Posts filed under: ‘Fruits and Tarts‘




BRUNCH: Mixed Berry Mango Scones

I’m finally enjoying a Saturday all to myself! Its been a while. Mostly my “weekends” have been packed with 6 say a week work schedules, cakes, and family obligations, hence the lack of new recipes, or pictures. Its hard to bake in a New York City heat wave, let alone when it feels like just one more thing to do. But lately I’ve been in the midst of whats become a summer long project of rearranging my entire apartment. I’ve given up the spacious master bedroom to (eventually) convert it to my Master baking/ decorating room and have arduously gone through the task of rearranging closets, setting up my bed in the smaller but cozy guest room, and am still pulling apart and reassembling my kitchen. The irony: I’m probably not renewing my lease in my spacious bronx apartment, but I’ll figure that out later.

Not wanting to make a giant mess within the mess I’ve opted to make breakfast out of a few scones sitting in my freezer I made not to long ago and figure a recipe was far overdue.

And as I sit here and type I’m contemplating when am I gonna get rid of all this crap in my house I don’t want?! That mountain bike, that extra tv, flower vases, the books I’ve had since college.  And then procrastination sets in and I’m dreaming of more recipes for my long ignored blog: Lemon Meringue pie, Blueberry muffins– Its August –berry season after all, Tiramisu by Tony Danza, Yeah I just mentioned Tony Danza,  The french macarons I’ve been lusting after, and Humble Pie– a recipe that includes peanut butter and chocolate, and story about Paul McCartney.

But alas I sit and sip my coffee, and munch on a scone.

Scones, from Alton Brown

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/3 c sugar

4 tablespoons butter

2 tbsp shortening

3/4 c cream

1 egg

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender.

In a separate bowl whisk cream with the egg.

Add egg and cream to dry ingredients.

Dough will be a little sticky, but thats okay.

From here I diverge a bit. Scones traditionally contain dried cranberries, or fresh blueberries.  I grabbes some mixed berries starwberries, blueberries and blackberries and added some mangos– all in my freezer.  The extra moisture will make you dough sticker, but make sure to add some additional flour when you roll it out and you’re set.

Chop fruit…I was probably a bit over zealous with the amount I added. (1 cup of each– you can add less)

Fold in to the dough. The juice from you fruit fresh or frozen will color the dough.  Aim for a marbled effect rather than blue scones.

Roll out on a well floured surface, to about one inch– or thicker. You can use a biscuit cutter or just haphazardly slice into triangular wedges like I did.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown at 375 degrees.

Procrastination on a Saturday.


2 comments August 13, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I have a number of colleagues who are foodies and I spent a fair amount of my “water cooler” chat discussing sweets and baking endeavours.  Today I gave some tips about icing a cake, later on the security personelle and I discussed pies and puddings.  Lemon Meringue came up and I realized I’ve never made one!! Dare I admit?! A study of lemon merignue is soon to come.

In this conversation I found myself thinking of my grandmother who was a decorated pie maker, in fact when she passed away her banana cream pie was mentioned in her eulogy.  Her birthday is this month so a banana cream recipe is in our sweet future.

Around midnight as I left work and I popped into a grocery store that was open late I found myself shocked and elated to find rhubarb on display in the produce aisle.  I searched high and low for this red-celery-looking-tart veggie all summer with few results.  Some grocers even looked at me funny when I asked for it.  Its typically in season when strawberries are, in May and June (in New York).  The few times I found it in the blistering summer months my motivation to bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie did not last far past my trip home, and sadly the rhubarb usually spoiled before I got up the energy to heat up my kitchen in 90 degree weather.

This rare find of Rhubarb sealed the day for me. Lets talk pie!

As I mentioned my rhubarb went bad a time or two before I got around to cooking it.  Then of course it dawned upon me that perhaps a hot summer day isn’t always a pie baking day. But you don’t have to sacrifice your rhubarb.  Chop it up and freeze it! The last strawberry rhubarb I made was at Thanksgiving.

Yeah I know- no one is jonesing for reminders of cold weather or Turkey naps as its finally feeling like spring is here.  There were so many pies at Thanksgiving that my father joked that each of us could have one to ourselves.

Sure fresh fruit is always preferred, but using frozen fruit doesn’t change any of your preparations in making the pie. By the way I really like the freezer bags that ziplock makes– you can suck the air out of the bag and lengthen the life of your goods in the freezer–saving them from freezer burn.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling:

Rhurbarb, sliced

Strawberries, hulled and sliced (hulled means de-stemmed)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients.  If you are working with frozen fruit allow the fruit to thaw or warm over low heat before adding sugar and cornstarch.  Simmer all ingredients over low heat until thickened.  With frozen fruit you will be dealing with higher water content, so thickening might take a little longer. Remove from heat and refridgerate until ready to use.

Crust

This crust recipe came from SmittenKitchen and I absolutely love the recipe. Click that link because the pictures and instructions are GREAT!

2 and 1/2 c flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) very cold unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized pieces

1 c ice water

Add cubes to water and set aside.  Combine Flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl– the extra room is important for the mixing process.  Add butter and blend with your pastry blender– you can get these anywhere and if you want a blue ribbon in pie– you need one!  (I got a great one at Target that also included a pie server, and pastry wheel.

A key to a wonderfully flaky pie crust, as suggested at smitten kitchen is visible chunks of butter. By using a pastry blender you are layering the butter between thin sheets of flour– key to allowing the steam production (butter melts and emits steam that puffs the flour) rendering a flaky crust. Once the butter and flour are combined and appear to be almost chunky– the size of peas add water.

Switch the pastry blender out for a spatula and start to pour the ice water over the dough. You may need some additional water, though I found that the 1 cup was adequate. Fold with the spatula, then knead with your hands for a minute, no more. Once combined wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies.  Its ideal to split the dough in two and wrap separately. Refridgerate for at least an hour prior to rolling out.  You can also freeze it if you are planning to use in the future.

Rolling the dough:  If you’d like to save on the mess factor feel free to lace two large sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and roll. I, however, don’t mind making a huge mess.  Flour your clean countertop.  Knead dough to warm slightly, making the dough easier to work with.

Shape into a circular mound.  Start by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough.  Work evenly out to the top and bottom of the dough, then side to side.

I typically just pick the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees.  (roll top to bottom, then rotate 90 degrees, and  repeat.) This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking– re flour if you need to, and its not as awkward with your arms.  The dough will receed slightly as you roll it but be patient.

To determine if the dough is big enough to cover your pie plate. Set the plate (face down) lightly in the center of the dough to measure– there should be 2-3 inches around the perimeter of your pie plate.  Some folks fold the rolled dough in quaters then unfold in the plate, or you can lightly flour the top surface of the dough, then roll the dough around your rolling pin, unroll across the plate.

Work dough into corners of plate. Cut excess crust at pie plates edge (save and reuse in the future).  Patch any holes that might have torn.

Fold and pinch edges around pie plate. Use your index finger to push dough in between the knuckles of your index and middle finger on your opposite hand.  Fill with filling.


Roll second part of dough.  Thickness for both dough layers should be about a 1/6- 1/8 of an inch. I have misplaced my pastry wheel so instead I used a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser. It can be a little cumbersome to put together, but it allows you to cut 2 ribbons at once that are even and uniformly measured.  In this case I used the 3/4 inch embossers, with the crimped edge cutter. Make sure you stack enough spacers so that the spacers stop just past the inside piece.  Tighten washer and end cap.  The cutter should roll easily though its tight enough that the cutters and spacers don’t waiver. Use your index finger to press on the washer to steady the ribbon cutter as you roll.

Attach ribbons at the edge and weave ribbon pieces over and under one another.  *You can vary your lattic top appearance by weaving the lattice tightly together, or loosely apart, and of course you can cut the ribbons thicker or thinner.

Paint, using a  pastry brush, with and egg yolk and a tsp or 2 of water.

Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.  The pie is done when the filling begins to bubble. Its always a good idea to place a cookie sheet beneath a pie with a fruit filling so that any bubbling fruit does not bubble over and set off your fire alarm.

Add a comment April 6, 2011

Chocolate Torte

I did some experimenting with some gum paste orchids– rather complicated for flowers but fun once you get the hang of it.  I’ll hopefully post a video in the future.  For now a recipe based on on of my latest cakes– Chocolate torte.  I realized only after doing this recipe that torte usually indicates that the cake contains ground nuts as opposed to flour…this recipe only has flour, but was a dense, rich chocolate cake all the same– not light and fluffly, but thats fine with me.

From: RedBookMag.com

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine your dry ingredients: Sugar (yes this time its a dry ingredient), flour (sifted), cocoa (I used 1/3 dutch processed, 1/3 valrhona), cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix till combined and set aside.

In a small sauce pan heat milk– I only warmed it, don’t scald.  Melt butter– over the stove or via the microwave.

Lightly beat eggs. Add vanilla.

Slowly pour in warmed milk.

Add butter.

Add dry ingredients.

Mix until just combined. Bake (in 2 8″ pans-greased and floured) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Finishing a chocolate torte can be simple– the cake is dense and sweet enough that fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit are perfect.  I went more on the choco-holic side of things.

To Finish:

Each layer will be about 2- 2 1/2″ tall.  I leveled both rendering four layers and iced with a raspberry butter cream (I added a teaspoon or 2 of raspberry extract and 2 tablespoon of raspberry jam.  Seedless is preferable– but I had trouble finding it, even in New York City.

**Careful when added jams or syrups to icings.  In my experience your frosting can get gummy and hard to deal with aka it starts oozing all over the place unpredictably. Between layers I spread raspberry jam.

A little trick to getting you icing super smooth.  With traditional buttercream (butter and powdered sugar) you’ll find that the icing “Crusts” or dries to the touch after about 10 minutes.  Sometimes it even crumbles a little. If you find that you have some spatula marks on your cake you can dip a metal spatula in warm water– don’t get the spatula too wet lightly swipe your spatula against the dry frosting and you’ll notice the marks melt away.  The finish of the frosting will be a little shiney — careful not to use too much water else the cake will look melted.

I finished the cake with Chocolate Ganache— which isnt too complicated to do, but I think is best described in a video…to come.

Chocolate Ganache

2 c semisweet chocolate

1 c-1  1/2c heacvy cream

Melt in a sauce pan over low heat stirring constantly.  Ganache should be cooled but still runny.  I also placed the cake in the freezer to settle and firm up a bit.  Place cake on a cooling wrack, on a large tray.

Pour ganache over the top of the cake letting it drip over the sides.  Push ganache over sides with spatula.  Give one or two passes around the sides of cake to smooth and make sure ganache has totally covered the whole cake.

The best thing about ganache is that if you allow it to cool a little longer its just like chocolate frosting– if you don’t want to pour it over your cake you and spread it like frosting or pipe it with a pastry bag. If it gets too cool warm it up in the microwave or roll the pastry bag filled with ganache between your hands until it softens enough to pipe again.

3 comments March 23, 2011

BRUNCH: Banana Pecan Belgian Waffles

I’m breaking my tradition of posting brunch inspired recipes on Saturday nights because I finished out my last day of the weekend this Monday with a day off from work.  I spent Saturday managing the many patrons attending a long week of performances of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Lets talk about Martha for a minute, because I for one, having seen bits and pieces of her repertoire many times over the years I’ve been working in theatre, strangely knew little about her.  I knew only that she basically invented modern dance– which as a kid who studied tap dancing for (cough) fourteen years thought modern dance was just ballet without shoes.

Martha Graham is often mentioned with other great artist like Picasso– because they both invented and redefined their art– turning traditional form on its head.  She invented her own technique which is widely studied today and only at the tender age of 75 did she reluctantly retire from performing.  Her choreography can be severe, stressed, and emotional, and always includes eccentric costuming and makeup. Calvin Klein, Vera Wang, and Oscar De LaRenta designed many costumes for this week’s performances (see above).

Martha Graham has little to do with waffles, in fact I’m sure when you are a professional dancer you steer clear of waffles, carbs, and this blog in general. I did feel a little inspired with my plating and adding a carmel head dress as it were.

So here is a great addition to your brunch menu. Banana Pecan Waffles…ohhhhh I sigh just thinking about them. I actually had one this morning, though I made this recipe about a week ago…These waffles freeze well too.  So if you are serving breakfast for a small crowd or just treating your self this Sunday or Tuesday morning, don’t worry about all that extra batter going bad in your fridge throughout the week.  I’ve managed to comendere my boyfriends waffle iron for the last couple weeks, so when I had a minute I pressed the remaining batter into waffles and threw in a gallon size freeze bag, and have been indulging, with the help of my toaster ever since.  ALSO, thoses chocolate stout waffles, from my last brunch post freeze even better!

Banana Pecan Waffles from GroupRecipes.com

Ingredients:

2 c Flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp sugar

3 eggs

2 c buttermilk (2 c milk with 2 tsp vinegar)

1/3 c sour cream

1/4 c canola oil

3/4 c ripe mashed Bananas

1/2 -3/4 c chopped pecans

Combine dry ingredients (flour, powder, soda, salt, and sugar) and set aside.

Mash bananas.

Beat eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and oil.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Fold in Bananas and Pecans, careful not to over stir.

 

Pour about 1/3c batter on to iron.  Cook for 3-5 minutes. Follow the directions on your waffle iron.

Fresh bananas, whipped cream, and some caramel I had hanging around my fridge made for a fabulous finish. (my carmel topper wilted shortly after this picture…) maple syrup or agave nectar work just as well.

Add a comment March 22, 2011

Caramel Apples

Our beautiful fall days…I hate to say are numbered.  I took this picture just this past weekend leaving my apartment. Who says the Bronx isn’t pretty!?  Get your fill Leaf peepers because soon the last of the green leaves will have turned yellow, and soon be gone.

Williamsbridge Oval Park

So what an easy way to get fall in your kitchen then Caramel dipped apples.  Now you can buy the pack of dip that you just microwave, or you could try one of the easier recipes that calls for melting caramel candies.  I appreciate short cuts but sometimes I prefer the recipe with a few extra steps– it always teaches you something you didn’t know. In this case you will make your own homemade caramel.  If you have left overs from dipping you can easily store and reheat and use on ice cream, or as a garnish for just about anything. Don’t want the mess of dipping apples? Slice up your apples and just use the caramel like fondue.

This recipe comes from FoodNetwork.com

Caramel Apples

8 macintosh apples (or your favorite variety)

8 lollipop sticks or chop sticks

2 cups light brown sugar

1c pure maple syrup

1/3 c light corn syrup

1/2 c heavy cream

1/2 stick of unsalted butter (4 tbsp)

Candy Thermometer

Wash the apples well and dry.  They should be at room temperature when you go to dip so make sure to not to store in the refrigerator.  Twist the stem to remove.  Sometimes it’s not possible to totally pull them out.  Insert candy sticks or chop sticks deep into the center of the apples where the stems were, or just to the side of the stems if you are not able to remove.  Make sure to use sticks that are heavy-duty.  My lollipop sticks worked but could have been a little thicker in relation to how big the apples were.

Combine brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and heavy cream in a large sauce pan.  Heat on Medium to high heat.  

Allow mixture to boil.  The recipe states that you should not stir, but swirl.  I found myself stirring with the candy thermometer here and there. Once the combination begins to bubble it rises significantly in the pan, making swirling relatively hard to do.  Be careful not to scrape the sides on the bowl.  Your aim is to boil until the caramel registers at 250 degrees– the hard ball stage on a candy thermometer.  Many times when you are making candy– and in this case caramel counts, you want to make sure that the sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan don’t get mixed back into the sugar mixture you are boiling.  I’m not totally certain that this isn’t why you shouldn’t stir but I have a feeling its part of the chemistry of achieving the right consistency of caramel so try your best to withstand the urge to stir.

Once the caramel has hit 250 degrees remove from heat and add the unsalted butter and mix.  I let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes before dipping, though it was still very hot when I dunked the apples.

I was expecting a slightly milkier color, as opposed to a thin gloss, but as the caramel dries it looks more hardy.  You can also dunk your apples a second time after they have completely set.  Most likely you’ll have to warm the caramel again.

After dunking let the excess drain over the pan.  Place on either a cooky sheet covered in wax paper or I recommend a cooling wrack over a cookie sheet.  If you want to add a topping to the apples roll immediately in cookie crumbs — Nilla waffers, graham crackers, or ginger snaps are good.  Sprinkles, chopped chocolate, or chopped nuts are all favorites too.

 

Add a comment November 21, 2010

Autumn blues

 

I found myself late this afternoon with the Blues.  Yuck!  For no real reason, I just felt down.  Maybe it was the dreary day of misty rain, or that fact that is pitch dark at 5pm! Sometimes you just feel down.  Which absolutely calls for comfort food.

This week I’ll be posting a couple of recipes dedicated to apples as picking season ends and Thanksgiving is next week!!  And if you hit up apple.com– that is the mac website, you’ll notice that the Beatles are now being carried on iTunes.  No need to be sad when some of my favorite music is now readily available to a new generation…of course if you recall before the days of iTunes, the Beatles were once carried on APPLE records.  Its a perfect week for apples!!! And I’m suddenly feeling optimistic again.

Today: Apple Crisp. So easy to make… the hardest part, or most time consuming I should say is peeling the apples.  I let my apples soak in Drambuie, a scottish blend of scotch whisky, honey, and herbs. I like spiking my desserts as it alwasy kicks up the flavor just a bit.

I will warn that you should be careful not to let your apples soak too long (left mine in the fridge for a day or 2) or you will find, like I did, that they soak up the scotch and will hit your mouth with a bang. I took the apples that absorbed the most scotch and made sure to spread the drenched pieces across the pan.

Drambuie soaked apples...perhaps I soaked too long

Apple Crisp

I found this in my recipe box.  Have no idea where I got it or who gave it to me, but it sure is good.

10 c apples ( I prefer macintosh) Peeled and chunked

1 c sugar

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 water ( I used left over Drambuie apple juice mixture instead)

1 c rolled oats

1 c flour

1 c packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 c butter sliced

Slice the apples and place in a glass or metal 9″ x 13″ pan.  Combine sugar and 1 tbsp flour, and cinamon.  Sprinkle over apple chunks. Then pour 1/2 c water over apples and sugar.  I pour 1/2 c drambuie over the peeled and sliced apples.  After soaking for a day or more about 3/4- 1 c is left with some juice from the apples.  I recommend only soaking for a few hours, and pouring (instead of water) the rest of the drambuie and apple juice at the bottom of the bowl over the apples. 

Combine oats, 1 c flour, brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, and butter.  Mix till crumbly with your fingers.  Some recipes call for the butter to be melted.  Others call for the butter to be softened but cool.  I left mine cool, but in general I’ve melted it in the past and its easier to mix.  I leave this step to your discretion– both work.

Sprinkle over apples.  I added crushed walnuts, pecans are also great with apples.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Add a comment November 17, 2010

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