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Monatsarchive: June 2008

Nutella or Blackberry or Quince or Loquat Danish Braid With The Daring Bakers?

You know by the title of this post that there is a story coming up don’t you? Well, this time I have got to thank Kelly and Ben, our Daring Bakers' hosts this month for our house producing and eating danish braids and various other danishes all month long….for real. Not that I made a big batch of it and ate it throughout the month. No…to easy….I sat down yesterday actually counting the times I had made the recipe they provided for June: 1 full batch and 3 half batches. Hmmm…how did that happen?

Quickly after they posted the recipe inspired by Sherry Yard, The Secrets Of Baking, my mother-in-law was hosting her garden club and since I usually provide these ladies with some sort of baked goods, I thought of doing a half batch of the braid. Then a few days later, my Bakenistas and I met on Skype on Sunday morning and made a full batch. I had worked an overnight at the restaurant and I had started the dough there on my break. I arrived right on time to meet up with Lisa, Ivonne, Mary, Kelly, Ben, Chris and John. Same rowdy bunch, same coffee spillage laughing out loud. That batch was distributed around the neighborhood and B’s students. The weekend after that, he gave me a pity party for not having any left so I agreed to make another half batch. The last one? Yesterday…of all days…when I could not retrieve my Danish Braid picture folder and sent a screeching help email to whomever could help. Thank you John for the programs because they obviously work….and I can write this post eating a slice of Danish without freaking out or melting down.

Summary? Well, we have one Nutella filled Danish Braid, one Blackberry Cream Cheese Braid with Almond Streudel Topping, a few Quince Danishes (thanks to Marcela who brought me a huge can of quince paste from Argentina, 2 pounds of it!), a few Loquat Jam filled Danishes.

Basically, I’d be lying if I told you that we did not enjoy it or that I did not find it a breeze to work with…even in the heat we are having and all the humidity. I do admit that I have a secret (well, not anymore) weapon when it comes to rolling laminated dough like danishes or puff pastry in the summer in South Carolina: a pastry board with ice pack inserts, which you can see see here.

For the filings I spooned Nutella right from the jar and the loquat jam was spread the same way, from the jar. For the blackberry filled braid, I simply cooked some berries with sugar and spooned 4 oz of cream cheese mixed with 2 Tb of sugar on the dough before the blackberries. For the quince paste, I did put a small spoonfull of mascarpone before the paste in the danish. No real recipes, just trying what I have on hand.Kelly and Ben provided a wonderful apple filling recipe for the braid but I had to make room in the fridge and not very much time to do it, but I have it bookmarked for this winter. One other thing: I skipped the egg wash and just sprayed the braids and danishes with some water before baking, to keep the layers light and crispy during baking.

Danish Braid, inspired by Sherry Yard, The Secrets of Baking:

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Dough:Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

Butter block: Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
– After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. – Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
– Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Danish Braid:
Makes enough for 2 large braids
1 recipe Danish Dough
filling of your choice

– Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
– Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
– Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Proofing and Baking
– Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
– Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
– Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Check out all the other Daring Bakers' wonderful creations this month by heading over to the blogroll. Thank you all for visiting during these busy coming days and I will try my best to do the same. Scoring DMBLGIT is not a quick task so bear with me for the DB and the contest results which I plan on posting by Wednesday.

Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins

Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 I always seem to have a story don’t I? Well, bloggers are like that…they like stories: to read, to tell, to share and to write about. Somehow there is always a story behind the desserts I make , sometimes it is a long drawn explanation and sometimes something that popped in my head while experiencing one of those stories. Today is no exception…these gratins almost did not happen. Glad they did in the end though because they were mighty good.

Let’s see…it all started last night when B’s mom called and asked if I wanted to go blueberry picking with her in the morning…at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat. Yes, yes, yes….provided there are a few coffee stops along the way please….Then she threw raspberries in the mix so I jumped fell out of bed! There are a few things that make my heart skip on a hot June morning (well, B. is one of them, of course) and among my favorites are berries, stone fruits and spending a few hours with my mother in law and her stories of my husband when he was wee high. I am about to digress again so I’d better get right on to the rest of the day…

After our little berry picking frenzy (I basically needed her to keep some of my stash in her extra freezer), I pulled in the driveway with a huge basket of raspberries just in time to see one of the twins holding a puppy and walking towards me. Now for those new here (Hello, hello!), we do not have children, we jokingly say that all we have to do is walk next door and borrow C’s twins for the day…or they borrow us, there are days one can’t tell…Anyways… Her husband had sent her to get new tires and she came back with the wrong tires and a "free" puppy (read no shots or tags and probably younger). Her husband was red as a poppy, the kids were beaming and in her usual Southern nonchalance she just walked up to me and said "help us give him a bath"

I spent a good part of the day taking work breaks to go play with the puppy which we finally named Sullivan. At some point we got distracted by the rest of the brood, a cat, another dog and a turtle (yep, they needed another dog like I need another bill) and did not pay much attention to Sully until we heard is whimpering. We turned around and burst out laughing. He had found a way to climb up the crate full of raspberries and was barely holding his balance not to fall off the tiny ledge and take a dive into it. I guess he got a little too impressed with his Cirque du Soleil capacities and fell head first into the raspberries! I ran over and picked him up, all red and happy licking his paws, face and tail. Once back on the ground he ran back to the crate and tried to climb it again! He surely enjoyed his first baptism by raspberries and was ready for a little more!

I did manage to save quite a bit of the berries after the puppy dive (thank God, they don’t weigh much at 8 weeks) and proceeded to make these little Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins. They made me think of Sully: light as feathers, wickedly cute and they really put a smile on my face! The fresh raspberries retain their fresh factor and the cream is rich and smooth without leaving that buttery coating on your tongue.

For the nut topping I have to thank one of my faithful readers, Bina, who sends me the most thoughtful gifts. Last winter, she had sent me an Indian specialty called Chikki, close to a toffee but this almonds, pistachios and cardamom. She emailed saying that her mom had made some more and brought it to the States and she would love to send me some more. Yes please!! So before the stash disappeared completely I did hide a few pieces and crushed them to top the gratins with. She also stitched me the cutest little kitchen towels but I am afraid to get the dirty! To top it all, her packaging is as precious as the gifts…. and since she only lives in the next state over I really hope e get to meet one day soon. Thank you and stop being shy, you are among friends!

Allright, allright, I am done….on to the recipe!

Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins:

Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your ramequins.

1/2 cup (4 oz) mascarpone, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh raspberries

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, the egg and the egg yolk. Whisk until fully incorporated and add the heavy cream. Make sure everything is well combined and divide between your ramequins, not filling them all the way to the top, about 3/4 full. Divide the raspberries among the gratins and set the dishes in a deep roasting pan. Fill the pan with water, half way up the sides of the dishes and bake at 340 for about 20-25 minutes or until they seem to be barely set: still giggling a little when you move the pan but not completely wobbly. They will continue to bake and set as they cool. Let cool and serve either chilled or at room temperature.

Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins-Copyright ©Tartelette 2008

Butterhorn Garlic Knots

Butterhorns Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Last month I posted about a Gruyere stuffed loaf that I had baked during a live Skype baking session with a bunch of flour obsessed gals and gents. We did not intend to make it a monthly thing, we are not even a baking group, Lord knows we are all super busy with, work, life, blogging, etc…We just decided to take one morning here and there to bake in our comfies and just let our mouths get a little loose and our minds in the gutter and I somehow get blamed for this each time (wink wink I also teach them how to type in Helenese but that is for another post). Ok, I’ll admit that last time I did say out loud that the loaves looked like female genitals or breasts implants gone wrong. This time I am glad to report that I passed on the baton to Kelly who formed little turdy things with little funny things sticking out.

We had not really planned to get together again so soon but then Lisa started to email us with visions of garlic rolls she recently had at a restaurant and you know that if you mention rolls and yeast, I lift an eyebrow and Mary sends you the recipe within 12 hours so after a little scheduling we were on for this past Sunday. We decided to pick between two different recipes and although I plan to do the King Arthur one soon, it just was not going to happen that weekend for various reason I will get to another time. I got to give it to Mary though for elaborating blindly on a Bon Appetit recipe based on Lisa’s description, the end product may not have been exactly what she remembered but the rolls were inhaled eaten in three days, no neighbor involved.

I don’t often post about breads unless it is a Daring Baker challenge or another event but Sunday is bread baking day at the house so B. did not find anything unusual in my baking behaviour that day execpt for running back and forth to the laptop and giggling and laughing every other minute. A couple of times he came wondering why I was staring at the screen, with my arms crossed holding my ribs. "They’re writing too fast, I have a missing wobbly w, a missing h, and a wandering m…" When you bake bread, there is some downtime (dough rising) and some fun time (dough shaping, which proved me that I can’t have Lisa on the phone and make a bread knot at the same time!) so bread, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping were also accomplished by some or all while we left the chat window opened.

Beside the three ladies mentionned above, Tanna, Chris, Marcela, Sara, and John, joined in the fun to make the garlic knots.

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
The rolls? Good…no, very good! A little too sweet but since I had made a half batch that day, I made another half batch with my correction later Monday evening and those worked better for our taste. European yeast rolls are not as sweet as they are here so B. was happy with the first batch as I was with the second. The shaping was fun if not strange, I did some just fine and dandy and some had me think I had glued fingers and a stalling brain but it’s dough….gather your mess into a ball and do it again, no biggie. I have to say that the more I was looking at the post on the KA blog, the more confused I was getting…step away from the computer and just knot.

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright%copy;Tartelette 2008 Once the knots were formed, the instructions were to brush them with melted butter and crushed garlic. I had planned to use some fermented black garlic that I had received as a gift but I had a foggy brain that morning and just chopped regular garlic before I remembered. Another reason to do these again. They got brushed before, during and after baking and all that butter soaking in the rolls gave them a really moist texture without making them greasy. I did add fresh chopped basil and rosemary to the dough. The house smelled like a pizza parlor the whole day, and with the neighborhood males gathered in the garage "watching" the thunderstorms and drinking beers, I guess it did feel like one!

Butterhorn Garlic Knots-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Butterhorn Garlic Knots (originally from Bon Appetit, worked on by Mary and reworked by me)

Makes 18
1/2 cup whole milk
6 Tb unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp plus 1Tb sugar, divided
1 Tb dry instant yeast
1 large egg, room temp
3 to 3 1/2 cups, AP flour
1tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced finely

In heavy medium sized sauce pan over low heat, heat milk and 6 Tb of butter until the butter is melted. Do not let it boil. Let cool to 115F degrees. Combine warm water, 1/2 tsp sugar, and yeast in small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes (this is for flavor not to proof yeast, unless you are using active yeast in which case you are proofing and getting flavor)
In large bowl of stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg and remaining sugar at low speed until blended. Beat in milk mixture. Gradually add 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time until blended smooth. Replace the whisk with dough hook. Add yeast mixture, salt, and 1 cup of flour (1/2 cup at a time), beat at medium low speed. You will have a very wet and loose dough that climbs the dough hook but falls back down the bowl by this time. One Tb at a time, add enough remaining flour to form a firm but sticky dough ball. The dough balls will pull away from the sides of the bowl and not flop back to the sides.

Pour 1/2 Tbsp melted butter in large bowl that can be fitted with a lid or that plastic wrap clings to well. On very lightly flour covered counter and with lightly floured hands, give dough 3 – 5 quick hand kneads to form good dough ball and then put in buttered bowl, turning dough over to coat with butter. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft free place (I like the oven turned off with the pilot light light on…or the laundry room when the dryer is on!) until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough, fold dough over in half and then half again, and brush with melted butter. Cover bowl again and let rise again in same warm draft free place until doubled (about 1 hour).
From here follow the directions for making the knots as shown on the KA website . Just don’t tuck the ends in to get the shape you want.
Cover and let rise until double, brush with melted butter and garlic and bake in 350F preheated oven for 15 -20 minutes.

Mojito Jelly-O

Mojito Jelly-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Him: what are you making?
Me: Gelee de Mojito
Him: translation?
Me: I don’t know, kind of like Mojito jello but not the packet thingie
Him: then why don’t you call it that ?
Me: be glad I did not call it "aspic"
Him: sounds like it could hurt
Me: not funny, I did not write the culinary language of my country, allright?!
Him: so what is this…really…?
Me: how about Mojito Jelly-O ?!

Almost every weekend we gather with the neighbors outside by the creek. Rain or shine, hot or cold. Same backyard all those years…don’t know how that happened, it just did. One Saturday evening three years ago, we were all chatting outside when I said "I’d better go check on my cake", C. said "I’d better go check on the chili" and J. said "I think the boy is bringing oysters"….and the rest is history: the men set out a long wood plank on saw horses outside and we all brought down what was in the oven or on the stove that evening and shared, grown up beverages and good laughs included.

We can’t always get together on the weekends because of holidays and guests, etc…Foods vary with the season and the sea but when we do you can be sure of one constant: C’s jello-shooters….don’t ask me why, but she made it her duty to provide a different one each time. Except that this weekend she passed the baton on to me when I said that we should have Mojitos instead for cocktails given the massive quantity of mint I have growing. I am not a big jello shooter fan (heck! Ask any fellow expat if they know the packet brand and unless they have been here before, they will probably look at you funny), but I know it’s her thing so I tried to come up with a Mojito Jelly-O instead of just a cocktail.

Obviously, if you do not like gelatin based dessert you will not like this one and if you do not like Mojitos or alcohol, you will probably have to pass too, but if you do…..for all of you ready for the weekend, these will make you very very happy! I had to take a few bites for the pictures and I got very relaxed at eleven in the morning which makes me think that tonight is going to be very good!

For the jelly, I’ll let you pick your own brand of white rum and you can replace the gelatin with agar agar or vegetarian gelatin if available. I am not an expert on the agar but from what I have found prior to posting this, it seems that the same quantity would work instead of the gelatin, but don’t take my word for it.

Mojito Helly-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Mojito Jelly-O

Serve 4
Printable Recipe

5 limes (1/2 cup juice)
1/2 cup mint (3-4 twigs)
1 Tb gelatin
1/2 cup water divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white rum
1 1/4 cups lemonade (non carbonated)

Pour the gelatin in a small ramequin and sprinkle 1/4 cup of water over it. Allow it to dissolve, set aside.
Zest one of the limes, set the zest aside, juice all the limes to obtain about 1/2 cup. Squeeze another one if necessary to obtain 1/2 cup. Set aside. Chop the mint finely and set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water and sugar bring to a boil just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin, stirring until it is completely dissolved. Add the rum, lime juice, lemonade and the mint.
Pour in 4 glasses or ramequins and let set in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Decorate with mint and lime slices if desired.

Mojito Jelly-copyright©Tartelette 2008

Cherry – Orange Blossom Cakes

Cherry Orange Blossom Cakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008More cherries! I went to visit an old friend this weekend and at the end of our visit, she handed me a bucket and pointed at the cherry tree we could see from her living room window "Go ahead…Go get them. They are delicious". Her husband tends their vegetable garden and it is always a treat to visit them as I am fed fresh tomato sandwiches, cucumber salads and tiny yellow "mirabelles" for the few hours that I am there. I rarely come home empty handed either.

We come from different cultures and yet share many things, we are also quite apart in age but I found Beverly to be a child at heart, one who wished she was not limited to her house right now, one little girl aching to run in the fields and drink icy cold lemonade. Her husband and her are a example of love and understanding, passed the illness, the tantrums, the tough nights. Otis cries sometimes when I am there, quietly, while filling his bucket of water for the herb garden. They have been through this twice already, and Beverly has come out ok so far. He cried a little harder this time because he knows that he has got to stop calling her back, if it is time he must let go. "She is a fine lady" he said "she never gets mad at me for holding her back. I know she is tired though. I need to tell her it’s ok to go if she wants"

I picked up quite a few buckets of cherries and then I called B. because I knew it was getting late I heard Beverly shout from the other room "you are staying for dinner, tell him to get here too." Yes Ma’am!! I pitted some of the cherries and made little cakes while Otis fixed shrimp and grilled veggies. We took our coffees to the veranda and ate quietly when Beverly exclaimed, shaking her head "It ain’t fittin’…It just ain’t fittin’…" (not making this up!). "what’s that?" asked Otis. "It just ain’t fittin' to have cherry cakes and no cherry wine!" Leave it to Bev. to keep it real!

Spending time at their house reminds me of my childhood in Apt, picking cherries, figs and apricot like there was no tomorrow. It also reminds me of the old couple who lived behind our house, with their vegetable garden and their funny house. As a Provencal, I tend to use orange blossom water in a lot of baked goods and I find that it goes really well with cherries. It is widely available now in health food stores and online but feel free to substitute it for almond or vanilla extracts. As a wink to Otis and his fabulous garden, I baked these in mini herb pots lined with parchment paper but muffin tins or other small molds work just as fine.

Cherry Orange Blossom Cakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Cherry – Orange Blossom Cakes:

Makes 8
Printable Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tb. olive oil
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp to 1 Tb orange blossom water
1 tsp. baking powder
grated zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
1 cup fresh (or frozen) pitted cherries

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and orange blossom water.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients. Fold in the cherries.
Bake at 350 F, for 20-25 minutes.

Et Voila! Once you get the basic down, you can modify this cake to what is in season. It is one of my go-to formulas when I am urged to bake something in somebody else’s kitchen. Easy, delicious and comforting. I am telling you…success lies half in the smells coming out of your kitchen and half in how fast these little guys disappear.

Cherry Orange Blossom Cakes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

To the Anonymous comment (did not know people still name their kids that), here are a couple four thoughts for you:

– There are and will be many good news coming to this blog but there is also that other side of thing: life deals you some weird cards sometimes and I can’t just blog about "woohoo" "yippee" moments.

– When Bev called me this morning, she said "Woohoo!! I am on your blog!! And those cherry cakes? We do know how to celebrate life, don’t we?!" . So I think you missed the point of this story. I sure am glad she did not read your comment.

– I bet Barbara, Bri, Bev, Jen and others did not decide to fall sick at the same just to make you uncomfortable. The fact that I chose to honor their fight with a dessert is nothing compared to what they need but it is a little pick me up. I want to say "Gosh, you have no heart".

DMBLGIT – Introducing The Judges

Raspberries-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Before I introduce the judges for this June edition of Does My Blog Look In This, I have a confession to make. Today is my dad’s birthday…Happy Birthday Dad! Joyeux Anniversaire Papa!

My confession is that I had planned to make him a cheesecake and send it virtually via this site but things did not turn out that way…Raspberry cheesecake was indeed made, but eaten faster than I could take pictures…sorry! We thought about you though! I looked for a while for a photograph of my father but quickly realised that very much like me, he is the one behind the camera most of the time, and when I did find a couple he was making his notorious "moon face" (giant smiling face from ear to ear). Yeah…a bowl of fresh raspberries is a little more tempting than a strange French man with a scary face on a Monday!

Reserved as he is, I also know that he would not want me making a big deal about his birthday so…moving on to the judges of DMBLGIT. I have started to refer to them as "my peeps" whenever I start updating the gallery and creating nice spread sheets with every participants' blog on them. I am glad I did not have to bribe them (macarons don’t travel that well) to become judges and that they were as excited as I was to be part of this event. Some described themselves in their on words, some left me the task of making it short…ugh! One day I’ll tell you about the two ladies in the train when I was four or five and you will understand why I can’t do short stories, but let’s see..for the sake of you eyes:

Brilliant Graeme: " Blood Sugar was started in June 2007, with its premise of simple, thoughtful and engaging content, remaining the same following a creative decision to Hermit crab over to WordPress in December of last year. Graeme is in his final year at the University of Lincoln, majoring in photography. With inspiration gathered from everywhere between blogs and newspaper articles, Blood Sugar aims for high-end fun, with an edge on simplicity."

Rockstar Jennifer: "Jen Yu runs her mouth and her food blog over at use real butter where she combines two of her passions: food and photography. She totes a camera with her everywhere giving readers a glimpse into other noodlings like hiking, skiing, Colorado’s beauty, and her goofy dog. "use real butter" is not so much a directive for the kitchen as an attitude on life. Grab it by the hojos, kids."

Soulful Nadia runs three beautifulblogs, all with a different "je ne sais quoi", call it flair, style or creativity but each showcase her photographic skills of capturing the moment, a feeling, a memory. She is woman, child, daughter, friend finding beauty in things big and small. With a perfect eye for color and light, she is one talented artist!

I met ubber cool graphic designer Alyson through her site Unruly Things….yeah go check it out, gawk and come back, I’ll wait…See what I meant? I was impressed by her graphics, impeccable style and I was delighted when she decided to start her own food blog, Milk Eggs Chocolate…now both my eyes and tummy could be satisfied!

And the fifth judge? Well that would be yours truly! Oh, heck…here is the two ladies in the train story….Once upon a time when I was about four or five, I took the train with her mom who wished the little girl would stay still and quiet longer than five minutes. I was fidgetting and paying closer than natural attention to the conversation two other ladies were having, sitting across from us. Obviously I was distracting them quite a bit so the ladies decided to move to the seats behind me. Not satisfied for a penny, Tartelette turned around and propped her elbows on the banquette and said "Talk louder I can’t hear!"… Now you know why a story is never just a story for me.

So folks, there is one week remaining to send me your entries (details here), Monday the 23rd being the deadline. Over 100 of you have done so, and we could not be more delighted by the turn out…but we are greedy for more pictures. So go on! Don’t wait until the last day….!

Goat Cheese Ice Cream and Fresh Cherries

Goat Cheese Ice Cream And Cherries-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Lately I have been on a fresh goat cheese and cherry kick. A bite of soft cheese of bread followed by a couple of cherries, pitted cherries filled by a spoonful of creamy goat cheese, chopped cherries folded into goat cheese cream on toast for breakfast. Nope, not pregnant, just enjoying the simple pleasures of summer and life in general. Like dipping my feet in the river when I can catch the right tide, catching crabs or taking the neighbors' kids down the creek at low tide to watch the herons. I live for moments like these and thank you Tea for reinforcing my feelings that the immediate, simple things in life are to be lived to the fullest.

You must be wondering if I live in some sort of idyllic community. It’s hard to understand our rhythm until you come visit like my aunt and uncle did earlier this month. Dinner? Let’s go check the crab traps! Sunset? Let’s get the sailboat and go for a ride? Just yesterday, C. called because our dogs had decided to trade house for the evening! I had Poo running award in the yard and she had Tippy begging for cake! Finally the twins created a little diversion with the cat and the turtle and everybody was back in their due abode. If we are eating outside on the patio and there is activity next door outside, it’s not long before we are "summoned" to bring that plate over and we’d better add a beer with it! Thanks to the weather, winters are just about the same.

Little things like these are big things for me being so far away from home. The warmth and appreciation for life in our neighborhood make it a lot easier to be away. It is never intrusive, always supportive and I am glad that my family got to sample a little bit of our life in this sea town that is Charleston. The heat and the water nearby make it very difficult not to feel like you are on vacation most of the week…except when the mean man calls about a past due phone bill…oops! My rhythm adapted along the years, not very different from my upbringing in Provence, and I don’t think I could go back to big city life now!!

Why this rambling about living to the fullest and being appreciative? Well, because I needed to write it out and also to tell you about another basic pleasure I enjoy: homemade ice cream. And you thought this post had nothing to do with food! The ice cream machine has indeed been working overtime this week, churning batches of classic flavors like vanilla and salted butter caramel but more interesting ones like goat cheese. With this heat, I have had no desire to crank the oven on, except to make our bread and that was done way late at night when it was a mere couple of degrees cooler.

I chose a fresh mild goat cheese for the ice cream since I was taking it over to the neighbors and did not want anybody to go "ewww" on me. It worked beautifully with the cherries that I just pitted and sprinkle with some lime juice. Obviously, with the heat outside, the whole thing turned into cherries with puddle of goat cheese cream, but at least I did not hear any complaints!! I hope that Mike from Mike’s Table likes the concoction because I a virtually sending these over his way for his Frozen Dessert Event!

Goat Cheese Ice Cream and Cherries-Copyright©Tartelette 2008Goat Cheese Ice Cream And Fresh Cherries:

Serves 6
Printable recipe

For the ice cream:
2 cups milk (50 cl)
1/3 cup heavy cream (10 cl)
3/4 cup sugar (170 gr)
2 egg yolks
1 Tb vanilla bean paste or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
3 oz goat cheese (90gr)

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk and the cream to boiling point, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar. Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the goat cheese until completely melted and incorporated.
Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to your machine’s manufacturer’s instruction.

For the cherries:
Mix together 2 cups pitted cherries and 2 Tb fresh lime juice

Snickers Macarons

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 If some well established passion fruit-chocolate or cassis-violet pairing French macarons masters were reading this, they would probably take out their whisk and come after me. On a side note, as my mate Zen Chef pointed it out, since Pierre Herme looks more melon than lemon, I’ll take pretty boy Michalak in a heartbeat…forgive me this aparté, it’s got to be the heat.

Yep, the heat…As I was reaching for a gallon of water in the pantry I discovered Mr.Tartelette’s secret Snickers stash. He pretended they had fallen behind the picnic totes and I pretended not to have a sudden craving for some peanut, marshmallow caramel and chocolate. I stood up and knocked my head on one of the shelves. It had been a long hot day, with many little work things nipping at me, like a last minute macaron order and the last thing I needed was a bump, a bruise or a headache. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and calmly said "That’s it. Snickers Macarons."

"Isn’t it like French macarons gone white trash? Mac on crack,maybe?" he asked. Yeah, well…maybe…but if either Pierre or Christophe tried one, I know they would react the same way we did after I assembled them: "More! Where are those darn KitKat bars now?!" I love the Snickers combination of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat but like for most people, one bar is too much and too little at the same time. I admire my friend S. who cuts it in four pieces and eat them throughout the day. For me it’s more like throughout the next three minutes!

I still have a good bit of the dulce de leche that Marcela brought me and given the heat wave lately (seems that way in most states), I used it instead of standing over the stove and make a caramel filling. Coming out of a double shift, I hope you will forgive me if the nougat was a bit of a shortcut too….but a sweet one as I melted marshmallows with peanut butter. The rest of the parts were a simple milk chocolate ganache and a whole peanut in the center of each macarons. As far as the shells, I used half almonds and half peanuts to keep most of the oily mass out and add to the peanut flavor. Chocolate macaron shells have always been my dreaded part, they are never chocolaty enough for me and more finicky than other shells, so this time, instead of simply adding 2 Tb of cocoa powder like I would normally do, I also subtracted 2 Tb of the powdered sugar before mixing it in with the nuts and the meringue. Worked like a charm!

Warning from Mr. Tartelette: do not eat these straight out of the refrigerator or you will need new dentures and new jaws. The marshmallow cream does get hard but if you let the macarons sit out for 10-15 minutes prior to eating (or devouring) the shells and the fillings become as soft as a Snickers bar. I hope that Minko likes this candy bar gone wild in macarons because I am virtually sending them to the "Mad For Macarons" event she organised. Sorry for being last minute…

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Snickers Macarons:

Makes about 16

For The Shells:
3 egg whites (I like to use 1-2 day old egg whites)
50 gr. granulated sugar
200 gr. powdered sugar (minus 2 Tb)
55gr. almonds
55 gr. peanuts
2 Tb cocoa powder

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge.In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work. Combine the almonds, peanuts, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Pipe or spoon some ganache on one shell and sandwich with another one.
If you use fresh whites, zap them up in the microwave on medium high for 20 seconds to mimic the aging process.

Milk Chocolate Ganache:
1 cup milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat, drop in the milk chocolate and let stand a couple of minutes. Gently stir the chocolate into the cream until smooth. Set aside until it cools down and thickens a bit (a trip to the fridge is ok)

Marshmallow Cream:
2 cups marshmallows
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter

In a heavy saucepan over medium low heat, melt the marshmallows and peanut butter until smooth. Let cool. Once cooled you will be able to pull the "nougat" and from the saucepan and cut pieces to flatten in the palm of your hands and sandwich with the rest of the ingredients.

Remaining Ingredients:
– caramel sauce or dulce de leche or my favorite : Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
– a few peanut halves

To assemble:
Fill the shells with a couple of teaspoons of ganache, add a teaspoon of caramel sauce, top with a peanut, a piece of marshmallow nougat, and the top shell.

Snickers Macarons-Copyright©Tartelette 2008

Does My Blog Look Good In This? June 2008 Edition

(Andrew, I hope you will forgive me this little side story)

Andrew knows how to make my heart jump…and I am not talking about his fabulous pictures or his mouth watering recipes…Nope, the man behind Does My Blog Look Good In This, a.ka.a DMBLGIT and Is My Blog Burning, sent me an email last week that made me literally jumped in my seat : "Hiya! Are you still OK to host DMBLGIT this month. You are down on my list as host for June." Did I write him in my sleep?…has my brain that many short circuits lately that I can’t remember? When? How? Who?…..

I remembered signing up when he asked for hosts months ago but I had not heard back so I figured I had been deemed not worthy of this great event…Sigh….After a few emails back and forth we figured out that his answers had bounced back and never reached me….Ugh…so ok, quick thinking….Contact people I wished to have as judges, badge tweaking, email account set up, gallery set up,…and long story short (I am trying, really!)….Tartelette will be your host for DMBLGIT June 2008 Edition!

I love this event and not only because I have had the honor to be a winner, a judge and now a host but because I am truly in awe of all the talents out there! Whether you have minimal or top of the line equipment there is always that one shot that makes you say "Yeah baby!" and for those moments, there is Does My Blog Look Good In This?

Before I give you the details, instructions and guidelines, let me introduce you to the four other judges this month: Graeme from Blood Sugar, Nadia from La Porte Rouge, Jen from Use Real Butter, Alyson from Milk Eggs Chocolate. I will tell you more about them later next week…

Each food blogger can submit one photograph that was posted to their blog during the contest month (May). Photographs are reviewed by a panel of judges, who score them in three categories: edibility, aesthetics, and originality. The host then compiles the scores to determine the winners. The specific things the judges will be looking for are as follows:

Aesthetics: composition, food styling, lighting, focus, etc.
Edibility: “does the photo make us want to dive in and eat the food?”
Originality: the photograph that catches our attention and makes us want to say “wow!”, displaying something we might not have seen before.
Overall Winner: top overall scores in all three categories combined.

There are three overall winners for photographs with the highest point totals in all three categories combined, and one winner in each of the three individual categories.

How to participate:

– Only one entry per person (a single photograph, no diptychs)
– The photograph must have been taken by you.
-The photograph must have appeared on your blog during the month of May.
– Entries must be received by June 23, 2008

Send your entry to with DMBLGIT as the subject. Please include the following:
– your name
– your blog’s name and URL
– your photograph’s title
– the URL of the post containing the photograph
– type of camera used, lens if you wish
– Please send photos in an attachment to your email in a jpeg format, of no more than 500 pixels in width

All submissions will be posted to the June 2008 DMBLGIT gallery, which will be updated as I receive entries. Please give me a few days to update the gallery with your submission!
Good luck!

Strawberry Lemon Thyme Shortcakes Inspired By "Comfort Food", A Novel

Strawberry Shortcake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Early last month, the lovely Cath from A Blithe Palate and Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness contacted me to see if I wanted to be part of a foodie book club they were creating, The Edible World. The premise: about twice a year, the book club readers would get a copy of a food related novel with the mission (to read it!), pick a dish mentioned in the book, find a recipe for it, make it and blog about it. Guess what I told them?! Count me in!!! I always need something to read on the treadmill and what better way to exorcise demons and calories than read about them, right?!!

Comfort Food written by Kate Jacobs, relates the adventures in cooking and paths of self exploration of a 50 year-old tv cooking show host, Gus, whose ratings are suffering and who finds herself paired with a vibrant young Miss Spain turned culinary school graduate whose claim to fame are cooking snippets on youtube. Gus lost her husband early, taking care of her 2 daughters by opening a sandwich shop without prior culinary experience and discovered by chance by a tv cooking show producer. Gus grew to become a meticulous, detail bordering maniac loving woman, known for her fierce sense of business, suffocating her entourage by what she believes to be the "right thing".

See where I am going with this? Indeed, conflicting visions of Paula Deen and Martha Stewart were doing their mambo-jumbo during the first few chapters settling Gus into characters. Paula, divorced with two boys started a sandwich delivery enterprise to survive and was given a chance later by the FoodNetwork. Martha, divorced also with a daughter, becoming head of a multimedia enterprise and worldly known for her style and meticulously marketed lifestyle. I did not like the book at first for this very reason…I could not shake their faces and personal stories from my head and it made me mad at the writer for not being a little more creative. Then I realised that it was maybe due to the fact that these were so well known of the American public that it would be easier to cross Paula and Martha, add a little touch of Ina and voila! Gus was born and the story could move on…

And what a novel indeed, with rivalry, motherly love gone wrong, friendships blooming in the most unexpected places, people finding their voice, etc…All the characters of the novel growing with the heroine to be the people they really ought to be. All drawn by the same love for food and sharing food with others. The story lines are sometimes obvious and telegraphed but the dialogues are so fresh and surprising at times with a great sense of irony and humor that the book becomes like a good friend. The more you read, the less you want to reach the end…like when I go home for Christmas and all the family in all its neurosis comes together at the dinner table and I never want tomorrow to come.

Strawberry Shortcake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 The book is filled with dozens of tempting savory dishes and a few Indian desserts did catch my eyes but I ran out of time to focus on those before the family came to visit and when they were here one of their requests was to try a popular American dessert, the Strawberry Shortcakes mentioned in the book became an obvious choice. I find the excerpt where they are mentioned the perfect metaphor to thank Cath and Stephanie for including me in The Edible World and to thank you all for following Tartelette’s adventures!

"Gather round, friends," Alan was saying, as the sky grew dark and the guests were contentedly tired, full of watermelon and punch and Gus’s fresh strawberry shortcake piled high with vanilla-flavored whipped cream. Amid all the hubbub, the Eat Drink and Be tea had managed to sneak in a live so of Oliver showing Troy ho to grill fruit and make a sweet yogurt and honey dipping sauce, Gus mixing cake in the kitchen, and Carmen explaining the wonderful spiciness of chorizo, interspersed with real time action from the party. The crew had been delighted to have their loves ones finally see what it is they actually did on set, and the lightheartedness of the cast had made the episode a joy to film.

Strawberry Lemon Thyme Shortcakes:

Serves 6
Printable Recipe

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup sugar + 1 Tb
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tb chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup + 1 Tb half and half
zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bol, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter and cut the butter into pea sized beads with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingertips. Add the half and half and quickly gather the mass into a ball. Do not overknead. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, it will be easier to roll out.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick. With a 3 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut as many shortcakes as you can in the dough. Re-roll the scraps and cut out the remaining dough until you get 6 shortcakes. Brush them with the remaining tablespoon of cream and sprinkle with one Tb of sugar.
Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before filling them.

Lemon Thyme Strawberries: (you may wish to start your prep with those if you want some natural juice from the fruit)
1 pound strawberries
2 Tb sugar
2 Tb fresh chopped lemon thyme (optional)

Hull and chop the strawberries, mix them with the sugar and the lemon thyme in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to use

Whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest

In an electric mixer, using the whisk attachement or balloon beaters, beat the cream on medium low speed for 30 seconds, add the sugar and zest and continue beating, increasing the speed to medium high until you reach soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Using a serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half. Divide the strawberries among the bottom halves, evenly top with whipped cream and cover each shortcake with its cap.

Strawberry Shortcake-Copyright©Tartelette 2008