BEAUTY AND THE BEAST HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE ROSE TART

I have always been a Disney junkie. My sisters and I were raised on the Disney classics. From Snow White and Pinocchio (both kinda creepy), to The Three Caballeros (NEVER overlook that one – my sisters and I used run around the house singing the theme song), Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty (love the good fairies), The Sword in the Stone, Cinderella (she’s sassy), Robin Hood…our Disney VHS collection was legendary.

And then came the Alan Menkin/Howard Ashman years. The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, and yes BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Ask my kids who my favorite princess is, and they will tell you it is Belle because of her love for books. Yes, I’m a voracious reader. Having a Kindle in my Manhattan apartment has been a lifesaver.  I saw a great Facebook meme the other day that summed it up really well:

In anticipation of the upcoming live action remake, my 6-year-old daughter dressed up as Belle (complete with accessory) for the Jewish holiday of Purim. (Older Daughter was Angelica Schuyler from Hamilton, and Son was a hot dog.) The plan is to have a girls outing and go with my mom, sisters, and daughters. My son and husband are planning to wash their hair that day. (They’ll probably end up going with Baba to some entirely inappropriate-for-an-eight-year-old movie, and there’s nothing I can do about it because I will be at Beauty and the Beast.)
Also, Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan MacGregor (Husband refers to him as my boyfriend), Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Stanley Tucci, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson!!!!! That is all.

So , mesdames et messieurs, in honor of the recent premiere of the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie, I am proud to present Chocolate-Hazelnut Rose Tart. The tart has a hazelnut crust and is filled with a layer of homemade chocolate hazelnut-spread (BONUS BLOG ENTRY). Not only do you know exactly what is in the spread, but it is dairy-free. (I told you I would be lending a helping hand to the kosher and/or dairy-averse people out there.). The roses are just super pretty. So go nuts.

Full disclosure: I was inspired by some photos I saw of rose tarts. While I did not use any of the associated recipes, preferring to make up my own, aesthetically this tart may look like several others that were spotlighted this week.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

For the Tart Shell:

 6 Tbsp/¾ stick (85g) unsalted butter or all natural butter substitute (eg. Earth Balance), slightly softened

 ½ cup (60g) confectioner’s sugar

 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

1 Cup (135g) all purpose flour

½ cup (56g) hazelnut meal (eg. Bob’s Red Mill)

¼ tsp kosher salt

For the Filling:

4 apples with pink skin. Not Red Delicious. They’re the worst.

2 cups water

½ cup sugar

Juice of one lemon

1 Cup Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

Stand or Hand Mixer

9” Tart Shell with a removable bottom

Food Processor

Mandolin (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

MAKE THE TART SHELL:

  1. MIX THE WET INGREDIENTS: Beat the butter and the confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. ADD the vanilla extract and the egg yolk and mix until incorporated.
  2. ADD THE DRY INGREDIENTS: Add the flour, hazelnut meal, and salt and mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and starts to form a ball.
  3. REFRIGERATE: Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  4. ROLL OUT AND BAKE: Preheat the oven to 350°. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Peel off the top layer of paper and invert the dough into the tart shell. Press into all of the nooks and crannies. Use the dough scraps to mend all of the tears and to thicken any thin spots. Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the lining and the beans and bake another 15 minutes. Cool.

MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. PREP THE APPLES: Slice the apples paper thin. If you have one, you may want to use a mandolin. Put in a bowl with water, lemon juice, and sugar and microwave for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. SPREAD THE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD: Spread 1 cup of chocolate hazelnut spread on the bottom of the cooled tart shell.
  3. MAKE THE ROSES: Scoop handfuls of the softened apple slices onto paper towels and dry. Wrap into rosettes and “plant” in the chocolate hazelnut spread. Vary your sizes, and fill in the gaps with tiny “rosettes”.

 


HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD

I was going to include this as a part of the Beauty and the Beast Chocolate Rose Tart, but decided that it merited its own blog entry. It’s that good, it’s that easy, and it deserves a permanent spot on your pantry shelf.

With all of the hoopla these days regarding additives in store bought foods, this recipe is doubly welcome. Not only do you know exactly what’s in it, but there’s nothing unexpected in it. So you can go ahead and lick the bowl without feeling guilty. I promise I won’t tell.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups blanched hazelnuts

1 cup (120g) confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp (10g) cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process

2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp kosher salt

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

Food Processor

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PROCESS THE NUTS: Add the nuts to the food processor and process until the nuts release their oils and start to resemble a paste.
  2. ADD THE REST OF THE INGREDIENTS: Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well incorporated and glossy. Walk away. The longer you process the smoother the mixture becomes. Feel free to add a little more oil if you need to loosen the mixture a bit more.

NOTE: When you store the spread, the oil will separate and rise to the top, just like when you buy all-natural nut butters. Just stir it back in. It will be fine.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


Ides of March Cake

Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf

“Beware the Ides of March”

Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2, William Shakespeare

I seem to have picked a less than auspicious day to relaunch this, the still unnamed Salt of the Earth Bakery blog. But now that we have a shiny new website (isn’t it pretty?), my lovely and talented IT genius has been sending me less and less gentle missives from her perch in North Carolina that I absolutely must get back on the blogging bandwagon or face her wrath.

Scarlett, this one’s for you.

One note before we get into the nitty gritty. Wherever possible, I will try to point out where substitutions can be made to make recipes dairy-free. Aside for being useful for all my lovely kosher friends out there (hello, ladies!), this will prove helpful for all of you who have to lay off the dairy for one reason or another. On a personal note, in one of those cruel ironies of life I, a chef who worships at the altar of butter and cheese, have been ordered off dairy for the hopefully short-term future. (Et tu, Brute?) This has completely ruined my morning coffee. I don’t care what they say, NOTHING is as good as half & half.

So, here goes.

According to the website foodimentary.com, every day on the calendar is another food holiday. While I had no issue missing out on National Curried Chicken Day (January 12) or National Clam Chowder Day (February 25), picking the right food holiday on which to relaunch the woefully neglected blog was immensely difficult.

 

Then the theatre geek in me perked up.

March 15.

The Ides of March.

The bloody murder of Julius Caesar.

How could I translate Shakespeare into baking?

 

With a Blood Orange Olive Oil Loaf, hereinafter to be known as Ides of March Cake, of course.

The red flecks of the blood orange zest dot the cake like bloodstains on a toga, so make sure you pick the reddest blood oranges on the pile. Juicing the oranges left my kitchen counter looking like the floor of the Roman Senate after a stabbing…so mission accomplished there. Olive oil, a staple of the ancient Roman diet, takes the place of butter in this recipe. It also means you don’t need a mixer to make this cake. Just a bowl and a whisk. Super easy. Finally, I use medium grind cornmeal which is roughly equivalent to – you guessed it – polenta! Molto Italiano! Not so much ancient Roman given that corn was only introduced to Italy in the 16th century, but it does add a very nice texture to the cake.

 

BLOOD ORANGE OLIVE OIL LOAF or IDES OF MARCH CAKE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cup (142g) all purpose flour
  • ½ cup (60g) medium grind cornmeal or polenta
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 blood oranges, as red as you can find
  • 2/3 cup (133g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream**
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

**To make dairy-free, substitute ½ cup dairy free cultured yogurt, such as Forager Creamy Dairy Free Unsweetened Plain Cashewgurt

GEAR

  • 1 9×5 loaf pan – or you can get fancy and use something like this
  • 1 microplane

DIRECTIONS

  1. PREHEAT & PREP: Preheat the oven to 350° Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with oil or cooking spray.
  2. PREP DRY INGREDIENTS: Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. PREP THE BLOOD ORANGES: Zest the two oranges and set the zest aside. Then juice the oranges. You should yield about ¼ cup of juice.
  4. COMBINE WET INGREDIENTS: Combine sugar and blood orange juice in a large bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs, and olive oil one ingredient at a time and blend until the mixture is homogeneous.
  5. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS: Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add zest.
  6. POUR AND BAKE: Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. COOL: Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Carefully unmold and continue to cool on a rack. Enjoy!

June 17, 2014

Mango Tart

IMG_4066On a Friday afternoon several months ago, I went to pick up my first-grader, Orli, from school. As I entered the school auditorium, the site of the end-of-week assembly, I was descended upon by three of her teachers who rather excitedly started telling me that Orli had written all about my mango pie in her journal, and had told them how delicious it was — and could they please have the recipe. I stared back at them blankly, reluctantly telling them that I had no idea what they were talking about. Their faces fell. “What do you mean? She was so vivid and detailed…” Vivid and detailed she may have been, but that journal entry was pure creative writing.

Challenge accepted.

The idea of a mango pie has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since, periodically surfacing just to stump me, then receding back into the shadows. I love mangos. I have made mango salsa, mango marinades, caramelized mango, mango sorbet, but never mango pie. I also wanted the mango to be the star, nay, the Diva, of the recipe. Mango wasn’t going to share the spotlight with other tropical flavors. She was going to get her own spotlight.

After a lot of head scratching and several epiphanies, I was thrilled with the result.  I even made three tartlets and delivered them to Orli’s teachers. Mrs. B, Mrs. H & Mrs. D, this one is for you!


MANGO TART WITH MACADAMIA-COCONUT CRUST

A macadamia-coconut crust holds together a creamy mango curd topped with diced fresh mango. Make sure you use mangos that are ripe but still firm. And don’t rush the curd – your patience will be rewarded.

Ingredients:

For the Mango Curd:

  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (7 oz/200g) sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes (approximately 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 8  large egg yolks
  • 1 stick (4 oz/113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

For the Crust:

  • 1½ oz macadamia nuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1¾ cup (7.5 oz/210 g) all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp (0.75 oz/21 g) coconut flour
  • 9 Tbsp (4.5 oz/128 g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces
  • 3-5 Tbsp ice water

For Assembly:

  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and neatly diced.

Directions:

For the Mango Curd:

  1. Puree the mango, sugar, lime juice, and sugar in a blender until smooth, scraping down the side of the pitcher as needed. Add the yolks and blend until smooth and fully incorporated
  2. Strain the puree through a fine sieve (to make sure you catch any stray mango fibers) into a heatproof bowl.  Discard any solids caught in the sieve.
  3. Set the bowl over a pot containing about 1-inch of simmering water, making sure not to let the bowl touch the water. Whisk the puree continuously until the mixture has thickened and the temperature reaches 170°F.
  4. Carefully remove the bowl from the pot to a heatproof surface and whisk in the butter 1 Tbsp at a time until fully incorporated.
  5. Smooth the surface of the curd so it is relatively level and cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the surface of the curd – this will prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate overnight.

For the Crust:

  1. Pulse the toasted macadamia nuts, sugar and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground. I like to use a mini-prep for this type of work. (Wallet-friendly investment and takes up no storage space.)
  2. Transfer nut-sugar mixture to the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a paddle attachment. Add all purpose and coconut flours and blend until well incorporated.
  3. Scatter the butter pieces and blend until the butter has been broken up and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal.
  4. Add the ice water 1 Tbsp at a time just until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.  Wrap the dough ball in plastic, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and press into a 10” fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing the dough into all of the grooves and pricking holes in the bottom with a fork. Line with a piece of aluminum foil, fill with pie weights or dried beans, and bake for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove the pie weights or beans and the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For  Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and set an oven rack to the center position.
  2. Pour mango curd into cooled crust and smooth surface.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes until curd puffs up slightly, removing from the oven before the surface starts to brown.
  4. Cool completely.
  5. Before serving, cover surface with fresh diced mango. Slice and enjoy!

June 3, 2014

Two months ago, when this (still) as-of-yet-unnamed blog launched, I promised to share not only the great successes but also the colossal failures that are part and parcel of running a business.

Yesterday was just one of those days.

The day started off, well, off. I was on the tail-end of a week long migraine episode that finally tapered into a bearable headache. In practical terms, I was about 90% pain free, but had a serious case of post-headache stupid. In bakery terms, I probably spent five minutes staring at an egg trying to figure out what I needed to do to get the insides out, and must have made 10 return trips each to the equipment rack and the walk-in fridge because I kept forgetting things. It was a miracle that the cookie dough actually came together properly.

I also narrowly restrained myself from throwing a cheftastic tantrum because the flour bin hadn’t been refilled and nothing on the drying rack had been put away on the equipment rack. Again. Deep breaths.

Then it all went downhill.

 

Any guesses as to what this was?

I made three of them.

The outsides burnt.

The insides were raw.

They were DOA. Much like Oberyn Martell. (Too soon? If he had just watched The Incredibles, he would have known not to start monologuing!)

(Incidentally, that was supposed to be a cheesecake.)

Next came 90 minutes during which I was supposed to be working on Phase III, but became a cheesecake redo. I almost cried at one point. At another point, I managed to misplace my bowl scraper. I thought I had completely lost my mind (picture me spinning in circles looking for that thing that was just in my hand) only to find that I had left it in the bowl and turned the mixer on. Nothing as dire as a surgeon leaving his watch inside the patient, but it didn’t help.

And when the cheesecakes were in the oven, a scary oven alarm went off and the red screen of death started flashing indicating that a breaker had flipped and there was some sort of internal oven error. That’s never good. We fixed it, but you NEVER want to see the red screen of death. That’s why we have two ovens.

Phase III: 320 Hand-Rolled Rugelach

You read correctly. 320. Hand Rolled.

The dough was all supposed to have been rolled out last week — before I was sidelined by the aforementioned migraine…and a surprise visit from our Kashrut inspector. The roll-out was rescheduled to yesterday. Then I burned the cheesecakes and I lost the aforementioned 90 minutes to the cheesecake redo.

160 of the rugelach were done and all of a sudden, it was 4:00 – time to race home to relieve my daycare. I handed the bowls of chocolate and cinnamon sugar to my hero (my husband) and ran out the door.

When he got home, he found me asleep under a pile of children – and sent me to my own bed where sleep resumed, uninterrupted, until morning.

At the end of the day, the cheesecakes were unbelievable, the two different types of rugelach were amazing, and all was well with the world. But we all have bad days. And sometimes cheesecakes burn.

 


May 23, 2014

This week marks 16 years since the untimely passing of my father, Jean-Paul Joseph, at the way too-young age of 47.  The victim of a sudden heart attack, he left behind a grieving wife and three young daughters, aged 19, 16, and 12.

For me, this week always involves a measure of “just keep swimming”…if I stop moving for too long, if I give myself too much time to think, I pretty much break down. It is amazing how raw it still is, even 16 years and seemingly countless lifetimes later. I hear echoes of his voice during kiddush on Shabbat, I see him when my son turns his head just so, in little occurrences that happen every day, in my dreams.

My mother, sisters, and I are extremely close. When tragedy struck, we realized that all we had in the world was each other, and we became each other’s life rafts. In the years since my father’s passing, our family has grown and morphed into a very different organism. There have been marriages and babies, a remarriage, and a future marriage. Each marriage has brought with it entire satellite families. Inviting the “immediate family” involves tremendous amounts of food and many pillaged folding chairs. If anything, my mother, sisters and I have become even closer.

I like to think he can see the women we have become, the family we have become, and is smiling.

ucm_317390For the last several years, my family has been running in the American Heart Association Wall Street 5K, and raising money for the cause in my father’s memory. To date, our team has raised $55,000 for the AHA, and in 2013 we were named the #1 Community Team. This year, Salt of the Earth Bakery will also be the official sponsors of the team.

We will be running in this year’s race on Wednesday, June 18 and would love your support. Whether you are able to donate, run, or cheer us on, your support is appreciated and helps keep our father’s memory strong and vibrant.

http://heartwalk.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1076614&supid=246060359


May 19, 2014

A “Mouse” Ate the Challah

I don’t go in to the bakery on Fridays. By no means does this mean that I sit around on the couch eating bonbons and watching all of the TV that has built up on my DVR. (I wish.) Instead, I start the day praying for clear weather; sneak in a shower (maybe); inhale at least two cups of coffee (non-negotiable); get the two older kids out the door to school; do a blitzkrieg clean up of the apartment with an emphasis on bed-making, laundry-collecting, bedroom-neatening, and kitchen-clearing (all futile); after which I scoop #3 into the stroller, and head out the door. The mission: get an entire week’s worth of household errands done by 1:00. At which point I pick #1 and #2 up from school, they storm the apartment, and all of the bed-making, laundry-collecting, and bedroom-neatening is promptly undone. Once the groceries are unpacked and I start dinner, the destruction is complete.

A very important part of my Friday ritual is the baking of the weekly loaves of challah, the traditional braided bread served on the Jewish Sabbath. My kids have all been involved in the weekly bake-off since before they were school-aged, and whoever happens to be home on Friday morning eagerly drags a chair to the kitchen counter ready to get dirty and lend a “helping” hand. By mid-afternoon, the challah is out of the oven and is cooling on the dining room table.

This week, however, there was a little twist to the story. When my husband came home and surveyed the usual hairline balance between pre-Sabbath order and chaos, he noticed one detail that I had overlooked. “Love, what happened to the other side of the challah?!”

photo

 

It turns out that a certain three-year-old “helper” couldn’t wait until dinner.

 

Over the years, I have gone through many recipes, methods, and ingredients, tweaking and adjusting, substituting and swapping, until finally, by general consensus, I hit the jackpot. In our family, we finish our challah with sesame seeds, but feel free to use the garnish of your choice. (I have a good friend who takes out the chocolate chips, cinnamon-sugar, and sprinkles and tells the kids to go crazy!)

To make raisin challah, add 100-200 grams (⅔-1⅓ cups) raisins to the mixer after the flour is well incorporated.


CHALLAH

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope (7 grams /2¼ tsp) Active Dry Yeast
  • 500 grams (3¾ cup) Bread Flour, Divided, plus additional as needed
  • ¾  cup warm water, ~110° F
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 extra large eggs, plus 1 for glazing
  • ½ cup (4 oz) vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp (10 grams) sea salt
  • 55 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
  • Poppy seeds, sesame seeds etc. for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. For the sponge: Whisk yeast, 100 grams  (¾ cup) flour, warm water , and honey together in the bowl of a standing mixer. Let stand 15 minutes until it begins to puff up and bubbles begin to appear on the surface.
  2. Add the Wet Ingredients: Add 2 eggs, oil, salt and sugar into the sponge and whisk together until well incorporated.
  3. Knead the Dough: Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the remaining 400 grams of flour to the bowl. Run the mixer on low speed until all the flour is incorporated, adding more flour as needed until the dough neatly comes away from the sides of the bowl.* Allow the mixer to run for several minutes to work the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead several times by hand until the dough is nice and elastic and forms a ball.
  4. Ferment the Dough: Place the dough in a clean, well-oiled bowl, and turn the dough several times to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, until it has at least doubled in volume, about 3 hours.
  5. Shape and Proof the dough: Gently deflate the dough with your fingertips and turn out onto a clean surface. Divide into two halves. Divide each half into three pieces, roll into ropes and braid. ** Place braided challahs on parchment lined baking sheets, cover with clean towels,  and allow to rise until tripled in size, about 1½-2 hours.
  6. Prepping the Loaves: Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat the remaining egg with a little bit of water to create an egg wash. brush the loaves with the  glaze, and sprinkle with the garnish of your choice.
  7. Baking the loaves: Bake 30-35 minutes.

*    If desired, add raisins here

* *        At this point, braided dough can be well-wrapped in plastic and frozen for future use. Take out in the morning, unwrap, place on parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a clean towel, and alllow to defrost/rise for 6 hours. Bake as above.


May 12, 2014

Ah, springtime. The trees are blooming, the birds are chirping, the Uggs have been relegated to the back of the closet…and fights are breaking out at the local farmers market over the daily delivery of ramps. They are only in season for a few short weeks every spring – essentially for the month of May – and it is a race to the farmstand in the wee hours of the morning to get at the daily supply. It’s chef vs. foodie in in the culinary Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves. And he gets the ramps.

Thanks to my friends over at Good Eggs, the amazing online farmer’s market headquartered down the hall, I was able to get my hands on a huge amount of the luscious allium without having to bust out my gladiatorial skills at the crack of dawn.  On the subway ride home, I did have this irrational fear that I would be mugged by ninja chefs out to steal my bag of ramps, but that turned out to be pure paranoia. (Or was it?)

Ramps, otherwise known as wild leeks, are a wild onion that can be used like a scallion, but with a wilder taste that resembles garlic. Aside from the root the entire plant, from the bulb to the leaf, is edible.

In honor of the remarkably short ramp season, I am going to stray from the conventional one-post-one-recipe formula to which I (and most bloggers) generally adhere. Below are three delicious ramp recipes that give you plenty of reason to join the ramp-race. May the best chef win.

SIMPLY ROASTED RAMPS

IMG_3893Cooked ramps at their purest. The bulbs soften and sweeten and the leaves get crispy and crunchy. Don’t skimp on the Sel gris – it really makes the flavors of the roasted ramps pop. A delicious accompaniment to roasted chicken.

Ingredients

  • ¼ lbs ramps
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sel Gris de Guerande
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Cut the roots off the ramps and rub off the outer thin layer from the bulb. Run the prepped ramps under running water to clean off any remaining dirt and pat dry.
  3. Toss ramps in a bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in a single layer on the prepped baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 10 minutes until leaves start to turn crispy around the edges.

RAMP AND HERBED GOAT CHEESE PIZZA

IMG_3907The creaminess of the goat cheese balances the garlickiness of the ramps. The whole wheat crust adds a nutty undertone. My new favorite spring pizza.

Ingredients

For the Pizza Dough:

  • ¾ cup warm water (~110°F)
  • ½ packet (⅛oz/4g) active dry yeast
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz/135g) bread flour
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz/135g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp (¼ oz/10g) sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

For the Ramps

  • ¼ lb ramps, cleaned and trimmed, coarsely chopped.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For Assembly

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 2 oz (½ log) herbed goat cheese

Directions

  1. Combine warm water, yeast, and honey in a measuring cup and set aside for 5 minutes to proof. (If the mixture does not become foamy, it means your yeast was no good. Discard and try again with a fresh packet of yeast.)
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine bread flour, whole wheat flour, and sea salt. Turn mixer on for a few spins to combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Add olive oil to yeast mixture. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour yeast mixture into flour mixture until fully combined. Allow mixer to “knead” dough for 7-10 minutes.
  4. Form dough into a ball and put unto a clean, oiled bowl. Roll the dougb around in the oil several times to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for two hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Move the oven rack to the very bottom of the oven.
  6. Gently punch down the pizza dough. Stretch into your pizza pan. Brush with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Evenly spread with tomato sauce, leaving a one-inch un-sauced border.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the ramps, sea salt, and pepper and saute until bulbs are softened and leaves have wilted, 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat.
  9. Remove pizza from oven, dot with ramp mixture and blobs of goat cheese and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
  10. 10. Cut and enjoy!

SAVORY BUTTERMILK RAMP BISCUITS

IMG_3902A super-savory twist on an American classic. This is not your typical southern biscuit. Off-season, try substituting scallions for a similar effect.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups (12½ oz) all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp (1 oz) all natural vegetable shortening, cut into ½” chunks
  • 8 Tbsp (4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 16 slices
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • ¼ lb (4 oz) ramps, roots removed, bulbs, stems, and leaves finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp (1 oz)  unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Sel gris de Guerande
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°, and set the rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.
  3. Add the shortening to the bowl, and use your fingertips to incorporate it into the flour mixture.
  4. Add the butter slices a few at a time, and use your fingertips to incorporate them. Work quickly and resist the urge to use the rest of your hands, so as not to warm up the butter too much.
  5. Add the cold buttermilk and the ramps and stir mixture just enough to incorporate the liquid. The dough will be very sticky.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a very generously floured surface, flip a few times to coat in the flour, and roll into a cohesive ball.
  7. Use your hands to pat the ball into a ¼” thick rectangle. Fold the rectangle in on itself like an envelope, rotate 90° and repeat. Repeat the process 4 times.
  8. Pat the dough into a ½” thick square and cut into 9 3-inch rounds using a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass. Assemble the scraps, press into a ½” thick rectangle, and cut 3 more pieces.
  9. Arrange the 12 biscuits on a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a scatter of salt and pepper.
  10. Bake 15-18 minutes (without opening oven door) until biscuits are golden. Allow to rest on the baking sheet 5-10 minutes before eating.

May 6, 2014

Tarte aux Pommes à l’ Alsacienne – Alsatian Apple Tart

 

Recreating a Childhood Recipe

My father was not a very prolific cook. Aside from his brilliant Thanksgiving turkey carving skills (usually carried out while wearing a tuxedo), his activity in the kitchen was limited to exactly four dishes:

  • Passover jelly rolls – of which he made about 10,000 every Passover, in various flavors, and ate every morning for breakfast. And tried to feed us.
  • Brioches – which no one remembers but my mother
  • Lemon Chicken – which no one remembers but me
  • Tarte aux Pommes a l’Alsacienne – the Alsatian Apple Tart.

He was very proud of the apple tart. It was the proverbial jewel in his culinary crown.  When I close my eyes, I can see him standing at the counter in the kitchen of my childhood apartment, carefully rolling out the dough, pressing the dough into each of the crevices of the fluted tart pan, methodically arranging the apples in perfect concentric circles (did I mention he had a Type A personality?) and, finally, pouring the custard over the whole assembly.

For years, I have wanted to recreate the apple tart. Finally, I had an excuse. My Grandmaman (my father’s mother) was turning 91. What better birthday surprise than a taste of her Alsatian childhood?

As it turns out, my mother still has the cookbook containing the original recipe, complete with my father’s annotations. However, there were three problems, presented here in order of difficulty:

photo

  • Problem #1: The recipe was in French – Easily overcome. My French is passable and my mother is fluent, so we sailed over that speedbump.
  • Problem #2: My father’s handwriting is all but illegible. A longstanding problem. My mother and I muddled through that one.
  • Problem #3: The recipe was rather vague – specifying neither oven temp nor bake time. I was forced to rely on my father’s notes (see problem #2) and ended up referring to my pastry textbook for the pate brisée recipe instructions.

In the end, it was brilliant. The tart tasted like my childhood. Even better, it tasted like my Grandmaman’s childhood. Which was the whole point, right?

Tarte aux Pommes à l’ Alsacienne – Alsatian Apple Tart

Ingredients

    For the Pate Brisée

  •                         2 cups (8.75 oz/250g) all purpose flour
  •                         2 Tbsp (7/8 oz/25g) sugar
  •                         1 tsp sea salt
  •                         1 stick (4 oz/125g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  •                         1 egg yolk
  •                         3 Tbsp ice water

   For the Fruit

  •                         1 kg (approx. 3) golden delicious apples, peeled and cut in sixteenths.
  •                         2 Tbsp (7/8 oz/25g) sugar

    For the Custard

  •                         1/3 cup (2.5 oz/75g) sugar
  •                         1/3 cup milk
  •                         1/3 cup cream
  •                         2 whole eggs
  •                         1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  •                         ¼ tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar and sea salt until blended. Add butter and blend at low speed until just combined, scraping bowl as necessary.
  2. Add egg yolk and blend. Drizzle in water, one tablespoon at a time, just until dough comes together. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  3. Form dough into disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°
  5. Roll out dough to 1/8” thick and line 10” fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the dough into the indentations. Prick the bottom with a fork, line with a double layer of aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully lift the foil with the pie weights from the crust.
  7. Toss the prepared apple slices with the sugar.
  8. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles, starting from the outside and working your way in.
  9. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. While the apples are baking, whisk together sugar, milk, cream, eggs, vanilla, and sea salt.
  11. Pour over the apples and return to the oven for an additional 35 minutes. Cool completely.

Notes:  I encourage you to weigh the ingredients using a kitchen scale


April 10, 2014

rat-08

“Mark of a chef: Messy apron, clean sleeves.” – Collette, Ratatouille

Today’s blog post was supposed to be all about the bakery build-out, from empty shell to fully functional space. With photos.

Instead, I’m going to put that post on hold and tell you a story. The reasons will become clear shortly.

My husband and I were married in August of 2004. As September approached, and thus our first Jewish High Holidays as a married couple, I took it upon myself to provide desserts for all of the Rosh HaShanah meals as my contribution to the holiday – a role I still play almost 10 years later. On the menu, rum laced chocolate mousse. But why would I leave well enough alone? I set another precedent that year, and decided to get over-ambitious and way ahead of myself and thought it would be lovely to present the mousse in hand made chocolate cups, achieved by dipping lightly oiled balloons in melted chocolate, letting them set in the refrigerator, deflating the balloon, and gently removing them from the set chocolate shell. What could go wrong?

Meanwhile, in the bedroom, my husband was innocently and obliviously immersed in his Secure Transactions casebook (did I mention that he was in his third year of law school?) when he heard a shriek from the kitchen. He dropped what he was doing and ran to the kitchen to find his new bride, and half of the kitchen, covered in chocolate. A balloon had popped. For months, we were still finding overlooked flecks of chocolate on the cabinets.

Why this walk down memory lane?

One of the cardinal rules of baking is to turn the mixer to low when you add the dry ingredients, lest you have a flour explosion. We’ve all made that mistake. Now, imagine what would happen if you added 20-plus pounds of flour to an industrial mixer and forgot to turn the speed to low.

My sleeves, somehow, remained clean.