Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blueberry Frangipane Flan

from Organic Kitchen by Yvonne Spevack

frangipane indicates a dessert made with almond filling

I think this recipe makes a gorgeous tart...and if I get to taste it I'll let you know if the flavor is as good as it looks. I had to rush it straight to the restaurant and hope it's a hit!

This recipe is under the summer section of Organic Kitchen and the caption reads "A tangy lemon pastry case is filled with a nutty sweet almond filling dotted with ripe blueberries. Their wonderful color and taste are a seasonal favorite."

So, I cheated because
A. My blueberries were from the farm and frozen (but they were organic!)
B. I didn't have a lemon, so I made the tart shell with clementine zest instead of lemon.
C. I had to add a tiny bit more liquid to the pastry to get it to roll out smoothly. It was pretty crumbly.
D. I actually added an extra egg and a bit more milk and flour to pump up the filling, which I don't think was necessary recipe-wise, but perhaps it was restaurant-wise.
E. I don't know if I ground the almonds enough. Whatever.
F. I used 1/2 T rum instead of 1 T brandy. Whatever!

but i've wanted to try this recipe for awhile and here it is!


For the Pastry:
1.5 cups all-purpose flours
.5 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
2 T sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 a lemon
1 T chilled water

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind, then add water and mix to a firm dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use to line a 9-in loose bottomed tart or quiche pan. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (for weight) and bake for 10 min. Remove the paper and the beans and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove from oven.

...make the Filling:
2 T ground coffee
3 T milk
4 T unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ground almonds
1 T all purpose flour, sifted
1 cups blueberries
2 T jam
1 T brandy
creme fraiche or sour cream, to serve.

Put the ground coffee in a bowl, heat the milk to almost boiling and pour over the coffee. Let infuse for 4 minutes.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale, beat in the egg, then mix in the almonds and flour. Strain the coffee-milk through a coffee filter and mix the milk in with the other ingredients.

Pour the coffee mixture into the pastry shell and spread evenly. Scatter the blueberries over the top and push them down slightly into the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, until firm, covering with foil after 20 minutes.

Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Heat the jam and brandy in a small saucepan.

Brush over the flan and remove from the tin. Serve warm with creme fraiche or sour creme.

It really is lovely...I'll probably make another for myself.

And look! The cheesecake I brought in THIS MORNING is almost GONE!

For your viewing pleasure

This is the bulk bag of chocolate they ordered for me. Twenty-two pounds of semisweet chips.

Chocolate Mousse

So after the the other desserts I made yesterday... I got a call asking for MORE desserts.

so I give you Chocolate Mousse a la Martha and Blueberry Frangipane Flan- both made in an hour and a half- shabaaaaam!

Chocolate Mousse (I doubled this recipe)

4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
2 T cocoa powder
2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream

If using block chocolate, finely chop.
In a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Heat until warm (don't cook the eggs) and remove from heat.

Whisk in chocolate and cocoa powder until melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Whisk half into the cooled chocolate mixture, then gently fold that mixture into the remaining cream. Divide into containers and chill for at least 2 hours, up to one day.

Garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and/or fruit.

Apple Tart

What a wonderful way to pound some puff pastry.

3 or 4 apples; I used granny smith
brown sugar, a cup or so
some cinnamon, maybe a teaspoon? or more?
and a squirt of lemon juice.
1 sheet of puff pastry

Defrost the puff pastry and unfold. Preheat to 350. Peel your apples, half them and scoop out the core. Cut each half into skinny slices and put into a bowl. Cover the slices with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice, and let sit for a few minutes.

Arrange the apples in a few rows, very close together. Cram as many apples as you can on that sheet of pastry, leaving an inch or an inch and a half around the edge, which you can either leave flat or fold up and squeeze in pleats to keep it there.

Bake on a baking sheet for 20-30 min, until golden brown. I snagged a few apples on the drive to the restaurant and they are TASTY.

Key Lime Pie

I used a recipe from this site, and I one and a halfed it.

Key Lime Pie

from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.
Suggestion: 9" spring form pan

for the crust:

3/4 c plus 2 T (or 7 ounces) graham cracker crumbs
scant 1/4 cup softened, unsalted butter
(you can add 1T of cocoa powder to make a chocolate variety, but she stresses avoiding using chocolate graham crackers cuz they're hard to cut after baking)

for the filling:

5 large egg yolks
14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
zest of 3 limes (I had to buy a zester, too! always wanted one)
1/2 c plus 2 T lime juice (of 4-5 limes, I found out)
3 large egg whites

--Preheat oven to 325, and put in a baking sheet
--Mash the graham crackers and butter together and press into the pan evenly, going a little up the sides, then chill while you make filling
--beat egg yolks until thick, then add condensed milk, grated zest, and lime juice.
--whisk egg whites separately until soft peaks form, then fold gently into yolk goo
--pour into the pan and cook for 25 minutes (ended up being 30 in my oven), or until filling is firm. It puffs a little, then falls during cooling - hey, as Nigella puts it, "that's the deal".
--cool on rack before unmolding, and chill well

serves 6-8

Cheesecake Trials.

So they HAD to HAVE a cheesecake for the restaurant this weekend, and as the other baker is out of town, the task fell to me. I made a key lime pie and had planned a tart, and I thought that would be sufficient. Little did I know what was still to come...
Anyway, it was a rather hectic friday afternoon, trying to bake an apple tart and a cheesecake and clean the house and plan the fantastic HARRY POTTER PARTY HOORAY with Emily and cook for friends that were coming over for dinner at 7pm.

I used the cheesecake recipe I posted previously, mint chocolate cheesecake, but without the mint. It requires a long, low temp baking and I must admit I tried to expedite the process.
Needless to say, it split in about a billion different ways. I was horrified when I looked in the oven and saw that the cheesecake had risen well beyond the top of the spring form pan; a little monster trying to take over my oven. And when I finally pulled it out, it greeted the air by exhaling and sinking a few inches. I guess it relaxed so much that it felt comfortable unbuckling its belt to crack wide open.

So I dragged my key lime pie and apple tart to the restaurant and promised them a cheesecake in the morning.

(This first cheesecake was delicious after dinner with our guests. I had some leftover batter and put it in ramekins, adding blueberries to one and bananas to the other. The blueberries were killa dilla and the bananas were decent.)

Ultimately, I found myself in Kroger at 11pm buying cream cheese. I set my alarm to wake up at 12:30 or so to take the new cheesecake out of the oven. Actually, I didn't take it out of the oven, I left in the oven with the door cracked so the air wouldn't shock the cheesecake. Then I was up again at 4am to put it in the fridge and guess what? Cracked.

Clearly, cheesecake hates me, and I am starting to hate it, because I can still feel it around my midriff from last night. And at 4am when I had some more.

So, what do you do with a cracked cheesecake? You make chocolate ganache at 4 am and pour it on top, hiding said crack.

And that's just what I did.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I'm married to him. :)

First of all, I was reminded by Natalie that chocolate chips are AMAZING in pumpkin spice muffins, so I made a batch using only 1 box spice cake mix, 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin, 1/2 c water and lots of mini chocolate chips. (I think it's key that they're mini). Mix, bake, eat.

(check out Natalie's blog for more specific instructions.)

So on our picnic, Eric and I went to the local Brickponds and had Olive Bread, Pumpkin Chocolate chip muffins, Sausage Hand pies, strawberries, and rootbeer. PERFECT.

We threw our pie crusts into the pond where they were immediately devoured by fishes.

Sausage Hand Pies

No utensils necessary, you can take these handy hand pies anywhere! On a picnic, for example. Which is just what Eric and I did this evening.

This recipe is from the halloween Martha issue. I halved the recipe.

Pate Brisee
5 cups all purpose flour
2 t salt
2 t sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
3/4-1 cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and sugar in food processor, add butter and pulse until only pea sized chunks remain. (or rub the butter in with the flour with your hands if you haven't gotten your food processor yet.) With machine running, add water slowly in through the feed tube only til the dough starts to come together. Pull dough into a ball and divide into three disks. Wrap these in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. (I only did for about 30 min, and nothing bad happened.)

1 lb sweet italian sausage, casings removed.
1 large onion, diced (1.5 c)
1 t minced fresh thyme
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1 T plus 1 t flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup chicken stock (I completely forgot about this when I made the recipe.)
1 medium Granny Smith Apple, cut into 1/2 in cubes.
Pate Brisee
1 large egg, slightly beaten.

Cook sausage in a skillet, breaking it up as you go, until the pink is gone. Transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving the grease in the skillet.
Cook the onion, pepper and thyme until the onion is translucent.
Add flour to the pan, stirring about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, stirring until thick, about 1 minute. Stir in apples and sausage, let cool.

Preheat oven to 375.
Roll out each disk of dough on a floured surface until it's about 1/8 in thick. Place them on parchment paper and refrigerate for 15 min.
Using a 3-3/4 in round cookie cutter, cut rounds from the sheets of dough. Place 2 T filling in the center of half of the rounds. Brush edges with lightly beaten egg. (you can either cut interesting shapes from the remaining rounds and replace the shape, slightly off, or cut little slits like I did.) Top the filled circles with the slitted circles, pressing down with a fork to seal. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 MORE minutes. (I did not do this step). (Alternatively, once you get to this point, you can freeze the pies and bake without defrosting at a later date. They will cook in the same amount of time, according to Martha.)

Brush with egg and bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve pies warm or at room temp.


Would you like to know how to make your very own home made caramel for all your caramel needs?

You can either pour only sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat until it melts, being very careful not to let it progress beyond "golden" to "burnt," or you can mix the sugar with a little bit of water and boil that together.
I think it's a little easier to mix the sugar with the water because the sugar doesn't clump that way.
When the caramel turns golden, add a bit of whipped cream and butter, stirring all the while and being very careful not to get burned. This stuff is HOT. Liquified sugar- which sticks to you- can give you second degree burns.

I used 1 cup of sugar with a few tablespoons of water, boiled til golden, then added a 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 T of butter. Add it slowly and stir continually. This makes a nice consistency for dipping apples. We had the caramel with Granny Smith Apples and Brie cheese mmmmmm!

Olive Bread

I have a cookbook called Organic Kitchen that separates the recipes by season, using seasonal ingredients. I got it at a moving sale at a Barnes and Noble in Augusta last year. I got a lot of cookbooks, actually, for about a quarter of the cover price. Eric and I walked out of the bookstore with at least 30 books. I'm going to cook some of the fall recipes, and I'll tell you about them, because many of the dishes are ones I haven't seen anywhere else.

There is also a "Sauces, salsas, chutneys and breads" section in the back, where this olive bread is featured.

It requires two rises, so plan accordingly timewise.

2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 T olive oil
2 cups pitter black or green olives
2 oz fresh yeast (I used 2.5 t instant yeast)
7 cups white bread flour 1.5 t salt
3 T each roughly chopped parsley, cilantro and mint (I didn't use any mint)

So, fry the onions til soft and roughly chop the onions. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup warm water.

Put the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl with the olives and fried onions and add the yeast mixture. Mix well, adding enough water to make a soft dough. Knead for about 10 min.

Place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk:

Lightly grease two baking sheets. Turn the dough onto a floured surface (parchment paper is great for this if you don't feel like cleaning your counter yet AGAIN), and cut in half. Shape into two rounds* and place on the baking sheets. Cover the dough with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let stand until doubled.

Preheat to 425 degrees.
Slash the tops of the dough with a knife:

Bake for 40 min, or until the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. This is a very moist bread, so I think you can let them get even browner than I did.

* When shaping boules, or round loaves, you need to create tension on the top of the dough so it'll rise evenly, so pull the dough around and into the middle bottom of the dough until the top is tight-ish. Pinch closed the bottom of the dough. It's hard to explain without showing you...
It's also important to slash the top so that when the bread is cooking the imperfections will let themselves out in the slashes instead of bulging out the sides or something. You can tell I know a lot about this, right?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New job opportunities all the time...

Here's a pic of the second Hummingbird Cake I made, along with my new mixer!

Now, I have to mention that an older lady tried my cake at the restaurant and requested I make one for her dinner party. I dropped this cake off and her house and she was VERY friendly, and even gave me an in for a job where you get paid $16/hour to act like a patient for the local medical school for med students' tests. Like, they give you a scenarios like "getting diagnosed with Alzheimer's," or "pregnant" and the student gets graded on their examination and manner. How fun!
The next day she called and invited me to go see a movie with her and a friend. Unfortunately, I had to decline.

Mint Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

I've wanted to make this cheesecake for awhile now. Cheesecakes are nice, uncomplicated things to make. Really all your real worries are how done is done? and why did my cheesecake crack?

I got the Cook's Illustrated "All-Time Best Recipes" magazine, and for each entry they explore what potentially goes wrong with a recipe, and then how they made it ULTIMATE pie crust, french chicken in a pot, New York Style Cheesecake or what have you.

In this recipe, they explored crust options, sour cream vs heavy cream, number of eggs and baking times and temps and this is what they came up with for the perfect cheesecake...

...which, by the way, takes 2.5 pounds of cream cheese that looks like this on a plate:

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup (4 oz) graham cracker crumbs (8 whole crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed in a food processor til fine)*
1 T sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan.

*the recipe also says you can subsitute chocolate wafers for graham crackers. I used chocolate teddi grahams in a mad teddi graham massacre.

Cheesecake filling:

2.5 pounds cream cheese (which is 5 of the 8 oz packages you'll most likely buy at the store), cut into rough 1 in pieces and left at room temp for 30-45 min
1/8 t salt
1.5 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 t juice from 1 lemon
2 t vanilla extract
1 large egg yolks plus 6 large whole eggs

* I also added about 2 t peppermint extract and some green food coloring


1. For the Crust:
Oven rack to lower-middle position and 325 degrees. Combine cracker crumbs and sugar, slowly at 5 T melted butter and combine til evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of a 9 in springform pan with most of the remaining butter. Empty crumbs into pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, about 13 minutes. Let cool and go on to make the filling.

2. For the Filling:
Increase oven temp to 500. With a mixer, beat cream cheese at med-low speed to break up and soften; about 1 min. Scrape beater and bottom, add salt and sugar slowly, scraping and beating until combined. Add sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla and beat at low speed until combined. Scrape bowl, add yolks, combine and scrape. Add the 6 eggs, 2 at a time, scraping and beating in between additions.
3. Set springform pan on baking sheet to catch potential spills. Pour filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 min, without opening door. Reduce oven temp to 200 and bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into middle of cheesecake registers about 150 degrees, about 1.5 hours. Transfer cheesecake to wire rack and cool about 5 min, then run knife arounf edges to release from the pan. (This prevents post-cooking crackage.) Cool until barely warm, 2.5-3 hours. Refridgerate until cold, at least 3 hrs. (will keep up to 4 days.)

Recommended to stand at room temp 30 min before serving.

The recipe made a ton, so I poured excess into little ramekins that Audrey decorated for us for a wedding present (Thanks Audrey!).

When the cheesecakes had cooled for a little while, I made the chocolate ganache to pour on top.

Chocolate Ganache:

8 oz semisweet chocolate (chopped, chunks or chips)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 T butter
sugar to taste (optional)

Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream until bubbling around the edges, and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, chunk in the butter and sugar if using, and stir until combined and smooth.

Pour over cheesecake and spread or shake to make smooth. Chill.

I may have gone a tad overboard with the green food coloring, or maybe it intensifies with time, because the cheesecake at the restaurant is awfully green. Hopefully it's not off-putting.


Thursday, October 15, 2009


I called kitchenaid about 2 days ago about my broken mixer and I got a new one in the mail TODAY!!!!

oh, PTL.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I love this bowl.

feel free to check out my (in progress) pottery website:

Hummingbird Cake

I have only just learned what Hummingbird Cake is- from an unearthly experience at Bollweevil's Cafe here in Augusta. Go there. Eat Cake.

Think of a Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing, and then take out the carrots, replacing them with crushed pineapple, pecans, cinnamon and ripe banana. I wasn't enthralled with the idea at first, but let me tell you, one taste will release you from any hesitance you may be feeling right now.

I made a cake for the restaurant, and cupcakes for me. I sadly did not capture the finished cake, but if there's anything left next time I go in, I'll snap a shot.

I used this recipe, but I added more pineapple, less banana and less oil. I left out the nutmeg cause I couldn't find mine in the cabinet! I really need a spice rack.

Hummingbird Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 oz crushed pineapple, well drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 2 cups very ripe bananas

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners sugar (I know, I know)
  • Extra nuts for garnish (if desired)

For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together into mixing bowl several times. Add eggs and salad oil to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moistened. Stir in vanilla, pineapple and the pecans (saving a few to garnish the top of the cake). Stir in the bananas. Spoon the batter into 3 well-greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes,or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter; cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar a little at a time (you might not need all of it--it's always easier to add more than to remove it!), beating with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Frost the tops of all 3 layers, stack and then frost sides. Sprinkle top with leftover pecans (or you might want to add more if you like a crunchier cake-top).

UPDATE: I now make the following changes for perfect hummingbird cake:
1 cup of oil instead of 1 1/4.
8 oz pineapple instead of 4 oz.

and for the cream cheese frosting, if you like yours tangier than sweeter, try 3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, and one pound of powdered sugar rather than the amounts listed above.

I used food coloring in the icing, and not as much confectioner's sugar. Just add it slowly and stop when you're satisfied. I experimented with different icing tips and techniques. I'd like a bigger round tip, but I can't find one anywhere around here.

I like to pretend that these cupcakes are really healthy.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes!!!

These are my favorite cupcakes so far. Chocolate Stout Cupcakes, Whiskey Chocolate Filling, and Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting. SpecTACular.

I've wanted to make these for awhile, and I actually found a recipe for the exact thing I wanted, on Smitten Kitchen. (Which almost disappointed me, I sort of wanted to try my hand at creating the thing out of the air.) I think next time I will adjust it- maybe try a whiskey glaze instead of filling- although filling in cupcakes is like, the most heavenly surprise.

This recipe is excellent- the cakes domed perfectly, chocolately and moist.

I used the cap of the bailey's bottle to dig little circles out of the tops of the cupcakes, then a knife to dig out a little more. I used a measuring spoon to drop the ganache in each hole, then recovered with the little cake cap I'd removed. I've read you can also use a knife and cut a cone-shape out of the top, fill up, and replace. I liked my method, though next time I might try to make the holes wider.

I couldn't really taste the whiskey in the chocolate filling. Next time I'd add more (I added 2 T) or try a whiskey glaze.

The icing is my favorite part- I love Bailey's. We made mint Bailey's cupcakes for my bachelorette party. I wonder if it would go well with a cream cheese frosting? Is there a difference between icing and frosting? What exactly is blogging etiquette about posting recipes? As long as I give credit is it ok? Why doesn't Eric like cake? How many pounds have I gained since starting this blog? These questions and more I wonder while baking...

MAKE THESE CUPCAKES. YOUR LIFE WILL BE COMPLETE. (and if it's not, send em on over to me.)

We have lots of guinness left over now, and Eric and I tried Irish Car Bombs on saturday night, but it was sort of a waste because we went to bed immediately afterwards. Party people, thats us.