Monday, December 22, 2008

Rice Pudding

I heard that this isn't the way a lot of people eat their rice pudding, it really isn't that sweet, most of the good stuff is placed on top rather then integrated but this is the rice pudding I grew up with. I adore this.

Ingredients: Pudding
1/3 cup of long grained rice per person, rinsed in water until water runs clear

Pinch of Salt
Whole Milk

Ingredients: Topping

Salted butter (around 1 Tbs per serving)

Cinnamon and sugar (as much as people want)

1. Place rice in a saucepan and cover with milk (you want around 1/2 inch over the top of the rice).
2. Bring to a boil.
3. Add salt to taste (not a lot as the butter is salted)

4. Turn down the burner and let it simmer until rice is cooked. You must keep stirring it as it will burn to the bottom of the pan. Also to keep the moisture content up you will need to add more milk during the cooking process to make sure that it doesn't burn. The consistency of the final product is smooth, no graininess, and pretty thick.

5. Melt the butter until brown (you want a hazelnut smelling butter - slightly brown).
6. Place the rice on a plate and squish it down with the back of a spoon.
7. Pour the butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. There you go rice pudding the way I like it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

World Peace Cookies - Dorie to the Rescue Again

These are yet another Dorie Greenspan cookie. They are wonderful, they have no eggs in them, they are chocolaty and they have a secrete ingredient that makes them even better. Salt. Specifically Fleur de sel. It adds a slight grittyness (much like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in a weird way), and an amzing uplift to the cookie that is really tasty. The reviews I recieved were all positive for these babies so although they aren't pretty cookies they're seriously tasty cookies. Tasty far outweighs pretty in my book!

Bah Humbug and Stollen

I guess I grew up differently, because at around this time of the year I start to go insane. I think it's the music, the constant repetitive cheerful voices, the people telling me (very happily I might add) about how great it is to have snow (and well, yeah I have to agree there having had xmas in Australia in summer for the majority of my life), and about the virtues of Santa. Anyway, despite my bah humbug ways I decided to make Stollen with two buds from baking class, Sarah and Jamie. It was quite an undertaking and it taught us to read recipes before we decide to make them. This is specifically in relation to yeast and time.

Yeast takes it's sweet time eating starches and suagrs and so it needs a little time to burp. The recipe we used had a starter dough, as well as other rises, and benching proceedures so it took a while. There are plenty of recipes out there, we decided to use one recipe to make three mini stollen, which I think worked out nicely. The ingredients were another matter, specifically the candied fruits required. I went to a few places and found it difficult to get fruit that well...looked something like fruit (what cherries are green??) Eventually I found some (citron is green!) and we used that and a combo of candied citrus peel, golden raisins all soaked in rum for an hour or so.
I grew up on stollen.

We had a European xmas in Australia with the celebration and present opening all done on the 24th. Nanna would sometimes make stollen or buy it, I remember the only part I ate was when she would make/buy the type with marzipan. I would rip out the marzipan and scoff it down while I would casually hide the remnants of the stollen in my hand until I could find the grabage bin and shove it in. Needless to say the stollen I made had a massive amount of marzipan (almond paste) in it and it worked out pretty well.

Stollen pairs brilliantly well with a warm drink (coffee, cider, tea etc) as it is by nature a fairly dry yeasted bread. But, if you like xmas, enjoy baking, want to do a fruit cake type of baked good, I'd give stollen a go.

PS. Sarah and Jamie! I erased the picts of all our stollens after they were made - I'm sorry!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fig, Roasted Hazelnuts, Fennel Seed and Rosemary Bread

Wow, it's pretty jam packed. This bread is a 'quick bread' meaning it doesn't require a starter dough made the night before. However, I did start it around 9 am and finished it at around 2pm... so I guess quick bread isn't really the right name for it. However, it was worth it.

It is half whole wheat, half white bread flour, so it is already nutty without the addition of the hazelnuts. The fennel certainly gave it a anise kick, and the rosemary added some more oomph. The figs were sweet and contributed a lot to the crust color. A tasty bread, good with cheeses as well as with butter.

Taken from the Jeffrey Hamelman book "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes". An amazing bread book.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coffe Cake - Asia Pear and Rosemary Crumble

I started to peel the pears and noticed they were soft - no biggy right? I can put them in something and baked them and all will be well. Then I cut them in half and they were seriously brown. So out they went. I panicked, this was a dessert for someone who was coming over to have dinner with us. I really didn't have much at home to use in the way of fruit (which I adore using). But on the weekend I had bought a couple of Asian Pears (Nashi Pears for the Aussies).

A while ago I went out with a friend and fellow baker Jamie to a place downtown called 'Taste'. It's attached to the art gallery SAM (Seattle Art Museum) We just wanted dessert, and they actually had some great desserts. One of them was a pie with an Asian Pear filling. It was pretty delicious. The pears kept their shape, and they had an unusually flavor, it was served with a side of cinnamon ice cream that complimented the pie nicely.
Having being inspired (and admittedly desperate) I peeled, sliced and used the Asian pears. However they weren't the most flavorsome choice pears, and they weren't particularly moist, so I added rosemary and some pear liquor and well it worked. It had an interesting flavor mostly due to the addition of the rosemary - it was nearly savory. I think a cinnamon ice-cream or even a apple cider sorbet would have worked well with this one. Maybe next time I'll try that?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Choc Chip Cookies

Something simple and quick is what I've been craving to make. Nothing fancy and complex. These are just simply choc chip (bitter sweet choc was used) with a bit of vanilla extract, some walnuts and a whole heap of butter. Another wonderful Dorie Greenspan recipe. I have to admit I love Dorie. Her recipes are simple, straight forward. However they aren't simple in their taste. They often have an adventurous side to them for instance incorporating unusual spices. And, the best part is, her recipes usually work and taste amazing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Future of Food

It isn't usual that I go on about any political issues that may be occurring in the world. But the more I read, the more I visit the local farmers markets and the more I see out in the world the more concerned I am with what we consume, how things are grown, how distant we are from what we do consume and from those who grow it. 

A few months ago Michael Pollan (the author of 'The Omnivores Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food") wrote an amazing article in the New York Times magazine entitled "Farmer In Chief" (you can view the full article here: 

It's an article that kinda makes you sit up and pay attention to what's happening around you. America has some amazing land, that can grow a huge variety of crops, raise plenty of animals, it's just that as a consumer not everyone cares about that. We want what we want, now. Full stop. I want to make a chocolate raspberry tart in the middle of Winter - sure why not we can get berries from Chili. 

I'm worried that we are growing so far away from our food that our children may never have the opportunity to know how it was raised, where it came from or even what season it is tastiest in. 

Try the farmers markets, they are amazing and incredibly inspiring. Write to your government demand that they have a secretary of agriculture who supports local and sustainable agriculture (, ask that foods that contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO"s) are labelled. 

Food is so important and so amazingly diverse we need to look after the people growing the food as well as those buying it, namely ourselves. 

Squirrels and other Edibles

The last rotation at school was breads. It was mostly us, the first quarter getting things ready for the next day (weighing various amounts of flour, salt and fresh yeast most of the time). However, some days we did some quirky things. Like these. Squirrels? Weird yes, kinda weirdly cool - I think so. We have a book at school that basically details how to mold bread dough into various forms - masks, wheat stalks, rabbits, chickens, snakes, crocodiles, teddy bears and yes squirrels.

This guy was my favorite - it looks like he just fattened himself up on some tasty acorns.
Next quarter we have to figure out some topping for foccacia that we'll sell down at the bakery at school - does anyone have any suggestions? We've done a lot of toppings that are pizza like ie. feta, olive, capsicum and tomato. But I was wondering if anyone had a topping that they really enjoyed on a pizza or a foccacia that we may try and use next quarter when we make the topping descions (2nd quarters tell the 1st quarters what to put on top). Sweet idea's would be great as well, we had one that was thinely sliced apples, a oatmeal, brown sugar and butter crumble and then some caramel on top as well. That one looked pretty amazing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Veg mini cakes

I love to sneak a vegetable into a sweet treat. I guess it's the deceptive part of me; attempting to make something that usually isn't (or at least shouldn't) be healthy into something that is well, a tad more healthy.

These had an array of veg in them, namely: carrots, parsnip and zucchini, with an apple thrown in as well. It was published in a magazine I got from the local super market called 'Edible Seattle'. I liked the title I have to admit as I like to think that there are amazing places in Seattle to eat, and buy great produce. Unfortunately, there were only a few recipes in the mag, and this was one. Originally it was meant to be a sort of flat cake, one with which you would spread the cake on the bottom, ice it and then cut it into cubes. I decided to make mini cakes, using cup cake containers and then took off the bases. The main reason I removed the cup cake bases was that the cake is extremely oily, and so it soaked right through the cup cake paper.

These were nice, and as mentioned previously I do love hidden veg so it gets bonus marks for that.

Chard, Blue Cheese and Apple Galette

I was talking to a friend and fellow baker Sarah during the week and she was telling me about her rotation on doughs. She said that the only pastry she ever bought (that she made) was a galette with chard, onions, balsamic, apple and blue cheese. I thought I'd give it a burl at home. It was a magnificent combo. The crust is a simple one - I just got lazy. Originally I was going to make some snazzy yeasty thing, but then I couldn't be bothered and so I made a crust without yeast, made some fancy crusts. I then simply washed, chopped and sauteed some gorgeous chard with some red onion, added a ton of balsamic vinegar. I placed thinly slice granny smith apples on the base, placed the chard on top, then the blue cheese. Finally I put on some pine nuts, and then baked it until the crust was a smidge brown. That's it, so simple, and so very tasty!

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Earlier this year Josh and I went to New York. It was here that I first tried a pignoli (which is the plural of pignolo meaning pine nut). I remember going into this Italian bakery and looking at a wall of cookies, most of which I hadn't encountered before. I decided to try the one's that appeared most foreign - the pignoli was amongst these. They are delicious, soft and chewy, weirdly dense although the texture is light (I think it's because when you bite into a pignoli the air escapes and you create a dense texture due to the sugar and egg whites mashing together). I love the pine nuts, they add a meaty note to the whole thing pretty tasty all round, and really easy to make. Another egg white left over recipe.

For the full recipe see:
I love these!

Snow Men and the art of piping

I have absolutely no skills in piping, seriously. I have a bit of a shake, and I get nervous at the idea of something being permanently attached to something. But I decided to try and make some of my left over pate sucree into snow men - simple one's without too much glitter and glam.
The easy part was rolling and cutting (although I'd like to have made them closer to 4mm rather than 7mm so they would have gotten a little more firm quicker). When it came to decorating I was stumped having never decorated xmas biscuits except with my nanna and opa (these consisted of a basic white icing with a smidge of lemon, and sprinkles on top - which are delicious, just not, well I guess 'elegant' for lack of a better word). So I started researching what to put on the biscuits, I could so colored sprinkles, colored icing, I could add candy, do some serious piping decorations... I just got lazy and made some royal icing and piped on a scarf, some buttons and a hat.

I really need to work on my piping skills.


This is an Australian treat (or New Zealand treat depending on who you beleive although of course I always was brought up to believe it was Aussie) named after the ballerina Anna Pavlova.
A Pavlova is basically a giant merangue (although you can make small versions that won't take as long to bake) that has a firm outside and a almost soufflee like interiour. I don't know what makes it this way - I've had merangues that are firm all the way through with very little differentiation in the texture (read firm, hard, often on the verge of being brittle), but the good ol' pav (pavlova) has this incredably supple texture.
The idea is that you have this egg white base, and then you pile in freshly whipped cream and fruit. The pav's that I grew up looking at I never really like. They were filled with strawberries, maybe raspberries and passionfruit all pilled on top to resemble something that one regurgitates rather then ingests.
For the pav here, I simple used whipped cream with a touch of vanilla and sugar, a raspberry coulis (simply frozen raspberries from summer simmered with sugar and a smidge of lemon juice and strained through a sieve) with some kiwi fruit and persimmons on the side. It worked out pretty well - I'm looking forward to trying this one in Summer with beautiful fresh berries.
For the recipe I used see Smittenkitchens blog:

Monday, November 24, 2008

A post to remind me: Seasons

Note to self:
Pink Pearl Apples 
Concord Grapes 
Roxbury Russet Apples (for sauces)
Banana Apple (baking propper)
Calville Blanc d’Hiver Apple (try in a tart)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Frangelico Pears with Brown Butter Filling

A simple pate sucre filled with a brown butter filling (simple butter browned until it has a hazelnut smell to it, with eggs, sugar a bit of flour and I added a bit more frangelico [hazelnut liquor] to flavor it a smidge). It was alright, I need to figure out how to make the brown butter taste like the flavor I add to it - I really wanted a hazelnut flavor to it, but besides adding roasted ground hazelnuts, I'm not sure how to do it.

Monkey Bread

This was seriously tasty. Buttery balls, covered in cinnamon, fused together by caramel. Seriously good. I also added some pecan caramel to the top (I messed up with my caramel which was meant to be a firm caramel candy rather than a goopy mess). This was totally amazing warm. Seriously.

Old Tart With New Apples

During the week we made some gorgeous puff pastry galletts with a type of apple called Rome Apples. They are a hard batch to get right, they are tasty cooked, not so tasty raw. But the best thing was they had this insanely pink flesh - totally amazing. What is so hard is to find apples that have that pink color in their flesh, as it seems that it's hit or miss - you can't tell from looking at the skin of a Rome what color the flesh will be. However, most of the apples used had a very white flesh with pink veins running throughout the flesh, which at the very least adds interesting color variations.

This tart is the same as a previous post, using Rome apples instead of another. They held their shape, they were beautifully sweet when baked. An apple I'd recommend for baking with. For more info check out:

Choc Panforte Candies

These are from the most recent issue of Bon Appetit (December 2008). I just happen to have all the ingredients hanging about so I thought that I'd give them a go. They were an interesting flavor, sort of chocolately, mulled wine, hazelnutty. Pretty good actually - interesting, pretty easy to make. Great gifts for Chissy!

1/2 cup quartered dried black Mission figs (3 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange peel, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup (scant) hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
14 standard paper muffin baking cups

Cook first 5 ingredients and 1 teaspoon orange peel in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat until liquid forms thick syrup that coats figs, stirring occasionally, about 6
minutes. Remove from heat; mix in cinnamon, remaining 1/4 teaspoon orange peel, and nuts. Melt chocolate in microwave-safe bowl on medium power until melted and warm to touch, stopping once to stir, about 1 1/2 minutes. Arrange paper cups on rimmed baking sheet. Spoon 1 mounded teaspoon chocolate onto bottom of each paper cup. Tap baking sheet on work surface to spread chocolate over bottom of cups. Top center of each with about 1 mounded teaspoon fig mixture. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Peel off paper. Let chocolates stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Taken from:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Creme Brulee

This is my first time attempting to make the iconic dessert that is creme brulee. I have to admit I'm a complete novice, I think I've had creme brulee maybe twice in my life, but those two times I really did like it. I think I was afraid to make it because I didn't have a blowtorch, I really had no idea you could make it using your oven. And so, this is what I did. It was tasty, crazy decadent but pretty damn good. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mini Pumpkin and Apple Tarts

A mentioned in a previous post - I usually have left over pate sucre. I decided to use some the the sucre to make some mini-experimental tarts. I didn't grow up on pumpkin pie, in fact I've never had it before, so I'm not sure what it should taste like. But I was fascinated by the idea of having an essentially savory food inside something that is usually sweet. 

For this I simple made some apple sauce out of some amazingly good apples (Johnagold, Golden Delicious and whole bunch of others who's names I've forgotten) added my usual spices (cloves, cinnamon stick and some lemon peel) I put this on the base of the partially baked tart shells. 

For the filling, I bought a New Hampshire Pumpkin and roasted it with a bay leaf for around an hour until it was soft. I let it cool and then removed the skin, then I put it in a blender and pureed it. I placed the puree in a sauce pan, added some sugar, maple syrup, some ground down chai tea spices (ginger, orange peel, cloves and cardamon) and cooked it until a bunch of the liquid had evaporated. I mixed in an egg, some milk and some cream then added this on top of the apples. I baked them in a 350F oven for around 20-30 min until they looked well baked. 

They were ok. I do like the combo of apples and pumpkin, I just need to work on the pumpkin part - maybe I can add some burn - cayenne pepper perhaps?


This is one of those recipes I'd been eyeing off for a while, but hadn't yet go around to trying tit. These were doughy (as opposed to bready) rolls infused with onion.

These took a while to make, there was no waiting overnight for the poolish or biga, but as it was a straight dough method, you had to hang around from the very beginning to the very end to give the yeast all the love and attention it desires (it it likes quite a lot). 

These were nice. They taste more along the lines of a bagel, chewey, not crunchy. Apparently they were first made by Jewish bakers in Bialystock in Poland. Then some bakers moved to New York, and so the goodness spread!

Sucre, dried tart cherries and bitter sweet choc cookies

I have a confession to make, I always have left over sucre when I make a tart. Always, so this week I made a concerted effort to reduce my waste in that department. I did make cookies for the past two weeks (seriously 2 weeks of creaming and refrigerating) so I was feeling rather cocky on the cooky front. 

These were made with the left over sucre dough, some dried cherries that were hanging about and some bittersweet chocolate that I chopped up. I simply integrated the ingredients into the already warm sucre, rolled it into a log, wrapped it in plastic wrap and then put it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I unwrapped it, cut it into around 1.5cm rounds, and baked it on a tray lined with baking parchment for around 15min (at 350F). 

They were pretty amazing if I do say so myself. 

Apple Frangipani Tart

This is such a simple tart to make, especially if you have apples and almonds hanging around. Frangipani is a smooth paste made from almonds (preferably blanched - although as you can see I got lazy and left the skins on half the almonds), sugar and eggs. You can add some flavoring in there in the form of almond extract or vanilla extract, but basically frangipani is sugar, almonds and eggs. 

For this tart I simply did my pate sucre (when don't I?) filled it with frangipani, added some peeled, cored and chopped apples and baked until it was a smidge brown, a little puffy and didn't wobble in the middle when I moved it. 

A great tart for Autumn. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Carrot Cake

I've made this cake before ( but this time I used colored carrots (yellow and orange and a sort of in-between shade). A really nice cake. Moist, nutty and a little spicy. I really like carrot cake due to it's moisture retention. If I were to make this cake again I would maybe times the cream cheese icing recipe by 1.5 as the icing was a little on the skinny side. 

School has been full of learning - as it should right? I'm getting rather obsessed with eating local and preferably organic produce since one of our classes is a sustainability class. It's kind of fascinating eating local as you are really restricted to what your local farmers produce, and they in turn are restricted by what consumers eat, what grows up here in the wet North West and what they decide what to grow. There is some amazingly good looking, and better yet - tasting produce out there. Go explore!

Custard Tarts with Pomegranates

I had some left over pate sucre, and this was meant to enable me to use some utterly gorgeous concord grapes, but needless to say I screwed up. So I decided to make simple custard tarts with some fresh pomegranate seeds as decoration. The custard was flavored with a marzipan liquor we bought in Germany, these worked alright, although they are a tad ugly. 

Friday, October 31, 2008

Baguette:s Take 2

My husband ( and I decided we wanted to make baguetts over the weekend. They turned out pretty well. I'm learning that making bread is a seriously labourious task. Full of: waiting around, seemingly random rearranging of the dough and pampering the yeast. However, it is immensely satisfying to have a fresh loaf, stick whatever from the oven and know that you made it work. 

Caramel Pear (should have been poached figs...) Tart

I have a confession to make, the one fruit I've had serious issues with is figs. I adore dried figs, I grew up with a friend having a fig tree and remember standing around her backyard with watching her dog go a little loopy due to the fermented figs it was consuming. But I never really tried figs, and so it is one of the rare fruits that I don't know how to choose. 

I worked for years in a fruit and veggie shop in Australia, helping customers go through the produce and decide what is ripe, and what is tasty. So usually I feel pretty confident choosing good produce. Bar figs. We never really had them at the shop and so I feel that I have this void in my fig knowledge. I know they come from tree's with funny shaped leaves, they come in various colors and sizes, that their season is nowish (though it seems that now is a little late). But I'm not sure which ones to eat and how I go about cooking them, because poaching them makes them taste and smell like the one room at an airport people can smoke. Any advice would be appreciated. 

Anyway back to the tart, this is from my current favorite book 'Mes Tartes'. I love caramel, and I have a friend who loves caramel AND figs so I thought this was a winning combo until I smelled the stinky an alternative I used beautifully ripe Williams Pears, peeled, cored and sliced to around 4mm thick. They worked pretty well with the caramel. The base of the tart was as always a pate sucre, with an almond cream with creme fraiche incorporated, then it was baked until firm, caramel (with a amazingly subtle hint of vanilla bean in it) poured on top, then a layer of pears and then some more caramel. That's it, a really good tart. However, I think I'd like to use the caramel again with a more simplified (read cheaper base: almonds = expensive and creme fraiche = crazy expensive) because you can't really taste these with the caramel being so dominant. So I'll have to research and alternative. 

Honestly though, you can't really go wrong with caramel. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Basque Cake

A cake with some interesting textures and flavors. I first made this cake at school. It's a cake with a crunchy textured top and bottom, and then a soft middle. The filling is simply pastry cream. The cake we made at school consisted of a cake that was basically dripping with rum, a vanilla pastry cream, and dried cherries and slivered almonds on top of the pastry cream. 

When I made this cake at home I used pear liquor instead of rum, I made the pastry cream a star anise pastry cream, and then I caramelized apples in sugar, star anise and butter. Instead of almonds, I used roasted walnuts. It was strangely savory, bar the sweetness of the cake proper the anise certainly added some savory element that I wasn't expecting. 

The braeburn apples, the cake flour and  eggs (which had gorgeous deep orange yolks, which contributed to the crazy yellow color of the pastry cream) were from a local farmers market. It's so exciting going to farmers markets, I seriously love them. Everything is so amazingly fresh, and you get to know the people working there, really recommend you try some if you haven't already!

Basque Cake; not the prettiest cake, but an interesting one to make, and an easy one to play around with. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pain Rustique or the Beasts 1st child

Ok, I'm not saying I didn't have some serious issues making my first bread at home, using my own oven and levain (the beast). What I am saying is it's not bad, not at all. 

This has a crunchy top, and a soft, uneven crumb. I was scared to make this for many reasons: we don't have a steam oven, the oven is super hot (460F) and I'm a total novice. But once again the Hamelman book came to the rescue, nice details, bar one. When do I add the second batch of yeast and the salt? Two huge issues. Needless to say I forgot about both. But you know what the bread still tastes like bread but needs a salty spread, topping or something to be truly tasty. It does cut a good figure though!

Mini Mix Tarts Cranberry, Raspberry, Pear, Ginger and Clove

I had a lot of cranberries left over from the bundt cake and so I decided to make a small tart using them and some pears that had lingered a tad too long in our kitchen. I also had a smidge left of the pate sucre, so I simply rolled it out, popped it in small tart pans, and baked them until golden brown. 

The filling was stewed pears, cranberries, raspberries, a little bit of finely chopped ginger, a splash of pear liquor, some cloves, a bunch of sugar and a thyme sprig that was removed once I had finished simmering the filling. The consistency was like that of a jam, and so I added a little bit of corn starch to thicken it. I popped it into the ready shells, garnished with finely chopped ginger and a sprig of thyme. Easy as that. 

The tarts were well, tart but the combination of the sugary, buttery sucre meant that they weren't an unpleasant tart. I was quite pleased with these. 

Sauerkraut and Munster Tart

This is a beautiful tart, the smell of it baking was intoxicating in the best possible way (when isn't the smell of melting cheese intoxicating?). Once again from Mes Tartes, by Christine Ferber and amazing tart. 

I adore sauerkraut, totally love it. It's the sourness that makes my nose sweat that I appreciate, and the weirdly dank (for lack of a better word) taste that I totally adore. This recipe due to all the cheese in it kind of dumbed down that sour sauerkraut experience and made it a rich, crispy, textural experience.  Really amazing tart, but very very rich. 

It is made from sauerkraut (I simply use Bavarian wine sauerkraut, add a finely diced onion that's been sautéed until tender in a bit of butter and olive oil, some juniper berries and a few caraway seeds and call it good. If you eat meat you can and should use speck, or double smoked bacon instead of the oil and butter - it imparts a wonderfully rich flavor). Then you slice up some munster cheese place it on top of the sauerkraut, make a simple egg custard and pour it on top. Bake and voila! An amazing savory tart. Delicious!

Someone made it at school using a stinky cheese (maybe an aged Munster), but man did that stink up the kitchen. All morning people were asking what died. When we got to try a piece however, it was utterly amazing. Stinky cheese = good cheese. 

Cranberry and Spice Bundt

This past week I have been working on cakes. And, I have to say I don't love them half as much as I love making tarts. There seems to be far less fresh produce used, and this week we made many cakes that seemed, well, very similar. We basically stuck to using a kugelhopf pan (basically a smaller version of a bundt). So, I wasn't utterly thrilled with cakes, but I thought I'd attempt to apply my knowledge at home. I found this lovely recipe in this months (well I guess technically next months - November) Bon Appetite. From one of my favorite bakers Dorrie Greenspan. 

It consists of a spicy cake with Chinese five spice, which unfortunately I didn't have. So I simply used a mortar and pestle to grind up cloves, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and ginger and called it good. The U-districts farmers market had fresh, beautiful cranberries. So I bought a punnet, and used some in Dorries recipe. I also used dried cherries instead of dried cranberries because that's what I had hanging around in the cupboard. I changed the icing as well, because I don't like orange, so I used a cherry liquor, a bit of milk and then a bunch of sifted icing sugar for the recipe. 

This was a seriously nice cake, packed full of goodies. Highly recommended!

More Tarts: Quince and Raspberry Tart

We've been using a really nice book at school for our tarts. It's called "Mes Tartes" by Christine Ferber. It's divided into seasons, which is great because it gives me an indication what is in season. So on the weekend we went to another farmers market, this time the University district's one and we bought the majority of the ingredients there, including the crazy colored eggs (the yolks were incredibly vibrant - a deep orange color and so it made the custard a really bright yellow!).
This tart is called 'My Father's Quince Tart with Raspberries and Kirsch'. Quite a bit of prep, you make a pate sucre, blind bake it for 15min, then you poach pieces of quince in a sugar lemon syrup until they are just tender. Then you line the base with fresh raspberries, and make a custard out of egg yolks, sugar, kirsch, milk and cream. Pour this over the raspberries, then place the sliced quinces on top and bake. I did have an issue with time on this one, she says to bake it for 40min, but mine required longer then that. So make sure to check for the custard setting in the middle of the tart. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pear Almond Tart

I know it's such a cliche, but I do love the combo of pears and almonds, sweet and crunchy. Once again this tart was born from the farmers market excursion. There were pears there that I hadn't heard of the description read: 'Conference Pears: Pale yellow flesh tinged with pink. Tastes like the best canned pears when fresh'. Seriously how could I pass these up? My curiosity was piqued when I read tastes like the best canned pears. Now, I don't know about you, but to me a good canned pear is sweet, supple and a little firm. These were as they described, they smelled incredibly good. 

I made a simple pate sucre dough and then got the recipe for a pear almond tart from the March Gourmet magazine. I simple chopped up the pear into slim slices and baked them after I had baked the crust to a golden brown, right on top of the crust. Then I poured on the custard, baked that, then I added chopped roasted almonds, sugar and egg whites then popped it in the oven. 

Unfortunately, after I had cooled down the tart I placed it on a wooden chopping board that had at some time in it's past had onions cut on it. So to me the tart tasted very like pears and onion- not a great combo. However, other people did tell me it was good! 

Farmers Market Beauties

We went to a farmers market on Sunday after a dismal weekend of attempting to find interesting mushrooms,. By this I mean we heard about a mushroom exhibition, and we were all excited to go and then when we did go it was all very academic. I just wanted to go buy some mushrooms, and hear about where they grow and how to prepare them not necessarily look at alllll the possible mushrooms that are available locally that are edible or not (or in some cases haven't been tested). By the way it's a scary mushroom world out there - full of mushrooms masquerading as other types of tasty mushrooms so be careful when looking for some in your backyard. 

Anyway the upshot of this was we were totally biting at the bit to buy some local wild mushrooms. And, ladies and gentleman we found them at the west seattle farmers market. A small stall called "Foraged and Found Edibles". They took all the guess work out of the whole 'deadly' or 'wonderfully edible' mushrooms, and so we bought up big. I decided that I wanted to make a quiche out of some porcini - locally known as king bolete as I adore the rich, whole flavor that these guy's have. I also decided that chanterelles would be good and I felt a little sorry for their ugly coral shaped selves at the stall. But seriously, chanterelles for 'yall who haven't tried them have an incredibly meaty texture - almost sinewy, really interesting and hearty. 
So I made a quiche, another one from Julia Childs"'Mastering the Art of French Cooking" pretty good with the weird assortment of mushrooms if you enjoy textural differences. 

Framers Markets Rock! 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last week of Tarts: Apple Tart

I have adored making tarts. Finally I have learned that I can roll out dough, and that I can carefully place it over the top of the tart base and make it work. I love that tarts have different bases, and that you can mix sweet and savory or keep sweet base with a sweet filling. I love using fruits, whatever is in season. I love that you can achieve different flavors and textures by adding something to a tart base thats been fully cooked, or cooking an entire tart, fillings and all, at the same time. 

We made an apple tart at school on Thursday, and so I made one at home on Thursday night. The base is a simple pate sucree dough, not baked or anything. For this really simple tart all the time is taken up by cutting apples.

Apple Tart 
Ingredients: Pate Sucree (makes 1-2 Tarts)

1/8 recipe for 1-2 tarts

12oz flour

3oz sugar

1/2lb butter

2 yolks

1/2 oz cream

Ingredients: Filling
3 Granny Smith or equally tart firm apples
1/8 cup sugar (you may require more depending on the taste)
1lon, thick piece of lemon zest
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
6 Tbs. of water (you may require more depending on how dry it gets)

Ingredients: Topping
4 Granny Smith Apples cut to be around 2-3mm thick 
A few Tbs of cinnamon sugar 

Ingredients: Glaze
4 Tbs apricot jam 
2-3 Tbs of water 

Method: Pate sucree

1. Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy (use the paddle attachment of your kitchen aid).

2. Add the eggs and mix in. 

3. Add the cream and mix. 

4. Add the flour in two parts. 

5. Mix until it just comes together. 

6. Press into 2 small rectangles and wrap in glad wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour. 

7. Roll out on a well floured bench (use bread flour for rolling). Use very quick rolls, two up, two down with quite a bit of pressure. Drag the dough through the flour without lifting it up. 

8. When 1/8 inch thick (3mm) fold in half and place in the flan pan. Make sure you push the dough right into the corners of the pan, try and make a 90 degree angle between the base and the sides.

9. Trim excess dough off if needed (this dough can be reused and made into new tarts if refrigerated). 

10. Place the tart base on parchment paper thats on a sheet pan. 

11. Place in the fridge while you make the filling and topping.

Method: Filling

1. Peel and core the apples.

2. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and set over medium heat. If the stewed apples get too dry add some more water. You want a mixture that is fairly dry, and fairly even in consistency. 

3. Check the sugar level, and add sugar if you think you need to. 

4. Remove the pot from the heat and remove the cloves, cinnamon and lemon zest. 

5. Let cool. 

Method Topping

1. Peel the apples (try peeling in a long spiral from the top to the bottom to make sure you keep the round shape of the apple). 

2. Core the apples using a melon baller and a paring knife. 

3. cut the apple into very fine slices, try and keep them even. Make sure you cut them with the hollow core facing to your sides, rather than towards you. 

Method: Assembly

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Spread the stewed apples on the base of the tart. 

3. Starting at the top of the tart place a piece of apple and then another piece on top of it so they overlap quite a lot (see picture). Do this all the way around the tart. 

4. For the center of the tart dump some of the apple pieces in the center and then surround the center with apples halves, building a type of flower out of the apple halves. You can make it as high as you like. 

5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. 

6. Bake for 45 min or until the pate sucree looks a light golden brown and the apples look baked. 

7. Cool.

Method: Glaze

1. Mix together the jam and the water. 

2. Microwave for 30sec. 

3. Using a pastry brush, brush onto the cooled tart (try and avoid the lumps). 

4. Enjoy!

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