Nectarine Cardamom Vanilla Pie – for a Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday J.! To celebrate J. birthday, I was asked to make a fruit dessert.  Well hello peaches. Or nectarines. Or apricots.

Millions of peaches, peaches for me.
Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

J. is kind of an old soul stuck in a young body. Or as he puts it, in an old body. What is it with men and feeling older than they are? Isn’t it better to feel young and spry? It’s a mental game people! J. is also a longtime fan of The Unappreciated Baker (thanks!) and a lover of all things fruity desserty. And so, for his birthday – fruit dessert! Coincidentally, I love fruit desserts as well :).

Nectarines!
Nectarines!

Going back to nectarines.  I like to bake with nectarines as opposed to peaches because then I don’t have to worry about peeling them.  While I don’t mind the fuzzy peach peel in my desserts, others do. So if I bake with them, I need to peel them.  Due to the special occasion, I broke out my mini pie plates so that everyone could enjoy their very own peach pie.

Pie crusts ready to be filled.
Pie crusts ready to be filled.

I thought about going with my tried and true pie recipe, but then I thought about changing it up a bit – after all, isn’t that the point of this blog? To try new things. I found a recipe that flavored the peaches with vanilla and cardamom, not a combination I have used before with peaches. Testing time!

One pie all filled up.
One pie all filled up.

I did stick with my tried and true pie crust recipe, because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. With my regular double crust recipe I had enough dough for eight crusts and seven lattices. One ended up being a snack on Friday afternoon :).

The Little Rocker and I snacked on the sample and we enjoyed it a lot.  She was a little disappointed that she did not get her own pie to sample, but I told her that at the party she would have her own so it was okay to share this time.

And the others follow.
And the others follow.

On a related note, Squeaker just started eating solids and while she is not such a fan of the peas and sweet potatoes, she loves her some peaches. I mixed the peas and peaches and wham – at the whole bowl. Peach season for everyone!

The finished product.
Ready to be

I didn’t really feel the cardamom in the pie, maybe increase it next time?

And here we go!
And here we go!

We know what J.’s birthday means – Rocker Dude’s birthday! Amazing how close friends can have their birthdays so close together. Rocker Dude asked for a plain sheet cake for his birthday – can you see what I am working with?? A plain yellow cake??? With icing!! I hate working with icing. I am not talented in that way – drawing was never my forte, and the icing is always so sweet. It is always the part of the cake that I take off so that I can eat the actual cake.

So here is the cake that I made. My friend M. was kind enough to lend me a guitar shaped cake pan so that I didn’t have to try and cut out a guitar shape from a rectangular pan. That would have been disastrous. The Little Rocker had such a fun time watching the cake take shape, especially putting in the food coloring. I didn’t make the icing that bright as I hate putting in more than a few drops of food coloring. It may be weird but if I do then I feel like I am coloring my insides.

Happy Birthday Rocker Dude!
Happy Birthday Rocker Dude!

I have included the recipe for the cake because I thought that the cake was delicious on its own – with a bright citrus flavor. It’s perfect for birthday cakes and cupcakes.

And speaking of summer (weren’t we?), there are a few things that are ubiquitous to summer – baseball and ice pops. Here is a picture of Squeaker in an NY Yankees outfit that we originally got for the Little Rocker.

Yankee Fans!
Yankee Fans!

My father is a lifelong Yankees fan and if there is one thing I learned as a kid, it was that you root for the Yankees, or you’re not a real Schachter. Lucky for me, Rocker Dude is not into sports so I don’t have to keep up with his favorite team stats and stuff.

And ice pops! The Little Rocker remembered this picture of her “eating” my ice pop when she was a year old or so, and so she asked me to do it with Squeaker as well.

Eating ice pops.
Eating ice pops.
Squeaker tries to eat an ice pop.
Squeaker tries to eat an ice pop.

This time I just gave her a closed ice pop of her own, but she knew better. She still kept trying to grab my ice pop.

Nectarine Cardamom Vanilla Pie (makes 8 4-inch pies)

Recipe:
Crust:
A double crust recipe of this recipe, prepared through

Filling (based on this recipe from The Pastry Affair):
6 large (7 medium or 8 small) fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 vanilla bean, halved with the seeds removed (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg white
2 tbsp. sugar for sprinkling

Whipped Cream:
250g whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Prepare the dough through the refrigeration stage.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside while you roll out the dough. Roll out one disc of dough to a 1/8 inch thickness. You don’t want to leave the dough too thick as the pies are small. Cut out circles that are slightly larger than the circumference of the pie plates. Gently place each circle in the pie plates and trim the edges. Refrigerate the pie crusts as you make them to keep the dough cold. Then add filling into each of the pie plates and return to the refrigerator while you roll out the lattice top. Roll out the second disc to a 1/8 inch thickness. Slice into thin (about a finger’s width) strips with a very sharp knife or a pizza wheel. Carefully weave the lattice strips onto the tops of all the pies.

Brush egg white onto the tops of the pies and sprinkle with sugar. Place the pies in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is bubbling. Let cool on a rack.

To serve, beat the whipping cream with the confectioner’s sugar and dollop a generous spoonful on top of each pie.

Yellow Cake (From The Kosher Palette):

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the a large mixing bowl and stir until well blended.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the oil, orange juice, eggs and vanilla. Beat until lightened in color. Add the dry ingredients in one shot and mix until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This cake also freezes well.

 

Peach Pie Crumble – Summer is here!

Millions of peaches, peaches for free. Millions of peaches, peaches for me. It’s stone fruit season! Woohoo!

Stone fruit season is the harbinger of summer.  Let me tell you, I didn’t need a peach to tell me that the temperatures were going up and that the sun has come for good and doesn’t plan on giving us a rest until November. When the laundry dried in under five hours, it was kind of a giveaway. Also, if you go outside and it feels like someone has a blow dryer blowing on you – also kind of a giveaway.  Though, I have to admit it is not unbearable yet. There are even some days when we don’t need to turn on the air conditioner. There is something about this weather that just calls out for a nice juicy peach.  That has to be the reason why they ripen just at this time of year.

Last week’s special was peach pie… with a crumble topping.  So peach crumble… in a pie crust. So peach pie crumble! (Actually I used nectarines, so Nectarine Pie Crumble if we want to get technical.) I was so excited to make the first stone fruit dessert of the season.  I got a whole bunch of peaches and nectarines and then I didn’t know what to do with them.  I spent Friday morning browsing through the cookbooks, thought about making peach dumplings, but wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to make a peach pie and I couldn’t find the recipe that I was “feeling”. Also, I didn’t have the energy to try and steal five minutes on the computer from Rocker Dude to browse online. In The Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer I found a list of easy fruit pie fillings.  One was a peach pie. So this pie is inspired a bit from there, and a bit from what I had in the house.

A slice of pie. Sorry for the poor lighting, it was late and there was only one piece of pie left. I didn't want to wait until morning when there would be no pie left.
A slice of pie. Sorry for the poor lighting, it was late and there was only one piece of pie left. I didn’t want to wait until morning when there would be no pie left.

The little bro came over for the weekend, and even though he is usually a fan of my baking, he decided to have babka for his dessert instead.  (Granted, I made that as well, but apparently he wasn’t feeling the pie thing.) I was very disappointed in him.  I guess if I had made a strawberry shortcake, he would have dug right in. At least this time, Rocker Dude liked the pie.  Which is interesting, because I used almond extract in the filling and he hates almonds and almond extract.  Don’t tell him that he liked something with almond in it – I have to win somewhere :).

Peach Pie Crumble
Peach Pie Crumble

I had some crumble topping in the freezer left over from an apple crumble that I made who-knows-when, and I am really attempting to clean up what is in the house and use what already exists before I go shopping for more. Ergo, use already made crumble topping on pie – great solution. I was worried that the crumble might get soggy in the peach juices but it totally stayed crunchy.  I recently read somewhere that in restaurants, in order to keep the crumble crunchy, they bake the fruit and crumble topping separately and then right before serving, they reheat the fruit with the crumble topping to make a cohesive dish.  Great trick!

I can’t wait to make more things with the new crop of peaches, nectarines and apricots! Stay tuned!

Recipe:

Crust:Half of this recipe, made until the chill step
1 egg white

Filling:
6-7 medium sized peaches, peeled, or nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice

Topping:
1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

While your dough is chilling, mix together the ingredients for the filling. Let it macerate while you make the topping and roll out the dough.

Place all the topping ingredients into a bowl.  With a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently incorporate the butter/margarine into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly and holds together when you squeeze a bit in your hands.  Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about an 1/8 inch thickness.  Gently place in a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges decoratively. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white over the bottom of the crust to help prevent sogginess.  Then add the filling, mounding it slightly in the center. Generously sprinkle the crumble on top of the filling and place the pie into the oven.

Bake for 30-45 minutes depending on your oven, until the crust edges are slightly browned and the filling is bubbling. Let cool on a cooling rack. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Think Spring – Strawberry Pavlovas with Vanilla Bean Cream

Okay, I know in Israel we are a little ahead in our growing season than the US, so this recipe might not be as useful for my Israeli compatriots as the strawberry season is almost over, but it is just starting in the US.  On Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) we finally went strawberry picking. Well I went strawberry picking with the Little Rocker and Squeaker and with my friend E and her daughter S. I heard of this strawberry field that was only about 20 minutes away and they didn’t charge for picking, just for the actual strawberries themselves.

I was a little worried about going anywhere on Yom Haatzmaut because the whole country is out and in all the parks and recreation areas. I was warned by native Israelis to not try to go any more than 10 minutes from my house because otherwise the amount of traffic would just make the whole trip not worth it.  I was also warned that if I wanted to barbecue in a park (the official Independence Day pastime), then I should stake out a spot and picnic table the night before and have someone stay in the park the whole night. Soooo, that was out.

The barbeque process, everyone with their drink of choice.
The barbecue process, everyone with their drink of choice.
The Little Rocker hamming it up for the camera.
The Little Rocker hamming it up for the camera. Look at that wind!

We had already planned to get together with E and A on Yom Haatzmaut and I was just looking for something to do during the day before the barbecue.  So I decided on strawberry picking before the season ended.

The meat.
The meat.

On the morning of the big day, all we saw were grey clouds and I was a little apprehensive. It was also really windy. I had heard that the rain was supposed to be spotty so we set out anyway in the hopes that it would be nice and sunny when we got there.  As we drove to the field (and with a few wrong turns 😉 ) the sun came out and the weather turned lovely.  Bright and sunny, but a cool breeze too. We got to the field and picked the freshest strawberries I have had in this country. The Little Rocker did all the bending down for me which was awesome as I had Squeaker in a backpack on me. And we ended up with some really bright and sweet strawberries.

Kite Flying
Taking advantage of the windy day and the open soccer field.

We got home and continued with our plans and had an amazing barbecue with great fresh fruit for dessert. But afterwards we still had all those strawberries.  I made a strawberry pie with some of them, and it was great.  But then I made these strawberry pavlovas and they were the bomb-dizzle.

Adding strawberry sauce.
Adding strawberry sauce.

I had a ton of egg whites saved up in the freezer from some time when I made lemon curd or something. I didn’t want to make more meringues, because they always took so long and then I always ate them because Rocker Dude doesn’t like them.  So here is something to do with all those extra egg whites.

The finished product.
The finished product.

I ended up making individual pavlovas as opposed to one big one, because if I have a choice, I prefer to make individual desserts as opposed to family style, and this is one chance to do that without shaping individual pie crusts.

I wanted to really have the strawberry flavor pop, so I also made a strawberry sauce to be drizzled over the cream. The Little Rocker was really excited to try these and though she usually does not like the desserts I make (no taste that one, I don’t know what to do with her) she loved this one.

Strawberry Pavlovas
Strawberry Pavlovas

We had a bunch of people for dinner and these came out wonderfully, though in the future I might make the pavlovas themselves a little smaller as some felt that there was too much sweet on the plate.

This is a wonderful dessert for warm spring or summer days as it is sweet and refreshing.

Recipe (serves 12):
Pavlovas (from the Pastry Studio):

6 egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp.  cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium-low speed.  When they are foamy, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until egg whites are opaque.  Slowly dd the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until continue whipping until the egg whites are stiff and shiny.

Drop the meringue by spoonfuls onto the baking sheets, using about 1/3 cup per pavlova. Smooth the tops with the back of a spoon, leaving an indentation for the filling. Bake for about 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the meringues are dry and can be released easily from the baking paper.  Remember to rotate the baking sheets halfway and if you have them on two racks then to switch the pans as well. When they are done, turn off the oven and let the meringues dry out for another 30 minutes in the oven.  After 30 minutes, place the meringues on a wire rack to cool.

Vanilla Bean Cream:

250 ml whipping cream
2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

In a clean mixing bowl, begin whipping the cream. As the cream thickens, add the sugar and the vanilla. Continue beating until stiff. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.

Strawberry Sauce:

15 strawberries, washed and hulled
2 tbsp.-1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet the strawberries are

In a food processor or blender, combine the strawberries with the sugar until you have a uniform sauce.

Washed, hulled and sliced strawberries for garnish.

Assembly:

On each plate, place a meringue.  Add a generous spoonful of cream on top, followed by some sliced strawberries.  Then drizzle some strawberry sauce over the whole thing. Serve immediately.

Last Minute Tu B’Shvat Treats – Date Truffles

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!

Back from Vacation and a Peach Pie

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

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

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!

Quince and Pear Sauce – Just in time for Chanuka

This time I am going to be organized.  I am going to post the holiday recipe before the holiday before the holiday is over, so that all you people can actually use it :).

Recently I found myself with some quinces in my fridge.  They were sending “Eat Me” messages and I really didn’t want them to go to waste.  On top of that, I have been feeling rather lazy lately and all I want to do when I get home from work is – nothing.  Yup, that’s right people, nothing.  I just went through a crazy busy time at work while I covered for the two department heads (congrats to both – one on a baby girl and the other on getting married!) and after working anywhere between 10 and 15 hours a day – all I want to do is, yes you guessed it, nothing.

Fruit Sauce
Chunky fruit sauce

Working against this force of laziness is Rocker Dude.  Well, not exactly against it so much as diverting it to laziness of another sort.  He keeps loading up episodes of our favorite tv shows on the computer for me to watch.  We are trying to catch up on Chuck and keeping updated with The Big Bang Theory.  And best of all, now that Shabbat ends early enough to actually do something afterwards, we have been watching movies again Saturday night.  The other week, Rocker Dude sat me down and told me that it was time for me to watch Captain America.  As our house is full of comic books, and Rocker Dude’s goal in life is to one day own all comic-related movies, it was obvious that when Captain America came out in the summer, he would be the first in line to see it.  Well he wasn’t the first, but he made sure to see it shortly after it came out. I feel less strongly about seeing movies in theaters (it’s kind of a waste of money) so I waited until we had a copy of it before I saw it.  Rocker Dude downloaded a copy (oh no he didn’t!) and has been waiting for a while to be able to watch it with me.  Apparently now was the time.

I decided to not waste time (for once) and take advantage of the time that we would spend watching the movie.  I took the two quinces that were getting old and lonely in the fruit bin and the red pear that was not quite sweet enough to be appetizing.

Quinces are notoriously hard to deal with – they are really hard – like a pain in the neck to cut  and peel – and you can’t eat them without cooking them first. But, due to the fact that these quinces were a bit old, they had softened and I could peel them and cut them off the core pretty easily.

I cut the quinces up into chunks and threw them into a saucepan (I know, boiling on the fire is not technically baking, but it ends up as a dessert so it  counts.)  I peeled and cut up the pear and threw that in the pot.  Added some water and boiled the fruit.

Then I sat down to watch Captain America.

About halfway through the movie (around the part where the Red Skull is revealing his plan to destroy the world) I remembered that the fruit was simmering on the fire.  Whoops.

I quickly took it off the fire, drained out some of the extra liquid and mashed everything up. I guess if I was less lazy I could have thrown it all in the food processor and gotten a much smoother sauce, but again, lazy.

I added some cinnamon and some agave syrup (keep the glucose levels down).  Then I let the sauce cool until after the movie was over.

Captain America saved the day but was frozen in a glacier and my fruit sauce was awesome.

So for all you people who are planning on having plain old boring apple sauce with their latkes this year during Chanukah – we at the Casa de la Smoj will be indulging in a different condiment this year.  (If I have time to make more, I already ate the first batch.  What?  It was really small!)

Little Rocker the Chanuka Candle
Little Rocker the Chanuka Candle (from her preschool party).

Recipe (from what was left in my refrigerator):

fruit from the apple/pear family (apples (not red delicious), pears of different sorts, asian pears, quinces, etc.)
water for boiling
cinnamon
agave syrup or honey or brown sugar
nutmeg (optional)
allspice (optional)
cardamom (optional)

Peel and cut all the fruit into big chunks. Put them into a saucepan with enough water to come halfway up the pile of fruit.  Boil for a while until everything is soft.  Drain some of the water (leave a bit so that you have an easier time mixing). Mash the fruit and add the agave syrup/brown sugar/honey.  Start with a little bit and taste the mixture to make sure that it is not too sweet.  Then add the nutmeg, and/or allspice and/or cardamom.  It’s probably a good idea to add some salt too, so that the flavor really pops.

Let it cool and then eat with your favorite latkes!

P.S. I made version 2.0 with quinces, pears, Jonathan apples and Yellow Delicious apples this week.  Added some cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves.  After cooking the fruit I blended it all with an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce – yum!

Apple Cranberry Pie

I know it is a bit late, but I promised you all Apple-Cranberry Pie.  So here it is.  I had intended to make it for Sukkot, but transporting a pie on the bus to be eaten a few days later is just not a good idea.  So I made it for Shabbat last week and it was delish.

 Apple-Cranberry Pie

The reason it has taken me so long to make this pie is because we have been busy over Sukkot and just now are getting back to normal.  Also, now that the holidays are over, people have come back from their travels overseas and we can see them again.

We spent most of the holiday in Jerusalem at Rocker Dude’s parents because they have a big sukkah and holidays are about family right? (Yes, yes, and food).

Being based in Jerusalem does have it’s advantages, though most of the attractions are outside the city.  We spent Shabbat of Sukkot in Beit Shemesh at our friends’ parents and had a great time there.  Thanks so much W.’s!  The Little Rocker especially loved the little fish pond outside the house and had so much fun deciding which fish belonged to which families. (Because every family has a father, mother and one baby right?)  Then on Monday we went to the Monkey Park in Ben Shemen.  I’m not sure who was more excited to go – Rocker Dude or the Little Rocker.  Rocker Dude has always had a thing for monkeys and somehow he managed to pass it on to the Little Rocker.  We obviously made sure to bring Momo, her constant simian companion, so that he could meet his cousins.  There was a section at the end where 30-40 squirrel monkeys were running loose all around the people walking through and the Little Rocker made sure to lift up Momo so that he could meet all those little monkeys.  She was most excited when she saw a baby squirrel monkey riding piggy back on the mommy monkey – now she knows I’m not crazy when I want to carry her piggy back.

We spent the last day of Sukkot, actually Simchat Torah, at our friends in Ginot Shomron and had a wonderful time.  The Little Rocker made sure to get her fair share of treats (though I have to admit that I hid most of them afterward when she wasn’t looking – saving them for prizes and things).  There was even a small horse ranch outside the town and we took the Little Rocker to go and feed the horsies.  She had a lot of fun, even if she fell down on a rock on the way and scraped her nose.  And then we came back home – finally.  It ain’t easy to be away for a week and living out of suitcases, but somehow we managed it.

We were invited out to friend’s for both Friday night and Shabbat lunch last week.  Now that the Little Rocker is older and Shabbat  comes in earlier, we can take her out at night and pretend that we have a life too ;).  I was asked by H. to bring a dessert.  Immediately I thought – “Apple-Cranberry Pie!  This is my chance!”  Now cranberries are usually a problem to find here in Israel as they are a cold weather fruit – something that doesn’t exist here (the weather I mean).  When I looked at the recipe though, one of the comments made was that the filling had a lot of liquid and the author was worried that the crust would get soggy.  So I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to use dried cranberries – problem solved!

Instead of using the pie crust that came with the recipe , I used Dorie’s Good For Almost Anything pie crust recipe.  I have used it before and we have an understanding.  I will make a good filling for it and it will behave and stay light and flaky.  It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

The cranberry layer

The hardest part for me is always making the crust.  I love making pies and tarts but when I think about making the crust, all of a sudden I start getting lazy and I put off making whatever I was going to make.  That’s the point when I rethink my plan of making a pie and start looking for one-step recipes that don’t require chilling.  In my dream mansion (which will have a hover golf-cart so that we can get around all the land without messing up the gardens) I will have a huge freezer where I can make tons of pie dough and have it frozen in single-use size packages.  Then I never have to feel lazy again.  But until that magical future (hey – it could happen!) I just have to deal with what I have – i.e. a small freezer and no time.  So last week, in order to prevent the Friday afternoon laziness, I made the crust dough on Thursday night.  Go me!  Advanced preparation – woo hoo! And then when I woke up on Friday morning, I had a crust that was ready to be rolled out and used.

The apple layer

I knew that H. and Y., well especially Y., like fruity desserts, so this pie would be perfect.  The hardest part was waiting for the filling to cool before I could put it in the pie shell.  I solved that problem by watching three episodes of Pan-Am.  It is not such a bad show – kind of Mad Men-esque in that it takes place in the sixties and the characters do and say things that would get them sued today, but otherwise it is a lighter show.  They don’t deal with some of the heavy things that Mad Men deals with.  Of course, that may be because the show is only about 6 episodes in.  Rocker Dude thinks that I only like fake shows, meaning shows that don’t make you think.  But I ask you, does How I Met Your Mother really make you think? And besides, we watch Castle together and that makes you think, sort of.  The point is, that by the time the three episodes were over, it was time to pick up the Little Rocker from nursery (her first day back after vacation) and when we came home, she helped me fill the pie and cover it with the top layer of dough.  What a helper!

The pie baked really nicely and the crust came out nice and flaky and flavorful, even if I did use margarine instead of butter.  Such is Jewish life.

Thanksgiving is coming up and I encourage everyone to try this pie for their Thanksgiving meal.  It has the quintessential fall flavors of apple and cranberry and tastes delicious!

This recipe comes from Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures who took it from Cook’s Illustrated.

Recipe:

2 cups dried cranberries
1/4 cup apple or orange juice
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 1/2 pounds sweet apples (6-7 medium), peeled, cored & cut into 1/4″ thick slices
1 double crust pie dough (recipe here)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sugar in the raw

To make the cranberry filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries have plumped and absorbed almost all the liquid, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the water, and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

To make the apple filling: In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and cornstarch.  Add the apples and toss to coat thoroughly.  Microwave the apple mixture on high power for 8-10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes with a rubber spatula, until the liquid is thick and glossy and the apples have started to turn translucent around the edges.  Let the apple filling cool to room temperature.  You can microwave the apples for less time if you want more of a bite to your filling.  (Note: both fillings can be made up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerated.)

While the fillings are cooling, preheat oven to 425 F.  Place a rack in the lowest position and place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack.  Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch round on a floured surface.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough.  Spread the cooled cranberry filling in the bottom of the dough-lined pie plate.  Place the cooled apple filling on top of the cranberry layer, mounding it slightly in the center.  Roll out the second disk of dough to a 12-inch round on a floured surface.  Transfer it to the top of the pie plate.  Use kitchen shears to cut through both layers of pie dough, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the outer rim of the pie plate.  Use your fingers to create a fluted edge or use the tines of a fork to seal the dough.  Brush the top and edges of the pie with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with the sugar in the raw.  Use a sharp paring knife to cut slits in the top crust.

Bake the pie on the preheated baking sheet until the top is light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and continue to bake until the crust is deep golden brown, about 25-30 minutes longer.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie: All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie

I am so behind on my posting, and I apologize to everyone out there.  Things have been busy at work and even busier at home.  I have been involved in planning three different wedding-related celebrations, we went to one wedding and still have two more this week.  It’s a busy time, and I have been baking, I promise, I just haven’t had time to post it.  So let this post be the first drop in the bucket.

A little apple pie

This week’s recipe was the All-American Apple Pie.  It was chosen by Emily of Sandmuffin.  She chose it because she loves apple pie.  Of all the fruit combinations in the world, I LOOOOOOOVE apple pie!  I think that apples are my favorite fruit to bake with and I love baking with fruit.  I was looking forward to this recipe as soon as it was chosen, and I finally made it last week.

Margarine for the pie crust.

Rocker Dude had been nudging me for a while saying that I haven’t ever made a pie with a lattice crust and why haven’t I made one and is it because I can’t make one.  After reminding him that I have made pies with a lattice crust before (he still doesn’t believe me), I decided that just to prove him wrong, I would make this pie a lattice-topped pie.

Pie crust dough ready for refrigeration.

I made this pie a week and a half ago, on Friday, so because Little Rocker came home from daycare early and I needed to entertain her, I decided to make this a joint project and we had a ton of fun with it.

Ready to be rolled out

I made the dough while she was napping, so it was all ready to be rolled out when she woke up.  For her birthday, J. and M. had gotten her a mini kitchen set – but with real tools, not toys.  It has a mini whisk, a mini rolling pin, a measuring cup, a mini sifter and some little cookie cutters.  I gave the Little Rocker a 4 inch pie plate and we were in business.

Rolling out the dough

We rolled out the dough together, and made sure there was enough flour.

Flouring the dough

Then we placed the bottom crust in the pie plate and put it in the refrigerator while we got the filling ready.

Pressing the dough into the pie plate.

I did not have tapioca, and I had no idea where to get some, so I just added some cornstarch to the mix.  This is the first time that I have used lemon zest in an apple pie, but I can promise that it won’t be the last (even though Rocker Dude complained that he could taste lemon and it made the pie too tart).

Apple filling

We filled the crusts with the filling, and then I rolled out the top crust.  I cut it into lines, and the Little Rocker helped me put the “stips” on the pie.  We crimped the edges and then went to work on her little pie.

Elephant Cookies

We rolled out a top crust and carefully pressed it over the apples.  Because there was some extra dough, and the Little Rocker has developed a total obsession with elephants (or ephelants), I used one of her new cookie cutters, which conveniently was an elephant, and we made little elephant cookies.  Some we put as decoration on top of the crust and the others we baked plain.

Pies ready to be baked!

The pie came out looking beautifully.  I got to prove to Rocker Dude that I could make a lattice-topped pie and the Little Rocker got to make her own little apple pie.  Okay, I will admit, she didn’t really eat the pie, she just gobbled down all the elephant cookies while doing her elephant impression – it was really cute!

The Little Rocker is a little possessive of her apple pie.

This pie tasted delicious.  The apple filling wasn’t gooey and it didn’t make the pie crust soggy at all.  Unlike commercial apple fillings, you really taste the apple and it makes eating the pie so much more enjoyable.

All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie

For the recipe go to Emily’s blog here, and see what other TWD bakers did here.