Have I told you how happy I am that it’s May? One of the best months of the year in New York, if you ask me. I won’t even let all the rain rain we’ve recently had dampen my enthusiasm for a great month. I’m at the Union Square Greenmarket every Wednesday, stuffing asparagus, ramps and sunchokes into my little tote. I’m walking around without a jacket. I’m looking for new flip-flops. And, I’m enjoying another ray of springy sunshine right now– the Tartest Lemon Tart, chosen by Barb of Babette Feasts for TWD this week.
At first glance this recipe may throw you for a loop– it uses the whole lemon. That’s right kids, take everything but the seeds and chuck straight into a blender (try and use an organic lemon if you can)…with sugar, of course. If you’re worried about overwhelming puckeriness, you can follow a suggestion Dorie made here, and blanch the chopped up lemon in boiling water before proceeding with the recipe. I did this, and you never know, maybe my lemon was not so tart to begin with, but the blanching seemed to do the trick of removing any bitterness.
Dorie says in her recipe intro that the lemon filling becomes almost jelly-like in the oven, and I have to say that it kind of reminds me of a soft gumdrop. In combination with the cookie-like Sweet Tart Dough, it’s just stellar. And it’s also quite pretty, in a rustic sort of way. I didn’t feel the need to do much to it…a little powdered sugar on top and some whipped cream on the side. When they come into season, a tumble of fresh berries will be wonderful.
As a complete aside, I saw Chef Cheryl Smith while walking down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn the other day…does anyone remember her from the show Melting Pot from Food Network’s earlier days? I’m totally checking our her restaurant when I get a chance.
TWD started April with a Banana Cream Pie, moved on to two intense chocolate desserts and, thanks to Kim of Scrumptious Photography, we ended April with a Chocolate Cream Tart. It’s as if we’ve come full circle, really. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but sometimes I think it’s funny how the choices each month shake out.
Chocolate pastry cream with whipped cream on top, all in a chocolate crust– oh my word! I went halvsies with this week’s recipe, and had plenty for six individual-sized tarts. These little guys are super-chocolaty and super-good! R and I ate them in contented silence…then neither of us could move to do the dishes afterward! Some thought that all that chocolate was a bit too much, and opted for a plain tart crust instead. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing. I was quite happy to try out Dorie’s chocolate shortbread crust recipe, and liked it a lot. I did find, though, that when making the dough, it was a little dry. I had to add a couple teaspoons of milk to get it to come together, but then it was pretty easy to work with.
I’ve had such a busy week, running all over the city after work and on my days off to get errands done for a trip to the UK. I’ll actually be there by the time you read this (so I might not be able to do much commenting on cream pies, unfortunately). I’m Godmother to a friend’s baby boy. His name is Ian, he lives in London and I had lots of bits and pieces to pick up for the Baptism ceremony, which will be at the end of the week. Not to mention that Friday was my birthday, and on Saturday my husband and I went to see a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion, which is currently taping in New York. I’ve listened to the show since I was a kid, so it was fun to see goofy Garrison Keillor do his thing live. And Wynton Marsalis was a guest, so that was a pretty good present, I think.
Of course I still made the time to put together this Banana Cream Pie, Amy’s choice for TWD this week. I’ve said many times before that I don’t like raw bananas, but I like to keep an open mind about trying new things. I’ve never made or even had banana cream pie before, so why not give it a go? I had some homemade pie dough in the freezer anyway (it had been there forever, and I was actually itching to use it up), so the hardest part was already taken care of.
Hey, guess what– I thought this was good (and my husband loved it)! I do have a fondness for cream pies…they are tasty and squidgy, especially fresh, homemade ones. I’m not a banana convert, or anything, so I probably won’t make this one again…raw bananas still are a bit slimy in my book. I did really like the way Dorie uses brown sugar in the custard recipe and sour cream in the whipped cream topping. Yum on both counts there! My personal twist was using a little vanilla bean to flavor both.
Guess what — this is my 50th Tuesdays with Dorie post!! Seems quite appropriate that my TWD golden anniversary be celebrated with a golden dessert, chosen by none other than Dorie Greenspan herself. Dorie has picked a French Pear Tart for the group to bake this week.
This tart is a classic French dessert. It has three main components: pears, almond cream (frangipane) and a sweet tart dough (pâte sablée). Dorie says that it is most acceptable to make this tart using canned pears, but here I used fresh ones, poached in a sugar syrup until deliciously soft and sweet. Regular pie dough is flaky, but sablée is like a sweet crisp, butter cookie. (Incidentally, we make a type of sweet tart dough at the bakery where I work. It is affectionately referred to as “STD”…we are a classy bunch.) When the almond cream bakes, it puffs up around the pear, becoming almost cake-like.
If you make this and poach your pears, too, please don’t throw out the poaching liquid! I’ve learned from working in restaurants that there are a million uses for poaching liquid. It can be made into a granita or turned into sorbet base. It can be reduced to a thicker syrup, and used in cocktails, over ice cream or to decorate a plate (like I did here). Or it can simply be used to poach more pears. You can also add things to the liquid to give additional flavor, like wine, vanilla bean or whole spices.
I made individual tarts, which I assembled and baked off as needed, since I figured a big one would go soggy before we could get through it. Rather than fanning out cut slices of pear, I just used one of its “cheeks” in each tartlette. Doesn’t it look a little like a fried egg when viewed from above? I served the baked tartlettes with a vanilla goat’s milk ice cream from Laloo’s.
For the recipe for this delicious tart, look on Dorie’s blog or in her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (she also has a version of it here on Epicurious). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll.
So, fifty recipes from BFMHTY…what are my favorites so far? Honestly, they’ve almost all been winners, but I regularly daydream about Bill’s Big Carrot Cake and Almost-Fudge Gâteau. What do I hope someone will pick soon? Every month I keep my fingers crossed that Oatmeal Breakfast Bread, Coconut Tea Cake or any of the Bundts will be on our list.
Pumpkin or pecan? Pecan or pumpkin? What to do? Which to eat? If you’re as bad at making these major life decisions as I am, then maybe Dorie’s Thanksgiving Twofer pie (chosen for us by the lovely Vibi of La casserole carrée) is for you. It starts with a pumpkin pie custard, and then gets topped with a pecan pie goo– no need to choose!
Okay, so it is not the most beautiful pie I have ever made (even though I tried to gussy it up with a little powdered sugar for its photo session). No matter– it’s what’s inside that counts, right? And what’s inside is really tasty. To tell the truth, it was not exactly what I was expecting. I thought the two layers would stay separate and distinct. The nuts themselves remained suspended on top, but the pecan goo intermingled with the pumpkin custard…it was really quite delicious, though. I spiked mine with bourbon instead of rum (cause that’s what I like with pecan pie), and piled the whipped cream high!
I made half a recipe and used my new cute little red dish. Tracy from Cake Batter and Crumbs sent it to me, and I just love it!! My only beef with Dorie’s recipe is that it took much longer to bake than she indicated, even with the small size. I kept upping the oven timer…five more minutes, five more minutes. I feel like I did it a zillion times, but I probably tacked on an extra 15 to 20 minutes in all. I was a little worried it was overkill and that I’d wind up with a curdled mess, but I can give thanks that my Thanksgiving pie came out just right.
I wish all of my American friends a safe and happy Thanksgiving! Even though everything feels a bit more challenging this year than last, everyday (and with every news broadcast) I’m reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for. For the pie recipe, look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. You can also find it in Vibi’s post. Check out the TWD Blogroll to find plenty of other baking tips for this pie!
This week, it’s more summer fruit action for TWD, as Michelle from Michelle in Colorado Springs has selected Dorie’s recipe for Summer Fruit Galette. I’m wondering if there are any Southern Hemisphere dwellers coming up in the rotation? Anyone to pick a heavy, wintertime bread pudding, or perhaps a little pumpkin somethin’ somethin’? Just kidding…actually, I have something up my sleeve, and it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s no secret either, because I used it last week– rhubarb.
I so associate rhubarb with spring back in the States, but I mentioned last week that I see it at the farmers’ markets year-round here. Maybe it’s the mild climate or something, I dunno. And I’m talking about thin, red as anything, beautiful stalks, with healthy green leaves (although they’re not healthy to eat–call Mr. Yuck!) still attached. It’s really a veggie, by the way, so perhaps I should call this a “summer vegetable galette”?
A galette is a free-form tart. Less muss and fuss than one baked in a ring, it’s easy to make, and even easier when you have enough of Dorie’s pie dough (left over from my mini Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie) stashed in the freezer to do it. I made two individual-sized galettes. After cutting out the rolled dough into two circles, I smeared the centers with a little strawberry rhubarb jam and sprinkled on some almond cookie crumbs. Then I just piled on a heap of cut rhubarb. Because I really liked the bite of ginger in last week’s cobbler, I chopped up a couple of small hunks of baby stem ginger in syrup that I had in the fridge, and dotted it among the rhubarb pieces…it’s pretty potent stuff, so a little goes along way. I folded the edges of the dough up to form pleats, and the galettes looked oddly similar to a stop sign when viewed from above. I wouldn’t exactly say that rhubarb abounds in natural sweetness, so when I sprinkled the dough with raw sugar before putting the galettes in the oven, I also sprinkled some on the rhubarb.
A few minutes before the galette finishes baking, a “custard” of melted butter, egg, sugar and vanilla gets poured on top. I had initially thought about leaving it out, because the combination of ingredients sounded a little weird to me, frankly. Other TWDers said it really added something, though, so I went ahead with it. And I must say, while it had a strange color (some may say “snot-like”), it was quite tasty and it gave a nice sweetness that seeped all around the rhubarb to fill in the gaps.
To serve, I followed Dorie’s suggestion to simply dust some powdered sugar on top and call it day. We really enjoyed this. It’s a great simple dessert, and I’ll definitely have to try it with some stonefruit in another six months! And I have to say (even though I should not praise that which contains shortening), Dorie’s pie dough is super freakin’ flaky.
P.S.: So sorry, but I may not be able to make the TWD rounds myself for the next couple weeks. I’ll be on vacation when you read this–twelve days in America’s paradise, and without our laptop. Aloha!
I may not have had fireworks this Fourth of July, but I still had homemade blueberry pie! As you can tell, I’m back in action in my new kitchen…although the day we moved in, we got some news that makes us wonder if we should bother to unpack, but that’s a different story for a different time…I’m here now to talk about Dorie’s Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie, which Amy from South in Your Mouth selected for TWD. Look at that pie with its little blueberry juice scar–it’s so homely, it’s almost cute!
The recipe for Dorie’s pie dough calls for mostly butter with a small amount of shortening. I’ve actually never made a pie crust with shortening before, but since I do have some the fridge (why, I cannot remember), I decided to give it go. I won’t lie…it’s a great crust. It’s crispy and flaky and all that, but I do generally have the shortening creeps, and will probably stick with my normal all-butter recipe going forward. Due to the fact that fresh blueberries are hard to find here right now, and break-the-bank expensive when you do, I took a gamble and used frozen ones in the filling. I do think, by the way, that fresh blueberries make a noticeably better pie filling, but in a pinch, these were acceptable. Besides the frozen berries and the fact that I made a mini pie, I followed Dorie’s recipe to a tee. I served up our slices with vanilla whipped cream.
Thanks to everyone who left comments here last week! Dorie herself commented on my Apple Cheddar Scones post–I almost choked on my coffee when I saw that! Now, off to the TWD blogroll for all the other pies out there! And check out Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or Amy’s post for the recipe for her Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie.
They say that within simplicity lies beauty, and this strawberry tart (our TWD recipe of the week) is a case in point. At its bare bones, it’s just a sablée crust, strawberry jam and fresh berries. It’s delicious as is, and even better tricked out with a couple of Dorie’s minor embellishments. I put a little hazelnut meal into the tart dough and tossed the cut berries in kirsch, a sprinkling of sugar and a hit of black pepper. Dorie recommends serving this with a little crème fraîche or whipped cream, but I had mascarpone in the fridge, so that’s what I used.
I decided to make individual tarts so I could bake the shells off as needed, which is a good idea when there are only two of you, and a great idea when its been so damp all week. I really loved the ultra-crisp crust, although I admit it was a little tricky to cut into. Reminiscent of a linzer cookie, the tart shells are sweet and nutty, and filled with the jam and berries moments before serving. It’s not exactly strawberry season over here, but I did find one lady still selling them at the monthly growers’ market, and happily they were pretty good.
This week’s recipe was chosen by Marie of A Year in Oak Cottage. If you want to read about the inspiration for this tart from the woman herself, look for the recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or on Serious Eats. And don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!
“What the heck is Florida Pie?” you ask. It’s basically a key lime pie with a couple of coconutty embellishments, and it happens to the TWD pick o’ the week from Dianne of Dianne’s Dishes. Dorie’s Florida Pie has the standard crumb crust and lime juice/condensed milk filling, but it also has a layer of coconut cream in between said crust and filling, and coconut folded into the meringue topping. I decided to go for mini pies, and half a recipe of filling gave me three babies. Mini pies do have a higher crust to filling proportion than full size pies, so I probably used about 2/3 recipe of crust.
I didn’t stray too far from Dorie’s instructions this time, but I did make a couple tweaks. I used regular (not key) limes and condensed low fat milk in the filling, which worked nicely. And for the coconut cream layer, I used way less cream than she called for, probably just a few tablespoons, and wound up with something more like a tasty goo. I also toasted my coconuts (both the shredded stuff I used in the goo, and the fine desiccated stuff I folded into the meringue), because I think it really brings out the flavor of packaged coconut, which can be pretty lackluster as-is.
“How did it taste?” you ask. Pretty darn good. Next time, I’ll add a little lime zest to the filling. I really like the combination of coconut and lime, but if you aren’t a coconut fan, just leave out the cream layer and keep your meringue unflavored. You’ll still wind up with a fantastic key lime pie. If you’d like to be transported via baking to Key West, Del Boca Vista, or the Floridian destination of your choice, put on your Lilly Pulitzer and check out the recipe here on Dianne’s Dishes, or in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to go look at the TWD Blogroll!
Natalie from Burned Bits chose Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake as our Tuesdays with Dorie recipe of the week. I love apple pie and I love cake, so this one sounded great, even though I didn’t really know what to expect from it. Made from dough like a pie, but bakes up like a cake– huh?? Dorie doesn’t have a photo in her book to help me out (although she does have a nice story about the recipe), so I’d just have to see this paradox for myself.
It wasn’t hard to make– two layers of crust sandwich a cinnamony apple filling. When the “pie” bakes, the crusts poof up, and it really does become cake-like. It’s a really rustic dessert–all lumpy and bumpy and browned on top. And it’s really good…tonight I will be dreaming about eating it for breakfast!
I did make a couple of changes. Dorie uses raisins in her recipe, but I’m not too fond of them so I substituted dried cranberries instead. Also, I wanted to make half a recipe, which is a more manageable amount for us, and my 8-inch square glass pan worked perfectly.