Raspberry Brûlée

July 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Posted in puddings & custards, sweet things | 7 Comments
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raspberry brûlée

The promise of a blueberry pie made my husband finally agree to drive me out to the country for some berry picking last Saturday.  It’s good to know that bribes do work, although I still haven’t made good on my end…this is obviously not blueberry pie.  We came with a quart of U-pick raspberries, too, so using those delicate jewels became my first priority.  Not turning on the oven became my second priority.

You may see the words “raspberry brûlée” and think immediately of Prince, or you may see them and think of crème brûlée…I assure you this is far less fancy than either, even though it looks and tastes like a million bucks.  In fact, apart from straight-up fresh fruit, this might be one of the easiest summer desserts out there.  It’s simply whipped cream folded with fresh raspberries and given a torched sugar top.  It’s fresh and light as air, but with but with a sweet crunch.

A lot of times the broiler works as a reasonable alternative to a kitchen torch.  I’m not sure how it would do in this case though, since whipped cream is not as sturdy as a custard.  You want a bit of runny, melted cream just under the crispy brûléed top, but I suspect the boiler may take melting the cream a step further than a torch would.

Raspberry Brûlée- serves 6-8
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 94 

Steph’s Notes:  The dish can also be made with tayberries (which I have never seen here before) or blackberries, and I’m sure diced peaches or nectarines would be tasty, too.

1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼-½ cup powdered or superfine sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how sweet your berries are)
splash of cassis or frambiose (optional)

2 pints raspberries
⅓ cup demerara sugar

- Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Add the powdered or superfine sugar and the booze (if using) and continue beat to stiff peaks.

-Add the raspberries to the whipped cream and fold gently to coat.  Carefully transfer raspberries to a wide serving dish or divide them between 6-8 individual gratin dishes and liberally strew the top with demerara sugar. Using a kitchen torch, evenly caramelize the sugar until it gets bubbly and darkened in some spots.  A bit of the top layer of cream will start to “run” in this process, but if you don’t hold the torch too long in one place, what’s underneath will stay whipped.

-Refrigerate brûlée for about 15 minutes to let the sugar harden. If you’ve used one large serving dish, scoop servings into bowls, making sure that each scoop includes some of the crunchy sugar topping. If you used individual gratin dishes, just grab spoons.  Serve immediately.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Crumble with Almonds

June 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Posted in cobbler, crisps, shortcakes, sweet things | 9 Comments
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raspberry-rhubarb crumble

Have you already moved on from rhubarb for the year?  I haven’t– it’s one of my absolute favorites, and I’m happy to pick up a pound from the Greenmarket every week till it disappears.  Right now, I’m in that glorious overlap moment when I can find rhubarb and raspberries at the same time.  Why is strawberry-rhubarb the combo that gets all the love?  Raspberry-rhubarb bakes up deliciously.  Raspberries are often less sweet than strawberries, but I’ve always liked to keep my rhubarb desserts on the tart side anyway.  And that hot pink color…I’d paint my whole house that color if it wouldn’t look like (ummm) questionable things might be going on inside.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m confused about the difference between a crumble and a crisp (I guess we didn’t cover that in pastry school), but I do know that they are both easier than pie- truly- and, I think, just as tasty.  Flipping through Tina Nordstrom’s charming latest book Tina Nordström’s Scandinavian Cooking, which is less a tome of traditional Scandinavian recipes and more a collection of tasty things from around the world she likes to cook in her Swedish kitchen, I saw a recipe for Raspberry Crumble with Almonds that I knew would work with the addition of rhubarb (and a bit of extra sugar).  The sweetness of the crumbly (and crisp!) topping balances the fruit nicely.  You can probably further tinker with the recipe quite successfully, if you’d like.  Swap the vanilla flavoring for cardamom, use oats instead of almonds, and so on.  The one thing I wouldn’t mess with, though, is the ball of ice cream on top.  That’s a given, at least at my house.

Raspberry-Rhubarb Crumble with Almonds- serves 6
adapted from Tina Nordström’s Scandinavian Cooking by Tina Nordström

Steph’s Notes:  The original recipe in the book is for a straight-up raspberry crumble.  If you want to make this without the rhubarb, use 500g raspberries (fresh or frozen) and cut back both the white sugar and the vanilla sugar in the fruit by half (leave the topping as-is).  If you don’t have vanilla sugar, replace with an equal amount of granulated sugar and a dash of vanilla extract.  I like to keep the fruit on the tart side, since the topping’s quite sweet, but if you know you’d like your rhubarb sweeter, add up to a couple of extra tablespoons of sugar to the fruit mixture.

for the crumb topping
3/4 cup, plus 1 1/2 tbsp (115 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (100 g) coarsely chopped or slivered almonds
1/2 cup (100 g)
 granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 1/3 tbsp (75 g) unsalted butter, room temp

for the fruit mixture

about 1/2 lb (250 g) rhubarb, cut into 1″ lengths
about 1/2 lb (250 g) raspberries, fresh or frozen
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla sugar

-Start by making the crumb topping.  Combine all dry ingredients for the topping in a medium bowl, and use your fingers to mix it all together with the butter.  I like a combination of some clumps and some sandy crumbs.  Put the topping in the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

-For the filling, toss the rhubarb pieces, raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla sugar directly in the bottom of a greased ceramic or glass baking pan, 8-10″ in diameter (22-24 cm).

-Sprinkle the chilled topping evenly over the fruit mixture.  Bake until topping turns golden and juices are bubbling, about 35-40 minutes, turning at the halfway point.  If you notice that your topping is browning too quickly, turn the heat down to 350°F for the remainder of the baking time.

-Let cool on a wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving.

Please note that the publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, sent me a copy of this book.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches

June 17, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, ice creams & frozen, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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phylloccine ice cream sandwiches

Gale Gand’s Pylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches are the cutest things to come out of my kitchen in a long time– retro and adorbs! 

I had no idea what “phylloccine” meant, and went along pronouncing it incorrectly in my head all week, until about five minutes ago, when I finally read the recipe intro and found the explanation was right there all along.  “Phylloccine” equals “phyllo fettuccine,” which just equals phyllo dough rolled up and cut into long strips.  The strips get scrunched into sandwich-able rounds and buttered and sugared and baked.  While the recipe calls for a mix of summer berries with this, I just had strawberries and simply diced them and tossed them with simple syup.  It also calls for whipped cream, but I skipped it entirely…the ice cream was plenty, I think.  Gotta trim calories where I can.

These were really great and easy to make.  I loved the crispy, sugary phyllo.  Apart from baklava, I seem to forget how good phyllo is in sweet applications.  Unlike a regular ice cream sandwich, these are too delicate and crumbly to pick up and eat with your hands (not to mention all those loose fruit bits), so definitely grab forks.

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: Tropical Napoleons

May 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Posted in groups, other sweet, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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tropical napoleons

Charlotte Akoto’s recipe for Tropical Napoleons is in a section of the book called “Grand Pastries,” which seems to mean plated desserts.  I have to say that a lot of them look kinda dated to me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still taste great.  This dessert, with layers of coconut and sesame meringue, fruit and rum whipped cream is really light, but so satisfying.  I wouldn’t turn down Eaton mess or a pavlova, so I knew I would like this one, too.

Despite its “grand” status, this recipe isn’t really that involved.  Whipped cream and sliced fruit are easy enough to prep.  If you don’t have a good selection of tropical fruit (I wish I could buy passion fruit in Brooklyn from any corner fruit guy like I could when we lived in Sydney), just go with straight-up berries.  Even the meringue is a simple one to make, and a quick stencil cut from a yogurt lid makes perfect meringue disks.  I baked my meringues on a Silpat and they took almost twice as long as the recipe said to get fully crisp.  If anything gives you trouble, it will be getting those meringues off your sheet pan after they’re baked– they’re meant to be really thin, which also makes them really brittle.  I only broke one before discovering that if I ran an offset spatula carefully around its outer edge before kind of pressing the spatula down into the Silpat and scooting it underneath the meringue, it would come off in one piece.  The meringues are sweet, so I cut back a bit on the sugar in the cream.

 For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.   There’s a video here of the episode.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll

 

Blood Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake

March 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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blood orange yogurt loaf cake

It might technically be spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet.  I’m still wearing a scarf inside, my down parka outside, and there was even talk of pulling snow boots out again last night.  Oh, bother.  A bright spot here, while I wait for spring to really show up, is that the citrus is still good.  I think we’re at the tail-end of the preciously short blood orange season.  Blood oranges are so sweet and vibrantly colored– I still feel surprised every time I cut one open.

I’ve made lots of yogurt cakes here (and even yogurt cupcakes, too).  They stay moist for days, feel less guilty than pound cakes and they’re a great match for citrus, so I looked around on-line to see if anyone had a good one using blood oranges. Most cakes that I saw seemed to resemble another one I’d made, Ina’s Lemon Yogurt Cake, swapping out the lemon zest and juice for blood orange.  At its core, so did this one but it has a few tweeks that set it apart for me.  Subbing some of the AP four with cornmeal gives the cake a more rustic taste and texture.  Swapping the plain vegetable oil for olive oil adds to its fruitiness.  Cutting out just a bit of the sugar and forgoing the powdered sugar glaze keeps it from being overly sweet. Don’t worry– a jewel toned blood orange juice soaking syrup drenches the top and seeps into the cake, so you still get enough of that sticky sweetness to call this dessert.

P.S.:  If you like cocktails, add a little vodka and a splash of simple syrup to blood orange juice, top it off with seltzer and ice, and you’ll have the most brilliantly colored drink you’ve ever seen.

Blood Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake-makes an 8 1/2″ x  4 1/4″ loaf cake
adapted from Ina Garten and foodonfifth.com

 for the cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal,
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of two blood oranges
1 cup yogurt (Greek or regular, but preferably not non-fat)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil

for the soaking syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the two zested oranges)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ x  4 1/4″ loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, rub the 3/4 cup sugar and the blood orange zest together with your fingers until fragrant.  Whisk in the yogurt, eggs, vanilla and olive oil.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, switching to a spatula, if needed.  Mix until just fully combined.

-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes.

-When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, make the soaking syrup by combining the 1/3 cup blood orange juice and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Bring it up to the boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear, about a minute. Set aside.

-Carefully place the cake on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Use a skewer to poke holes in the top. While the cake is still warm and the syrup is hot, pour the syrup mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. (You can get all the syrup to absorb into the cake or reserve a little bit of it for drizzling over the cut slices, if you’d like).

-Cool completely before slicing.

 

Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake

September 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 7 Comments
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stonefruit upside-down cake

Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited!  I like summer in theory (long days, trips to the beach, bottles of chilled rosé), but in practice, we don’t have A/C, so I just feel uncomfortable and lazy most of the time.  Not to mention sweaty.  I will miss the summer fruit for sure, but luckily I can still get peaches and plums for another couple of weeks.  Even though I have avoided turning on the oven for most of the past two months, now is a great time to get baking.

I’m quite fond of upside-down cakes, and don’t mind experimenting with them.  Fruit cooked in caramel goo…ain’t nothing wrong with that.  And they’re pretty, too.  We know an upside-down cake is really all about the caramelized fruit, but the cakey part shouldn’t be neglected either (trust me).  This cake has the right balance of sturdiness and softness.  Almond meal and a bit of barley flour help with that texture, and also give it some real flavor (as in we’re not just relying on the fruit).  It’s equally delicious made with peaches, nectarines or plums.  I’ve had it all three ways…maybe next summer I’ll do a combo?  Unless we have company, it takes the two of us four nights to go through an 8-inch cake, and I didn’t feel like this one suffered at all.  (I stored the cakes wrapped in the fridge and brought slices to room temperature as we wanted them).

Don’t you just love how plum skins look like jewels when cooked down?

stonefruit upside-down cake

Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake– makes an 8-inch cake

Steph’s Notes:  If you don’t have pre-ground almond meal, grind an equal amount of whole almonds, along with 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour, in the food processor until fine.  You can replace the barley flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour, if you wish.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
1 cup sugar
3-4 medium peaches, plums or nectarines, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup barley flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter an 8-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the topping, put 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet over medium heat. It should look like wet sand. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the skillet with a wet pastry brush.  Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away. Add 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it in until smooth. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble a bit when the butter goes in.

-Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and tilt to coat. Arrange the fruit wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed.  It doesn’t matter if the caramel sets up while you are doing this.

-Combine the flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

-Beat the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, like I do) in a large bowl with a mixer (or in a stand mixer with the paddle) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.

-Spread the batter evenly over the fruit and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

-Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Blueberry Muffins

September 3, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, groups, muffins & quick breads, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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IMG_4627_edited-1 copy

Yesterday was the first Labor Day in many years where I myself did not have to labor.  Any holiday is typically an extra busy, extra intense day for those who work in the food biz.  It was sort of odd then that I chose to celebrate by getting up a little early to make Rick Katz’s Blueberry Muffins for breakfast.  Baked goods for breakfast are a bit of a treat around here, as they should be, I guess.  Not only are they an indulgence, but OMG, the wait for prep, baking and cool down is almost too much!

Really, though, blueberry muffins are no big deal (they’re not like sticky buns, or anything), and I’ve made them here before.  This particular recipe is unusual in that it uses cake flour and calls for creaming the butter and sugar (instead of the “muffin-method’s” usual melted butter or oil).  The results are more like little tea cakes than sturdy coffee shop muffins.  They aren’t too sweet and they are loaded with the last-of-season blueberries.  They look sort of dainty and unassuming from the outside, but inside they are basically blueberry jam!

IMG_4638_edited-2

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so 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: Johnnycake Cobbler

August 20, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in cobbler, crisps, shortcakes, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments
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johnnycake cobbler

I made Johanne Killeen’s Johnnycake Cobbler twice, both times with peaches and red currants.  The first time, I thought the biscuit layer was too thick and the fruit was getting lost underneath all that cornmeal topping.  So I tried again, reducing the topping ingredients by a third.  Now the cobbler to fruit ratio was in much better proportion.  Even with less biscuit on top, in order to get it cooked through, I still had to bake the cobbler for several minutes longer than the recipe stated.

I should warn you that the johnnycake topping uses lots of cream.  Like lots.  I just couldn’t do it– both times, I used a combo of milk and sour cream to replace it (essentially making a higher fat buttermilk-type liquid).  I’m sure it was less rich than the original, but at least I could justify having a little scoop of ice cream alongside.

I’ve been seeing plums at the market, so I’ll probably be giving this a third try soon!

peaches and red currants, about to be cobbled

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Nancy and Johanne making the cobbler together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Watermelon Agua Fresca

July 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Posted in around NYC, drinks | 7 Comments
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watermelon agua fresca

I quit my job a couple of weeks ago.  Actually I quit my job in February, but somehow they convinced me to stay through June.  Hmmm…how’d that happen?  Over those last five months at work, I was sooooo looking forward to some free time.  I had grand plans for sprucing up things around the house, maybe taking piano lessons or going on a couple of trips.  To tell ya the truth, though, I haven’t accomplished much.

It’s hard to motivate for big cleaning projects or to concentrate on EveryGoodBoyDoesFine when it’s so freakin’ hot in the house…and also when you have a contracting crew remodeling a bathroom and making crazy noise and more mess everyday.  I do have a some short trips lined up, but none have happened yet, and one already had to be cancelled (boo to that–I’d already bought the plane ticket).  When I go on my daily errands, I’ve been taking long walks to keep myself out of the stuffy house.  My prize for today’s cruise around Brooklyn is that I walked right past Ethan Hawke on the sidewalk–OMG, so cute!

I’ve been looking for creative ways to cool down that don’t just involve going to the movies or eating ridiculous amounts of ice cream.  My obsession for all things Mexican led me to agua fresca…the drink, not my neighbor’s pretty awesome above-ground pool.  I took a big watermelon that was taking up too much space in the fridge and turned it into the most refreshing, pink, fruity, fizzy, ice-cold drink.  Yes, I will be doing a lot of agua fresca-ing this summer.  Yes, that is a verb.

watermelon agua fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca- makes 4-6 drinks

Steph’s Notes:  I don’t see why this wouldn’t work with other types of melon, too.   

2 lbs of watermelon cubes, seeds mostly picked out (this is the weight after trimming the rind and cubing)
juice of half a lime (or more to taste)
pinch of salt
granulated sugar or simple syrup to taste
cold seltzer water (or still water if you’d rather)
ice

-Put the melon chunks in a blender with the juice of half a lime and a pinch of salt.  Whiz till liquid.  Taste and see if it needs another squeeze of lime and/or if it needs to be sweeter.  Add sugar or simple syrup accordingly– if it needs any added sweetener at all, it probably won’t be more than a couple of spoonsful.  Re-blend to combine.

-Strain the juice into a bowl, pitcher or 1-quart measuring cup, pressing gently to get as much juice liquid as possible while removing the pulp (unless you’d prefer to leave it in).  Chill the juice for at least an hour.

-When you’re ready to assemble your drinks, fill a glass little more than half full with juice.  Top off with seltzer and ice.

*If you plan to serve the entire batch in one go, you can top off the full amount of juice with water and ice directly in a pitcher just before pouring.  But if you assemble the drinks on a glass-by-glass basis, extra juice will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Baked Yogurt Tart

July 2, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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baked yogurt tart

Leslie Mackie ‘s Baked Yogurt Tart was one that I was rooting for in this month’s recipe nominations.  The combination of fruit and yogurt in a pie crust sounded pretty good to me!

Instead of using berries for my tart, I pitted some of the sweet cherries I got from my CSA.  I see now that I could have squeezed lots more cherries in there…I’ll keep that in mind when I make this again (which may be for this weekend’s BBQ with the in-laws).  Also, I left the chopped almonds off my tart and added in a little almond extract instead.

The recipe says to bake it till brown on top.  Mine took the full baking time but was nowhere near golden brown afterwards.  I didn’t want to overbake it and since I could tell the custard was set, I just went ahead and took it out.  When cut, this tart held its shape and reminded me of a cheesecake.  I actually thought the filling could be a tad softer– I’m not sure if it was the thick Greek yogurt I used, or if the amount of flour used to thicken the filling could be reduced a bit (3/4 cup is a lot of flour!).  I may fiddle with a couple of things next time I make this, but, all in all, it’s a tasty spin on a summer fruit tart.

baked yogurt tart

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so 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!

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