Category Archives: How To

Nectarine Pie [Recipe]

Summertime… What does it mean to you? For me, summer is never complete without a peach pie. This year I experimented with nectarines in place of peaches. We tried out a nectarine and blackberry pie with an all butter crust.

Nectarine and Blackberry Pie with an All Butter Crust

Nothing beats a ripe nectarine for snacking, standing over the sink, letting the juice drip down your hands. But baking? My interest was piqued when I heard they can be baked without peeling, which can be tedious when preparing peaches. The Little Birds and I picked up extra sweet Carmen Miranda nectarines from a local farm at Specialty Produce.

Nectarines for Pie

My four-and-a-half-year-old loves baking and she helped with every step. She even took this picture of me and the pie dough. Here I am shaping half of the dough into a disc before chilling it in the refrigerator for half an hour.

All butter pie crust for nectarines and berries

These nectarines were so sweet there was no need to add any sugar. In fact, I added a splash of lemon juice to try to cut the sweetness. Because they were ripe and juicy, I added a little tapioca flour to thicken up the filling. You could use flour or cornstarch, but I think they leave a starchy taste. This recipe has zero added sugar, unless you want an optional sprinkle of a pinch of turbinado sugar on the top crust.

Carmen Miranda Nectarines are super sweet and juicy

We love eating sweet, fresh summer fruit simply. But a pie is one way to celebrate the fruit and make it the star.

Fresh blackberries for pie

Peach vs. Nectarine Pie?

Nectarine Pie - 5

And the verdict? These nectarines almost reminded me more of baked plums than baked peaches. I liked the bit of pink the skin gave the fruit, and didn’t mind the texture of the skin one bit.  But as far as being easier to prep than peaches… I had a hard time cutting the nectarines off the pit. The don’t fall off the pit nicely like peach slices. Then I figured out the trick of cutting them squarely.

Egg white brushed inside the pie crust can help prevent it from getting soggy from a juicy filling

Here is another trick for you: if you brush a little bit of beaten egg white on to the bottom crust, it can help prevent a juicy filling from getting the bottom crust too soggy. Cracking an egg, beating the egg, and brushing it on are all great jobs for kids!

Lattice top for a Nectarine Pie A lattice top is pretty classic for a peach or nectarine pie. I rolled out the second half of my crust recipe and used a ravioli cutter to slice strips with a fluted edge. Use the longer strips in the middle and the shorter pieces on the edges, and weave over and under. Can you tell in this photo where I messed up the pattern?

The extra bits of crust went to Little Bird to make her famous pie crust cookies. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream for dessert, or simply as is for a sorta healthy breakfast!

Nectarine Pie [Recipe]
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 pie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A twist on a classic American peach and berry pie makes use of peak of season nectarines and blackberries.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 large nectarines
  • 1 pint of blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon of tapioca powder
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 recipe for a double pie crust
  • 1 egg white, gently beaten
  • (optional) sprinkle of turbinado sugar
  • (optional) splash of milk
Instructions
  1. Prepare an all butter pie crust according to instructions, chill in the refrigerator while you prep the fruit.
  2. Wash and cut the nectarines. Wash the berries. Toss with the tapioca powder and lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350* F.
  4. Roll out the first pie crust and gently place in the bottom of a 9" pie pan. Brush a thin layer of beaten egg white over the dough. Gently pile the fruit into the pan. Dot with little bits of butter.
  5. Roll out the second pie crust, then cut into slices. Decorate the top, weaving over and under, until a lattice covers the top. Brush the top crust with a bit of milk and/or sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is browned and the fruit is tender. IMPORTANT (and hard): Let the pie sit for at least one hour before cutting.

Enjoy!

Nectarine Blackberry Pie

How to Make a Perfectly Flaky All Butter Pie Crust

This post on a foolproof, flaky all butter pie crust is three years in the making. This is the recipe and method I’ve been using for almost ten years. My mom is a master pie baker, I think my lack of fear of pastry dough comes from her. She taught me to use half butter and half shortening, but I prefer all butter for taste, texture and health reasons. For most of my adult years I’ve been the designated pie baker at Thanksgiving, bringing various Pumpkin Pies and my favorite, Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie. I like baking, and letting someone else host the rest of the meal works for me.

How to Make a Perfect, Flaky, All Butter Pie Crust via @babybirdsfarmSo, ever notice how successful food bloggers post recipes well in advance of a holiday? (The reason is so that the post has time to get shared on Pinterest and Facebook.) I’m clearly not organized enough to be one of them, although I have aspirations. I tend to just bake/cook and take pictures if I can. Writing and posting happens when I have free time. We took pictures of making this butter pie crust three Thanksgivings ago! I actually started drafting this post in September, and I’m only remembering to share it today as my friend asked me for an all butter pie crust recipe last night. Today (the Sunday before Thanksgiving) is actually the perfect day to make pie crust. It will be just fine in the fridge. Little Bird and I are starting our pie dough today, so join us in real-time baking! This is also the perfect recipe for procrastinators as it is one of the few that doesn’t have to be chilled before rolling.

How to Make a Perfect, Flaky, All Butter Pie Crust via @babybirdsfarm

Tips for making a flaky butter pie crust:

  • The secret is really to have big chunks of butter suspended in the dough. They steam a little when they bake, making pockets in the pastry, which gives it the crunch and flake.
  • You don’t want the butter to ever melt, either from a hot kitchen, or warm hands. Fortunately freezing the butter this way really helps.
  • Don’t over handle the dough. If you mess up, just try to patch it back together with a little water. Don’t ever ball up the dough and roll it out again. Over-handling it like that makes it tough.
  • With this much butter in the recipe, the quality of your butter will be apparent. Use a good grass-fed or cultured butter if you can. And make sure it is unsalted!
  • Make crust “cookies” (kid-cook friendly) with any extra dough (or make an extra batch!)
  • There is no “perfect” in baking, and letting go a little helps. I’ve actually heard of pie baking being good therapy for anxiety. Maybe one day I’ll combine my private practice (psychotherapy) with baking in a workshop!
  • I really should do a video to show more of the rolling technique, but in the mean time, don’t worry about it being a perfect circle. If you historically struggle, make 1.5x the dough you need, so that it is bigger than what you need when you roll it out. Then use a knife to cut it into a circle! The scraps can be used for crust cookies or decorating.
  • The dough can be prepared the weekend before Thanksgiving. Make a round, 1.5″ thick disc of the dough. Wrap tightly in plastic and store in the fridge, up to 4-5 days. Can also be freezer for longer.
  • Pies taste the best when baked the day of. That way the bottom crust is still flaky. When stored in the fridge after baking, it can get tough or mushy. You can, however, roll out the dough the day before, put it in the bottom of the pie pan, cover in plastic and store, unbaked, in the fridge for a day or two. Then fill it and bake the day you want to serve it.
  • For more pie tips from Matt Gordon of Urban Solace, along with a Sweet Potato Pecan Pie recipe, click here.

How to Make a Perfect, Flaky, All Butter Pie Crust via @babybirdsfarm

Flaky All Butter Pie Crust
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
 
Makes a double crust. For a single crust pie, such as pumpkin pie, freeze the other half for an easy pie crust in the future. From The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook via eggbeater.
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar (optional, I usually omit)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • ice water, to incorporate
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter evenly into small pieces, place on a plate in the freezer and chill for about 30 minutes. Put ice and cold water in a measuring cup and chill (you won't use it all, but might as well have it cold.)
  2. Place all dry ingredients in the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid mixer. When butter is frozen, use paddle attachment with mixer on the very lowest setting, and drop butter in a few pieces at a time. Stay close by. When the chunks of butter are slightly larger than pea size, dribble in the ice water until dough does not appear dry and JUST begins to come together.
  3. Move the dough to a dry surface and push together with the heel of your hand. Try not to knead or overwork the dough, you want it to come together so you can roll it out. This dough can be used right away! This amount makes enough for a top and a bottom. If you are not going to use it right away, double wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for up to a month.

Pin the recipe to remember it for next year!

How to Make a Perfect, Flaky All Butter Pie Crust via @babybirdsfarm

 

Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes

So, Little Bird and I did something super fun… We joined our friends in a photo shoot for Pottery Barn Kids! They sent us cute Halloween costumes for the kids and challenged us to pair them with creative costumes for the moms. You can see their feature here.

Creative mom and daughter Halloween costumes - Bee and Flowers

Photographer Chrissy Powers wore her 3-week-old newborn in a wrap and captured the fun. Update: You can see more of the fun on the Small Fry Blog.

Creative Costumes for Moms and Kids

I met Cassidy June in a breastfeeding support group when Little Bird (now 4!) and Cassidy’s daughter were brand new. If your child gravitates towards fairies, like this Gold Snow Fairy, an easy costume for mom is “Pixie Dust.” Grab any metallic dress out of your closet, sprinkle a little glitter, and have fun!

Creative Mom and Daughter Halloween Costumes - Fairy and Pixie Dust

Isobel of Bel & Beau reined with both her sons wearing the adorable dragon costumes from PBK. She wore a “Mother of Dragons” T-shirt from A Little Bundle (they also make the cute “Mama Bird” and “Baby Bird” shirts) and a long skirt. If you don’t “get it,” it’s a reference to the female lead in a Game of Thrones. My Little Bird was quite taken with her older son. They played together the whole day and were holding hands in the group shot above.

Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes - Mother of Dragons and Baby Dragons

Here at Baby Birds Farm, we have been all about planting milkweed, Cleveland sage, and other pollinator-friendly plants in our backyard. Both of my girls love playing a game where we take turns playing a butterfly or bee. The other pretends to be a girl trying to entice the pollinator with flowers.

Abby of Baby Birds Farm and Little "Bee"

Little Bird had fun dressing up in the Bumblebee Tutu. (This idea would also work for butterflies and lady bugs.) I wore a flower crown and a dress Nikki of Je’Adore decorated with a hot glue gun. Wish I was crafty! It is not one of my strengths.

Creative Mom and Daughter Halloween Costumes - Bee and Field of Flowers

Little Bird decided herself to style her outfit with her tap shoes after I showed her the “Bee Girl” in the Blind Melon No Rain video.


Speaking of Nikki being crafty, I love the rain cloud she made out of an umbrella to shower her little rainbow. How cute are they?! Colorful rain boots and a rain jacket completed the fun.

Creative Mom and Kid Halloween Costumes - Rainbow and Cloud

Playing dress up was my favorite game as a kid. And back in the day I used to organize photo shoots when I was building my modeling portfolio. It was so fun to laugh and love my daughter, sharing one of my favorite activities.

Little Bee

She has had fun in the past on photo shoots for “Uncle Steve.” I want it to always be fun. I don’t see the need in pushing her to do more work for pay – not unless it is something she is asking for and is 100% enjoying.

field of flowers and a bee

I’m grateful to Emily who gave us all glamorous hair and makeup on behalf of 1011MakeUp. As mentioned above, all photos in this post are by Chrissy Powers and creative direction by Cassidy June.

playing with my little bee

For an idea on how to do Goldilocks and the Three Bears as an easy and inexpensive family costume, click here. Happy Halloween!

pixie dust

Pin the below image or your favorite above to Pinterest!

Four Mom and Kid Halloween Costume Ideas

Share in the comments: which is your favorite mom and kiddo costume combo?

S’mores Baked Alaska

S’mores Baked Alaska is a recreation of a delicious dessert we have had several times at Waypoint Public in North Park. A meringue top is toasted, like a perfect campfire marshmallow, covering a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a crunchy graham cracker crust.

S'mores Baked Alaska recipe

This recipe was also the perfect excuse to try out the blowtorch Papa Bird gave me for Christmas. Being a food blogger, cooking gadgets are always a good call for gifts. As usual, Little Bird helped out on every step, except maybe the blowtorching. The recipe is actually pretty easy. The crust is just graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, pressed into pans. You could make crumbs easily with a food processor, but giving a three-year-old license to whack anything is fun. It’s also a good emotional outlet, as I learned during a school social work internship.

I thought about making something more like homemade marshmallows for the top (like this David Liebowitz pie), and thought I had gelatin leftover from the last time I made pumpkin cheesecake with cranberry gelee, but I was out. I might try marshmallow next time, if I’m feeling ambitious, but a simple meringue totally worked. We topped it like the restaurant with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and graham cracker crumbs. Yum!!

S'mores Baked Alaska recipe from Waypoint Public

Our whole family has always enjoyed Waypoint Public. It is one of the few places with an indoor play area. That’s not McDonald’s. But an actual restaurant with tasty food. In fact, their executive chef, Amanda Baumgarten, was a contestant on Top Chef. Tip: They have a back room for private events. We hosted my sister’s baby shower there in December. All of the staff were very accommodating.

S'mores Baked Alaska
 
Author:
Recipe type: Restaurant Recreation
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 3 4-inch pies
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
This a recreation of a dessert from Waypoint Public restaurant in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, CA.
Ingredients
  • 8 graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional but helps hold peaks)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • chocolate syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Place 8 graham crackers in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and seal. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers until they are broken into uniform crumbs. See video above. (Or pulse in a food processor.) Place ½ cup of graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl with the melted butter. (Reserve the rest of the crumbs for decorating.) Stir the crumbs and butter until combined and then press into three four-inch tart pans or ramekins. Put the mini pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, but leave on the baking sheet.
  2. Place a scoop of ice cream in each cooled crust. Leave a rim of crust around the edge uncovered. This will allow the meringue to completely surround the ice cream and make a good seal with the crust. Place the baking sheet and pans in the freezer to chill a bit while you make the meringue.
  3. Separate the eggs and place in a clean bowl of a mixer with the vanilla and cream of tartar. Using a wire whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Pipe or spoon the egg white mixture over the ice cream, making sure you bring it all the way down to the edge of the pie. Using a kitchen blowtorch, carefully toast the outside of the meringue.
  5. Decorate with a little chocolate syrup and graham cracker crumbs and eat right away.
Notes
You can refreeze any leftover pies.

 Continue for step-by-step photos and a video of the blowtorch in action. Continue reading

Home Smoked Salmon

I’m happy to share one of my husband’s specialties: Smoked Salmon. After we enjoyed my uncle Bobby’s homemade smoked salmon so much, I gave my husband what we call a “Bobby grill” for his birthday. The Bobby grill is actually a Portable Kitchen Cast-Aluminum Grill and Smoker (Amazon link) but in my family, everything gets named and claimed!

how to make smoked salmon at home

This post was sponsored by Whole Foods La Jolla, who generously provided all the ingredients for this Smoked Salmon recipe and the following “latkes and lox.” Papa Bird points out that this recipe makes a “hot-smoked” salmon, even though it uses indirect heat. True lox is made with a cold-smoking process.

smoked salmon on the pk grill

Although I usually seek out wild salmon, I found myself gravitating to the fresher-looking farmed salmon at Whole Foods. The woman at the counter explained that all of the wild salmon was previously frozen, as the Alaskan season has ended. The farmed salmon was fresh and had never been frozen. Usually I avoid farmed salmon as a big “no no,” but again I was educated. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch (my go-to source of info) writes: “Most farmed salmon is on the “Avoid” list due to concerns such as the use of antibiotics important to human health and the potential for parasite and disease transfer to wild salmon populations. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies some salmon fisheries as sustainable.” Whole Foods lists which fish meets Marine Stewardship Council criteria. Their salmon farmers use recirculating aquaculture systems, which is a “Best Choice” for consumers. It is also a more affordable choice!

Papa Bird's Home Smoked Salmon
 
Author:
Cuisine: Jewish-American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1-2 salmon fillets (2-3 pounds)
  • 1 cup dark, spiced rum
  • 1¼ cup organic brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup honey
Instructions
  1. Remove the skin the salmon and remove any bones. Rinse the salmon in cold water and blot dry. Place the salmon in a baking dish and pour the rum over it, covering completely. Let sit for 30 minutes in the fridge. Then drain the salmon and blot dry.
  2. Mix the brown sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread one third of the mixture in a clean baking dish. Lay the salmon on top and sprinkle the rest of the cure on top, patting it into the fish. Let cure in the fridge for 4 hours.
  3. Set up grill for indirect cooking. The coals should be off to one side and the fish will go over to the other side. Place 4 cups of wood chips in a pan of water to presoak. Place a drip pan under where the fish will go, and preheat grill to 325*.
  4. Rinse off the cure off the salmon with cold water and blot dry. Rub honey into the salmon on both sides. Toss 2 cups of wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the salmon on the opposite side as the coals, and over the drip pan. Toss 2 more cups of wood chips on the coals and cover the grill. Smoke the fish until cooked through, about 20 minutes. The fish should feel firm and break into clean flakes.
  5. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve warm, room temperature or cool. Keeps in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Notes
Papa Bird notes that salmon fillets work better than steaks. He prefers thinner fillets over thick, meaty ones. More surface area to come into contact with the cure and the smoke.

Click on any image in this gallery for step by step photos on how to make smoked salmon at home.

Many thanks again to Whole Foods La Jolla! They provided me with all of the ingredients, free of charge. (The recipes and opinions are all mine.) Follow them on Twitter at  and . (Follow my tweets @BabyBirdsFarm). You can pin this recipe on Pinterest here, and follow my Jewish Food board for more noshing.