Posts Tagged ‘cream’

Strawberry Tart with Lemon-Vanilla Pastry Cream

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

I whipped this up for a family cook-out a couple of weeks back. My cousin was home from the Air Force for a visit, and it was nice to see him and meet his new girlfriend. (They’ve been together for a while, of course, but she’s new to me. 😉 ) My aunt asked me to bring a dessert, which I was happy to do, but the challenge was that dinner was after work on a Monday afternoon, and so I was trying to think of something that could be made ahead but would still be fresh and tasty after hanging out all day while I worked.

David also bought me a tart pan that weekend. I can’t say that didn’t play a part. It did. So I decided to make a fruit tart with fresh strawberries and a homemade pastry cream.

Strawberry Tart with Lemon-Vanilla Pastry Cream

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons frozen or cold unsalted better, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 teaspoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Fruit Topping:

  • 2 – 3 cups of fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved (or any other fresh berries you would like to use, really)

Make the tart.

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process for about 10 seconds. Add in the egg yolk and process for a few more seconds.

2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp. ice water and mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. You can add a little more water if necessary or a little more flour if it’s too wet. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3. Spray your tart pan with a non-stick cooking spray made for baking, or grease and flour your tart pan. Roll the dough into a round about a half an inch thick, then transfer into your tart pan. Using your fingertips, press the dough into the pan evenly, spreading it out all the way to the edges and up into the fluted sections of the pan. Refrigerate for about an hour.

4. After the crust is properly chilled you need to prebake it. Heat oven to 425 (F). Sufficiently prick the entire bottom of the crust with a fork. Take a large piece of foil and butter one side, press the buttered side into the crust and up along the sides. Weigh the foil down with a pie weights (or if you don’t have pie weights, a few cups of raw rice or dried beans will do the trick) Bake for 12 minutes.

5. Now remove the tart from the oven and reduce the temp to 350 (F). Take off the weights and the foil and put the crust back in and bake until it’s a nicely browned, 10-15 minutes. Take out and cool completely on a rack.

Make the pastry cream (You can do this while the crust is baking)

1. Mix together egg yolks and cream. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk every minute or so at first, but as it heats up and starts to boil and thicken, you will need to whisk constantly. This should take about 10 minutes.

2. Turn the heat to low/medium-low so that mixture bubbles gently and cook until it coats the back of a spoon, or when you can draw your finger through it and the line stays there. Stir in the butter and vanilla, and two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.

3. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve/strainer to remove all lumps. Because the mixture is very thick, you may have to help the mixture through the strainer by pushing gently with a spoon.

4. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed gently against the surface of the cream.

Assemble the tart. (I did this part the next day, at the party)

1. Spread the cooled pastry cream inside the cooled tart crust. Arrange the strawberries on top of the cream in whatever pattern you like.The more fruit the better, of course, so try to keep it in a close pattern.

Note: My original plan was to use a lemon glaze to finish the tart, but that never really came to fruition. I didn’t have time to do it right before the party, and I was afraid to start it ahead of time, as those things tend to solidify quite a bit, and I didn’t know how to keep it smooth and fresh all day.

I made a double batch of the tart crust, and refridgerated it to use at another time, which was nice. It was nice to have on hand for a quick dessert later on. If wrapped well, it could certainly be frozen for later use as well.

Key Lime Pie

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I know I start a lot of posts this way, but really, I mean it this time: David loves Key Lime Pie. And what do I do when I find out that David likes something? I learn to make it.

It had actually been over a year since I made him this treat–since about the same time that we got engaged–so I figured he was due. Plus, I saw a post about Key Lime Pie that had me drooling just a little bit over at The Pioneer Woman.

I’ve been very happy with my existing Key Lime Pie recipe, but the Pioneer Woman’s pie features about twice as much graham cracker crust as other recipes, and I think that’s the way to go. So I took off with that idea, and made my regular recipe in an extra deep salty-sweet graham cracker crust.

And it was good.

I managed to take a picture before we ate it all, but the pie is long gone. If David’s good, maybe I won’t wait another year to bake him another one. Actually, since I practically injured myself juicing all those little baby key limes this time around, he can probably have another whenever he wants to take care of the juicing. That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Key Lime

Double Crusted Key Lime Pie

For the Crust

  • 18 graham crackers (1 cracker=1 full rectangle, not a square)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (salted)

For the filling:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice. (I do think freshly squeezed is better, even though it’s a pain)
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons key lime zest, plus more for garnish

For the whipped cream topping:

  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

1. To make the crust: Crush the graham crackers in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Place egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip these together until the eggs are light and fluffy. This will take several minutes–the eggs will become a light, lemony yellow, compared to the golden yolk color you started with. Turn the mixer down to low, and drizzle in the condensed sweetened milk a little at a time. Continue mixing until just combined. When the milk is incorporated completely, add the lime juice and start the mixer again to get everything mixed thoroughly as soon as possible. As soon as the lime juice is stirred in completely, pour the filling into your prepared graham cracker crust. Bake the filled pie at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the filling is set. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. The colder the better!

3. For the whipped cream topping: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream and powdered sugar. Mix on high until stiff peaks are formed.

Serve each slice of chilled pie with a good dollop of whipped cream and a bit of lime zest for garnish.

Note: If you like sour things at all, you owe it to yourself to make this. If you’ve never been to Key West, you’ve probably never had a real tart Key Lime pie, but that’s how it should be. Cold and creamy and tart enough to make your mouth pucker (just a little!) until the whipped cream and graham crackers come together to sweeten the deal. Yum!

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I do a good amount of travel for work. It’s not out of control, but during this time of year, I take a trip every 2-3 weeks at least, sometimes more often. And I enjoy it. I like to see different places, get a feel for different areas of the country. Through my work travels, I definitely have. Another thing that I enjoy is having the chance to try regional foods. Sometimes, it’s hard to get outside of the chain restaurants or airport food courts, but when I’m lucky, I get to try some real local treats.

On my last visit to Nebraska (I know, exotic, right?) we had lunch in a small-town diner. From the outside, it was nothing special. And the menu was, for the most part, exactly what you’d expect. Even so, the food was tasty and the service was good. My main dish was a baked macaroni and cheese that was quite good, but the highlight for me was the corn chowder. I had never in my life eaten corn chowder before, and I could tell by their curious glances and raised eyebrows that neither had my two coworkers. But when the person we were meeting with suggested it, we were convinced, and all three of us ordered the corn chowder.

And were rewarded.

The soup was creamy, with chunks of potato, chicken, and of course, sweet corn. We’ve joked about having that soup again, even around the office (some 500 miles away from the diner where we shared lunch) ever since. Finally, tired of thinking about a soup that I may never have the chance to eat again, I decided to make my own. Last Friday was a cool, rainy day, and sweet corn was on sale for the first time all season. It seemed like a sign. So for dinner Friday night, I threw together my version of this awesome Nebraskan soup. And it was delicious. If I was trying to convince my sister or mother, I’d tell them it was just like clam chowder. When I was trying to convince my husband, I told him it was just like potato soup. And while both of those statements were true, it tastes more like corn than either of those. If you like corn, you owe it to yourself to try this soup.

corn-chowder

Sweet Corn Chowder with Yukon Gold Potatoes & Pancetta

  • 3 ounces pancetta (You can substitute bacon, if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups prepared chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 pounds yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 5-6 ears sweet corn (do not substitute cans or frozen corn–fresh off the cob is important!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crisped. Next, add the onion, garlic, and thyme and continue cooking until softened, about 8 or 9 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring to coat everything evenly. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the cream and the potatoes, bring to a boil for 7 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break down. The potatoes should be soft, but not completely broken down.

3. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the corn is soft, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and serve.

Note: If you’ve never cut corn off of the cob, here’s a good tip. Take a small bowl (like a cereal bowl) and stand it upside down in a large mixing bowl. Shuck the corn and remove any additional silk. Stand the ear of corn straight up on the small bowl (inside the larger bowl) and use a sharp knife to cut straight down once side. Turn the ear of corn, and cut straight down the next side, working your way around the corn. This will give you a steady platform for cutting the corn off the cob, while catching all of the loose corn kernels in the larger bowl without making a mess.

As far as the soup goes, I think it was a hit. It was flavorful, sweet and fresh, just like corn on the cob. I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as good if I had tried to use canned or frozen corn. The pancetta added a nice layer of salty flavor to the soup base, and the potatoes were good, but the corn was really the star of this soup. I’m sure we’ll be making this again. It would have been good with leftover chicken, regular bacon, or a smoky ham also.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Is there anything worse for you than Fried Macaroni & Cheese?

I thought not.

But like so many other things that are terrible for you… it’s one of the most delicious!

If you’ve never had Fried Mac & Cheese, you’re missing out. The first time I tried it was at The Cheesecake Factory with my mom. It was so good as an appetizer that we skipped the entrees! I’ve also had it at TGIFriday’s. What’s different about making it at home is that when you control the ingredients–using olive oil to fry, and a homemade Mac & Cheese with real cheese (not OrangyProcessedCheeseFood)–the result is so much tastier than anything a chain restaurant can dream of serving.

This version has a light, crispy crunch on the outside, while the middle comes together as a warm, gooey, cheesy center. I’ve seen it served with marinara sauce for dipping, but if you start with awesome Mac & Cheese, I think a sprinkle of crunchy sea salt over the finished product is all you need.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese

  • leftovers from your favorite baked macaroni & cheese recipe, chilled overnight. (I used the leftovers from this delicious spin on traditional mac & cheese.)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko Japanese-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
  • salt & pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying

1. Slice the macaroni & cheese into 1-inch thick slices. Keep chilled until ready to use.

2. Heat a 1/2 inch layer of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, until the surface shimmer. You want the oil to be hot enough to crisp the mac & cheese, but you don’t want the oil to smoke.

3. Place the flour in a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt & pepper. In a second dish, lightly beat two eggs together. In a third dish, combine the panko and parmesan cheese.

4. Dredge two slices of the mac & cheese in flour and shake off the excess. Next, dip the slices of mac & cheese in the eggs, and then finally in the panko/parmesan mixture.

5. When the oil is ready, carefully place the breaded macaroni & cheese slices in the skillet and fry until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan to a plate lined with paper towels. While hot, lightly sprinkle with salt (preferably flaked sea salt). Cover with a loosely-tented piece of foil to keep the fried slices warm while you continue cooking the rest of the macaroni & cheese.

Note:  We chilled our leftover macaroni & cheese in a plastic container shaped like a loaf of bread, which made it easier to slice evenly. We’ll be making this again for sure…probably any time we have leftover Mac & Cheese!

Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Apples and Bacon Breadcrumbs

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

This was a fun one for me. You guys have caught onto the fact that I’m a Top Chef fan, right?

Of course you have.

Well, my all-time favorite Top Chef is Stephanie Izard. She’s talented, but also gracious and humble. I was really excited to see her win the title, and David and I are looking forward to checking out her restaurant when it opens up. She’s a Chicago girl, after all!

Last weekend, David pointed out Stephanie’s website to me, and it took me about a minute and a half to decide to make this Macaroni & Cheese dish. I sent David on a shopping trip for ingredients almost immediately.

We were not disappointed. The apples added a unique flavor to the traditional Mac & Cheese, but were a welcome touch of sweetness in a sea of creamy, salty cheese sauce. I skipped the ham, since David isn’t a fan. Though I can see how it would be a good addition, I can’t say that I missed it. (I did decide to double the bacon and add half to the breadcrumbs and the other half right into the macaroni & cheese). This dish was heavy enough to stand alone as a meal, even without the meat. If you want to add them, it would be good with either ham or grilled chicken, though.

Macaroni and Four Cheeses with Apples and Bacon Breadcrumbs
Adapted from www.stephanieizard.com

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used salted butter–no problems)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups ciabatta cubes (about 6 ounces of ciabatta bread, cubed)
  • 1 small onion, halved
  • 6 cups whole milk (we keep 1% on hand, so I used 5 1/2 cups of 1% milk with a 1/2 of heavy cream…worked out just fine!)
  • 8 ounces bacon (6-8 strips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, cubed (we had Honeycrisp on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 pound conchiglie pasta (I used a different shape that we had on hand, anything that’s going to catch the sauce is good)
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 ounces aged cheddar (1 cup grated)
  • 6 ounces whole milk mozzarella (1 1/2 cup grated)
  • 4 ounces smoked gouda (1 cup grated)
  • 4 ounces havarti (1 cup grated)
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepot over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, steeping in the butter for about 1 minute, until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Remove from the heat and add the bread cubes to the pot, tossing to coat them in the garlic butter. Spread the butter-coated cubes across a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bread is very crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Put the onion and the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk to a bare simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom.

While the milk simmers, return the Dutch oven to the stove over medium heat. When the pot is hot again, add the bacon pieces and render until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside with the cooling bread cubes. Add the apples to the hot fat in the pan, sautéing for 1-2 minutes, until the apples are just soft (not mushy). Remove the apples with a slotted spoon to a large mixing bowl. Add the vinegar and toss to coat.

Put the cooled bread cubes and bacon in a food processor and pulse several times to form bread crumbs.

Cook the macaroni to al dente, according to the package directions.

As the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk together, forming a thick paste, or a roux. Let the roux cook for a minute or so, until it begins to smell nutty. Strain the milk and discard the onion. Slowly add the hot milk to the roux, about 1/2-1 cup at a time, whisking well to avoid lumps. Continue incorporating the milk until a thick sauce forms. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of mozzarella and add the rest of the cheese to the sauce, stirring as it melts.

When the pasta is done, strain it and add it to the cheese sauce along with the apple mixture. Stir to combine all of the ingredients and pour into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Cover the macaroni and cheese with the bacon breadcrumbs and scatter the reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella on top. Put the dish on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Broil the top until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbly.

(Serve immediately or hold in a 300° F oven for about 30 minutes).

Note: Love, love, loved this! When I finished the sauce and moved it to the baking dish, I was concerned that the cheese sauce was a little on the thin side. It thickened in the pan to a perfect consistency. Even better, the chilled leftovers set up so well that David suggested I make Fried Macaroni & Cheese, which is what we did with the leftovers. Come back tomorrow for the recipe!

Spinach Fettuccine with Proscuitto, Peas, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

This was the third dish we made at my pasta making class, and it was the one I liked the best. Of course, it being a pasta making class, we made our own fresh spinach pasta, but you could certainly use a store-bought variety here.

This was a really quick and tasty dish, with bright, fresh flavors. I was impressed with how delicious it was, especially for how quickly it came together. I’m sure you could add grilled chicken, but I didn’t feel it was necessary at all. The original recipe called for roasted red pepper strips in place of the sun-dried tomatoes, but I like the sun-dried tomatoes, so that’s what I used.

Spinach Fettuccine with Proscuitto, Peas, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 lb spinach fettuccine, preferably fresh
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces diced prosciutto
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to cook your spinach pasta. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, and keep in a warm place.

2. While pasta is cooking, brown proscuitto in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the edges begin to get crispy, add the cream and simmer until reduced by half–about 10 minutes. The cream sauce will be considerably thicker.

3. Add tomatoes and peas and continue cooking until heated through, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Toss with hot pasta and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Note: Ideally, you want to finish the pasta and the sauce about the same time. The timing will depend largely on whether you use fresh pasta, which will only take about 3-4 minutes to cook,  or dried pasta, which will take at least 9-11 minutes to cook. If your timing is off, don’t stress–just keep the pasta as warm as possible, and keep the whole dish over heat for a bit once you add the pasta to the sauce.

Also, I bought some kind of weird dried/fresh pea hybrid meant for soup instead of fresh peas. I won’t make that mistake again.