Friday, March 27, 2015


When I was a kid, my mother made a version of ratatouille with chicken.

I hated it. 
My dad used to refer to it as "chicken rat's tail." 
That didn't help.

The flavors were muddy, the chicken was rubbery, and, inevitably, there would be an alcoholic residue in the stew (I'm going to assume her recipe called for white wine ... and Mom doesn't really drink) and I just plain could NOT get past the way everything stewed together.

So, when my 5-year-old saw "Remy's Ratatouille With Poached Eggs" on Disney Junior and insisted we were going to cook it "for Daddy," I have to admit I had a kind of Proustian moment thinking about that childhood experience and comparing it to the dish we saw on screen. 

Seeing as how it's Friday, and I'm on a no-meat-on-Friday kick, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try the recipe.

Please note, this isn't a version of the one from the animated film, Ratatouille, which uses mandoline-sliced vegetables in kind of a gratin method, but rather a variation on the actual peasant-stew.

In other words, it's closer to my mom's than Pixar's.

And ... 

... I like this one fine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day

Yep. It's that time of year again. The time of year an old buddy of mine used to call "amateur night." When young folks make excuses to drink themselves silly, bagel shops dye perfectly good bagels green, and bars dye (really cheap) beer the same shade. 

For Americans, this also means corned beef and cabbage.

For my husband, this means ... corned beef and some kind of potato, because he's not fond of cabbage.

A few years ago, we started cooking ours in the slow cooker. Water doesn't add any flavor, so we used ... beer.

Irish beer.

And pickle juice. (Really.)

This year's is simmered in Smithwick's with a dose of Claussen kosher dill pickle juice.

And I'm having mine with sauerkraut. And a nice, foamy, Guinness.

What could be more American?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Pi(e) Day!

To those of us who (a) are mathematically inclined and (b) write our dates in MM/DD/YY format, today, March 14th, is "Pi Day."

For double the geek-cred, it's also Princeton's celebration of Albert Einstein's birthday

At any rate, in case you didn't know, pi (or π, if you prefer) is an irrational number that represents the ratio between the diameter of a circle and its circumference. Expressed as a fraction, it's 22 which is 3.1415926 ... in decimal. Short-handed, it's 3.14.

So, this unofficial celebration of geekery leads to a lot of people making (and eating) pies and a lot more making (bad) puns.

I'm less inclined to do the math and more inclined to make bad puns.

And make pie.

Since we celebrated the munchkin's birthday today with her cousins from my side of the family, it seemed a great way to dish up some quiche ... er, refrigerator pie.

By request, I've also got some blueberry pie in the works.

Shopping List

  • frozen pie crusts (4)
  • refrigerated pie crusts (2)
  • asparagus
  • leeks
  • bacon
  • ham
  • spinach
  • Gruyere-Cheddar Melange cheese
  • half-and-half
  • lemons (yes, I realize the recipe called for orange, but I wanted lemon)
  • frozen blueberries
  • tapioca flour

Recipe Review - Good Eats Refrigerator Pie 

Ease of Preparation

Couldn't be easier, though I did make things a wee bit more complicated for myself by making all the fillings on the same day as I assembled each quiche.

AB calls this recipe (and a few like it) "refrigerator Velcro," meaning it can be a great way to use up random leftovers in the fridge.

I opted to make 3 - bacon-leek-Gruyere; spinach-ham-cheddar; and asparagus-smoked salmon. 

Assembly couldn't be simpler - follow the package instructions for your frozen pie crust to put them into the pan, evenly distribute your fillings of choice, being careful not to overfill, mix up the royale (custard), pour, and bake.

My 5-year-old helped me make the royale. She could probably help fill each pie shell if I'd let her!

My sister could totally do this. 

Specialty Equipment Required?


I bought disposable pie tins to make cleanup and leftover distribution easier, but there's really no need to do that. Most people will be fine with their own pans.

Did my husband and daughter enjoy it? 

My husband tried the bacon-leek-Gruyere and didn't hate it, but I was also providing other food to make things work out - 7 adults with varying palates plus 5 children with varying degrees of pickiness means I also provided fruit and mini pastries.

My daughter wouldn't try it, but it's only because it's eggs, cheese, and whatever in an unfamiliar presentation.

Regular rotation-worthy?


I'll keep this in my back pocket to make again for brunch.


Recipe Review - Good Eats Frozen Blueberry Pie

Ease of Preparation

It's rated "intermediate" at Food Network for a couple of reasons, mostly because it involves a lot of patience (you assemble the filling & then freeze it) and more than a little work (weaving a lattice from a pie crust, a step which I skipped in order to carve a π into the top crust. 

But, I think my sister would be fine with the steps.

Specialty Equipment Required?

Yes - you'll need something to mash half your blueberries with (I used a potato masher) and you'll need a 9" pie tin that can be put in the freezer. 

Did my husband and daughter enjoy it? 

I'll answer that question after dinner! The pie is currently cooling in the kitchen. 

Regular rotation-worthy?

Yes, but seasonal - while the thawed berries seemed to work out OK, I think it would be better with fresh.

And I'm waiting for June/July to pick some Jersey Fresh blueberries!!