Free Easy Home Cooking Recipes

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Pie for breakfast? Sure! Top with vanilla yogurt and toasted pecans for a real stunner

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Cherry Blueberry Slab Pie (picnic perfect)

Cherry Blueberry Slab Pie (picnic perfect)

What do you get when you cross a pie with a bar? A slab pie of course. It’s everything great about a fruit pie but made in a baking dish so it’s thinner and manageable enough to pick up with your hands just like a lemon square or a brownie. It’s logical and genius because one slab pie feeds a crowd, can be made in advance and totally portable. With the clock is ticking on summer fruit, now’s the time to savor every last bite before it’s all a distant memory.

Making pie crust: With just a handful of ingredients (that you probably already have) and a food processor, you can make pie crust from scratch in all of 1 minute.  But the secret lies in the details. 1) Pulse the ingredients in the food processor until the mixture looks like sand. DON’T OVERMIX! 2) Knead the dough until it just holds together. DON’T OVER KNEAD! 3) The dough needs to be cold, cold,cold when it goes into the oven for flaky results. DON’T RUSH IT!

About the fruit filling: Any summer fruit will do in the pie as long as you have about 6 cups. Be creative! How about peach, apricot and plumb or do a pantry dive and use up what you have. You could even split the fruit down the middle with one on each side (two pies in one!). So many options with a slab pie.

Goes with… edamame hummus, Asian barbecued salmon, slow roasted grape tomatoes

Cherry Blueberry Slab Pie

Prep time: 10 minutes + 1 hour chilling

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 6-8

All-Butter Crust

2 ½  cups four

2 tablespoons cane sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut up

3-4 tablespoons cold water

Milk or cream to brush on crust before baking

Fruit Filling

2 pints blueberries

1 quart cherries, pitted

¼ cup cane sugar + more for sprinkling

2 tablespoons flour

Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

Crust – In a food processor mix flour, sugar and salt.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add water one tablespoon at a time and pulse until dough forms.  Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times.  Divide into two flat rectangles, 1 slightly larger.  Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Filling – In a large bowl, toss cherries and blueberries with sugar, flour and lemon juice.  Pour filling into piecrust

Pie – Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. On a lightly floured surface roll larger dough to a roughly 11 x 15-inch rectangle and place in the prepared baking dish. The dough should go up the sides to the top. Add the fruit, spreading evenly. Roll out smaller dough to fit over the top, crimping the edge. Make a few slits on top (so the steam from the fruit can vent as it cooks), brush with milk or cream and sprinkle with more cane sugar.  Bake 45 minutes until bubbly and crust is golden brown.







Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

July 4th is just a little more special in my little town of Summit, New Jersey. That’s because Summit is all-American all the time. Our neighborhood, with 30-plus kids, means instant play dates, pick up ball games, sleepovers and potlucks without ever leaving the street. But, on July 4th, Summit hosts a fireworks display that rivals anything in a larger city. Families all over town host open houses and cookouts and not much has changed in the last fifty or so years.

Jersey Shore Crabmeat Canapes

New Jersey is so much more than diners, Bruce Springsteen and The Sopranos. The real secret is the beaches – all 130 miles – stretching the entire length of the state. You could walk (or run) for miles on sugar white sandy beaches with waves big enough for surfing all year long (just ask my brothers). So, what’s better than an après beach day of cocktails and canapés? A simple mixture of local crabmeat with horseradish and grainy mustard is elegant on garlic butter toast or as a casual dip with crackers. New Jersey at its finest.

Fresh Apricot Tarte Tatin

Like the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year….” That would be when summer fruit hits the supermarkets and just about every other place that sells produce. All this vibrant seasonal fruit is just right for a summer tarte tatin. It’s an upside-down tart where the fruit is caramelized in butter and sugar. Typically it involves apples, but you can save those for the cold weather. Apricots are at their peak right now and they fill in quit nicely for the most beautiful summer dessert you’ve ever seen (and tasted).

Farmstand Panzanella Salad with Burrata

Panzanella salad and farmstands are a natural fit. The salad, a Tuscan classic is a simple compilation of seasonal vegetables and stale bread, which soaks up the veggie juices along with good quality olive oil and vinegar. SHC prefers using toasted fresh bread since the bread is such a prominent ingredient. It just doesn’t seem logical to eat it in a fresh salad after its prime (save your stale bread for breadcrumbs). The addition of burrata, a richer version of mozzarella thanks to the addition of fresh cream makes it a showstopper

All Day Ribs (three ingredients, three easy steps)

Recently I was driving when I heard a recipe on the radio. It went something like, “These are the best ribs ever, it’s an old family recipe and the ribs are cooked in sauerkraut for 4 hours”. I was doubtful but intrigued. So, I made the recipe and I made it again and again until I got it just right. The ribs don’t need 4 hours for the meat to fall off the bone, but all that cooking time allows the sauerkraut to caramelize and intensify in flavor.

Vanilla Bean Strawberry Shortcake

It’s been a perfect storm in the Secrets of a Home Cook kitchen. First, baker extraordinaire, Dorie Greenspan’s been talking up her strawberry shortcake recipes and with strawberry season in full swing, it’s all I want to eat right now. Second, my mom (mom extraordinaire) brought me gorgeous vanilla beans from her recent trip to India. The result is my own version of vanilla bean strawberry shortcake. It really is a very easy recipe with vanilla beans throughout.

Linguine with Spicy Clams and Chorizo

Memorial Day and the launch to summer are only a week away, and what’s a better kickoff than a big bowl of linguine and fresh clams? Add sausage to the mix and you might find with just one more ingredient you’ll have a completely different dish and a quite popular one. Any smoked or cured sausage will do such as kielbasa, Andouille or chorizo because they’re cooked and ready to go right out of the package.

Scallion Pesto Crusted Chicken

If you happen to be reading this and you’re a mom, then this recipe’s for you. In fact, it’s so easy anyone can make it. Hint: anyone except mom on Mother’s Day. Pesto, on more than a few occasions has literally saved dinner in this kitchen mainly because it’s made in a food processor in all of 30 seconds flat. Slather it on chicken and bake for dinner in no time. Hear that kids?

Farmstand Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto

Secrets of a Home Cook may be jumping the gun on local farmstands here in the northeast, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get recipe ready for summer! Supermarkets are brimming with the first signs of local produce even if local is California asparagus and Georgia onions. The point is, as the weather warms up it gets easier to find all kinds of vibrant produce. So, toss a bunch of veggies into freshly made risotto with a bit of crispy prosciutto for a pop of flavor and you’ll be all set for warm weather cooking.

All-American Crab Cakes with Smoky Romesco Sauce

It’s an unlikely pair but a natural one: All-American classic crab cakes paired with a traditional Spanish sauce of roasted red peppers, garlic, almonds and spices. SHC breaks with tradition by adding smoked paprika – to enhance the charred smoky flavors of the veggies. All in all it’s a winner with freshly made crab cakes as well as on a sandwich or a mix-in with scrambled eggs or with chips as a dip. Easy to whip up and versatile, you might even add it to your summer recipe rotation.


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