Thursday, November 25, 2010

Book Love

Lately I've been having some health problems. Nothing major but bad enough to stop me from doing any blog post worthy cooking. I did however take the time to look around and see what's new in the delicious world of cookbooks. Here are some favourites that I'd like, correction, I need to pile on my bedside table asap:

Picture 14
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, baker and co-owner of Tartine bakery in San Francisco. I absolutely love this book. A handsome surfer who makes chewy, crusty, perfect bread. What's not to love? Watch their video and prepare to fall in love. Over and over and over again...
Picture 13
Bourke Street Bakery, baked goods,all the way from Sydney, Australia. If you need convincing, just take a look at their website.
I can't wait to get this one for those lazy, winter Sunday mornings.
Picture 15
French Feasts, 299 Traditional Recipes for Family Meals and Gatherings, by Stephane Reynaud. Hmmm...I'm thinking apres-ski gatherings...
Picture 17
Recipes from an Italian Summer. For the summer of your dreams, spent cooking for your friends in your (rented) Sicilian villa, or on the shores of Capri. Or your downtown apartment in Toronto. Either way, it's going to be one perfect summer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vanilla apple tart


What a crazy day we had yesterday! Snow in the morning, sun in the afternoon... Autumn and winter at their best, all in one day! The streets were crawling with hungry little trick or treaters, decked out in their Halloween costumes. This apple tart in by no means an antidote for their inevitable sugar rush, but it was the perfect Halloween desert for me. Lately I've been playing around with different types of fillings for sweet tarts and while I love almonds, frangipan filling (at leat the ones I've tried so far) somehow always turns out a bit on the dry side. With this apple tart I wanted something creamy, smooth, with a dash of sourness. The simple combination of full fat sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla really fits the bill here. Next time though I will double the amount of filling, maybe add some cardamom or lime oil and use black plums or pears. Oh, the possibilities!


For the tart shell:

120 gr all purpose flour
120 gr softened butter
120 gr creamy cottage cheese
pich of salt

For the filling:

2 whole eggs
50 gr powedered sugar
200 ml full fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla essence

4 medium apples, peeled and cut into small wedges
juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp thin apricot jam
1 tbsp pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly butter a 10 inch tart pan.
Mix together all tart shell ingredients until smooth. Do not overwork the dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
For the filling, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended and creamy. Add sour cream. Mix well.
Mix apples with lemon juice.
Roll out dough to fit tart pan. Pour in sour cream mixture and place apples over top.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with apricot jam. Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake for 20 more minutes or until golden. Please check frequently, oven temperatures may vary.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lemon-yogurt fritters

I'm back after one of the busiest yet best summers on record. There was not much time to post anything.  This summer for us was the summer of tomatoes. Big, juicy, colourful, wonderful tomatoes. Served as bruschetta topping, sandwich filler, sliced with fresh basil, sea salt, olive oil and balsamic, or my favourite the once-a-week fresh tomato sauce. We had many lovely dinners of bucatini with crab and tomato sauce, penne rigate with pancetta and vodka-tomato sauce and so on. Tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have a very eclectic range, don't I? But now it's time to bid adieu not only to this magnificent fruit but also to my lovely, minuscule garden, source of many a culinary pleasures over the summer.
Now it's time for fragrant curries and warm soups. Slow simmered stews, hot drinks and loads of apple ice cream.
And just because I have a thing for deep fried dough, I'm going to start with these lemon yogurt fritters I found on a wonderful blog, Orangette. See the recipe here. I haven't changed a thing. It's perfect as it is. Read it and weep. Or better yet, make them. As in now!
This is it, proper soul food for the beginning of something new. Because summer is over. Crying, I am.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Honey-baked nectarines with labne


Here's the thing: I am very hungry, very busy and very excited in no particular order. So here's a quick recipe for your Sunday morning. Or any morning of the week. I've had baked fruit before, but this one towers above all others. I'm planning on devouring every delicious, silky spoon of it every single weekend till the cows come home, or until nectarine season draws to an end. Whichever comes first.

Honey-baked nectarines with labne


25 gr unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
6 nectarines, pitted, halved
100 gr honey
a few bruised cardamom pods
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
juice of 1 orange
500 gr Greek yogurt for labne

Drain the yogurt over a muslin lined sieve over night. Next morning you can call it labne.
Preheat oven to 375F. Scatter butter pieces in a baking dish. Place all nectarines, cut side up over the butter. Scatter all spices on top of the nectarines, drizzle with honey and pour over orange juice. Bake for about 20 minutes or until your kitchen smells so good, you just can't take it any more. Serve warm with a generous dollop of labne. Add some home made granola and you can call it a meal.
Recipe from GT magazine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beat the heat


Here's a little something for the hottest of summer days( two little somethings actually), for all you gourmands out there.
Some of us won't refrain from preparing and enjoying some quality chow just because it's hot outside. And some of us will. If you're part of the latter group, see you in the fall! If you're still here, you must try this refreshing mango and cucumber soup. I've already made it at least five times this summer. Yes, it's that good. There's a bit of prep work involved, but all in all it's easy, fast and there's no cooking involved.
Summer meal planning is easy, really. Especially if you stick to the basics. Cold soups, grilled meat or seafood with nothing but salt, pepper, garlic and lemon juice, throw in some fresh veggies with a cool yogurt sauce and you're home free! As for the sweet part, you have fresh fruit, ice cream or sorbet. My freezer is laden with mango, red currant and raspberry sorbet throughout the season. Now, if you want to take it a step further make a nice tart crust, fill it with whipped cream, mascarpone, ricotta or some pastry cream and top it off with fresh fruit of your choice. And you're done!
Making the perfect tart crust has been somewhat of an obsession of mine lately. If you share my obsession, search no more.
I think I found the one, courtesy of Fran Bigelow, author of Pure Chocolate. This tart crust has a crumbly dough that won't shrink or puff when baked, eliminating the need for the pie weights. Low gluten cake flour makes the dough short and crisp. Not to mention that it's nice and thin and not at all mealy, which most tart shells tend to be.
The key to making perfectly tender tart shells in temperature. Make sure to thoroughly refrigerate your oeuvre. The dough needs to be chilled when it hits the oven. The heat makes the butter expand, forming air bubbles that create a light pastry.

Chilled mango and cucumber soup


4 ripe mangoes
2 English cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
2 tbsp finely chopped red onions
fresh lime juice to taste
2 tbsp chopped coriander
2 tbsp chopped mint
salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop 2 mangoes and 1 cucumber. Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining mangoes and cucumber. Add to a food processor along with the rest of your ingredients. Blend until almost smooth. Add 1 cup pf water. Blend again.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl, add the finely chopped mango and cucumber. Stir well and chill for a few hors before serving. If you desire a thinner soup, add more water. For a creamier texture, take 1 cup of your finished soup and puree it with an immersion blender. Pour it back into the soup and stir well.
Try adding chopped chillies or fresh ginger for some kick.
Recipe adapted form Gourmet magazine.

The best sugar tart crust (so far)


3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup cake flour
all purpose flour for dusting

Cream together butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk. Continue mixing until completely smooth. Add cake flour and mix until just blended. Transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Lightly butter a 9 inch round tart pan (this is very important). Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and let it warm on the counter for about 20 minutes until pliable but still cool to the touch. On a floured board knead the dough a few times. Pat into a ball and flatten with your hands to a 5 inch round disc. Begin rolling from the center out until an 11 and 1/2 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick is formed. It the dough gets difficult to work with, just return it to the refrigerator for a few minutes. Gently place the dough to the buttered pan. Press it onto the bottom and around the edges of the pan, keeping the sides even and thick.Trim excess dough along the edges. Pierce the bottom with a fork and place in the refrigerator until well chilled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the chilled tart shell on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden.
Recipe adapted from Pure Chocholate, by Fran Bigelow.


Sunday, July 11, 2010