When I plan a meal, I have several check points I go through. I want to be sure that the meal is comprised of ingredients from the current season, and that on a whole, the meal feels cohesive from start to finish. If we are having friends join us, I also try to plan a dessert of some sort. This is usually my favorite part of the meal and the item I spend the most time thinking about. I’m a self diagnosed sugar fiend, so naturally this area excites me the most.
Most often, I like to dream up desserts that have several elements and can take hours, but when we are planning a meal for the middle of the week that doesn’t always work out very well. Unless we just decide to forgo dinner altogether and serve dessert alone, I better think of something a little more speedy.
During the summer, I tend toward the natural bounty of fruit that needs little done to it, if anything at all. Fresh peaches, while amazing in cobblers and crisps, can be divine all by themselves and as far as I’m concerned, make an excellent dessert. However, roasting them for a bit and then topping them a sprinkle of crisp and a dollop of creme fraiche won’t make anyone I know turn up their nose.
There is a lesson to be learned in this recipe: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. I’m going to repeat that to myself: dessert does not have to take hours to be awesome. This is a great mantra for me to remember. Too often I jump right to something unnecessarily complicated. Maybe after repeating this to myself a few hundred times I’ll think more simply the next time I want to make a dessert that takes three days.
This dish is just as versatile as it is quick. You can use whatever fruit is available at your farmers market, in fact I think apricots would be delicious here, so would plums or nectarines. The crisp topping can be frozen and used to stir into yogurt or crumbled onto pies, I also think it could be a great base for a granola too. (more…)
Tartine is an incredible french bakery in the Mission District of San Francisco. They specialize in all things amazing, including, but not limited to, this mouth watering, coma inducing chocolate tea cake.
My sister moved here a few months back, and as part of a “get to know your city” tour, I fulfilled my sisterly duty by taking her around to all the places that would help her get through the stress and loneliness of moving to a new, strange place and since this place is on my essential “go here after a bad day” list, I decided it was a must. click here for the full post!
Summer is coming to an end, and while I am beyond excited for the most wonderful time of the year (I have already listened to my Frank Sinatra Holiday station on Pandora more than once. I know. I’m that girl), I always seem to feel like I didn’t get enough out of summer. There were so many strawberries I didn’t eat, and pickles that I never made. Those jars I bought, and promisedto use for fresh tomato sauce, are now holding beans and the occasional arrangement of flowers. The fresh bounty from those summer months just slips on by each year, and I always vow to be better next season. Well, this year, I tried a tiny bit harder to capitalize on the delicious, mouth watering produce that I have neglected during all those long lost summers.
This week, I have often found myself wishing I always had cupcakes at the ready to give to someone when the urge arises. In the last few days, there have been so many instances where I have wanted to show someone just how much I appreciate them for going way beyond what is expected, and what better way to do that than with a soft, sweet cupcake? The particular cupcake we’re talking about today would make the most appropriate thank you cupcake ever, because it is absolutely perfect. And although I’m not sure that there actually is a way to be perpetually prepared with fresh chocolate goodness in those times of gratitude, for now, a sincere thank you will have to do.
These chocolate cupcakes are the best I’ve ever had . They are seductively moist and they are deeply chocolatey. I would recommend you make them as soon as you possibly can, and maybe carry one in your car, just in case you find someone who deserves a chocolate thank you. click here for the recipe
I remember my mother making homemade ice cream when I was a kid. We had an old wooden hand crank machine that used ice and rock salt packed around a metal canister. These cooling agents worked on the cream and sugar inside to create a deliciously dreamy frozen dessert. She usually made good old-fashioned vanilla from a recipe my great-grandfather used in his restaurant in Santa Barbara. He eventually sold that recipe to a large commercial ice cream manufacturer. The recipe consisted of a lot of cream, sugar, and more cream. It was sinful and could be dangerous for those of us without the metabolism of our youth.
I love to cook. (Does this surprise you?) There are other things that I’d like to care just as much about, like recycling, exercising or saving the baby seal. However, this is my affliction. I think about food morning, noon, and night. My husband often lovingly reminds me that I am obsessed. You know, he is totally correct and that is perfectly fine with me. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of other things that I love doing, like taking beautiful photos, and spending time with the most incredible man on the planet.
side note: I am, by far, the luckiest woman in the world. You know what my husband did for me last night? He took me on a date. You know where? The nail salon. My handsome man took me to get a pedicure for a date. I don’t know if it gets any better than that. If that doesn’t make you drool, I don’t know what will. Man am I glad that I snatched this one up before someone else figured out how amazing he is!
But food. I mean, it really gets me somehow. And when I say ‘gets me’, I mean a couple of things. See food captures every strand of attention I possess, and lately has literally stolen parts of me. In the last few weeks, I have successfully sliced my finger with a mandolin, gashed another with the blade of the food processor, and most recently, boiled my left thumb with very hot jam. Now, I wouldn’t say any of this was worth it (except the tart dough, and maybe the jam, oh and the pork tenderloin with baby carrots, coming soon!), but I would say that I should have learned a lesson by now.
After the previously mentioned incident with the food processor, in which I was excitedly mixing together a flaky tart dough out of my new Tartine Cookbook, I took a little break and let the dough chill. At this point the bleeding had stopped and it was nearly 8pm. So, I did not entirely follow the directions because I was in pain and wanted a tart to make me feel better (you understand don’t you?). So, I skimped on the chill time. According to the master tart maker, Elisabeth Prueitt from Tartine, the chill time is what makes the dough so flaky. I’m sure that if I had not shaved a whole hour off of the chill time, the dough would have been even more flaky, but it was super delicious just the way it was. The pastry cream recipe however, was horrible. It was a total flop. I’m not even going to give you the recipe. When I find something that measures up, I’ll let you know. Disclaimer: The pastry cream recipe was something I found online. I’m sure the one in the Tartine Cookbook is awesome. I’ll have to give it a try.
This tart dough is not sweet. It would be good with something savory as well, but we chose strawberries since we had some left over from the 14 pounds (!) we had picked the day before and they were luscious and wanted so badly to be eaten. I made a “pastry cream” because I thought the strawberries would be perfect on top of something sweet and creamy. They would have been better on just about anything, but whip cream sounded wildly appealing after being subjected to such a horrible pastry cream glob. Usually whip cream is not a good idea for tarts if you want to save them because it makes the bottom of the tart shell soggy, although these babies didn’t stand a chance of being wrapped up for storage.
Please let me know what your plans are for this versatile and incredibly easy dough! You can make a large tart with this dough, or you could make adorable tartlets.
Flaky Tart Dough Elisabeth Prueitt Tartine Cookbook
Makes enough for two 9- or 10-inch tart shells.
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
2/3 cup (150 ml) very cold water
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (455 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 tablespoons (300 g) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a small bowl, mix together salt and water. Keep very cold until ready to use.
Place flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly until mixture forms large crumbs. Add the salt water mixture and continue pulsing until a dough has just formed but is not smooth.
On a lightly floured work surface, evenly divide dough. Form each piece of dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
To line the tart pan or pie dish, place a disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick, rolling from the center. Lift and rotate dough a quarter turn every few strokes to discourage sticking. Lightly dust the dough with more flour as needed.
If lining a pie pan, cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the dish. If lining a tart pan with a removable bottom, cut out a circle 1 1/2 inches larger. Carefully transfer the round to the dish/pan, easing it into the bottom and sides, pressing gently into place. With a sharp knife, trim the dough even with the rim of the dish/pan.
Line the pastry shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (you can also use dried beans.) For a fully baked shell, bake at 375 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until the surface looks light brown. Remove from the oven and remove the parchment paper and weights. Return to the oven and continue baking until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.
Cool completely on wire racks before filling.
This is a teaser. Tomorrow morning, at an ungodly hour, we begin camping weekend and I have not packed. However, I have succeeded in making some very yummy food for those going along. That’s all you need right?
I unfortunately don’t have time to post recipes, but these two gems come from the amazingly talented hands of smitten kitchen. Deb is incredible, and is by far the complete inspiration for starting this blog. So please, check her out (www.smittenkitchen.com). There is an incredible amount of goodness there. For these recipes you can search for blueberry crumb bars and red bean chili. Also, if you have a chance, check out her surprise me! button on the left hand sidebar. It’s so much fun. I’ve lost hours of my life to that very button. After checking in with Deb at smitten kitchen, if you are still not satisfied, which I could never imagine, please let me know and I’ll indulge you with the recipes.
‘Till then I’ll be floating down the Truckee River on an intertube, pulling a bag of unknown beverages behind me. Try not to be jealous. See you soon y’all.
Fathers Day is synonymous with grilling. I tried for days to come up with a menu that didn’t include the grill, but really that would just go against all things man, or Dad as it were. I don’t mind grilling, in fact it’s a wonderful way to cut calories, and get incredible taste out of so many things. I just love to do new things, but when you’re cooking to honor someone else, it’s good to make something you know they’ll like. So, I decided on hamburgers (always a hit) with a tomato and corn salad, some smashed potatoes, and to top it all off, fresh strawberry shortcake. It all turned out to be fantastic, especially the dessert, which is of course, the most important part.
The burgers were pretty normal as far as burgers go. Some sirloin, some chuck, a little garlic along with a few splashes of Worcestershire. I can’t actually tell you if they were good, because I made myself a little turkey burger (I don’t really eat red meat if I can help it), but everyone seemed to like ‘em. The shining stars of the evening were undoubtedly the so-good-you-have-to-take-a-doggy-bag strawberry shortcake and the succulent tomato and corn salad.
This tomato and corn salad is extremely easy and can be tweaked in so many ways. I think I’ll add some feta next time, because as you’ll learn, it’s basically my favorite thing on earth.
P.S. This being kind of a special day, I really didn’t take inventory of the calories for any given dish. I did lighten my meal by using a whole wheat bun, and having turkey instead of beef. The tomato and corn salad is something that is definitely on the lower side of caloric consideration. The strawberry shortcakes however, can be as bad as they want because something that good can just be that way, and we’ll let it.Tomato and Corn Salad
3 ears corn
3 pints cherry tomatoes
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat the grill to high heat.
2. Shuck the corn and remove all of the hair like things (real name anyone?).
3. Brush the corn with a bit of olive oil.
4. Place corn on the grill, turning occasionally to avoid burning, roughly about 8-10 minutes.
5. While the corn is cooking to perfection, cut all of the tomatoes in half, crosswise. Place into medium size bowl.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the corn. Mix to incorporate.
7. Once the corn is done, let it cool a bit. Then with a knife, remove the kernels by slicing down the cob. Try not to slice too deep or you’ll get the tough stuff underneath.
8. Mix well.
This salad can be made up to an hour or two ahead of time. Letting it rest a bit helps all of the juices to blend well.Strawberry Shortcakes
Parade, May 2008
- 4 pints strawberries, lightly rinsed, hulled and halved*
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sugar**
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 shortcakes (see recipe below), for serving
- 6 whole strawberries, for garnish
- 2 cups self-rising flour***
- 2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoon heavy (whipping) cream
For the shortcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet.
2. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
3. Add the butter. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub it into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the milk until a very soft dough is formed. Do not overwork.
4. Drop the dough in 6 equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly pat the dough into rounds—3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter—and lightly brush the tops with the cream.
5. Bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
For the Strawberries:
1. Place strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar, then gently toss with a rubber spatula. Let rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for juices to develop.
2. Just before serving, whip cream with 1 Tbsp sugar until it holds soft peaks.
3. To serve, slice off the top third of each shortcake. Place the bottoms on 6 dessert plates and top with 1/3 cup of the prepared berries and juice, plus a spoonful of whipped cream. Cover with the top. Spoon over more berries and juice, then dollop with whipped cream. Garnish each with a whole berry and drizzle with any remaining juice.
*This seems like a lot of strawberries, but I promise you’ll want at least this much. You may even want to make extra so that you can have some on your cereal, or on oatmeal, or on ice cream. Oh the possibilities are endless.
**I definitely like my whip cream a little sweeter than this. I used about 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and also added a splash of vanilla. To me, without those things, it just tastes like fluffy milk, which is less sweet than what I was going for.
***I could not find self-rising flour, so my husband, being the extremely resourceful one that he is, figured out that all that means is they have already added baking powder and salt for you. So, we just added our own to the mix. For this recipe I used 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt in addition to the salt that the recipe already called for.