Basic Pie Dough

 
Basic Pie Dough

Pie dough can be quite a touchy subject for many cooks. Most people have a special recipe and everyone thinks theirs is the best. Others flip-flop from one recipe to the next, striving for perfection. I get it, having struggled with my own "pie-dentity" over the years. I had a short lived pie delivery company awhile back and quickly discovered the whole loving-your-hobby-and-turning-it-into-a- job thing just didn't work for me. After I closed up shop I didn't make another pie for at least a year.

I don't consider myself an expert baker by any means, I can however make a kick-ass pie or tart. Don't be tempted to run to the store to buy a pre-made crust for that next apple pie or chicken pot pie you plan on baking for Sunday dinner. Try this recipe. I love that this dough is easy to prepare, and yields a beautifully flaky light crust. I use it for sweet pies, savory tarts and everything in between. I'll usually make a few batches, freezing what I don't need just in case I have the urge to bake something in the middle of the night.


BASIC PIE DOUGH

yields enough for two 9" pies

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup cold, diced, unsalted butter
  • 6 tbs ice water

In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, salt and cold butter. Pulse until mixture looks like coarse meal. Turn machine on and add water one tablespoon at a time. Combine until dough hold together and looks like a misshapen lump.

On a floured surface gather dough into a ball and cut in half. Flatten into equal sized disks and wrap in plastic, let rest for an hour in the fridge before rolling out. Dough should be smooth and silky while rolling out. Can be frozen up to two months.

 

 

 

Paris In Photos

 
Paris Sunset

Last year around this time  I was in Paris, biting into a warm crusty baguette from Eric Kayser and downing a glass of champagne. I would say sipping, but that would be an understatement considering my jet lag. Champagne is good for jet lag, right? 

I was preparing to run the half-marathon through the centuries old cobblestone streets of Paris. I imagined spectators lining the streets cheering us on, runners given paper cups filled with Bordeaux to hydrate and delicious miniature chocolate eclairs for energy. Unfortunately for me, a few days prior to the race I injured my knee, leaving me unable to run. Thankfully I had the sights, sounds and tastes of Paris to cheer my sour mood up.

Who knows, maybe next year I'll give the half-marathon another try...


Overnight Escape: Napa Valley

 
Carneros Inn

My children were born on the same day two years apart. Every year as their birthday approaches, I cringe at the thought of coordinating a giant party with two cakes and hoards of seven and nine year olds running around my house, crashing into things and rubbing chcolately fingers all over the white arm chairs. (Yes, I was the dummy who chose white) This year, much to their delight, I did something a little different. We went to Napa Valley.

Napa Valley is one of my favorite spots to visit. The kids absolutley love it, and it's just a quick one hour drive from San Francisco. I know what you're thinking : You brought the kids to Napa Valley? Yes, Napa Valley isn't just for romance seeking honeymooners and celebrities trying to remain incognito, kids are welcome to run around, swim and just be goofy.

The weather (warm) The sky (vast) The stars at night (bright) The wine (intoxicating - literally) The food (Michelin Star anyone?) All great reasons to plan a trip.

Our destination: The Carneros Inn. I chose this hotel because it doesn't feel like a traditional hotel. All rooms are free standing cottages with private outdoor space. So if you're a nudist - it's perfect! March is still considered off season, so the discounted room rate saved quite a bit of money. If you happen to hate kids, the hilltop pool is reserved for adults only, where you can sip cocktails overlooking the magnificent valley and vineyards below. I hang at the large kid-friendly pool down the hill where I too, can sip a cocktail.

If you're planning a visit to Napa, it seems as if the amount of wineries are endless. Two of my favorites are Cliff Lede and Robert Sinskey. Head to the town of Yountville and have lunch outside at Thomas Keller's Bouchon or dinner at Redd. The quaint town of St. Helena has plenty of shopping, and don't forget to pick up some locally grown olive oil. If you're in the mood for a burger and a glass of wine, stop at Gott's Roadside, a fun outdoor restaurant with picnic tables. For something different, try a wine tour on The Napa Valley Wine Train, they even have a Big Gay Train event coming up featuring gay winemakers...

So much to see, never enough time. If you've thinking of visiting the Napa Valley it'll certainly be a trip you won't regret.


Napa Valley