Blueberry Frangipane Tart

I really believe that if you’re going to become excellent at anything, from baking to baseball, you’ve got to be willing to try new things and make some mistakes.  My success and confidence in the kitchen has come from years of practice and experience and yes, I’ve had my share of failures.  As Einstein said, ‘anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’  This is how we learn.

I had wonderful blueberries.  I had pie crust already made.  I knew it would be tricky to combine them with frangipane in a tart the way I wanted to, but decided to proceed nonetheless.  Frangipane is a sweet filling made from almonds, butter and eggs, and it’s one of my favorite treats.  It must be baked, and it really needs to be exposed to the heat (not buried deep in a pie) in order to puff up and brown a little.  I did everything right in this recipe, almost.  I made sure to blind bake my crust.

I didn’t cover the frangipane completely with blueberries.  I baked until bubbly in the center.  However,…. it needed 5 more minutes!  The edges were perfect with crisp and flaky crust, but the center was not.

If I make this again, I think I’ll put the frangipane on top of the blueberries and let the berries peek through instead of vice – versa.  At any rate, my husband LOVED this tart and said the amount of sweetness was just right.  Served with lightly sweetened whipped cream, it really was good despite it’s imperfection.

Blueberry Frangipane Tart

Adapted from The New York Times Cooking

1 pie crust –  Here’s an old post with a recipe you can use.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup ground almonds (almond flour)

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • Roll out the dough, chill and blind bake.  For more information about blind baking click here.
  • Mix the almond flour, all purpose flour, sugar, almond extract, egg and butter really well.  Spread into the pre-baked shell.
  • Place the blueberries on top, making sure to leave some frangipane filling peaking through.
  • Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.  If the crust becomes too dark around the edges, cover with a ring of foil and continue baking.
  • Allow to cool at least an hour before slicing.
  • YUM!

Here’s an old post about the first time I made a Pear Frangipane Tart.

 

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Blackberry Lime Walkaway

This is a beautiful bread filled with cream cheese, jam and fresh fruit.  The recipe is much easier than it looks, and it’s super delicious. Nothing beats blackberries in the summertime, so I walked along the pasture fence picking until I had more than enough for a baking project.  I used raspberry jam and flavored the cream cheese with lime zest and juice.

If Walkaway seems like an odd name for a cream cheese and fruit filled bread, click through to The Italian Dish blog and read about its origins.  I’ve made it several times over the years and am always pleasantly surprised at how simple and adaptable it is.  I made a few changes to the recipe this time, leaving the dough a bit leaner and healthier while bumping up the cream cheese and fruit.

Blackberry Lime Walkaway

Adapted from The Italian Dish

For the dough:

1/3 cup milk

3/4 cup water

3 Tablespoons butter – melted

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For the filling:

6 oz cream cheese

zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon (I used 1/2 lemon and 1/2 lime b/c that’s what was in my fridge)

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup raspberry jam

3/4 cup fresh blackberries

I make the dough in my bread machine because I can walk away from it and let the machine slowing mix and knead everything.  However, you can use a stand mixer.  Place the 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the mixing bowl and attach the dough hook.  Mix until combined, then gradually add the liquids and butter.  Add the remaining flour until the dough clings to the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl.  Add just enough to form a soft ball – you may have to add a little less or a little more flour.  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl and cover.  Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 min to an hour.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add just a teaspoon of oil to spread around with your hands.  This will help with any sticky issues in the next step.  When the dough is ready, punch it down and place on the oiled paper with your oiled hands.  Spread the dough to fill the pan completely and evenly.  I did this just with my hands, but you could use a rolling pin.  Mix the cream cheese, sugar, lime juice and zest in a small bowl.  Spread the cream cheese mixture down the middle of the dough in about a 4 inch strip, leaving an inch of dough at both ends.  Next, gently spread on the jam and then top with the fresh blackberries.  To  make the beautiful folded top, use a sharp paring knife to cut diagonal strips down the sides of the dough.  Make two cuts on each end to make the end flaps.  Fold the short end flaps over the filling and then start folding the strips over, alternating from side to side.  Trim away any excess dough when you’re done.  Cover lightly and let rise for about 40 minutes.

Bake at 375 for about 25- 30 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve for breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, or a snack!  The zing of lime zest and punch of raspberry jam are fantastic.

 

Tarte Tatin

Here’s a classic French recipe I’ve never made before.  I’ve seen the upside down apple tart made on cooking shows many times but never bothered to try it at home.  Yesterday I was watching my very favorite television show:  The Great British Baking Show and Mary Berry made her Tarte Tatin in the master class series.  She made it look so easy and gave several great tips for success.   I love the simplicity of the ingredients.  All you need is apples, crust, and a little sugar.

I got up off the couch and went to my best reference book for French classic recipes and techniques, Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques.   I used his recipe for pate brisee (pie crust) and followed his instructions for parts of the recipe and Mary Berry’s tips for other parts.  Tarte Tatin has been reinterpreted so many times it’s impossible to say what the ‘real’ or ‘original’ or even ‘the best’ technique might be.  Here’s what I did:

Tarte Tatin

1 pie crust – here’s the link to the recipe I use most often.  You could use a store bought puff pastry for this recipe.

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup water

6 cups apples – sliced thin – This could be anywhere from 6-8 apples.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Get out your pie dish so it’s in arms reach.

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Do not use a non-stick pan when making caramel.  Bring to a boil and keep boiling until it turns a golden caramel color.  Pour the caramel into the pie dish and immediately swirl by tilting the pan to cover the entire bottom of the dish.  I struggled with this step because my caramel hardened too quickly in my cold pyrex dish.  Oh well, I pressed on.

Set the pie dish aside and allow the caramel to cool completely.  Meanwhile, slice the apples evenly and thinly.  Choose one or two good looking apples to use for the bottom of the pie. Place the first layer of apples on the cooled caramel in a nice design.  Remember, this will be inverted and the bottom will become the top; you want it to look pretty.  Fill the rest of the dish with the remaining apples.  It’s okay if the apples come above the top of the dish a bit because they will shrink as they cook.  Place the rolled out pastry or pie crust over the apples.  Tuck in the edges all around the dish.  Cut a small vent hole in the center of the pie.  Place in the hot oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  The crust should be golden brown.  When you take the dish out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes.  To ensure a caramel top that’s not too runny, carefully hold a dish towel over the crust while you pour the juices into your caramel saucepan from earlier.  Next, invert the tarte onto a plate.  Now, add 2 Tablespoons of sugar and heat to a quick boil.  Pour this caramel sauce over the finished Tarte Tatin and serve just warm.  The finished tart was intensely apple flavored and super delicious.  The caramel is subtle and emphasizes the taste of the apples.  The crust was crisp and buttery.  Total success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Green Curry Soup

The season of soups is here again!  Who knew that making delicious Thai curry soup could be so easy?  The hardest part is remembering to buy Thai Green Curry Paste and a can of coconut milk.  Like so many soup recipes, this one is easily adjusted to suit your needs.  You could make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken, or use shrimp or tofu if you prefer.  Any vegetables would work, so don’t let a lack of these specific vegetables stop you from making this!

I fully customized this recipe to my family by keeping the chicken and one ear of corn separate from the soup.  My husband had a lot of chicken with soup on top.  My son got an ear of corn, some plain chicken, and a sample of the soup.  I had a nice bowl of soup with a little chicken in it.  Everyone was happy.

Chicken and Vegetable Green Curry Soup

Recipe adapted from Anna Kovel via Better Homes & Gardens magazine

Thai Green Curry Paste

1/2 onion, chopped

1 sweet or mildly hot red pepper

4 cups chopped eggplant, zucchini, and/or yellow squash

1 cup corn kernels

3 cups chopped greens such as kale or spinach

2 1/2 cups water or broth

1 can unsweetened coconut milk 

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1 lemon

The whole recipe can be made in one 5 to 6 quart pot.  (I used 2 because I also had to cook the chicken.)  Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and peppers and cook until softened.  Next, add the curry paste and cook until fragrant.  Now add the eggplant or and/or squash and zucchini and cook until brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the water or broth and bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Add the corn, greens, chicken and coconut milk and heat through.  Serve with lemon wedges.

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Herbed Bean Salad

What do I have in my garden right now?  It’s mostly a dry wasteland, but there are some nice red peppers, a lone basil plant and some hardy oregano.  Here’s a salad to use what I’ve got.  If you do not have these exact vegetables, this recipe is open to improvisation.  For example, you could leave out the celery or substitute cherry tomatoes for the red pepper.  Also, this dressing is pretty punchy, so you could tone it down with a little less dijon or vinegar.  I love this salad because the main ingredients are pantry staples that I always have on hand.  It’s easy, nutritious and delicious.

Herbed Bean Salad

2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained

3 Tablespoons red onion, chopped

3 Tablespoons vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar are nice choices)

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 extra virgin olive oil (that’s 4 Tablespoons)

1 cup fresh herbs, chopped

salt and pepper

Begin by chopping the onion and placing in a small bowl.  Add 2 Tablespoons vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and set aside.

Chop the remaining vegetables and herbs and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the dijon and remaining 1 Tablespoon vinegar along with the olive oil and pepper.  Whisk or stir rapidly with a fork until creamy.  Add the onion and vinegar mixture and stir to combine.  Add the beans, pepper, celery, and herbs then stir gently to coat all ingredients in the dressing.

Let the salad rest and marinate for 10- 15 minutes or place in the refrigerator overnight.  This will get tastier as the flavors mingle and will be delicious for 3 or 4 days.  Serve as a side dish or on a green salad.

Quick Basil and Feta Bread

There are a few food bloggers that I’ve been following for many years.  When I see their emails in my inbox, I know they’ll provide consistently delicious recipes that are interesting but not too difficult.  Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini is a food writer living in Paris.  She sends out a monthly post with a round – up of recipes, restaurants, and other tidbits.  This month provided a gem of a recipe: a savory quick bread with feta cheese and lots of fresh herbs.  There’s no yeast and no rising time, if you can make banana bread then you can make this!

Everything about this recipe is perfect.  The sesame seeds provide a subtle, nutty crunch, and the salty feta cheese in a soft rich bread hits all the right notes.  The basil makes this bread very seasonal for late summer, but any other herb or combination of herbs would work just as well.

Clotilde kindly includes converted measurements since Europeans measure baking ingredients by weight instead of volume.  I have ‘Americanized’ this recipe even more by using buttermilk in place of the yogurt and making a few other small changes.  However, her version is absolutely perfect so if you have some plain yogurt in the fridge please click through for her recipe.

Quick Basil and Feta Bread

A little butter for the pan

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds (I used a mix of black and white)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 and 1/4 cup buttermilk (full fat)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 eggs

7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 bunch fresh basil or about 1 cup chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 1 full size bread pan or three minis (which is what I used) by smearing with butter and sprinkling in 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds.

Chop the herbs (here’s a post that includes directions for chopping basil) and crumble the feta cheese.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper and stir well with a fork or whisk in a medium bowl.

Using a 2 cup or larger liquid measuring cup (such as the one in the picture), measure the buttermilk and oil, then add the eggs and mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir gently.  When the mixture is still very lumpy, go ahead and add the herbs and cheese.  Mix until just combined (do not over mix or you will develop the gluten and make the bread tough).  Spread into prepared pans and top with remaining sesame seeds.

Bake 40- 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes then turn out to finish cooling and allow the crust to crisp.

Enjoy!