Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eggnog Gingerbread Tart

The garnish on these tarts is my favorite part. They are darling to look at and surprisingly easy to make. The hardest part is messing up two mixing bowls: one for the vanilla cookie batter and one for the chocolate.

Bake just a few - like three or four - cookies at a time. When they come out of the oven, drape them over something lickety-split. I put them on two wooden spoons. I wanted the banner cookies to have a gentle drape and give the suggestion of them blowing in a light wind.

Gingerbread Sable Tarts (recipe from here)

- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger (adjust spices based on your personal preference)
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons dark molasses + raw rice or beans for weighting the crust

1. Using the paddle attachment, lightly cream together butter, sugar, vanilla and molasses in a mixing bowl.

2. Scrape down sides and add egg and mix until combined. Sift flour and spices together, and add to the mixture just until incorporated. Do not over mix or you will end up with a tough dough.

3. Bring dough together on a lightly flour dusted surface. Divide the dough into two, shape into disks, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least half hour before you move on to the next steps. You can freeze the dough for up to two months if you want to use it at a later time.

4. To roll out the dough: sandwich the dough between two pieces of parchment paper (or plastic wrap), and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Make sure that your dough is rolled out enough to fit the size of your tart pan. The dough should be used as soon as it has been rolled out.

5. Mold your pastry into your tart pan and refrigerate– refrigerating the dough prior to baking guards against excessive shrinking during baking. Using a fork, gently prick the bottom of the dough. Be careful not to fully puncture the dough or else any fillings might leak through. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, while your oven preheats to 350′F

6. Line tart with parchment paper (or cupcake liners if they fit), and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove the shells from the oven, allow to cool for 3-5 minutes and remove the parchment paper and beans. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes to fully bake the base.

Filling (recipe from here)
Just so you know, this recipe calls for instant vanilla pudding. I know. Me, too. I tried this filling recipe first, with its 7 egg yolks and sheets of gelatin. The result was a chewy filling. I don't know if there is anything more terrifying than chewy filling for a tart.

3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup milk
1 box instant vanilla pudding
freshly grated nutmeg

Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Set in refrigerator until ready to use.

Whisk eggnog, milk and instant vanilla pudding together until smooth. Let it thicken 3-5 minutes.

Fold half the whipped cream into eggnog pudding and pour into cooled pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 or more hours.

Banner Tuiles Recipe by Martha Stewart.

• 7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 6 large egg whites
• 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 5 tablespoons heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
• Nonstick cooking spray

Draw a banner onto 12-by-18 inch piece of foam board (I used leftover posterboard from a reading fair project); cut out with a pair of sharp scissors. Set template aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat (a French nonstick baking mat) (Good grief, Martha. You can use parchment paper from the Kroger and not an imported kitchen accessory). Coat with cooking spray.

Melt 5 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over low heat; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 4 egg whites and 1 cup superfine sugar; beat on medium 30 seconds. Add 1 cup flour and the salt; mix well. Add melted butter, 3 tablespoons cream, and the almond extract; beat until combined, 1 minute.

Transfer batter to an airtight container; refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.

 Meanwhile, make chocolate batter. For the chocolate batter, in a saucepan over low heat, melt the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons butter; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine remaining 2 egg whites and 1/2 cup superfine sugar. Beat on medium until combined, about 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/4 cup flour and the cocoa powder; beat well. Pour in melted butter and remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Beat on medium until combined, 1 minute. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a number 1 plain round tip; set aside.

Lay two rolling pins parallel to one another on work surface. Place the foam-board template onto the Silpat. Using an offset spatula, spread the chilled batter onto the template. Lift template, and repeat several more times on the Silpat, wiping the template after each use.

With the chocolate batter, pipe out desired words directly onto banners. Bake four banners at a time, until edges begin to brown, about 6 minutes.

Carefully remove from baking sheet; drape over two rolling pins to form undulating shapes. Remove when cooled, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batters.

Store in a single layer, in an airtight container, until ready to use.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Or, what happens when you clean out the refrigerator.

That's a handful of whole-wheat penne, half a cucumber, some broccoli that was just before getting wimpy and having to be tossed, and a few grape tomatoes from the garden. I sliced the garden-fresh squash and cooked it on the grill pan and tossed the whole thing with some red pepper Italian dressing and some Parmesan.

That was a fast and tasty side for a Saturday lunch of turkey sandwiches. It's about too hot to cook much else.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Watermelon Blueberry Popsicles

Puree 3 cups of chopped seeded watermelon (from a two-pound watermelon). Add a bit of powdered sugar, if you like, and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice, which I left out because I didn't have any limes.

Pop a few blueberries into the popsicle molds before filling with the watermelon mixture. That's it!

I made a version based on Ellie Krieger's recipe in So Easy cookbook, a book I like. Just a little bit. :-)

Fresh Blueberry Muffins

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line with muffin cups with liners.

Crumb Topping: Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 1/8 cup flour, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the vegetable oil, egg, and milk. Fold in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.

Sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Any leftovers freeze beautifully. I made another batch because we had good fresh blueberries on hand that I didn't want to go to waste.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Star Spangled Cookies

Aren't these fun? Easy, too!

Sugar Cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar*
1 egg
2 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt

* After I scraped the seeds from a vanilla bean for the Watermelon Sweet Tea Granita, I put the vanilla bean in a jar with sugar. It smells so good - sweet and vanilla-y! I used the vanilla sugar for these cookies.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until fluffy.

Add vanilla, sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. (Dough can be refrigerated for several days.)

When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutter. I used a 2 1/2-inch star cookie cutter.

Bake cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges.

Cool on pan for a minute or two, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

This recipe yielded something like 30 cookies.

I love this part...the cookie glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1/4 teaspoon butter flavoring (or you can use more vanilla, or a 1/2 teaspoon of almond or lemon extract if you prefer)
red and blue food coloring

Before you start, place a couple of wire racks on top of baking sheets. It will make cleanup easier later; any drips and dribbles from the cookies lands on the baking sheets and not on your counters. (Some concentrated food pastes can stain!)

Put the water in a small bowl and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

Divide the glaze among three shallow dishes. Pie plates work great.

Tint one container of cookie glaze red, one blue, and leave the last one white.

Dip the cookies in the glaze and shake gently to remove the excess. Place the cookie on a wire rack to harden, which takes several hours.

This amount of cookie glaze covered all the cookies I made just right - I didn't run out and didn't have tons of left over. Just the right amount!

If you make these, I'd love to see your pictures!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blueberry-Almond French Toast Bake

That was our Father's Day breakfast.

The recipe is from Ellie Krieger's cookbook, So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

Cooking spray
1 whole-wheat baguette (about 18 inches long, 8 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
8 large eggs
8 large egg whites
2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the bread in a single layer in the baking pan. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread. Scatter the blueberries evenly on top and sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the baking pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

It was good although I'd A) macerate the berries in a bit of sugar first and B) Add some butter in there somewhere. It needed just a touch.

Per Serving:

Calories 270; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 2.5 g, Mono Fat 2 g, Poly Fat 0.75 g) ; Protein 16 g; Carb 35 g; Fiber 3 g; Cholesterol 220 mg; Sodium 280 mg

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shrimp-Artichoke Salad

I made this for book club and it was a hit. It's an old garden club, bridge club staple that I haven't made in years. I'd forgotten how good it is.

2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 (6.9-ounce) box chicken-flavored rice
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound boiled, peeled shrimp
3 green onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, diced (optional - I leave it out as I don't care for celery)

Prepare the rice according to package drections, omitting the butter. Let cool.

Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving half the liquid from one jar.

Combine the reserved artichoke liquid, mayonnaise, and curry powder in a medium bowl, stirring well.

Add the cooked shrimp, green onions, cooled rice, and artichoke hearts, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate or serve immediately, although the salad tends to get better after a few hours' chill in the refrigerator.

Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe from Absolutely A La Carte.