It’s been a while since I visited my own blog, let alone write anything on this page. What can I say? I gave myself an unintentional break by enjoying the most of summer off line. There has been much cooking and photographing but not much free time to sit down and blog about it all. With longer days and gorgeous evenings here, there have been many impromptu dinners al fresco with friends, long chats with the husband in the evening and one thing leading to another…I felt a little tug at giving myself a little break from blogging. With Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so much part of our daily lives, it’s easy to rely on those to keep in touch with everyone out there.
Truth is, I miss you guys. If you are still around. I miss being here and letting my thoughts take shape through the keyboard. Work is busy and can take the fun out of a few hours spent editing and sharing recipes and pictures. Balance. Always something to strive for. Nothing makes me happier than cooking a bunch on the weekend and photographing dishes for a future post and then the routine sets in and that post takes a back seat. One week, two weeks and soon turns into almost three months…
Needless to say, I have a whole bunch of recipes and photos to share with you!
Weekly visit to the amazing farmers market we have here in Birmingham often result in simple yet delectable recipes and musings in the kitchen.
Our favorite snack on the weekend early this summer was market fresh carrots, briefly roasted served with creme fraiche and a good sprinkle of za’atar. Our current favorite dessert is roasted plum with local honey and a dollop of soft whipped cream.
Summer is looking to find Fall around here it seems. Today for example is what I like to call "une journee formidable" – a glorious day. And as corny as it sounds, (I like corny, there) I’ve been humming this old song all day. Bright sunshine, mild temperature and a nice breeze. I turned the A/C off and opened up all the windows.
And breathed. I have put myself on mandatory time outs at 11 and 3 o’clock every day and go outside, do a funky shake down – move about in the house or just play with the pups. Days are intense, yes, but absolutely gratifying. I was just thinking the other day that I may have a lot of projects in the works but all have a wonderful personal relationship attached to them. Everyday I am given the chance to help someone’s vision come true. That is a privilege.
When Holly and I decided to celebrate our working together on her cookbook, she graciously invited us to her house and I volunteered to bring dessert. I was not going to bring tarts, that’s for sure…! I took advantage of the farmers market bounty one weekend and bought tons of fresh dark and juicy plums.
I needed something that could go on a little ride around the block and still make it in presentable form. I was, indeed, going to have dinner with a Cordon Bleu graduate, eheheh! As usual at our farmers market, I bought a little more than what I needed so I made one 8×8 crumble to take to dinner and a few smaller ones for us to enjoy again later.
With travels, work and just "being" (friends, weeekends, parties,…), I did forget they were there, all by their lonesome self in the freezer. Yep. I know. Sad. Well only for a brief moment when I realized they had been hanging out with a full container of ginger ice cream I had just made for a party. I took the crumbles out one evening and selfishly kept some of the ginger ice cream for us too.
Indeed, Summer was calling on Fall that night. And quite perfectly so…
Plum Crumbles With Ginger Ice Cream:
Serves 4 to 6
Notes: you can replace the gluten free flours and the cornstarch with the same amounts (for each) in all purpose flour.
For the plums:
4 plums, pitted and thinly sliced (skin on)
1/4 cup sugar (I used sucanat – a non refined sugar)(use regular sugar if needed)
zest of one lemon
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb cornstarch
For the crumble topping:
For the topping:
3/4 cup (90gr) millet flour
3/4 cup (120gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (65gr) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (80gr) unsalted butter, cold, in small pieces
1/4 cup sucanat (or sugar)
Prepare the crumble topping:
In a large bowl, stir together all the flours and cornstarch, cardamom and pinch of salt. Add the butter and sucanat and start mixing everything together with your fingertips. You want to form a few large clusters of dough. It will be easier to grate once cold. Freeze the mixture while you prepare the fruits.
Preheat the oven at 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Prepare the plums:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the plums and the rest of the ingredients. Toss well. Divide between 4 -6 ramekins and place them on a baking sheet as the fruits are most likely to release their juice, causing a spill. When ready to bake, grate the crumble over the ramekins (use a box grates) and bake for 30-35 minutes.
I have not been here a week yet and my heart is already replenished and my eyes filled with beautiful memories. I keep catching myself throughout the day thinking "I can’t believe I am here". It’s good to go home and see all my cousins for a joyous occasion for once. I’ve been enjoying my mom’s wonderful cooking, let my nose take me to the cheese box and renewed my love affair with the most fragrant cantaloupes, Saturn peaches, and tiny mirabelles. I’m in complete bliss.
On Saturday my grandfather gathered the family for a celebration of his 100th birthday. As he said, never in his life did he imagine that the family that he and my grandmother started at 2 would grow to an intimate (!) group of 50 – children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (and their spouses). That’s us. We as a whole function as a giant tribe composed of many smaller clans. It’s joyous. It’s loud. It’s everywhere and all at once. It’s tensed and climatic. It’s pretty darn awesome when I get to be there (and so grateful my uncle took this photo!).
When you think that there are exactly 100 years between my grandfather and his last great granddaughter, well you are slightly inclined to smell the roses and open up the bubbly! And celebrate we did! My cheeks hurt so much from laughing and smiling as I looked over my shoulders to see my cousins now all grown up and parents of their own.
As I said, my heart is full. Even fuller now that I got to spend quality time with my brother’s children for a few days. Because of their age difference we were able to take full advantage of both their rhythms and while Camille was napping, Lea and I spent time baking and chatting about life and other “very serious things” (her words!).
We did have a little baking spree last Thursday afternoon and kept the oven quite busy while filling my parents’ home with the most captivating scents of cardamom, mirabelles, honey, almonds,… A perfectly golden Tarte Aux Mirabelles was the reward of an afternoon of rolling, mixing and whipping.
Perfect sun gold tiny mirabelles from a neighbor’s garden with soft as silk pulp and just enough juice to keep you busy licking your fingers clean. Time to pit the mirabelles literally flew by as we talked and laughed. While I was taking care of the fruit, Lea rolled the remainder of a pate sable my mom had made a few days prior and I started on the almond filling. I noticed that my love for stone fruits and frangipane is a family thing. Lea was all about it too. Of course! She’s my niece…ehehe!
We are leaving the cool weather of Paris tomorrow for the sunny terrain of the Hautes Alpes and Provence and where I grew up and finally taking a little detour to go to Toulouse in the South West to be with my brother on his turf for a couple of days. It’s going to be a few packed days of driving and visiting!
Can’t wait to show you more of the gorgeous scenery and foods of the South of France.
Tarte Frangipane Mirabelles – Almond and Mirabelles Tart
Note: you can substitute mirabelles with any stone fruit that you favor. If you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.
For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold water (optional if the dough seems too dry)
For the filling:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/3 cup (115gr) honey
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds (blanched, slivered, whole, your call)
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1-2 cups pitted mirabelles plums (or your preferred stone fruit)
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add some water, one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10-15 minutes until almost completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 3 days before using.
Prepare the almond filling and mirabelles topping:
Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream and cardamom but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.
Arrange the mirabelles halves at the bottom of the pie crust and pour the cream over them. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350F. Drizzle with a bit of extra honey if desired when still warm.
You have no idea how good it feels to finally take time in this crazy schedule to come here and write a little, share a recipe and possibly a good laugh or two. Although now that I am here I am drawing a super "ugh" kind of a blank. Yes, even that brilliant paragraph I wrote in my head this morning in the shower. Pouf! Gone. I am seriously thinking of designing a waterproof notepad or carrying a waterproof in there.
Oh yes…it just came back to me: Bill’s birthday is next week, the 27th to be exact, and I do need your help. I can’t decide what to make him for his birthday dessert this year and I thought I would ask you for some suggestions. In order to make this a bit more fun for everyone, I thought about pairing it with a little giveaway. So here it is folks:
– Tell me what is the most raved about dessert you have made (please provide link to recipe or as many details as you wish) in the comment section of this post. No need to have a blog, just the main idea of the recipe. (No anonymous without a name will be approved).
– On Monday night, I’ll pick one I know my better half would love for his birthday, make it and post about it, (with full credits to you and the recipe of course).
– But that’s not all, the person whose dessert was picked will be sent a copy of "Artisan Breads – At Home With The Culinary Institute of America" (I’ll ship worldwide)
Hope ya’ll can hit me with some major sweetness! And anything goes: the man likes everything, ahaha!
And I am ok with losing my mind over this… it’s the season after all and I admit I absolutely love it. Well, apart from not being able to cook and post as much, answer emails on time, and piling up clean laundry instead of folding it. Why am I telling you this? It all relates to these Cherry And Plum Crumbles and how I need a mini "brain check" before bedtime lately.
I was all set to make cherry and plum sorbet the other day when I realized I may not have picked up enough of each at the farmers' market and I was about to head out the door for more, B. shouted from the garage that his mom was stopping by with extras from her market trip "she thought you might like more plums and cherries". What did I hear instead? The tiny influx of rush and stress of my own mental notes but not a word he said.
I started thinking I should pick some flowers for his mom as a thank you. That I’d better not lolligag while at the store, get my stuff and jet. My mind drifted and wondered if I’d have time to churn that batch of ice cream before bedtime. I thought about the vet, the delivery guy, the dentist every one in between! It felt crammed up inside my head. Have no fear, I am not driving while under the influence of the voices. The car seems to be a free zone.
I got home right on time to invite my mother in law inside for a very cold glass of lemonade and a few cookies. We unloaded our bags together and busted out laughing right away. I was staring at enough cherries and plums to feed the whole neighborhood. I’ve always considered this kind of happening a joyous opportunity to poach extra fruit and freeze them for when I crave cherries in January, plums in November, or ripe and juicy pears in June.
Poaching fruit in a concoction of lemon juice, water and spices is something I learned from my mom and grandmother very early on. It used to generates suspicious looks from my husband when we were newlyweds and he’d come home to find me elbow deep skinning and pitting a box of bruised peaches for poaching and freezing. Why not can you might ask? I make jams regularly so I am running out of room already in the pantry and I go through the frozen fruit faster than the jams.
I had enough fruit this time around to make cherry and plum sorbets, poach and freeze some and make Cherry Plum Crumbles with the rest. That’s a lot. Even if it’s summer and it is bloody hot outside, I still went ahead and made crumbles. I needed to plan comforting treats for the busy day ahead. The mix of crunchy bits of dough and soft fruit all warm out of the oven topped with a generous scoop of ice cream is my idea of the ultimate comfort.
I am too ticklish to get a massage. I am too claustrophobic to enjoy a facial. Not girly enough to go for mani-pedis. So crumbles it is. Curled up on the couch, passed midnight, the pups next to me. Preferably with a side of summer rain but without is alright too.
Cherry and Plum Crumbles With Goat Cheese Ice Cream:
For the fruits:
4 plums, pitted and chopped into small dices (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh cherries, halved and pitted
1/4 cup honey
zest of one lemon
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb cornstarch
For the crumble:
1/2 cup light brown sugar (I used sucanat)
1/3 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
6 tablespoons butter, cold
Prepare the fruits:
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruits with the honey, lemon zest and juice and cornstarch. Toss with your hands to coat the fruits evenly. Divide between 4 to 6 ramequins and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil as the fruits are most likely to release their juice, causing a spill. Set them aside while your prepare the topping.
Prepare the crumble:
In a medium bowl, toss together the sugar, millet flour and cardamom. Add the butter cut in small pieces and mix with your fingertips until you get a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. Divide th topping evenly on top of the dishes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Goat Cheese Ice Cream:
3/4 cup sugar (170 gr)
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk (500 ml)
1/3 cup heavy cream (100 ml)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
4 oz goat cheese (120gr), at room temperature
In a large bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until pale. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk, cream and vanilla bean to a simmer, 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, stirring constantly.
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. Freeze until firm.
I must start this post with shout out to my dad that has nothing to do with the recipe and story below. A couple of weeks ago, my awesome Papa took pity of my completely DIY portfolio page created a few months back and asked if I could please shop around for a professional hosting site and he’d help. After pouring over countless forums, domains, templates, I decided to go with Photobiz (and no they are not paying me to say how great they are). They’re affordable and super pro. Once I had uploaded my pictures, the revamped portfolio was up and running almost overnight! Thanks dad!
It never fails. Every summer here, I want to be there. I know I have been in South Carolina long enough to handle the scorching summers but I really think that unless you are born and bred here like Bill, there is a "heat acceptance gene" missing in most of us. Actually, the humidity is the bigger problem. It wilts you the minute you step out the door and it looks like I do not have the "A/C acceptance" gene either.
What to do to keep fresh and refreshed? Eat a serving or two of this Plum and Watermelon Soup with a scoop of Lemon Balm Ice Cream and a couple slices of Toasted Blueberry Pound Cake. I am a soup kind of gal. Hot, cold, room temperature…I just love soups but I admit I would have never tried to make this if it had not been for Asheville, and our dinner at Zambra.
We were full to the brim and when dessert arrived we all thought "I can’t anymore". Then came chef Adam’s rhubarb – watermelon soup and basil ice cream. The only thing heard at the table was the rattling of our spoon against the bowls. What I could not get enough of was the side of toasted black sesame pound cake he served the soup with. What a brilliant addition! I put it all in the dessert memory bank hoping to make it for us one hot summer day.
This day came with Bill’s birthday and I figured it would be a perfect ending to his "birthday dessert feast" of lemon donuts, goat cheese tarts, chocolate covered marshmallows and cupcakes. I took full advantage of all the wonderful summer produce around here and used watermelon and tart plums (to mimic the tartness of the rhubarb), lemon balm from our garden to infuse a simple vanilla bean ice cream. Bill’s mom often goes blueberry picking in the wee hours of the morning and loves to give us a few buckets full. They were put to good use in a pound cake that Bill loves all year round.
When it gets passed 95F, I have no desire to turn the oven on and if I must, you can bet it better be quick and for something as good as blueberry pound cake or apricot financiers! But I could not resist the idea of thin slices of pound cake slowly toasted in the oven to be served with the soup. You don’t even need to make soup to fall in love with the idea or the taste. It’s just plain fun! We had leftover soup after the party and we had the remainder as cold shots one hot afternoon. Perfect!
One year ago:The Transatlantic – Chocolate and Salted Butter Caramel Plum – Watermelon Soup With Lemon Balm Ice Cream And Toasted Blueberry Pound Cake:
For the soup:
1 cup (150gr) watermelon, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup ripe plums (160gr) (about 3-4 depending on size), cut into 1-inch pieces
zest and juice of a lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
For the ice cream:
4 egg yolks
1 cup (100gr) + 2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeded
1/3 cup chopped fresh lemon balm (can use lemon verbena, basil, mint, etc..)
For the cake:
1 stick (113gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (120gr) powdered sugar, unsifted
1 1/4 cup (155gr) flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk (or whole milk)
1 cup (145gr) blueberries
Prepare the soup:
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree until very smooth. Refrigerate until very cold. (how hard was that?!)
Prepare the ice cream:
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and one cup of sugar until pale and thick. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean and lemon balm to a simmer, without letting it come to a full boil. Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise". Let cool completely and refrigerate until cold.
Once the custard is cold, strain the vanilla bean and lemon balm and process the base according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions.
Prepare the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center. Slightly coat a loaf pan with cooking spray, place it on a baking sheet and set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the buttermilk and mix well until combined. Turn the mixer off and fold in the blueberries by hand. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 45 minutes (tend with foil midway if the top seems to brown faster than the cakes bake). Let cool completely and cut very thin slices of cake. Place them on a parchment paper line baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown.
This Daring Bakers' challenge almost did not come to be. Almost. It’s been a busy month, work, play, life…the usual. Multiply that by two or three. It took a dinner invitation and a little Halloween inspiration to make it happen.
Our October hostess, Rosa from Rosa’s Yummy Yums chose pizza as our challenge and although excited about it right from the start (it’s got carbs…I am excited), I did not get to it until Monday morning. We had friends coming over yesterday for dinner and since it was going to be a late casual nibble around a game of Scrabble and some wine, I figured that pizza would be the perfect thing for that kind of get together. I made four small pizzas and kept three on the savory side and you guess it, one sweet for the blog. Turns out our guests arrived while I was still in traffic and helped themselves to the Plum Mascarpone and Streusel Pizza before Scrabble…my kind of peeps…dessert first!
One of Rosa’s requests, although not mandatory was to take a picture of us tossing the dough. My schedule is completely opposite my husband’s these days so I knew it would be a hard thing to do, not having extra hands to hold the camera while I tossed, even with a remote control it was proving difficult. I kept having this nightmare: 2 in the morning and you toss your dough, click the remote button and then watch your pretty dough fall on a glass of water or pan full of cookies, catch the said glass or pan and takes them for a dive down to the floor and with a big sound of broken glass, baking sheet tumbling and loud cursing you end up waking up a puppy, an old dog and your mate. So you spend the next hour, cleaning, playing, calming and promising more cookies to ease the pain of a bing and a bang…Yep…as I said, I had to find a back up.
Late Sunday night, I went to the attic to get some Halloween decorations and I was sitting there in the middle of unlabeled boxes (grhhh!), I picked up my favorite Halloween witches, Greta and Hilda. Ha!Ha! They would do the tossing or stretching and I would photograph their tribulations!Greta started on her own while Hilda was getting her pretty pink hair fixed up a bit and the task was proving to be a little to much for one person so Hilda jumped right in like a good Daring Bakers. Once they were done tossing, stretching and playing with the dough I spread some mascarpone flavored with some vanilla on one pizza, arranged plum slices over it and topped the whole thing with some almond streusel. The end result was close to a rustic brioche tart and absolutely wonderful warm out of the oven.
Thank you Rosa for such a fun challenge and to you Lisa and Ivonne for coordinating things so well each month! I bet your quest for pizza toppings and variations will forever be answered by taking a look at all the other Daring Bakers' creations. Happy tossing!
BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 4-6 pizza crusts
For the dough:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) ice cold water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
6 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
1 Tb sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 -4 plums, pitted and sliced streusel topping (add 1/3 cup sliced almonds)
In a bowl combine the mascarpone, sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean and stir until smooth. Spread over the dough right before baking, arrange the plum slices around and topped with the streusel. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes (unlike for savory pizza, the streusel needs to bake a little longer and not burn).
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl or stand mixer. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (spoon or paddle attachment) to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it is too wet, add a little flour and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 4-6 equal pieces. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Take 1 piece and lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.
Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.You can also resort to using a rolling pin.
When the dough has the shape you want, place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.
It’s been a yucky week….all grey with some rain drops here and there. Rain with warm tempereatures. Thunderstorms and shorts, I’ll never get used to this!! I decided to see it as soft and comforting. I baked and I baked without prospect of a good picture taking day. The fridge is overflowing, the freezer is about to get there. In the midst of running out of room in former, I had to start reorganizing the latter. I pulled out one bag each of raspberries and juicy plums to replace them with other desserts that will hopefully be "taken care of". I already told the neighbors to come over for desserts because there is no way B. and I can eat a dozen fast enough. Well we could….but our doctor would not be very happy!
The weather had been threatening us with rain long enough for me to let my guard down and leave the house without an umbrella. Don’t ask…Of course I got soaked while leaving the grocery store after a quick run for milk and eggs one early morning!! Actually I was still dripping when I got home that I figured "what’s a little longer?" and took the dogs for their long walk. They were wired and going crazy and I needed a quiet house later on to work, not the usual circus of Bailey hanging from Tippy’s tail. Once back inside, we were all hungry and in need of a little comforting. I let them chase each other around, that their idea of comfort. Well more like Bailey running like a kid who just put his paw in a plug and Tippy watching, shaking his head as if to say "you crazy dog". I, on the other hand, was craving the comforting smell of a freshly baked crumble and a cup of tea.
Easy, fast, comforting…I don’t know about you but at that moment a crumble felt as good as a dry towel.
I tossed together the raspberries and plums and topped them with a streusel topping spiced up with a little cardamom. Thirty minutes and a dry off later, I was rewarded with the wonderful smell of freshly baked "comfort". I exclaimed "you missed all the fun!" when B. got home and saw us all huddled together on the living room floor enjoying the rest of the morning. He saw an extra crumble dish on the counter top and quickly replied "no, I don’t think I did" before proceeding to dig in his share with a happy smile. Dessert before lunch….my idea of making the best out of a rainy morning!
Plum-Raspberries Cardamom Crumbles:
For the fruits:
4 plums, pitted and chopped into small cubes (about one cup diced)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter, cold
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 30F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruits and the rest of the ingredients. Toss well, but gently not to break the raspberries too much. Divide between 4 ramequins and place them on a baking sheet as the fruits are most likely to release their juice, causing a spill. Set them aside while your prepare the topping.
In a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cardamom and walnuts if using. Add the butter cut in small pieces and mix with your fingertips until you get a mixture that ressembles coarse crumbs. Divide th topping evenly among the 4 dishes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
You can make this gluten free by substituting the all purpose flour with gluten freee flour or rice flour. Why am I mentionning this? October is Celiac Awareness Month! If you want to venture into gluten free baking, check this article.
Don’t forget to enter the drawing to win one of 5 copies of Confetti Cakes for Kids! The contest ends Tuesday October 14th at midnight US Eastern time.
Thank you all for your concern with the storm. We did get a good bit of rain, enough to make the water come up the hill from the river during the night at high tide but it was all gone by 9am with blue skies, bright sun and scorching heat once more. I woke up at 3am to check the river and the backyard and took Bailey out so he’d let us sleep a little in the morning. Bad mistake…he loves adores water and started doing a little "Dancing In The Rain" number… lovely. Good thing he loves rolling in a towel too, makes our job easier!! Anyway, Hanna turned out to be windy and rainy but nothing compared to the threat that Ike seems to be. Anybody in Ike’s path, be safe.
Didn’t I say a couple of weeks ago with the redcurrant sorbet dessert that it was the last time I was trying to shoot ice cream during summer? Yes, well…either I am a sucker for punishment or I am a sucker for ice cream. Hmm…yes, apparently my love for anything ice cream-ish made me churn a batch of ice cream and sing aloud "que sera sera" when I attempted to take a few decent shots in 5 minutes in the heat and humidity (yes, even with the AC cranked up…I swear it seeps through the windows!). It did not help that cutie-patootie Bailey was pulling on the tablecloth every 10 seconds…that nose could smell that jasmine tea ice cream, or maybe the sables breton. There are days we call him "The Nose" but today he was "Mr. Pull-it-all"…anything hanging came down, all day long.
I loaded up on fresh red plums at the store the other day as I could not resist their beautiful color and perfect roundness, not to mention they were a great bargain. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them yet but the more I was looking at them in the fruit bowl the more I thought they would be a great vessel for something. During the afternoon I made myself a large mug of jasmine tea, sat down at the computer with a fresh cut plum and started writing, sipping my tea and munching on the plum. That’s when it hit me, a soft vanilla ice cream flavored with jasmine tea and paired with roasted plums. I like some crunch with my ice creams and when my father in law called to ask if I could make some sables bretons for him, I thought I’d keep some for us to get that little crunch while eating the ice cream. I made some cut out cookies and sandwich them with some leftover quick berry jam from the other day and its tartness provided the perfect contrast to the smooth taste of the ice cream. I use one of those Linzer cookie cutters but plain ones will be fine too to sandwich the jam.
For a take on the roasted plums, I sliced them rather thin, sprinkled them with sugar and popped them in a 300F oven for a few minutes. After they were cooled, I line cups with plastic wrap and laid the slices in, overlapping each other, filled the cup with ice cream and froze them until completely set. I did some in glass cups and some in half sphere silicone molds and both came out fine, so feel free to use either options. You can prepare the ice cream the day before, as well as the plums, assemble the cups the next morning, take care of the cookies while the plum cups set in the freezer and have everything ready for dinner. You can even do the ice cream part a week before if you want to spread your baking time ever more. That’s the beauty of ice cream….it keeps!! I did try to take step by step pictures but I only have one small window in the kitchen and the sun coming through French doors behind me. Some people like my buddy Jen are experts at step by step, I obviously don’t have the proper set up for quality pics and I will keep practicing for the time being.
Jasmine Tea Ice Cream In Roasted Plum Cups With Sable Bretons Cookies:
For the jasmine tea ice cream
4 egg yolks
2 cups (500ml) half and half
4 oz (120gr) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag jasmine white tea, broke open to get the leaves
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick, add the vanilla. In a saucepan, on medium heat, bring the half and half and jasmine tea to boiling point but do not let it boil. Slowly pour the hot cream onto the egg yolks mixture and stir to combine (tempering). Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise". Let cool completely, strain the tea leaves and refrigerate until cold. Process the custard according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions.
For the roasted plums:
1/4 cup (50gr) sugar
Preheat your oven to 300F.
Cut the plums in half and thinly slice each half, skin on. Lay then down on a silicone mat or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle them evenly with the sugar and bake for 20 minutes or until the plums become to take color. Watch carefully so that you don’t burn the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
For the plum cups:
If you use glass cups: line them with a sheet of plastic wrap and lay the plum slices slightly overlapping each other.
If using silicone molds: skip the plastic sheet step and overlap the plum slices directly in the molds.
In both cases, fill each cup with about 3/4 cup to 1 cup ice cream, depending on your mold capacity.
For the Sables Bretons:
Makes about 2 1/2 dozens
1 stick (115 gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 3/4 cups (245 gr) all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup to 1/2 cup raspberry jam
In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla extract (or paste) and beat until blended. Add the flour and salt and beat until just incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough just to bring it together. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove one portion of the dough from the refrigerator and place on a well floured surface so it won’t stick as you roll. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. If you have a Linzer cookie cutter (3 inch diameter) with little cut out inserts, use it without the insert to get full circles and start cutting out. Place them on the baking sheet and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. In the meantime roll out the other half of the dough the same way but place the cut out insert in the cutter and cut away the cookies. I keep the little cut out scraps to munch on…my little bakers treat!!
Once cooled filled one cookie with jam and sandwich with another cookie.
A little news flash before my brain melts too:
The 3rd issue of Desserts Magazine is online!! All vegan, all the way! I am pyched to have contributed once more to the magazine (cover picture and pages 4 and 5). Thank you Chris for the lovely polka dots napkins and the pitcher !
Not to worry, this cake is only a mouthful in its pronounciation as it is actually neither dense nor dry, even after a few days parked in your fridge. I made it on friday morning before work and we left for the weekend (and a bad sunburn made me turn as red as a Strawberry Mirror Cake)to enjoy some alone time before my parents get here. When we got back tonight and wanted something to snack on after dinner, I pulled it out of the refrigerator and it was just as good as the first day.
I have a bad weakness for coffee cake and I am always on the lookout for a good recipe. I see one I like just about everyday but when Belinda from What’s Cooking in a Southern Kitchen posted this one, my tastebuds got excited again. I wanted to use one of the 9 jars of Plum-Meyer Lemon jam I had made after the Ricotta Cake instead and beside keeping the proportions of solid to liquid the same, I departed from the recipe and made it my own according to what I had in the fridge. Coffee cakes are like good friends: strong and familiar, present and comforting.
You could use any combination of jam or marmelade that you want, but Sunny my market man gave me five pounds of Italian plums for only four dollars the other day and they got fast chopped up for jam! Since I wanted to use my Meyer lemons to their full capacity I kept the rinds of the ones used in the lemon curd for the ricotta cake and infused the jam with them. The flavor of the plum is now out of this world! For the topping I added finely ground almonds to enhance the plum flavor in the middle of the cake. Where the recipe called for cream cheese I opted for mascarpone cheese. I also substituted buttermilk and sour cream for the milk as I had ran out of bakig powder and only used baking soda for the leavining agent which only works if used with a sour ingredient. Since I sometimes have a difficult time putting my best English forward, go read Veronica’s post about it, she said ten times better than I would!
I followed a basic jam making method from Christine Ferber (our French June Taylor): put together in a large pot (I use a big Dutch oven) same weight of fruit to sugar, juice and zest of 4 lemons (I used the rinds of mine) and a vanilla bean. Bring to a summer, turn off the heat, cover the top with parchement paper and refrigerate overnight. The next day, take off the parchement paper, bring the mixture to a boil and let it cook for 5-10 minutes. Skim the top foam if necessary. Laddle in sterilized jar, cover with the lids. Submerge the cans in boiling water for 10-25 minutes, remove and let cool. If the top pops while they are cooling, you have canned them properly, if not, refrigerate and use within the week.
The only problem with the cake? I think I already ate too much of it to have enough left to share with my parents…Well darn, I’ll have to make more…hehehe!
Plum Meyer Lemon Jam Coffee Cake:
Serves 12 (in theory)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter
8 oz mascarpone, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
10 oz. plum lemon jam (or other)
Combine first 4 ingredients; cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan; set aside.
Beat mascarpone cheese, butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and baking soda, add to the mascarpone cheese mixture alternately with the buttermilk and sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Spoon half of batter into prepared pan, spoon jam over batter, being careful not to allow the jam to touch the sides of the pan, top with the remaining batter.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until cake tests done. Cool in pan on a wire rack for ten minutes; remove from pan, and cool on wire rack.