Getting in the Spirit & Chocolate Walnut Tart

Christmas_StockingHopefully, you’re feeling all warm and cozy after Thanksgiving. There were probably a few not too subtle and not too quiet words spoken at some point between the shrimp cocktail and pumpkin pie. It would not be Thanksgiving if there were not at least one blowup. I’m sure all is forgiven or at least forgotten by now. Anyway, let’s turn that Thanksgiving afterglow into some big old, no strings, no limits holiday spirit. I’m sure you have a few ideas but these will help you get started:

First and foremost, take down any political signs that are still in your yard. Replace them with sparkling lights and a snowman or two. Hang a wreath on the door and fill an old planter with evergreens, holly and more lights.

Drive around town and look at other people’s Christmas lights. Revive an old tradition of a special dinner out after the Christmas lights tour. If your family has never celebrated the lights tour tradition, start it. You deserve a night out.

Dig through all your old boxes of decorations and ornaments. Don’t stop there; look through your mom’s old boxes too. These treasures will bring back special memories. Embrace and revel in the nostalgia of Christmas.

Get a tree and fill it with lights, baubles and bows. If it seems like too much trouble … get one anyway. If it really, really, really seems like too much trouble, cover the mantle with greens and decorate them with lights, baubles and bows. It will get you in the spirit and send you over to the farm for a tree.

Whether you favor Bing or Bruce, crank up some holiday tunes. It’s a wonderful time of year and music is a big part of it. Find one of those all Christmas stations on the radio and let it play throughout the day. Music will lift your spirits on a dark and cloudy afternoon and make any task easier. In the coming weeks, make it a point to attend a community concert, go caroling and hum your way through the supermarket.

Bake something. Anything; it doesn’t matter whether you bake dozens of cookies, a tart or a pan of brownies. By all means, get the children or grandkids involved. They can help you measure and mix and keep you company. If you don’t have any kids available, borrow one or two from a neighbor. I’m sure their parents will be delighted to have some free time to wrap gifts, do some shopping or just sit quietly for a minute.

Baking done; now, it’s time to make something. Craft a tree ornament, knit a scarf or decorate a wreath; the list is endless. ‘Tis the season to take a workshop at the library or community center, search the internet for clever projects or ask your creative friends for help. Remember, when in doubt – a can of gold spray paint can turn almost anything into something magical.

Do you have a favorite book that your parents read you every year at Christmas? Even if it’s been years, hunt it down, cuddle up on the couch and read it again. From the transformations of Ebenezer and Grinch to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, these stories share themes of love and kindness.

Happy holidays and bon appétit!

Chocolate Walnut Tart
A delicious change from the traditional Pecan Pie, this tart is perfect for chocoholics. Enjoy!baking_01
Makes one tart

Flaky Pastry (recipe follows)
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)
Garnish: unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9- or 10-inch glass or ceramic tart pan. Trim and crimp the edge. Cover and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter and rum. Whisk in the sugar and maple syrup. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the walnuts and allspice.

Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until set, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 2 hours. Pour the glaze over the tart and spread evenly to cover the top. Cool completely and serve garnished with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces dark chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Put the chocolate, butter and cream in a heavy saucepan and, stirring frequently, heat on very low until about 2/3 melted. Remove the pan from the heat, let sit for 5-10 minutes and stir until smooth.

Flaky Pastry
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons cold solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
2-4 tablespoons ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle with ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

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One Year Ago – Citrus & Spice Sugar Cookies
Two Years Ago – Peppermint Bark Cookies
Three Years Ago – Mixed Reds & Greens Holiday Salad
Four Years Ago – Snowy Pecan Balls
Five Years Ago – Chocolate Truffles
Six Years Ago – Smoked Salmon Mousse
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Beans
Eight Years Ago – Winter Soup with Pasta, Beans & Greens

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? How do you get in the holiday spirit? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

What to Love about Late August & Berry Peachy Crisp

corn_field_06As kids, we greeted the end of August with mixed feelings. The start of the school year was looming. After a long, lazy summer, we were almost looking forward to going back to school. Almost. Sure, we’d get to see all the kids we’d missed since June but a return to suburbia and the classroom meant the end of carefree fun and freedom.

Rather than grumble, we mostly went into denial. A whole day or more could go by without a single thought of our imminent return to suburbia. Then we’d trip over one of our summer reading books and realize it was almost over. Or we’d need to put on a sweater first thing in the morning. Shrugging into a pullover, our thoughts might turn ever so briefly to the bitter and sweet of back-to-school shopping. Let’s face it; back-to-school or not, what girl doesn’t love a new pair of shoes?

With September in our sights, we don’t need to grumble or go into denial. Here are more than a few things to love about late August:

In spite of needing a sweater at either end of the day, shorts and a t-shirt, flip-flops and those cute, little sundresses still dominate our wardrobes.

The dog has stopped panting. Grab a Frisbee and let Fido run and jump to his heart’s content.

Local corn and tomatoes are not just plentiful; they are at their best. Slice and dice them into salsas and salads, stir the tomatoes into soup and the corn into chowder. Just remember; in New England, we never put tomatoes in the chowder.

You can bake again. In an effort to keep the house from overheating, you’ve probably kept the oven off limits for weeks. How does a warm blueberry muffin or peach crisp sound?

In spite of an earlier sunset, you can still enjoy dinner alfresco. No need to hurry, there is a reason we New Englanders leave our Christmas lights up all year long. Throw on a sweater and bask in the glow of twinkle lights while you nibble a fruity dessert or s’more.

Speaking of which, those earlier sunsets and cooler evenings are perfect for bonfires and s’mores.

No more tossing and turning in the heat or trying to sleep with noisy fans or deafening air conditioners. Throw open the windows to the cool night air and sleep in luxurious peace.

Even if we are still donning our light and breezy summer wardrobes, old habits die hard. So what if you’re not going back to school this September? That little detail shouldn’t stop you from hitting the shops. The summer stuff is on sale and new fall fashions are starting to arrive.

Although sunrise is a little later, you still needn’t worry about finding a flashlight for your morning walk. Sure, the air has a bit of a chill but pick up the pace. Heck, you might score a personal best.

As much as we love them, the summer people start to leave. The long lines at the supermarket shorten and the seemingly endless wait time for a table at our favorite café disappears.

Enjoy the end of summer! Bon appétit!

Berry Peachy Crisp
Berry_Peachy_Crisp_02Who doesn’t love a fruity crisp? The air is cooling down so turn the oven back on and enjoy!
Serves 8

Butter
1/2 cup or to taste brown sugar
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
3-4 pounds peaches
1 pint blueberries
Crumble Topping (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.

Put the sugar, ginger, zest, cornstarch and spices in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Peel the peaches and cut them into thick wedges. (To peel peaches with ease – first dunk them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds and then immerse them in ice water. The skins will slip off easily.)

Add the peaches, blueberries and lime juice to the sugar mixture and toss to combine. Pour the fruit into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with Crumble Topping.

Put the crisp on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla or ginger ice cream.

You can also bake the crisp early in the day and warm it up in a 275 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Pinch nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Add the oatmeal and pulse until the topping comes together in little lumps.

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One Year Ago – Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Two Years Ago – Double Trouble Chocolate-Oragne Cupcakes
Three Years Ago – Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese Salad
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Soup with Mascarpone Cream
Five Years Ago – Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa
Six Years Ago – Crostini with Goat Cheese
Seven Years Ago – Corn & Chicken Chowder
Eight Years Ago – Joe Nye’s Perfect Lobster

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What do you love about late summer? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Cherry Cobbler on WMUR Cook’s Corner

WMUR_02Summer is here with warm sunshine and fruity desserts!  I’m on New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate WMUR/Channel 9 today, whipping up a great, dessert for you.Try  my Cherry Cobbler – it will be perfect at your cookout.this weekend!

Serve it as part of a tasty cookout menu with family and friend.

Want more choices? Click Here! for lots more pies, tarts, cobblers, crumbles and crisps. Or Here! for more seasonal menus. Or Finally Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog.

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Playlist & Cherry Cobbler

Alice_Cooper_School's_out_45Do you have a playlist in your head? Does it change with every crop of new hits? Or maybe, just maybe it’s a musical memoir covering the many phases of your life. If you are like me, the songs change with mood and season. Fall conjures up Carly Simon and Simon and Garfunkel. The holidays bring a handful of carols. Cooking, walking around the lake or wandering though the hardware store, each can prompt its own sets of tunes.

Right about now, I can’t get Alice Cooper out of my head. Mind you, I’m not a fan of Alice Cooper. His theatrical, horror-laced approach to music doesn’t work for me. When it comes to guillotines, electric chairs and blood, I’ll take a pass. So why Alice Cooper ? Why not some other raucous band? Okay, maybe Pink Floyd’s Wall has tumbled around my head a time or two recently but I’ll leave the wall building talk to others. Besides it is all very secondary to Alice Cooper bellowing, “Schools Out for Summer.” That song lives in my head every June. There’s no use trying to avoid it, whether I like it or not, “Schools Out” will always be part of my playlist.

It doesn’t last long. The last bell rang on Friday and school buses are off the road. The longest day was yesterday and summer has officially started. The Pointer Sisters, Martha & The Vandellas and The Supremes are due to take over any minute. (Truth be told, I love these girls year round. The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” works when I find the perfect sweater or the first asparagus is at the farm stand. The Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” rolls around my brain whenever I get good news and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes works when I’m feeling impatient.)

However, summer is made to boogie so Motown and anything danceable tends to take over my internal broadcast system. Bright sky and sunshine is all I need for an entire medley to resound in my brain. But hey, not just Motown and not just in my head. When the music demands it, I’m more than happy to roll down the car windows, slide back the moonroof and turn up the radio. You see, I just assume you want me to share my joyful music.

Of course, “I’m so Excited” doesn’t work with absolutely everything. Some victory celebrations demand Vangelis or maybe Queen. It may be a generational thing or a former runner’s thing. Anyway, Chariots of Fire is definitely on my list of favorite films. The title song has boomed across the starting line of countless fun runs and 10Ks. It’s a keeper on my playlist.

Let’s face it, life is not all fun runs and dancing in the street. When work frustrates me, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” seems like a reasonable response. For more contemplative times, there is nothing like Billie Holiday or Joni Mitchell. Joni hooked me during my freshman year in college; melancholy has to be her middle name.

While Joni will always have a special place in my heart, it is Sarah McLachlan I hear when I visit my mother. Mom’s memories have grown dim, confused and disjointed. It doesn’t matter because “I Will Remember You”. Of course, Mom has her own playlist. Perhaps this phenomenon is inherited. Mom frequently hums along with hers. Ol’ Blue Eyes and Sting are her long time favorites. It’s hard to tell but she may have added a few new top picks; the tunes she hums are rarely recognizable.

But that’s okay; let the music play and bon appétit!

Cherry Cobbler
Neil Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry” is not on my playlist but cherries are in season … so here goes! Enjoy.
Serves 8

Butter for the pan
About 2 pounds (about 8 cups pitted and halved) cherries
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons kirsch or Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches cloves
1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small bits
1/2-34 sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Prepare the filling: working over a bowl to reserve the juice, pit the cherries. Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch each cloves and salt and stir to combine and set aside.

Make the biscuit dough: put the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and the remaining salt, cinnamon and cloves in food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process again until the mixture resembles fine meal. Transfer to a bowl, add the sour cream and stir until the dough comes together.

Assemble the cobble and bake: transfer the cherry mixture to the prepared baking dish, drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough onto the fruit and transfer the cobble to the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden. Serve warm with ice cream.

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One Year Ago – Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
Two Years Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Three Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Five Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Six Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Seven Years Ago – Asian Slaw
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on your playlist? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Celebrate Pi Day! March 14th

Happy Pi Day! It’s a day to celebrate mathematics and … eat pie! I can‘t give any advice when it comes to mathematics but I’ve got a few ideas for PIE.

Let’s start with savory pies … from pizza and flatbread to quiche and all its tasty asparagus tart 01renditions:
Greek Pizza
Calzones with Marinara Sauce
Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Spinach Ricotta Pie
Quiche
Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Tomato, Olive & Feta Tart
Asparagus & Goat Cheese Tart
Roasted Beet Tatin (Tart) with Goat Cheese & Walnuts
Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Cheese Tartlets with Sausage & Leeks)

Now, how about a sweet? Apple, blueberry, chocolate and more!blueberry_crostata_05
Mini Tarte Tatin
Rustic Apple Croustade
Rustic Apple Tart
Blueberry Crostata
Blueberry Pie
Chocolate-Orange Tart
Lemon Tart
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart
Aunt Anna’s Pecan Pie

Enjoy your pi … or is that pie! Bon appétit!

How will you celebrate Pi Day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

International Women’s Day & Mini Tarte Tatin

Nana_Grant_Mom_Nana_Westland

Today is International Women’s Day. “What’s that?” you may ask. Well, it’s a day to celebrate women; particularly working women. Although it started more than a century ago in New York, IWD is far from top of mind. Gift shops and pharmacies haven’t put up special racks of IWD cards. It will be business as usual at the post office and the banks. Don’t expect your male colleagues to organize a special lunch, drinks after work or even a cake. Although, this international holiday is celebrated all over the world, you’ll find little if any hoopla in this country. Too bad, there’s a lot to celebrate.

Anyway, fifteen thousand garment workers, many of them newly arrived immigrants, launched the first International Women’s Day. They marched through the Lower East Side and rallied at Union Square on March 8, 1908. Their goal was equal economic and political rights. By today’s standards, their demands seem more than reasonable. Days were long and life was tough for garment workers. They spent sixty, eighty or more hours per week in crowded, poorly lit factories with no heat in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer. In spite of the long hours and awful conditions, women earned $7 maybe $8 per week; about half of what men earned. On the political side, suffragettes had been asking for the vote for more than fifty years. In 1908, the Nineteenth Amendment was still more than a decade from ratification.

I don’t plan any demonstrations or marches today. Instead, I’d like to celebrate some of the women in my life. First, there is the great grandmother who built and ran her own business. Nana Grant was an immigrant with a few years of elementary school education when she moved to Boston. Widowed at a young age, she had a three-year-old to provide for. She opened a tiny store and sold penny candy, buttons, ribbons, needles and thread. She sold enough buttons and bows to send her daughter to private school and college. My niece Gillian must take after her great-great grandmother. She too runs a small shop but she sells wellness in the form of herbs and tinctures.

Then there is my mother, who battles late stage Alzheimer’s disease. Every day, she provides a lesson in resilience and grace. Quite simply, Mom is the kindness person I know. In spite of her disabilities, and they are significant, she greets everyone with a smile. Her laughter and smile are wonderful medicines. They won’t cure her Alzheimer’s but they always makes me feel better.

Another niece, Michaela, begins her first post-college job this week. It’s not as if she’s never worked. She’s weeded gardens, babysat, served beer in a sports bar but, with this new adventure, she starts her career. And an admirable one at that; Kaela will be working in alternative energy.

Whom will you salute today? What acts of courage and determination, what achievements will you celebrate? Perhaps you will toast women who have risen to the top of their field: powerful CEOs and politicians, talented athletes, actors and musicians or brilliant authors and artists.

Or perhaps, like me, you will raise a glass or word of praise to someone closer to home. The sister who helped a generation of children learn to care for the earth along with their letters and numbers. The grandmother who made jam tarts with you and sparked a lifelong interest in cooking. Our lives are filled with family, friends, teachers and neighbors. They offer support, all kinds of lessons, hugs and reality checks. Some stay a short time, while others are, at least in spirit, with us forever.

Young and old, here and gone, I raise my glass to my women friends and family, may you each thrive and revel in a life well lived. Bon appétit!

Mini Tarte Tatin
While this recipe has its origins in French baking, I’ve made it my own by combining the spirit of my Nana Nye’s jam tarts with my mother’s apple pie. Enjoy!
Serves 8

4 tablespoons butter
8 tablespoons sugar
2-3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8ths
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Sweet Pastry (recipe follows)
8 (6-8-ounce) custard cups

Make the Sweet Pastry dough (recipe follows).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put 1/2 tablespoon each butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in the bottom each custard cup. Toss the apples with spices. Arrange the apples in the cups, packing them tightly in concentric circles. It’s okay if the apples stick up above the rim of the cups.

Put the cups on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes (the fruit will settle slightly). While the apples bake, roll out the dough and cut in rounds about an inch larger than the custard cups. Refrigerate the rounds until ready to use.

Remove the tarts from oven and lay a pastry round on top of each. Return the tarts to the oven and continue baking until the pastry is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the tarts to a rack and cool for 10 minutes.

To serve: place a plate on top of each custard cup and using potholders to hold the cup and plate tightly together, invert each tart onto a plate. An apple slice or two might stick to the cup; carefully unstick them and place them on the tart. Serve warm with vanilla or ginger ice cream.

Sweet Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, cold
2-4 tablespoons ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and shortening and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Sprinkle with ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Flatten the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

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One Year Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Two Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Three Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Four Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Five Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Six Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Seven Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you celebrate International Women’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

A Gift for Dad on His Day & Chocolate-Peanut Butter Tart

Dad_2011Let’s share a few moments of sympathy for dad. Father’s Day is on Sunday and while most dads won’t be forgotten, they’ll probably be shortchanged. At least they’ll be jipped when compared to Mom. Last month, Americans spent nearly $20 billion (yes, that’s a b) for Mother’s Day. This week, we may hit $12.5 billion for dad.

So what’s up? Do we love our mothers more than our dads? To celebrate mom, we shower her with gifts, spend her to a spa and take her out for a fancy brunch or dinner. And dad? Well not so much. For his day, we send a card or, if it’s not too far out of our way, we might stop by the hardware store and pick up a gift card.

So what’s Dad doing wrong?

Maybe it’s not his fault. After a long snowy winter, Mother’s Day is a celebration of spring. The jewelry and department stores, boutiques and florists flood the media with suggestions. Besides, it’s easy to shop for mom. She’s always more than happy with a pair of funky earrings or fashionable new cardigan. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers.

With special menus and a free glass of champagne, restaurants vie for mom’s attention as well. Between the surge of advertising and her helpful suggestions, choosing a gift and/or a restaurant is a no brainer. There’s no way you can even begin to pretend that you forgot mom on her day.

Father’s Day is a different story. With a bounty of graduation parties, wedding and anniversary celebrations and end of school festivities, dads get lost in the merriment of June.

Since you finally figured out that dad hasn’t worn a tie in ten years, when it comes to a present, you’re stumped. He mumbled something about a cookout on Sunday, so in desperation, you head to the hardware store. Truth be told, he only suggested a cookout because he’s afraid you’ll get him another tie. He probably figured he could leave it in the box. No one wants to see a tie dangerously dangling over hot coals.

Wandering through the hardware store, you think, “maybe a grill?” Unfortunately, his dream model is twice the price of your first car. After checking your bank balance, you look at the alternatives. Finally! Could this be the one, the answer to your Father’s Day gift conundrum? It’s a bit more modest than his dream machine but still has a few bells and a couple of whistles. After a second look, you realize it is more or less identical to the one already sitting on his deck.

Feeling defeated, you grab a bundle of fancy, long-handled grill tools. Back home, you find a gift bag and some ribbon. As you wrap the tools, guilt over your lame gift continues to gnaw. Even worst, you begin to wonder, did you give him the same set last year? Mom was delighted to add another cardigan to the dozens that make up her knitted rainbow. You can only hope that Barbecue Bob will be as happy to add yet another set to his multiple versions of long handled spatulas, spoons, forks and tongs. At least this latest batch has those high tech silicon handles.

Happy Day Dad and bon appétit!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart
chocolate_peanut_butter_tart_04It’s too early for local blueberries (my dad’s favorite pie) but this nutty desert is a delicious alternative. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Chocolate Cookie Crust
7-8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, about 1 3/4 cups crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cookies in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the sugar, espresso powder and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle the crumbs with the melted butter and pulse to combine.

Put the cookies crumbs in a 10-inch tart pan or deep dish 9-inch pie plate and press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake just until set, about 8 minutes. Cool the crust and prepare the filling.

Peanut Butter Filling
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, very cold

Put the cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined.

Put the cream in a bowl and whip with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add one quarter of the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and gently stir to combine. Gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the filling.

Spoon the filling into the crust, smooth the surface and refrigerate the pie for 4 hours.

Chocolate Glaze
4 ounces good milk chocolate, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup or more heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts

Put the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl and zap on high at 20-second intervals until the chocolate starts to melt and the cream is warm. Add the espresso powder and let the chocolate and cream sit for a minute. Add the vanilla, whisk to combine and cool the chocolate for 10 minutes.

If necessary, add a little more cream and drizzle the chocolate glaze over the peanut butter filling. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set. The tart can be made in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 15-30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

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One Year Ago – Salsa Verde
Two Years Ago – Blueberry Crumb Cake
Three Years Ago – Peanut-Sesame Dipping Sauce
Four Years Ago – Strawberry Gelato
Five Years Ago – Asparagus Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s your bright gift idea for dad this year? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014