Tag Archives: tart

thanksgiving digest

1 Dec

Why does it take until December to finish digesting Thanksgiving? Not unlike past years, our cornucopia overfloweth with meat and starch treats in volumes and combinations that would horrify any pilgrim. Case and point, the Thanksgiving fat bastard himself: turkey cake. Two loaves of turkey meatloaf separated by a layer of cranberry sauce, frosted with mashed potatoes and topped with yams and marshmallows.

Yes, I ate it. Along with the deconstructed version the night before. My chef friend C made possibly the most gorgeous bird I have ever seen stuffed with a homemade cornbread and sausage stuffing.

Parsnip and potato puree, yams, cranberry sauce, creamed leeks, braised carrots, salad and amazing caramelized brussel sprouts rounded out our festive meal, which we nested among the gold leaf centerpieces I had crafted.

Post an Old Fashioned-induced dance party, I geared up for the night after Thanksgiving. Another evening of big eating. M’s turkey cake stole the spotlight, an impressive feat considering the presence of an Asian-themed banquet: two roasted ducks, scallop and sausage sticky rice, soy sauce ribs, homemade spring rolls, chinese chicken salad — plus candied yams and my favorite Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli.

Even sans cleaver, N made swift work of carving beautiful Golden Gate Meats ducks.

N’s sticky rice, a recipe of his mother’s, glistened with chewy goodness — studded with slivers of red lap cheong, dried scallop, mushrooms and water chestnuts.

K’s “old school Chinese” expertise showed through in a magnificent platter of golden spring rolls — each perfectly crunchy with an ideal portion of savory meat and vegetable filling. R’s soy sauce pork ribs melted off the bone in spectacular fashion, like a harlot proudly disrobing.

My contribution to the evening was a Chinese Chicken Salad minus the chicken because I have a weird chicken phobia. Really, it was just a butter lettuce and raddiccio salad adorned with crispy prosciutto, won ton chips and homemade garlic roasted peanuts. The secret is the dressing, which I’ll rudely refuse to share. I will, however, recommend you make these amazing garlic roasted peanuts to snack on by the handful or dress salads.

Garlic Roasted Peanuts
smelly and addictive… a treacherous combo

* 1 lb raw peanuts
* 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
* 2 tablespoon oil, peanut oil preferably
* 4 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce
* 1/2 tablespoon sugar
* salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then put peanuts on sheetpan. Dry roast for 15 minutes.

While the peanuts begin to roast, mix everything else except for the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. After first 15 minutes remove roasted peanuts from oven, mix the peanuts with the marinade, pour back onto sheet pan, then return to oven.

Continue to roast for 10-15 move minutes or until the peanuts are a light golden brown color. Take them out a little before you think they are perfect, because they will continue to cook on their own a little more after being removed from oven.

Allow to cool, then season with salt and pepper. Store airtight at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

Don’t think I forgot about dessert! There were many notables including C’s fruit crostatas and P’s moist and tender rum cake. My T-day contribution: a silky dark chocolate tart with buttery cookie crust and the interior texture of a ganache. It’s ridiculously easy and impressive….excellent baking ROI.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust
adapted from Bon Appétit

Crust:
* 12 ounces gingersnap cookies (Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps are best)
* 3/4 stick salted butter, melted

Filling:
* 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 cup heavy whipping cream
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
* Pinch of salt
* 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind gingersnap cookies in processor (yielding around 1 2/3 cups). Add melted butter; process until moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

For filling:
Combine finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Very gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate filling into crust.

Bake chocolate tart until filling puffs slightly at edges and center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger over top. Cool tart in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove tart pan sides and cool tart completely. DO AHEAD: Chocolate tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cut tart into thin wedges and serve.

(effing delish) fig tart

27 Sep

The dumbest thing you can do on a hot day is bake, but a crate of ripe figs and a birthday celebration convinced me otherwise. No regrets — I am conceitedly in love with the masterpiece of my sweaty labor.

Figs are so beautiful, even when simply sliced into quarters. Their gooey insides are translucent shades of pink and white like miniature watermelons.

For this freeform tart, I began with an easy food processor dough. With the canvas rolled out, I then sprinkled a bed of cinnamon sugar and began placing figs in a startburst pattern starting from the center.

It’s a bit like erecting a tepee at the start — you have to balance three slices to stand up straight, but then it’s easy to lay on concentric circles of slices thereafter. The result: fig tart, fruit art (FART?).

Here it is fully-baked after a liberal dusting of cinnamon sugar and the crust having been folded over and egg-washed. As usual, I had some leaking issues because I rolled the dough greedily thin (I was trying to maximize surface area)! Not to worry, it was still effing delish — lightly sweet and caramelized as only fresh figs can taste. We enjoyed it with a rich, port-like dessert Cab from Big Dog Vineyards.

Fig Tart
who needs brains when you have this much beauty?

* 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 12-15 fresh figs (depends on size)
* 10 ounces food processor tart dough
* egg wash

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Remove stems from the figs and cut vertically into quarters. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch freeform circle. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar.

Starting in the center, cover dough with overlapping circles of fig, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on the outside. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Raise dough border to enclose the sides of the tart, letting it drape gently over the fruit. Press down on the dough at the baking sheet, snugly securing the sides and bottom; be careful not the mash the fruit. Gently pinch the soft pleats that form from the draping. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the figs are softly and lightly caramelized. Cool for 10+ minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

nectarine and plum crostata

27 Jul

Butter can do no harm. Take for example: crust. Savory or sweet, this golden brown vessel can be your means to a delicious end whether it be a latticed pie, custard tart or quiche.

When what matters most is getting a piece of buttery crust into your mouth as quickly as possible, the crostata should be your vehicle of choice. A crostata is a rustic free-form tart — simply a round of dough piled with a mound of fruit with the sides folded over. It’s as easy as pie… only easier!

Recently, my baker friend Rosie made a fantastic crostata with plums and nectarines ripe from her parents’ garden. Tart purple-fleshed plums oozed from a thick buttery envelope of golden pastry dough with every pinch of my fork.

Feeling particularly inspired last Sunday morning, I whipped up a copycat crostata to take over to my 88 year-old grandma. I was running a bit late, so I definitely could have baked the crostata until it was more browned.

nectarine and plum crostata
with super easy food processor crust recipe from Cucina Simpatica

crust:
* 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
* 2 cups unbleached flour
* 1/4 cup superfine sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 cup ice water

filling:
* 2 cups of nectarines, plums or any other semi-soft seasonal fruit (raspberries, figs, etc)
* 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (use less, if fruit is super sweet)
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

prepare the crust (1-hr in advance): Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Since butter softens rapidly, return cubes to refrigerator for at least 10 minutes while you set up other ingredients.

Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter, tossing quickly with your fingers to coat each cube with flour, taking care not to touch the blade. This prevents the butter cubes from adhering together and helps them to break apart and combine more evenly with the flour.

Pulse 15 times, or until the butter particles are the size of small peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through feed tube. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping the machine before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the contents of the bowl onto a sheet of aluminum foil, pressing any loose particles into the mass of dough. Roughly form the dough into a 7-inch disk.

Cover the dough completely with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 2 weeks (defrost for 30-45 minutes at room temperature before use). Makes 20 ounces of dough — enough for one large tart, two 9-inch shells or four little tarts.

prepare the crostata: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice fruit into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle sugar and vanilla over fruit mixture and let sit about 20-minutes, until some juice is released. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 11-inch free-form circle (use about half of the dough from recipe above). Transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.

Leaving 1 1/2-inch border all around, cover the dough with the drained fruit mixture. Raise the dough border to enclose the sides of the tart, letting it drape gently over the fruit. Press down on the dough at the baking sheet, snugly securing the sides and the bottom of the pastry; be careful not to mash the fruit. Gently pinch the soft pleats that form from the draping.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes until the fruit has given off some of its juice and the dough is golden. Cool on a rock for about 10 minutes and serve while still warm and aromatic. You can brush the fruit with jam or the leftover sugar/vanilla juices, if the top looks dry.