02 6 / 2011
Traditional Sweet Cherry Pie
For a memorial day get together I ran to whole foods to pick up some last minute ingredients and I saw bing cherries that were perfectly in season. They just looked so good I wanted to keep as much of the natural flavor as possible. I had originally prepared to do a lattice but then I was just inspired, and my friend Amy had a star cookie cutter and so it happendl
I saw this recipe on my favorite, Smitten Kitchen and made just a few very small changes.
- I used this dough recipe from SK
- 4 cups pitted fresh cherries
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- Coarse sugar, for decoration
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract gently together in a large bowl.
- Roll out half of chilled dough on a floured work surface to 13-inch round. Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, trim edges evenly around the pie dish
- Spread filling into pie crust, discarding the extra liquid in the bowl. Place bits of cold butter in the filling.
- Roll out the remaining dough leaving about double as thick as the bottom crust and cut out stars with cookie cutter. Place around the top ensuring all the edges of the stars are touching each other.
- Brush the egg wash over over pie crust, then sprinkle with coarse sugar
- Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes.
- Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for another 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden.
- Let the pie cool on a rack.
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26 5 / 2011
My Professional Kitchen Debut - Craft Restaurant
Yesterday I spent about 7 hours helping out Executive Pastry Chef Jennifer McCoy and the Pastry department at Craft Restaurant. Well, I should say they were helping me out but either way, it was quite the experience.
When I walked in, I was really nervous. I saw Jenny right away and she brought me to the back, grabbed me a chef jacket, an apron, and hand towels. I had three hand towels on me (two dry and one wet). Then I came out and she gave me a tour. I met a TON of people, saw a bunch of equipment I’d never touched before. I’m probably going to have to relearn some of that and the names, but I remember the names of the pastry team. I spent time with Meredith the Sous- Pastry Chef, Eve and Kelsey who were on PM/Service shift and Anastacia (sp?) who was a prep chef (I think). I meant to take a photo in the chef gear but I was eager to get started and nervous, so I just forgot.
My first task was putting Streusel on the Muffins. They do a take away at the end of the night. One of Tom Colicchio signatures. (It’s his restaurant, if you didn’t know and Yes he’s a judge on Top Chef). After putting on the topping of 164 muffins, we put them in the oven and timed them for 12 minutes. Then I turned them. And then the buzzer went off. Jenny showed me how dark they should be and how light they can be. They were done and on the cooling racks they went. I forgot about them until the busers came in for service, put them in celophane bags and prepped them for the end of the night.
Then I worked on prepping the Banana sorbet. which was measuring, checking the sweetness by its fractal. I used this cool gadget that told me the number. Once I added enough simple syrup to get it to fractal 29, I had to sift the Banana into another container and that took me about 40 minutes. Yup. I felt very close to that banana after getting it into the container. Then I put tape on the container, marked what it was and the date and put it in the walk in fridge.
Then I did the passion fruit sorbet and learned how to work with Glucose. I messed up and put too much. To take it out of the container I dipped my hand in ice till it hurt and then grabbed the glucose. Such an interesting texture.
The PM staff showed up and I started working with Kelsely. I scaled a few different recipes for her. (That mean measure out all the ingredients). And then she had me chop 100 ounces of rhubarb. I weighed, washed and then proceeded to chop. Kelsey gave me two knife instructions, then Meredith and then Jenny. Oh how patient they were. I finally started to get the motion and uniform cuts. But if practice is what I wanted, that is definitely what I got. I even have a tiny blister on my hand to prove it. And I need to practice cutting this week at home. Like practice a LOT.
What I was most impressed with was how well the kitchen runs. Everyone knows what they are doing and when. The pastry team was so sweet and welcoming. And if you don’t know this restaurant, you must eat there. Everything I tasted was amazing. And believe me, I did a bit of tasting, and even more smelling. Uh, when that long haired chef took out the Potato Gratin from the ovens, I could feel the drool dribble on my chin. At the end of my day, Jenny had me try all the sorbets and ice creams. Wow, long pepper, Smoked Salt, Butter cream Rhubarb and the banana. Which after my day, I felt especially close to.
I really can’t wait to go back.
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25 5 / 2011
Baklava for a fun Greek Themed Dinner Party
photo credit: Nico
I went over to my friend Phil’s for a fun feast of Greek food. Everyone brought or made something from salad to lamb and I of course brought dessert. Such a fun night, from the cooking, and the drinking to the dancing and the chatting. It’s such a great way to build friendships and experiment with cultures.
I’m not in love yet with this Baklava recipe. I don’t like how the Phyllo Dough curved on the edges and was very hard to cut. BUT it did taste nice, which was great. It also took a long time for me to get it to cook accurately. There was a lot of food in a small oven which might have been the issue. I’ve not worked with Phyllo Dough before and definitely need to get use to it.
- For the filling:
- 1 lb. walnuts, coarsely ground (ground separately from the almonds)
- 1/2 lb. almonds, coarsely ground
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- For the syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 10 whole cloves
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets
- 1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
- Mix the walnuts, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve.
- Cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9 x 12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 rectangular pan.
- Layer six sheets of Phyllo making sure to brush each with melted butter.
- Add half of the nut mixture in an even layer.
- Flatten with a spatula
- Continue layering another 6 sheets of phyllo. Add the remaining nut mixture in an even layer.
- Top with the remaining phyllo sheets.
- Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo . Place in the freezer for 30 seconds and it will make it easier to score.
- Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a rich golden color.
- Prepare the Syrup While the Baklava is Baking:
- In a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar and mix well. Add the cloves and simmer over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. You want the syrup to be slightly thickened.
- Remove from the heat and discard the cloves.
- Stir in the juice of half a lemon. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.
- When the baklava is out of the oven and still warm, ladle the syrup carefully into the pan.
- Baklava can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature.
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22 5 / 2011
Blueberry Lavender Blondies for a dinner party
I made these Blueberry Crumb Blondies for a friends welcome home dinner party. It was a really easy recipe and people really seemed to like them. It was especially good cause it wasn’t too sweet, and went nice after a rich dinner.
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 4 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup lavender sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and liberally grease a 9×13 inch pan.
- In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder.
- Mix in salt and lemon zest.
- Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough should remain crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
- In another slightly larger bowl, stir together the lavender sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.
- Gently mix in the blueberries.
- Place the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.
- Wait till it is completely cool before cutting. Took about an hour or so to cool.
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16 5 / 2011
Learning Tarts: Pate Brisee into an Apple Tart
There was a lot of baking happening last weekend and to start I made Pate Brissee. I used the traditional recipe from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts book and it really wasn’t too hard. Then turning it into an apple tart wasn’t too hard. I had to stew some minced apples with vanilla and then chop some apples. What I was surprised about was the apricot jam reduction thing that was applied to give it the right color and seal the tart. It really does look pretty. The recipes are both available in the book.
I still need to work on my rolling techniques but it still came out really pretty and even. This is a great tart to practice as it allows you to practice traditional tart doughs while also working on knife skills.
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