Tarts/Pies Archive

Thursday, October 13, 2011

apple pie cookies

As far as reentry* points to on-a-whim cooking go, these cookies aren’t the most obvious choice. I might have gone with something from the market, or something from a new fall cookbook or maybe just something practical that would feed us for the next few days, like a hearty stew.

how i make piebutter into flouruntil it's like thispie crust cookie lids, bases

Instead I went with cute. Like, unseemly cute. Borderline twee. I might as well tie a ribbon around them, had I any ribbon or the ability to tie it without yelling at it (it’s true; I’m ribbon inept), no doubt eradicating any sweetness in the gesture. I don’t know what came over me. One day I was craving apple pie because that’s what you do in October, you crave apple pie, the kind that you pull from the oven still gurgling under its vented lid, a trickle of juices making their way for the crimped edge, the kitchen smelling like fall blew up in it. But I wanted my very own pie, a pie I didn’t have to share and so the obvious place to have gone with this would have been with hand pies. But I’m finishing up the cookbook’s dessert section right now and lordy, I hardly need more butter-and-sugar laden confections lying around but, short of denying oneself pie (madness!) I wondered exactly how tiny I could make them and from there my brain latched onto the idea of cookie pies (or “tookie” pies, as my sidekick would call them). Teeny tiny adorable cookie pies. I may have finally lost it.

how to slice your appleapple insertsdip in cinnamon spice sugarcrimping

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

hazelnut plum crumb tart

hazelnut plum crumb tart

There are few paths that led to this recipe but the main one is that it instantly reminded me of the kind of crumb pies I remember from bakeries growing up, not the kind with a crumble topping but ones with a crust also composed of pressed crumbs. And guys, I love a buttery, flaky, ethereal pie crust woven over cherries and bronzed in the oven as much as the next person, but the idea of choosing it over a crumbly composite of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and sometimes nuts is pure madness. But the filling gave me pause — a custard? a custard that suspends fruit? How odd, right? Or delicious? I went back and forth over the odd-versus-delicious line for the better part of a decade before deciding to finally make it this week. A decade. This recipe was actually published in a 1999 Martha Stewart Living. I was living in Washington D.C., dating a terrible idea and trying to figure out how I could find a place in New York that didn’t charge more than $600/month rent. This recipe is ancient history, people.

toasted hazelnuts
cinnamon hazelnut brown sugar crumbs
how i like to do crumb crusts

So why this week? Like most things in my life right now, it relates to a still (yes, still) unfinished but imminently due manuscript, and my inability to think about much else, which has turned into a perfect time to outsource a bit, by dusting off recipes I’ve had on my To Cook list for eons — especially those that involve plums. I’m seeing plums everywhere these days, and I love them, but they’re always a little bittersweet to me, as they’re one of the last fruits to appear before apples, and everyone knows that while you munch through buckets of apples, late summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter and suddenly, they’re the last fresh fruit you see until rhubarb — which isn’t even a real fruit, but one that likes to pretend it is — appears in the late spring. Hm, aren’t I just a bundle of cheer today?

italian plums

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

blackberry and coconut macaroon tart

sliced

For the last few weeks, I’ve been going nuts as it feels like every single person I know that has a food blog, has read a food blog, is a fan of food blogs or eats food itself has been gushing over Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks new book, Super Natural Everyday. But not me! Because although I pre-ordered mine in early March, it didn’t arrive for what felt like an eternity. Every morning, me and my tiny partner in crime would take the elevator (always his favorite part of the day) down to the basement, where unclaimed packages often linger by the Super’s apartment and came back empty handed. Then we would sigh, get to work load up Twitter on my laptop and read that another two friends were gushing over a book I was being cruelly deprived of and shake our tiny fists at the Amazon Gods and cry, “Why must you make us wait?!”

dry ingredients
adding melted butter

Neither of us are very good at waiting, you see. Nevertheless, one fine day last week a box finally arrived and after careful toddler investigation of the package (Can I stand on it? Can I lift it? What will it taste like if I lick it? Can I jump off the 2-inch box and applaud myself when I land on my feet?) I was given permission to open it, take another magical elevator ride to the basement to drop off the box with the recycling and then finally his dad returned home and I was granted an entire bath and bedtime ritual to curl up with Heidi’s newest book.

blackberried up

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

apple tarte tatin, anew

apple tarte tatin, anew

My brain is currently in Paris, idling in a cafe after a bike ride along the Seine. It may not come home. It started a few weeks ago, when an obsession with getting to the bottom of a baked spinach dish mentioned in a letter by Julia Child allowed me to, once again, dive deeply into the pages of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. What I didn’t have was an exit strategy, which is especially dangerous when day to day life lately has been a bit more about double ear infections, sleep deprivation, cookbooking in a tiny, overheated kitchen, oh, and then we paid taxes things nobody needs to hear me complain about. In short: I choose Paris, instead. So the last few weeks have brought to our table weeknight roasted chicken, tiny gold potatoes, simple green salads, skinny green beans, white wine, weepingly delicious onion soup and a spate of apple tarte tatins.

apples, cored, with a little bevel
foamy butter
a light caramel that looks dark

The tarte tatin is one of my favorite apple desserts, but also one of my most consistent failures. Again and again over the years, I’ve tried to get it right but rarely did. Some were too sweet. Often, the apples didn’t cook through. I burnt the caramel more times than I’ll admit to, even in the last week. I’ve cut the apples all wrong. I’ve used puff pastry that didn’t want to puff and short crusts that crumbled under the caramelized apple juices. And a good lot of the time, the caramel just never came together, and remained a toasty syrup with a puddle of butter floating on top. Not that anyone complains about such things. More or less, if there’s a place where you can mess up a tarte tatin, I’ve done it. Multiple times.

don't worry, they'll shrink

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Friday, October 1, 2010

single-crust plum and apple pie

apple and plum pie

Early fall is a ridiculous time to get cooking block. Inspiration is everywhere as nearly everything that could possibly be in season currently is. The markets are flooded with great stuff; summer tomatoes, eggplant, corn and peppers fight for space on tables with apples, pears, greens and winter squash. But somehow — when I’m not playing SuperMom or Good Football Wife or gushing over tiny fall outfits — I’ve been at an impasse. The summer stuff is waning; the last tomatoes I brought home were… rough, to put it nicely. And given that the butternut squash and collards are the last bits of fresh produce we’ll see until asparagus spears pop up in May 2011, seven very long months from now, I’m sure you understand why I put off cooking with them for as long as possible.

prune plums
big yellow apples

So I was spending an unhealthy amount of time contemplating my First World Problem — What should I cook next? — when a reader (Hi, Janet!) sent me a link to Nigel Slater’s single-crust plum pie in The Guardian two weeks ago and, obviously, that was it as plum season is almost over. Slater argues that some fruits are too wet for a double-crusted pie and plums are one of them. To make up for getting stiffed by the absence of a bottom crust, he makes the top crust very thick and, look, these aren’t his words but let’s be frank: It’s a cookie. And it’s awesome.

apples and sad, old prune plums

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