Friday, August 5, 2016

CtBF ~ Apricot Crumble Tart

Delectable CtBF ~ Apricot Crumble Tart

We are in the midst of summer here in New Jersey, and beautiful fresh fruits are abundant. My favorite time of the year. Yesterday, I made a lovely batch of Spicy Blackberry Jam. The blackberries freshly picked from my garden. My garden has been serving up some gorgeous berries this year, and plenty of them.  The farmer's markets in my area are full of spectacular fruit, and that worked out just perfect for me this week.

Perfect for a summer day!

Our Cook the Book Fridays group, has picked David Lebovitz' Apricot Crumble Tart. I have been looking forward to making this tart since I first saw it, months ago.  It did not disappoint!  Leave it to the French to celebrate the sublime tartness of this lovely fruit, with an incredible buttery almond crumb topping. This tart has very little sugar added to the apricots (only three tablespoons). The crust was easy to put together and then pressed into the springform pan. Mine was perfectly thick and cookie like and didn't crumble when plated. The apricots were also easy to prepare, take out the pits, cut them in quarters, and mix with sugar, cornstarch, and extracts. Be sure to save the pits for David's Almond Kernel ice cream, (which I wasn’t able to get done for this post).

Tea and Apricot Crumble Tart on the back deck
This tart is delightfully delicious, however, Bill is still watching his weight. I just couldn't leave this tempting treat sitting around as he grazed the kitchen for snacks. So yesterday, after my walk with neighbors, I invited them over for coffee, tea and Apricot Crumble Tart on my back deck. The weather was perfect, as was the company. And the tart was enjoyed by all!!

This post participates with Cook the Book Fridays. We are a virtual cooking group making our way through David Lebovitz's beautiful new cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen".  To see what the other bloggers thought of this tart, check out their links here.  This recipe has been shared on-line and is posted here. If you're interested in cooking along, we would love to have you. Pick up a copy of David's cookbook, and join the fun.

Beautiful season!
crust pressed into the springform pan
 Lined with foil and pie weights
Apricots mixed with sugar, cornstarch, and extracts
This is what's left of this mouthwatering tart...
Incredibly delicious

Apricot Crumble Tart ~ Tarte Crumble Aus Apricots
Adapted from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz
Serves 8-10
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85g)
unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups ap flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( I used 1 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

2 pounds ripe, fresh apricots, pitted and quartered (I'm thinking blackberries, next time )
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 1 1/2 tsps.)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (I used 1/2 tsp.)


1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH, remove butter from the refrigerator 10 minutes before using it and to let it soften slightly in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed just until no visible lumps of butter remain. Add the egg yolks, flour and salt. Mix until the dough comes together. (You can also make the dough in a bowl using a spatula and a little moxie.) I used my food processor for the dough. It came out perfect.

2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9- to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Use the heel of your hand to press the dough over the bottom of the pan, and a little less than halfway up the sides. Try to get the bottom as even as possible, not because anyone will see it, but so it bakes evenly. Put the pan in freezer for 30 minutes

3. MAKE THE CRUMBLE TOPPING by pulsing the almonds, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are broken up into very small pieces. Add the butter and pulse the food processor. After a few moments, the mixture will look sandy. As you continue to pulse, pieces will just start clumping together. Stop pulsing at that point and chill the crumble topping. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can make the crumble topping by chopping the almonds finely and mixing the topping with a pastry blender or by hand.)

4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).

5. Line the springform pan with aluminum foil and a single layer of pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tart shell is browned.

6. After the tart shell comes out of the oven, make the filling. In a bowl, mix the fruit with the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Do not make the filling too far in advance because the fruit may become too juicy.

7. Transfer the fruit to the tart shell and even them out. Strew the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.

8. Bake the tart for 50 minutes, until the crumble topping, is nicely browned. (This timing was right on...I took mine out at 50 minutes and it was perfect)

9. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, then run a knife around the outside of the tart to separate it from pan, in case any juices ran over. Let rest for 30 minutes, then remove the sides of the springform and let the tart cool. The edges may look rather dark, but should taste fine, not burnt.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, July 15, 2016

CtBFs ~ Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg

CtBF'S Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg

This week for CooktheBookFridays we chose Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham, Cheese, and Egg. Not just any crêpes; we made galettes. David explains they are called galettes when made with buckwheat flour. I have never used buckwheat for crêpes. They were a bit of a challenge. The first three I made broke into pieces and wound up in the trash.  I then realized I was cooking them on too high a heat and not long enough. When I lowered the heat and used a little less batter, the crêpes came out better. 

                                                                      Traditional Galette Complète
I own two crêpe pans. Neither one is a 10-inch.  I made an executive decision and decided to go with the 9-inch., rather than use a larger frypan.  I thought it wouldn't make much of a difference...however, getting it to fold was not pretty. I also found the batter very dark. After some research, I discovered that there are dark and light buckwheat flours.  Guess which one I have?  The finished product almost looked black. When I put them back into the frypan and added the egg, they became even darker. I broke the yolk on the first one, trying to center it...but the second came out perfect. It took quite awhile for the egg to cook. I finally slid the crepe onto a plate and put it into the Microwave for 10 seconds. I really don't like runny whites!

Then, while writing this post and looking for a recipe I could share, I found King Arthur's recipe for buckwheat crêpes. They say to fry the egg separately in another that makes sense. I tried this method with some leftover crêpes and it actually worked much better.     
My husband oohed and ahhed about this dish.  Definitely, man food! And perfect for brunch or even lunch.
Happy Friday everyone!

CooktheBookFridays is a group of bloggers cooking through David Lebovitz cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen".  If you'd like to join us, Visit our page, buy the book and cook along. This recipe from King Arthur is very similar to David's. He uses water and this one uses milk and water. 

Dark buckwheat batter...very strange looking!
As they cooked they looked normal
Still looking good
Stacked crêpes
I will be buying some light buckwheat flour to try these again. My husband loved them.

Buckwheat Crêpes 
recipe from King Arthur Flour
    1-cup buckwheat flour
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    2-large eggs
    1-cup milk: 1%, 2%, or whole
    1-tablespoon melted unsalted butter
    1/4 to 1/2 cup water

    To make the crêpe batter: Combine all the ingredients (except water) in a blender, and blend until smooth.
    Cover the batter and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
    When you're ready to make the crêpes, thin the batter with water, using less water for thicker crêpes and more water for thinner ones.
    Preheat a crêpe pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the pan with butter, oil, or pan spray, then pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan; swirling the pan as you pour the batter will help ensure an even coating.
    Cook the crêpe for 1 to 2 minutes on the first side, until it's golden and lifts from the pan easily. Flip it over and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.
    Transfer cooked crêpes to a plate, stacking them on top of one another, and keeping a towel over them.
    Fill as desired; serve warm.
    Yield: 10 to 12 crêpes.

    To prepare a traditional Galette Complète, place your crêpe pan on medium heat, and when the pan is hot, place a crêpe on the pan to reheat on one side. Flip the crêpe and top with 2 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese and a thin slice of cut ham. David's recipe uses Prosciutto. Cook until the cheese is melted and the underside is browned. In a separate pan, fry an egg to the desired doneness. Place the egg in the center of the crêpe, then fold the edges towards the center to make a square. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lebanese Za’atar Bread

Lebanese Za'atar Bread
I have been lucky enough to come from a long line of excellent cooks. Cooks that have passed on essential skills, and treasured family recipes.  My grandmothers were immigrants to this country and, both were amazing in the kitchen. My mother's mother came from Lebanon. She arrived at Ellis Island when she was just sixteen. Her traveling companions, for this very long journey, were her aunt and a cousin. Her uncle had previously paved the way. She would be staying with him and his family when she arrived in the U.S.  A close friend of hers came to the pier to see her off. She handed my grandmother a handmade hanky, hoping she would never forget her.  I still have that hanky. She boarded the ship and left behind her mother, father, and several sisters, along with everything she knew and loved. She was traveling to a strange land with hope for a new life, and with the knowledge she might never see her family again. She had with her a suitcase, the hanky, and a head full of family recipes.  My grandmother, Labebe (Americanized to Jenny), was the heart and soul of our family. She was kind, wise, spirited and strong, our matriarch.

My favorite lunch
Every once in a while, she would show her strong-willed personality. I remember my mother telling me a story about an old piano, which my grandmother wanted out of her house. She asked my grandfather, several times, to get rid of it. I guess he didn't move fast enough because my grandmother took a hatchet to the piano and threw the pieces out the window. My mother said it was quite a site, as she walked home from school that day.  Funny, I can't imagine my sweet Imme with a hatchet in her hand.

The lemony-tart flavor of the za'atar is mouthwatering
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is one of the recipes my grandmother brought with her from Lebanon. It was a staple in her house for as long as I can remember. Since my grandmother cooked from memory, a little of this and a little of that, my mother learned from watching her. She was able to come up with what we have today by combining what she saw with what we have read in Lebanese Community cookbooks. The Za'atar bread is made with the same dough I use for my "Fatayer Sabanegh" aka Spinach Pies. Take about a 1/4 cup of the dough and flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin. Mine are usually about 5 to 7 inches round. You don't want them too thick, as the dough will rise. Spread the za'atar filling over the top, leaving about 1/2 an inch rim around the dough. Just like a pizza. Funny how this is still a family favorite, all these years later. I hope you'll give them a try.

Plenty to share...
Lunch anyone?

Serve with Labneh, (a strained Yogurt spread), olives, tomatoes, and cucumbers! I could eat this anytime of the day. My favorite lunch!  I understand, in Lebanon, it is served for breakfast.

Lebanese Za'atar Bread

8 cups all-purpose flour (I start with 7 cups and use the other cup as needed)
about 3 cups warm water
1 package yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Za'atar mix:
I buy the za'atar already mixed at the Lebanese grocery. However, you can buy it on-line at Amazon or Olive Nation. Olive Nation makes an excellent Lebanese Za'atar mix. 
The ratio should be about 4 Tablespoons of Za'atar mix to enough olive oil to make a loose paste. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Then proof the yeast by mixing 1 cup of water, yeast, and sugar together in measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the olive oil,  yeast mixture, and the rest of the water. Stir till dough starts to come together, then turn out onto floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic.
Shape dough, about 1/4 cup per piece, into rounds on a floured work surface. Arrange rounds on baking sheets and spread with za'atar mix.
Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Friday, July 1, 2016

CtBF Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Beautiful and delicious Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing

This week for CooktheBookFridays we chose a vibrant, colorful and delicious raw vegetable salad. Mine was full of red and white cabbage, beets, carrots, apples, and kale, along with parsley, chives, and a hard cooked egg.  The beautiful color of this salad fit my mood…colorful, bright and celebratory! Not only was it simple to make, but it was also quite flavorful. I loved the way it presented on the table. The dressing was a perfect pairing for this salad. We loved the creamy flavor it added. Excellent as a side with grilled chicken or fish. Slaw is a favorite salad in our house, and I just found a new variation. A winner for sure!

All the ingredients ready for dressing
Bon Appetit!

Now on to my celebration. We have been very blessed this year for a lot of reasons. Recently my son surprised us with his engagement. They got engaged in Cinque Terre, Italy. I know, so romantic! I hosted both he and his lovely fiancee here two weekends ago, along with other family members. Toasting to a long and happy life together. Then last week, we went to Long Island for a visit with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren to have another celebratory visit. More champagne! Delicious food and getting to know one another. We were thrilled to meet and welcome our son's charming, and delightful fiancee into our family. La Vita è Bella!

Wishing Jamie and Dennis  “Happily Ever After” ❤️

Cook the Book Fridays is a group cooking through David Lebovitz's cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen". If you would like to cook along with our group get yourself a copy of the book and join us.  Check out what the other bloggers thought of this salad here. This week's salad has been shared online, so I am sharing it here with you.

Raw Vegetable Slaw with Creamy Garlic Dressing
adapted from David Lebovitz "My Paris Kitchen.”

1 c light mayonnaise
4 tsps. red wine vinegar
1-2 large cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 tsps. Dijon mustard
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together, cover and refrigerate for several hours.

6 c julienned or shredded raw vegetables (any combination of cabbage, radicchio, kale, endive, carrots, beets, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, fennel, kohlrabi, avocados, etc.)
a hard cooked egg, chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or another herb to taste
1 tbsp chopped chives or green onions
pepitas or other nuts (optional)
dried cranberries (optional)
Toss slaw ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss with the dressing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

CtBF’s Lady Chicken Lady ~~ Polet Crapaudine Façon Catherine

CtBFs' Lady Chicken Lady from "My Paris Kitchen"
Last week, for our Cook the Book Fridays, our pick was David Lebovitz's Lady Chicken Lady. It's from his new cookbook "My Paris Kitchen".   I made this a few weeks ago and served it with my Fattoush salad. We loved this chicken. It was so moist and filled with wonderful flavor. My husband claimed it was the best chicken he ever ate. Anyone who knows my husband knows this is a pretty huge compliment...especially because he seems to be a tad fussy. 

The skin stuck to the grill, and that's too bad. the chicken was fabulous
This chicken recipe calls for you to "spatchcock" your chicken. I learned this technique while cooking through "Around My French Table". It simply means, taking the backbone out of the chicken and lying it flat on a grill pan or for me, the grill. The term les crapaudines means bullfrogs, which is how your chicken looks when it is lying flat. This time around, I let my butcher have the honor of  cutting out the backbone. Anything to save time. 

This post should have been posted on the 17th. However, my life has been a bit hectic lately. See you  Friday.

Marinating overnight
Oh so good!
A perfect summer meal

CooktheBookFridays is an on-line cooking group. We are cooking through David Lebovitz cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen". David shared this wonderful chicken recipe here at Serious Eats.

Chicken Lady Chicken~~ Polet Crapaudine Façon Catherine
By David Lebovitz adapted from "My Paris Kitchen"

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2  teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons harissa, Sriracha, or Asian chile paste (I used chile powder)
2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 (3-pound) chicken

1. Put the minced garlic and salt in a resealable plastic bag and crush it with the heel of your hand until it’s a paste. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, soy sauce, harissa, mustard, and honey to the bag, combining the ingredients well.

2. Remove the backbone of the chicken by snipping down both sides of the spine with poultry shears, or taking a chef’s knife and cutting along both sides of it, and pulling it off. With the breast side down on the cutting board, take a knife and crack the bone between the breasts, then push the chicken down with your hands so it spreads out and lies flat. Flip the chicken over so it’s skin side up and press down with the heels of your hands on the chicken very firmly—like you’re giving it a shiatsu massage—to flatten it as much as you possibly can. Don’t go easy on it.
3. Loosen the skin from the breast and thigh meat and spoon some of the marinade under the skin. Put the chicken in the bag, close it securely, and use your hands to rub the ingredients into the chicken. Refrigerate it for 1 to 2 days, flipping the bag over a few times as it marinates.
4. To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and place the chicken in it, breast side down. Drape a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the top and set a heavy weight on top of it. A good option is a brick or a large saucepan filled with water.
5. Cook the chicken until the skin is a deep golden brown, which usually takes about 10 minutes or so—check it often. Once it’s browned, flip the chicken over, replace the weight, and let it cook for about 5 more minutes.
6. Remove the weight and the foil and place the chicken in the oven for 25 minutes, until it’s cooked through. To serve it French-style, cut the chicken into eight pieces: two legs, two thighs, and cut each breast in half crosswise, leaving the wings attached.

Friday, June 3, 2016

CtBF ~ Fattoush (Middle Eastern Bread Salad)

CtBF's Fattoush Salad
This week for Cook the Book Fridays we have picked David's version of Fattoush. Fattoush is a bread salad popular in the Middle East, made with torn pieces of stale or toasted pita bread. Bread in a salad is something I grew up with. Fattoush was one of my favorites. It would be interchanged with Tabbouleh on my grandmother's table. It also fit my grandmother's mantra of never wasting food and was so wonderfully delicious that you never knew you were eating stale bread. 

Notice the sprinkling of the sour taste it adds.
Grandmothers have been doing it for generations. Some of our favorite foods come from grandmothers who didn't want to waste that stale bread. Think about it. The Italians have their own version of bread salad called Panzanella. I made a wonderful version with butternut squash that you can find here. We can also thank our ancestors for French Toast and Bread Pudding. Waste not, want not.
There is something about crisp pieces of bread soaking up all the juices in a salad that makes my mouth water. Combined with crisp greens, tomatoes, mint, green onions, parsley and a delectable lemon based dressing this salad is something to swoon over. Davids recipe is almost exactly like my grandmothers...sans the mustard in the dressing. That said, I loved the flavor the mustard added.  I didn't have to buy anything unusual for this salad since I always have sumac in my house. If you want to try this unusual middle eastern spice, which adds a delightful sourness to the salad, you can find it at 

This was a winner with my hubby. Although he added Parmesan cheese to his and told me the cheese made it! Happy Friday everyone!

An old favorite with a new twist
Since David's version has been shared many times I am sharing it here with all of you. Cook the Book Fridays is cooking through David Lebovitz's cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen". If you would like to cook along with our group or just check out what the other bloggers thought of this salad check it out here.

In my hubby's words, "A definite keeper."

Fattoush (David Lebovitz)                                     
Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz' "My Paris Kitchen," Ten Speed Press, 2014
Published in The Oregonian

  • 2 large or 4 small rounds of pita bread
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the pita
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 8 cups torn or wide-cut ribbons of romaine lettuce
  • 4 scallions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the pita bread on a baking sheet, brush them evenly with olive oil, then toast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
In a large serving bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic, and mustard. Whisk in the 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Add the lettuce, scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and radishes. Toss the salad with 1 teaspoon of the sumac and a few generous grinds of pepper. Crumble the pita into irregular pieces that are slightly larger than bite-size and gently toss until the pieces of pita are coated with the dressing. Sprinkle the salad with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sumac and serve.

Friday, May 20, 2016

CtBF ~ Ham, Blue Cheese and Pear Quiche #FoodRevolutionDay

CtBF's Ham, Blue Cheese and Pear Quiche
For the past three years, I have been participating in Food Revolution Day. A day of global action created by Jamie Oliver and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. It's a day to engage and inspire people of all ages to learn about the food they eat and how to prepare it. This is something that is very important to me. I believe people would be much healthier, and be able to eat cheaper if they learned to cook. So thank you, Mardi @Eat.Live.Travel.Write., for another year of sending out this message. Our goal is to get people to start cooking, learn the basics and join Jamie’s revolution

The theme is #FeedtheFuture, and our CooktheBookFridays group is joining the revolution. It's all about learning skills and techniques that will give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and serve healthy meals throughout your life. 

Rolled out pastry
Cook the Book Fridays is taking on the challenge with a French recipe that all cooks should know. We are making Quiche!  It's from David Lebovitz's cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen". Quiche has saved my entertaining life more than once. It was one of the first things I learned to prepare after I was married. Many moons ago! In the beginning, I really didn't do so well with making a pastry crust. Funny thing is, my mom was the best crust maker ever. She tried to teach me, but for some reason, I just couldn't master it. Flaky, buttery pie crusts were never going to happen for me. Don't judge me...but I used to buy pre-made Pillsbury. I know! Then one day, I decided I was not going to let the pie Gods win. And once I did it...that was it! 

Crust placed into springform pan and filling
Once you master pastry crust, the sky's the limit. Think of all the pies, quiches, and galettes you can bake. The pastry crust that David has included with this Quiche is easy and flavorful. It's a mixture of cornmeal and flour. The texture is lovely. We are crazy about Quiche in my house. It's a perfect meal for a hot summers day, served with a side salad. It's also wonderful for brunch because it can be made ahead of time. Quiche has always been part of my repertoire. For simple dinners and lunches, or for a special occasion celebration. It makes entertaining easy!

Just out of the oven
I served this gorgeous quiche a few weeks ago when my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were visiting. I made the crust the night before and rolled it out in the morning. The quiche was a little more involved, sautéing shallots, then mixing them with the chopped pear and ham.  Blend the cream cheese, cream, nutmeg, eggs and egg yolks until smooth. Stir in the blue cheese, and the pear and ham mixture. Fill the springform pan and bake. This recipe is seriously delicious! It was a big hit with my company and the one who didn’t like blue cheese, loved it! Happy Food Revolution Day! 

To see what the other bloggers in our group thought of this recipe, check it out here. This recipe can be found in David's new cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen".  If you'd like to join us in cooking along, pick up a copy and visit CooktheBookFridays.  David has shared this wonderful recipe with Tastebook. You can find it here, I have also shared it below. 

A perfect lunch....
Bon appétit

Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche                                         

By David Lebovitz 

Ingredients for Crust

1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (55g) cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/115g) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 large egg

Ingredients for Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large, firm, ripe pear, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) cubes
1 cup (130g) diced cooked (boiled) ham
1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream or half-and-half
8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups (150g) crumbled blue cheese or Roquefort
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. To make the crust, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl, by hand with a pastry blender), combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Add the butter and beat on low speed until the butter is broken up and the mixture is sandy. Add the egg and mix until the dough begins to clump and come together. Use your hands to gather the dough and shape it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance.)
  2. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s 14 inches (35cm) across. Wrap aluminum foil around the outside of a 9- to 10-inch (23 to 25cm) springform pan to catch any leaks, and then transfer the dough to the pan. Press the dough against the side, allowing it to come a bit more than halfway up the sides of the pan. If there are any cracks, patch them with a bit of dough from the edges—you don’t want the filling to leak out during baking. Chill the dough in the pan while you make the filling.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. To make the filling, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the shallots with some salt and pepper until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the diced pear and ham.
  5. In a large bowl, blend together the cream, cream cheese, a few gratings of nutmeg, the eggs, and the yolks until smooth. Stir in the blue cheese, the pear and ham mixture, and the parsley.
  6. Set the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling, using a spoon to make sure the ingredients in the filling are evenly distributed. Bake the tart for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is lightly browned, the filling still jiggles, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool until firm enough to slice, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Directions for VARIATIONS

  1. For bacon-lovers, substitute 1 cup (125g) cooked diced bacon for the ham. For a vegetarian version, leave out the ham. You can also add to taste whatever fresh herbs appeal to you, such as chervil, thyme, tarragon, dill, or marjoram.

Monday, May 9, 2016

CtBF ~ Salted Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

CtBF ~ Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse
This week for Cook the Book Fridays, we are making David’s luscious Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse.  I was lucky enough to have eaten this in NYC last spring, when I and several Doristas went to see a David Liebovitz demonstration, promoting his new cookbook, “My Paris Kitchen”.
The meal was fit for royalty. However, by the time dessert was served we were all so full, we actually thought of skipping it. But then, I never skip dessert!! Especially when David Liebovitz and staff are preparing it. Believe me, it was totally worth the splurge!  I have been looking forward to making this exquisite mousse since that day.

Decadent velvety deliciousness
I found it easier than I expected. An important key to its success was having a mise en place.  All ingredients ready to go, because once you start, it moves quickly.  The most complicated part of this mousse is making the caramel. However, that too is pretty easy once you've learned the procedure. Most importantly, being careful not to burn the sugar, as you caramelize. Personally, it's a trick every baker should know. 
This recipe makes six very rich, velvety cups of mousse.  We loved it! It will definitely be added to my dessert repertoire. 

Since I made these the day before we left for Georgia to visit my grandsons and family. I decided to make them in Weck jars and take them along for everyone to try. That turned out to be a good grandsons were very happy with the results.  But then who wouldn't be happy with a cup of silky, smooth salted caramel chocolate mousse.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Post Script...It is now Monday and I have spent the weekend going to baseball games and enjoying my grandchildren. Sorry, I didn't get this up on time. 

This post participates with Cook the Book Fridays . To see what the other bloggers thought of this mousse, check out their links here.  This recipe has been shared with Epicurious by David and is posted here. If you're interested in cooking along, we would love to have you join us. Pick up a copy of David's cookbook, "My Paris Kitchen" and join the fun.

Whisking cream into the caramel
Relatively easy and quite impressive

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TWD ~ BCM ~ Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies

Tuesdays with Dorie~BCM~Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies
For me, this week is about Wednesdays with Dorie! I'm trying to get myself back into the game, and it seems to be a little slower than I would like, but hey, I'm here! We had a choice to make either a Jammer Galette or Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies. It was a no-brainer!! Anything chocolate is always a winner! These were seriously delicious! I only wish the recipe made more than eight.

Seriously amazing
Meringues and I go way back. They have always been a favorite of my kids while they were growing up. I've been making them for years...however these were amazing due to the ground almonds, that were folded into the meringue batter. They gave the meringues a lovely crunch. The other thing that made them totally delectable was the addition of chocolate ganache. Two crunchy meringues sandwiched together with a velvety chocolate ganache. What could be better?

Only eight...oh no!!
I used a 2 inch round to draw circle guides on my parchment paper and piped the meringue onto each circle. I was able to get the sixteen that the recipe called for. The cookies take awhile to bake, so make sure you plan for the time. Ninty minutes in a 250º oven...turn off the heat and leave them in for another hour. Definitely worth the time.

This recipe participates with Tuesdays with Dorie. A blogger group, baking our way through Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, "Baking Chez Moi". To see what the other bloggers did this week, check it out here.  This recipe has been shared with BH&G by Dorie in the February 2013 issue. It is also on their website, where you will find it here. Or better yet, get yourself a copy of Dorie's cookbook. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwich
From Dorie Greenspan's BCM, published by BH&G

cup powdered sugar
tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
cup walnuts or blanched almonds, toasted
egg whites, at room temperature
tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch salt

cup whipping cream
tablespoon unsalted butter
ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For cookies, position oven racks to divide the oven into thirds; preheat to 250 degrees F. Using a pencil, draw twenty 1 1/2-inch-diameter circles on each of two sheets of parchment paper. Flip over the sheets of parchment and use them to line two baking sheets.
In a small bowl sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add chopped nuts; toss to coat.
In a large bowl beat together the egg whites and salt on medium speed until the whites just begin to turn opaque. Increase the speed and add sugar little by little, beating until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
Using a flexible spatula, gently fold half of the powdered sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in remaining powdered sugar mixture.
Using the penciled-in-circles as a guide, spoon the meringue into 1 1/2-inch rounds on the prepared baking sheets. Use the back of the spoon to spread the meringue evenly. (Or, using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, pipe the meringues into rounds on the baking sheets.)
Bake 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off. Keeping the door closed, allow the cookies to remain in the oven for 1 hour more. Remove baking sheets from oven; cool to room temperature.
For filling, in a small saucepan bring cream and butter to boiling. In a heatproof bowl place the chopped chocolate. Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Using a small spatula or whisk and starting in the center of the bowl, stir together the cream mixture and chocolate in gradually increasing concentric circles. Stir gently until filling is smooth and glossy. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. (The filling has to thicken before can use it to sandwich the cookies.)
To assemble, using a small offset spatula or a spoon, top half of the cookies with 2 tsp. filling. Spread the filling almost to the edges of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Chill at least 3 minutes (or up to 1 day). Serve chilled.
From the Test Kitchen
To speed the thickening process, place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Keep stirring and do not walk away. The filling firms very quickly.
Unfilled cookies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months. Fill just before serving.

Ready to bake...
 Three hours later...Enjoy!