raspberry-fig crostata: a tuesdays with dorie recipe

it’s fig season and our tree is loaded with ripening fruit.  we have two trees actually, a brown turkey and a celeste.  the figs above are from the brown turkey tree; the celeste tree is not producing much fruit yet.  we have been picking the little fruits by the dozen and when i learned this weeks challenge was a choice between a johnny cake cobbler and a raspberry-fig crostata, i had to make the crostata since i had plenty of figs.

we are currently posting without a host but there is a website with some of the recipes on it and the crostata is one of them, see it here.  luckily, there is another link in the recipe to the dough.  but if i may climb on my soapbox for a moment, please consider buying a copy of the book.  as a published author, i cannot tell you how much it means to have the book you worked on sell.  if you cannot buy it, at least try to borrow it from a library or a friend.

i have a collection of tart pans.  for this recipe, i chose the smaller, deep pan which is about 8 inches in diameter.  my thinking was that it would have a nicer ratio of fruit to crust in the deeper pan.

a few notes about the dough, it is a bit sticky and crumbly.  it does not hold itself together well when moving it so be prepared to do some patchwork.  since it was so rich with sugar and eggs, i skipped the egg washing step.  and since i used the smaller pan, i needed a lot less dough-i have about a third of it left.  do not worry, i plan to make some linzer cookies with it.

when it came out of the oven, it was nice and sparkly despite the lack of a wash on top.

beautiful

it was late when i finally pulled the tart out of the oven so we waited until the next day to dig in.  it help up nicely but honestly, the fruit filling could have used more flour.  if i make this again, i will definitely double the flour.

love the color of the filling!  come bake with us sometime.  to see the other participants results, visit the tuesdays with dorie page.

summer vegetable tart; a tuesdays with dorie challenge

this week, we made a vegetable tart using phyllo dough for the crust.  i knew i had a package lurking in the freezer and i decided to use it rather than buy a new package.  should have just bought the new one…this dough, even though it thawed in the fridge for a day, was not going to cooperate.  it came apart in pieces.  there was no way to get the required 4 sheets and cut them in half.  there was no way to make a shell using 8 half sheets, layed in an overlapping manner.  my shell was a total hack job and i am certain i used more than 4 sheets.

and that folks, is as pretty as it gets.  the directions called for 1/2 a cup of clarified butter.  i simply melted 3 tablespoons and and honestly, it was more than enough-i used about half.  after prebaking the shell, i worked on the filling.

banana peppers from the garden, portobello mushrooms, onions, spinach, garlic, a few cherry tomatoes and a handful of basil, oregano and thyme.  to keep the tart from weeping excessively, i cooked it slowly over low heat.

we watch our cheese consumption here and i am not a goat cheese fan.  this tart had about a cup of blended feta, fontina and romano cheeses, most of it sprinkled over the top.  a quick trip under the broiler gave it a little bit of a melt but not much.

it was mostly vegetable, perfect for summer.  honestly, i would rather have this on a pizza crust with a little white sauce.  the phyllo dough crust just didn’t do much for me.  it certainly was not easy to serve-it was hard to cut cleanly, the crust was not strong enough to support the weight of the filling.  the cheese did not glue it together either.  from a cookbook authors point of view, it was easy to see why they did not include a photo, even a small black and white one; this thing was not pretty.  even so, my husband devoured it and declared it a success.  go figure…

to see what all the other participants made, check out the tuesdays with dorie page.  interested in baking along?  get a copy of the book and jump right in, we’d love to have you join us!

baked yogurt tart with summer fruit; a tuesdays with dorie post

what’s in a name?  when it comes to a menu or a recipe title, everything.  the title “baked yogurt tart” just does nothing for me.  a picture would help sell it but the publisher must have decided not to include one, too bad, it might have helped.  might being the key word.
so shy would i bother to make one?  curiosity and a husband who never fails to ask me, “what’s for dessert?” after every dinner we have together.  the catch, neither one of us eats much dairy.  sure a splash of half and half in coffee or a little butter on toast, maybe the occasional slice of cheese but a slice of a yogurt filled tart?  not likely.  while i tolerate it better than my husband can (physically-as in gastrointestinal abilities), i still prefer to avoid it since i generally feel better if i do.  the only way i could make this would be to use a soy or coconut yogurt.  honestly, neither one is something i eat much of just because of the long list of stuff they add to it to give it a texture similar to real dairy yogurt.  but since i want to bake along with the tuesdays with dorie followers and i know my husband will ask that burning question, i baked the tart.  
the recipe is easy to follow.  it calls for 1/4 of the pie dough recipe.  i cheated.  i had two prebaked mini pie shells in the freezer; i thawed them for the recipe.  to make the filling, i mixed up 1/3 of the recipe which resulted in the perfect amount for 2 little pies.  for the fruit, i topped one with peach slices and the other with strawberry slices.  the baking time had to be reduced to 25-30 minutes and they came out of the oven a tiny bit jiggly in the center.  they set up just fine.  the only criticism, they look rather dry and a little leathery on top.  i may have to brush a little warm honey over them before serving.  
to see the full recipe, check out this great website from a la carte communications.  and as always, to see the what the other bakers came up with, be sure to visit the tuesdays with dorie page.

coconut yogurt looks a lot like regular low-fat yogurt.  it has a lot of vegetable stabilizers in it to accomplish that so it is hardly an unprocessed food.  the taste was more vanilla than coconut but even more surprising was just how sweet it was since it was labelled “plain.”

 i love that the recipe was so easy to divide.  i just needed one egg.
 yeah, it was a lazy day in my kitchen; the hand mixer came out for this recipe.
 i love summer fruit, i was able to control myself and slice enough of it for the tarts.
 looking good
 fresh from the oven-pretty!

 the fruit looks a little dry and leathery.  it needs a little glaze over the top to give it a shine.

if my husband is lucky, i will let him have a bite or two…

french apple tart: tuesdays with dorie

 as a person who bakes a lot of pies, i can honestly say that there isn’t much you can do to improve an apple pie.  sure you can change the type of crust or add different things to it but in the end, you still have an apple pie and what more could you want?  chocolate may be my first choice in all other types of desserts and sweets but when it comes to pie, apple is always my favorite and a perfect choice for a cold and dreary winter day.

this week’s tuesdays with dorie/baking with julia challenge is hosted by gaye of laws of the kitchen and the participants baked the french apple tart found on pages 379-381.  to view the full recipe, visit gaye’s blog or be kind and buy a copy of the book, baking with julia; it is worth every penny!

the recipe makes a 9″ tart which was just too much for two people.  first thing on the list was to make a quarter of the pie dough recipe.  lurking in a bowl in the dining room was a group of apples left from thanksgiving; embarrassing isn’t it.  further inspections yielded a bag of fourelle pears (from the same holiday) living in the produce drawer in the fridge.  needless to say, i had plenty of fruit to make the recipe!

 the filling recipe is a little different.  the apples were peeled, cut into cubes and mixed with the other ingredients.  this mixture was spread out on a pan and roasted.  two things, my apples were old and didn’t give off much juice and second, i forgot the bread crumbs.  neither caused problems-the filling mashed up nicely.

to keep it simple, i used mini pie pans rather than tart pans.  the quarter sized batch of pie dough made 4 pie shells.  i prebaked them all and froze two for another day.  my favorite baking trick is to use a coffee filter to line the pie shell and then use glass marbles for weights.

 the prebaked pie shells were filled with the mashed, roasted apples.
 the pears were peeled and sliced thin.

 then they were arranged around the top of the pie, brushed with a little melted coconut oil(rather than butter) and sprinkled with sugar.

hot from the oven, mmmmmmm….apple pie.  it was real tasty with some vanilla ice cream!!!  be sure to visit the tuesdays with dorie page to see how the rest of the bakers made out.

fig and peach galette; tuesdays with dorie

ordinarily, i have my act together; i don’t miss appointments, i am usually early so that i am not late, i remember things.  not this week.  instead of being on the ball, i have been hit by it.  somehow, i managed to miss, and i mean completely miss, this weeks challenge for tuesdays with dorie.  i read the post, i knew it was coming.  i just assumed it was next week.  time to get my head out of my (insert the noun of your choice here) and get to work.
the challenge this week is the berry galette and it is hosted by lisa of tomato thymes in the kitchen and andrea of the kitchen lioness.  to read the full recipes, visit either of their sites and to see the entries from the other members, visit tuesdays with dorie.
i love to make galettes.  they are easy to assemble and they aren’t supposed to look picture perfect.  how can you not love that?  the dough is quickly mixed up in the food processor.  the recipe called for 1/4 cup of cornmeal and i immediately went to the freezer and pulled out the bag of blue cornmeal that i keep stashed in there.  blue cornmeal gives doughs and odd shade of grey but the nutty flavor and slight crunch it adds make it a wonderful addition to any recipe calling for cornmeal.
blue cornmeal

 the instructions for using a food processor tell you to pulse it to a consistency of moist curds and that is just what it looks like when it is properly mixed.  according to those instructions, you can use it without a resting period but are cautioned to use ample flour to prevent sticking.  that sounded like work and a set up for failure to me.  needless to say, i chilled the dough by setting it in the freezer while i made the filling.

 our fig tree was producing figs like crazy two weeks ago but it has slowed down considerably.  i found  a flat in the fridge that had been forgotten and decided to use them.  since it was only about 3/4 cups, i threw in some chopped up peaches too.  a little lemon zest, vanilla bean and cardamom finished it off.

 the chilled dough rolled out easily with absolutely not sticking.  to eliminate the flour, brush off the top of the dough.  turn it over onto the baking pan and then brush the flour off the other side-this can be done easily if the dough is chilled since it will not tear and stretch as much.
 look at the blue cornmeal flecks in the dough

 once the filling is on the dough round, you are instructed to sprinkle sugar and honey over it.  well, i skipped the sugar and used a double dip of the honey from our bees.

 ready to go into the oven…
beautiful!
a special thanks to our hostesses with the mostesses-truly a job well done!

maple syrup-smoked pecan tart

the latest food52.com challenge-use maple syrup in a recipe.  easy enough, right?  but the thing is, too many recipes with maple syrup also use maple flavor and that is something that i do not care for.  maple syrup is a subtle flavor that when concentrated, it can be cloying to the palette.  that is probably why i hate pancake syrup and if i am going to eat waffles or french toast, the syrup will be a pure maple or it will be skipped.   so with my distaste for cheap syrup in mind, i let my mind wander and ponder what i could bake with the bottle of grade b maple syrup sitting on my pantry shelf.  wait, grade “b”?  yes, grade b.  why “b” and not “a”?  flavor, plain and simple.  grade b has a stronger flavor that grade a, it is also a little darker but in my book, it is perfect to bake with and no  maple-like extracts are required.  to find grade b, look in the syrup section of some supermarkets-possibly publix, or head out to whole foods or trader joe’s since both carry a selection of grade b maple syrups.

 one of my latest thrift store acquisitions-a $2 deep 8″ tart pan with a removable bottom

the plan is to make a pecan pie in a tart pan but with some liberties to the standard recipe.  for a perfect pecan pie-and trust me, i make hundreds of them, one must mix the filling ingredients in the proper order or the butter will separate from the filling and spill out of the pan during the baking and leave you with a puddle in the oven and a pie that almost looks deep fried.

 place your sugar, spices and flour (if the recipe calls for it) in a bowl and whisk to combine them.  break up the lumps so that when you mix the filling, there aren’t any large sugar lumps left to sink to the bottom of the pie.

 melt the butter slowly-warm butter works better than boiled butter in the next step.

 in short, you are creating an emulsion.  add the butter and vanilla and/or other flavors to the brown sugar and whisk to form a smooth, glossy paste.

 to create the emulsion, the eggs need to be added carefully so only add them one at a time and whisk each one in completely.  scrape the bowl as you go.  this is with one egg added

 egg #2 whisked in

 egg #3 added and whisked in here.  do you see the difference in color?  it is nicely combined and the butter and eggs are blended together so that the filling will not separate in the oven.

 last step to make the filling is so add the syrup-in this case, it is maple and corn syrups that are added.

 to get a perfectly baked pie or tart, one must start with a partially baked shell.  there is nothing worse than getting a forkful of gummy under baked crust along with a bite of pie!  here i use my favorite trick-a restaurant sized coffee filter and marbles.  coffee filters are designed to hold a large amount of wet grinds without tearing.  they absorb a little of the grease so that it doesn’t stick and you can literally lift the filter with the weights right out of the tart shell and set it aside to cool.  filters do not get brittle like parchment, they do not cause creases and cracks like foil and they do not melt like wax paper so if you can get ahold of some, give it a whirl!  and just so that you don’t think i have lost my marbles, those are my pie weights!

 while any pecan would work, i like the smoky flavor of pit smoked pecans.  it adds something to the tart and the way the flavors of maple and smoke (think bacon without the pig here) work together transcends a basic dessert staple into something really special that will have them reaching for seconds.  to amp up the flavor, i also added a little dry rub to the filling but you could skip that and if you are really adventurous, you could try using a little ground chili to add another dimension.

 place the nuts in the shell and pour the syrup over them-this gets them coated with the syrup and the ones on top look shiny and taste a little caramelized when the tart is fully baked.

 let the tart cool completely in the pan then remove it-a warm tart will break pretty easily and the fluted shape of the crust tends to create weak spots so heed the advice and just wait.

beautiful…
for the complete recipe, see my entry on food52.coms best maple recipe contest by clicking here.  and as always, bake one and send me a photo, i will post it here!  bake on friends, bake on

cookbook request: lady lemon bars in a tart pan

when someone contacts me about my book, i get slightly worried that they are calling or emailing me because they are unhappy with a recipe; it didn’t work or it just wasn’t any good.  luckily, that hasn’t happened and just about everyone i have heard from is happy and excited to have the book and the chance to bake the desserts they remember from the cafe.  
when joy mc-waitress extraordinaire, came to me with a note from a guest, i was worried.  it seems that a woman (so sorry that i do not know your name-but i wouldn’t use it without your permission anyway) who was visiting the cafe from all the way down in boca raton, florida, was wondering about a recipe in the book.  she has a copy and wants to make the lady lemon bars the way they are photographed-in tiny little tarts rather than bars.  
the problem; the recipe only contained instructions for bars.  the explanation; when you have to take 75 photos, things get changed so that the photos look different.  we made a spur of the moment decision to assemble the lemon bars using a mini muffin pan rather than try to cut them into squares; squares are messy and sometimes the filling can ooze and separate from the crust.  in short, the tarts were much more camera friendly in 90+ degree temps for a photo shoot that was happening outdoors!
the good news, i made a batch of little tarts and am posting the recipe and instructions here so that anyone who would like to make tarts rather than bars, can.  enjoy!
lady lemon tarts
makes 20 mini tarts

to make the dough, place the following into the bowl of a food processor:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

 pulse that mixture until it resembles coarse meal
 add 1 egg yolk and process until it comes together to form a soft dough.  

preheat the oven to 350.  divide the dough into 20 equal pieces.  if you use a scale, as i did, it will be about 1/2 ounce each.  if you do not have a scale, pat the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle with the same thickness through out and then cut it into 20 even pieces.  lightly spray the pan with grease and using your fingertips, gently press the dough into the cups of the pan.  be sure to bring the dough to the top of each cup.

 bake the tart shells until they just begin to color on the edges and are no longer glossy in the bottom, about 10-12 minutes.  while the tart shells bake, prepare the filling.

 ***a note about the filling; the tarts use a lot less than bars do!  so, i am including a half recipe of filling that will be more than enough to fill 20 mini tarts.  if you want to make more than 20, both recipes are easily doubled!

place the following in a mixing bowl:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
using a whisk, mix well.

whisk in the following:
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
using a tablespoon, carefully fill the tart shells taking care not to let the filling go over the edges or it will seal the crust to the pan and make it difficult to remove the tarts from the pan.  bake until the filling is firm, about 10-12 minutes.  allow to cool completely before removing them from the pan.

 the finished tarts, fresh from the oven.

using a thin bladed knife, carefully lift the tarts out of the pan by inserting the knife down the side of the cup.  take care when doing this so that you do not scratch the finish of your pan if it has a nonstick finish.  to decorate, sprinkle additional powdered sugar over the top and place a fresh berry or two in the center-we used blackberries for the photos.

bake on friends and feel free to ask me questions about the book anytime-it’s nice to know that the recipes are being used and the results enjoyed!

twd: chocolate truffle tartlettes

are you ready for another tuesday with dorie?  this week’s challenge is being hosted by 4 different participants; steph, spike, jaime and jessica.  i know i was raring to go-how could you not be ready for chocolate?  since this was a chocolate challenge, i decided to make them for valentines day with my husband and one of our daughters.   both of them are fans of chocolate, especially dark chocolate but being a pastry chef, i decided to customize my tart for them.  what that means is rather than dark and white chocolate chunks and chopped biscotti being added to the tart, i opted to use dark chocolate, peanut butter cups and peanut brittle.

 first, the dough mixes up incredibly fast in the food processor.
 rather than 6 small tartlettes, i made one 9″ tart
 as always, the marbles came out of the closet with a coffee filter to serve as pie weights
 perfectly baked!
 for the filling-egg yolks are whipped with sugar to the ribbon stage

 the booty-peanut brittle, mini peanut butter cups and bittersweet chocolate were folded into the mousse filling.

 the filling in the prepared tart shell before going into the oven
 after baking-the large tart took about 25 minutes at 350 to bake
fudgy perfection!  it was a huge hit with the husband and daughter-me too!!!
many thanks to this weeks hosts-looking forward to the next challenge.  bake on friends and if you dare, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!  see the tarts from all of the participants here

mexican chocolate tart with cinnamon toast crunch crust, pie #50 of 52

pie # 50…have to let that sink in for a minute.  i realize that it is a little late in being posted but that couldn’t be avoided-i lost 3 weeks when the house was robbed and i am still trying to get back to normal, don’t know if i ever will.  last two pies will be part of our trashcan thanksgiving extravaganza so look for them this week.

anyway, since the kids are both out of the house for the foreseeable future, my husband and i have been able to find the bottom shelf of the pantry closet as well as see to the back of it.  amazing what has been lurking in there.  i found two boxes of ibarra chocolate and the unopened box of cinnamon toast crunch cereal that i purchased for a visiting 6 year old-had no idea that a 6 year old wouldn’t like cereal that was sweet.  no matter, it makes a fantastic crust for a no bake tart.

the chocolate is flavored with cinnamon and almonds and is rather grainy in appearance due to the sugar crystals.  ibarra is meant to be used for hot chocolate style drinks but it has long been a favorite of ours for cooking and baking.  my husband will drop a puck into a pot of chili and i have favored it blended with bittersweet chocolate to dip biscotti in, specifically my blue corn pecan biscotti.  

to make the crust, i crushed the cereal after i measured it.  don’t turn it into a powder but rather a collection of crumbs that are not completely uniform in size.  to punch up the almond flavor, i toasted some almonds in a skillet on the stove so the tart was truly a no-bake tart!

mexican chocolate cinnamon crunch tart 
1(9″) tart serving 8-10
crust
1/2 cup sliced almonds
4 cups cinnamon toast crunch cereal
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot
toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat until they are golden brown-be sure to watch them constantly as they will color quickly.  remove from the heat and turn them out onto a plate to cool.  using your hands, crush the cereal in a bowl until it is mostly small crumbs with some powder and very few large pieces.  roughly chop the almonds so that they are roughly the same size as the cereal crumbs.  add the almonds, sugar and hot butter and mix to combine.   dump the mixture into a tart pan with a removable bottom and press it evenly up the sides and across the bottom.  set aside.
chocolate filling
9 ounces ibarra chocolate-i used 3 pucks
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup half and half
place the ingredients in a microwavable bowl and using the lowest setting, heat it in 30 second intervals taking the time to stir the mixture after each heat cycle.  when the chocolate has all melted and is smooth, pour it into the prepared crust and make the white chocolate swirl.
white chocolate swirl
1 1/2 ounce white chocolate
1 tablespoon half and half
mix the ingredients in a microwavable bowl and heat it on the lowest setting until it is melted, about 30 seconds.  stir until smooth and then using a small spoon, drizzle all over the top of the tart.  take a tooth pick and swirl the white chocolate into the tart so that it is marbleized.  carefully place the tart in the fridge to cool and set for at least 2 hours.  to serve, remove the ring and carefully insert a thin palette knife between the crust and the metal bottom.  move the palette knife around to completely release the crust and then slide it onto a flat serving platter.  to cut, use a hot, wet knife taking care to completely clean the blade between slices for perfect cuts.
and as always, make it and send me a photo, i will post it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com

apple butter-walnut linzer tart; pie #49 of 52

when apples come into season, i love to make applesauce.  the rest of the time, i indulge in apple butter-i love the spicy flavor.  linzer tarts have always been a favorite of mine.  the spicy, nutty dough is so rich and the tartness of the traditional raspberry filling go so well together.  since it is definitely fall, i decided to left these two favorite things collide and see what came of it.

i took a traditional linzer tart dough and used some walnuts in it.  the tart shell was filled with purchased apple butter, topped with a lattice and baked until golden brown.  the filling was slightly tangy and a perfect compliment to the rich walnut dough.  since the apple butter is the predominant flavor , use a good one that you like, either purchased or home made.

apple butter-walnut linzer tart
1 (9″) tart serving 8
dough
3/4 cup almonds, natural sliced
3/4 cup walnuts, pieces
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups apple butter
preheat the oven to 350.  toast the almonds and walnuts until fragrant and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.  allow the nuts to cool.  turn the oven down to 325.  place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor with the nuts and pulse together until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  add the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking powder and pulse it to combine thoroughly.  sprinkle the butter cubes over the top of the mixture and pulse to form a crumbly mass.  add the egg yolks and vanilla and pulse to form a soft dough.  shape a disk using 1/3 of the dough, wrap it and chill it.  press the remaining dough evenly into a tart pan with a removable bottom.  place the tart shell on a baking tray and line the shell with baking paper or coffee filters, fill with baking weights and partially bake the crust until it no longer looks shiny in the bottom and has just barely begun to show color, about 30 minutes.  turn the oven back up to 350.  remove the tart shell from the oven and carefully lift out the weights and paper.  spread the apple butter evenly in the tart shell.  roll the remaining piece of dough out about 1/8-1/4 inch thick and cut 3/4″ strips of dough.  lay the strips over the filling to form a lattice top.  bake the tart until golden brown on top and the apple butter is bubbly, about 50 minutes. allow it to cool before removing from the pan. 
the end is very near…may the tart be with you…send a photo and i will post it here.  bakinbabe116@aol.com