Archive for the ‘Pies and Tarts’ Category
So, I’ve got what I think is exciting news, so I’ll just cut straight to it: I’m going to be an au pair in Paris for the next year.
For awhile, I felt like I needed to justify this decision to people by saying all of the potential advantages, and what I’d gain from it. But I really honestly don’t feel compelled to do that anymore, and I’ll just let the fact that I am very, very excited speak for itself. If all goes according to plan (as in, French Ministry of Labor, please let me into your country in a timely manner), I’ll be heading to France on a plane on the 20th of July.
I mainly wanted to announce this because if by some crazy-awesome-slim chance that any of you reading my blog happens to live in Paris, please be my friend!!! (Not joking. We should totally meet up.)
But, I also wanted to share it with you guys just because I have a feeling the nature of this blog might change or be altered somewhat. Although food is always on the forefront of my mind, I am not sure to what degree cooking, baking and sharing recipes will take a priority over the next few months. I’d still like to share what I make and eat, but I’ll warn you that this blog might be composed of some photo-only posts at best and empty silence for awhile at worst. Who knows, we’ll see! To be honest with you, I really don’t feel accountable to anyone or anything with this blog, and I’d like to keep it that way.
It’s kind of a little ironic, seeing as my blog is named The Moveable Feasts—which is so obviously a kind of (now) embarrassing allusion to Hemingway’s statement of Paris: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” I don’t, however, want this blog to become a cliche of why Paris is the best place in the world, for multiple reasons: 1) There are, like, a serious amount of blogs devoted to Paris and how wonderful it allegedly is, 2) I’ve never even been to Paris! I don’t really have any expectations for this next year, and I’d like to keep it that way (best way to exceed expectations is to keep them extraordinarily low or not have any at all, amIright?) and 3) I like some separation from real-life and blog-life, and I feel like food is a happy intermediary between the two.
Anyway, I want you all to know that I most definitely did not make this French meal for the sole purpose of announcing my move on this blog. Rather, I made a nice meal the other day since we had a big bunch of beets on hand and I’ve only been wanting to make quiche lorraine since forever. I made it about a year ago when Waylon came in visited me one weekend in Oregon. I followed the same recipe (Julia Child’s), but that time I added in some sauteed onions and a generous amount of gruyere cheese. I think I liked it better that way, but when I read in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that a true quiche lorraine contains only bacon, eggs and cream, I felt too guilty to try anything else. I felt like I had to make one real quiche lorraine, if for no other reason than to say that I made a real quiche lorraine instead of a quiche vosgienne (with gruyere) or a quiche alsacienne (with onions). Besides, I kind of feel proud announcing that the quiche is composed almost solely of dairy and animal fat in all its forms. I mean butter, cream, eggs, bacon? All good things. Still, when I make it again, I’ll probably add in some sauteed onions and gruyere.
I paired it with a beet salad, which I love. This one comes from Dorie Greenspan, who did something brilliant by pairing the beets and their simple French vinaigrette with “icy red onions.” They’re thin onion slices that are swished in water to remove any of their bitter bite, and then they’re chilled in the fridge with some ice cubes to make them refreshing and chilly. These onions, along with the tart vinaigrette-soaked beets, toasted walnuts, and a sprinkling of herbs, made a pretty good and sharp salad to go with the quiche.
PS: I think all of my pages were long overdue for an update, so behold: the new about me and inspiration pages. I also kind of feel like this blog is swiftly in need for some redesign, seeing as it’s now over 2 years old, woah! But I am far too undisciplined to get my act together to do that, for now.
I love, love the idea of having cold quiche as leftovers. Unfortunately, my Dad sees anything in a tart or cake form, and he equates it as a around-the-clock snack that he allows himself to nibble on until it’s gone. So between my dad, mom and me, there is one measly wedge leftover. To my Dad’s credit, it is a thin quiche—something I actually don’t find incredibly appealing (I think adding in onions and gruyere would beef it up a bit, as would using an 8-inch tart pan or dish as opposed to a 9-inch one). But it is a good quiche—especially when you don’t undercook it (a habit I have been really annoyingly been getting into latley), and then have to put it back in the oven to try and hastily finish browning it enough. Anyway… here’s to France, and maybe getting some French cooking skills along the way there.
One Year Ago: Pistachio Baklava (and a trip, awhile ago, to Istanbul) — probably my favorite post ever, I think
Two Years Ago: Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake, BLT Soup and Rhubarb & Raspberry Crostata
Julia Child’s Quiche Lorraine
From Mastering the Art of French Cooking
Serves 4, about
1 single-crust recipe pâte brisée, well chilled
3 to 4 ounces lean bacon (about 6 to 8 medium-cut slices), sliced into 1/4-inch segments
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pea-sized amounts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8 or 9-inch tart pan with a Pull the pâte brisée out of the fridge and set in on a lightly floured work surface. Beat the dough a few times with the rolling pin to soften it, and let it rest for a few minutes to get a little softer if necessary. Roll out the dough into a large circle about 10 or 11-inches in diameter, and about 1/8-inch thick. Working quickly, transfer the dough over to the prepared tart pan and press the dough into the tart pan. Lift the edges of the dough slightly down into the mold to thicken the sides of the pastry shell a little bit, and to make it more sturdy. Roll the pin over the top of the tart pan to remove any excess dough. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up the butter and shell. Then line the crust with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 8 to 9 minutes. Then remove the foil and pie weights and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more, until the shell is starting to color. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Over medium heat, cook the sliced bacon in a skillet until cooked and lightly brown. Remove and let place on a plate lined with paper towels. Once cooled slightly, evenly scatter over the bottom of the partially-baked pastry shell. Next, beat the cream (and/or half-and-half) with the eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, until well blended. Pour over the bacon slices into the hot pastry shell, then sprinkle the butter dots on top. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the quiche has puffed up and browned. (I’d bake it to be browner than the color of the quiche in my pictures.) Let cool slightly; serve warm or cold.
Icy Red Onion & Beet Salad
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons freshly chopped herbs (I used parsley)
Swish the sliced onions in a bowl of cold water for a minute or two to remove bitterness. Pour out the water, refill with fresh cold water, and add in a few ice cubes. Place in the fridge to chill until you assemble the salad.
Meanwhile, put the mustard, honey, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a good heavy pinch of salt and black pepper in a small mason jar. Cover, and shake until the vinaigrette is fully emulsified. Toss the vinaigrette with the beets in a medium bowl; set in the fridge to chill for at least an hour to let the beets soak up the vinaigrette.
To serve the salad, drain the onion slices, pat them dry, and sprinkle over the top of the beets. Follow this by the toasted walnuts, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Serve cold.
So, I made this over a week ago. That seems a little weird to me, to be writing about and talking about something that is already long gone and enjoyed (well enjoyed, mind you!). Although I usually don’t blog in anything close to “real time,” I think I have been especially aware of the time lag lately since everything seems to be going by SO QUICKLY. We’re down to a less than 3 weeks (!) until I graduate. That’s three weeks to find a way to eat all the food in my pantry, to handle both my best friend’s and my own birthday, to do all those things I’ve wanted to do in this city with these friends over the past 3 years that I haven’t got a chance to, to finish that thing called a thesis that has been consuming me wildly, to, you know, figure out what I’m going to do with my life after I graduate (something that strangely enough hasn’t been consuming me wildly, but should be).
It’s all a little surreal to me. I could try to gauge my feelings about everything but I’m pretty sure I have neither the time nor the audacity to try and figure that all out at the moment. I have a good knack of blocking pesky or bothersome things out of my consciousness anyway. Some part of my brain, for my sake, hides feelings and decisions that I don’t want to deal with away where I can’t reach them. They stay there, until someone or something else makes the decision for me or it all compounds into one big terrible mess that I can’t ignore. I can’t tell if this “skill” of mine is good or bad yet (you tell me).
Anyway, a critical part of this whole scheme of mine is that I don’t have time to do everything I want or need to, but I do have time to muddle away making treats of some form…obviously. Because treats are necessary. Anyway, so about a week ago a friend of mine and I wanted to make some treat resonant of tea time; something buttery, cakey and a little crumbly, sweet. Although I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for the better part of a year, the fact that I had an almost-full jar of apricot jam in my fridge (along with the very important fact that I have only the aforementioned scant 3 weeks (3 weeks!) to use it up), this recipe seemed like destiny.
So we made the dough, briefly chilled it, squished it all into a pan and spread nearly the full jar of jam on top. I suppose that on this particular day, we were feeling rather aesthetically inclined, seeing as we went all out and decided to do a pretty lattice top. You’ll be happy to know that despite how we pretty much botched it up, squished it all around, and made it look rather messy, when it emerged from the oven it was a real beauty. We ate slices of it warm, but I think it is best at room temperature.
When I ate a slice of it for breakfast, it reminded me of when Waylon and I were in Florence, where we shared a twin bed at a hostel. Even though the shower didn’t work, the breakfast at that hostel was the best—they had teas and toast and jams and an apricot crostata, with a lattice top just like this one. I can’t really remember what it tasted like, but I think this one was just as good if not better. The pastry is crumbly, buttery, and soft, and it has a really nice texture from the addition of some cornmeal (the idea of which came from David Lebovtiz). It’s basically like a cookie-pastry crust that’s all wrapped around a thin layer of sticky sweet jam.
Regarding the jam, I think any would really do. With that being said, I honestly also think a quick homemade jam would be best here—that way you could control the amount of sugar and balance out the sweet pastry with a more tart jam (kind of like that of the rhubarb-raspberry sort in another crostata I made, just about forever ago). I do however find a lot of appeal in the idea of making this sort of dessert as a spur-of-the-moment thing by being resourceful and using up what you have on hand. So if you have an almost-full jar of apricot jam in the fridge that needs to be used in a few weeks, I’d say that trumps all.
One Year Ago: Rhubarb-Grapefruit Marmalade (hey! that woulda worked well here) and Caramelized Cauliflower Pasta with Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Lemon
You can make the dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge, but when you take it out to press into the pan, you’ll probably have to wait a bit for the dough to soften and become flexible. Also, feel free to substitute any sort of jam you’d like here.
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
1/2 cup (70 grams) cornmeal or polenta
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
9 (110 grams) tablespoons unsalted butter, at room tempurature
1/2 (100 grams) cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
14 ounces (450 grams) apricot jam
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until well-combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the egg and egg yolk until combined. Add in the flour mixture and continue to mix at medium speed until the mixture begins to get all clumpy.
By hand, separate the dough into two balls, with one part roughly twice as big as the other (as in, separate the dough into two parts of 1/3 and 2/3). Wrap the two balls in plastic wrap and place the in fridge for about 30 minutes, just to firm up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge. Starting with the larger section, press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Fill the crust with the jam, spread in an even layer. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining 1/3 dough until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into narrow strips and place them in a lattice pattern, if you’d like, on the crostata. I personally think it’s prettier and more personal if you don’t make it look too perfect.
Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. (Side note: in researching this recipe I found this bit hidden in the instructions of a recipe from an Italian cook: “Do not let it overbake or the pasta frolla will become hard as stone and the jam will become as sticky as glue.” So yeah, keep that in mind.) Let cool at least a little bit before serving; it’s best served at room temperature.
I realize this simple, beautiful tart is a little démodé at the moment, seeing as Thanksgiving has now passed and humble tarts made from fruit (or vegetables for that matter) are easily given up for the charms and glitter of Christmas treats.
–Before I move on, I have to say a note about my use of the word “démodé”–it’s french for out-of-date, or out-of-style. Could I have just written that instead of using some pretentious-sounding french word, and thereby avoid this whole messy business? Why yes, I could have, but I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but my francophile tendencies have taken on a new level and I’ve been enrolled in a French 101 course at my university since September. It’s lovely. And I just learned the word démodé today, and I am pleased that I found a way to put it into a post here. So no bringing me down, you (probably nonexistent) critics!–
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the transition from idyllic tarts and pies made from the fruits of the Earth to Christmas-craze candies and treats. Now, I understand the only currency accepted at the moment comes in the form of chocolate, butter cookies, and royal icing, but this tart is something so very classic and simple that I feel like it’s important to share even if it’s a little out of place. I first found it on the Smitten Kitchen website (please head over there if you want to see some beautiful photos of a beautiful tart), and then was reminded of it in Luisa’s My Berlin Kitchen. I loved it for the same reason they did, and you don’t have to look beyond the ingredient list to see just what that reason is: this tart is made simple of a pastry, apples, some butter, and sugar. It tastes of apples–made more appely-tasting by the glaze made from the apple peels and cores that are reduced down with a simple syrup–wrapped up in some flaky, buttery pastry. It’s wonderful and I don’t know if there’s any part about it that I would want to change.
I absolutely do not judge you one bit if you see this tart, accept it for its simplicity and charm, and move on to get to more important things, like what type of roast you’re going to plan for Christmas, or what homemade treats you’re going to hand out in the next couple weeks. (Speaking of homemade treats, I recently made these snickerdoodles, which were awesome, as well as these chocolate crinkle cookies. Both are very fitting if cookies are what you’re in the mood for.) But once the buzz of the Christmas season passes (whine), please don’t shrug this recipe away, mostly because it’s hardly a recipe at all. This is a straightforward and intuitive dessert that is both elegant and humble, which is honestly sometimes hard to come by. So when you are lucky enough to come by it, keep it and remember it for the future.
One Year Ago: Dorie Greenspan’s Rustic French Apple Custard Cake
1 single-crust pie dough round, chilled
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar, divided
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch tart pan with butter; set aside. Peel, halve, and core the apples, then slice them into about 1/8-inch slices. It helps to keep the slices all together, in order (as in don’t just slice them and throw them in a bowl). While you do this, make sure to reserve the peels, cores, and any excess apple parts. They will be reduced with a syrup to glaze the tart later.
Roll out the chilled disk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully place and fit dough in the greased tart pan, letting the excess dough hang off the sides. Overlap the sliced apples in the pan, starting at the edges of the pan. Keep fanning out the slices and continue inward until all areas are filled. It’s important to note that the apples will soften and shrink a bit while baking, so don’t hesitate to pack them in pretty tightly. Fold any overhanging excess dough over the pan back on to itself and the apples. Brush the melted butter over the apples and the edges of the pastry. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the sugar over the edges of the dough and 2 tablespoons over the apples.
Bake in the preheated oven until the apples are soft, browning at the edges, and the crust is a deep golden brown, about 45 minutes.
While the tart is baking, put the reserved peels and cores in a saucepan, along with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Pour in enough water to just cover the apple parts, about 1/2 cup. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and continue simmer for about 25 minutes until it’s a smooth glaze. Strain syrup to remove the apple parts.
Once the tart is removed from the oven, slide onto a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over the apples. Serve warm or at room temperature.
As up-to-date and as current as blogs try to be, they’re always a little bit dated, aren’t they? Case and point: me posting about a pie I made for Thanksgiving a week ago. Now, I suppose I could have posted about it the day after Thanksgiving, to make it seem a little more current. Or! Better yet, I could have made a test pie ahead of time and posted about it. But as much as I appreciate the blogs that do that, I’m not sure I could or would even want to aspire to do that around here. If me reading Jane Eyre all through Thanksgiving break (and thereby forcing myself to sift through a pile of work on my return to school) causes me to post about a pie a week later than I ought to, then so be it.
With that long-winded introduction taken care of, I present butternut squash pie. Spiced, silky-smooth, creamy butternut squash pie. It may have been my biggest accomplishment over my Thanksgiving. Which, granted, is not exactly saying much seeing as I did absolutely nothing besides laze around and eat, but bear with me. It is a pie to remember, and keep for the future. If I were a better and more disciplined person I would promise myself that I’d make it again, before the next Thanksgiving comes around. It really is that good–the type of pie you shouldn’t need a holiday to eat. (Luisa says as much in her post, where I found this recipe.)
This pie is a little different, but that’s the best part about it. I have nothing against pumpkin pie, but this one tastes a little more special, a little more decadent. The flavor is both lighter and creamier, which along with the spices give it almost an eggnog custard-like taste. (I don’t like eggnog too much, by the way, but the custard-like taste is perfect here.) It does take a bit more effort than the usual pumpkin pie, though, but most of it is just in waiting time as the squash roasts and caramelizes. I’d say it’s a fair trade-off: a little bit more work to roast the squash yourself, but in return the squash rewards you for the time and love and care and gives you its silky, creamy, nutty flesh.
Anyway, I know it’s a little much to demand that everyone start making squash pies all winter long, instead of just on one day of the year. I can’t decide which I prefer: to have pumpkin/squash pie hold something of a sacred status whose rarity makes it taste extra good and special when we finally do have in on Thanksgiving, or to make it throughout squash season as a regular dessert. If you’re of the latter opinion, this is a fun pie to try sometime before the end of the season. And well, if you’re of the former camp and think that squash pie had its place among the theoretical happy Pilgrim and Native American feast scene and that’s where squash pie shall remain, then it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s Thanksgiving… joking. Please don’t. (Need I repeat my first paragraph/rant about being proud of how much of an underachiever I can be?) But when that time of year comes around again, you’d be wise to keep this recipe in mind.
One Year Ago: Potato-Buttermilk Dinner Rolls (I passed these up this Thanksgiving for a try at Parker House rolls. Pure heaven. I’ll try to make them again and blog about them soon.)
Butternut Squash Pie
Adapted from Kay Rentschler of the LA Times via The Wednesday Chef
Makes 1 9-inch pie
You’ll probably have both a little extra squash puree and pie filling. For both things, I’m sure you can manage some way to use the leftovers (ahem, see photo following the recipe).
1 single crust pie dough round, chilled
1 3-4 pound butternut squash
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
To make the butternut squash puree, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large rimmed sheetpan with aluminum foil. Trim off the stem from the top of the squash, and then cut through the squash horizontally where the bulb begins. Reserve bulb for another use–you’ll just want to roast the stem for this. Cut squash neck in two lengthwise. Place on lined sheetpan and drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil; spread to coat. Bake, turning occasionally, until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly, trim the skin away with a paring knife, and puree the flesh using either a food mill or a food processor. Use immediately in pie or store in a plastic container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To prepare the crust, see attached link, or use your own favorite recipe. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the pie dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured work surface. Carefully transfer rolled pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan, and trim and crimp the edges. Place in the freezer to firm for 30 minutes. Once chilled, line the pie pan with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the foil and the weights and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles, and bake for about 5 minutes more or until the crust is flaky-looking and golden. Once removed from the oven, reduce the oven down to 350 degrees F.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Process the eggs and yolks, vanilla, sugars, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups of reserved squash puree (you probably will have some puree left over) and process until smooth, about another 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides. With the machine running, pour in the heavy cream in a steady stream and process until combined. Pour the filling into the hot pre-baked pie shell (as mentioned above, you may have a little extra filling). Bake until the filling is set and the center doesn’t jiggle, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature on a rack. Serve with whipped cream.
As mentioned above in the recipe, you might have a little leftover filling that just can’t fit into the pie. Consider it a surprise treat, cook it in a ramekin or individual serving dish alongside the pie (just take it out early, after about 30 or 40 minutes), and enjoy as the best kind of afternoon snack a baker can ask for.