Caramelized Garlic, Spinach and Cheddar Tart

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Entrees, Pastry | One Comment



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“Amber?”

“Joe.”

“Do you think we should move?” 

“Move?” Amber turned her head slightly and peered at Joe. “You want to move?” She glanced around their well-worn apartment, and in one fell swoop, took in the peeling paint and the cracks in the ceiling. The tilted floors that seemed to cave slightly under the weight of the coffee table. The chipped paint around the windowsill that she was fairly certain was laced with lead. Still, she shifted under the blanket they shared, feeling slightly unnerved. She loved the apartment. He loved the apartment. Weren’t they always saying how much they loved that apartment? 



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Joe tore his eyes away from the TV screen. There were still crumbs on his chin from the leftovers they’d just inhaled. He must’ve caught something, an edge of her thoughts, because he started to laugh. “Not move move. I mean, do we need to like, move?” He wiggled his arms and legs. 

“Oh!” Amber started to laugh too. It was true, they had been in the same spot for hours, days, weeks. It was winter. It seemed like this was what they would always be in winter.”Nah. I’m good.” She snuggled down in the blankets and shared a triumphant smile with the peeling paint. 



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GREETINGS. I’m waving hello to you from a mound of snow, 26 inches of it. Portland heard its residents grumbling about what a mild winter we’ve had so far, snow-wise, and responded by dumping a blizzard on our Tuesday (which, it’s been decided, is the absolute BEST day for a blizzard! The only day that could be better is Friday but then, everything’s better on Friday) As much as I am a winter girl in my heart of hearts, I’m also a New Yorker, born and raised, and fulfilling my NY destiny by spending at least a handful of days in Florida. Ah, Florida. Where the accents are thick and the kvetching over shit bagels and pizza can be heard for miles. Let’s do this, slightly-lighter-jeans!



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Caramelized Garlic, Spinach and Cheddar Tart

Source: Bon Appetit, February 2015 | Makes: 4-6 Servings | Print Recipe

Ingredients

All-Butter Pie Dough* (my favorite recipe)

Flour (for surface)
5 Large eggs
3 Heads of garlic, cloves peeled
Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup
1 Teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary
1 Teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
6 Ounces (2 Cups) of sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
2 Cups of baby spinach (or baby kale as we used)
3/4 Cup of creme fraiche
3/4 Cup of heavy cream

*Make it faster: use store-bought pie crust. Life is too short, noodles.

Directions

1. Place rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350ºF. Roll out your pie dough and place in plate (or leave store-bought crust chilled until ready to bake). Pie crust needs to be blind-baked with parchment and pie weights until dry, 25-30 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and bake until crust is dry and set, 10-15 minutes. Let cool.

2. Cook garlic in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes; drain. Wipe saucepan dry and heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until cloves start to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes.

3. Add vinegar and 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until garlic is tender.

4. Add syrup, herbs and season with salt and pepper, cook until liquid is syrupy and coats garlic, about 5 minutes.

5. Scatter cheese over crust and top with spinach.

6. In a medium bowl, whisk creme fraiche, cream and remaining eggs and season with salt and pepper.

7. Pour egg over spinach, add garlic and syrup.

8. Bake until custard is set and golden brown in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

 

A Room With a View: Lemon, Olive Oil and Ricotta Cake with Lemon Glaze

Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Brunch, Desserts, Pastry | 11 Comments








At the same moment the ground gave way, and with a cry she fell out of the wood. Light and beauty enveloped her. She had fallen on to a little open terrace, which was covered with violets from end to end.

“Courage!” cried her companion, now standing some six feet above. “Courage and love.”









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She did not answer. From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam. But never again were they in such profusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth.

Standing at its brink, like a swimmer who prepares, was the good man. But he was not the good man that she had expected, and he was alone.

George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her, as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.

Before she could speak, almost before she could feel, a voice called, “Lucy! Lucy! Lucy!” The silence of life had been broken by Miss Bartlett who stood brown against the view.

Excerpt from A Room With a View by E.M. Forster







Lemon, Olive Oil and Ricotta Cake with Lemon Glaze

Source: A Cup of Mascarpone | Makes 1 cake | Print Recipe

Ingredients
for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
a small amount of butter, softened, for buttering the pan

for the glaze:
1 cup of confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice {or limoncello}
confectioner’s sugar for dusting on top {optional}

Directions
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a removable bottom quiche/tart pan with parchment paper, lightly butter the pan, and the paper.  I used a quiche/tart pan that measured 8” across the bottom, and 10” across top, with a 2 1/8” height, like this one here.  I loved the presentation it made.  You can also use an 8” – 9” round cake pan, or anything similar.  Just remember to adjust cooking times accordingly.

2.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, granulated sugar, and lemon zest.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture thickens, is pale yellow, and forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted, 3 – 4 minutes.  Allow to sit.

4.  In a separate bowl, with an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Set aside.

5.  In another bowl, hand whisk together the evoo, milk, ricotta cheese, and lemon juice.  Slowly drizzle the oil mixture into the egg mixture in the electric stand mixer, while the mixer is running.  Reduce the speed to low, and now add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined.  Drizzle in the butter, and mix just until combined.

6.  Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer, and fold in the stiff egg whites.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake, rotating the pan after 25 minutes.  Bake until the top of the cake is golden, the center bounces back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – approximately 40 – 45 minutes.

8.  Remove from pan after about 10 minutes, and cool enough to touch.  Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

9.  While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze.  Combine the lemon juice, or Limoncello, with the powdered sugar until completely smooth, and combined.  Adjust the consistency to how you like it…thinner, add more lemon juice…thicker, add more powdered sugar.  Place the cooled cake on a serving plate, and pour the glaze over the cake and let it set up {at least 30 minutes} prior to slicing.  I kept the glaze a little on the thicker side and spread it just to the edge of the scallops on the cake.  If desired, dust a small amount of powdered sugar over the top.

Homemade Apple Crumb Pie with Maple Glaze

Posted by on Nov 9, 2011 in Desserts, Pastry | 14 Comments







There was something smoking when Ollie stepped into the house. At first, she thought it was the turkey as she set down her bottles of wine (one for her family, four for her) and peered into the startlingly empty kitchen but immediately realized it was her great aunt Adelaide, who was ninety-four, strapped to an oxygen tank in the dining room and inhaling deeply on her umpteenth cigarette of the morning.

She hadn’t taken a step forward when her mother came bursting into the kitchen, her blonde hair still in rollers, her big blue eyes wide and only one of them lined in forest green pencil. “Auntie, are you tryin’ to blow up the house? God sakes.” She scowled and ripped the cigarettes from her aunt, who bleated that she was a Fascist. “If I’m a Fascist, then I suddenly feel bad for Mussolini- Olwyn! You’re home!” And she gave her oldest daughter a tight hug.







“Mama.” Ollie smiled despite herself. Her mother always smelled like peppermint in the morning.

“You look skinny.”

“Bless you, Mama.” She’d gained almost eight pounds since she’d moved to the city. Ollie glanced at the Rockin’ Robin clock over the stove. “You realize it’s almost 10?”

Her mother was still in her robe and she gasped. She clutched at her hair. “I know it, I know! Oh God, they’ll be here any minute.” She turned her roughly and shoved her into the kitchen. “Make the mashed potatoes, would you, puddin’?”

Ollie stumbled on the linoleum, calling after her, “I don’t know how to make- okay, well. You clearly don’t care,” and Ollie turned into the kitchen, alone with a counter full of appliances she couldn’t identify in a lineup, a mound of peeled, smoking potatoes in the sink, three covered dishes and the biggest pile of dirty plates and pots she’d ever seen in her life. “Hell.” She looked into the living room at her great aunt, who was trying to light a cigarette with one of her mother’s giant mounds of butter that she laboriously carved into turkeys every year. “Yeah, that’s not a candle, Aunt Adelaide.” Ollie nudged the butter away from her aunt, who scowled at her through the folds of her wrinkled skin, her eyes as yellow as her teeth. Ollie sighed, thinking that her sister would be there soon and the shattering noise that was to soon follow when her triplets turned the living room into a pinball machine.  Ollie looked at the table and pictured her uncle Mortimer on his fourth glass of hard cider, waving his arms about the Democrats, and her brother’s new girlfriend, always a prize and almost always with a stripper name, her sister’s comments about how wonderful it was to have a boat in the summer, “A boat, isn’t it marvelous, Mama, when your babies do so well for themselves,” and the piles and piles of endless food. Her daddy falling asleep on the couch after as her mother slaved over the dishes. A warm dish of apple pie in the afternoon when the guests were gone. The droning of football scores.

Ollie dropped a hand on the table. All that and now she had to learn how to make mashed potatoes. She eyed her ancient aunt. “I will give you a hundred dollars for one of those cigarettes.”

Her aunt eyed her back, trying to sense a trap and then peered around her to see if Ollie’s mother was coming. Then, she waved at the seat next to her. “No charge,” her aunt said, dropping a ciggie in her great niece’s palm. “Family smokes for free.”







I sincerely love Thanksgiving the most. Is it sometimes mired in stress and calories and flutterings of family drama? Yes. But it’s built around gratitude. That’s a heavenly thing right there- a meal based wholly around comfort and togetherness and gratitude. And PIE.







Here’s what’s so great about this Apple Pie- have you ever faced a delicious apple crisp-type dessert at Most of America’s Generic Restaurants and think, “This is so great and I am so excited to eat it because it has been a LONG-ass day but man, it would be better if there was a pie crust on this. Oh well. Feelings. Eating. Nom.” OR, you’re sitting at the counter of a diner, chatting up Flo and the rest of the gals and they slide a plate of that homemade apple pie in front of you and the sheriff gives you a wink and you think, “Why am I in an episode of Alice? Also, this stupid thing needs a crumb topping!” I know, right? We’ve all been there!

Listen- there is a dessert of apple that is of both PIE and CRUMB. It exists and now, now it is yours… Go forth and make it now and please all kinds of opinionated people of the apple-dessert persuasion! GO! Go now before I cease making sense!







Apple Crumb Pie with Maple Glaze

Makes one 9-inch pie / Note: Listen, it’s Thanksgiving. Shhh, relax. Stop crying. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to pick our battles here- we’re going to slave over the stuffing and the turkey and those weird, fussy appetizers your Aunt Spiffy insists on having every year and then we’re going to buy pre-made pie crusts and make this killer apple pie/apple crumble hybrid of awesomeness. Okay? Shhhh, it’s all going to be okay. We’re here now.

Ingredients

For Pie & Crumb:

1 and 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
6 TBsp of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 Cup of packed light-brown sugar
3/4 tsp of salt
2 pre-made 9 inch pie crusts, thawed
2 TBsp of fresh lemon juice
3.5 pounds of ripe Granny Smith apples (about 6 large apples)
1 Cup of granulated sugar
3/4 Cup of chopped walnuts

For Maple Glaze:

1/3 Cup of powdered sugar
2 TBsp of maple syrup

Prepare:

1. Preheat your oven to a lovely 375° F.

2. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie tin.

3. Take a medium bowl. Combine 1 cup of flour, butter, brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt to make the crumb topping. Work with fingers until clumps form, then put in freezer.

4. On a lightly floured surface, or wax paper, roll the 2 pre-made, thawed pie crusts together to form a 14” circle. Place pie crust gently into pie tin, letting the extra 2” hang over the edge. Refrigerate.

5. Place lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice apples about 1/8” thick, placing them in the bowl as you go. Toss slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

6. Add granulated sugar, walnuts, remaining ¼ cup of flour, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and mix.

7. Spoon apple mixture into pie crust pressing the apples in firmly. Fold the overhanging dough over the pie filling and press the edges tightly around the pie.

8. Bake pie for 45 minutes and then remove from oven and add crumb topping. At this point, lightly wrap edges of pie with aluminum foil to avoid burning. Return pie to oven and bake for another 20 minutes. (Add another piece of aluminum foil over top of pie if top starts to brown too quickly.)

9. While pie is cooling, mix the powdered sugar and maple syrup together to make the maple glaze. Drizzle glaze over warm pie and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Peach Pie Nuggets

Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 in Desserts, Pastry | 5 Comments

The stately yellow house where Henry and Issie Gallagher resided was as tidy and clean on the inside as it was on the outside.

The sparrow mysteriously found its way, as it usually did, past the the forest green front door, and hovered there in the smallest of entryways, admiring the polished, antique coathanger on the right and the cheerful welcome mat on the left which was held down by a neat row of rain boots.

The little bird considered its options. It could coast up the set of stairs in front of it, where a low hum of voices could be heard. Or it could turn to the left and swoop through a formal sitting room where light from the front windows played games with the rows of books lining the walls, the fireplace and its neat stack of logs, the baby blue couch framed by small, chestnut tables both adorned by vases of white daisies.

Instead, the sparrow made its way toward the back of the house and flew into the expansive kitchen, where two women sat at a marble island and had a plate of leftover pie completely surrounded.







The pie was purchased from a nearby bakery, was peach, and the woman with the perfect, curly blonde hair paused as a forkful was halfway to her mouth. She glanced up at the corner of the kitchen ceiling, to the foremost beam, and tapped the other woman’s slim hand. “Jules.”

Juliette Barrington Gallagher was distracted, inspecting her piece of  pie as if she wasn’t quite sure of the best way to dispose of it. When her sister-in-law murmured her name again, more urgently the second time, Jules tore her wide brown eyes away from the bite she’d been about to take. “What?”

Issie pointed at the beam in the corner and Juliette swung around, her straight brown hair flying up behind her. Issie mused to herself that it was a good thing her hair was pulled back into a thick ponytail or their breakfast pie would’ve been sunk. Jules was a sweetheart but she shed like a golden retriever in July.

“Damn.” Jules dropped her fork onto the foil pie plate and shook her head. “How’d she get in here?”







Issie rolled her eyes at the use of the pronoun for the little bird and immediately walked to the door that stood off the kitchen, the one that led onto her screened-in-porch and, from there, out to her garden. Without another word, she opened both doors and pointed outside.

It took a moment and both women held their breath, Issie tapping her foot on the polished cedar beneath her feet, but the sparrow eventually swooped elegantly down and out the doors, into the garden beyond. Issie closed both doors firmly behind her, though she knew it was an empty gesture. That bird was a person all right- Houdini reincarnated.

They resumed their places around the pie and Jules pushed up the sleeves of her pink cardigan. “Just like when she was alive,” she murmured, amused, and shoved the bite of pie into her mouth before anything could stop her.

“Don’t encourage them with all that. It’s just a bird.” Irritated, Issie pulled herself back onto the stool on the other side of the island and dug her spoon into the carton of vanilla ice cream that was busily melting on the counter in the June heat, despite the constant hum of the air conditioner.








 

This post makes me swoony. First of all because look! Pie! AND SO LITTLE! And, secondly, because the fictional bit above is not just a smattering of Monday mischief-  it’s an excerpt from my new book, my yet-to-be-unleashed, second-born little baby The Witches Sib which should be renamed Consuming Judi’s Life: Feels Like It Will Never Be Done. Sigh. This post doesn’t make me swoony, it makes me sigh-y.

I worried to Nicole that after our success with Happiness Pops and Sadness Cake we were going to be Those Girls Who Make Baked Goods in Weird Receptacles.  The Anne Geddes of baking.  Soon it’ll just be a photo of me holding a piece of pie in my bare hand, apropos of nothing.

But then she suggested we make this and I thought, who cares? Look! LITTLE. PIES.







 

Peach Pie Nuggets

Ingredients

Filling from AllRecipes

Pie pastry from the store
5 Cups sliced peeled peaches
2 TBsp lemon juice
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Cup white sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 TBsp butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, gently stir together the sliced peaches with the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over peaches and gently combine.

Take your pre-made pie crust and your adorable little mason jars (use whatever size you like but we liked the little ones because they made dainty, ladylike portions and we are watching our FIGURES. The bigger ones may mean longer baking time so please advise). Press the pie into the jar so that it slightly overhangs the lip of the jar and then you can crimp the edges.

Pour a bit of filling into the jars. Dot with butter. Cut out pieces of extra pie crust (use a heart shaped cookie cutter if you’ve got it. Stars. Dog bones. Whatever) and place them on top, brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place jars on cookie sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes. You may have to cover some of your little pie nuggets (I’m sorry, is this getting too cutesy for you? I can’t help it! Look at them! LOOK AT THEM) with foil if they get a bit too brown.

Let cool a bit. You’ll be too busy squealing over how adorable they are anyway. Squealing and making tiny pie bonnets! BONNETS.

I need to go lie down.

 

Smitty & The Tart (Ep. 1)

Posted by on Apr 22, 2011 in *Smitty & The Girl Series*, Brunch, Entrees, Pastry | One Comment

Smitty & The Girl (A Blog Novel)

Cliffwood Present Day









 
 
Elvira Toolidge put the coffee down with something like a slap. The coffee splashed up and over the sides. “Shoot,” Elvira muttered. She grabbed a napkin off the table, the one the man wasn’t using and wiped it all up. “Sorry about that.”

She was off before he could answer, before she could even see what he looked like or how he felt about her getting stale coffee all over the edges of his breakfast. She wouldn’t think of him at all, truthfully, until she collected the bill and found a pathetic quarter inside for a tip. A quarter. She was off her game that morning but was any service worthy of a measly, greasy quarter?

“Shoot,” she said again and this time, she pocketed the sad change and stole a few minutes in the hallway off the kitchen, the one opposite the hallway with the bathrooms. It was barely a hall, in truth, and only about a foot deep but it was the ideal place to lean up against the wall and catch your breath.

One of the girls a few years back had stuck a mirror up on the wall. It was too dark for them to do any good repair work on their makeup but suited their purposes all right. Elvira took her position against the wall and took stock of herself.

She was zeroing in on fifty. Some days, when sleep was decent and the weather was nice, she looked closer to forty. Today, she looked and felt about a hundred. Her brown hair, barely gray at the ears, was cricked at the top which is what happens, she thought with a scowl, when you fall asleep with wet hair and a strappy headband on. She tried, once more, to smooth down the strands but the little poof just popped right back up.

Her brown eyes were cracked with red and she’d been sloppy with her foundation that morning. The beauty mark over her eyebrow held no appeal in the mess that had become her face. And she’d gotten makeup on the collar of her white collared shirt. Hell.

She leaned her head back, reveling in the silence of the early morning shift. Smitty’s on a Monday morning, especially, was a breeze. It was only seven and the rush, if you could call it a rush on a Monday, wouldn’t shuffle in for another two hours.

Elvira felt her hand rest lightly against the tan wallpaper. Syl had insisted on texture the last time she’d went on a redecorating kick and the whole of the place was wrapped up in a series of lightly embossed circles. They complemented the new, globe-like light fixtures she had suspended over the mahogany tables, she’d explained at the time to no one.

Personally, Elvira thought she wasn’t being as subtle as she thought she was. Everything in the place was round now. The salt and pepper shakers were even globe-like- where she’d found them, God only knew. They were ugly as sin, a strange bluish marble and a pain to refill.

“Order up!” came the bark from behind her. The kitchen stood between the mini-hallway and the long one, with a big cut out window space for Manny and Fred to slide plates out to the staff. Elvira sighed and pushed herself up. She grabbed the plate, the piece of pie that sat on it looking so delicate and tall like it was about to crumble any second, and noted the remainder of it sitting in a wide pie plate on the counter in the kitchen, just as perfectly round as everything else in Elvira’s decidedly pear-shaped life.

She took it to the table up front, the good one that sat by the big picture window and mustered up a grin for Old Hat, whose ancient face lit up at the sight of her. “Enjoy, Hat,” Elvira said, finding it easier to smile suddenly.

“Looks delicious,” Hat mumbled and Elvira felt her smile wobble when she realized the old man had forgotten his teeth again. She made a mental note to check any juice glasses lying around. And the bathroom too. Still, he lifted his eyes to Elvira’s and shook his head. “That Manny knows his tarts.”

“Good thing too, otherwise he’d be out on the street.” She dropped an extra stack of napkins for him and patted him on the shoulder. “Holler if you need anything, Hat.” She was about to step away when the front door opened with a jingle and an unfamiliar face walked through it.







Was it raining outside? The girl was barely twenty, in a slouchy sweatshirt and jeans and looked like she’d just been caught in a downpour. Her hair was a light red and soaked against her thin shoulders. She wore no makeup that Elvira could see and had no purse either. Trouble. Since Letta was decidedly not manning the front counter, the girl looked around, a bit lost and uncertain.

“Welcome to Smitty’s,” Elvira said, trying to clear the judgment from her expression and her voice. “Can I get you a table?”

The girl met her eyes and for a second, couldn’t seem to find her voice. “Uh. Yes. No.” She blinked. “I need to talk t-to Sylvia Mathers, p-please.”

Elvira raised her eyebrows at her boss’s name. “She’s not here right now. She only comes in during dinner. And never on Monday.”

The girl swallowed visibly and swayed. “I need,” she said through gritted teeth. “I need to talk to Sylvia Mathers.”

“Ok. All right.” Tougher than she looks.  “Why don’t you take a seat before you fall over? I’ll give her a ring. What’s your name?” she asked and led her to one of the many empty booths that lined the far right wall.

“Why?”

“Why?” Elvira sighed, her patience wearing as thin as their cocktail napkins. “Because I’m about to call my boss into work on a peaceful morning and I want to give her the reason why. That’s why. Can you tell me your name?”

The redhead frowned and kept her light blue eyes on Elvira’s for a long time, just long enough to unsettle her. “P-Petula.” She took a deep breath and said the rest in one breath. “Petula Jerome Mathers.”

Recipe: Quick Rosemary, Fig and Goat Cheese Tart