Tag Archives: Smitten Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen’s Cranberry Crumb Bars

21 Dec

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Well tickle me pink, these crumb bars are beauts. They taste like pie, but in cookie form. Perfectly balanced tart berry and buttery crumb. I don’t know why I didn’t eat these bars with vanilla ice cream heaping over the top. I did, however, manage to eat every last crumb that happened to “fall off” the top of the cookies. Good heavens!

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I finally found an excuse to do something with the half-full quart container of cranberries that I had been keeping in my freezer for a year. The cranberries held up in perfect condition throughout their year in stasis, and now they’ve had the chance to shine (I tend to put things in my freezer and forget about them until a year later…not the smartest thing to do…but these cookie bars were just a sweet treat to eat at home so the only harm done would be done to me…and I gladly took the risk for these buttery babies!).

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To get a nice, clean cut, it is best to refrigerate the cookie bars for an hour or a few hours and cut them when they are cold. I got too greedy and went right in for the bars when they were still slightly warm and at my disposal. Sigh…I think I need some company to keep my self-control in check.

In other news, I’m totally Smitten with the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I feel like almost half of the recipes on my blog are “adapted from” Deb Perelman’s beautiful blog, and now I get to cook my way through her beautiful book. Three cheers for Deb!

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cranberry Crumb Bars

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

makes an 8×8 inch pan of bars

Crumb:

1 stick of butter, cubed and chilled

1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 egg

Filling:

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and butter the sides and the parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. Work the chilled butter and egg into the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. You can use your hands (my preferred method), a fork, or a pastry blender. Pat half of the crumb base into the bottom of your prepared pan. It will be thin.

In the bowl of a food processor or a blender, briefly pulse the filling ingredients until the berries are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Spread the filling over the crumb base. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the cranberry mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. Cool completely before cutting into squares. It helps to refrigerate the bars once cool and then cut them when cold.

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Espinacas con Garbanzos [Spinach and Chickpeas]

16 Jun

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Last week I moved across the country to New York City. In addition to all of the clothes and shoes I lugged with me, I carefully managed to wrap up and bring along: my cast-iron skillet, ice cream maker, mixing bowls, knife case with knives in tow, ramekins, whisk, spatula, and a few other miscellaneous kitchen utensils. Also included in my suitcase was a beautiful photograph poster of Julia Child: Lobster Thermidor and a 1500 piece puzzle of a vintage world map.

After weighing my 2 bags of luggage making sure that no bag was more than 50 pounds heavy, I was off. Well, ok, I had a minor stint with security because I put my ice cream maker in my carry-on bag and they had to double and triple check my bag before letting me through. Alas, I am now here in New York, unpacked and in full use of my new kitchen.

Espinacas con Garbanzos. A Spanish snack, a picnic pick-me-up, a light lunch or dinner. Healthy and tasty. Perfect with toast, or homemade croutons, or rice. Smoked paprika should be in your spice cabinet. It will become your secret weapon for wowing your fellow eaters. It helps make this dish pop. Do it.

Espinacas con Garbanzos [Spinach and Chickpeas]

adapted from SmittenKitchen, originally adapted from Moro: The Cookbook and Lobstersquad

makes about 3 dinner-servings worth (double if you are feeding more people or want more leftovers)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

9 oz. bag of spinach

1 hefty slice of bread from a country loaf or sandwich bread, crusts removed and cubed

2 garlic cloves, sliced thin

1/4 cup of tomato sauce

pinch of red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

salt and pepper, to taste

squeeze of lemon, to taste

Heat half of your olive oil (1.5 tablespoons) in a pan over medium heat and saute your spinach in batches with a pinch of salt and stir well. Remove when leaves are just tender and set aside in another bowl.

In the same pan you just used, heat up 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Add your bread and fry until lightly browned on all sides. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Add the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, cumin, and pepper flakes. Continue cooking for about one minute more.

**NOTE: You do not have to put everything in the blender. I bet this dish would still taste great with the rustic bread cubes instead of a blended sauce.

Transfer the bread mix to a blender with the red wine vinegar and whiz until it becomes a thick-ish paste. Return it to the pan with the tomato sauce, garbanzo beans, and spinach. Add the paprika, salt, and pepper, and serve with lemon juice.

Serve with bread toasts or rice.

 

WANT MORE CHICKPEA RECIPES?

Garlicky Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta, Herbs, and Lemon

Pumpkin Chickpea Quinoa with Haricot Vert and Almonds

 

Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart

2 Apr


For a while now, frangipane has been a big mystery to me. I often dip my finger in a batch at my work (shh, don’t tell) and shiver with satisfaction. I have tasted frangipane many times, and I know it has almond in it, but what else? How does one make it? I thought it had liquor in it, but nope (although…a little dash might be nice). Just your good ol’ fashioned butter, egg, sugar. Seriously, who needs anything else in life?

Why do they call it frangipane? Well, I’m still not quite sure. Apparently the word is derived from frangere il pane (Italian for “break the bread”). What this has to do with one of the most divine almond tarts ever tasted? Still a mystery to me.

In just the tiniest bite of this Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart, I can taste it all. BUTTER, ALMOND, BLACKBERRY, LOVE.

This tart is very versatile. I can see it served during the cold winter months as well as the springtime (Easter brunch dessert?!). You can change up the jam to whatever suits your fancy.

At my work, we use frangipane in our tarts and puff pastry turnovers. In addition to almond, we like to mix it up and use other nuts and flavorings (hazelnut is dreamy!).


Just make this. Indulge. Love it.

Almond Frangipane and Blackberry Jam Tart

adapted from SmittenKitchen

1 recipe’s worth of sweet tart dough, pre-baked in a 9-inch removable tart pan

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, blanched if you can find them
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (not traditional, but just lovely in there)
1/3 cup jam (I used blackberry)
Slivered or sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)

Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in sugar, then butter, extract and orange zest. Blend until smooth. Mix in egg and egg white. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread jam over base of tart shell. Dollop the almond filling all over, then spread it carefully with an offset spatula. If using slivered or sliced almonds as garnish, sprinkle them over the top now. Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack.

To serve, push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. Cut tart into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

Do ahead: Almond filling can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Whole tart can also be made half a day in advance. Let stand at room temperature.

Oh My Gah…Rainbow Cake!!!!!!!!!!

31 Dec


Yesterday I spent the day making magic in the kitchen with the infamous Linda—chef extraordinaire, queen of the kitchen, best home-cook ever! I grew up going to Linda’s house every week for Friday night dinner. She would prepare fresh baked challah bread, a homemade soup made with fresh veggies (always a different soup each time, always delicious), and then a big main course with sides galore. And for dessert—fruit, little cookies or cakes, and tea.

I really cherish those days when our families came together and enjoyed a good meal, chatting about politics and gossiping about all of the shenanigans happening in the neighborhood. Now all of the kids are older and our dinners happen less often, but when they do happen, I cherish them.

I arrived at Linda’s house yesterday with a big bag full of tart shells, sprinkles, almond extract, parchment paper, butter, aprons, and a few other miscellaneous essentials. She provided the rest.

We went to work, and our first project was to conquer one of my favorite childhood treats, RAINBOW CAKE, also known as seven layer bars.

Rainbow cake is really just almond cake with jam spread between each layer and a nice smooth layer of chocolate on top. The food coloring and sprinkles are just for aesthetics, but as Linda and I both agree, “you eat with your eyes.”


Eeeeee these are just so darling. I want to start a rainbow cake delivery service!!!!! I think that could be quite successful, don’t you? Everyone’s got a food truck these days, maybe I will start a rainbow cake truck and gallivant through different neighborhoods, putting smiles on faces.

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Ok, while I’m dreaming in LaLaLand, you should go ahead and start baking already. Once you have your cake batter, you just divide into three, drop some food coloring, spread into pans and bake, cool, and assemble. The hardest part about this recipe is the assembly, but don’t let that scare you. Enjoy the process because the end product will just make you plotz (Yiddish word for “burst” or “explode”) from so much deliciousness.

After Linda and I made the rainbow cakes, we moved on and made an apple tart with apples from her tree, and we baked challah bread (topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and black cumin seeds) and sticky buns. Our little friend Ezra enjoyed helping us sprinkle the seeds over the challahs!


This was the most fun that I have had in a while. Thanks Linda for always inspiring me to make magic.

Rainbow Cake
(aka seven layer bars)
Recipe inspired by SmittenKitchen

makes about 5 dozen bars, or more (or you can just leave it as a cake)

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste (I used a 7-oz package and it worked just fine)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained (I used raspberry preserves and did not strain them)
4-oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Optional: sprinkles

Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well.

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (we decided that a cookie sheet may have been easier) and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a little overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

2. Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

3. Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

 4. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly (we found it a bit strange to be folding egg whites into a really thick batter, but it worked fine).

5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Pour green batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). (If you own multiple pans, you can bake 2 layers at a time. We baked our green and white layers at the same time).

6. Bake your layers 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean).

7. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Bake the remaining layer (s) in same manner as above. Transfer to a rack to cool.

8. When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

9. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours (We chilled for 2 hours and were just fine. The reason for chilling so long is so that the preserves can really get pressed down and incorporated into the cake layers).

10. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature.

We decided to use one layer of chocolate on top instead of one on top and one on the bottom. Do as you please…***NOTE: If you want chocolate on both top and bottom, use 7-oz of chocolate and melt it 3.5-oz at a time.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, just stir it every 30 seconds).

11. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake, and sprinkle with sprinkles! Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. ***NOTE: If you are doing two layers of chocolate, spread your top with chocolate, refrigerate uncovered for about 15 minutes, invert, and spread your next layer with chocolate. Now you can add sprinkles. Chill.

12. Cut lengthwise into strips, Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies. Or, just leave the cake as a cake and cut slices as you please!

  • Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.