Friday, October 29, 2010

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

This week's pick for French Fridays with Dorie was a lovely apple cake, baked in a spring form pan with lots of cut up apple chunks.  We ate it up in no time!

Monday, October 25, 2010

All American, All Delicious Apple Pie

Weather wise, I know what's coming.  Soon the farm market will close down, the leaves will be off the trees, and the snow will begin to fall.  But now is the best time of year for apples.  Here in upstate New York we have many, many local varieties from which to choose and today I made a pie with my favorite pie apple, Northern Spy.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is All American, All Delicious Apple Pie.   This is a two-crusted pie (which is how I've made it in the past) but today I decided to use a crumb topping (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, a handful of chopped pecans, 1/2 cup buttter cut into the dry ingredients).

The house smelled terrific and the pie was beautiful and tasty.  A perfect dessert for a fall day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hachis Parmentier

It's cold and rainy here in upstate New York and a perfect day to fill the kitchen with wonderful smells.  This week's French Fridays with Dorie pick is a fancy shepherd's pie.  Chopped chuck is simmered in a mixture that becomes a lovely broth.  Cooked sausage is added to this and then lovely mashed potatoes smoothed on top.  With a bit of gruyere and a half an hour in the oven, this was a wonderful meal.  We also had green beans and, of course, red wine.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gerard's Mustard Tart

I'm primarily a baker but I am such a fan of Dorie Greenspan's recipes that in addition to baking through Baking from my home to yours, I'm also participating in French Fridays with Dorie and I'm cooking through her new book, Around my French Table.

Although I'm a little out of sync with the selections for  French Fridays, here is a report on one of  the October recipes.

Gerard's Mustard Tart is beautiful to look at, easy and fun to make, and tastes delicious!   Think quiche with tang.  And a perfect crust.  The crust is Dorie's Tart Dough, the filling is basically eggs, cream and two kinds of mustard.  The veggies are thin strips of leeks and carrots which have been steamed and which are arranged like spokes on a wheel.  A definite hit at the Hands Four Dance potluck this past Saturday!

French Chocolate Brownies

In Dorie Greenspan's great book Baking from My Home to Yours she offers 15 brownie recipes! I've made 14 of them now and the amazing thing is that they are all so different.  Each is wonderful in it's own way and the French Chocolate Brownies that I made a few days ago are no exception.

I think of brownies as being very easy and very chocolatey.  Differences are often those of texture--cakey, moist, chewy, gooey.  These fall into the cakey variety and they are wonderfully delicious.

The reason I have put off baking these (they are number 14 out of 15 brownie recipes remember!) is that they have raisins in them.  I'm a big fan of raisins to be eaten by themselves or in raisin bread but I don't much like them in cookies because they tend to be dry and hard.  And putting them into something chocolatey, well, chocolate is usually only improved by the addition of caramel in my view.

But these brownies were great fun to make and really, really tasty.  The fun part was to soften up those raisins by simmering them in a little water until the water almost evaporated.  Then you throw in 1 1/2 tablespoons of rum, heat that up and light it!

I tried to take a picture of the flame, but it went too fast!  Just imagine a pretty blue ball and a WHoooooffFF sound!

You melt some good chocolate and stir in some butter.

Then mix up the eggs and sugar, add in a little flour, the chocolate and the rummy raisins and into the oven it goes!

The result was delicious, cakey, moist brownies!  

Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Even when I was little and went to my Grandma Frances' house for Thanksgiving, apple pie always won out over pumpkin.  This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick was intriguing.  Notice that word CARAMEL in front of Pumpkin?  As far as I'm concerned, anything with caramel in it is  bound to be delicious.

Usually I make the recipe exactly as written the first time around but I decided to make these as little pie tartlets so that Rich could take them to choir rehearsal.  I used Dorie's fabulous Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough recipe (p442 in Baking), chilled the dough and filled 24 little muffin cups.  I partially baked these (16 minutes at 400 degrees).

Then I started on the caramel for the filling.  I've made caramel in the past and it is always tricky.  You want it dark for maximum flavor, but you definitely don't want it burnt.  I started out by heating the sugar until it melted and while this was happening, I got the tiniest whiff of burn-y smell.  But I added the cream, then the rum and the butter and cooked till smooth.

But as it cooled, I was increasingly suspicious of the burniness and so I just did it again.  I now had two batches of caramel which looked alike.  However, the first batch did taste as if it had burned and the second batch was absolutely scrumptious.

With the caramel made, it was simple to mix up the rest of the filling, stir in the lovely caramel, and fill the little pie shells.  I put a little streusel on a few of them, just to see if that dressed them up a bit.  I baked them for 25 minutes at 350 degrees until a knife came out clean.  (I had left over filling which I ended up stirring into a loaf bread batter--yummy!)

I must say that the filling was terrific!  And though when faced with a choice I still might reach for apple pie instead of pumpkin,  I'm sure I'll be baking this recipe again. Thanks to Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs for getting me to try pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fold-Over Pear Torte

Since all of the recipes in Baking by Dorie Greenspan have been YUMMY I was expecting just that from this recipe.  But this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick turned out to be  EXTRAORDINARILY YUMMY!

I was rather casual about this recipe, only glancing through the ingredients to be sure I had them all on hand.  I assumed this torte would be best when warm so I planned to make it so that it would come out of the oven just after dinner.  I had read the recipe just enough to realize I needed to make the pie dough early in the day so it could chill.  When I started to bake in earnest at 4:30 pm, I discovered that the torte needed to cool completely to set.   So much for eating it right after dinner.

The next  surprise was the direction to generously butter an 8" spring form pan. Since there isn't a picture in the book, I had imagined I'd be putting the delicious pie dough on a baking sheet, piling on pears, and folding the edges hap-hazzardly over the top.  But an 8" spring form pan?  Suddenly I became more alert!

Once the dough is made and in the pan (mine came up over the edges), the pear filling is prepared. I worried about my pears because pear season is past and I could only get very, very firm Bosc pears at the farm market.  But I chopped them up, added the diced dried apricots and nuts, and poured the lovely custard filling over all.  The filling is mainly cream with some rum, eggs, sugar, vanilla and a little flour.

Next I had to deal with the top of the crust and Dorie says not to fold it over but rather to push it toward the center like a ruffle.  My edges were uneven and I could not bear to waste any of the lovely crust, so I ruffled as best I could and slid the torte into the oven.

Usually when Dorie advises that you take a peak and make sure something isn't browning too quickly, she is giving necessary advice.  My torte didn't brown quickly at all and in fact, it needed more than 70 minutes before I was satisfied with it.  And my "ruffle" sort of collapsed in on the top.

  Finally, it was cool enough, I released the torte from the pan and sprinkled on some powdered sugar.  All I can say is WOW!  This is fabulous!

This week's wonderful pick was made by Cakelaw and you can find the recipe at her blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Double Apple Bundt Cake

Local apples are just becoming abundant here in upstate New York and so I'm delighted to have a "need" to bake apple desserts.  Lynne of Honey Muffin chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick:  Double Apple Bundt Cake, so named because it uses grated apples as well as store-bought apple butter.

I've made this lovely cake before and it was just as good the second time around.  What really astounds me about this bundt cake (and all of Dorie's other bundt cakes) is how easily they slide out of the pan.  When I've used other recipes, some bit of the cake invariably sticks to the pan.  Dorie's cakes are always right in every way!

Not many pictures this time because I was baking up a storm for a house concert with a wonderful traditional music band, Tunescape.  In addition to the Double Apple Bundt Cake, I made Snickery Squares, Granola Grabbers, Chocolate Walnut Tea Cakes (not in Baking, but a Dorie recipe nevertheless), Peanut Butter Criss Crosses and then I popped some Gougeres into the oven for a savory treat!

And did I mention that I made Dorie's big carrot cake for a friend's birthday two days ago?

A very happy few days of baking!