Monthly Archives: January 2014

I’m Brandie Kajino and this is my kitchen

This post is part of my “I’m __ and this is my kitchen” series of posts, in which fabulous home cooks dish a little about their cooking lives and their kitchens.  The goal is to get inspiration, ideas and insights from other regular people about shopping, planning, cooking and kitchen organization.  See more here.

I shouldn’t have to introduce this person because, in my opinion, everybody should already know the name Brandie Kajino, but just in case you haven’t had the good fortune to be familiar with my fellow Evernote Ambassador’s blog Spoon and Saucer, let me fill you in!  Brandie is a food blogger, a professional organizer, a wife and mom, and the Evernote Ambassador for Organization.  She is also witty, hilarious, and waging a war in favor of eating real food, which is something we can all get behind.  You can find her at

Name: Brandie
Age: 40

Location: Vancouver, WA (across the river from Portlandia… yes that one)

I love to knit, read, shop for antiques, and nap on Sundays

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy?
I am gluten-free, and so are most in my house. I’m mostly plant-based during the day, with dinner and eating out is less strict. Basically, I try to make great choices 80% of the time, so I can eat ice cream on the weekends. :)

How do you plan for meals?
I use Evernote, and I plan them by the week. Sometimes I even pitch that out the window and make breakfast for dinner. I have a secondary freezer that I use like a pantry, with meats, frozen produce and nuts. Honestly though? I like to improvise quite a bit.

How many people do you cook for?
3 (including me)

Does your family cook with you?  If so, who does what?
Not really. My husband does sometimes, but my 12 year old son isn’t that into it (yet). I’m the main cook, which is totally fine by me. It’s my zen place (with the exception being the very occasional cooking disasters).

How often and where do you get your food?
I shop 1-2x per week. I shop at three places mainly: Costco (LOVE it), and the local places Chuck’s Produce and New Seasons Market. Once in a while I go to WinCo.

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it?
My kitchen is pretty cottage-y. The cupboards are painted white, and we have mostly stainless steel appliances, outside my pathetic stove (which hopefully will be replaced this year!) Our countertops are old. Really.really.old. I have two windows, which make it quite bright in the daytime, making artificial lighting pretty unnecessary most days.

How do you organize your kitchen?
This is always a work in progress. I keep the things I use the most close, and the extra pantry supplies around the corner in my small non-perishable pantry. I clean it out about every year (and it’s really overdue right now!)
I don’t over-organize and drive myself (and others) crazy. I keep things handy as much as possible.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
A new stove! My oven light doesn’t even work. *le sigh*

What ingredients do you always have on hand?
I have a fair amount of beans, oats, whole grains, pasta, garbanzo beans, and canned tuna. I’m also always ready to bake with assorted gluten-free flours, butter and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
I also keep a fair amount of eggs in the house, Japanese sauces, mayo, pickles, anchioves and nuts.
I also have a variety of nut oils, and assorted salts.

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there?
Japanese noodles. We have some pushed to the back that seem a little suspicious.

Favorite dish to make?
Granola and spaghetti carbonara. Was I supposed to pick one?

If you could instantly master any dish on earth, what would it be?
A tart. For some reason it intimidates me!

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen?
Soup. Dear lord I need to be better. I’m getting there, but improvising in this way is pretty sucky.

Favorite tips?
Use the freezer as a pantry.
There can never be too much bacon.
The slow cooker is your friend, and is a real food dream tool.

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment
My chef knife, cutting board, and the food processor.

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist?
Not really. I usually listen to NPR News.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I wish more people would get in the kitchen and make something simple. I think it’s a shame that a lot of people don’t even know how to make scrambled eggs. It’s so much easier than people think, if they’d just try it. Have courage and get in there!

I just want to share these pictures of pie

wholeapplepie-2 wholeapplepie-5

I baked this pie over the weekend because…pie.  There’s no other reason that matters, really.

Anyway, it’s a riff off my apple almond tart.  I used a double batch of the same frangipane recipe.  I used Alton Brown’s butter/lard pie recipe for the crust.  And then for the apples, I used my old-school apple peeler/finger mangler thing (see below) to core, peel and spiral slice the apples.

The corer doesn’t fully slice the apples–all the pieces remain connected, so they’re “sliced” but actually still just one unit.  Then I sprinkled them with a mixture of brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon and let them sit for a few minutes.  Depending on the water content of your apple choice, you may want to let them sit for up to a half hour to get out the extra moisture.  I use honeycrisp apples, and they’ve been pretty solid.

Anyway, I sat the apples in the pie crust and spooned the frangipane around them and added a little bit inside the apple as well.  Then I baked the pie for 30 minutes, covered the edges with tinfoil to prevent burning, and continued baking for another hour.  Then let the pie cool.


Apple Frangipane Tart

I don’t know what the weather is like where you live, but where I live it’s like:

Hoth from Star Wars

This, of course, has caused me to retreat even further into the warm blankets on my couch.  It also has caused serious cravings for comfort food like a good warm, flaky pastry.

This one is particularly delightful because it’s made from ingredients I regularly keep on hand, and it takes very little effort to put together but it looks fancy, and that’s what’s important.  People see it, taste it, get impressed, and think I’m a better baker than I really am.  Score!

Apple Almond Tart

The pastry part is easy–two sheets of thawed puff pastry with the edges cut into strips.  The filling is a couple of apples peeled, cored, sliced, and marinated in a little amaretto and brown sugar, plus a layer of frangipane to glue it all together.

Apple Almond Tart Apple Almond Tart

Frangipane is an almond pastry cream made of ground almonds, sugar, butter and eggs.  Don’t feel intimidated by any of the previous words: it is extremely easy to make.  I use whole almonds and grind them in my food processor; if you don’t have a processor, buy ground almonds and use those.  The end product will still be delicious.

Apple Almond Tart

Apple Frangipane Tart


  • 2 sheets puff pastry

  • 2 apples, peeled/cored/sliced
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup whole almonds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsps soft butter
  • 1 tbsp flour

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • extra sugar for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Take the puff pastry out of the package, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it thaw and come up to room temperature.
  2. Put the apples in a large ziplock bag with the amaretto and sugar, tossing to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning the bag over occasionally.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Put the almonds and sugar into a food processor and pulse until relatively finely ground. Add in the butter, egg, and flour. Mix until you get a grainy creamy consistency.
  5. Drain the apple slices.
  6. Sprinkle a little flour down on the counter and lay down the first sheet of puff pastry. Roll it out a little bit to smooth over any creases. Carefully move the dough to a baking sheet that has been prepared with some parchment paper.
  7. Spread about half of the frangipane down the middle third of the pastry. Top it with about two layers of sliced apples.
  8. Take a knife or a pizza cutter and cut both sides of the pastry perpendicular to the frangipane into strips, stopping about a half inch away from the frangipane. Fold the strips over the top of the apples.
  9. Beat the egg with the water to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the pastry. Sprinkle it with a bit of sugar (optional).
  10. Repeat the process with the other puff pastry sheet.
  11. Bake the tarts in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pasty is browned and set. Let cool, slice, and serve.