Sunday, January 27, 2008

Winter Pear Tart Frangipane

This recipie comes from one of my most dog-eared cookbooks - Sundays at Moosewood. Even if you're not vegetarian (although some of the recipies include fish) it is a fabulous resource for regional cuisine. Each region has it's own section - and the regions are as diverse as Sub-Saharan Africa, Finland, Japan, and the US South. Although tonights stuffed peppers and Gateau de Pommes de Terre did not go over so well with Mr. Pleasant (good thing to know over 4 years into a relationship that one's future husband does not care for stuffed peppers), the dessert was more of a hit. The Pate Brisee is inspired - it's melt-in-your mouth with just a hint of lemon that compliments the pear and almond beautifully. I wasn't sure what to expect - most pate brisee does not call for egg. I thought it might be heavy, but no! Beautifully buttery, crumbles delectably. I might try this a la Julia to compare the versions, but this was a delightful end to a cold, blustery January day.

Winter Pear Tart Frangipane
adapted from the Provence Section by Kip Wilcox of
Sundays at Moosewood

Pate Brisee
1 1/2 C unbleached white flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 C chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1-2 Tbs cold water

Stir flour and sugar together (I used a food processor for maximum mixing in minimum time - you do NOT want to overbeat this) in a mixing bowl. Add butter and mix until mixture becomes crumbly. Whisk together egg yolk, lemon juice and 1 Tbs of water. sprinkle the liquid over the butter-flour mixture and continue to mix until a ball forms. If the mixture is crumbly, add the remaining 1 Tbs water. Roll out into 9 or 10 " pie plate or tart pan. Flute and chill.

Carmelized Pears

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/4 c water
5 pears, washed cored and sliced

Heat butter and brown sugar in heavy skillet. Add the water (carefully! if too hot will splatter!) and stir briefly. Add the pear, and saute them for 10 minutes, covering the pan when not stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.

7 oz almond paste, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
2-3 drops pure almond extract
2 eggs
2 tsp flour

beat together the almond paste and butter. Add the almond extract. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and flour and then blend them into the butter mixture.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Smooth the custard into the pie shell. Arrange pears on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and the custard is firm. If the crust browns too quickly, cover with foil.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No-Knead Bread!

Finally! I've managed to try out the famous no-knead bread recipe that took the food blog world by storm! First (I believe, and please correct me if I'm wrong) published in the NY Times in November of 06', this little (and it is a little, simple recipe) recipe is a breeze to make and has remarkable results. It's even fairly flexible - I definitely let the dough sit longer than 18 hours in a room less than 70 degrees and still had great results. I'm eager to try the Washington Post's food sections variations with this technique!

No-Knead Bread

from the NY Times

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.