On Giving Thanks And Praying

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I am thankful that Obama won. I would not have much hope if he were not the one sitting in the white house for the next four years. In my heart I know that he is the change this country so desperately needs.

I am thankful that I live in a state where I can finally marry my partner of thirteen years. I pray for a day when minorities no longer have to fight to have the same rights as everybody else. I pray for a day when voting on other peoples rights is no longer an option. I pray that someday we will all be considered equal.

I am thankful for the friendship we had with our dear friend Tisha who bravely lost her battle with an illness that took her from us way to soon. If there is one thing I have learned from losing somebody so close, it is to not take our loved ones for granted. It is to appreciate and celebrate and love one another each and everyday that we get to be together.

Tish and I appreciated a lot of the same things. Good food, good music, and good shoes were a few of the things we loved to share. We marveled at each other when one of us was sporting a brand new pair of Keens (the shoe of choice for both of us) or when we found an amazing recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. One time I remember complaining to her about my dull knifes and the next time she came to my house she brought me my very own steel. That steel has now become priceless to me, and I will never sharpen my knifes again without thinking of her.

She would often refer to me as Sarah Martha, telling everyone Martha Stewart had nothing on me. She was one of my inspirations for writing this blog, always reminding me that its been a while since my last post and didn't I think I should do something about that. In fact, she is the reason my last post is marked September 22 nd. I just couldn't find it in myself, until now, to write about my love of food when I could no longer share it with my friend.

These last few months have been full of highs and lows, ups and downs. Its amazing how life can give and take, yet still leave you feeling thankful for it all.

Here is a recipe I wanted to share just in time for Thanksgiving. Its a wonderful excuse to sit down with those you love and let them know just how much you are truly greatful that they are in your life.

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake
by Dorie Greenspan

For the Crust:
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples:
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream

To Make the Crust:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10-inch spring form pan. Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whirl until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the spring form pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples:
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake:
Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the spring form pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the spring form pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the spring form pan.Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes , covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. The cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.


My Search Is Over...

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

For those of you who have read this blog from the beginning you know one of the things I have been trying to find is the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Dare I say, I think I have found it.

If you are a food blogger I'm sure you have seen the amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe from the New York Times. There has been so much buzz about this cookie recipe in the blog world I knew I had to try it (and share it with all of my non-food blogging friends).

There are a few tricks to making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. First you must make the dough about 36 hours before you are going to eat them. I know this sounds ridiculous. But by letting the cookie dough hang out in the fridge for a few days it actually develops a wonderful rich flavor that is missing in a more traditional chocolate chip cookie.

Secondly, this recipe calls for over a pound of good quality bittersweet chocolate. We are not talking chips here. I used Callebaut bittersweet that they sell in large chunks at my local grocery store and it tasted divine, well worth the extra cost.

Third, the recipe says to use 3 1/2 oz. of dough per cookie. This makes a very substantial cookie. I ended up making mine only 3 oz each and it seemed to be plenty. Making larger size cookies creates that desirable contrast between a crispy outside and a soft a chewy inside. Cookie heaven if you ask me.

And the last trick to divine chocolate chip cookies is a tiny sprinkle of sea salt right on top of those chocolaty mounds right before they go in the oven. Salty and sweet, what can be better than that?

Intrigued? Wanna give these a shot yourself? You can find the recipe here. Trust me, you will be glad you actually let that dough stay in the fridge longer than you thought was humanly possible. And besides, I never said you couldn't "test" the dough every now and then. Cookie dough, its a good thing.

Oh, and I almost forgot. These cookies are best eaten still warm (although they tasted pretty good at room temp. too), so I just baked them as we were going to eat them. The dough can hang out in the fridge for up to 72 hrs. But don't worry, I don't think it will last that long. And make sure you have plenty of milk to go with them. Enjoy!


Its Worth The Drive...

>> Saturday, September 13, 2008

These amazingly fresh, still warm donuts can be found here. Trust me, its worth the trip!


Oh Heavenly Potatoes...

These potatoes are amazing! Caramelized and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They go amazingly with roasted chicken. You can try doubling the recipe so you can have left overs, but we have never been able do that because no matter how many I make we end up eating them all!

I got this recipe from my friend Tish who I believe got it from an issue of Fine Cooking Magazine.

Roasted Smashed Potatoes

1 1/2 - 2 lbs baby potatoes (skin on)

olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook whole potatoes until fork tender. Drain potatoes and lay out to dry on a clean dish towel. Line a rimmed baking sheet (you might need more than one) with parchment paper or non-stick foil. Using a second clean dish towel press down on each potato to flatten to about 1/2'' and fan out a bit by pressing and twisting at the same time. Put potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet and drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast in oven for 30-45 minute, flipping potatoes over about halfway through (I usually wait for them to start to brown on one side and then I flip them over). You will know they are done when they are brown and crispy.

This recipe feeds one, or I mean two, actually it should feed four, but it never has in my household.


The Daring Bakers Strikes Again...

>> Sunday, August 31, 2008

This month... chocolate eclairs! Well in my case they are more like cream puffs. My first batch of Pate a Choux (cream puff dough) deflated as soon as I took them out of the oven. I don't think I kept them in long enough. The second time I kept them in a few minutes longer and viola, perfect cream puffs! Oh yeah, and instead of chocolate eclairs I made Chocolate peanut butter eclairs. I used a chocolate glaze for the top and a salty peanut butter pastry cream for the filling. They were quite nice if I do say so myself.

Here is the recipe as given to us by the Daring Bakers Tony Tahhan and MeetaK.
The only change I made to the recipe was replacing the chocolate in the pastry cream with 1/3 cup of peanut butter. I also added a touch of fleur de sal after it cooled down to get the lovely salty sweet effect. It got many rave reviews. I highly recommend you give it a try!

Éclairs consist of 3 elements:

- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough

-Pastry Cream

- Chocolate glaze

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm

1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough.Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers.Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.


1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)

• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.


1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk

• ½ cup (125g) water

• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

• ¼ teaspoon sugar

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour

• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your hand mixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.


1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Pastry Cream

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk

• 4 large egg yolks

• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar

• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted

• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted

• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.


1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 1 cup or 300g)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream

• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature

• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.

2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.


1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.

2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce

Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

• 1 cup (250 g) water

• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream

• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.

2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.


1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.

2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.

Check out all the other wonderful creations of my fellow Daring Bakers.


The Magic Of Little Pies...

>> Saturday, August 09, 2008

Needless to say my summer has been pretty busy. Seems like we have gone from one thing to another and its already August. August? Where has the summer gone? I can remember summer lasting forever when I was a kid. What happened to lazy days? To catching fire flies at night? To swimming until our hands turned into little prunes? Guess that's part of the magic of being a child. And now that I am a Mom I get to do it for my own kids, and that's pretty magical too.

I made these little pies a while ago when sour cherries were in season. I was So excited to find them at my local farmers market, I couldn't pass them up. Sour cherries are just that, sour. So I wouldn't recommend eating them straight up. But put a little sugar on them and throw them in a pie shell and they are just heavenly...especially with vanilla ice cream!

I used Martha Stewart's recipes for both the crust and the filling. But instead of using a typical 9 inch pie plate I made them in my muffin tin. I think they came out pretty adorable if I do say so myself.

All you have to do is roll out the dough the same way as a traditional pie, but using a cookie cutter or a circle of some sort, cut out little 4" circles for both the top and bottom crusts. Line the muffin tin with the bottom crusts and fill with cherry mixture. Cut top crusts into strips to make lattice tops. At this point I put them in the fridge for a few hours or as long as over night. When you are ready to bake them brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle with course sugar. I baked these little guys for about 30 mins. Also I let them cool for quite a while before I removed them from their pan. If you do it while they are still warm I think they may just fall apart. Makes about 8 little pies.

So grab whats left of the summer and make some little pies. And if you cant get sour cherries just use whatever fruit is in season at the time. And just maybe the magic of one of these little pies will make you feel like a kid again!

Heres a wonderful little pie chart that tells you how to use different fruits for pie filling!


With Friends...

>> Sunday, July 13, 2008

So this weekend I find myself by myself. Well let me clarify, with time for myself. I have forgotten what it was like to do what I want when I want. To sit and read , clean the house and it actually stays clean for more than 24 hours, to go to a farmers market and think about only what would make myself happy, to prepare meals just for me and sit and eat them at a leisurely passe. This is all things I did before the boys. All wonderful things. Things that had once escaped me until Cyndee gave me the wonderful gift of a weekend for myself.
So of course having time for me had to include a wonderful dinner with friends, two of my best friends. A time to relax and decompress from all our worlds bring to us. A time to laugh and eat a bit to much and drink things that only taste best when shared. A time to giggle and cook and share stories of our life's and responsibilities. And a time to let go of it all.

Mango and avocado salsa. Freshly made mojitos with mint from the garden. Bruschetta, bright with locally grown tomatoes. Spaghetti and clams only made better with a bit of pancetta. This is a meal to linger over, to share with best friends, to let go of it all and feel refreshed.

Mango and Avocado Salsa

1 ripe mango, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 scallions, sliced thinly
half pint cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1-2 limes

Mix all ingredients together and serve right away. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips.

Spaghetti and Clams

Our get togethers usually involve lots of picture taking. Me for my blog and Sopha for her flickr. But mostly because we just love to do it. Here Sopha is with her new macro lens she got for her Birthday.

And amazing chocolate peanutbutter cake from Sopha that I get to enjoy right now because we had no room for it after our lovely meal.

Thank you to my friends for helping make life just a little bit sweeter!

And as far as my family goes: As much as I have enjoyed this time for myself, they are my heart and my home, and I honeslty cannot wait for them to walk through the door!


Heavenly Day...

>> Monday, July 07, 2008


Sweet And Simple...

>> Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chocolate. Hazelnuts. Peanut butter. Ice cream. Need I say more? Actually it's Nutella ice cream with swirls of creamy, frozen peanut butter.
When I first read about this ice cream on one of my favorite blogs I was intrigued.
I had made ice cream before but never with such few ingredients. I usually go the custard based route for the ice creams I have made in the past. But I have to say, this is one of the simplest, easiest, tastiest ice creams I have ever made.
The original recipe just called for evaporated milk and Nutella. But after tasting that mixture it was a little on the sweet side for me, so I ended up adding a small amount of heavy cream.
The peanut butter, also my idea, was just a way of making it even more indulgent!

Nutella, Peanut butter Swirl Ice Cream

1 & 1/2 cups Nutella
1 (12oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3-4 good Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Mix Nutella, evaporated milk, and cream together in mixing bowl until combined thoroughly.
Let mixture chill in refrigerator a few hours or over night until well chilled. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Add peanut butter towards the end when ice cream is almost done. For firmer ice cream put in air tight container in freezer until firm.
Don't have an ice cream maker? Here is a way to do it without one! (Another favorite blog of mine!)

"I think this is one of the best ice creams you have ever made." Says Cyndee.

"Mama! You made this?" Says Caleb.


A Very Daring...Braid!

>> Sunday, June 29, 2008

Well its 9:47 0n a Sunday night and I just walked in the door and realized...yikes, I didn't post my Daring bakers! Luckily I still have about a few more hours to get it done...so here it goes.
This months challenge is something I had always thought about making. It was filed in the back of my mind in the "someday file". But thanks to the Daring bakers, Danish Braid can now be stored in the "I did it!" file. Actually the "I did it and loved it and will be doing it again" file.
Danish pastry is considered a laminated dough, which is layered dough created by sandwiching butter between layers of dough. The same idea is used for croissants and puffed pastry.
The challenge was to make at least one danish braid and than we could do what we wanted with the remaining dough. We could also make the recommended apple filling or we could come up with our own homemade fillings. I chose to make little pastries using rhubarb, blueberries, pastry cream, almond paste and of course chocolate. I was able to create some delightful little treats.
The braid was blueberry and pastry cream (my favorite). And the pastries were a combination of almond paste and chocolate, rhubarb jam and almond paste, some just chocolate, some just jam, and some just almond paste. They were all delightful. Don't be afraid to experiment a little.

Here is the original recipe given to us by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?
The cardamom and the orange zest give an amazing flavor to the dough.

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

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.

chocolate almond croissants

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.

dough after its first turn

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

fresh blueberry jam and pastry cream danish braid

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.

Egg Wash

Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. 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.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. 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.

blueberry jam pastry with coffee glaze

These are the fillings I used for my braid and pastries.

Rhubarb Jam

Pastry Cream

Blueberry Jam
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

2 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 -2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Stir berries , sugar, and vanilla bean in a large microwave safe bowl. Put bowl in microwave and cook for 10 minutes. Take out and stir. Continue cooking until most of the juice is gone, about 8 more minutes. Remove vanilla bean. Stir in lemon juice and let cool. Can be refrigerated for up to a week.

chocolate almond pastry drizzled with chocolate

Almond paste
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 lg. egg white, lightly beaten

Put the almonds, sugar and butter in food processor. Process until mixture is finely ground. Add the almond extract and 2 tablespoons of beaten egg white and mix until fully combined. Can be kept in fridge for one week.

coffee glaze
Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

3 tablespoons strong cold coffee
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted.

mix sugar and coffee together and drizzle over pastries after they are baked.

Come see all the other daring braids!!!


The color alone will make you swoon...

>> Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rhubarb is one of those things I do not have much experience with. I never really had it growing up and honestly I never really wanted too. But as of late I have been reading a lot about this seasonal vegetable and I became intrigued. And yes, I did confirm that rhubarb is indeed a vegetable, though many people commonly mistake it for a fruit. Good to know! It kind of goes along with that whole avocado thing. I had no idea it was actually a fruit!

Anyway, back to rhubarb. I picked up a bunch at my favorite local farmers market (I'm so excited it is time for farmers markets again!) and brought it home and let it sit on my counter for a few days until I turned it into luscious rhubarb jam. Its slightly tart flavor was an unexpected delight. I can see why it is commonly paired with strawberries, each bringing its own distinctiveness to the other for a lovely balance.

So when I saw this recipe in Martha Stewart I knew rhubarb would be a welcome flavor squished between two buttery layers of soft cookie dough. Their sugared cookie tops add a nice contrasting crunch to the soft tart centers that lay just below.

Rhubarb Jam
adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

This jam could not be any easier to make and the color alone will leave you wanting to make more.

1 lb. rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Put rhubarb, sugar, water and scraped vanilla bean (along with scraped seeds) into a medium sized sauce pan. Simmer over low heat until rhubarb softens and melts. remove vanilla bean and cool to room temp. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to a week.

Do yourself a favor and go pick up some rhurarb while you still can!

Now Tishy, dont you think its time for another post???


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