Friday, June 15, 2012

Mocha Custard Pie

I love chilled pies in the summer, and this one is elegant and satisfied my chocolate craving. This recipe was clipped from the newspaper. It lists Horizon Organic butter, milk and cream, and indeed, that’s what I used. My first choice is Organic Valley since they’re a farmer-owned co-op, but Horizon’s my second choice, and everything is delicious. I worry a lot about the hormones, antibiotics and other contaminants in dairy. I guess organic cows still have to live in the world, but at least they have a good chance at being healthy, and I hope they live a comfortable life.

The trick in a chilled pie or cheesecake is the crust, I think. I don’t like a graham cracker crust – it’s too commercial, too much of a mouthful of dry eh. I save cookies to grind up for crusts. I used toasted pecan cookies this time. Mmmmm. And the other trick is that unlike a pastry crust that makes a container for the filling, a crumb crust will be held together partly by the filling, so don’t mash it down (that will make it hard to get out). Just drop it in and gently spread it around until it’s mostly uniform. This one only bakes 5 min., and the butter adds holding power.

This custard came out perfect, but a few times I’ve ended up with the bits of cooked yoke. Easy peasy –  just put it through a strainer.

Mocha Custard Pie

Crumb Crust

1 ½ c. finely ground cookies (If I didn’t have any cookies in the freezer, I might buy some gorgeous, expensive ones and serve the rest on the side.)
1/3 c. butter, melted

Custard Filling

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 T. butter, divided
2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso
1 tsp. hot water
½ tsp. vanilla
6 egg yolks
2 ½ whole or reduced fat milk
½ c. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch

Coffee Whipped Cream

1 tsp. instant coffee or espresso
½ tsp. hot water
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. confectioner’s sugar
½ tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 9” pie pan. Mix crumbs and melted butter and spread onto bottom and slightly up sides of pie plate. Bake 5 min. and set aside to cool.

To prepare filling, place chopped chocolate and 1 T. butter in one bowl, and instant coffee, water (stir), vanilla and 1 T. butter in another bowl. (You will add half of the custard to each to make a layered pie.)

Place yolks in bowl, and set aside. Combine milk, sugar and cornstarch in heavy saucepan and whisk to blend. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until nearly simmering. “Temper” yolks by pouring about ¾ c. hot milk mixture into them in thin, steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Whisk tempered yolk mixture into saucepan to form custard. Bring to boil, whisking constantly, and boil 1 min. Immediately pour half into bowl with chocolate and half in bowl with coffee. Whisk each until blended smooth.

Pour chocolate custard into crust and spread smooth. Gently spoon coffee custard over chocolate and spread into even layer. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pie and set aside to cool. Refrigerate at least 6 hrs. or overnight.

Shortly before serving, prepare topping. Dissolve coffee in hot water and set aside to cool. Using electric mixer, whip cream until thickened. Add confectioner’s sugar and continue whipping until cream holds soft peaks. Add vanilla and dissolved coffee and whip until stiff. Pipe or spread over pie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Announcing two terrific back-to-back Youngstown Cash Mob events!

The Youngstown Cash Mob will visit Mahoning Valley Vacuum on Sat. 23 June. What a great story here. The owner, Brian Forward, was in the first graduating class of the Rich Center for Autism at YSU. By the time he graduated, he had over 100 vacuums, and his passion inspired his family to open this store. Brian will give your vacuum a tune-up for $10. He can also do a more extensive refurbishing. If your old clunker is past saving, you might consider trading it in on a newer model. He'll fix the old one to donate to the Beatitude House. Your vacuum runs fine? Brian carries accessories like belts and bags, as well as cards and crafts for other fundraisers. He also sells gift certificates in case someone on your gift list will be starting a new household.

Youngstown Cash Mob June Event
Sat. 23 June, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
7178 West Blvd. in Boardman
New Vacuums, Tune-Ups, Repairs, Supplies
Candles, Cards, Crafts from ‘Making Kids Count’

 And by invitation, our July event will coincide with the opening of community activist Phil Kidd's non-profit store Youngstown Nation. We are thrilled. He is stocking the store with all kinds of Youngstown memorabilia, wearables, collectables and curiosities - you can see some images on the Defend Youngstown Facebook page. Profits from the store will benefit neighborhood groups. This is also the weekend of the Summer Festival of the Arts at Youngstown State! Come down and make a day of it.

Youngstown Cash Mob July Event
Sat. 7 July, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
In Conjunction With The Grand Opening Of
8 N. Phelps St. in Youngstown

            Youngstown-themed t-shirts, books, posters, postcards, signs
historic memorabilia, original art
Youngstown Cash Mob selects and visits one locally owned business each month.
Find us on Facebook or
Cash Mob, like Flash Mob, only the singing is optional.

Orange Marmalade Cake

Talk about taking the cake… this is crazy elaborate and time consuming, but for a special occasion, oh. my. I took it to a fundraiser and a caterer told my friend it was the best cake she’d ever tasted. So thanks to both of you for making my day, and here’s the recipe, which I clipped from a small local newspaper, judging from the events on the back (“Church Women United of Salem to meet”). The recipe notes that it serves 10-12 and was adapted from a recipe by Scott Peacock.

Esther’s Orange Marmalade Cake

For the cake:

1 c. salted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pans
3 ¼ c. cake flour (1 c. cake flour = 1 c. all-purpose flour minus 2 T.)
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 2/3 c. sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 T. grated orange zest
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk, at room temperature

For the orange syrup:

1 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ c. sugar

For the filling:

12-oz. jar orange marmalade

For the frosting:

1 c. heavy cream, chilled
4 T. sugar
1 c. sour cream, chilled

The cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter three 9” round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, then lightly butter and flour the paper, shaking out any excess.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
Beat the butter on medium speed until light in color, about 4 min. Add the sugar in a steady stream with the mixer running. Beat until light and fluffy, about 4 min. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stop at least once to scrape down the batter from the sides of the bowl. After all the eggs have been added, continue to beat on medium speed for 2 more min. With the mixer on low, add the oil and beat for 1 min.
In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, vanilla and buttermilk. Using a rubber spatula, fold in half of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the buttermilk mixture. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients, scrape down the sides, and add the remaining buttermilk.
Pour the batter among the prepared pans, smooth the surface, rap each pan on the counter to expel any air pockets, then place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 min., or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 20 min.

The orange syrup: In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice and the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. While the cakes are still in the cake pans, use a toothpick to poke holes at ½” intervals in the cake layers. Spoon the syrup over each layer, allowing the syrup to be completely absorbed before adding the remainder. Let the layers cool completely in the pans.

The filling: In a chilled mixing bowl, using the wire whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the 4 T. sugar until stiff peaks form. Add the sour cream, a little at a time, and whisk until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake: Invert one of the cake layers on a cake plate and carefully peel off the parchment. Spread one-third of the marmalade over the top, smoothing it into an even layer. Invert the second layer on top of the first, peel off the parchment, and spoon another third of the marmalade on top. Place the third cake layer on top, remove the parchment, and spoon the remaining marmalade onto the center of it. Frost the sides and the top border with frosting, leaving marmalade on top of the cake exposed. (My oven temperature is uneven, and in jostling the cakes they collapsed a bit in the center, so I frosted the whole top to make it level.) Chill for at least two hours.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

From Vera Pavlova's "If There Is Something to Desire"


He gave me life as a gift.
What can I give in return?
My poems.
I have nothing else.
But then, are they mine?
This is the way, as a child,
I would give birthday cards
to my mother: I chose them,
and paid with my father's money.


Self-Portrait in Profile

the one
who wakes up
on your