I killed my baby.

My baby sourdough starter that is. This is what it looks like now:

You can see the dark liquid sitting on top of the slurry-like flour and yeast mixture, and it just looks bad. I opened the jar and confirmed death. It's actually rather embarrassing because I purport to be this amateur expert of a baker, but it seems the amateur is coming out in this case.

There's something about bread-making that scares me a little. Maybe it's because there's less precision than in cake-baking or cookie making - it's a lot more about the senses. You smell the yeast, handle the dough, massage it into a form that you want - it doesn't have to be pretty, but it has to be something you are attracted to. There's also a lot more patience involved than in regular baking. Humidity, ambient temperature, the amount you beat your dough or let it rest - all foibles affecting the rise, taste and texture.

Bread-making is an inexact science that I am willing to try out, nay, determined to master.

So, I'm trying to make my own starter:

I am crossing my fingers something bubbles soon!

Turkey Stuffing Pie with Cranberries

So the pie I submitted for the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit was a labor of love and, I think, some thought. I mean, it wasn’t something out of a recipe book and I wasn’t sure how well it would come out. But there’s nothing like a challenge to keep things interesting – I mean, why else do they have all those Top Chef shows?

First, I roasted a turkey breast. Sure I could have found some pre-roasted turkey meat, but I wanted to control the flavor profile in my pie and there’s no better way in doing that by roasting your own turkey breast. I used a butter rub and added some sage and rosemary, salt and pepper and roasted till the skin was a lovely golden brown. Once it was done, I let it rest and then pulled off all the breast meat and did a rough chop and set it aside.

In the interim I made the stuffing crust and the cranberry sauce.

The stuffing recipe was incredibly simple:

Ingredients (for 2 stuffing crusts)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (I used locally grown, wild celery)
6 cups dry bread cubes (I used potato bread cubes from the supermarket)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons fresh sage, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 eggs, beaten

In a skillet, melt butter and sauté onion until tender. Add celery, sage and rosemary and sauté until the celery is softened. Cool slightly. In a bowl, add the bread cubes, celery mixture, salt and pepper to taste and chicken broth. Taste the seasoning before adding the beaten eggs and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Press the mixture into 2 9-inch pie plates and set aside until ready to fill.

Cranberry Sauce

1 lb of fresh cranberries (from some farm upstate)
1 cup sugar
Zest of half a tangerine (or orange if you have that on hand)
1 stick of cinnamon

Boil all the ingredients together until all the cranberry pods pop. Then let cool for about an hour so the sauce has time to gel.

Assembling the pie

What I did was mix about 1 cup of the cranberry sauce with the chopped turkey breast. I added some more sage and rosemary and then as a binder – eggs, cream, stock and a little flour.

I filled the pie crusts with the turkey-cranberry mixture, poured on the binder mixture and dotted the top with some more cranberry sauce.

This went into a 375 degree oven for 45-50 mins, until the binder was set and the crust was golden brown.

The pie needs to rest until almost completely cool so that all the ingredients set and you can cut a clean piece of pie.

It was declared by my brothers and friends – a huge success.


She's my cherry pie!

This past August, after five years of working at the same company and going nowhere fast, I left for greener pastures. It was exhilarating and also incredibly sad because while I didn’t like my job all that much – I grew very fond of my colleagues there and I would miss them.

One of them was a baker like me and we’d talk about different pie crusts, weird gadgets that we want but don’t see any practical use for and why some people prefer tart lemon bars and others sweet. It was great conversation and I still miss it. As a parting gift, she gave me one of the I-want-it-but-what-else-can-I-do-with-it? gadgets – a cherry pitter. I’ve always wanted a cherry pitter. Thanks, D. :)
So, when I saw a giant bag of dark, sweet cherries – I bought them and decided to make fresh Cherry Pie.

I wanted to try out a whole wheat pie crust, and it was a good call because the nuttiness of the whole wheat worked really well with the dark sweet and sour of the cherries. Waxing poetic here a bit, yes I am.

Pie crust


2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cups butter-flavored shortening
1/4 cup ice-cold water


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add pinch or two of salt to flour and mix. Add shortening and cut into the flour until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Add the cold water bit by bit until a dough ball forms. The dough shouldn’t be sticky, just soft and should hold well together. Separate into two pieces and roll out to fit into your pie dish. This should make two crusts.



2 lbs of fresh, pitted cherries
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, pour into rolled out pie shell. Top with remaining rolled out pie dough, crimp edges, slash vents in top and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for an hour – this is important because you want the filling to set properly so it cuts properly.

I eat this with sweetened whipped cream. Because there’s nothing like warm cherry pie and cool whipped cream – yum!


Sometimes, I like to hang out with friends. Maybe on a nice late summer afternoon, in a beer “garden” of sorts, drinking beer and shooting the breeze.

One of those lazy Sunday afternoons took me to Brooklyn, where my friend and I moseyed on over to Franklin Park a bar in Prospect Heights and partook in the open bar sponsored by Yelp and Fire Island Beer.

Being in a chatty mood, I found myself chatting with one of the brewers from Fire Island Beer and got on the topic of pizza dough. Now, I love making pizza at home and I hate using the stuff from your friendly grocery freezer aisle. But I’ve always ended up with either a tough or yeasty or a not that tempting product.

This brewer fellow said that I’d have a great thin crust pizza pie if I followed this recipe:


1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon good olive oil
Sea Salt

Pour water into a bowl and add yeast. Let rest for 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and knead for 5-10 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 1.5-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Makes about 3 pizzas. Enjoy!

(Note: when when you are separating out your risen down for the pies, make sure you punch down all the air and then lightly knead the dough again with some additional all-purpose flour to remove any residual stickiness. You want a nice, smooth, stretchy dough. And you can bake the pies right away or let them rise again for about 20 mins while you're prepping your toppings.)

So, I did all of the above, made my oven as hot as it could possibly go (most standard ovens go up to 550 degrees F – crank yours up to its max if you want a nice crisp crust). I don’t have a pizza stone – yet, but I do have pizza pans and I stretched the lovely dough on to them and added my homemade tomato-basil sauce and toppings galore. And you know what, those pie crusts were the best homemade pie crusts I’ve ever made. Thanks beer guy!

My take on a Blueberry Cobbler

Back in the summer when blueberries were in season, I went little nuts and bought a lot of them. It was the fault of my local green grocer for stocking large quantities of fresh, plump blueberries for ridiculous prices.

Putting blame aside, I did enjoy my delicious purchases, and made pancakes, ate them with ice-cream, yogurt, in smoothies, just fresh with some honey and lemon zest – the possibilities were limitless. But one thing blueberries scream to me is cobbler. But I wanted to make something small and portable, so I opted for a simple muffin batter recipe instead of cobbler batter (which is crumbly) and added it to the blueberries that I places in a large muffin tin.

My Take on a Blueberry Cobbler


1 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 small or medium sized egg
1/2 cup of milk, more if needed
1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed and dried


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin, or whatever large muffin/cupcake tin you have.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk and butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or spatula, combine the ingredients until just moistened – don’t over mix, you want a lumpy batter here.

Evenly portion out the blueberries in the greased muffin tins. Top with equal portions of the muffin batter. Pour water into the empty cups, if any are left empty.
Bake 20-30 minutes or until muffins are nicely browned on top. Remove from oven, let cool for about 5-7 minutes and serve warm.

I made some strawberry sauce from some soon-to-be-moldy strawberries I had in my fridge (it’s what you see in the picture), but sweetened whipped cream, ice-cream or plain works just fine.


2nd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off!

My good friend Deborah excitedly insisted in participating in the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit – an event where pie and charity go hand in hand.

Since I didn’t want to go all traditional, and the looming cooking marathon that is Thanksgiving was just around the corner – I decided to make a “deconstructed Thanksgiving meal.” This amounted to a Turkey Stuffing Pie with Cranberries.

I didn’t win, but the event was well attended.

I even got my brothers to come out.

They held it at Spacecraft in Williamsburg, a small space for the amount of people there, but still the haphazard quality had some charm to it.

There was a lot of pie, and while I didn’t get to try too many kinds – everyone seemed to be really enthusiastic about the depth and breadth of the pies.

It wasn’t too bad of a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.