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Jahresarchive: 2006

Waiting for Our Regular Programming

Tomorrow is bread making day: brioche, "pains au lait" for breakfast, ciabatta and I wanted to be ready to have something to spread on our breads when they came out of the oven. There it is: strawberry-rhubarb jam, blueberry jam and coconut honey (which separates while cooling, but is so good on croissants and such).

The recipe for the Coconut Honey comes from A Spoonful of Sugar and is really easy to make. The difference with hers is that I like to make mine on the stove and let it boil/cook for the same length of time. It is delicious.

Coconut Honey Curd:

2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
60ml (4 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
200ml carton UHT coconut cream
750g jam sugar (this is sugar with added pectin)

Place all the ingredients in a 2.25L bowl (I used a 3L bowl, I’d suggest using this size or larger as it will boil) and stir well. Leave uncovered and cook on full power (750 – 800W depending on your microwave settings) for 18 minutes. Stir four times during this cooking period.
Reduce the power to Medium (550W or as close as possible depending on your settings – I had to use 450W and extended the cooking time) and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring four times, until the mixture is thick and curdlike.
Allow to cool to lukewarm (it will thicken even more on cooling) and ladle into warmed jars. Top with waxed discs and leave until cold.
Cover with lids or cellophane and label the jars.
Store in a cool, dark place for up to three months. The curd may separate out into two layers on standing, but just stir it around before use and all will be well.

Can’t have enough lemons

I love lemons the same way others love strawberries.
I have been playing around in the kitchen today, looking at my kitchen gadgets, my pans, my tools, thinking about what I could come up for a catering job I am hoping to get. The bowl of lemons was calling my name, and I had one last sheet of pie crust in the fridge.
The tiny tarts were tart that’s for sure! I might add a dollop of whipped cream next time, but since you only 2 or 3 it’s not that bad.

The lemon curd was taken from Alice Medrich’s Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts:
You will need:
– zest of 1/2 lemon
– 1/3 cup lemon juice
– 5 Tb. sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp. vanilla (which I did not use)

In a medium saucepan, bring the lemon juice, zest and sugar to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until yolk and white are well combined. Slowly pour some of the hot lemon juice over the egg and whisk to temper, return the egg/juice mixture to the saucepan and stir constantly over low heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Let cool and cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating.

As easy as 1-2-3 and it was enough to fill about 12 mini tarts.

Storm Food

I know, everybody’s idea of stormy weather food is different. Some stock up on canned items, others cook up everything in the fridge in case they lose power and others like me stare at their pantry long enough to come up with only one thing: chocolate brownies.
I knew Alberto was only going to bring us bad rain and some wind, but it gave some members of my gym an excuse to postpone a workout and when they do that, our gym traffic slows down and for some unknown reason it makes me crave comforting foods like baked potatoes and brownies. See! It’s their fault if I am now seated and blogging munching away on those delicious bites from Martha Stewart. Guess I’ll do some extra cardio tomorrow…

I did the recipe as it was written except I added 1/4 Kahlua just for some extra flavor.

Chocolate Brownies, adapted from Martha Stewart:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
( 1/4 cup Kahlua or strong coffee)
Vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides. Coat with cooking spray; set aside.
2. Melt together butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from heat. Stir until smooth; let cool slightly.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put eggs, sugar, and vanilla into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until pale, about 4 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture. Add kahlua or coffee if using. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan, and smooth top with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownie between edge and center comes out with a few crumbs, 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Let cool 15 minutes; lift out of pan, and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely. Cut into 8 rectangles. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

In Time for Lime

Lime Tart and Pineapple Sorbet

Well, limes and pineapples were on sale at the store this morning so here we are, another citrus creation. The lime mixture is quite tart so eating a piece of pie with a cool spoon of pineapple sorbet mellows the whole thing and brings in a tropical flair.

For the lime pie recipe I got inspired by two favorite bloggers of mine, Cream Puffs in Venice and Cindy’s Kitchen. I cheated though I did not feel like making a crust so I used store bought and pre baked it.

For the pineapple sorbet: dissolve 200 grammes of sugar in 150 ml. of water on medium high heat. Cool the syrup a bit and puree 800 grammes of pineapple along with the cooled down syrup. Put in a ice cream maker and then the freezer.

Here is my adaptation of their Lemon Tart for a Lime Tart:


– your favorite tart crust, rolled and pre baked at 350 for 10 minutes

-3 eggs and 3 egg yolks
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 cup lime juice
– 2 tsp. lime zest
– 1/2 cup sour cream
– 1/2 cup heavy cream.

Mix the eggs and sugar until pale. Add lime juice and zest, then the creams. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Testing to be held tonight.

Update: Mr.B said the tart was really puckery and he loved the sorbet to mellow it.

Note on a different topic: we headed down to Hilton Head for the day yesterday and did the Rachel Ray $4o a day thing, by having drinks at the Old Fort Pub overlooking the water. Romantic to the end…!

Not too late for Pound Cake

OK… so I completely missed SGHF, but this is still enough summer looking to be added early June, even if it is a pound cake…triple ginger nonetheless.
Recipe coming this evening.

The First Nectarines

Nectarine Tarte Tatin

I get excited when I see the first stone fruits of the season: yellow and white peaches, apricots, plums, nectarines. I am always eyeing those plump juicy Georgia peaches at the market. My mom always has a big fruit bowl around for dessert and the selection is always so great, winter or summer but I especially miss the big juicy melons, "brugnons", apricots and tiny gren/yellow plums.
The other night at the store I found a bin relocated to a dark corner of the produce section full of tiny bright red and incredibly fragrant nectarines, it put a big smile on my face, made my step lighter, my mood giddy and my husband happy…he knew ther would be pie on the menu…
Everybody seemed to go for the big and daring fruits and these were completely left alone. What a shame, they were so juicy and tasty, just about the size of small plums, I claimed about 20 and ran home!

I love to eat and to make Tarte Tatin, but I rarely do it the original way, with apples. I love mango, pear, banana, plum tarte Tatin. I was perousing the latest Cooking Light that evening when I came across the recipe for Nectarine Tarte Tatin, talk about fate!
Here is the recipe, with my variation in italics.

Nectarine Tarte Tatin adapted from Cooking Light
7 medium nectarines
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury) I used the other half of the Pate Sucree used the day before.

Preheat oven to 425°. I set mine for 350
Cut 1 nectarine in half. Quarter one nectarine half and the remaining 6 nectarines.
Combine sugar, water, and juice in a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet. Cook for 2 minutes or until sugar is golden (do not stir). Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Let stand 3 minutes.

Place nectarine half, cut side down, in center of sugar mixture; arrange nectarine quarters, cut side down, around center.

Return pan to medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until sugar mixture is bubbly (do not stir). Remove from heat; let stand 3 minutes.

Roll pie dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Place dough over nectarine mixture, fitting dough between nectarines and skillet. I used a nine inch cast iron skillet.

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully invert tart onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges.
I baked mine at 350 for 30 minutes.

Lazy Sunday

I have not been able to write anything at all last week. Did some baking but not much either, for some reason I kept being interrupted by job – related issues…how dare they?

Anyway, we took it easy this afternoon and I decided to go through my magazines piling up in the pantry and found an old issue of Martha Stewart’s magazine with a dozen or so of the reader’s favorite desserts. I made two of them tonight and here is one of them : Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tart. My adaptation included the use of walnuts instead of macadamias and Cognac instead of Bourbon. We loved it! The dough is really good too, even with 2 sticks of butter (Yes! You read right)

Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tart

Makes one 11-inch tart

1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Pâte Sucrée

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 tablespoon bourbon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter(1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 1/2 cups unsalted whole macadamia nuts(10 1/2 ounces)

1. Heat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll pâte sucrée into a 14-inch circle. Fit pastry into an 11-inch tart pan; trim dough evenly along edges. Use trimmings to patch any thin spots in shell. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and bourbon until combined. Whisk in flour, salt, and butter; stir in chocolate. Pour mixture into chilled tart shell. Cover top with nuts, pressing them halfway down into filling.

2. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, and continue baking until crust and nuts are golden, about 35 minutes. If tart gets too brown, place aluminum foil over top for remainder of cooking time. Cool on wire rack.

Cream Puff and her Muffins

What I am supposed to do when someone promises "the best muffins you’ll ever taste"? Make them? Eat them? Create your "ultimate muffin" too? well, I did 2 out those three things. I made them and I ate them… and they’re great!
It’s hard for us to say that these are the best you ever tasted because we rearely eat muffins for breakfast, but to hear what B. said, they pretty much hit the jackpt: "if I open a coffee shop, will you bake these everyday?" I think he is hooked.

If you ahve not visisted Cream Puffs' bog yet, run to it, everything looks scrumptious and tastes delicious.

Here is the recipe as I made it, as it is posted on her site:

Lawsuit Buttermilk Muffins

Adapted from The Best of by Marcy Goldman.

For the streusel topping:
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
In a bowl, combine all of the streusel topping ingredients.
With your fingers, combine until you have a crumbly mixture.
Set aside if using immediately or store in the refrigerator.
For the muffins:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons grated citrus zest (I use lemon or orange.)
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you may need a bit more if the batter is too wet)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-3/4 cups fruit (coarsely chopped if using fruits like apples, banana or pears)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. If you don’t have paper liners butter and flour the muffin tin.
In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda); set aside.
In another bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, citrus zest and egg. Once combined, stir in the buttermilk and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Gently mix in the fruit. If the batter seems to liquidy, add a tiny bit more flour. The batter should be fairly stiff.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling them right to the top. Divide the streusel topping equally among the muffins.
Bake for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 12 minutes. When the muffins are done they will spring back when lightly pressed. Otherwise, test the muffins by inserting a toothpick.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove the muffins and let them cool on a wire rack.

Pour Maman

These are for my Mom, via the internet, just because I tempted her when I called France yesterday… I am mean…

I have tried a lot of different recipes and this one is from the Queen of folds herself, dear Martha.

Here is the recipe I used today. They turned out OK. Not the best but they were nice and buttery, and hit the spot this morning.

About 16 croissants

1/3 cup warm water (110° to 115°)

1 package dry-active yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon table salt

1 1/3 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)

1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 1/2 sticks (14 ounces) chilled unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Make the dough: In a liquid measuring cup, combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes to allow yeast to proof. In a second measuring cup, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, and the salt in the milk.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour. Add the yeast mixture, milk mixture, and oil. Blend everything together by cutting and pressing with a rubber spatula, being sure all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be very wet.

3. Turn dough out onto a well floured work surface. Let stand for 3 minutes to allow the dough to absorb some of the liquid. Start kneading by lifting near edges, with a bench scraper, and flipping it over onto the other side. Rapidly repeat the movement from one side to the other, and end over end, until the dough feels smooth and begins to draw back into shape when pushed out, 8 to 10 times. Do not over-knead.

4. Transfer dough to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using lightly floured hands, pat and push the dough out into a rectangle about 12-by-10-inches. Fold the dough in three, like a business letter. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet or plate; cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. This second rise can be done in the refrigerator, overnight.

5. Punch down dough. Cover the dough again with plastic wrap, and transfer to refrigerator for 20 minutes; this will allow the gluten to relax, and make rolling out the dough easier.

6. Roll in the butter: Place butter on a lightly floured work surface and beat with a rolling pin to soften. Then smear it out with the heel of your hand until it is of spreading consistency, but still cold; it must not become soft and oily, refrigerate if necessary.

7. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, roll it out to a 18-by-10-inch rectangle. Spread butter as evenly as possible over the upper two-thirds of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Fold the bottom (unbuttered) third of the dough up to the middle. Fold the top third down to cover it.

8. Lightly flour the top of the dough, and work surface. Turn the dough so the edge of the top flap is to your right. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 18-by-8-inches. Roll rapidly, starting an inch from the near end, and going to within an inch of the far end. Fold again in three, as above. Wrap in plastic wrap, and transfer to refrigerator for 1 hour.

9. Remove dough from refrigerator. Sprinkle lightly with flour, and deflate the dough by tapping lightly with rolling pin. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 8 minutes to relax gluten, if necessary. Repeat rolling and folding process twice more, as above. If the butter has hardened and congealed into flakes, beat the dough with light firm taps going from one side to the other until butter has softened. It must be able to extend the length and width of the rectangle inside the dough as you roll it out until it has softened. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. If refrigerating overnight, cover with a board and a 5- pound weight. Resting overnight will facilitate shaping.

10. Shape the croissants: When shaping the croissant, keep the dough that you are not working with refrigerated. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface. Deflate dough. Roll the dough out to a 25-by-12-inch rectangle. (If at any time the dough becomes too elastic to work with, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and let rest 10 minutes, to relax gluten.) Cut in half lengthwise. Working with one piece of dough at a time, using a pastry wheel or a croissant cutter, cut into triangles with a 5-inch base.

11. Roll the triangles out to enlarge slightly. Roll towards the tip, creating tension by using your other hand to stretch the top of the triangle away from you. The dough should overlap 3 times with the tip sticking out from underneath.

12. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving 2 inches between croissants. Curve the ends of the croissant inward, forming a crescent shape. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until very spongy and doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

13. Preheat oven to 475°. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and heavy cream, and lightly brush over tops of croissants. Open the oven door, spritz the oven heavily with water from a spray bottle, and quickly close the door. Place croissants in oven, and spray bottom of oven with water once more. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate pan to ensure even baking. Reduce oven temperature to 400°, and continue to bake until cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before serving.