I Confess!

November 23rd, 2015


I have a confession to make that may seem a little sacrilegious, particularly at this time of year as everyone is gearing up for Thanksgiving.

I’m not a fan of pie.

I love fruit. I just don’t really see the point of putting it into a pastry crust. I dutifully make pies in the summer, of course, because friends and family members enjoy eating them. And at this time of year, pies are de rigueur; they fairly shriek “Thanksgiving.” So I bake them—and I try to be cheerful while doing so.

Sometimes I cheat, however. This recipe is an example of that cheating.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie is something I learned to make from my late neighborhood matriarch Mary Parker, a.k.a. Gam. What I love about it is … it isn’t really a pie. It’s more a cross between a cake and a huge cookie.

It’s also remarkably easy to put together—no rolling of crust, just a bit of washing, a bit of tossing, and a bit of whisking. Try it, and the pie part of your Thanksgiving preparation will be a snap.

I love the recipe so much I put it in my Pudding Hollow Cookbook, which makes a lovely holiday (or hostess) gift, by the way. Sorry to blow my own horn, but it IS that time of year, and as most of you know selling books is how I make my living!

Ashley Kohl and I had fun making (and tasting) the pie recently on Mass Appeal. For technical reasons I am unable to embed the video, but if you visit this link you can watch it (after a brief advertisement inserted by the TV station).

I wish you all a Thanksgiving full of fun, family, and of course gratitude. And maybe a tiny piece of pie.


Nantucket Cranberry Pie


2 cups raw cranberries
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional but good)
3/4 cup melted sweet butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract


Grease a 9- or 10-inch pie plate. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and pick over the cranberries. Put them in the bottom of the pie plate. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the walnuts. Make a batter of the remaining ingredients, first combining the butter and the remaining sugar and then adding the eggs, flour, and flavoring. Pour the batter over the cranberries.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Top with whipped cream. (Ice cream works well, too. Or just serve it alone.) Serves 8.

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Holy Pumpkin!

October 29th, 2015

witchhat copy

Readers of this blog may be under the impression that I eat rich desserts all the time. Actually, my usual dessert (if I eat one) is a piece of fresh fruit. I do post a lot of dessert recipes, however; I’m proud of my baking, and I love to see people enjoy something sinfully sweet, even when I’m dieting.

In any case, one HAS to post something sweet for Halloween! So I’m sharing the formula for the chocolate-chip pumpkin cake I made this week on Mass Appeal. My appearance came the day after co-host Seth Stutman’s 30th birthday so I felt obliged to make a cake. Seth appeared pleased—and he certainly enjoyed the cake.

(Bill Collins, who cooked on the show the day before, did light a candle on a cheesecake, but that chef didn’t sing “Happy Birthday.” And a birthday isn’t a birthday without a serenade.)

I also made a satisfying version of my Irish Stout Cheese using yellow cheddar cheese to make it seasonal and an Oktoberfest ale instead of the stout. Personally, if I had to choose between cheese and cake, I would choose cheese. I’m glad no one is forcing me to make this excruciating decision!

The videos are embedded below. The gist of the cake-making is in the first video about that (the second one below); tune into the follow-up video only if you’re a fan of sprinkles and loud singing. (I like both.)

Cocoa, Rhubarb, and I wish everyone a Happy Halloween!

Halloween dogweb

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips


1-1/2 cups non-GMO canola oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3-1/8 cups flour
2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15-ounce can)
2 cups chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large bundt pan. Mix the oil and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the baking powder, the baking soda, and the spices. Stir in the flour, followed by the pumpkin and the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake tests done (about an hour). Ice with cream-cheese frosting and seasonal sprinkles. Serves 10 to 12.

And here are the videos:

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Pumpkin Dump Cake

October 12th, 2015
Halloween begins to weave its spell at the Casa Tinky.

Halloween begins to weave its spell at the Casa Tinky.

Pumpkin season is here, and I’m embracing it. Part of my love for pumpkin at this time of year is related to its remarkable color. I savor the way its orange reflects our New England trees (and inspires me to start decorating the house for Halloween!).

I enjoy cooking with pumpkin as well as looking at the fruit, of course; it melds beautifully with a variety of sweet and savory flavors. I am particularly happy when pumpkin preparation involves baking. I spend much of the summer avoiding turning on my oven—but when fall arrives I welcome the chance to give the house that extra measure of heat.

Fall baking doesn’t only make us feel warm. It fills the house with lovely aromas that remind us of childhood pleasures. This particular pumpkin dessert smells divine in the oven; scents of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and butter waft through the house and tempt even the most virtuous dieter.

I adapted the recipe from one a friend sent me last year; the original came from an old community cookbook.

The cake’s name is misleading. Yes, it’s pumpkin. But it’s not made entirely by dumping, and it’s not really a cake. It’s a bit goopy coming out of the pan.

I couldn’t come up with a better term, however. It’s not a crisp or a crumble. It could be called an upside-down pumpkin pie—but that name doesn’t feel quite right either.

The recipe is worth bothering with, however, because whatever you call it, it’s delicious. I like it MORE than pumpkin pie. I baked it on Mass Appeal last week (along with my favorite meatloaf), and it made everyone there happy.

My extremely autumnal hat also made everyone happy!

Seth couldn't resist the hat!

Seth couldn’t resist the hat!

The cake mix called for in the recipe is a large one, like King Arthur Flour’s golden vanilla cake mix. If you don’t have that on hand, you may either use a regular smaller cake mix (in which case you’ll want to reduce the amount of butter required in the recipe) or make your own mix with 3-1/4 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.

You won’t have any vanilla in the latter combination, but you may add some along with the melted butter—or assume (as I did) that the pumpkin and spices will give the “dump cake” sufficient flavor.

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Pumpkin Kinda Sorta Dump Cake


3 eggs
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 29-ounce can pumpkin (or about 3-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. In a large bowl beat the eggs; then beat in the evaporated milk, the spices, the salt, and the pumpkin. Stir in the sugars and blend. Pour the resulting mixture into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the cake mix over the top and make sure it is fairly even; then drizzle the melted butter over all. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool before cutting and serving. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 12.

Here is the dump-cake video:

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And here is the meatloaf video, in which I wax poetic about why I love to cook.

Apple Brownies

September 30th, 2015

brownies yum

These fruit-filled bars are a work in progress for me. I’m still having trouble getting them out of the pan! The recipe is worth sharing anyway, however, because they are so very satisfying to eat. And they will make your kitchen smell divine when they are in the oven.

The recipe comes from Lois Brown of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, a friend of my own dear friend Pam Gerry. I have also tried a version of these brownies in which one grates the apples instead of slicing them, but I like the consistency better this way.

You can see me make the bars in the video below. Happy apple season, all!

The Brownies


1 cup (2 sticks) melted sweet butter
6 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices (about 4 cups of slices)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs. beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups flour


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan.

Stir together the melted butter and the sugar, followed by the apples. Mix in the eggs, stirring well to incorporate; then add the baking soda, the baking powder, the salt, and the cinnamon. Stir in the flour, and pour the apple-y batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean (watch out for apples; if you put the toothpick in a hot apple it will always come out wet!), about 45 minutes. Don’t cook them for more than 50 minutes in any case. Makes about 24 brownies, depending on how big you cut them.

(You may also cut this recipe in half and bake the brownies in an 8-by-8-inch pan. In that case the cooking time may go down to 35 to 45 minutes.)

Here’s the video:

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Apples Everywhere!

September 28th, 2015

apple treeweb

My neighborhood is awash in apples. No one can recall having seen an apple season like this one. (Last year we had practically NO apples!) Even my own old, pathetic apple trees have produced copious amounts of fruit.

The apples ripened early, and I have to admit that it took me a while to get around to doing anything with them. I like to eat (and cook with) apples when the weather gets cool—and so far it has remained remarkably warm.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided that if I didn’t use some of the fruit soon the birds and squirrels would get it all.

Of course, I have made applesauce, a staple of my fall kitchen. For my most recent television appearance on Mass Appeal I prepared a couple of additional recipes I have been longing to test.

The first was a coleslaw from my friend Chef Michael Collins. Michael is cooking up a storm at his new restaurant, a tiny, colorful place in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, called Ponte because of its proximity to the lovely Bridge of Flowers.

Michael couldn’t come with me to the TV station that day, but he gave me permission to use his recipe, which perfectly blended sweet and tart. Here I share both that recipe and my cooking video.

Enjoy apple season—and please comment below if you have found a fun new way to cook with apples. We still have a LOT of them in my neighborhood.

Michael Collins (left) with his partner Tony Palumbo at Ponte

Michael Collins (left) with his partner Tony Palumbo at Ponte

Michael’s Apple Slaw


4 cups shredded cabbage (try for a fairly rough cut)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 large apple, unpeeled (any red apple), diced into chunks (if you really love apples, put in 2 of them!)
1/2 cup chopped or halved pecans (or peanuts or walnuts—whatever you have in the house), plain, toasted, or roasted
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise or light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey (I like the honey)
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
1 tablespoon milk (optional; I didn’t need it)


A couple of hours before you want to assemble the coleslaw, place the cabbage in a colander. Toss in a tablespoon of kosher salt, and leave the mixture to drain for at least an hour, maybe 2.

Soak the cabbage in cold water to remove the salt, and drain it thoroughly.

Toss together the cabbage, the apple pieces, the nuts, and the raisins or dried cranberries.

In a bowl combine the other ingredients. Pour the resulting dressing over the cabbage/apple mixture and mix thoroughly.

Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before eating. Eat within a day to keep the apple pieces crisp. Michael likes to serve this salad on a cabbage leaf.

Serves 6.

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