Friday, September 18, 2009

Nectarine Tart

I'm not usually a huge fan of nectarines, always been more of a peach lady myself, however it is the end of summer fruit season (sniff sniff) and so I thought I needed to use some nectarines.

This is a simple tart that relies on good, fresh nectarines that are at the peak of their season.

It has a simple almond cream base, with fresh nectarines cut, and arranged on top. That's it.

It smelled amazing, the texture was really nice, soft - like apricots from a can, but a lot more fragrant.

A tart I would make again.

Chocolate Stout Cake and No Cake Decorating Skills

So this may seems like an innocent cake - one with a whole lotta chocolate, a splash of booze and a bit of caffein. But this guy drove me to the end of my tether.

Easy to make, this cake sounded interesting because of the beer content - I was curious what kind of flavor and/or texture it would add to the cake. When I tried the batter (as you must) I could taste the beer, yet when I baked it, there really wasn't anything yet. The cake was a not-quite-chocolate cake. But not quite sure what it was kinda cake.

Whatever right? Just ice it and send it off.
I tried. I tried for maybe an hour and a half, and learned a very very good lesson. It takes time to ice a cake... specifically to ice it nicely. My forearms physically hurt - still.

Kudos to all of you people who can ice (you know who you are Wendy, Sarah N). It's something I really need to work on.

The recipe for the cake and icing is from: Octobers Bon appetit:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Concord Grape Tart

I've been thinking about this tart for about a year. I first met the concords at a farmers market last Autumn. They looked pretty - like large blueberries, but they smelled of my childhood.....specifically a bubble gum I used to have a s a kid. So ate them. Then looked for them the next week at the market, but alas they had finished for the season. That day I vowed to exploit the grapes the next year.

All the grape tarts I looked at seem to begin the same way: pop the middle part of the grape out and save the skins.

Concord Filling
1 1/2 lbs. concord grapes
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. potato starch
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Oat Crumble
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cuptightly packed brown sugar
pinch of salt
not quite 1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup unsalted better - melted

1 Tart base (mine was a pate sucree)

Method (preheat oven to 375F)
1. Wash the grape and gently squeeze the internal part of the grape into a bowl, keep the skins in a separate bowl.
2. In a small saucepan place the internal part of the grapes and boil for around 10 min.
3. Put them in a sieve over a bowl and using the back of a spoon squish the grapes until most of the pulp has been transferred to the bowl below.
4. empty the contents of the bowl into a medium saucepan, add the skins, sugar and melted butter. In a small bowl place the potato starch and lemon juice and stir until well combined (you may need to add a little extra water to make a paste). Add the paste to the grape mixture and stir to combine.
5. Heat over medium heat until slightly thicker.
6. Let cool a little
7. Meanwhile make the crumble. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the butter and using your finger tips mix until all the dry ingredients have been integrated.
8. In your tart base place some of the filling - fill it up around 3/4 full. Then sprinkle your crumble on top.
9. Bake for around 45 min, but check for the setting of the tart - the consistency should be like that of a thick jam.
10. Let cool to room temp and serve.

A very good tart - a little tart, very nice with the sweet crust of the sucree. Also a slightly sweetened whipped cream works very nicely!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I adore Indian food; its complexity, warmth, the fact that you can eat it all with your hands. I have made naan before. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great experience.

At school when you are 2nd quarter you are in charge of supplying the bread rolls and other such sundries the schools restaurants require. The week I was doing my bread rotation just happened to be the week when they were doing a middle eastern/ Indian theme. All I remember is standing by the sheeter (a mechanical rolling pin essentially) and making flat breads for what felt like hours. Under stress - because they wanted the bread now.

But, I went to dinner at Tricia and Tim's place and well, it was Tim's birthday and he requested naan, so I had to make it!

It was alright. A little dry - I like my naan moist and filled with pannier- which I din't use in this naan. A really easy bread to make though, only requires one fermentation (rather then two) and has a little zing due to the yogurt used.

It was a good accompaniment for all the delicious Indian food we had made - so that means success for me.

It's really is funny though, how I'm never satisfied with what I make. It's never perfect. It can be 'alright' or 'pretty good' but usually not brilliant (note the exception below this post the tomato, mozzarella tart - go and buy yourself -if you are in the Northern hemisphere, some beautifully ripe tomatoes, some good buffalo mozzarella and make the tart tonight).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raspberry and Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

A friend had their birthday last week, and he loves chocolate. I wanted to make something that I hadn't made before, something that used both fruit and chocolate. This tart seemed like the answer. It is a simple tart made with very high grade ingredients.

A simple ganache made with a bittersweet chocolate with 72% cacoa, raspberries were squished on the bottom, the ganache poured over the top and then a little decoration and that was it.

I simply used some left over bittersweet chocolate and a hand made chocolate piping bag (made with parchment paper) to pipe the decoration onto a sheet of parchment which I then froze.

Simple, rich, elegant. Recommended - a heavy dose of sweetened whipped cream on the side.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mozzarella and Fresh Tomato Tart

Amazing. Seriously, really damn amazing. So very simple as well. This tart consists of a pate brisee base, dijon mustard smeared over the top, gruyere on top of that and then beautifully fresh tomatoes are placed between layers of buffalo mozzarella.

Over all of this olive oil infused with thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pepper. Bake.

Amazing. I can't really say anymore. A great tart that I will be making many summers from now.

Creme Fraiche and Berries Tart

A tasty tart, but when I made it it was a rather ugly tart. It has a simple pate sucree base, some blackberry jam on the base, blueberries and raspberries are then placed on top. On top of al this you make a blackberry compote and pour that on top, pour on the creme fraiche and broil in your oven until it looks like a creme brulee.

It was a popular tart (although I did forget to put the blackberry compote into the tart but served it on the side). And it was a savory/sweet tart that requires very ripe, fresh fruit for it to really be any good.

I want to make my own creme fraiche next. I just found a recipe for it, and i have a recipe to use it in...

Friday, September 4, 2009


I adore rhubarb, and the amount of rhubarb I use is pretty good evidence of this. It's in season all summer long and pairs well with strawberries raspberries, lemon or simply sugar. So a couple of the tarts I've made lately have rhubarb in them. The bottom one is simply rhubarb + strawberry + kirsch and some whipped cream.

The top one is a vanilla tart with rhubarb infused with lemon zest and a few left over raspberries. A really tart tart.

Easy as pie (tart) really!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ice Cream

I'm holding onto the thought that it is still summer (despite watching the trees beginning to turn all shades of red) and so I've proceeded to make a bunch of ice cream of late. I made a peach honey ice cream from Dorie Greenspan 'Baking From My Home to Yours - result = so so. A little hard when frozen, not enough peach taste despite having both fresh and cooked peaches in it. I made a fabulous greek yogurt ice cream - the flavors are cream and butter... Really amazing and texturally good (for the recipe see:
Yesterday I made a rum and roasted walnut ice cream. All signs are positive on this one - smooth texture, a serious punch of rum and the crunch of walnuts (from chez panisse dessert book). Finally I made a clove ice cream to go with a rhubarb strawberry tart that I'm making (once again from chez panisse desserts).

I wonder about the difference in recipes though. Some use half and half, other use whole milk, some like the liquor raw (no burning/heating/cooking) others like to have it cook off. Mostly I'm curious about the milk part mostly - about how the fat content effects the texture. The greek yogurt one was lovely and smooth (and it lasted a while being that way) and I imagine this is in part the result of having not only milk and cream but also the yogurt. So why not always up the fat content? Why not always use half and half instead of milk?