Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Puff Pastry Pizzettes

October 21, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, other savory, savory things, snacks, tuesdays with dorie | 6 Comments
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puff pastry pizzettes

I’m no interior designer.  This has been made painfully obvious to me by my home decorating choices (more accurately called mistakes).  Right now I’m trying to choose a few paint colors and I just can’t.  I can’t.  I need a glass of wine and a treat.  Thankfully, that I can do, and easily, too, with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Pizzettes.  These little one bite snacky hors d’oeuvres are meant to use up the scraps from the other week’s Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries. Homemade puff pastry (heck, even store-bought– it’s expensive!) is a no-waste situation.  I only made two of the apricot pastries so I really didn’t have a whole lot of scrap to go with here and just got six pizzettes.  Even so, I made two versions with goat cheese– one with tomato and the other with sautéed leeks.  I’m annoyed that I forgot to put a little parsley leaf on top of each tomato one…my picture would have been cuter!  See what I mean?  I fail on the design details.

These were a tasty little snack with glass (or two) of wine.  They were best warm, though.  The room temp one I tried had definitely lost some of its crispiness.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Sunny-Side up Apricot Pastries

October 7, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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sunny-side up apricot pastires

Michel Richard is a chef with a sense of humor.  Case in point, these cute Sunny-Side Up Apricot Pastries.  At first glance, they’re fried eggs on toast.  At first bite, they’re poached fruit and pastry cream on top of crispy puff pastry.

Before you can have these for breakfast (or for dessert, if you are like I am and this is too much to process in the morning), you have to make pastry cream and poach fruit.  I’d take care of these a day in advance.  You also have to deal with the puff pastry situation and decide if you are going to buy it or make it.  I’ve worked in restaurant and bakery kitchens for more than 10 years now…while not every place I’ve worked has made puff from scratch, a few of them have, so I’ve laminated me some dough.  Frankly, it can be a pain in the neck (literally). On a large scale, those of us with no upper body strength (who me?) struggle to roll a ginormous batch by hand if there isn’t a dough sheeter.  If the kitchen’s too hot, butter oozes everywhere.  It’s often a rush-job because no one bothers to mention that they took the last sheets from the freezer and left me with nothing for the day’s production.  But, I’ve made this very puff pastry dough recipe at home before–I actually chose it several years ago when I hosted a Daring Bakers Challenge– and I know that it’s not hard at all, especially if you make it a day or two before you need it and the temps are relatively cool.  If you are on the fence, a half-batch is super-approachable, doesn’t take too much counter space to roll and will give you plenty of puff for treats.  And if you’re still on the fence, just get a nice store-bought one….I do it all the time, so no judgments.

puff pastry dough

Apricots aren’t in season here anymore, so I had planned to just use canned ones instead (and also skip the recipe’s poaching step).  Then at the Greenmarket this weekend, I saw that nectarines are still around, so I picked out a few of the smallest “apricot-sized” ones and went ahead with those.  I gave them a gentle poach and left their skins on.  I thought they were pretty, but they kind of wrinkled up in the oven.  Next time they’re coming off.  Next time I’ll also leave the puff a little fatter than the book indicates.  I think the recipe says to roll it too thin, so while the front and back ends puffed nicely, the sides were a little flatter than I would have liked.  Super crispy, though.

These were delicious, and a fun weekend kitchen project.  I’ll make them again, especially since I have extra homemade puff in the freezer now.  Here’s a document that I typed up about making puff pastry for my DB Challenge back in 2009…somewhere near the end are some tips and suggestions.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). There’s a video of the BWJ episode showing how to make both the puff pastry dough and the pastries. Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Raspberry-Plum Crostata

September 30, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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raspberry-plum crostata

I’ve had a busy September.  It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around.  This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them.  I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe).  I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.

The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly.  Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on.  The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl.  I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here and there’s a video, too). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tomato Jam

September 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Posted in condiments, jams & preserves, savory things | 9 Comments
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tomato jam

This beautiful time of year is when I want to bottle up everything fresh and hoard it for drearier times.  I’ve just made concord grape jam and now I’m adding tomato jam to my little fridge stash.

Tomato jam might sound a tad strange, but this isn’t a clear jelly…it’s more of a cross between tomato sauce and ketchup.  I’m sure you could eat it straight up on toast although I use it like a condiment.  I first came across this when we lived in Sydney and I’d get the most delicious egg sandwiches with tomato jam at the Pyrmont Growers’ Market.  I miss Sydney a lot…we’ve been back for several years now, but I still think about it all the time.  I like that I can recreate bits and pieces of our time there, and now every September, when I have more fresh tomatoes than we can possibly eat, I made a batch of tomato jam.

I’ve spiced my tomato jam up the way I like it best, with cumin and coriander, but you can adjust or change the seasonings to your own taste.  It isn’t just awesome on fried egg sandwiches, but also on burgers, sausages (and sausage rolls!), potatoes and savory pies.

tomato jam

Tomato Jam– makes about a pint
inspired by Citrus and Candy

Steph’s Notes:  This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I just store it in the fridge and use it up over the course of a few weeks.  I do recommend using a sterilized jar and lid though.

1 1/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (red, white or yellow)
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes
dash of ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar

-Begin by peeling the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to the boil. With a sharp paring knife, score a small cross on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes for a minute in the boiling water or until the skin just starts peeling. Drain and then peel the skin off the tomatoes. Remove the cores and roughly chop into chunks (I think the seeds are fine).

-Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used a 2-quart saucepan), then sauté onions with the salt for about 10 minutes or until the onions have softened and are lightly caramelized (golden but not brown).  Add the garlic and spices and continue to sauté for a minute until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

-Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the sugar and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s thick and darkened.  (You can add a splash of water if it looks too dry.)

-Taste the jam (carefully, as obviously it will be quite hot) and add extra salt, hot pepper or vinegar if it needs an adjustment.

-Store the jam in a sterilized jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a few weeks.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer GIVEAWAY!

September 6, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Posted in other stuff | 6 Comments
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be a good cookie

Be a good cookie.  That’s a real motto for life, don’t you think?  It was also the message behind an event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer that the good folks at OXO, their strong partner and supporter of good cookies, and the lovely Dorie Greenspan invited me to last Tuesday night.  I was thrilled to chat with Dorie (she also gave a baking demo), to flip through her amazing new book, Baking Chez Moi (which is coming out next month– get it!), to drool over OXO’s awesome Chelsea test kitchen and to fiddle with some of their latest baking gadgets (I went out the very next day and got myself a spiffy baker’s dusting wand).   Most importantly I got to learn more about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, which provides research grants to some of the nation’s leading pediatric cancer centers to advance the development of less toxic, more effective treatments for children battling cancer.

I want to do at least a small part to help spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month (that’s this month), so I’m going to give two lucky winners both an OXO Good Cookie Spatula and a copy of Gretchen Holt-Witt’s book Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies!  The sale of both these items helps raise money for pediatric cancer research.

spat book

Just leave a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Wednesday, September 10 and I’ll randomly choose two winners from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you win! **I’m really sorry, but I can only make this giveaway open to U.S. residents.**

You can see heaps of photos from Tuesday’s event here.  Visit the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer site to learn more about the organization and to get involved.  Also, if you’re looking for some new kitchen toys (like a baker’s dusting wand, perhaps?), OXO will make a donation to the initiative from the sales of select baking items.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate random comment numbers to find the winners. Congratulations to Becky and Stephanie. I’ll be in touch and sending your items soon!***

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

September 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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oven-roasted plum cakes

These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums.  The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest.  I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand.  I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine.  The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.

These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece.  I liked them best with whipped cream.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

August 30, 2014 at 11:41 am | Posted in ice creams & frozen, sweet things | 12 Comments
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blueberry-sour cream ice cream

Summer is about bright nail polish and ice cream cones.  Why the heck have I waited till the tail end of it to both paint my nails coral and to make my first homemade ice cream of the season?  The color is new for me, but the ice cream is sort of one I’ve already made here before.  Am I allowed a redo?  I hope so, because while this ice cream has the same flavors as the one I made six (gasp!) years ago, I found that one to be a little too fatty, a lot too hard and also too homogenized.  This a totally different recipe and technique, with swirls of dark purple blueberry sauce in a tangy, scoopable base.

Most homemade ice cream aficionados out there have probably at least tried out Jeni’s technique, which concentrates and denatures dairy proteins by boiling off some of the water in the milk and cream, and uses cornstarch and cream cheese to thicken the base…these steps make the finished ice cream less icy and hard when frozen.  I thought this eggless base would be a good match for blueberry sauce, and since it has a bit of cream cheese in it already, it would also go right along with the tang of sour cream.

This is ice cream and sauce in one– perfect for cones!

blueberry-sour cream ice cream

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (makes about a quart)
inspired by and adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer

Steph’s Note: I like to store my homemade ice cream in a restaurant-style 1/6 pan with a snap-on lid.  Freeze the empty stainless steel container while the ice cream is churning, and you’ll be good to go!

for the blueberry sauce:

1 cup blueberries
squirt of lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water

-In a small pot over medium-low heat, add the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, as the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down and release juice.  (You can gently squish some of the berries as they cook to encourage “saucing”…I like to leave about half the berries somewhat intact for texture.)

-Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl.  Add to the cooking berries and bring to a gentle bubble for about a minute, stirring constantly.  After about a minute, the sauce will thicken slightly (you are just looking to give it a little more body), at which point remove it from the heat, transfer it to a container and refrigerate it until completely chilled.

 for the ice cream:

11/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3
 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup sour cream

-In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip it smooth. In a large bowl, make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside.

-Pour the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and remaining milk into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, set a timer for precisely 4 minutes and boil for exactly 4 minutes—you will need to be right there with it, stirring and adjusting heat so as not to endure the cleanup that comes with a dairy boil-over!  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

-Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese.  Whisk in the sour cream (or if you’ve had a hard time getting out lumps, place the sour cream in a separate medium bowl, strain the milk mixture over the sour cream and then whisk them together).

-If you are not making your ice cream until late in the day or the following day, place the bowl in your ice bath and when cold, transfer to the refrigerator until churning.  If you need more immediate ice cream, do a fast chill by pouring the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, sealing, and submerging the bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until very cold, about 30 minutes.

-Pour the chilled base (if you used the Ziploc bag method, you can do this by just cutting off a corner of the bag) into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine.  Churn according manufacturer’s directions.

-Transfer to a container for freezer storage, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baking Powder Biscuits

August 19, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in biscuits & scones, breakfast things, groups, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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baking powder biscuits

Marion Cunningham’s Baking Powder Biscuits were good for breakfast, and also good for dessert, all dressed up like shortcakes.  These were easy to make.  I didn’t want to do an all shortening biscuit like the recipe called for, so I swapped out half of it for butter.  I rubbed my shortening/butter and dry ingredients together the night before and stashed the mix in a container in the fridge…in the morning I just had to work in the milk.  They didn’t rise as high as I wished they would have (maybe I should have patted them out less? or maybe they really do work best with all shortening?), but they were very tender, not dense at all.  I made square biscuits instead of round, just so I didn’t have to deal with scrap and reroll.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here)  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Poppy Seed Torte

August 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 17 Comments
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poopy seed torte

Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked.  Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers.  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange.  The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.

Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake.  The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves.  I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color.  I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.

Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet.  It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth!  I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.

poopy seed torte

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s a a video here of Chef Markus making the cake in a totally rad vest). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

French Fridays with Dorie: Gâteau Basque

August 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Posted in french fridays with dorie, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things | 19 Comments
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gâteau Basque

Somehow I almost never miss a week of TWD but I hadn’t made an FFWD recipe in like forever.  When I saw that Gâteau Basque was up, I thought it would be a good time to pop back around and say hello.  Not surprisingly, Gâteau Basque is a traditional pastry of the French Basque Country.  You can read up on it here and here, but it’s basically a layer of either pastry cream or cherry jam sandwiched between two almost cookie-like tart crusts.  Hmmm…I wonder if it was the inspiration for Dorie’s Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake?

We made Gâteau Basque on weekends at the shop where I used to work (and they probably still do).  We used a bit of almond flour and almond extract in our dough there, so I had assumed that flavoring was traditional…but that’s not in Dorie’s version, so maybe it’s not.  Sometimes less is more, but sometimes more is more, so at the shop we always filled ours with pastry cream and fruit.  I can admit that I’m a little greedy when it comes to sweets, and “more is more” is the way I like it, so that’s what I did here at home, too.  I didn’t have cherry jam but I did have some dark cherries that I candied a couple of weeks ago…I dropped them on top of the pastry cream and they worked nicely.

This is pretty easy to make, and you can bust out all the components a day ahead of time.  The dough is sticky, but forgiving, and you can even more or less pat it into the round shapes you need without too much rolling.  It’s really delicious, and beautiful, too, with a pretty crosshatch pattern on top of the golden crust.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts.

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