Archive for the ‘Fruit’ 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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Seckel Pears

My friend has a seckel pear tree, so today on my way home from work I stopped y to see if her tree had any fruit this year. To my delight  it did! I didn’t have a ladder with me so I couldn’t get too many but I did get a good amount of “ground pears.” (Being very selective, avoiding the fruits that had already been snacked on.) I have my pears displayed on the kitchen counter, waiting to be eaten. My sister and I will probably can some whole with maple syrup, and I can’t wait to make a pie!

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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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Chocolate Strawberries

This afternoon I made some chocolate covered strawberries. I have dipped berries in chocolate before but I will admit, I have never actually tempered the chocolate. I figured it was time to do it right so I tempered it, since I don’t have a nice big marble slab I chose to use the “seeding” method. It is really very simple, you chop some chocolate (about 1 lb.)…

…bring it up to about 110*F in a double boiler mixing constantly at this point all the chunks should have melted. Let it cool to about 100*F and then add some more chocolate (about 4 oz.) which will bring the temperature down further still. When the chocolate reaches the desired temperature, in this case about 90*F  remove the solid chocolate.

Since I was using the chocolate for dipping, I placed the bowl of tempered chocolate in a bath of water that was a few degrees warmer in order to keep the chocolate liquid for dipping.

I dipped clean and DRY strawberries in the melted chocolate and set them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. When I had finished, I  put the tray of berries in the fridge to set up.

Tempering the chocolate resulted in a smoother finish and a crisper break when you bite through the chocolate. It only took a little more time but I think it is definitely worth it.

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I got up early this morning to bake a cake. I only have one large sheet cake pan so I had to bake two layers, separately. I used the same recipe that I used for my friends wedding cake last summer. Last night while reading through some cookbooks, I came across a useful tip. When baking large cakes, reduce the oven temperature by 25*F to allow for more even cooking. I tried this out today and I am pleased to say that my cake turned out quite nicely, no dry or crispy edges and the center is cooked through!

While the first layer was baking, I prepared the batter for the second layer. With both layers baked and cooling…

I thinly sliced some strawberries. (Normally I don’t buy like to buy fruit out of season but I had a request for strawberries and they actually looked pretty juicy so I went for it.)

I put the berries in a bowl and sprinkled a some sugar (maybe 2 Tbsp.) on them.  I whipped some cream and assembled the cake. I put the strawberries in between the two layers with just a touch of whipped cream…

…then covered the entire cake with whipped cream and dusted it with a little cocoa powder.

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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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Pear Spice Cake

I woke up this morning thinking about what to bake with the last of my pears, (I say last even though there are still several on my counter.) I opened my email and saw a recipe for a spiced applesauce cake, it looked so good that I decided to do a spin-off using pears. I made a quick batch of pearsauce, I didn’t mill them this time, I just mashed them up a bit.

I also cut the sugar back and adjusted the spicing slightly. I used fresh ginger instead of powdered and added a bit of lemon zest to the batter.

There was a bit or pearsauce leftover so I served the cake with a spoonful of that as well as some whipped cream.

For the cake:

Cream together…

1 stick butter

1 scant cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

zest of 1/2 lemon


2 farm fresh eggs, one at a time.

Beat in…

1 3/4 cups pearsauce (or unsweetened applesauce)

Mix together in a separate bowl…

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground clove

Slowly add dry ingredients to the applesauce mixture. Pour batter into a well-greased cake pan or square baking dish. Bake at 350* for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with pearsauce and whipped cream.

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This morning I took a quick break from some serious knitting and made myself some pancakes. When I went into the cupboard to get a batter bowl I saw a pig cookie cutter and thought it would be fun to make pig shaped pancakes. I put some milk and an egg in the bowl and whisked them together. I added some flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder and mixed it again. I melted some butter in a little saucepan and added that to the batter.

I peeled and sliced several small pears and tossed them into the still slightly buttery saucepan and let them stew in their juices while I cooked the pancakes. After several attempts at using the cookie cutter I ended up with one recognizably pig shaped pancake. I came to the conclusion that I need to try it again with a larger cutter. When the pears were tender and I had used almost all of the batter, I added some fresh cranberries to the pears and cooked the fruit until all of the cranberries had popped. I added a big pinch of sugar and poured them on top of my stack of pancakes, topped it with a little whipped cream.


1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

2-3 Tbsp butter, melted

* lemon zest

Mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix again. (It’s okay to have a few small lumps in the batter, you don’t want to over mix it.) * Lemon zest is a great addition if you have it on hand, you can also use orange zest.

I always use my cast iron griddle pan to make pancakes. My stove is pretty hot and the pan holds the heat really well so I have found that I can set the burner quite low (3) and the pancakes come out very well.


5 medium-sized pears, peeled, cored, sliced

1/2 – 1 cup fresh cranberries

small pat of butter

sugar to taste

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pears. Let them cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they are tender. Add the cranberries and continue cooking until they all pop. Add sugar to taste. Let sugar dissolve, stirring frequently. Serve.

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A couple of weeks ago I went to my friends land south of town. He is developing a very beautiful orchard, King Edward’s. This spring he planted about 50 fruit trees! Lucky for us, he already has a giant pear tree that is loaded with fruit.

I like to let my pears ripen off the tree quite a bit, so they get really sweet and juicy. The other day my friend and I canned  some pearsauce and lemon-ginger pears. The pears were so sweet that we didn’t have to add any sugar to the pearsauce and cut the sugar in half from what I used last year for the lemon-ginger pears. We also dehydrated a few to make pear chips.

Still having tons of pears left, I decided to make a couple of pies. I made the crust last night so I would have plenty of time to chill, resulting in a flakier crust. I also added a little bit of lemon zest in with the flour, butter, and water for the crust, I think this will be especially nice with the pears. This morning, I peeled and sliced a whole bunch of pears, tossed them with some sugar, flour and a touch of freshly grated ginger. I filled the bottom shells with the pears and dotted it with butter. A while ago, a friend made a pear galette with chocolate, this inspired me to shave on a little chocolate before I put on the top and sealed it up.

The pies are now cooling and I am having a hard time not slicing into the pies while it is still hot because they smell so good!

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Raspearry Pie

My sister and I went over to a friend’s house the other day and picked lots of seckel pears from her tree. I have been snacking on them a lot, they are really sweet! (This is one of the bigger pears…)

A couple of friends are visiting from Michigan and they brought some fresh raspberries with them. This morning we made a raspberry and pear pie. We sliced the pears and mounded them in the crust with some raspberries.

We sprinkled some sugar and flour on the fruit and dotted it with a touch of butter. I sealed the top on with a little bit of water and then sprinkled some cinnamon and sugar on top. I don’t remember exactly how long they baked for, I pulled them out when they were golden brown and the air was full of raspearry pie.

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