Friday, September 24, 2010

My Screaming Pot of Basil!



I have been growing a fantastic pot of Basil on my back deck. This past week it has been screaming at me….MAKE PESTO! So today I gave into the voice! I make a classic pesto. It's easy to make and oh so good! I just love the smell of fresh basil permeating my kitchen!! Truly delightful!


            Classic Pesto
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 lg. cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tea. pepper
1/4 tea. salt

Put basil in food processor and puree
Add pine nuts and garlic and continue to run processor
Then add cheese and olive oil, salt and pepper.
Continue to process until smooth. Enjoy!

You can freeze pesto in ice cube tray and then



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

Last night was movie night for our dinner group.  Avatar!! We had not seen it yet, and were all looking forward to dinner and a movie.  Obviously none of us are exactly current with the silver screen!!  However, it was a hit with our dinner club.
I was charged with bringing the dessert….Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart, from "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan.  I had flagged the recipe in my book months ago, as one I wanted to try. And I just happened to have peaches in my kitchen ready to be used.  I had stopped at the farm stand yesterday and picked up beautiful, last of the season peaches! The crust seemed a little tricky.  The recipe tells you not to handle it so much…use a light hand….I don't have a light hand when it comes to dough…I tend  to work it much too hard! That works great for bread kneading, but not so much for buttery crusts.
When the time came to serve the tart I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did it look perfect, but it was also delicious! The crust was tender and tasted great. I will definitely make this one again…a keeper…seriously good!!



Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

1-9 inch tart crust made with Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts, partially baked and cooled

For the Streusel
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling
3 large ripe peaches, halved, pitted and peeled*
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

confectioner's sugar, for dusting

To Make the Streusel: Working with your fingertips, blend all the ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Cover the streusel tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (Wrapped well, the streusel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days).

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To Make the Tart: Slice 5 of the peach halves crosswise. The best way to do this is to place each peach half cut side down on a cutting board and slice it crosswise into thin slices, keeping the sliced half intact. Then lift each half on a spatula, press down on the half lightly to fan it just a bit and place it in the crust, with the edge of the outer peach slices almost touching the edge of the crust, so that you have 5 peach "spokes" and an empty space in the center. Trim the remaining unsliced peach half so it will fit into the center of the tart and, using the tip of your knife, cut a little tic-tac-toe pattern in the center of the peach. Set aside while you make the creamy filing.

Whisk the cream, egg, sugar and almond extract together in a small bowl. When blended, rap the bowl on the counter to knock out the air bubbles, and pour the filling over and around the peaches.

Bake the tart for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the tart for another 20 minutes, at which point you should add the streusel.

Remove the streusel from the refrigerator and, using your fingers, break it up into small bits. Carefully pull the baking sheet to the front of the oven (if you can manage to get the streusel onto the tart without removing the tart from the oven and jostling the delicate filling, so much the better, but pull it out completely if it's easier) and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the creamy parts of the tart.

Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes), or until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer the pan to a rack to cool until barely warm or at room temperature. Just before serving, dust with confectioner's sugar.

*To Peel Peaches: Blanch peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins.

Storing: The tart can be refrigerated overnight; cover it to protect it from drying and from odors.

Sweet Tart Dough With Nuts
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
Makes enough for one 9-inch crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter thepieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in--you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10- seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change--heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press the Dough into the Pan: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Partially or Fully Bake the Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To Fully Bake the Crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress--it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To Patch a Partially or Fully Baked Crust, If Necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer--it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

  

Monday, September 13, 2010

So here it goes!!

I have spent this very rainy day making jam. Several batches! I really love the whole process of gathering and preparing the fruit and getting the jars ready. It's a very comforting process…I have no idea why, but when I hear those lids popping I feel a sense of excitement! Jam making, something I learned from my mom. It was one of her favorite things to do. I can still see her standing at the stove with peaches boiling and bubbling up and smelling oh so good! The sweet smell of cinnamon and fresh peaches permeating her kitchen. The peaches that we gathered from my grandfather's orchard, now ready to be put in jars for all to enjoy all winter long.
This is my first blog post and I decided to try my hand at it because I enjoy reading so many food blogs out there. I'm a pretty accomplished home baker and cook.  I have been part of a dinner club for at least 20 years. We have made some pretty challenging  recipes through the years. Fun and failure!! But the reason I decided to start this blog is because I would really like to participate in "French Fridays with Dorie" and you need to have a blog….So Kathy welcome to the Blogosphere.