Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strawberry Pie with Crumb Topping

Yield: one pie
Cook time: 15-20 minutes on the stovetop for the filling; 15 minutes in the oven at 375F, plus another approximately 45 minutes at 350F

  • 1+ qts. of strawberries, washed, cored, and sliced
  • 3/4 c. of granulated sugar
  • 1 c., plus 2-3 Tbs. of flour
  • 5-6 Tbs. of butter
  • squirt of lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2. c. of brown sugar
  • 1 graham cracker crust (pre-made is fine)
  1. cook the sliced strawberries with 2 Tbs. of butter, 2-3 Tbs. of flour, nutmeg, lemon juice, and the granulated sugar until they cook down, and the juice thickens up a bit
  2. pour them into a strainer over another pot, and let the juice drip through
  3. reduce the juice by about 1/3 to 1/2 until it thickens some more, while the strawberries cool
  4. melt 3-4 Tbs. of butter, add the brown sugar and flour, then mix it until crumbly
  5. spread the strawberries out in the pie crust, and pour the reduced juice over them
  6. sprinkle the topping over it, and bake at 375F for about 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350F, and bake for another 45 minutes or so.
  7. cool on a rack and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, and a sprig of mint

  1. The top on this pie browned more than I would have liked, but did so almost all within the first 10 minutes in the oven.
  2. Normally, I'd use a regular pie crust, but I didn't have enough butter, so I went with a store-bought graham cracker crust I happened to have on hand.
  3. I recommend using a cookie sheet under the pie dish, since the filling will bubble over a little.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Recipe: Raw Apple Bread

Yield: 1 loaf
Time: 20 minutes prep; 50-60 minutes at 350F
Source: Beard on Bread, Ballantine paperback edition, 1981, pg. 153

  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 1 c. of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. of flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. of buttermilk, or soured milk
  • 1 c. coarsly chopped unpeeled apples
  • 1/2 c. of chopped walnuts
  1. cream the butter
  2. mix in the sugar, a little at a time, creaming it into the butter thoroughly between additions
  3. beat in the eggs, milk, and vanilla
  4. sift together the dry ingredients
  5. mix them into the wet ingredients, a little at a time
  6. stir in the chopped apple and walnuts
  7. spoon it into a greased loaf tin
  8. bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes
  1. this makes a pretty sticky batter
  2. I used approx. 2 cups of chopped apple, and 3/4 c. of chopped walnuts; everything else I measured pretty accurately, as per the recipe
  3. according to James Beard, this tastes better left to sit for a day (it tastes pretty good still slightly warm from the oven, though, IMHO)
  4. it supposedly stores really well

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cross Culture Indian Cuisine Redux

We visited Cross Culture in Doylestown, PA, for a second time, earlier this evening. It's very easy to park in the center of town on a Sunday evening, without having to feed a meter, so we decided to go back for another meal.

This time we started out with the appetizer sampler for two ($8.95). It was tasty, and filling, but nothing spectacular. On the other hand, the entrees were wonderful. I had the shrimp tawa, and my partner in eating crime ordered chicken vindaloo.

I'm used to entrees at Indian restaurants being served in bowls, with rice on the side, and a clean plate on which you can splop your food as you wish. This wasn't the case with the shrimp tawa. It arrived on its own plate, reasonably artfully arranged, although no chef would win a prize for its presentation. The sweetness of the tamarind sauce was balanced nicely by the bite of the fresh cilantro, which I love. The crunch of the raw veggies was a good contrast to the texture of the shrimp. I'm not sure whether the thinly sliced raw red onion is typical of this dish, or peculiar to the Philly area.

The chicken vindaloo was served in a bowl, with rice on the side. The sauce was hot, as expected, but not enough to produce eyebrow sweat. The chicken was tender, with no odd bits of bone or cartilage. I've tasted spicier vindaloo sauce in NYC on Curry Row (E. 6th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves.), or up in Curry Hill (Murray Hill, along 3rd and 2nd Aves.), that also had a lot more oil in it. Still, this was nice and spicy, without the excess oil, which I think is a plus.

As before, service was courteous, but this time we had leftovers. The waiter had no problem bringing them back to the kitchen to box them up for us, and came back with a paper bag with handles. Hey, it's a little nicer than something that looks like a grocery bag -- not that it would have mattered. Service was a bit faster this time, even though there were more customers than the last time we visited.

The shrimp dish was a bit of a splurge (for Indian food), at $25.95, but the chicken was a more reasonable $18.95. I also ordered a glass of sweet iced tea, which might be too sweet for the average northerner in America, but it was just like anything you'd find south of the Mason-Dixon, which suited me just fine. Altogether, our tab came in a little under $61.

As you can see, the decor isn't overdone, nor is it underlit. I waited until the other parties in the room had finished their meals and left, before I snapped this shot. It wasn't this empty when we arrived.

Dining at Cross Culture is a pleasant experience, overall.

What you need to know:
  • parking can be an issue during the week, but there is a pay lot a block away
  • they do not deliver, but take-out is available for both lunch and dinner (phone in your order ahead of time, for faster pick-up)
  • it's BYOB
  • the lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu, with each dish priced a few dollars less

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chocolate Chess Pie

I didn't bake this. A neighbor did, and brought it over, while it was still hot. If you love chocolate, you'd love this. Two days later, the chocolate melts on your tongue, even after it's been in the fridge.

I happen to think it looks and tastes like sewer sludge, with a whole lot of sugar. The crust is fairly flaky, though.

Bear in mind that I really don't like chocolate. It was a heckuva nice gift, but every bite is sort of like eating fudge. More than one bite of it, and I'll get sick.

One of these days, I'll have to bake an apple or blueberry pie for her. Or strawberry. I think pie should contain fruit, even if that happens to be coconut or pumpkin. Well, I like ice cream pies too, but only in very small doses.

Chocolate is just sort of icky to me. If I'm going to load up on something that's like candy, it should taste like peppermint, black licorice, butterscotch, or English toffee.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Match the Bloom With the Fruit

This entry is a little different from my usual tried-and-true recipe or restaurant review. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to match the blossom in each of the pictures (letters A - F) with the name of the fruit it produces (numbers 1 - 6).

I really do grow all of these in my garden!







1. Zucchini
2. Blueberry
3. Tomato
4. Bean
5. Pea
6. Raspberry

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Review: Cross Culture

Type: Indian
Location: 62-64 W. State St., Doylestown, PA
Phone: 215-489-9101
Fax: 215-489-9104
Price Range: $6-$12 for soups/appetizers; $16-$25 for entrees; $4-$5.50 for desserts
Take Out: Yes
Catering: Yes
Hours: Sun. - Thurs. 11:30a - 10:00p; Fri. - Sat. 11:30a - 10:30p
Liquor License: BYOB

Last Sunday, I got a craving for Indian food. We got a brief break in the rain, and decided to try this place. When we arrived, around 8pm, the place was almost empty, with only a few other tables occupied by people who seemed to know the staff. The decor was fairly modern, and brighter than I've come to expect from Indian restaurants -- more naked wall space than ornate art, if you will.

The seating was comfortable. We skipped the appetizers and just ordered two entrees (chicken tikka masala and chicken vindaloo), plus naan. I was a little disappointed that chicken dhingri was not on the menu, but the available choices were all familiar. The vindaloo had the heat that it's supposed to have.

The tikka masala was a little different than I'm used to having on Indian Row or Curry Hill in NYC, inasmuch as the tomato-based sauce was creamier, with less ghee floating on top. The flavors were right, so I was pleasantly surprised with what seemed like a slightly lighter version of this rather rich dish. I may try the korma or achari next time we visit.

Service was good. Indian cuisine always seems to take longer to prepare and serve the food than other Asian cuisines; as such, this was about average. Our waiter was quick, however, to top off our water glasses. Portions are about average. We would have taken home leftovers had we ordered appetizers, but without any, we managed to finish our entrees, and left feeling quite full.

I would recommend this restaurant for those in the Bucks/Montgomery/Hunterdon area. There don't seem to be many Indian restaurants around, but this one holds its own with the many others at which I've eaten in NYC or Northern NJ.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Recipe: Banana Bread

This is a slightly adapted recipe from James Beard's paperback version of his Beard on Bread book, from 1973. He has two banana bread recipes, but the one I sort of followed is from page 147, that uses two bananas instead of three (page 146). I've tried both of them, but like this one better. It's not so heavy, and sticky-gooey, but is still full of banana-y goodness. It also makes a really nice base for a dessert, or toast for breakfast.

If you prefer your banana bread sticky-gooey, go with three bananas, skip the soured milk, and use half sugar/half honey.

We monkeys lurves our bananas!

Yield: one loaf
Time: 15-20 minutes prep; 60 minutes at 350F

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. of butter (1 stick, or 1/4 lb.), softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 medium sized very ripe bananas, well mashed
  • 1/3 c. of milk
  • 1 Tbs. of lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1/2 c. of chopped walnuts
  1. cream the sugar into the softened butter, little by little, until well mixed
  2. plop the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl, and fluff it up with a fork, whisk, or whatever, to make sure it's well mixed
  3. add the lemon juice or vinegar to the milk, and let it curdle
  4. mix your eggs and curdled milk into the butter/sugar mixture, and whisk it all together until well incorporated
  5. mix some of the dry ingredients into the wet ones, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well, between additions, until you have a nice batter
  6. stir in the chopped walnuts
  7. pour the batter into a buttered/greased loaf tin, and bake at 350F for about an hour
  1. I see no reason not to use buttermilk, if you have it, because all the dose of acid to the regular milk does is curdle it, effectively making it into buttermilk, anyway. All you really need is the acid to interact with the baking soda to make it rise. That's the ChemE major in me talking.
  2. There's no reason to get out an electric mixer for this batter -- a spoon or fork does the job just fine, or a whisk, if you prefer.
  3. Feel free to mix this batter all you want. It's not like a muffin batter that will form wormholes if you overmix it, but I see no reason to overdo it, either.
  4. If you're pressed for time, it's fine to melt the butter on the stovetop or in a microwave, rather than letting it sit out on the counter.
  5. I used approx. 2/3 c. of chopped walnuts this time, but up to 1 c. still works, and rises properly.