Sunday, December 12, 2010

FFWD: My Go-To Beef Daube

This truly will be my Go-to Beef Daube. Not that I had another Beef Daube, or had even ever heard of a Beef Daube before this. Beef Stew, yes. Daube, no. My french is lacking. Next time, I will definitely make some mashed potatoes as an accompiment. I used a French Syrah for my wine, and also used both the carrots and the parsnips. I had never had a parsnip, and I expected them to be bitter and kind of harsh, but they were just the opposite. They were somewhat sweet, and melded well with the beef, onions, carrots and wine.

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

FFWD: Potato and Leek Soup

Such great flavor, and a beautiful soup.

I made this one late in the evening. And by late, I mean 8 o'clock. I do have a one-year old people, and 9pm is about my bedtime these days.

Anyhow, I ate a big bowl - hot, chunky style, made with the milk & chicken broth, and topped with shredded gruyere as soon as the forty minute simmer time was up.

Mentally, I told myself, I'd put the leftovers in the fridge after the soup cooled just a bit.

Then, I feel asleep on the couch.

Then, I woke up, peeled the contacts out of my eyes, and crawled into bed.

Then, it was 6 am. Maaa ma... maaa ma....

I got my little love bug out of his crib, went to the kitchen to get his milk, and there was my soup. Still on the stove.

Oh, the disappoinment. I had big plans for that soup today. And high expectations of beautifully married next-day flavors. I was so mad, I dumped it. Right then.

Oh course, my plan was to take a photo that morning, in better light. Now, the only photo I could have taken was the soup in the garbage pail. Or the dirty pot. I will not subject you to either.

I can promise you, the soup was fab, though!!

Here - I'll direct you to a couple of other FFWD'ers who made the soup this week, too, with beautiful photos to boot!! If you guys mind the link, lemme know. I'll take it right down!

A pureed version from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy:

Another pureed version from Everything But the Cake:

Yet another pureed (should I have pureed??) from A Plateful of Happiness

In a breadbowl!! Yum. From The Not So Exciting Advetures of a Dabbler.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FFWD: Caramel- Topped Semolina Cake

Another month down, another month of 100% recipe completion at French Fridays with Dorie. My posts may not be exactly on time, but I'm glad I get them up!!

So, here is my Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake. I used small diced apples, sauteed in butter in place of the raisins, which worked beautifully with the caramel. I really enjoyed this cake. It was right up my alley dessert-wise. I'm a big fan of flans and custards, and this was that type of treat!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Pain Ordinaire

I rarely have the time to make bread. It's not the "work" part, which is usually not that labor intensive, at least not with a mixer. It's the waiting. The rising, the proofing... But, today, I am home all day, so I wanted a recipe for a simple bread that didn't require an overnight wait. This Pain Ordinaire was exactly what I was looking for. A simple recipe, a simple bread, just perfect.

Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Ultimate Bread, by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno

Pain Ordinaire

3½ cups (17½ ounces) unbleached flour

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1⅓ cup water, room temperature

1½ teaspoon salt

1. Stir the yeast into 1¾ cup (8¾ ounces) of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all of the water, stirring until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture becomes frothy, loose, and slightly expanded.

2. Add the remaining flour and the salt to the mixture. Stir (or mix on medium-low speed with the hook attachment) for 1 minute, or until the ingredients form a ball.

3. Lightly dust the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead for about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine), adding flour, if needed, to make a dough that is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

4. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours. Press to deflate, then let rest for 10 minutes.

5. Gently pat the dough into a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third of dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creasing surface tension on the outer edge. Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over. Press evenly with the palms of both hands and roll the dough backward and forward until it is 14 inches in length. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Place the loaf on the pan and lightly dust with flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

6. Proof at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until the loaves have grown to about twice their original size.

7. About half an hour into the second rise, place a baking stone* on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

8. Using a very sharp knife or a serrated bread knife, cut 5 diagonal slashes, each about ¼ to ½-inch deep, across the top of the loaf. (Alternatively, cut one long slash that extends for the length of the loaf.)

9. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a peel or the back of a sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the baking stone. Close the oven and reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until golden brown and the temperature is at least 200 degrees** at the center.

10. Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

*If you don’t have a baking stone, simply bake the loaf on a baking sheet at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.
**If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, tap the bottom of the hot baked loaf. It should sound hollow when the bread is done baking.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Annual night-before Thanksgiving get together with friends to consume beer and pizza - Check!

Eating WAY too much Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt's - Check!
Late night Thanksgiving dinner leftover sandwich - Check!

Friday - travel day to my husbands family's hometown - Check!

Friday night pizza and beer - Check!

Saturday - Thanksgiving dinner #2 with the husband's side - Check!

Sunday - travel back home - Check!

Sunday night overindugence hangover - Check, check, CHECK!

I needed something light and wholesome tonight. Something that didn't include turkey, a pureed potato, cream or tiny marshmallows.

Lentil Vegetable Soup. Sounds perfect. And it was.



1 pound French green lentils (I just used regular lentils, it's all my grocer offers)
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender.

Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through.

Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FFWD: Potato Gratin

Okay, so I'm late. Again. Sorry! I actually did make it on Friday, just getting to blogging now, though!

These potatoes were oh so good, in such an oh so bad way. I had dinner plans for Saturday night with some girlfriends. A new restaurant in town. I checked out the menu online Saturday afternoon. You see, I find that when I'm out to dinner with the girls, there's a lot of chatting, and a lot of wine, and no time to really read the menu, so I look ahead of time. Call me a foodie-geek. Whatever. Hopefully you can relate.

Anyway, I immediately gravitated toward the diver scallops. Served with a potato, bacon and leek gratin. Unfortunately, I just ate an amazing potato gratin for dinner Friday night, and then again for (an early!) lunch on Saturday. Can I really order this dinner with MORE potato gratin. More potatoes, more cream, more cheese... I did it. We'll call it research. My, well, Dorie's gratin BLEW away this restaurant's version. My husband declared it one of the best things he's ever eaten. It was goooood!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

FFWD: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux

So I've never roasted a chicken. I'm not a huge meat eater. I'll have a small portions here and there, but I tend to gravitate toward side dishes to fill my plate at dinner time. And dessert.

A major reason I've never cooked a whole chicken, turkey, or any other bird for that matter, is the business of removing the innards.


I've heard that sometimes they come in a bag, all neat and tidy. This was reassuring.
Unfortunately this was not the case with my little organic bird. I pulled three or four chunks of god knows what out of the inside of that sucker and I'm telling you, it was pretty gross. Good thing I had gloves. Oh, and the liver?? You know, the liver to spread on that crispy piece of heaven in the bottom of the pot? Not sure which part was the liver, but I tossed it pretty quickly and ate my crispy bread plain, that was good enough for me!

The chicken was killer, though. I threw together a stock with the carcass in the crockpot with the intention of making a chicken noodle soup when I came home the next night. No such luck, my husband polished off ALL of the chicken!!! In his defense, it was his dinner the night before, and lunch that day... So, the stock went into the freezer, instead. I'll just have to roast another chicken, and it was so easy, so why not!?

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon. Do it!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

FFWD: Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flan

Anyone getting tired of pumpkin yet? I'm not. Just tonight I made pumpkin granola and pumpkin muffins. Keep a look out for those posts soon - this one is about the Pumpkin Gorgonzola Flans, which I chose to make for this weeks French Fridays with Dorie. I had no idea what to expect. I just couldn't reconcile pumpkin, eggs, cream, gorgonzola and walnuts all together in my mind. This is what it's all about, though, this group. Trying new things, learning new techniques, eating new food.

The combination of the smooth, creaminess of the flan, the subtle sweetness of the pumpkin, the saltiness of the gorganzola and the earthy crunch of the walnuts, came together perfectly.

Now I have to decide which November recipe to choose next!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon. Do it!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

FFWD: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

There is one particular dessert I remember vividly from my childhood. It was a single crusted pie stuffed with apples and custard. I only had it once, at a friends house, but I loved it. I've thought about it often in the fall when apple season comes around and the pies, turnovers, tarts and crisps are plentiful.

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake brought me right back to that dessert. I ate and ate and ate this cake, sneaking chunks of apple with my fingers while I was in the kitchen making breakfast, lunch and dinner over the next couple of days.

I've found that adding rum to desserts brings out such a different depth of flavor. I first realized it with Dorie's Banana Bread. This cake was no different. I love the kick of flavor that the little bit of rum brings.

With October's recipes behind us, I can't wait to see what French Fridays brings for November!!!

To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon. Do it!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

A few weeks back, I was killing some of my down time at work on a cooking board I scope out for new ideas, dinner inspiration, and recipes, and one of the ladies over there asking if anyone was interested in doing a bake-along. A small group of us joined in and formed "What's Baking?" Our first task was to bake fall-themed cupcakes. I searched the web for something that looked unique but delicious and fell for these pecan pie cupcakes. They did not disappoint, they were sweet for sure, but tasted JUST like pecan pie! I especially loved the little mini pecan pie pieces on top. So cute!!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in pecans and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Tap pan against counter to release air bubbles.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Place Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below) in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe cupcakes with frosting, or spread evenly on cupcakes.

Just before serving, top each cupcake with a Pecan-Topped Pastry Round (see recipe below).
Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting


1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk


In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Let cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cooled brown-sugar mixture and remaining 1/2 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Pecan-Topped Pastry Round


1/4 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (1/2 sheet)
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 pecan halves


Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut 12 rounds using a 1 1/4-inch fluted cutter. Reserve scraps for another use.

In a small bowl, combine syrup, melted butter, and salt; lightly brush over dough rounds. Gently press 1 pecan half onto each dough round. Lightly brush tops of pecans with butter mixture.
Bake until dough is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in a resealable plastic bag.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FFWD: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

Stems from one bunch of cilantro...

Me: Honey.... - (asking my husband whose idea of cooking is grilling and making chili) -do you think she means JUST the stems or the whole stem including the leaves?

Husband: Just the stems.

Me: So, I need to pull off EACH leaf??!!?

Husband: No, just cut off the top half off where the leaves are.

Me: Oh, okay. Hey, do you think this is a bunch - or more than a bunch? It's kind of a lot.

Husband: Looks like a bunch to me, I'd use it all.

Me: Sounds good.

Other questions I had along the way - what does she means by two POINTS star anise? What is a garlic germ?? Do you think these dried red chiles are okay?? Does the market sell thai basil?

Each question followed with a conversation similar to the cilantro talk above. Some obvious answer out of my husband who rarely cooks, who was watching football, and whose main objective was probably trying to get me to pipe down as quickly as possible. Well mission accomplished by him, I took his word for everything he said.

I'm obviously still learning here, and hopefully always will be. This soup was something completely different than anything I'd typically make. I tend to base my weekly menus on ease, convenience, and shopping budget! And usually when some ethnic recipes pops up that I'd think I might like, I continue to put it aside due to time/lack of available ingredients... whatever.

I'm committed to trying as much as I can out of Around My French Table - to expand my skills in the kitchen and my palette - I refuse to not try a recipe because it doesn't look appealing. I'll make, I'll try, I'll feed to my husband (or dog) if I don't like it. Well, I'd feed it to my dog if I gave her people food. Sorry Rae.

Anyway, the soup. I'm looking at the photo in AMFT right now. I can taste the soup just looking at it. When I first saw the photo, I thought it was beautiful, of course, but really had no idea what I would taste in the end. It was a smooth, sweet, citrusy, spicy, chewy, crunchy masterpiece. You could taste each flavor distinctly with each bite. The cilantro, the star anise, the lime, the fish sauce, the chili. The flavors married and melded together perfectly.

I really enjoyed this soup, and the leftovers. Everything about it was new to me. I love that.

Check us out at French Fridays With Dorie - - and buy Dorie's newest book Around My French Table (so worth it) over at Amazon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nutella Hot Chocolate

As much as I love the summer, I love the cooler months for things like hot chocolate. Although, there is frozen hot chocolate to be had in the summer, and that stuff is pretty incredible, too. But, there is something to be said about settling in to watch TV after a long day with a mug of hot cocoa.

The urge struck me recently for the first time this season. I didn't have any powdered mixes in the kitchen, and usually when this is the case, I'll do the milk/cocoa/sugar mix on the stove. But, when i was digging through the cabinets I spotted the Nutella, and I thought... mmmm, Nutella would be perfect in hot chocolate.

So, I dug out the cocoa and the Nutella, and pulled out espresso powder as well. I often add a bit of espresso powder to my hot cocoa, so I thought I'd try it here too! The result was a satisfying, creamy drink for dessert on one of the first cool nights of the season. I'm sure I'll be enjoying this drink for months to come.

Nutella Hot Chocolate


1 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp nutella
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp espresso powder


Heat milk on stovetop, being careful not to boil. Add Nutella, unsweetened cocoa, and espresso powder. Whisk until combined and heated to desired temperature.

Top with marshmallows or whipped cream and savour.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

FFWD: Gerard's Mustard Tart

I rounded the corner into the mustard aisle at Whole Foods last weekend, a woman in search of the perfect grainy mustard. There stood a man, also contemplating grainy mustards. Could it be? Could he be looking for the perfect mustard for Gerard's Mustard Tart, too? Alas, I will never know - I was too chicken to ask. I almost did, but I thought he might think I was nuts, so I waited patiently for him to make his selection, he chose, and I moved in. Ah, mustard.

I wasn't sold on this tart after reading the recipe. Mustard, eggs, cream... ummm... no thanks. But, I'm trying to branch out, try new things, learn new techniques, so I went for it. I made the carrot and leek version. I love leeks. The cashier didn't know what they were. I love when that happens, makes me kinda feel like a foodie, just for a second.

Did I love this tart? Love is such a serious thing. I'd say we were in like. Although, I must say, I sliced myself a piece the next day, gave it a quick 20 second warm up in the microwave - and the flavors actually did grow on me more since the night before. So, now I kind of really like it. Our relationship is still developing.

Can I also tell you that the crust on this tart has been my most successful yet. I've made several tarts and pies in the past, but this crust was flakey, tender, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and stood above the rest. I'm not sure what I've done wrong in the past, but this time, I got it right!

Thanks, Dorie, for another great selection. Head over to French Fridays with Dorie to join us, and head over to amazon to buy the book!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

FFWD: Hachis Parmentier

French shepards pie. This recipe is reason enough to buy this book. I made this the first week of French Fridays with Dorie to go along with the Gougeres (and Marie-Helene's Apple cake - coming next week). I figured making this and the gougeres would be a good way to use the whole block of gruyere I had bought. To me, this may have been one of the the best things I've ever made. I usually try to stay pretty healthy during the week, and indulge on the weekends. This was one of those indulgent meals for sure, and it was worth every last calorie.

I made this one the long way. I used chuck beef and made the broth myself. It was Sunday, I had the time. I'm sure this is tasty using ground beef and canned broth, but the little bits of tender meat brought this meal to another level. I also used the veggies from the broth, chopped them up and added them to the mix, I couldn't stand to throw them away!

I'm loving this cooking group so far! I can't wait to see what recipes November will bring. To check out the group, head over to French Fridays With Dorie. And to buy the book (which you should!) head over to amazon. Do it!!

Oh - and please excuse the ugliness of this picture, my photography skills are sorely lacking. I just wanted to eat it.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ahhhh... fall. Cooler weather. Pumpkins, apples, squash, baking, soups, all my favorite things. I love summer weather, I love the heat, the grill, ice cream... but this summer was unlike any other I can remember. It must have been 90 degrees and humid every. single. day. My oven was feeling neglected. There was no break from it, and fall is now completely welcome.

This pumpkin bread was perfectly spiced, moist and delicious, with little studs of chocolately goodness.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Makes 2 loaves


3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 15 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used the buttermilk substitute - just under 1/2 cup 2% milk, and about 1/2 tbsp vinegar)
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
2 cups milk-chocolate chips
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.

Place sugar, oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans.

Cool completely on wire rack.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FFWD: Gougeres

Were these gougeres amazing?? Oui, Oui!! Oui is about the about the extent of what I can recall of the 1/2 year of french I took in the 7th grade. That, and I can still count to 10 - I don't think that will get me far in France. While I don't have the time to learn a language right now - learning to cook some french food I can make time for!

I have very little experience cooking or baking french foods, and I'm excited to cooking through Around My French Table (AMFT), which will undoubtedly broaden my palate and skills in the kitchen.

Dorie Greenspan herself chose the first round of recipes for the month of October. These gougeres were her first pick, and coincidentally the first recipe in the book. In my opinion, these are a perfect start to any french meal. I'm glad she included a tip about freezing the dough for future use - now I have a bevy of these babies in the freezer to serve with my future french recipes out of AFMT (Thanks Dorie!)!

Dorie wrote that she uses gruyere while in France, and cheddar while here in America. I never turn down the chance to cook with (thus eat) gruyere - I love the stuff - so I chose to make these perfect little puffed up cheese pastries with gruyere. Wait, are they pastries?? Well, they certainly are not breads - right? We'll call them pastries. I served them alongside two other October selections for dinner this past weekend, Hachis Parmentier, and Marie-Helene's Apple Cake, which made for a memorable meal - the best I've made in a while. Keep your eyes open for these posts soon - I'm dying to tell you about the Hachis Parmentier. Amazing.

Get your self over to amazon and order your copy of Around My French Table to join us in baking!

And check out the gorgeous new site for French Fridays with Dorie to get all the details!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crunchy & Custardy Peach Tart

Stop reading. Go make this tart. Now.

It was that good. Sweet and creamy with a little crunch, heavenly. I picked up a bag of peaches at the farmers market yesterday and have been dying to bake - I knew I'd use some of these beauties in a dessert. I've been taking an exceptionally difficult graduate class over the last 13 weeks, and I finally finished! My treat - baking, an entire tart. So with my fresh, ripe peaches ready to go, I grabbed my favorite cookbook - Dorie's Baking - From My Home to
Yours - flipped to the index, looked up peaches, and found this tart.

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

from ‘Baking From My Home to Yours’ by Dorie Greenspan

1 9” tart crust, partially baked and cooled* (See recipe below.)

Streusel Topping:

2 Tbsp. All-purpose Flour

2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. chopped almonds (I had slivered on hand and roughly chopped those)

2 Tbsp. Cold unsalted butter cut into pieces


3 large ripe peaches, peeled, halved and pitted

½ cup heavy cream

1 large egg

¼ cup sugar

1/8 tsp. Almond extract

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.

Preheat the Oven to 425F

To make the streusel: Working with your fingertips, blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Cover the streusel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (Wrapped well, the streusel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the tart: Slice 5 of the peach halves crosswise. The best way to do this is to place each peach half cut side down on a cutting board and slice it crosswise into thin slices, keeping the sliced half intact. Then lift each half on a spatula, press down on the half lightly to fan it just a bit and place it in the crust, with the edge of the outer peach slice almost touching the edge of the crust, so you have 5 peach "spokes" and an empty space in the center. Trim the remaining unsliced peach half so it will fit into the center of the tart and, using the tip of your knife, cut a little tic-tac-toe pattern in the center of the peach. Set aside while you make the creamy filling.

(Okay - so Dorie's method for fanning the peaches was not translating for me. I just thinnly sliced the peaches and arranged them attractively over the crust. In reality, the layout of your peaches is mostly hidden by the streusel topping, so I wouldn't worry too much about how pretty it looks!)

Whisk the cream, egg, sugar and almond extract together in a small bowl. When blended, rap the bowl on the counter to knock out the air bubbles, and pour the filling over and around the peaches.

Bake the tart for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the tart tor another 20 minutes, at which point you should add the streusel.

Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and using your fingers break it up into small bits. Carefully pull the baking sheet to the front of the oven and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the creamy parts of the tart.

Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes), or until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer t he pan to a rack to cool until barely warm or at room temperature.

Just before serving, dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Sweet Tart Dough With Nuts

Makes enough for one 9-inch crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in--you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10- seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change--heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To Fully Bake the Crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress--it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To Patch a Partially or Fully Baked Crust, If Necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer--it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Garlic Knots

On nights when we're having leftovers, I always like to have a little something new, to liven up the meal. When spaghetti & meatballs were on the menu for the second night in a row, I decided to bake up some dinner rolls to keep dinner at least a little interesting.

I don't have a lot of experience with yeast breads. I've had two massive fails, and luck just once. But I think I finally got the hang of it. There's something so oddly rewarding about watching your yeasted dough rise. Only a baker would get it!! Others probably think I'm nuts.

But here they are - Garlic Knots - in all thier crunchy outside, soft & warm inside, glory. I think bread-making might be a new addiction! Off to the library to flip through some cookbooks!

Garlic Knots - the recipe

For the dough -


1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt


In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You may not need all of the flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Making your garlic knots -


Basic dough recipe (above)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesean cheese


Combine butter and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover, remove from the heat and set aside. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Set aside.

Remove risen dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out into a large rectangle, about 16 by 12 inches. Brush the dough lightly with the olive oil. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into strips about 1 1/4 inches wide. Tie each strip loosely into a knot, stretching gently if necessary, and place on prepared baking sheets about 2-inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the knots with salt. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes.

Bake until golden brown and risen, about 20 minutes. Brush each roll with the warm garlic butter & sprinkle with parmesean cheese. Add salt to taste if necessary. Serve immediately.

Adapted from: Emeril - on

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chocolate Martini

I have a wicked sweet tooth. I crave chocolate, and tend to indulge in a square of good-quality dark chocolate at least once a week. Last Friday, we had finished dinner, the baby was sound asleep, my husband was heading out to his buddy's the watch the Yankee game (blasphemy to a sox fan!). There was not a morsel of chocolate to be found in my house, and I was dying for some. What I did have was godiva chocolate liquer, and creme de cocoa, and vodka. Chocolate martini - problem solved!


1 part Godiva Chocolate Liquer

1 part Creme de Cocoa

2 parts vodka

splash of milk


Combine all ingredients in a chilled shaker. Shake, shake, shake (shake, shake, shake... ).

Pour into a chilled martini glass. I like to set my glass in the freezer for 5 minutes before I pour my drink, or if I forget, I'll fill my glass with ice and a bit of cold water to chill first.

Top with shaved chocolate if you are feeling festive - or get right to drinking if you just can't wait!!