Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart (TWD)

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This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart. I'm wrestling with serious writer's block, so you will have to excuse me as I'm going to keep this post simple and let the photos do most of the talking.

Instead of a large tart, I opted to make smaller individual tarts. The recipe, which you can find at Rachel's blog Sweet Tarte, will make six 4-inch tartlettes.

Start with some partially baked and cooled tart shells:
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Half a peach fits perfectly in each tartlette shell:
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Cream, sugar, egg yolk and almond extract are combined to make a simple custard:
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The custard is poured into the tart shell:
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Now, the tarts are ready to go in the oven:
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After baking for a bit, a streusel topping is strewn over the custardy parts, then baked some more until the the custard is set and the topping is browned.
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After cooling, these yummy peachy treats are ready to be served:
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In a word --- Delicious!
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins

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I purchased The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook eons ago, and it has sadly been collecting dust on my bookshelf until now. John Barricelli is one heckuva pastry chef, and I totally admire his accomplishments. With Martha Stewart complementing and backing his talents, you know that he is a pastry rock star.

Yes, I fantasize about opening a bakery like his...

There are so many delicious sounding recipes and drool-worthy photos in the book. Which recipe should I try first? It only took a few page flips to decide.

I love zucchini bread. I love carrot cake. This recipe for Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins combines the best of both worlds.
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The recipe calls for a equal portion of shredded zucchini and carrots.zucchini carrot muffins-2
A generous help of cranberries (frozen Trader Joe's cranberries here) are folded in batter. I used Trader Joe's frozen cranberries in this instance, but I think any tart berry or fruit would be a perfect substitution. I might try this with frozen raspberries next time.
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The muffins smelled heavenly as they baked in the oven. After a quick rest on the cooling rack, I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into one of these babies.
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Yum! The orange and green flecks from the shredded veggies are so pretty, and they gave the muffin a nice, moist texture. The cranberries were really yummy, and I enjoyed the tartness from the fruit.
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Wow, I regret that I waited so long to bake from this book.

Better late than never. I can't wait to try more recipes going forward...
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Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Muffins
barely adapted from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli
makes 12 muffins

2 C AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1 C sugar
1 C canola oil
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 C finely grated carrots (approx 1 medium)
3/4 C finely grated zucchini (approx 1 medium)
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 C whole fresh or frozen (unthawed) cranberries

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Mix in the grated zucchini and carrots.

Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rotate the pan mid way through the baking time.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out muffins on their side in the muffin cups, and let cool in the pan. Serve warm or at room temp.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fresh Fig Muffins

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When my husband and I purchased our home way back when, we were particularly thrilled that our backyard had a variety of fruit trees growing: orange, grapefruit, lemon, peach and fig.

During the summers, we would gorge ourselves silly with the bounty of peaches and figs that we harvested from our postage stamp sized backyard. I didn't do a lot of cooking and baking back then, so most of the fruit was eaten fresh, and what we didn't eat were shared with family and friends.
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Fast forward 10 years, and it was time for us to embark on a massive home remodel. For various reasons, we had to relinquish the fruit trees had to go to make our outdoor living space practical and accessible. It was truly a sad day when our backyard was demo'ed, and we bid adieu to our fruit trees.

I miss those fruit trees, especially the fig tree. I've grown to love the lush, juicy texture, the slight crunch from the seeds, and the earthy sweetness of the ripe fruit. When figs are in season at the farmers market (which is right now), I will pounce on baskets of this delicious fruit.
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I've always enjoyed eating figs very simply - fresh figs, chevre and honey is my favorite. Recently, I've started to explore cooking and baking with the fruit.

I've recently discovered that dried figs are a fantastic substitution for raisins and other dried fruits in recipes. Now, before the season is over, I want to explore recipes using fresh figs. fresh fig muffins-4
I thought that this recipe for fresh fig muffins would be a great start for me. These muffins are not fussy, and I like that.
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These muffins are soft and fluffy, and the figs basically melt into the muffin. The dark brown sugar and cinnamon provide a subtle spiciness to the cake, but still allow the flavor of the figs to shine.
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With the success of this recipe, I'll definitely be doing some more cooking and baking with figs with the few weeks left this summer. I found this list of "what to do with figs recipes" while surfing on the web, and I'm definitely going to take some of the suggested recipes for a test drive. If you have a tried and true recipe using fresh figs, I would love to hear about it!

Fresh Fig Muffins
adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
makes 12 muffins

1 C AP flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 C buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C chopped fresh mission figs (5-6 figs)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Generously butter a standard 12 cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a second small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until well combined.

With the mixer at low speed, alternate adding the the dry and liquid ingredients - 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk mixture, 1/3 flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix.

Remove bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the figs.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full.

Bake until the muffins are a deep golden brown in color, 25-30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out muffins from the pan and let them cool completely on the wire rack.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread (TWD)

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Things have a bit hazy for me this past week, as I've been fighting a nasty respiratory infection. Feeling under the weather + medication + hot summer weather = yuck!

Under normal circumstances, this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for Oatmeal Breakfast Bread would be a cinch to prepare. However, in my medicated state I was a complete ding dong and left out the most important ingredient - oats. Hello, it's in the recipe title for goodness sake!
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For a change of pace, this Dorie Greenspan breakfast bread (you can find the complete recipe at Natalie's blog, Oven Love) leans on the healthy side of things, with applesauce and a little oil taking the place of butter. With an addition of dried fruit (dried figs in my case), oats (unfortunately, no oats this time), and a sprinkling of nuts (sliced almonds topped my loaves), this looks like a semi-healthy breakfast bread. Just ignore the cup of sugar that the recipe calls for.

I put my "once in a blue moon" mini loaf pan to use again, and the full recipe yielded exactly eight mini loaves. These small loaves baked in a 325 degree oven for approx 25 minutes.
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True to Dorie's description, this bread is super soft and tender and it needed to cool substantially before I could remove the loaves from the pan.

These unassuming looking loaves were delicious! I did miss the oats, as I think they would have given a nice textural contrast to the soft crumb. The dried figs were fantastic, as they give a nice chew and just a touch of sweetness.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm going back to bed...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream (TWD)

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When we're talking about chocolate ice cream, my husband is the connoiseur in our house. He's a less is more kinda guy, and believes that "all that unnecessary stuff" (i.e. nuts, chocolate chips, etc) gets in the way of enjoying really great chocolate ice cream. In most instances I do agree with him, but there are times when nothing else satisfies me like a double scoop of Rocky Road in a waffle cone!
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This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream was of keen interest to my husband. He was particularly interested in comparing Dorie Greenspan's recipe to his all-time favorite - David Lebovitz's Bittersweet Chocolate. Sadly, as timing would have it, the hubs has been out of town, so he'll have to hold off a few more days before he can put his taste buds to the test.
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So, which did I enjoy more, Dorie or David? C'mon, it's like asking me to pick a favorite child. Honestly, both ice creams are both DEE-licious! Both ice creams had a wonderfully luscious and creamy consistency, and the chocolate flavors were deep and intense. I think these ice creams are meant to be enjoyed simply and unadorned, and a small scoop is totally satisfying.

Thank you Katrina of Baking and Boys for a perfect summertime pick. Hop over to Katrina's blog for Dorie Greenspan's recipe. If you're interested in doing your own taste comparison check out David Lebovitz's recipe here:

Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
makes approximately 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-proces cocoa powder
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Warm 1 cup of cream with cocoa powder in medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to boil then reduce heat and gently simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in remaining cup of cream. Pour mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as much as possible. Set mesh strainer atop the bowl. Warm milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat making sure the scrape the bottom and corners, until the mixture thickens and reaches nappe consistency. Pour custard through strainer and stir it into the chocolate until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Continue to stir over ice bath until cool. Refrigerate the mixture to cool thoroughly and then freeze it in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gingered Carrot Cookies (TWD)

I need to up my blogging game. I've been baking and photographing, but am totally behind on getting all of my posts up. Sure, I have lame excuses for my procrastination, but I won't bore you with the details...at least for today.

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for Gingered Carrot Cookies is essentially a carrot cake in a portable cookie form. You know that this will be a hearty cookie with its list of ingredients (you can find the complete recipe at Natalia's blog Gatti Fili e Farina):

I followed the recipe essentially as written, and my only variation was to substitute half of the raisins with chopped candied ginger.

I used a large cookie scoop and ended up with 18 hefty sized cookies. These cookies don't spread at all when baking, so would recommend that you flatten the scooped dough before popping the cookies in the oven.
I love cakey cookies, and this cookie was right up my alley. I am so glad that I added the candied ginger, as it gave a nice spicy flavor and a nice chew. This recipe begs to be played with, and next time I'm going to nix the raisins and try a combination of dried pineapple and candied ginger, as well as substituting some of the butter with applesauce to reduce the fat content.

Thanks to Natalia for a delicious TWD pick this week!

...and just because, I wanted to share a photo of Siena closely supervising my photography session.
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