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Rhubarb Recipe Roundup

16 Apr

Because spring is here.

Because the weather in New York City is so. freaking. beautiful.

Because I just signed myself away to 13 weeks of online medical biochemistry.

Because I am going to attempt to make spanakopita tonight, delving into the abyss that is filo dough.

Because summer dresses are cute, and I’m always on the hunt for more.

Because I have been washing my hands with used coffee grounds to rid my skin of dryness. A caffeinated exfoliant!

Because I swoon over fresh peas, favas, and spring garlic…because rhubarb gets me going.

Rhubarb is around the corner, or might even be available in some areas already. Get into it and make a crumbly coffeecake, a strawberry rhubarb pie, or, what I am craving most today, some creamy cold rhubarb ice cream.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake With Rhubarb-enjoy with a tall glass of coffee for breakfast, snack time, or dessert

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie-strawberries and rhubarb were meant to come together in a pie

Rhubarb Ice Cream– creamy dreamy ice cream with chunks of rhubarb dispersed throughout; just the way I like it

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Broccoli Quiche

26 Mar

Life as a pastry cook really hit me hard last week. One of our key pastry chefs was on vacation. I was working longer hours, many of them by myself. On Wednesday night, we had 45 people with reservations, on paper. Easy. I prepped for that amount give or take a few, and I felt solid and set up for the night. When more than double the amount of reservations showed up, things got a bit crazy.

I was running out of my set-up. Ice creams were melting. Bowls were not yet cold enough (we keep bowls in the freezer so that our frozen desserts stay cold by the time they arrive at the guest’s table). I had to whip more cream “on the fly” (as in ‘right now’!). I had to torch multiple creme brulee orders. I had to bake off more caramelized apples. I had to supreme more blood oranges. I had to pipe more “whipped chocolate flan” into bowls. I ran out of ramekins filled with honey and ricotta to go with the chocolate bread. There were birthdays that needed “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate on a plate. And of course, the machine that spits out ticket orders ran out of paper.

My hands were shaking, the sweat was dripping down my back. My legs were shot. My mouth was dry.

I did it. I plated all of the desserts. I shuffled and I shook until I got it all done. I re-stocked my mis-en-place. Everyone ate and was satisfied. I left work that night at 11:45pm. I had the biggest adrenaline rush. The next morning, my whole body ached and as I stretched out of bed, I prepared to do it all over again that night.

Even on my days off, I can’t seem to get myself out of the kitchen. I guess I’m a little obsessed. It is, however, a totally different kind of kitchen to be at home versus in a big restaurant kitchen.

This weekend I made a broccoli quiche inspired by Joy the Baker’s beautiful asparagus quiche. And you should totally watch this video with Joy frolicking in the garden and cooking in the test kitchen at the French Laundry in Napa, CA. I’m completely jealous and inspired, and the video just makes me miss California living even more.

I happened to have extra pie dough leftover in my freezer from (eek) Thanksgiving. Sure, I probably should not have kept it in the freezer that long, but it was there, I used it, and it tasted superb. I stuck it it the fridge to defrost overnight and Bam! I had everything I needed to make a comforting quiche for a cozy Saturday morning  afternoon meal. I’m totally into the studs of broccoli and the browned cheesy bits. And you simply cannot go wrong with buttery crust and black coffee.

Broccoli Quiche

filling adapted from JoytheBaker’s website and the JoytheBaker cookbook

pie dough for a single crust 9-inch pie, I used the pate brisee from Sherry Yard’s book

Dough: *You can use any dough you want, you could even use puff pastry for a quick fix

4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and placed in the freezer for about 15 minutes

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

about 1/4 cup ice water

1/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar) *see note below

Filling:

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 head of broccoli, chopped

1 bunch of scallions, sliced into thin rounds

6 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

1/2 cup heavy cream

pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated white cheddar or Gruyere cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

To make the dough:

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the partially frozen butter cubes and, with your fingers, rub and press the butter and flour between your thumbs and first two fingers to create flattened broken walnut sized pieces. Combine the ice water and vinegar and add the liquid all at once; mix lightly with a fork until the dough just comes together.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling it out (the well-wrapped dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks). I had my dough already made and frozen. I transferred it from the freezer to the refrigerator 2 days before I wanted to make the quiche so that I could just pull the dough out on Saturday morning and get going.

*Note: the amount of water can be variable. It is better to have a slightly wet/tacky dough than one that is too dry; add a little water if your dough seems dry.

When you are ready to roll out the crust, on a well-floured work surface, gently roll out the pie crust into about an 11-inch circle.  Press together any spots that might tear.  Carefully lift down and place into the 9-inch pie plate.  Use a pairing knife to trim the edges of pie dough, leaving about 1/2 inch extra dough overhang.  Fold the excess dough under and crimp with fingers.

Place your rolled out crust in the fridge or freezer to chill while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the broccoli and scallions and saute for about 4 minutes, until bright green and slightly tender. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, and salt and pepper. Whisk until blended.

Add the cooked vegetables to the unbaked pie crust. Sprinkle with half of the cheeses (1/4 cup each of cheddar and Parm.). Pour the egg mixture over everything. Top with remaining cheese.

Place a baking sheet in the oven. Carefully place the pie plate of quiche on top of the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 45-55 minutes, until quiche puffs up and is set.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes to an hour before cutting it.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Casserole

30 Jan

Gruyere cheese and mushrooms were made to go together. With onions and garlic and a small dash of whole grain mustard, your nose would have flipped out last night as I was making this casserole. You’ve got your grain, protein, and vegetable all in one with this dish.

Browsing through Heidi’s book, I saw a photo of this casserole and my mouth immediately started watering. Her photo is to die for and the chopped fresh tarragon makes all the difference. I was too cheap to go buy tarragon, one day I will have a giant herb garden and I can just tear off a tiny sprig to garnish my dishes. Until then, I’m ok neglecting the herb.

Also, my casserole turned purple from the wild rice. No big deal, it still tasted fantastic. I have not had that much experience cooking wild rice, and I can’t wait to experiment more.

Two of us ate half of the casserole in one sitting, it was that good. Tonight’s dinner will be leftovers with some oven roasted broccoli. Cheers to healthy comfort foods!

Wild Rice and Mushroom Casserole

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday 

Heidi says that you can prepare the casserole a day or two ahead and bake off when needed…

2 large eggs

1 cup/ 8oz/ 225g cottage cheese (I used 1%)

1/2 cup/ 4oz/ 115g sour cream (I used regular)

1 teaspoon Dijon-style or whole grain mustard

Kosher salt or sea salt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or unsalted butter)

8 ounces/ 225g cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 cups cooked wild and/or brown rice, at room temperature **see note

1/3 cup/ .5 oz/ 15g freshly grated Gruyere cheese

optional: 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or thyme

**NOTE: First, make sure that you have your rice cooked and ready before starting on the casserole. I used a combo of brown and wild rice, as Heidi recommends, to get “the creaminess of the brown rice playing off the individual wild rice grains.” Out of laziness efficiency, I threw 1/2 cup dry brown rice and 1/2 cup wild rice with roughly 2 1/2 cups water into my rice cooker. After an hour, both rices were ready. Granted my brown rice turned purple because of the wild rice bleeding its color, but it all got cooked and I was ready to begin the casserole. Make sure to take the top off of your rice cooker so that the rice has time to come to room temperature. Also, just for reference, brown rice is typically 1 part dry rice to just shy of 2 parts water. Wild rice is typically 1 part dry rice to 3 parts water. 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub a medium-large baking dish with a bit of butter or olive oil. I used a 9-inch pie pan and it worked great.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, mustard, and a scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet over high heat, combine the olive oil with a couple pinches of salt. Stir in the mushrooms. After the initial stirring, leave the mushrooms alone until they release their water and the water evaporates, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir every couple minutes until the mushrooms are browned. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, another 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute, and remove from the heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir until combined.

4. Add the rice mixture to the cottage cheese mixture, stir until well combined, and turn into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with two-thirds of the grated cheese and cover with aluminum foil, or in my case if you do not have aluminum foil, just place a baking sheet on top of your casserole dish.

5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil/baking sheet and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until the casserole takes on a lot of color. The finished casserole should be hot throughout and golden along the edges. Let it stand for a few minutes and then serve sprinkled with the chopped tarragon (if using) and the remaining grated cheese.

Warm Winter Meals…my go-to’s

11 Dec

I AM FREEZING!

Let’s you and me warm up with some cozy winter meals. I am rounding up a few of my go-to warm recipes that I find myself craving again and again.

Chicken Marbella: This chicken never fails to please…makes the house smell so cozy!

African G-Nut Stew: Savory recipes that call for peanut butter make me swoon.

Green n’ Yellow Risotto: Nothing screams warmth like a piping hot bowl of creamy risotto.

Mushroom Etc. and Sausage Ragu over Polenta: Cheesy polenta + Savory Sausage + Quickly Sauteed Veg

Lasagna! Layered pasta filled with veggies, basil, and ricotta. With a touch of fresh nutmeg for good measure.

Minestrone Soup. Warm broth, hearty beans, crusty bread.

Quiche. The savory pie that can be eaten morning, noon, or night.

Get your ovens preheating and your stove-tops flaming because it is time to warm things up for the cold winter ahead of us.

(Rustic) Kabocha Squash Pie

28 Nov

I have an extremely rustic and homemade pie for you. This is a Kabocha Pie. You can call it a Pumpkin Pie if you like. Same thing, really (sort of).

I pre-sliced my pie so that my Thanksgiving guests could easily take a piece without the fuss of cutting it themselves. And of course I did a sloppy slicing job and the pie cracked and crumbled a bit. Hence the rustic homemade look. This pie’s got love in it.

I made the crust for this pie at midnight. Midnight dough making. Can someone please get me out of the kitchen? The next day I roasted my Kabocha squash. Sliced in quarters, seeds scooped out, dabbed with oil, onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and into the oven until super soft.

NOTE: Kabocha squash can be very dry when roasted, much more dry than butternut or pumpkin. Just keep that in mind. Actually, I quite like the dryness for a pie filling because my moisture is coming from my eggs and cream.

I had a few pie crust mishaps. When I went to parbake my crust, I neglected to weigh it down enough (I used rice rather than dry beans or pie weights) and the middle of the crust poofed up like crazy. FAIL. Major fail. I then decided to use some heavy ramekins to weigh down the middle and it worked just enough to barely save my poofy crust.

So my advice is to go buy some dry beans and you can keep them forever for all of your parbaked pie crusts. Do it. Don’t be like me.

Ooo, and remember to try not to beat yourself up if you make a mistake in the kitchen. I do it way too often and then I realize that everything can be fixed and that there can be a lot of beauty in the imperfect.

Kabocha Squash Pie

I love the firm yet silky filling of the pie, the dry sweetness of the kabocha, and the slight tang from the sour cream.

recipe from the traveler’s lunchbox

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) pumpkin or winter squash puree (preferably homemade)

1 1/2 cups (375ml) creme fraiche or sour cream (I used sour cream)

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

pinch ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar

1/2 cup (100 g) white sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 9-inch parbaked pie crust (I used the pate brisee recipe from Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard, but you can use whatever crust you like…The Traveler’s Lunchbox has directions on how to parbake (the paragraph above the actual recipe); and you can use this crust recipe if you like, too)

TO PUREE YOUR OWN PUMPKIN/SQUASH:

I preheat the oven to about 375 degrees F. I simply slice my squash in half, scooped the seeds out, and cut each half again in two. I drizzle with some olive or canola oil or butter and a few pinches of salt. I place the cut sides down atop of a parchment lined baking sheet and into the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork/knife. Alternatively you could wrap your prepared squash in aluminum foil and bake.

For this particular pie, you can just let your squash cool, peel the insides away from the outer flesh, and mash roughly with a fork. Note that your squash does not have to be completely smooth because it will get blended with the rest of the ingredients later. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of puree for the recipe and leave the rest to use for pumpkin soup, pumpkin mac n’ cheese, pumpkin quinoa…!

FOR THE FILLING:

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place everything for the filling except for the sugars and cornstarch into a blender or food processor. In a small bowl, stir together brown and white sugars with the cornstarch until no lumps remain (I stirred with a fork). Add to the pumpkin mixture and blend until smooth and homogeneous.

Pour the filling into your parbaked crust. Place the pie onto your preheated baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the filling is just set. NOTE: if your crust is starting to brown, you can cover it with a little bit of aluminum foil. Cool the pie and top with whipped cream!

Psst…here are a few snaps of the little pumpkin tartlettes that we made for the staff at work. CUTIES!:


Summer Peach Pie

29 Aug

A double-crusted summer peach pie. Filled with slippery peaches and spiced with a cozy combination of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

There was no better way to spend my time stuck inside this rainy weekend than to bake a pie.

I baked this summer peach pie. I bought Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I put the two together on a plate. I licked the plate clean.

Today is my dad’s birthday. Happy birthday, Pops! I love you. I wish you could eat this pie that I made. I am beginning to master the art of writing “Happy Birthday” in chocolate on a plate. This is what I do at work. I write on plates with chocolate. My hand is still a little shaky, so no plate-writing photos yet.

When it comes to pie, I am a big fan of the all-butter crust. Don’t bother with shortening or any other fats. Butter. I always have it on-hand. Butter. Use it. Cube it. Chill it. Love it.

For the filling, I used cornstarch to thicken the fruit mixture. In the past I have also used quick-cooking tapioca (see: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie). The cornstarch worked great for the peaches-they were still super juicy and had just the right amount of viscosity.

For the crust, a small amount of vinegar (or any strong acid) is added to help keep that crust nice and flaky, just the way it should be.

Summer Peach Pie

I heart JOY! she has beautiful descriptions and photos of the step-by-step process

For the Crust:

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice cold water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

about 3 pounds ripe peaches (I used about 6 peaches)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping crust before baking

To make the crust, the first thing I do is cube my butter and stick it in the freezer. I also drop a few ice cubes in a glass of water and set it aside. Next, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Take your cold, cubed butter out of the freezer and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture, some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes, some will be the size of peas. Measure out the ice cold water and stir it together with the vinegar.   Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the water and vinegar mixture.  Use a fork to bring to dough together.  Try to moisten all of the flour bits.  On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture.  It will be moist and shaggy.  That’s perfect.  Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, wash and slice peaches and put them in a medium bowl (I just used the same bowl that I made the crust in).  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, flour, and cornstarch.  Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit, and gently toss together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the crust out.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven, and place a baking sheet on the lower rack, just below where you’re going to place the pie.  This will catch any pie drippings without making a mess of your oven.

Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round.  Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface.  This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface.  The circle won’t be perfect, that’s ok.  Try not to get any tears in the rolled out dough, but if you do, they can be patched together with extra dough.    When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore.  Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in the 9-inch baking dish.  Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle.  Remove the bottom crust and fruit filling from the fridge.  Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie dish.  Carefully remove the top crust from the work surface and drape over the fruit in the pie dish.  With a small knife, trim the crust, leaving about 3/4-inch overhang.  With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough.  Cut five small slits in the top of the crust so the juices and steam can vent.  Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes.  Remove from the oven when crust is browned and golden, and the juices are bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 hours before serving.  Place covered in the fridge to store.  Pie lasts up to 3 or 4 days.

Rustic Almond Plum Galette + Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

2 Aug

Stone fruit is in full swing. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, pluots, apriums, and all sorts of cross breeds like you couldn’t imagine!

I make galettes every summer. A galette is supposed to be rustic, so I don’t feel guilty if the dough is not perfectly and evenly crimped. Here is a quick look back at some sweet galettes that I have made in the past:

Nectarine Galette

(just follow this recipe but use nectarines instead of plums and nix the lemon zest)

Summer Peach and Blueberry Galette with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Fresh Fig Galette

Today I made you a rustic almond plum galette. The almonds are ground and are spread on the bottom of the dough, underneath the plums. This helps hold all of the juices from the plums inside and adds a nice flavor palate to the open-faced tart. I paired this galette with homemade creme fraiche ice cream. Tangy and smooth, this ice cream is the ultimate hot summer day cure.

The plums offer a nice red hue when baked. They are soft but still hold their shape.

Creme Fraiche Ice Cream right out of the machine, super soft and creamy

I still can’t believe that I am turning on the oven in this insane New York summer heat, but it is all in the name of rustic pies and good eats.

Now excuse me while I go wipe the sweat off my forehead and dip into some homemade dessert…

Rustic Almond Plum Galette

from KissmySpatula, check out her gorgeous photos!

  • 1 1/4 cups + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2-4 tbsp ice water
  • 1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
  • 5 to 6 firm plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

In a food processor, combine 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, 1/2 tsp sugar, and salt.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add ice water, 1 tbsp at a time.  Pulse until dough is crumbly, but holds together when squeezed.  Do not overmix. Remove dough from food processor and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tbsp sugar, and 2 tbsp of flour.  Pulse until ground to a coarse meal.

In a large bowl, toss the plums with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp flour and zest of half a lemon.  Taste and add more sugar for desired sweetness and set aside.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-14 inch round, about an 1/8-1/4 of inch thick.  Transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet (preferably without sides) and spread almond mixture over dough, leaving a two-inch border.  Spread and arrange plums on top of almond mixture.  Fold and pleat edge of dough over fruit.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take your galette out of the refrigerator and brush the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar.  Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 60-70 minutes, checking after 30 minutes and every 10 minutes thereafter.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Creme Fraiche Ice Cream

adapted from David Lebovitz and Crispywaffle

1 cup milk (preferably whole milk or 2%)

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 t. salt

5 large egg yolks

2 cups creme fraiche

First, make the custard. Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium low heat until it’s steaming. Pour the milk over the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Add the milk/egg mixture back to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula. When the mixture thickens (at around 190 F) and coats the back of the spatula, pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Chill the mixture in the fridge for a few hours until cold.
When ready to freeze in the ice cream maker, stir in the creme fraiche. Chill in the ice cream maker as directed and the ice cream is thickened, about 20 minutes.