Lemon Meringue Hamantashen

February 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Posted in Cookies, holiday, lemon | Leave a comment
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It is Purim!  My favorite time of the year.  Now, it may have something to do with the fact that my birthday is always around Purim, but I think it is similar to how people think about Christmas.  Everyone is happier around Christmas time, and it makes for a general cheer all around. In fact that is what many American ex-pats miss when they move out.  Here in Israel, now is the general happy time.  Everything is silly and people really try to step outside their comfort zone in order to get into the holiday spirit.  Everyday for the past couple of weeks, the Little Rocker has come home from kindergarten dressed as something else.  One day it was a ladybug, another day, masks they drew themselves, on other days her face was painted with various animals.  It’s really a fun time. I love seeing people dressed up, though I am not such a fan of dressing up myself.

Lemon Meringue Hamantashen.

Lemon Meringue Hamantashen.

So I am finally getting around to making something that I have been thinking about for over a year.  Lemon-meringue hamantashen.  Hamantashen are my favorite holiday-related food – even more than honey cake for Rosh Hashana and matza brei for Pesach. In Israel hamantashen season starts right after Chanuka, so already in December, the stores started stocking freshly made hamantashen.  The one issue I have with it is that in Israel, they are not so creative with the fillings.  They always have the traditional poppy seed filled ones (eew), date filled ones (quite good), walnut filled ones (eh), and chocolate filled ones (eh). None of the usual strawberry, apricot or other fruit filled ones.  This actually led to a long discussion at work between the Americans and the Israelis.  All the Americans were deploring the lack of fruity hamantashen that we are used to, while all the Israelis were shocked that anyone would put jelly in a hamantashen. Just another culture clash that may never be resolved.

The Little Rocker and her friend making hamantashen together.

The Little Rocker and her friend making hamantashen together.

The fillings they chose.  The Little Rocker chose raspberry jam and chocolate and her friend chose plain chocolate.

The fillings they chose. The Little Rocker chose raspberry jam and chocolate and her friend chose plain chocolate.

So every year I make the usual hamantashen, strawberry, blueberry, apple, etc. and last year, I though about trying something new – lemon-meringue. Last year I started planning it, and it was going to be really awesome as Purim fell out on my birthday, but then Rocker Dude had to leave me on my birthday and go do his army reserve service.  Apparently the army doesn’t accept “Sorry, it’s my wife’s birthday” as an excuse. So as I was alone with the Little Rocker and not in the mood to put effort into anything (my usual hubby-in-the-army situation), so I shelved the idea.

This year, I am on maternity leave, so I have tons of time (sort-of) and free hands (mostly) so this is the year that we make lemon-meringue hamantashen.

I usually use my sugar cookie recipe for the base of the dough, but I feel like the end product always comes out a bit too sweet. In Israel, the cookie recipe is less sweet and I think complements the filling more. So I looked around on Israeli sites to see what people were using.  To give you an idea of what the difference is between the recipes, my sugar cookie recipe calls for two cups of sugar to three cups of flour.  The one I ended up using from Aviva Pibko (a contestant on Master Chef here) has one and a quarter cups of sugar to four cups of flour.

Ready circles of dough

Ready circles of dough

Filled circles.

Filled circles.

Ready to bake hamantashen.

Ready to bake hamantashen.

I made a lemon curd as the filling and with the leftover egg whites, made  a meringue that I toasted in the oven. The end result is a tart cookie with a pillow of sweetness on top.

Hamantashen just after toasting.

Hamantashen just after toasting.

Of course Rocker Dude tasted the cookie and said, “What’s that in the dough?” When I said “Lemon,” I got a sour face in response. Now he will deny that he said that, but we all know that he wanted regular sugar dough instead ;).

Don't you want to try a bite?

Don’t you want to try a bite?

If you are looking for some more interesting hamantashen ideas, check out this link.

Here is the recipe for the hamantashen.

P.S. I also used regular raspberry preserves as a filling and they came out great. There was a nice contrast between the lemon in the dough and the sweet jam.

Recipe:
Dough (based on this recipe from Aviva Pibko):

250 g butter or margarine
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
grated zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter or margarine with the sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture for a full minute between each egg. Add the vanilla and the zest. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and slowly add them to the wet ingredients, mixing only until the dough is combined.  Put the dough into a plastic bag and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Filling (from The Art and Soul of Baking):

3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 cup minus 1 tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tbsp. cold butter or margarine

Meringue:

3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Prepare a double boiler, or a pot with a heat-safe bowl on top.  In the bowl (off the heat), mix the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Place the bowl over the boiling pot and heat the lemon mixture.  Make sure to keep whisking the mixture, and scrape the sides of the bowl to keep the mixture from curdling.  After about 7 minutes, the curd should thicken (it will hit 180 degrees).  Pour the curd through a strainer.  Then add the butter or margarine, making sure that it is completely melted.  Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface of the curd and refrigerate the curd until it is needed.

To assemble the hamantashen: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out the chilled the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness.  Use a round cookie cutter (four-inch diameter) to make circles.  Place a scant teaspoonful of the curd in the center of each circle and pinch the ends together to form a triangle.

Place the finished cookies on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned.  If you notice that the triangles are opening while baking, refrigerate the formed hamantashen for 20 minutes before putting them in the oven.

While the cookies are cooling, beat the egg whites on high speed while slowly adding in the sugar.  Whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Place a heaping teaspoonful on the center of each hamantashen and either toast the meringue with a butane torch or set the oven to broil and toast the cookies for a minute in the oven. Watch them carefully because they burn quickly.

The cookies will keep (without the meringue) for 4 days in a sealed container.  Once you add the meringue, eat the cookies within the day.

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread/Cake

February 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Posted in Cake, cinnamon rolls | Leave a comment
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I saw a recipe for Pull Apart Bread a while ago, but I was about nine months pregnant and working like mad so there was no way that it was going to happen.  So now that I am no longer pregnant and I stay up soooo much later (insert look of disbelief here) and have my hands free so often (insert second look of disbelief), I decided to make it finally.  We were planning a barbeque and I figured that it’s over-the-top sweetness would be good after all the saltiness of the meat.

The Pioneer Woman recently posted her version of pull apart bread using her cinnamon bun recipe.  Since I have adopted that recipe anyway and everyone likes it (a-hem younger brother who shall not be named), I figured I would try it. Also it doesn’t require a mixer to make, so any reason to have fewer dishes to wash.

Basically you follow the cinnamon bun recipe until the rolling out stage.  When it is rolled out, you just have to add more cinnamon/sugar over the melted margarine.  Then, instead of rolling it up, you slice the dough, width-wise into 5 inch strips.  Stack the slices, one on top of the other, sugar side up, until you have used all the slices.  Be careful because you will have melted margarine dripping everywhere.

Cinnamon-sugary goodness

Cinnamon-sugary goodness

Then slice your stack into six sections.  Carefully put each section sideways into a greased loaf-pan.  Let it rise and bake!

The glaze is the same as the cinnamon bun glaze, though I put a bit too much on my loaf so it was scarily sweet.  Moderation Elle! Portion control! And all of that.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready to go into the oven.

Turned out delicious though, and the layers really did pull apart (due to all the fat in between them of course) and everyone enjoyed it, even Rocker Dude who was feeling a bit under the weather, and always prefers salty things when he is sick. Don’t worry, I made it up to him and made him a fresh pot of chicken soup the next day.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Try this out! Everyone has to indulge some time!

Recipe (From The Pioneer Woman): (I only used half the recipe and it made one loaf with a bit left over.)

Note: the butter can be replaced with margarine and the milk with soymilk.

Dough
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup (additional) All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Salt
1 stick Butter, Melted
1-1/2 cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon

Icing
3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 Tablespoon Maple Extract
1/3 cup Whole Milk
Dash Of Salt

To make the dough, combine milk, canola oil, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Heat it until very hot but not boiling. Turn off heat and allow to cool to warm (not at all hot.)

Sprinkle in the yeast and add 4 cups of flour. Stir to combine, then put lid on the pot and allow to rise for 1 hour. After 1 hour, stir in additional 1/2 cup flour, along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If dough is overly sticky, stir in another 1/2 cup flour.

Place dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour to make it easier to work with.

Roll out dough onto a floured surface. Drizzle on melted butter and smear so that it covers all the dough. Mix together the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the surface of the dough. (Dough should look very covered.)

Cut the dough into 6 to 8 strips, then stack all the strips into one stack. Cut the stack of strips into 6 slices. Place the stacks sideways into a buttered bread pan. Do not cram the slices into the pan. (You may have a few leftover.)

Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes to make sure it’s not getting too brown on top. It’s important to bake the bread long enough to ensure that the middle won’t be too doughy, because if it is it won’t pull apart easily. If the top looks like it’s getting too brown, cover it lightly with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time.

Remove the pan from the oven when it’s done. Run a knife along the edges and take the bread out of the pan. Mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the top, allowing it to sink into the crevices. Serve warm or room temperature.

Last Minute Tu B’Shvat Treats – Date Truffles

January 25, 2013 at 11:34 am | Posted in Chocolate, date, Fruit, truffles | Leave a comment
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Okay, it’s almost Tu B’Shvat, and you are still wondering what to do with all that dried fruit that you have stocked in your house. I mean, it’s all on sale and it’s such a great price, but what to do?  You can’t just eat it as is, get’s kind of monotonous and sweet after a few bites.  So what to do?

Make date truffles!  Takes all of 8 minutes from start to finish and requires no cooking/heating, etc. All you need are some dates and some cocoa powder – now- get to work.

Date Truffles rolled in cocoa powder

Date Truffles rolled in cocoa powder

Take 15 madjhoul dates and remove the pits (if they are not soft, then soak them in hot water for a few minutes). Put them in a food processor with two tablespoons cocoa powder.  Process until you have a smooth paste. Form small balls with the paste and roll them in some cocoa powder. You can also roll them in powdered sugar, or crushed almonds, or sprinkles for a more colorful truffle.  You can even dip them in melted chocolate.

Then end result is a delicious treat that is not too sweet (the slight bitterness of the unsweetened cocoa balances out the sweetness of the dates) and is great for a cultured Tu B’Shvat meal.

Date Truffles

Date Truffles (picture a la Smitten Kitchen)

So take 10 minutes out before Shabbat starts and make these for yourselves!

Fig Newtons – For Tu B’Shvat

January 24, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Posted in Cookies, fig, holiday | Leave a comment
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Many years ago I bought Desserts by the Yard by Sherry Yard.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to make much from the cookbook because every recipe usually has a lot of steps, and often requires ingredients that are difficult to get here, such as fresh berries, etc.  There was one recipe that has always stood out and begged me to make it.  Fig bars.  Or as we children of the nineties call them, Fig Newtons.

Fig Newtons

Fig Newtons

Another note on Sherry Yard, she was on Top Chef: Just Desserts and that was super cool.  She also works for Wolfgang Puck and he is a recurring judge on this season of Top Chef, so now that I have heard him speak, I re-read the forward to her book in his voice.  It was really cool.  I love Top Chef.

I have always loved Fig Newtons, and when you are stopping in the Hudson News in the train station, it was often one of the only kosher snack options, definitely the only pareve one.  High school was better with Fig Newtons.  Over the years there have been many Fig Newton knock-offs, such as strawberry or blueberry, but nothing compares to the original.

Cutting up the figs for the filling.

Cutting up the figs for the filling.

You would think that the recipe would be easy to make as Israel grows fresh figs and are readily available when they are in season.  But interestingly enough, these cookies need dried figs, something that is very hard to find in Israel.  I am not sure why this is the case, but for whatever reason, while you can get dried dates all the time, it is almost impossible to find dried figs.

So I gave up on making these cookies until Tu B’Shvat.  Around Tu B’Shvat, the dried fruit market expands and you can find a wide variety of dried fruits.  With all that, when I went to the supermarket on Thursday, there were no figs!! I went to a different store on Monday, and I finally found some.

In order for me to be able to have this post ready for Tu B’Shvat (yes, actually posting about a holiday before it happens), I made the filling a couple days before assembling the cookies.  Conveniently, Squeaker cooperated and let me cook while she slept in the stroller.  Thank you Squeaker!

Filling the cookies.

Filling the cookies.

The filling comes together really easily, and just needs to be boiled for a couple of hours – essentially making a jam. The dough is similarly easy to make.  I ended up making this over three days,  one day the filling, one day the dough, and the last assembly and baking.

Finished cookies.

Finished cookies.

While rolling out the dough, I did have some trouble because it was quite sticky, so I floured it up again and started rolling it out all over again.  Second time’s the charm!  I did not get as many cookies as Sherry says you are supposed to get (she says 40 – I got around 30), but they really do taste kike Fig Newtons, only better.

Fig Newtons

Fig Newtons

Happy Birthday trees!

Recipe (From Desserts by the Yard):

Filling:
1 cup dried figs, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. orange zest

Dough:
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 large egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour

Combine the chopped figs, water, apple juice and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low  and cook at a simmer for 1 to 2 hours until the figs are so soft that they are spreadable. Transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Add the orange zest and process until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Cream the butter, vanilla sugar and orange zest for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the egg white and vanilla and beat in. Add the flour and beat on low until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle.  Cut into 4 equal strips, each 12 by 4 inches.  Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip.  Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together.  Place on the parchment paper, seam side down.  The bars can be frozen at this point for up to 2 weeks.

Using a serrated knife, slice each log on the diagonal into ten cookies. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cook on a rack.  The cookies will keep, stored airtight, for 2 days.

Birthday Cupcakes!

January 20, 2013 at 9:34 am | Posted in cup cakes | Leave a comment
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In September, the Little Rocker turned 4! She had been looking forward to it for months and had been describing to me the exact cake that she wanted.  She wanted colorful icing with balloons.  Being as I forgot to take a picture of the actual cake that I made for the party, I will be talking about the cupcakes that I made for the Shabbat that was the actual date of her birthday.

Presents!

Presents!

We were going to J and M’s place for dinner on Friday night, so I volunteered to bring dessert.  I decided to do cupcakes as Rocker Dude has been asking me to make iced vanilla cupcakes for ages.  I had made yellow cake cupcakes a while ago but I was not impressed with the consistency of the cake, so I was wary of making them again.  I did not want them to come out dry.  So this time I decided to try Angel Food Cupcakes.  They would be light as a feather (hopefully) and be super tasty.

The Little Rocker enjoys Israeli Dunkin Donuts.  Special treats for her birthday.

The Little Rocker enjoys Israeli Dunkin Donuts. Special treats for her birthday.

The Little Rocker wanted colorful icing, so after getting advice from M (a different one) who is a master at icing cakes, I made three different colors of icing to make swirl icing.

The recipe makes a ton of cupcakes, so I cut the recipe down to a third so that I ended up with only a dozen cupcakes, still more than enough.

Angel Food Cupcakes.

Angel Food Cupcakes.

Recipe (from How Sweet It Is):

12 large egg whites (1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar (sift before measuring)
1 1/8 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Let egg whites sit at room temperature for about one hour before beginning. While eggs are resting, measure out powdered sugar and flour, then sift powdered sugar, flour and salt together. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin (or two) with cupcake liners.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Once frothy, add in cream of tarter, then beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. This took me about 5-6 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar with the mixer still on medium speed, continuing to beat until egg whites thicken a bit more with opaque, soft, droopy peaks. Once there, beat in vanilla extract.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle 1/4 of the dry ingredients over the egg whites. Fold gently with a spatula until combined completely. Continue with the rest of the dry ingredients – I did this in three increments.

Once batter is smooth, use a 1/4 cup measure to pour heaping scoops of batter into each liner. Bake for 18-19 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Let cool completely, then frost as desired.

Icing:

250 grams margarine (about two sticks)
400 grams powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
A little bit of water
Food coloring

Beat the margarine until fluffy.  Add the sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add the vanilla.  Add water by the teaspoonful until the icing is smooth. Add a few drops of the coloring of your choice.  Mix well.

It’s a girl!!

January 7, 2013 at 11:55 am | Posted in blueberry, muffins | Leave a comment
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Well, now you all know why I have neglected this blog so horribly.  A month ago we welcomed Squeaker into our family and that has kind of taken over our lives.  Until the birth I was working extra hard so that people at work wouldn’t suffer too much while I was gone, and since Squeaker sleeps best while being held, there hasn’t been a lot of baking or much of anything that requires two hands going on.  For anyone who is curious as to why her nickname is Squeaker, it’s because when she starts crying, it starts out as a bunch of squeaks, but don’t worry, when she gets going, it’s a full blown scream :).

Squeaker spending about five minutes in her bouncer before she squeaks to be held.

Squeaker spending about five minutes in her bouncer before she squeaks to be held.

As I have not had time to bake recently, I am posting a few older recipes that I made a while ago that I have been horribly bad about posting.  Today we will indulge in Julia Child’s Blueberry Muffins.  This recipe comes to us from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking with Julia which is based on Julia Child’s cooking show.  I picked up this book, along with a few others, while we were in America this summer.  As we were in America, I really wanted to take advantage of the fresh berries that we can’t get in Israel.  I decided on blueberry muffins, because they are awesome all the time, and I have missed them so much.  So here we are.

Julia Child's Blueberry Muffins

Julia Child’s Blueberry Muffins

They were quite delicious, as I recall, I didn’t manage to actually store them as they were quickly eaten up by everyone in the house (there were a lot of people around). Definitely worth making again, the next time I can get fresh blueberries. Oh Costco – how wonderful you are!

Rocker Dude grabs a muffin.

Rocker Dude grabs a muffin.

Recipe (From Baking with Julia):
1 3/4 cup cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. salt
1 pint fresh blueberries
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream (or milk with a little vinegar)
1 stick unsalted margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift the cake flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and salt together. Toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, stir the milk and sour cream together.  In a mixer, beat the margarine until white and pale, about 3 minutes.  Add the sugar and beat until the mixture no longer feels grainy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and yolk and beat until the mixture is fluffy.

Sift half the dry ingredients into the margarine/sugar/egg mixture.  Add half of the milk/sour cream mixture and delicately fold the ingredients together, stopping when just barely combined.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Sprinkle the blueberries over the mixture and mix until just barely incorporated.

Fill each muffin cup at least 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops (which will be flat) are golden and spring back when lightly pressed.  Allow the muffins to cool for 10-15 minutes on a rack before serving.

Back from Vacation and a Peach Pie

August 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Posted in Fruit, peach, Pie | Leave a comment
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Hello everyone, we are back from America, back into the swing of things, and Rocker Dude just went back to work this week!  I know I should be happy that he has vacation, and teachers do work really hard, but still, when I have to be out of the house by 7:15 and he is still in bed,  I can’t help but be a teensy weensy bit jealous. But it’s all over now.  The Little Rocker went back to school today too, so I no longer have a junior assistant at work :).  It is the end of summer.
But before we say goodbye, there are definitely some memories to share (and if we could only get around to printing all those pictures that we took, we could see them too).  While we were in the states, we spent a lot of time with family (duh!) and assorted cousins on both sides.

The Little Rocker and her cousin H. make silly faces for the camera.

We also had some adventures.  I am not going to talk about the flight adventures, but suffice it to say, Rocker Dude was not impressed with Air Europa.

On a brighter note, we went peach and corn picking with some cousins.  The Little Rocker was not so impressed with the peaches I have to say, even though there were trees with branches low enough for her to reach.  But the other cousins were more than happy to make up for it and we picked a giant box full of peaches and nectarines.

The Little Rocker and her cousins show off their flowers at the farm. There was no way we were going to get all of them to look at the camera at once – at least they’re all smiling.

But when I offered corn picking the Little Rocker jumped at the chance and we went into the “corn forest”.

The Corn Forest!!!

We also went to see the Statue of Liberty.  The Little Rocker has been dying to see it ever since she saw the WonderPets episode where the WonderPets had to save a pigeon who was falling off the Statue’s nose.

At the Statue

As the Statue is currently undergoing renovations, we couldn’t actually go up, but it did not stop the Little Rocker from trying to find the pigeon that needed help. What she really enjoyed was the ferry ride though.

On the Ferry.

On the Ferry with Uncle A.

Because we had so many peaches, my mom asked me to please do something with them, so for Shabbat I made a peach pie that I had found on Smitten Kitchen’s site.  The recipe was simple enough and all her stuff is delicious.  While my family is not particularly picky about desserts and they care more about taste than anything else (which makes sense I guess), I figured that a lattice pie would not go unappreciated. Another thing that did not go unappreciated was a certain cinnamony treat that I had to make multiple times and was in demand every morning for breakfast.

Unfortunately, my mother still does not have a pie plate.  This is the second time that I have wanted to make a pie at their house and they have not had a pie plate – even a disposable one!  So this time I just made do with a disposable cake pan.

All ready for the oven.

The pie was enjoyed all around, even Rocker Dude liked it!

Peach Pie.

Recipe (From Smitten Kitchen):

Crust
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
1 tablespoons (15 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks (225 grams, 8 ounces, or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup water, very cold

Filling
About 3 1/2 pounds peaches (approximately 6 large, 7 medium or 8 small)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, from about half a regular lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar (use 1/3 cup for a sweeter pie)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch

To finish
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar

Make your pie dough: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. (You can also do this in a food processor.) Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.

Filling: Halve and pit the peaches, then into about 1/3-inch thick slices. You’ll want 6 cups; it’s okay if you go a little over. Add to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice. In a small dish, stir together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch until evenly mixed. Add to peaches and toss to evenly coat.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Flour your counter, unwrap your first dough (if the two pieces look uneven, go for the smaller one) and put it in the middle and flour that too. Roll it out until you have a 12- to 13-inch circle. Then transfer pie dough to a standard pie dish. Trim the overhang to one inch.

Scoop filling into bottom pie dough, including any accumulated juices. Roll out your top pie dough using the same procedure, until it is 12 to 13 inches in diameter. If you’d like to make a regular lidded pie, use it as is, cutting some decorative vents in the pie lid before baking. To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a pastry wheel, pizza wheel or knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction. Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim. Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips and crimp decoratively.

Brush pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar.Bake for about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is set and beginning to brown. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake pie for another 30 to 40 minutes, until filling is bubbling all over and the crust is a nice golden brown. If the pie lid browns too quickly at any point in the baking process, you can cover it with foil for the remaining baking time to prevent further browning.

Cool pie for three hours at room temperature before serving – keep in mind that the pie filling does not fully thicken until it is fully cool. Pie can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge; from the fridge, it will be even thicker.

Mississippi (?) Galette

July 22, 2012 at 10:33 am | Posted in apricot, cherry, Fruit, nectarine, peach, tart | 2 Comments
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The name for this dessert comes straight from Rocker Dude.  I’m not 100 percent sure why he picked his specific name, but it is what it is.  A Mississipi Galette is a simple stone fruit galette that makes the most of the summer abundance of fresh stone fruit, and I love stone fruit.

Mississippi Galette

I was inspired by a post written by Tartelette, but when I started to make the tart I didn’t have time to check her blog, so I just made up the filling as I went along.

We had a bit of a busy day on Friday, with the Little Rocker’s graduation party from preschool.  They moved it up so that we could go as we will be flying in a week and a half to the US to visit the family and they didn’t want us to miss the party.  (The theme was health, so there was a long of singing and things having to do with vegetables.)

The Little Rocker, Queen of the Tomatoes

Then we had a party for friends of ours who essentially got married, but without the ceremony and the name change.  We had a lot of fun! Since this is a food blog I will mention the food – it was spectacular.  A smorgasbord of ribs, dim sum, fish and chips, and focaccia.  The n a main course of two types of chicken and steak and assorted salads and veggies.  But of course for me, the best part was the dessert.  They had mini tarts with fresh blueberries and raspberries!  Do you know how hard it is to get fresh berries here?  Berries do not do well in a summer of 95 degree heat.  It was sooo good, the taste of the raspberries was heavenly.

A Slice of Pie.

And due to us getting home only three hours before Shabbat, I planned in advance and made the dough in the morning (yay for advanced planning and being organized!) so that it could chill while we were gone.  All I needed to get done was the cutting of all the fruit and rolling of the dough. I wanted the opportunity to mix all kinds of stone fruits, instead of making one single filling, but there weren’t any cherries or apricots left :(, their seasons have ended. So I took the plums, peaches and nectarines I had lying around and diced them all up. The filling came together in about 5 minutes.  Then I just had to roll out the dough, dump the filling in the middle and fold the ends over.

A bite of summer deliciousness.

The end result was a great tart with the a bit of tartness from the plums and sweetness from the nectarines and peaches.  The galette really let the flavors of the fruit come through.  Rocker Dude loved it and even ventured the opinion that I should make it to compete in the Middlesex County Fair this summer.  Yes that’s right, going to NJ again in a few days!  So if you don’t hear from me for a while (because I am so good at posting on time :P) it’s because we are on vacation!  So make this tart while I am gone and enjoy it! (And yes Abba, when I come I will make it for you too.)

 

Recipe:

1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough, prepared until chill step

Filling:

4 cups of diced stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, or plums)
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar as needed (if the fruit is very sweet you might not need as much sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg white
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix filling ingredients together.  Let sit while you roll out the dough.  Roll out the dough to a circle about  a 1/4 inch thick.  Place dough circle on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Dump the filling into the middle, mounding it a bit in the center.  Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, leaving a bit of the filling showing through.  Brush the top of the galette with egg white and sprinkle with some sugar.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let cool and enjoy!

An Apricot Tart

July 3, 2012 at 10:56 am | Posted in almond, apricot, Fruit, tart | 2 Comments
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Who doesn’t love stone fruit? I mean aren’t they just the perfect fruits? Sweet and juicy (and apparently cherries lower your blood sugar – who knew?) and always delicious.  Stone fruit season started about a month ago, and due to a particularly cool and wet winter, there is a bumper crop of stone fruit this year.  Apricots in particular have a short season, so I decided to take advantage of it while I could.  Two years ago I made apricot crostadas, last year I was being good and not baking too much, and this year I decided to make a simple, delicious apricot tart.  Well, in this case, tartlets.  I was in the mood, so why not?

Apricot Tart

I looked around on the internet and there are not that many recipes involving apricots, probably because of their short growing season.  So I decided to take some artistic license and make up a recipe, based on another one.  Now there will be one more apricot recipe out there.

I was inspired by this recipe from pastry studio (she has a lot of great recipes, and tips for the less experienced baker so make sure to check out her site), but decided to make proper tartlets in my mini tart pans as opposed to a galette.  And I went with my tried and true Sweet Tart Dough that always comes out so delicious and flaky.

When I mixed up the filling I decided that it looked a little dry so to add a bit of flavor I added some almond extract (don’t tell Rocker Dude!  I only mentioned it after he had tried a bite :) ) and it really made the tart something special.  The filling is still simple enough that the flavor of the apricots really shines through. Even the Little rocker enjoyed the tart, though that might have been because she was watching The Backyardigans Samurai Pie episode and they kept talking about pies.

This recipe would also work well as a tart, if you prefer family style serving.

Recipe (makes 7 4-inch tartlets or one 9 inch tart):

Crust:

Sweet Tart Dough

Filling:

8 apricots, stoned and sliced into eighths
1/4 cup sugar (a bit more if the apricots are particularly tart – baking the apricots makes the tartness come out)
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Prepare the tart dough until the refrigeration stage.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Then mix all the filling ingredients together.  Let it sit while you roll out the tart dough.  Lay the tart dough in the tart pan(s) and place apricot slices in concentric circles to make a decorative filling.

Bake the tartlets for 25 minutes or so, until the crust is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling gently, a full-size tart will take longer, probably about 40 minutes or so.  Let cool.  Enjoy!

Fresh Apple Pie on a Diet

March 16, 2012 at 11:22 am | Posted in apple, Pie | Leave a comment
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Who loves apple pie but always feels guilty for wanting more than two pieces? Definitely me.  Anyone else out there?  Well for all you people, here is the perfect recipe.  It’s also really quick so you have no excuses. And after you’ve eaten the cinnamon buns from the previous post, you may be ready for these.

Baked Apple Pie

The idea came from a picture that E. pinned me? pinterested me? what’s the verb for using Pinterest? She found it on Pinterest and sent it to me. You can check it out here.  We are talking apple pies with no bottom crust!  Just baked apple! What an ingenious idea.  You still get that pie crust flavor from the top crust and you don’t have to worry about a soggy bottom crust because it is an apple – if it is not soggy then you are in trouble.

We decided to use Granny Smith apples for the base and then fill them with apple pie filling made from Jonathan apples.  This was the perfect treat for movie night, put into the oven right before the movie started and ready 30 minutes later.

Conveniently I had a small amount of pie crust left over from a previous pie-making session (recipe here), and it was the perfect amount to cover these apples.

While waiting for E. and A. to make it over, I prepared my all-purpose pie filling (something else that needs to be posted) which is basically sliced apples, a tad of cinnamon and sugar and a bit of lemon juice.  You can also add other spices such as cardamom or nutmeg or allspice if you want.

When E. came over, I quickly cored the Granny Smith apples that she brought  and left a small border of apple under the skin.  Then I stuffed them with the apple pie filling.  I rolled out the dough and cut it into thin strips to make a lattice. Bear in mind that this whole process took about 8-10 minutes.  After latticing the top – into the oven they went! And 35 minutes later – fresh baked apple pie!  It’s like the best of both worlds – baked apple and apple pie. This is the perfect TV watching snack for the winter.

Apple Pies all in a Row (please ignore the cookies next to the pan, they are for another post on linzer cookies - stay tuned!)

Also, something I noted while eating the apple – Mission Impossible 3 has almost nothing to do with the other Mission Impossibles and the story line is so not Mission Impossible. Sorry to throw that in here, just something I noticed.

Enjoy!

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