ALMOND CAKE WITH BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES (PASSOVER FRIENDLY)

Over the course of this blog, you’ll be hearing a lot about my three children and my husband. I’m sure at one point you’ll probably tire of it – but, frankly, that’s the tradeoff for the recipes. (Hey, it worked for Ina Garten. We all love Jeffrey!) In fact, considering how big and how tight my family is, you’re going to be hearing a lot about my parents (mother, late father, and stepfather), many assorted grandparents (all deceased, but the sources of great stories and recipes), siblings (2 sisters, 3 step-siblings, and 2 siblings-in-law and all of the assorted spouses), nieces and nephews (10 and counting), pets (3, none of them mine), aunts, uncles, cousins and THEIR kids…and, of course, the assorted friends that may as well be family.

Consider yourselves warned.

I have a ten-year-old daughter. She is gorgeous, brilliant, talented, and starting to grow up.

Step one: Allow her out of our building on her own for short errands that do not involve crossing any streets.

The mission: Go to the corner fruit stand and buy some strawberries for this cake.

Obstacle one: Every time she tries to leave the building, the doorman buzzes us and asks us if she’s REALLY allowed to leave the building unaccompanied.

I love New York.

Obstacle two: I sent her for strawberries. She came back with two boxes of strawberries and two boxes of blueberries, because she thought her brother would like the blueberries. The strawberries were meh because she doesn’t know how to choose berries properly, and I didn’t preauthorize the spending on the blueberries.

At least her heart was in the right place.

And she came home safely.

And was super happy.

 

To the recipe:

Another almond recipe? Yes. But this one surprised even me. I threw this one together a few days ago, covered it, and pretty much forgot about it in the hustle of real life. By the time I got around to dealing with it, the mediocre strawberries had started to grow some unfortunate white fuzz and had to be tossed, so more had to be purchased, delaying me even more. However, when I peeked at the cake, it still looked good. And when I tasted the cake, I was SHOCKED to find that it was super moist and tasted great! And the macerated berries pushed it over the edge into awesome territory.

What are macerated berries, you ask? “Macerating” is like marinating for non-meat. In this case, we’re infusing fruit with flavor by soaking it in a flavorful liquid. Soaking the strawberries in the balsamic vinegar and orange juice is just mind blowing. Try it on pound cake sometime.

ALMOND CAKE WITH BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES (PASSOVER FRIENDLY)

INGREDIENTS:

4 large eggs, separated
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the scraped insides of 1 vanilla bean.
1 ½ cups (145g) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint strawberries
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 ½ tsp sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT AND PREP: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9” cake or springform pan with cooking spray and line with parchment.
  2. BEAT YOLKS: In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, ¼ cup (50g) sugar, and vanilla until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  3. WHIP THE WHITES: Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. With the mixer running, stream in the remaining sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. (Surprise! You have made meringue!) Set aside.
  4. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS: Stir almond flour, baking powder, and salt to the egg yolk mixture to form a stiff dough.
  5. FOLD IN EGG WHITES: Stir in ½ cup of the egg whites to lighten the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites about ½ at a time until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan.
  6. BAKE: Bake on center rack for 30-35 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan 5 minutes before depanning.
  7. MACERATE THE STRAWBERRIES: While the cake is baking, slice the strawberries into thin slices and place into a bowl with the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  8. SERVE: Spoon the macerated strawberries over the cake before serving.

 

 


CHERRY-ALMOND MUFFINS (PASSOVER-FRIENDLY)

In the 22 hours since I posted yesterday’s Mini Banana Almond Muffins, the response has been so overwhelming (mainly in person in the halls of my kids’ school) that I felt compelled to test and post another grain-free muffin recipe. I have had this one brewing for a while, but theory is always different than practice and it could have been terrible. It wasn’t. Here is another great breakfast recipe that will get you through the Passover breakfast doldrums.

Again, I went with almond flour because that’s what I had open in my cabinet at time of recipe testing. Also, because I had decided I wanted to do a cherry-almond muffin. The two flavors are so beautiful together.  You can absolutely swap out the almond meal for any other nut meal, and swap out the cherries for any other fruit. If you decide to use frozen berries – a huge budget saver as well as a great way to fill an out-of-season craving — put the frozen berries right into the batter. No need to thaw. If you use cherries, cut them into quarters and make sure the pits have been removed. You don’t want a surprise trip to the dentist.

After this, I will be returning to cakes, cookies and other dessert items. I have a couple of treats up my sleeve – including a Passover-friendly birthday cake for my almost 8-year-old son (who has the misfortune of having his birthday fall smack in the middle of the holiday), so chocolate cake is brewing! I am also dreaming up a replacement for my father’s nostalgia-inducing but cloyingly sweet jelly roll, which I would NEVER thrust upon all of you. I am SO close on that one. I just need to get the roll to not fall apart. The (not jelly) filling is AMAZING, and is barely making it from the jar to the pastry.

But, for now, breakfast.

 

CHERRY-ALMOND MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:
2½ cups (240g) almond meal (or any nut meal you have around)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the scraped insides of one vanilla bean
½ cup (125g) unsweetened applesauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups (135g) cherries (or other berry), fresh or frozen
Sliced almonds (for sprinkling)

DIRECTIONS

  1. PREHEAT AND PREP: Preheat oven to 350°. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or simply spray down each cavity with baking spray.
  2. MIX DRY INGREDIENTS: Whisk almond meal and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. WHIP EGG YOLKS: Beat egg yolks, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and thick, and it falls from the whip/beaters in a thick ribbon.
  4. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS: Add almond meal mixture and applesauce and stir just to combine.
  5. WHIP EGG WHITES: Using electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond meal mixture, then fold in remaining egg white mixture.
  6. ADD BERRIES: Gently fold in berries.
  7. PORTION AND BAKE: Divide batter among muffin cups and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until tops are golden brown and a tester comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Err towards more-baked otherwise the texture of the muffin tends to mushy. Cool in the pan 10 minutes.

 


MINI BANANA ALMOND MUFFINS (PASSOVER-FRIENDLY)

I’ve never been much of a pastries-for-breakfast person.

Let me qualify that – with the exception of a hot buttery croissant served in a Parisian sidewalk café (which I have experienced exactly once, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it), I have never been much of a pastries-for-breakfast person.

Don’t get me wrong – I love pastries, baked goods, bread, cookies, cake… But not for breakfast. Just give me a solid cup of coffee with a splash of half & half and I’m good to go.

Then you can start talking to me.

Then get me a refill.

Then I may respond.

But something happens over Passover, when grains are denied to you, that you get the munchies. And they strike at all times. Suddenly you NEED animal crackers at 4:30 PM, all you can think about is a crusty loaf of fresh sourdough bread, and you must have a muffin now or the goldfish gets it.

I am here to help.

We discovered these mini muffins months ago, and after the kids devoured the entire batch in one afternoon we scratched our heads and realized that they were perfect for Passover. No grains, no (heaven forfend) matza meal (so no sawdust undertones), maximum flavor and minimal equipment. Sold. And they really hit the spot when you NEED a muffin NOW.

Have fun with the nut butters – if you can get your hands on cashew butter, go for it! Alternatively if you eat kitniyot (legumes) on Passover, go for straight up peanut butter and Elvis Presley those suckers.

 

MINI BANANA ALMOND MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS:

1 banana
1 large egg
½ cup (125g) creamy almond butter, or any other nut butter that your heart desires
2 Tbsp (42g) honey
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract, or the scraped inside of 1 vanilla bean
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup (262g)  mini chocolate chips (optional, but yummy)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT AND PREP: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Either line a 24-cavity mini-muffin pan or simply grease each individual cavity.
  2. COMBINE THE INGREDIENTS: Mash the banana REALLY well so it is as smooth as you can get it. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the nut butter and mix well until smooth and completely combined. Add honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips .
  3. PORTION: Scoop the batter into the mini-muffin tin so that each cavity is ¾ full. You may not fill the entire mini-muffin tin. That’s ok, you can just make more tomorrow.
  4. BAKE: Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan.

Alsatian Almond Macarons (Passover Friendly)

Macarons have been the “It Girl” of the cookie world for a few years. From Laduree to Pierre Herme, those ethereal rainbow-hued confections have inspired odes, tributes, and a million macaroon bakers, and have lead to dawn line-ups stretching down the block waitng for stire opening hours I know more than one pint-sized baker who has presented his or her parent with the recipe and demanded a macaron-baking session.

We are not making those today.

The macarons I grew up with those are the fancy macarons’ more earthbound cousins. Every Passover, my Grandmaman would haul out her table-clamped hand-cranked nut grinder, load in a never ending stream of almonds, turn the crank, and produce a fluffy pile of hand-milled almond flour. When, in my 20s, I was given a copy of the recipe, it did not come with the nut grinder. Fortunately, I found that commercially ground almonds work exceptionally well and are very easy to find.

The miracle of this recipe is the crisp outer shell and the chewy, candylike interior, all achieved with a minimum of ingredients and equipment. In fact, it is less of a recipe than it is a formula – one that you can multiply out as many times as you need in order to achieve maximum cookiedom. So whether you are baking just for yourself or for a party or 30, this formula works out beautifully.

And to amp it up even more, swipe the macarons through the raspberry sauce from the Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte recipe…It is amazingly good.

Alsatian Almond Macarons

Yield:  10 cookies

Ingredients:

¾ cup (70g) almond meal (NOT blanched)
½ cup + 2 Tbsp (70g) granulated sugar
1 egg white
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT AND PREP: Preheat oven to 280°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. MIX: Combine all ingredients.
  3. PORTION: Scoop batter into approximately 1 Tbsp balls and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. BAKE: Bake for 25 minutes, until outer “shell” is dry and cookie comes off the parchment cleanly and bottoms are golden brown.

NOTE:

  • Recipe can be multiplied infinitely. It is easiest if you use the grams calculations to do so.
  • When you scale up dramatically, you can use liquid egg whites if you want to cut back on wasted egg yolks. 1 large egg white = 30g, so please scale it out appropriately rather than following the chart on the carton. You may want to under-measure as boxed liquid egg whites are more runny than freshly cracked egg whites and will make for a stickier, runnier batter that doesn’t hold its shape as well.

CHOCOLATE-HAZELNUT TORTE  – TORTA DI CIOCCOLATE E NOCCIOLE (PASSOVER FRIENDLY)

With Passover just over a week away, my apartment is already in a flurry of activity. The kids were conscripted into service yesterday and tasked with completely emptying out the contents of their bedrooms. I am pleased to report that, for the first time in the history of the holiday, they were actually very helpful. They sifted “archived” papers from the shelves to garbage bags, critically sorted toys into “keep” and “donate” piles, and then hauled everything down to the basement garbage room. With the exception of the girls’ closet (*sigh*), the kids’ rooms are looking delightfully bare…um…organized. At the same time, I began the monumental task of cleaning out the kitchen. The pantries were both at the point where to open them and rifle around was to risk attack-by-cracker-box. Not fun. Both have been emptied, sorted, cleaned, and restocked (sans expired food). The in-kitchen pantry remains completely empty, waiting to be stocked with Passover-friendly food. (Next up, the fridge and freezer scrub-downs. Super fun.)

In between all the cleaning (how is it possible that we had a box of couscous dated 2014?) and the yelling (why on Earth did Older Daughter have lollipop wrappers under her bed?!), the test kitchen was churning out batch after batch of desserts for this blog. From cakes to muffins to cookies, everything needed to be honed, triple checked, and photographed before it could be posted in the blogosphere. I hope to post at least one recipe per day for the next several days so that everyone who is prepping and planning and shopping and baking will be able to do so well in advance of the dawning of the holiday.

To start with, I offer up and oldie but goodie. (Well, it is an oldie to me but so good that Husband wishes I’d make it more often.) This chocolate-hazelnut torte is simple to make and uses few ingredients, but is rich in flavor and has a great texture due to the nut meal that provides its texture. The torte is “leavened” with egg whites – but of you cringe at the idea of separating the eggs and wasting 8 egg yolks, feel free to use boxed egg whites. If you can’t find hazelnut meal, you can use almond meal or any other nut flour – or use a combination. Go nuts! (HA!) Serve with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and a drizzle of raspberry sauce (recipe follows below). The raspberry sauce is also fantastic with the Alsatian Almond Macaroons that I will be sharing with you.

TORTA DI CIOCCOLATE E NOCCIOLE

(Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte)

INGREDIENTS:

8 egg whites, divided (240g) or 1 cup/8 fl oz if you’re using boxed egg whites)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (50g)  Dutch process cocoa powder (eg. Droste)
1 cup (200g) sugar
3 Tbsp (40g)oil
1 cup (115g) hazelnut meal
Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Raspberry sauce (recipe follows)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREHEAT AND PREP: Preheat oven to 350° Prep a 9” cake pan or spring form pan with a parchment circle and baking spray.
  2. BEAT EGG WHITES: Beat 6 egg whites with salt until stiff and dry. Set aside.
  3. MAKE CHOCOLATE-NUT PASTE: Combine cocoa, sugar, oil, and remaining unbeaten egg whites in a bowl. Combine to create a stiff paste. Add nuts and mix well.
  4. ADD EGG WHITES: Stir in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites and mix to the prepared pan.
  5. BAKE: Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool.
  6. SERVE: Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and a drizzle of raspberry sauce (recipe below)

 

RASPBERRY SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

2 10-oz packages of frozen raspberries (or other berries)
½ cup (50g) sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. DEFROST BERRIES: Defrost berries.
  2. PUREE: Blend with sugar until smooth.
  3. STRAIN: Pass through fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds.

 


With Passover rapidly approaching, my apartment is in a tizzy of preparation. And by “tizzy”, I mean I have a long list of things to do, and every time I look at a closet that needs cleaning out, or a pantry that needs to be ransacked, I sigh and find something else I’d rather be doing. Like trying my hand at underwater basket weaving, or catching up on iPhoto album-making projects.

In all seriousness, many of you have been asking me if I was going to be posting any Passover recipes. The answer is yes. And no. Confused yet? Here’s the scoop. I have a very clear philosophy on Passover food. With the exception of my Grandmaman’s Alsatian Fried Matza Balls (stay tuned for that one), I don’t eat “Passover food” on Passover. I eat food that happens, by its very nature, to be kosher for Passover. A minimum of matza in general. Real food made with real ingredients. Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

This is why rather than mark recipes as “Kosher for Passover”, I am going to mark them as “Passover Friendly”. None of them are strictly for Passover – they just happen to be dietarily appropriate. All of my “Passover Friendly” baked goods use nut meals as “flour” substitutes. No baking with matza meal or matza cake meal. (Nothing that tastes like sawdust.) As a result, nut allergy people may get a bit miffed at me this week, but gluten-free people will LOVE me. This is the ONLY time of year that the Gluten-Free people will love me. I will bask in the adulation and then move on.

Finally, a crash course in the minutiae of Passover dietary tradition…
Some people follow the Ashkenazi tradition in which they do not eat legumes (kitniyot) on Passover.

Some people follow the Sepharadi tradition in which they do eat legumes (kitniyot) on Passover.

While, my family hailing from France, I grew up in the Ashkenazi tradition, I married into the Sepharadi tradition, my Husband’s family hailing from Persia. This means that I get to eat legumes (beans, rice, peanuts) on Passover. (I like to joke that this is why I married him. I’m only sort of joking). This makes Passover much easier.

I will always indicate when a Passover Friendly recipe is only appropriate for legume-eaters, and when (or if) substitutes can be made to make a recipe friendly for all.

The plan is to start out by posting desserts that may be appropriate for the Seders and for any other festive meals to which you may be invited, since people are already freaking out – I mean, planning ahead. Then I will move on to other miscellaneous recipes – breakfast items and the aforementioned Alsatian Fried Matza Balls – that may help sustain you throughout the week.

Stay tuned!


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!