streusel.

Browning butter is not difficult.  You melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat until you start to hear it spurt and splatter.  At that point, you really need to look at it carefully, especially if you have an electric range like I do and can’t cut the heat immediately.  The butter will foam and sputter, and then it will calm and clear, and then the dark bits will begin to collect on the bottom.  This is a case where having a light colored or stainless pan can be helpful for monitoring the browning.  If you’re not careful, you go too far to burnt.  I now am able to trust my nose and eyes, but the first couple of times were pretty scary.  Now, bring on the browned butter in everything.

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Golden goodness in a simple pan.  Once browned, all of that yummy butter gets swirled into the banana-batter and then topped with the sugary pecan streusel.

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035This recipe smells amazing in the oven while it’s baking and it’s delicous eaten slightly warm or even at room temperature.  The best part, maybe, about the cake is that the bananas keep it moist for several days so it’s a great cake to have even when you don’t have a crowd to help you eat it.


The pecan upside down cake was kind of a random find while looking for pecan recipes on the Martha Stewart website.  I’ve had lots of luck with other upside-down cakes, mostly with fruit, so this was intriguing.  It was a lovely, simple cake and it was good to eat for almost a full week.  That alone might be a reason to keep it.  The only dilemma was that it didn’t look so pretty.105

It kind of looked like the cratered surface of the moon.

Or a deserted landscape somewhere.

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I really hoped the chopped pecans would make a pretty pattern in the cake.  They were nearly invisible.  I think this is partly due to the fact that the bottom of the cake pan is dusted with butter and then white sugar BEFORE scattering the pecans.  If I were to do it again, I’d scatter the pecans in the melted butter first and then put the sugar on top of that.  I think, like the fruit, it would make the nuts more visible and the overall cake look better.  I’d also pay attention to how the sugar was being scattered.  I was a bit careless which meant thick and thin spots.  104

None of my friends complained.  Still…