Archive for the ‘pastry, pies, and tarts’ Category

Tarte Tatin

One of my favorite kitchen items is this adorable copper pan with “ears” it makes it out of the cupboard in the fall when apples are a plenty. I have had it out for the past week or so, to admire and as a reminder not to let the apple season pass me by. Last weekend my friend Ila and I went to an orchard and got some fresh crisp apples.

Tarte Tatin is a classic french dessert, it is somewhat similar to an apple pie in terms of ingredients but the process is quite different and the result is caramelly . We mixed up a small batch of pie dough, enough to cover it only, and put it in the fridge to chill. We then melted some butter and sugar in the little eared pan.

As it was melting, we peeled and cored 7 apples.

When the butter and sugar were ready, we nestled the quartered apples into the butter in two layers and let them cook on the burner for about 30 minutes.

Then the butter was nicely browned and the apples began to caramelize, we transferred the pan to the hot oven and baked them for about another 30 minutes. Towards the end of baking, we rolled out the dough and placed it on top of the apples and baked it for another 20 minutes until the crust was golden.

Turning a tarte tatin out of its pan can be messy, especially if you wait to long. Most of the apples turned out of the pan for us but we did have a couple of apples that stuck to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

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Oh my, I am way behind on my posts! I’m ashamed to say that this is from May. Yikes! I taught a class on tarts at the At Home Store. It was really fun and I had a great group of students. I made two types of crusts and five different fillings, both sweet and savory. One of my favorite ingredients to use in baking is rhubarb. I like it nice and tart and makes your lips pucker a little. For the rhubarb tart, I used some orange juice and a bit of zest, I actually used a recipe I came up with last spring.

I also made a tart with a light pastry cream (made without eggs) and fresh raspberries. Geri did a fabulous job arranging the berries and the mint!

I made two different asparagus tarts, one was more like a Quiche and the other was asparagus spears and jarlsberg cheese (gruyere would be even better!)

The roasted vegetable tart was especially fun, I prepared a bunch of individual tart shells so everyone could create one. I roasted beets, butternut squash, and onions with some fresh herbs. I also had some fresh goat cheese for people to use if they wanted. After everyone assembled their tarts I popped them in the oven so the flavors melded together a little.

Just as we sat down to eat, the power went out on our block. Perfect timing, we lucked out!

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I made a variation of this galette (inspired by my friend Emily) for Thanksgiving last year and have been dying to make it again ever since, I am going to a birthday party this evening so I thought it would be a nice thing to bring along.Today’s variation is a bit heavier on tangerines, because I was running out of cranberries.

For the crust, I combined two of my favorite recipes (Pastry for Pies and Galettes from Deborah Madison, and Pâte Brisée from James Peterson) to get a crust that, I think, came out quite nice.

2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces

3 Tbsp. cream

1/2 tsp. vinegar

3-4 Tbsp. ice water

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add cream and vinegar and mix gently. Add water 1 Tbsp. at a time until the dough comes together. Wrap and chill for at least 30 min.

While the dough was chilling, I prepared the filling.

3-5 tangerines-preferably organic, washed well

3/4- 1 1/2 c. cranberries, washed and sorted

1 1/4 c. sugar

First, cut a few thin slices from the widest part of the tangerines and set aside. Cut the remaining tangerines into pieces and remove any seeds.

Put the chunks of tangerine in a food processor and pulse until there are only small pieces left. Add 3/4-1 cup of cranberries and pulse again. (The first time I made this I had more cranberries so 1 c. of cranberries here, and 3 tangerines. This time, I only had about 3/4 c. cranberries so I used 5 tangerines.) Scrape cranberries and tangerines into a mixing bowl and add 1 1/4 c. sugar. (For the first version, at this point I added 1/2 c. whole cranberries as well.)

By this point, the dough was chilled, I rolled it out into a rather large rough circle.  Transfer the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the filling to about 3 inches from the edge of the dough. Place the tangerine slices on top of the filling and fold the edges over. (I had a little extra filling and dough so I made a tiny galette also.) Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of the crust. Bake at 400*F for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 375*F and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the filling sets up a bit and the crust is golden. Serve with whipped cream.


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Every year my mom would ask me what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday and for the past 10 years or so, I have had the same request, coeur a la creme. Coeur a la creme is a smooth and silky dessert made with cream and cream cheese, a little mousse-y in texture. Traditionally it was not sweetened and served with fresh fruit. My mom always added a little chocolate too, she would use half white chocolate and half dark chocolate, and finished it with raspberry sauce and some fresh raspberries. This year, I decided I wanted to try making it myself so I spent my free time on my birthday making coeur a la creme as well as a couple of other treats.

The coeur a la creme was so simple to make. First, I melted a little bit of white chocolate and semisweet chocolate (separately,) while that was cooling I mixed the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until it was nice and fluffy, then I added a little bit of heavy cream and vanilla and mixed again.

I split the mixture into two bowls and added white chocolate to one and dark chocolate to the other.

I whipped the rest of the cream and folded it into the mixture. I spooned it into the special heart-shaped molds lined with cheesecloth and set them in the fridge to drain. (The molds are equipped with lots of little holes in the bottom.)

I took them out of the fridge (about 8 hours later), turned them out onto a plate and removed the cheesecloth. This was the interesting part, the dark chocolate mixture set up and held its form but the white did not. I am not sure why this happened, I did the exact same thing for both types. The white chocolate variation still tasted delicious so I put it in a bowl to serve.

For the other treats, I made a couple of little  fresh fig tarts and lemon meringue pie. I have been drooling over this recipe out of The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming, it is a fresh fig tart with a cornmeal crust, yum! I ended up using a different recipe for the crust, one without egg. I love the added texture that cornmeal adds to baked goods, it is so crunchy! (The crust made 4 x 4″tart shells.) I pricked the shells and pre-baked them so they would be ready for their respective fillings.

I didn’t have quite enough figs to make the “jam” for the bottom but, I did have a jam of fig jam from Tunisia so I mixed a little of the jam with a little bit of orange zest and juice and spread it on the crust. I nestled in the quartered figs and called it done.

Lastly, I made a couple of little lemon meringue pies. These were inspired by the gigantic egg that I got in the morning. (I am working a couple of mornings a week at Radiance Dairy, hanging out with cows is a wonderful way to start the day! Francis, the owner of the farm, and i had just been talking about his chickens when he called out to me, the next thing I knew, there was an egg flying through the air. It was one of the biggest eggs I have seen, and it was still warm!) I thought a lemon meringue pie would be the perfect use for it, spotlighting both the yolk and the white.

I made a simple curd using the egg yolk, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and butter. While the curd cooled, I whipped up the egg white with a touch of cream of tartar and sugar. I smoothed the curd over the crust (cornmeal .and spooned on the meringue topping, being sure to overlap with the crust a little so that the meringue wouldn’t pull away and shrink while it baked.I baked it for about 15 minutes, until it was golden.

Out for delivery…

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I got some of the last of this seasons peaches yesterday, went home, got into bed and browsed through several cookbooks. When I woke up this morning, I was still surrounded by books. I decided to go with a recipe out of Deborah Madison‘s Seasonal Fruit Desserts, a great cookbook that features the best of the harvest. She had several tempting recipes using peaches but I settled on the Peach Frangipane Galette, never having made frangipane before I thought it would be fun to try.

I put almonds, sugar, a touch of flour and a pinch of salt in my food processor and pulverized the almonds.

I added some eggs, a touch of almond extract and a splash of kirsh and mixed it again until it was nice and smooth. I turned it out into a bowl, covered it and set it aside in the fridge while I made the dough.

Today was the first time in over a year that I have made pie dough in a food processor, it definitely speeds things up! After whipping up the dough (I separated it in two, one smaller and one larger piece) I put it in the fridge to cool.

I blanched the peaches for about 10-15 seconds and then plunged them into an ice water bath. I slipped them out of their skins and sliced them into quarters.

I rolled out the dough, spread some of the frangipane in the center, nestled in some peaches and folded the edges over.

I brushed the crust with a bit of melted butter and sprinkled a little sugar on it and slid it into the hot oven and pulled it out when it was bubbly and golden.

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I got home last night to find my mailbox bursting open.

When I looked inside, I found…

A tiny rhubarb pie made just for me!

Please excuse this short post, I must go eat my tiny pie!

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I was looking through one of my cookbooks today and I saw a recipe for apple strudel.

I have always wanted to learn how to make it and this recipe looked very thorough. There are two components, the dough and the filling.

The dough was really fun to make! It needs to be stretched out, so I used bread flour and kneaded for a good 20 minutes. The trick to knowing that it has been kneaded long enough is, pulling a little dough away from the ball and being able to see through it…

While the dough was resting:

I prepared the apples, soaked the raisins in some rum, and chopped walnuts…

I used some day, or two, old bread to make breadcrumbs that I later mixed with some melted butter.

Now it was time for the fun part! Stretching the dough. I cut the dough in half so I could make one with and one without walnuts. Then I formed the dough into a level disc…

and began to stretch it on the table…

Thankfully, I had the help of my friend Sarah. It made it a lot easier having two people to stretch the dough!

We pulled and pulled and stretched and stretched until the dough was translucent.

After the dough was sufficiently stretched, I brushed it with melted butter…

…and placed the fruit mixture in a long mound at one end.

I topped it with buttered breadcrumbs and sour cream…

Next, I rolled it up. As I rolled I continued to gently stretch the dough. I used parchment paper as a sort of guide for rolling, the technique was similar to wrapping sushi with a bamboo mat.

I trimmed the ends and folded them under, gently nudging the filling toward the center of the log. I brushed the log with the rest of the melted butter and popped it in the over. When it was finished baking and had cooled down, I dusted it with some powdered sugar and touch of cinnamon.

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Erika taught Heli and I how to make crostata in Italy. She showed us how to make it in pretty much the same way her mother (and probably grandmother, etc, etc.) made it. Erika made one exception, she melted the butter. Somehow she was able to pull it off, but when I have tried to repeat this feat, I have ended up with a very very hard tart…

So Heli and I cut in the butter. And then add an egg, and a little milk, and let the dough chill. If you have an extra jar of jam, this is the perfect desert. Sweet, but not too sweet, and fresh with the zest of a lemon in the crust.

We made ours with Heli’s apricot jam. With the left over dough we made a mini crostata with pear butter.

We latticed the tops, and drove the tarts into town to bake at the store (again..).

We had a little tart for my mom’s birthday, and snacked here and there for the rest of the afternoon…

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About a month ago I was gifted a rather large bag of hand-picked, frozen black raspberries. On Tuesday, I decided to put the berries to use. I was going to my bi-monthly book club meeting so  I made, one of my favorite Italian desserts, a crostata. (I like to think of a crostata as a giant jam tart.) I learned how to make this crostata while I was living in Italy a few years ago. The crust is a pretty soft dough, made of: flour, sugar, salt, butter, citrus zest, an egg and a splash of milk. I used lime zest for this one…

I cooked the black raspberries down with some sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. Since I normally use jam, I cooked the berries down until they were quite thick.

I poured the berries into the dough shell, folded down the edges, and baked it for about 45 minutes. When I pulled it out the crust was golden, and the juices bubbly.

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lime tart

So I know I just made a version of this tart last week but it was so good, I had to make it again! I did make a few adjustments this time, the most significant being that I switched from using lemons to limes. Because the limes were a lot smaller than the lemons that I used, I upped the number from three to four.

Last time, when I pre-baked the tart shell, it pulled away and sunk down more than normal. In order to remedy this, I let the dough relax, in the tart pan in the fridge before trimming the excess dough off the edges. After it had chilled, I gently pressed the dough into the corners again and then I trimmed the edges just above the brim of the pan. The tart shell held its height and shape better this time.While the shell was cooking, I made the filling. The zest and juice were a vibrant green, at least until I added some farm fresh eggs.

The end result was beautiful and I immediately took a picture. This turned out to be a very good thing because on my way out the door my perfect lime tart did a face dive, I managed to salvage it and it was quickly devoured but, it was missing some crust and some garnish. Note to self: don’t reach up into the closet when you have a tart on a platter in your other hand.

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