{twd} quick classic berry tart

Ugh. I have a severe case of blog apathy and writer’s block. These days it seems the only new post I can write is the one for Tuesdays with Dorie. I’m baking and cooking. Sometimes taking pictures, sometimes not. Some are incredibly delicious and I want to share–like Pot-Roasted Eggplant with Tomatoes and Cumin (you need to make this) from the May 2010 issue of Food & Wine. Some are for other baking groups.

Anyway, thanks to Cristine of Cooking with Cristine for hosting this week’s recipe– Quick Classic Berry Tart. I made it for Mother’s Day. It’s a simple tart with vanilla pastry cream topped with fresh berries ( I used strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and some jarred cherries). It was very delicious and a big hit with the family. I can see myself making a tropical version in the near future with rum pastry cream and pineapple, mango and kiwi. YUM.

For the recipe, visit Cristine’s blog or buy the book.

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Brussels Sprouts! and other good stuff

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I never bought or cooked brussels sprouts until this week. I don’t know why. Maybe childhood trauma? I don’t think so. I was never forced to eat anything. Anyway, up until this past Sunday I’ve been eyeing the brussels sprouts for sale at the farmers’ market and they had been eyeing me back. {This is usual behavior for me at the farmers’ market. Vegetables tend to eye me especially ones I’m scared to buy.} I had enough of the staring and bought a bunch. I’m glad I did. Not only are they delicious, they contain a bunch of good stuff too–vitamins a and c, folic acid, and lots of fiber.

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In the February 2009  issue of Vegetarian Times there is a yummy recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries.

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium shallots, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coursely chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts to dry pan. Stir occasionally, until walnuts are nice and toasty about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove walnuts and set aside.
  2. Wipe out pan and add olive oil. When hot, add brussels sprouts and saute, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown–about 5 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook for another minute.
  3. Add water, cranberries,  and agave. Partially cover pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Transfer to serving bowl and stir in walnut oil and toasted walnuts. Season with salt and pepper.

I also made another recipe from Veganomicon, Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Apricots. You can find the recipe here.

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This was my first time eating and cooking Israeli couscous, which is different not only size from regular couscous but also texture. I loved it and definitely will had it as a pantry staple. I realize most of my dinner recipes I  have been blogging about lately are some sort of grain-y product, with nuts, and fruits/veggies. For some reason, these are the types of recipes that are calling out to me. 😛

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{TWD} Berry No-Surprise Mini-Cakes and a little something chocolate too

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Tuesdays with Dorie is a weekly online baking group. Every week one member selects a recipe from Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking…From My Home to Yours and we all bake the recipe in our own special way and blog about it on Tuesdays.

This week’s recipe, Berry Surprise Cake, was selected by Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen. You can find the recipe here. I love, love, love Mary Ann’s blog. She blogs almost everyday {maybe everyday} about a {usually} healthy, good-for-you recipe she made for her family. Whether or not the recipe is healthy, the pictures are always gorgeous. She even makes food I don’t like {beets} look appetizing.

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The base of the Berry Surprise Cake is a génoise, which in the world of French pastry is one of the basic starting point for many desserts. Also in the world of French pastry, there is debate about whether you should add melted butter to the batter. Some do and some don’t. Dorie does and I’m of the opinion that butter is always good. 😛

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Dorie calls this recipe a Berry Surprise Cake because you are supposed to carefully slice off a top layer of the cake, hollow out the core, fill it up with whipped cream goodness and berries, put the top layer back on, and frost with topping. Surprise! It sounds delicious, but I felt a little lazy this week and decided to change it up a bit.

Picture from my mobile phone

Picture from my mobile phone

Last week strawberries started showing up at the farmers’ market en masse, so I decided to use them instead of the suggested raspberries. Since I was going the lazy route, I decided to make mini-cakes using my mini-muffin pan.

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Because I forgot to use lime zest last week, I decided to use it this week {who doesn’t like strawberries and lime?} and rubbed it in with the sugar. I also used cake flour instead of all-purpose because I wanted the cakes to be light and French-y {whatever that means}.

Dorie urges us to gingerly fold in the flour because the beaten eggs are divas. I was overly ginger because when I was half-way done scooping the batter into the tin, I found a bunch of unmixed flour in the batter. :0 I quickly {but gingerly} mixed in the lost flour.

In the oven, half the mini-cakes sank and looked ugly as sin. This was the half that did not have enough flour. The other half rose perfectly and were very lovely. I likened the ugly half to Victorian novel crazy relatives locked up in the attic. My friends do not need to know they exist. 😛

Crazy relatives locked in a Victorian attic

Crazy relatives locked in a Victorian attic

I made the filling and used it as a topping. Instead of cream cheese, I substituted mascarpone. I sliced the strawberries and placed them on top of the mini-génoise cakes, piped the filling, and then finished them with chopped pistachios.

These were a big hit and I’m sure the properly assembled cake is yummy too. Maybe when I am feeling less lazy I will make as directed.

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Almost-Fudge Gâteau

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I’m slowly baking my way through TWD recipes selected before I joined the group. The Almost-Fudge Gâteau was  the recipe for the week of February 19,2008. This recipe was very easy to make {I made mini-cakes again} and very, very delicious. If you haven’t made it yet, do it! It’s wonderful. Nikki of Crazy Delicious selected this cake and you can find the recipe here.

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Ice Cream Flavor of the Week: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Recipe #256

I meant to make Fresh Fig Ice Cream this week. I went to the farmers’ market cash in hand prepared to buy two baskets of figs after weeks and weeks of buying only one basket. No one was selling figs this week. Next week they said.

Since the strawberries looked gorgeous and tasted just-right sweet, I decided to buy some and make Strawberry Frozen Yogurt instead.

Not figs, gorgeous strawberries

Not figs, gorgeous strawberries