November, 2008 Archive

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

cranberry pecan frangipane tart

cranberry pecan frangipane tart

I am the first to admit that I do not create nearly enough of my *own* recipes. Oh, I tweak, I adapt. I skip some things and add others. But I don’t often enough decide that I want something enough to go out and find my own way to get there, which is a shame because when I do, it is never nearly the disaster I expect it to be.

cranberries, floating in frangipane sea

And when I do, it makes me so happy, so Deb (as I was the only person in this room) let this be a lesson to you: do this more often, okay? Case in point, vowing to give the fresh whole cranberry more of a spotlight this year, I had been trying to figure out what kind of tart could be made with it for weeks, (Yes, besides that one.) but kept coming back to the idea of burying them in some sort of custard or filling to offset how tart they’d be. I knew I liked the frangipane idea, but although I love almond paste tremendously, I’ve always thought plain ground almonds were rather dull.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the great unshrinkable sweet tart shell

the great unshrinkable tart shell

I have lamented tart crusts for years, as it seemed that no matter what I did–chill the crusts, weight the crusts, arranged small prayer circles outside the oven–they shrunk on me. No matter how many fingers I crossed, no matter how many Guaranteed No-Fail tricks I auditioned, no matter how many pounds of butter I had sacrificed in my quest, the crust I’d remove from the oven would hold as little as half of the volume of the one I put in, leading to thin tarts and pools of extra filling and oh so very many gray hairs.

tart shell

Which is why today it is taking all of my restraint not to run up that last flight of stairs and shout from my rooftop: I have conquered my tart shells at last, and they shrink no more! … Although I suspect in my neck of this island, that would barely cause an eyebrow to arch.

But it is true, so deliciously true. And before I go any further–you know, into the most awesome stuff I filled this tart crust with–I need to mark this momentous occasion its own post. Go bookmark this one, my friends, because if you’ve ever sobbed at the doorway of your oven, wondering where oh where your tart walls went, you’ve waited too long for this.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

mushroom and barley pie

mushroom and barley pie

“So it’s a pie?”
“Well, it’s pie-like. I mean, it has a bottom crust and a top crust and it is filled with stuff. So yeah, pie.”
“With farro?”
“No, we have had barley sitting in the pantry for like a year so we’re going to eat that first.”
“And it has mushrooms and ricotta in it!”
“And bacon?”
“Ew, no. It’s a vegetarian Thanksgiving entree.”
“Can we have bacon on the side?”

barley, freefallingpile of creminimushroom barley ricottaegg washed

Anyway, perhaps if you don’t live in my apartment, you would be really excited to make this. I mean, I know I was. And lest you think Alex doesn’t like mushrooms and barley and vegetarian dishes, it is entirely not the case. But I have to admit, this is a wonderful dish (he’s eaten the leftovers, twice!) but it needs… something.

mushroom barley pieoh dufour

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

winter fruit salad

winter fruit salad

Are fruit salads one of these things that I assume everyone in the world makes, but really, it is just my family? It could be, but I still think they’re essential. There is nothing better to break up a brunch of cheesy baked eggs and breakfast bread puddings, and dessert courses that seem to be a chain of pies, gooey brownies and cakes than than a big bowl of fruit. Of course, a bowl of whole fruit rarely works as anything but a centerpiece, and this is where the salad part comes in.

five pears, one apple

In the summer, it is a cinch–berries are flawless and everywhere, not to mention mangoes and cantaloupes and watermelon. But unless you want to buy imperfect, frighteningly overpriced berries with thousands of food miles on their backs, fall and winter can make something as simple as chopped fruit kind of dull.

dried figs and apricots
embarrassed bosc pears

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

meyer lemon and fresh cranberry scones

meyer lemon fresh cranberry scones

The fresh cranberry gets no love. I can’t tell you how many recipes I have sifted through recently that boasted cranberry in their titles only to find out that they were actually calling for those shriveled and over-sweetened dried ones. Why must fresh cranberries be “the neglected stepchild of the season“? It is totally undeserved.

fresh cranberries

Fresh cranberries are prettier. They’re impressively hardy, keeping for weeks in the fridge and even longer in the freezer with no noticeable aging. And even though I think this is what puts people off, they have a tartness that makes everything they touch better. Because when you put something tart against something sweet, you get a fantastic contrast and this complexity, my friends, is a very good thing.

chopped cranberriesadding cream

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