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Tag: pastry

Scrappy Faux-gelach: Perfect for Afternoon Tea

If you’re going to make pie crust from scratch–and you most certainly should–it certainly behooves you to not let any of that lovely, buttery pastry go to waste. I, for one, was not about to pitch the racquetball-sized wad of dough I’d trimmed off the two pies I made over the weekend.

I mean, really, once I’ve gotten flour all over myself and the kitchen anyway, it’d be criminal not to put every last bit to good use… and what better use than these little swirls of rich, crisp pastry and tart, jammy goodness? These are actually very closely related to real rugelach as I was using a cream cheese pastry dough.

I rerolled the combined scraps into a 7″ round, spread it with a thin layer of marmalade, sprinkled on some chopped candied orange peel (leaving the very center fairly bare to enable neat rolling), and dusted it all with a bit of cinnamon. I cut it into eight wedges and rolled them up wide end first.

They then got plopped onto their own tiny foil baking sheet, brushed with a bit of egg white, sprinkled with turbinado sugar, and popped in to the oven next to the orange chiffon pie I had baking away. 20 minutes later and out they came, burnished and sparkling and ready for Mr T’s afternoon tea.

Bitter Sweets: Bon Voyage Profiteroles

What, you wanted green, healthy, resolution-friendly things? Bahahaha… Ok, while we’ve definitely made the transition to a new year and I’ll probably be eating nothing but sweet potatoes between now and swimsuit season, the parties must go on. In this case, a going away dinner for a friend who’s inconsiderately decided to abscond to Spain, South America, and London for the next few years. Boo.

But this is the way of things, I suppose, and I often find myself preparing one last dinner for the latest person to embark on a new far-flung adventure. Of course, what better way to ensure a friend’s return than a really delicious send-off? For this bon voyage, I elected to make mushroom and butternut squash (not to be confused with carrot, ahem) risotto followed by arugula salad with shallot vinaigrette and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. I wanted a fun and special dessert to cap the meal, but it also couldn’t be a multi-day production–which, let’s be real, I generally enjoy but simply didn’t have the time for.

I immediately thought of these profiteroles–puffs of crisp and tender choux pastry filled with frosty ice cream and topped with warm chocolate sauce. I’d made them over Christmas and they were pretty much universally adored. What’s more, these  ”yummy nubbins” are far easier to whip up than one might suspect… and hopefully good enough to at least merit the odd postcard.

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A Pecan Pie to Proudly Partake of, Anytime of Year

OMG. Much to my dismay, it seems that there were, as of last Thursday morning, NO decent pecan pie recipes on teh interwebz. Not a one, and on THANKSGIVING. And what, I ask you, are said interwebz for, if not to provide basic recipes for such classics as pecan pie? Bah! Everything I found–when looking to check my number-of-eggs guesstimation–were over-sweet, crapped up, under-nutted and just plain sad. Boo on you, Internet, for letting me down. Oh, before we go any further, it’s “pee-KAHWN” ok? At least, that’s what the Smith College variety that arrived every year courtesy of Grandma Neecie were called and that is good enough for me.

In any event, though, had I not been so irritated by this significant lack of decent pecan pie guidance, I would probably not have bothered to write down what I ended up doing and that would also have been sad.

Pecan pie is always going to be sweet, and I’m fine with that. The pecans themselves are quite sweet, but they have much more nuance than the average sugar-coma pie would indicate, with rich, bitter, and smoky undertones that are much more pronounced when the nuts are eaten out of hand. I wanted to pull each of these flavors into play with my pie.  A gloopy-sweet wodge hiding beneath a skimpy veil of nuts is simply NOT going to be acceptable.

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Rhubarb Redux: A Tart No One (Knave or Not) Can Refuse

Though we’ve already had several rhubarb posts this spring, the arrival of summer’s strawberries means that this supremely lovely combo of puckery stalks and sweet, juicy berries demands a second look. (If you want a delicious THIRD look, I’d suggest also checking out our friend Rivka’s award-winning rhubarb curd shortbread over at Not Derby Pie.) Our first rhubarb recipe this spring was a quick compote, with the berries (even somewhat lackluster early spring ones) get folded into the rhubarb to great effect.

As I noted in that recipe, though, once you can get your hands on some really good strawberries and are feeling like something a little fancier, keep the rhubarb and the strawberries separate. Spread the cooked and cooled rhubarb mixture into a fully-baked pie or tart shell (this time I used the basic pâte sucrée from Desserts by the Yard–not bad, and easier than Rose’s), top with sliced strawberries, and glaze lightly with some thinned-down and warmed-up top-quality jam. Served up with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream it’s an irresistible embodiment of early summer.

Gilding the Salmon, a la Russe

couliabiac2I still don’t know how to pronounce it correctly, but this was a pretty spectacular meal, if I do say so myself (I do). Though I’m not giving you the recipe because it would take me days to type it up and would probably break all manner of IPR laws, it’s just too cool not to share…

In ANY event, though, what are we talking about? Ah, the coulibiac of salmon, a Russian–one almost has to imagine czarist–dish of unremitting fanciness and deliciosity. What is it? Salmon, poached. Shallots, sauteed. Mushrooms, velouteed. Cous-cous, fluffed. Dill crepes, creped (?). Puff pastry, glazed. Six people for dinner, wowed. Though it really does kind of have everything, I served it with a quick carrot and asaparagus saute. The slices–I got six big ones out of it–were more than ample, even though everyone did manage to struggle through theirs.

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PF Thanksgiving: Earth-Shatteringly Awesome Maple Nutmeg Tart

maplenutmegtartSo, this might look like an unassuming little custard tart, but it is–like Jem and the Holograms–truly, truly, truly outrageous. Trancendent, even. Marrying the dusky sweetness of maple with nutmeg’s tingling spice, this is bar none the best way to eat either, and inspires absolute devotion from first bite. To wit, a recent evite invitation: “And if Luke doesn’t make that tart thing then we are no longer friends.” How could you not love a dessert inspiring such demands?!

First appearing in Melissa Clark’s lengthy disquisition on pie crust in the NYTimes several years ago, this recipe has been championed by several in the blogosphere already, notably the delightful Deb of Smitten Kitchen. Though I’ve made no real changes to the recipe, it is simply too good not to share. If homemade pie crust freaks you out and store bought grosses you out, then bake it in a pretty dish without. This is too good to let pastry fear stop you.

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