Friday, September 28, 2012

Tarte au Citron et Coco

Apparently I'm in a French mood. 

Bring on the berets and good cheese.

Remember when a kind co-worker brought pears to the office? Well - another equally awesome co-worker brought in lemons. Win!

Needless to say, my first thought was a souffle. But I've made those before (and will probably make them again with the leftover lemons). 

There's always scones, muffins, Joy the Baker's pancakes....

But they were too breakfasty. I wanted something sweet after dinner! I searched "lemon cookies" on the interwebs and proceeded to spend half a lifetime paging through homespun recipes. But none of those really struck me either! I was getting desperate. 

Finally, there it was. The Tarte au Citron recipe and accompanying tart shell recipe from none other than David Lebovitz. Who gets his recipes from a wonderful French woman named Paule Caillat. Who, in turn, has just gained a spot on the "People I need to meet before I die" list. 

She's got a very interesting tart shell recipe. Which I bet I destroyed by tossing coconut into. This one came out a bit tough, perhaps it needs a tablespoon more butter. Butter fixes most thing!

Start with butter, sugar, water, salt, and oil in an oven-proof bowl. 

Set your oven to 410, and stick the bowl in there while it's pre-heating. After about 15-20 minutes, the butter has melted and just started to brown around the edges. 

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour and coconut. 

Pull the bowl out of the oven (remember your pot holders!) and dump in the mixture of flour and coconut. 

Stir quickly, till it comes together, and then dump into a tart pan.

Work it out to the edges with your fingers, and prick it all over with a fork. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool. 

Time to start the lemon curd filling. Butter, lemon juice, sugar, zest, all into a small saucepan over medium heat. 

Beat up the eggs and yolks in a medium bowl. 

Temper those eggs by whisking in about a third of the lemon mixture. 

Switch the whisk back to the pot, and gently whisk in the tempered egg mixture.

Whisk furiously!! Just keep whisking until it thickens up. 

Pour through a wire mesh strainer, right into the tart shell. Smooth out with your spatula. 

Toss in the oven for 5 minutes, to let it set. 

Serve with an oooh la la!

Tarte au Citron et Coco
Makes 1 tart
Adapted (barely) from David Lebovitz

For the shell (or use your favorite tart shell recipe):
7 tbsp butter (perhaps just throw the whole stick in. That's what I'll do next time)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp sugar
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/2 c. coconut flakes

In an ovenproof bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Set your oven to 410 degrees, and while it's preheating stick the bowl in there. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the butter is melted and browned around the edges. Remove from oven. 

In a small bowl, mix the flour and coconut together. Carefully stir into the melted butter mixture. Soon, a ball will form. Move that dough ball to the tart pan and press out with your fingers to fill the pan. Poke with a fork on the bottom, and use the fork to smoosh the dough to the sides of the tart pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

For the curd:
zest of 1 lemon
2/3 c. sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/2 c. lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, zest, and lemon juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolks. Once the butter is melted, temper the lemon juice into the eggs. Transfer back to the saucepan and whisk furiously until it's thickened. Pass through a fine mesh sieve and into the tart shell. 

Bake for 5 minutes, until set. Serve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kouign Amann (aka Those French Pastries)

A few weeks ago, someone brought pastries to the office. I wandered through and grabbed one that I thought looked interesting. When I ate it, my little brain exploded. It was flaky, buttery, sweet, crispy, caramely, and knew immediately that I must learn to make it. 

One problem. I had no idea what the heck it was. 

And no one else in the office knew (especially since I had eaten it and had to describe it to folks instead of showing them). 

I was distraught. How on earth could I make it, if I couldn't even figure out what it was called??

I proceeded to forget about it in the front half of my brain, and go on with my existence. But it was still there. In the depths of my subconscious. That yearning desire. 

And then - miracle! While Mr. S and I were moseying around the Eat Real festival, there it was!! Stacks of them!! But I still had no idea what it was. 

There was a sign that said Kouign Amann and listed flavors. 

I felt like an idiot. I still had no idea how on earth what to call them. So I asked. The kind lady behind the table said they are called koo-WEEN a-mon. I made her repeat it. Several times. 

Then came home and googled the heck out of them. 

Trust me. They are worth the effort.  

And, since no one can pronounce their actual name, henceforth they shall be known an "Those French Pastries."

Start with the dough. Weigh your flour. Trust me, it's pastry. Weigh it.

Then toss it, the salt (that you weighed), and butter in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. 

Next, mix the yeast in the warm water and let sit for a minute.

Pour the yeast water into the flour and turn it on low. Let a ball form and then let the ball get tossed around by the dough hook for 10 minutes. 

Grab the dough and form it into a ball. Slash the top with a knife to give it a crossed bun look. Grease the bowl, place the dough in, and cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. 

In the 43rd minute, get your butter out of the fridge and slice it into 1/4" thick slices, long-ways.

Sprinkle the surface you're working on with sugar. Take the dough out and roll it out into an 18" x 12" rectangle. Place the butter in the middle. 

Fold the two ends over to meet. Sprinkle the dough with sugar. Roll out the dough (you may need to bang it with the rolling pin a few times to soften the butter). Sugar it. Fold it, sugar it, and roll it out again.

Fold, sugar, and roll at least 5-6 times. If the butter gets too warm, put the dough on a pan and toss it into the freezer for 10 minutes. I had to do this 3-4 times before I got the 6 folds in.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 26"x 18" big. Be sure to cut off a 1/8" around all the edges, so that the layers show. Cut into 12 squares. 

Look at those layers!!

Fold the corners of the squares into the center.

Butter and sugar the muffin tin (if you have a jumbo muffin tin, that would be the best one to use). 

Put your lovely little dough pillows into the sugared tins. Allow to rise for another 20 minutes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Once browned, immediately turn out, upside-down, onto a cooling rack. 

Serve with panache.

Kouign Amann
Adapted from The Purple Foodie

For the dough:
400 g flour (weigh it)
17 g salt
15 g butter (~1 tbsp)
1 pouch active dry yeast (15 g)
1 c. warm water

For the layering:
3 sticks of butter
200 g sugar

Combine the water, salt, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small bowl, mix the yeast and water. Allow to stand for 1 minute. Mix into the flour. Using the dough hook, beat on low until a ball forms. Then beat for 10 minutes to knead the dough. 

Ball the dough up. Grease the bowl and slash the top of the dough in a cross shape. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with cling wrap. Sit in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes. 

In the last few minutes of rising time, take the butter for layering out of the fridge. Slice it into 1/4" thick slices.

Sprinkle sugar on your rolling surface. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Place the butter in the middle of the rectangle and fold the two ends over. Dust with sugar. Roll the dough out again, sandwiching the butter in between the dough. Fold the dough over like a book, sugar it, and roll out again. Continue folding, sugaring and rolling for at least 6 folds. The more the better, really. You want to use up all the sugar.

If the dough gets too warm and starts to tear, don't panic. It's totally ok. Just throw it on a pan and toss it in the freezer for 10 minutes. You may have to freezer it a few times during the fold/sugar/roll process.

Once you've got as many folds as you can handle in, roll it out into a large rectangle, about 18" x 26". Cut off a 1/8" on all the sides to expose the flaky layers. Cut it into 12 squares. Fold the corner of each square to the middle.

Butter and sugar a large-size muffin tin. Regular size will work too (that's what I used first), but they are just thicker and more cupcake-like. A real one is more hockey-puck size. Place the folded squares into the sugared tins. Cover with a towel and allow to rise another 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 340 degrees (start it preheating when you start the dough on it's second rise). Bake until golden brown, at least 25-30 minutes.

Turn out immediately onto a cooling rack. 

Enjoy the oooohs and aaaaaaahs from your adoring fans!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Grilled Fruit with Blue Cheese

Did you have a good weekend? I did.

Mr.S and I made the drive up to Oakland and snacked ourselves silly at the Eat Real festival. It was awesome. 
We got there around 11:30 am. I hadn't eaten breakfast, and thus was ravenous. 

We started at the first booth we saw, and progressively ate: Antichuchos de Corazon (Peruvian beef heart skewer) with purple potato on lettuce; a charcuterie plate of duck liver pate with fennel slaw, pickles, and mustard; Mexican chorizo taco; Lumpia "Shanghi" (Filipino fusion streetfood) ; and half a Lechon burrito (also Filipino fusion streetfood). I ended up buying a Kouign Amann (more on that soon) to eat later that afternoon. 

Lumpia "Shanghi" - aka Delicious Pork Rolls

Needless to say - we had no desire to eat a very big dinner. 

So we made these!

Take a semi-hard fruit (we had pears and plums) and core them so there's a nice little divot in the center. 

Place the fruit cut side down and grill for 7-10 minutes, so that they have nice marks and are soft-ish. Turn over and put blue cheese crumbles in the center. 

Tent with foil and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and keep tented for another few minutes, until the cheese is nice and melty-ish. 

Grab a jar of your favorite chutney, jelly, or jam and spoon a bit on top. 

These would be great on top of a salad, perhaps with some sort of roasted nut. We were too tired to go to the store to get any of that, so we just ate them by themselves. 

There weren't any leftovers. 

Grilled Fruit with Blue Cheese

Pears, plums, apples, peaches, whatever semi-hard fruit you want
Blue cheese crumbles
chutney, jam or jelly

Slice your fruit in half and remove the stone or scoop out the core with a melon baller. 

Place fruit cut-side down on the grill. Grill for at least 7-10 minutes, or until grill marks form and fruit is softened a bit. Turn over and place blue cheese in the middle hole. Tent with foil and cook for another several minutes, until cheese is slightly melted. Remove from heat and continue to tent them until ready to serve. 

Spoon a bit of chutney or jam in the centers and serve.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vegan Carrot Soup

The fact that this is vegan is a complete accident. 

I was out of chicken stock. And out of cream. 

Thus the subbing of veggie broth and coconut milk - and voila! Vegan. 
 (Don't tell Mr. S - he might demand a re-dinner)

But vegan is totally ok, right? 

I know at least one friend who will be excited to read this recipe - Hi Casey!

And it's a nice simple recipe that can be thrown together in an afternoon. 

Peel carrots & potatoes, then chop them up along with an onion and a bulb of fennel. 

Toss in a big pot and fry/cook until everything's soft (about 5-7 minutes).

Add in the veggie stock and blitz until smooth. If you don't have a stick blender, I suppose you can use a regular one. If your local kitchen store is closed and you can't go buy the other kind.

Stir in the coconut milk. 

Add in salt & pepper to your taste. That means you get to taste it. Yay!

Serve with a bit of black olive oil. 


Vegan Carrot Soup
Adapted from Sweet Paul

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
5 carrots, peeled
1 fennel bulb
1 large brown potato, peeled
4 c. veggie broth
1 can coconut milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop the onion, carrots, fennel, and potato into smallish pieces. Combine with the oil in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat, until soft and fried up. Add in the broth (if you're not vegan, you can use chicken). Blitz, using a stick blender or an actual blender. Stir in coconut milk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: Black Olive Oil
black olives (6-7) blended with a few tbsp of olive oil.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ginger-Pear Cake

I really love fall. It's one of my favorite seasons. Mostly for the spiced baked goods. 

And I had a crazy hankering for some gingerbread the other day. 

Lucky me, there is a lovely woman who works at the same place I do. 

This kind, kind lady brought in a whole paper grocery sack full of the pears from a tree in her yard. She left them anonymously in the office kitchen. I ate one, and then quickly snatched several more for fall baking purposes.

She told me later that she had no idea to do with them, and typically let her dog eat them.

I believe that the dog is now going to have a wee bit of competition for those pears after she finds out how easy this cake is to make!! 

Start off with you cast iron skillet - in goes some butter, brown sugar, and molasses.

Next, pecans. Stir them in to coat, and even them out.

Then, layer in the pears.

Now - to the cake part. 

Cream (aka beat) butter and sugar together. Just like with every other cake in the universe. 

Then - an egg. 

Here's where it gets exciting. Molasses! A whole cup!

Next, in a separate bowl, the dry goods: flour, baking powder, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, salt. 

Whisk them up and then mix them into the molasses/butter mixture. 

Beat in your cup of hot water.

Pour on top of pears. 

Bake until slightly cracked on top, and springy to the touch. About 40 minutes. 

Flip out onto a platter - aka sheet pan with parchment paper on it, cause I don't have a big enough plate!

 Make sure you save a slice for yourself. This cake goes quickly!!

Ginger-Pear Cake
Adapted from Food 52

4 tbsp butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
3 medium pears, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 egg
1 c. molasses
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, combine the first 3 topping ingredients: butter, brown sugar, and molasses. Cook over medium heat until all combined. Add pecans. Layer the pears over the sugar mixture in a pretty and even pattern

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the molasses. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice,  and salt. 

Slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture, beating as you go. Beat in the 1 c. of hot water. 

Gently pour the batter over your pears and topping. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until cake begins to crack and is springy to the touch. 

Flip out onto a platter (or parchment lined sheet pan). Serve hot or cold. Delicious both ways.