Holiday Fruit Desserts: Pear Hazelnut Frangipane Galette

 

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Gorgeously sumptuous in the seasonal colors, the pear hazelnut frangipane galette will appeal to the eye and tastebud alike. Almond frangipane is often used for pears in pastries, but I sometimes find it too sweet (preferring a savory edge without being overwhelmingly sweet). Cue in hazelnuts, which give that nuttiness flavor complementary to pears. The pears are not poached prior to being baked therefore they will be crisp, a nice textural contrast with the pillowy hazelnut frangipane. An alternative would be to poach them whole and cut them fan-like as they appear in this galette. The galette dough recipe is a reliable and nearly foolproof one that Dorie Greenspan uses in Baking Chez Moi. I have used it several times with success – the pastry is buttery and flaky like pie dough. The pear hazelnut frangipane galette can be served warm or at room temperature. If you feel really decadent, you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  ~ Eric


 

Galette Dough (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Makes 1 galette crust

1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces (frozen butter is good here)

1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle cubes of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour. The texture initially will be somewhat like coarse cornmeal, and additional pulsing will  produce a mixture that has small flake-size pieces and some larger pea-size pieces. Add a bit of ice water and pulse, add some more, pulse and add until no more water is left. Pulse longer and stop momentarily to scrap the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl. Now work in longer pulses, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor. In time, a dough that resembles feta cheese curds will result. Do not overpulse. but pulse enough that the wheel against the dough begins to slow down. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk and put it between two large pieces of parchment paper.  Roll the dough while it is cool into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Cut a circle out of the dough (I used the removable tart tin base when you construct the galette).  You don’t want an overly thin dough, and it’s preferable to have a thick dough with some heft especially where galettes are concerned.

Slide the rolled-out dough, still between the papers, onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Leave the dough on the counter for a few minutes until t’s flexible enough to lift and fold without cracking.


 

Hazelnut Frangipane

125 g softened unsalted butter

100g (1/2 cup) sugar

2 tsp plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

135 g (1 1/4 cups) hazelnut meal

To make the hazelnut meal, finely chop whole hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside.

Place the butter and 100 g sugar in a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the flour and whiz to combine. With the motor running, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the hazelnut meal and whiz until well combined.

 


Pears

3 pears unpeeled and de-cored ( I used Bosc pears and I left on the skin on).

Cut the pears in half through the stem end and remove the cores with a spoon (I used a teapsoon). Slice the pears thinly and vertically, with slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem so the they remain attached at the stem end.


 

To assemble:

1.) Preheat the oven and the baking sheet to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). The preheated baking sheet helps crisp up the bottom of the pastry and minimizes the risk of a soggy bottom.

2.) Spread the hazelnut frangipane evenly on the dough, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) around the edge.

2.) Fan out the pear slices on the top of the frangipane layer – you may find it easier to split the pear fans in half and spread them out.

3.) Fold the edge of the galette dough towards the center.

Bake the galette for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown and the frangipane turns a beige brown.

Note: The recipe makes leftover frangipane and dough for a mini-galette.

Blood Orange Almond Tart

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I came across this recipe recently when perusing the cooking section of the bookstore (my favorite section), and flipping through Nick Malgieri’s new book, Pastry. I stopped dead in my tracks upon seeing the recipe, as it was exactly what I was craving for a bright, seasonal dessert in the middle of winter. The thing about citrus that I love so much is its availability in the middle of winter, when we all need a little brightness on our dessert plate. This dessert comes together nicely in three parts: first the pastry, then the filling, then the segments of blood orange that have been lightly poached. Poaching the segments of blood orange helps control the liquid that is exuded from them and that seeps into the pastry. The recipe below is largely inspired by the one I found in Nick Malgieri’s book; I’ve taken his recipe for the filling and the technique for the poached blood oranges. The pastry dough recipe is my old trusty recipe, from my dad, and can be found in an old tattered Moulinex recipe manual.

Filling
6 large blood oranges, about 1 1/2 pounds, divided use
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons sugar, divided use
6 ounces almond paste
1 large egg
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into dry measure cup and level)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pastry (Pâte Sablée)
250g flour
125g butter (room temperature), cubed
125g sugar
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Finishing
¾ cup apricot preserves
¼ cut sliced almonds, slightly toasted

Directions
For the pâte sablée
1. Put all ingredients except the butter in the food processor, and mix for 30 seconds to mix all the ingredients and obtain a sandy consistency.
2. With the processor on, slowly add the cubes of butter. Continue with the food processor about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a crumbly ball. Be careful not to overmix. If the dough does not form a ball, slowly add ice water in increments of 1 tablespoon.
3. Take the dough out of the food processor and gather the dough into a round, thick (about 1-2 inch thick) disk. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. Wrap the disk of dough in saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 min.
4. When ready to roll out the dough, butter your tart pan and preheat the oven to 375.
5. Roll out the dough into a disk about 1/8th of an inch, and put in the tart shell. With a fork, prick the dough in several places, cover with parchment paper, and fill with dried beans to prevent rising. Bake for 15 minutes (just long enough pre-cook before a second round in the oven with the filling, which will be described below).

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Preparing the Oranges:
1. Before peeling the oranges, grate 2 teaspoons worth from the blood oranges. Set aside for the filling.
2. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin and white pith completely, resulting in a peeled globe. Then, slice the orange in half, cutting through all the segments (if you orient your orange with the stem on top, you want to cut horizontally).
3. Take each half and lay flat on work surface. Cut the orange halves into ¼ inch thick slices and set aside.
4. In a saucepan large enough to hold the orange slices in a shallow layer, bring 4 tblsp of sugar and the water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add the orange slices to the syrup. The slices can be left in the syrup several days, until 30 minutes before you need to assemble the tart. Thirty minutes before assembling, remove the orange slices and place on a pan lined with paper towels. Reserve the syrup.

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Almond Filling
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the almond paste and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar on low speed with the paddle attachment. Beat until it is reduced to fine crumbs.
2. Add the whole egg, and beat until the consistency of the mixture is smooth. This should take a minute or two.
3. Beat in the butter until smooth.
4. Add the reserved orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla.
5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder.

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Assembling the Tart
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Spread the filling into the prepared crust and smooth the top.
3. Remove the orange slices from the paper towel, and arrange over the almond filling in overlapping concentric rows. Make sure to pack the slices tightly—you want to avoid having uncovered filling. Gently press the slices into the filing.
4. Arrange the orange slices, overlapping, in concentric rows over the almond filling.
5. Bake the tart until the crust is baked through and golden about 30 minutes (you’ll also want to check that the filling is set).
6. While the tart is baking, bring the syrup to a boil and allow it to reduce until slightly thickened, 4 or 5 minutes; don’t reduce it too much, or it will solidify. Let cool.
7. To create the apricot glaze, combine 1/4 cup of the reduced syrup with the apricot preserves and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Cool the baked tart on a rack and unmold it.
9. Lightly brush the oranges with the apricot glaze, reheating it first if necessary.
10. Immediately before serving; sprinkle the edge of the tart with the sliced almonds.

Herb Flecked Pasta

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This is just regular pasta with herbs chopped up finely and mixed into the dough, but the herbs add an extra something special. The dough recipe is Marcella Hazan’s. Finely chopped sage, thyme, and oregano give a nice flavor that compliment the sauce from the coq au vin. I’ve made the dough with my stand mixer as well as with a food processor, and I was happier with the results using the food processor; I found that the stand mixer made the dough a bit chewy, but if you have a recipe using the stand mixer you like, just add finely chopped herbs to your recipe in the stand mixer. Because the food processor would blend the herbs to a pulp, you have to add them after the flour has been incorporated into the eggs, and take it from hand by there.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon of very finely chopped fresh herbs, such as sage, thyme, oregano, tarragon.

1. Using the food processor, mix together the flour and eggs, just until fully incorporated, but before the dough turns into a ball. Dump out the sticky dough onto a floured surface, and add in the chopped herbs. Knead the dough for a good 10 minutes. Make sure to knead the dough until the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the ball of dough.
2. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This resting time as allows for the gluten to develop.
3. When you are ready to roll out the dough, do so, per the instructions on your pasta maker. When the pasta is rolled out, make sure to dust with semolina to prevent sticking. Freeze the dough until you’re ready to cook, if not cooking immediately. Freezing the dough will help prevent the dough from sticking and clumping.

Coq Au Vin

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A coq au vin is the perfect dish for a lazy, snowy weekend. Not only does it taste great and stick to your ribs, but it’s even better when made ahead of time (which means it’s perfect for leftovers). So it’s also perfect for those lazy weekends where you might feel like welcoming friends to your table but don’t want to slave away by the stove, or weekends where you want to cook in advance for the rest of the week. Coq Au vin is not meant to be a pretentious dish; it is a homey and rustic dish that developed out of farmers’ need to use the abundance of wine and chickens and roosters. While there are as many recipes out there as there are French grandmothers, there are a few things to keep in mind for authenticity. Firstly, the only liquid in coq au vin is red wine (no tomatoes or tomato paste! No chicken stock! No white wine!). While variations are tasty, they’re not coq au vin. While coq au vin quite literally translates to “rooster in wine,” red wine is implied. (A similar dish is made with white wine, called coq au vin blanc/jaune, and is truly delicious, especially with morels.) Secondly, many coq au vin recipes call for cognac that one can either flamber in the dutch oven after browning the meat, or add at the end and allow to cook off. Feel free to use this if you have some on hand. I didn’t and didn’t feel like buying a bottle for a one-time use. Adding cognac definitely adds a little something special, but is not a requirement for authenticity. All of that said, I believe it is sometimes more important for a dish to be tasty than authentic, so I encourage you to try whatever regional variation floats your boat. This recipe includes an ingredient that struck me as unconventional – dark chocolate – but since it’s in a book authored by purists, I feel it is justified.

Ingredients:
• 6 strips of bacon
• 8 oz frozen pearl onions
• ½ lb sliced mushrooms (cremini, button…)
• 2 shallots finely chopped
• 1-2 carrots, chopped into 1” pieces
• 1 whole chicken, cut into parts (3-4 lbs)
• 1 bottle of strong red wine (like a pinot noir)
• Herbes de provence
• 1 tablespoon of flour
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 squares of dark chocolate

1. In a bowl, marinate the chicken in the wine overnight. When ready to start cooking, remove the chicken from the wine and pat dry. Salt the chicken, and add a thin coating of the herbs to the chicken. Keep the wine and put aside for later.
2. In a dutch oven, crisp the bacon bits until all of the fat has been rendered and the meat is browned. Once the meat is crisped, remove the bacon and fat from the dutch oven and drain on a paper towel. Next, add the pearl onions to the dutch oven and sautee in the residual fat from the bacon. Remove and set aside once they have lightly browned.
3. Again in the residual fat, sautee the shallots, then the carrots. If there’s not enough fat to properly sautee, add some extra olive oil. Remove and put aside.
4. Using the same dutch oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil and butter and brown all of the pieces of chicken. Make sure not to crowd the pan and work in batches if necessary. Once browned, remove the chicken and set aside.
5. Add the flour to the pan and scrape and mix with all the drippings. Now add the chicken back into the pan, along with the bacon, carrots, and shallots (leave the pearl onions out). Add the wine to the pot and make sure not to cover the chicken entirely (the liquid should just barely cover the meat). If you don’t have enough wine you can add some water. At this point, add the remaining herbs (garlic, bay leaf,…) and the chocolate.
6. Bring the liquid to a boil, and lower the heat to barely a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. When ready to serve, remove the chicken and cook down the sauce to desired thickness. (The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Usually I cook the sauce down by half.) If the sauce is still not the desired thickness, you can take a tablespoon of butter and flour, mashed together in a separate bowl, and then added to the sauce. This will act as a thickening agent.
7. In a separate pan, cook up the mushrooms: mushrooms often contain a lot of water, and so I cook them first by just adding them to a hot pan with salt to cook out the moisture. Once the moisture is cooked out, then I actually saute them with oil and butter. Once cooked, add the mushrooms to the sauce, along with the pearl onions. Add parsley before serving.

 

 

Summertime Recipes: Fresh Summer Berries and Peaches with Sabayon

Summer is a time of intense flavors. There’s nothing quite like the bursting flavor of corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, or berries, delivering  a rush of sweetness to your taste buds. Here, the classic flavors of corn, tomatoes, and basil are combined in a homemade sweet corn ravioli.  Squash blossoms, the beautiful blossoms of the male zucchini, are the perfect appetite teaser.  They are stuffed and fried and served as an appetizer. Their sweetness pairs wonderfully with the crispy and light-as-a-feather breading enveloping the cheesy stuffing. They’re a summer classic, best nibbled on with good friends in the kitchen with a glass of wine while you prepare the rest of dinner. Dessert was also a hit—the warm and comforting flavor of summer berries with perfectly ripened Pennsylvania peaches, topped with a sabayon; so delicious yet simple it’s almost criminal. ~ Danielle

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Fresh Summer Berries and Peaches with Sabayon
Sabayon is delicious spooned over any berries. In this version, we use blackberries and raspberries, along with some sweet summer peaches.

For the Sabayon from David Lebovitz:
• 2/3 cup sweet white wine (I used muscato)
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 6 egg yolks For the Berries
• 1 pint blackberries
• 1 pint raspberries
• 1 tbsp sugar
• A splash of the sweet wine
• Prepare the berries. A few hours before serving (2-3 hours), put the berries in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar. Mix delicately. The sugar will pull out the juices and create a delicious berry sauce. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
• Make the sabayon. In a non-reactive metal bowl, whisk the sugar and the wine, until the sugar dissolves. Add the egg yolks to the mixture, and create a double boiler by setting the bowl over a lightly simmering pan of water (the water should not be touching the bottom of the bowl). Whisk vigorously until the mixture is frothy and stiff. You will know the sabayon is ready when the mixture holds its shape when you remove the whisk. If you need to take a break from whisking, make sure to remove the bowl from the heat, otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs. The sabayon is best served warm, although it keeps for several days in the refrigerator (and is quite delicious this way as well).
• Assemble. Chop the peaches unto 1” cubes, and add to the berry mixture, and mix gently, coating the peaches in the berry juice. Spoon the fruit mixture into a bowl, and top with the sabayon.

 

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Summertime Recipes: Sweet Corn Ravioli

Summer is a time of intense flavors. There’s nothing quite like the bursting flavor of corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, or berries, delivering  a rush of sweetness to your taste buds. Here, the classic flavors of corn, tomatoes, and basil are combined in a homemade sweet corn ravioli.  Squash blossoms, the beautiful blossoms of the male zucchini, are the perfect appetite teaser.  They are stuffed and fried and served as an appetizer. Their sweetness pairs wonderfully with the crispy and light-as-a-feather breading enveloping the cheesy stuffing. They’re a summer classic, best nibbled on with good friends in the kitchen with a glass of wine while you prepare the rest of dinner. Dessert was also a hit—the warm and comforting flavor of summer berries with perfectly ripened Pennsylvania peaches, topped with a sabayon; so delicious yet simple it’s almost criminal. ~ Danielle

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Fresh Sweet Corn Ravioli with Cherry Tomatoes

For Filling 1
• 1 clove garlic
• 3 cobs of corn, cooked. (For fresh corn, cook in salted boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on freshness)
• Whole milk ricotta
• Parmesan/pecorino
• Black pepper
• Juice of half of a lemon

For Filling 2
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 cob of corn, cooked (same as for Filling 1)
• Handful of basil
• Whole milk ricotta
• Parmesan/pecorino
• Black pepper
• Juice and zest of half of a lemon
For the Pasta Dough
From Marcella Hazan
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup of flour
• ½ tablespoon milk
To Serve
• Pint of tomatoes, cut in half
• Handful of basil
• 1 cob of corn, cooked, and kernels removed
• One shallot, diced finely
• ¼ cup white wine
• Butter, olive oil
• A splash of white wine
• Parmesan/pecorino

The ravioli is best served immediately. If you’re making larger ravioli, be careful not to pile too many onto each other once cooked, or they will stick. Immediately add some olive oil once cooked to prevent sticking.

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• Make the dough. Add all of your ingredients into a food processor, process until you get a loose ball of dough. Do not overmix; it is ok if it is crumbly and loose crumbs of dough.

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On a floured surface, knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. This is a very important step, so do not skip. To knead, assemble all the bits of dough into a ball, and push forward against it using the heel of your palm. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat. Do this until you obtain a smooth ball of dough, approximately 8-10 minutes. Cover the ball in saran wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

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• Make the fillings. In a food processer, blend all of the ingredients, except for the ricotta and the cheese and lemon zest (if making filling 2). For filling 1, you want to obtain a very smooth puree, and there is no risk of overmixing. However, for filling 2, you want to have distinct chunks of corn and basil, and so you want to be careful not to puree for too long. Stop pureeing when your corn is mostly pureed (but still a bit chunky) and you still have distinct pieces of basil. Transfer the contents of the food processor to a bowl, and mix in the ricotta, the grated cheese, and the lemon zest (if making filling 2).

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• Make the ravioli. For the ravioli, you will need to roll out your pasta dough to the thinnest setting. See below for troubleshooting while rolling your pasta below. I used a ravioli mold this time to make the ravioli, however you could also use a ravioli stamp or even thick jar lid. If using the mold, make two sheets of dough, and place one on top of the mold. Add a ½ tablespoon of filling to the mold, and seal with the second sheet of pasta dough. If using a stamp, lay a sheet of pasta dough on a flat surface, and add the filling. When adding the filling, make sure the filling is aligned on one side of the sheet, so that you can fold over the second side of the dough on top of the filling. Make sure the filling drops are placed apart from each other by at least the width (or diameter) of the stamp that you are using. Once you’ve made your ravioli, cover them in semolina and set aside in a single layer (do not pile them on top of each other). If cooking within a few hours, you can leave the ravioli out. However, if not using immediately, flash freeze in the freezer and then transfer to a ziplock bag (and eliminate as much of the air as possible). Frozen, the ravioli will keep extremely well!

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• Assembling the dish. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Fresh (and frozen fresh) pasta cooks very quickly, so you will want to have everything almost ready before throwing the pasta into the water. In a skillet over medium/high heat, sauté shallots in some butter and oil. Salt them as soon as you put them in the skillet. Let them become translucent (approximately 5 minutes), and add the wine to the skillet and let simmer until evaporation. Everything from this point on will happen very quickly, so it is important to have everything ready. Once the water boils, add the corn and tomatoes to the skillet and the pasta (frozen or fresh) to the water. The pasta will only need 2-3 minutes to be cooked; you know it is ready when the ravioli have all risen to the surface. When ready, drain the ravioli and place in a flat~ish serving bowl where you can minimize piling them on top of each other (homemade ravioli are delicate!). Immediately drizzle some good quality olive oil over the pasta. Add a tablespoon of butter to the mixture in the skillet, and let melt. As soon as it has melted, scatter the contents over the pasta. Grate a generous serving of parmesan over the tomatoes and ravioli, and add pepper and freshly torn basil.

Blood Orange Sorbet

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As always, a trip to Mercado Central is necessary when I am in Valencia, where I can see, snack, and take home some of the delicious treats that are sold here. With a splayed open fruit  being its best advertisement,  my eyes and salivating taste buds were immediately drawn to the beautiful Blood Oranges.  Filling a bag of 16 fruits cost me only 2 Euros which I gladly paid for to take back with me on the train to Madrid.  Racking my brain to find a special recipe for them during the week, I came across a recipe for Lemon Sorbet, which was adapted to suit my precious jewel tone fruits.

This recipe was adapted from 1080 Recipes, by Simone and Ines Ortega/Phaidon, for Lemon Sorbet.

IMG_7382Ingredients for Blood Orange Sorbet:

  • grated rind and juice of 8-10 small Blood Oranges
  • 200g/7 oz caster sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt

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  1. Place 500ml/18 fl oz water into a large pot, stir in the caster sugar and bring to a boil, cook for 10-12 minutes, until it is syrupy.
  2. Take the pan off the heat and leave it to cool.
  3. Stir the Blood Orange rind and the juice into the cold sugar syrup.
  4. Then pour this mixture into a freezer-proof container and put into the freezer.
  5.  When the mixture begins to freeze, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a clean, dry bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the mixture. (It is best to add the liquid, little by little until all of it has been incorporated into the egg whites.
  6. Return to the freezer and freeze until firm, around 4 hours.
  7. Serve in glass cups or use the skins from the Blood Oranges
  8. Top with a garnish of fresh mint and enjoy.

IMG_7509IMG_8009 Since the recipe was originally for lemon sorbet, I might use less caster sugar next time (which was probably used to help cut the acidity of the lemons), as the Blood Oranges are sweet enough.  I guarantee that those you share this with will beg for more.  This recipe will be on heavy rotation for now.. – James