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Lemon Ginger Tartlets


It’s been almost ten years since I was first in touch with Claire, the talented author of the pioneering natural foods blog Clea Cuisine, and over time we’ve built a simple and sincere friendship that means a lot to me.

Clea is one of those rare persons who radiate with confidence and serenity, as if the turmoil of the outside world and its latest trends left them unfazed, so busy they are following their own path, guided by their own taste. These qualities have earned her a crowd of loyal and engaged readers whose food lives she has often changed, as one of the very first in France to write about agar agar, rice flour, and almond butter dr max.

And so when she suggested a culinary exchange between our respective blogs, I accepted without a moment’s hesitation: the idea was for each of us to pick three recipes on the other’s blog, combine them vigorously in a shaker, and come up with a new recipe inspired by the mélange.

The opportunity to dive into one another’s archives was not the least of the associated perks, and I personally chose her Cream of carrot with white miso and ginger, her Chocolate and ginger pudding with agar agar, and her Ultimate lemon tart.

Initially, I decided to make a lemon tart flavored with ginger and white miso — you can read more about using white miso in desserts. But my preliminary tests did not convince me that white miso had its place in this recipe, so I shelved the idea and opted instead to make lemon ginger tartlets, which delighted all who had the chance to sample them.

The pairing of lemon and ginger no longer has to prove itself, and all I had to do was add finely grated fresh ginger to Clea’s lemon curd recipe. I share her taste for a very tangy lemon tart — i.e. not very sweet — and to me the formula below achieves the perfect balance. This vividly flavorful lemon ginger curd could also be prepared for its own sake, to spread on a pretty brioche, pimp your yogurt, garnish crêpes, or dip a spoon in (I won’t tell).

For the crust, I chose to follow the recipe for pate sucrée that pastry chef Jacques Genin uses and shares in his little book Le Meilleur de la tarte au citron (The best of lemon tarts). It is very easy to make and lovely to handle, and it forms a delicate and crisp tart shell in perfect contrast to the unctuous curd.

And to see the idea that my own archives sparked for Claire, head over to her post (in French) on Pasta with almond-zucchini gremolata and roasted onions.
Join the conversation dr max!

Do you know people like Clea who inspire you with their poise and taste? And how do you like your lemon tarts — tangy? sweet? with a layer of meringue on top?
 
Lemon Ginger Tartlets

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 30 minutes

Makes six 10- to 12-cm (4- to 4 3/4-inch) tartlets.

Ingredients

    For the dough (pate sucrée); makes double to amount so you can save half for another time:
    175 grams (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
    125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
    60 grams (2/3 cup) almond flour (i.e. almond meal or ground almonds)
    2 large organic eggs, at room temperature
    1 large organic egg yolk, at room temperature
    1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    310 grams (2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    For the filling:
    4 organic lemons
    30 grams (1 ounce) fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated
    125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
    1 tablespoon corn starch, combined with 1 tablespoon water (this is called a slurry)
    3 large organic eggs

Instructions

    Step 1: Prepare the pate sucrée (at least 3 1/2 hours before baking and 8 1/2 hours before serving)
    In a large mixing bowl, put the butter, sugar, and almond flour. Using a flexible spatula, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you get an even, sandy consistency.
    Beat in the eggs.
    Fold in the flour and salt, working them in just until no trace of flour remains. Don't overwork the dough.
    Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead gently just a few times -- maybe 5 or 6 -- so the dough comes together into a ball.
    Divide in two; if you have a scale, each half should weigh 400 grams (14 ounces). Wrap one tightly in plastic and keep in the refrigerator or freezer for another time. Place the other half on a plate -- that's the one you're going to use for the tartlets -- cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the next day dr max.
    Step 2: Line the tartlet molds (at least 1 hour before baking) and bake (at least 5 hours before serving)
    Divide the dough into six equal pieces; if you have a scale, each piece should weigh 65 grams (2 1/3 ounces).
    Have ready six tartlet molds, 10 to 12 cm (4 to 4 3/4 inches) in diameter, such as these. Grease them carefully with butter if they're not non-stick.
    Working with each piece of dough in turn (leave the unused ones in the fridge), roll it out into a thin round large enough to line one of your tarlet molds, keeping your work surface and your rolling pin lightly floured.
 
Brush off the excess flour from both sides of the dough with a pastry brush, and fit snugly into a tartlet mold, letting the excess dough hang over the edges.
 
Roll your pin firmly across the edges of the mold to cut off the excess dough (save these scraps to make cut-out cookies), and press the sides of the dough against the mold with your fingers to help them stay put. Return to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before baking.
 
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and bake the tartlets for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Don't underbake them: you want a good color so the crust is flavorful and holds up well to the filling. Transfer to a rack to cool completely while you make the curd.
Step 3: Prepare the lemon curd and garnish the tartlets (at least 4 1/2 hours before serving)

Grate the zest from 2 of the lemons into a medium saucepan, and juice all 4 of them. You should get about 150 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) juice. Add to the pan with the ginger, sugar, and cornstarch slurry.
Put the pan over low heat and heat the mixture, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, just until the sugar dissolves.
Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl, and whisk in the warmed lemon juice.

Pour back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the spatula in an 8-shaped motion to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan thoroughly. The curd is ready when it is thick enough that the spatula leaves a clear trace at the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and bake the tartlets for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Don't underbake them: you want a good color so the crust is flavorful and holds up well to the filling. Transfer to a rack to cool completely while you make the curd.

Step 3: Prepare the lemon curd and garnish the tartlets (at least 4 1/2 hours before serving)

Grate the zest from 2 of the lemons into a medium saucepan, and juice all 4 of them. You should get about 150 ml (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) juice. Add to the pan with the ginger, sugar, and cornstarch slurry.
Put the pan over low heat and heat the mixture, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, just until the sugar dissolves.

Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl, and whisk in the warmed lemon juice.

Pour back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the spatula in an 8-shaped motion to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan thoroughly. The curd is ready when it is thick enough that the spatula leaves a clear trace at the bottom of the pan.
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Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies



yield:Makes about 30

Chunks of fresh cranberries and dark, milk, and white chocolate chips dress up oatmeal cookies for the holidays Floor Display Unit.
Ingredients

❤1 cup all purpose flour
❤1/2 teaspoon baking soda
❤1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
❤1/4 teaspoon salt
❤10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
❤1/2 cup sugar
❤1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
❤1 large egg
❤1 teaspoon vanilla extract
❤1 cup old-fashioned oats
❤1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
❤1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
❤1/2 cup white chocolate chips
❤1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

❤2 ounces milk chocolate or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended mathconcept. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.

Stir chopped milk chocolate in top of double boiler until melted and smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cookies in zigzag pattern. Let stand until milk chocolate sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead electric motor manufacturers. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

Butterscotch Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

 
I have a long-standing love of cookie baking. As you can see, it happens quite a bit in my kitchen. Baking cookies for a good cause is even better. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. When OXO asked again this year if I’d like to bake some cookies to benefit Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Business Centre in Hong Kong, I immediately signed up.

So, let’s talk cookies!

The cookies you see here are fairly traditional oatmeal cookies, and my basic go-to oatmeal cookie recipe 19 LED Light Bulb. They are chewy cookies with lots of oats and a touch of cinnamon. If you are a fan of oatmeal cookies, you’d be more than happy just making a batch of these cookies and stopping right there. But, I added some big flavor with what is my new frosting obsession.

This super simple butterscotch frosting is so, so good. It only takes a few ingredients to make, and the taste is amazing. Spread a little (or a lot) between two oatmeal cookies, and you’ve got one spectacular sandwich cookie. The combination of those chewy oatmeal cookies with that butterscotch frosting is just magical!

Now, let’s talk about “Baking a Difference.”

In addition to my cookie contribution, many of my fellow bloggers are also busy baking cookies this month. And OXO is donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each of our blog posts about the campaign! In social media, look for #OXOGoodCookies to see what everyone is sharing this month. You can also see all the cookies made for this great cause on OXO’s Good Cookies Pinterest Board. And be on the lookout for OXO products marked with special Cookies for Kids’ Cancer stickers Cloud Video Conferencing, as they will donate 25 cents for each product sold.

Battle of Wines, and the Reds Have It


We have friends coming over shortly for dinner, and for once I'm not thinking the wine world should do a study of why people so often bring red interactive digital signage, want white. I got my answer(s) over to the Twitter last week after I posed that question while waiting for friends coming over shortly for dinner and worrying we might not have enough of the proper color. Of course they all showed up with fabulous bottles (prosecco, Sancerre, Saint-Bris), but after they left I took a dishwashing break to check my feed, and the responses were all logical to fascinating.

The most obvious rental car companies, which had never occurred to me even though we often bring red if a dinner or party will be our second or third stop of the day/night: White needs chilling. Not only that, wine stores too often stock the worst choices in the cooler; everything is always I-can't-bring-that cheap or wildly overpriced (translation: out of reach of my change purse).

But the fascinating answer was that red is perceived as better, or classier. Thank you, Barolo (or pinot grigio, for being lame).

And that echoes something a sommelier told us the other week: He would love to pair more courses with whites on the tasting menu, but diners think they're getting gypped. The good stuff is not the white stuff Wire Hooks Display.

Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Something is horribly wrong with my internet connection.  I’m loading and reloading web pages, checking and rechecking my email on the treacherous MS Outlook, starting and restarting my router…and yet still, the connection remains tenuous, sporadic, wonky.  I sigh noisily in frustration.  How can I work??  How can I do anything??

Being almost fully dependent on the internet for my job, and being likewise dependent on it for my hobby (this blog), leaves me, as you can imagine, in quite the frazzled state when my ISP decides to toy with me.  I can neither work nor play.  As I sit here and write this though, offline, I scratch my head and think…when did I, when did we all, get so dependent on technology?  I am part of that generation that straddled the time before the internet, and the time after.  I used a typewriter during university to write my papers (no delete, no editing, no copy/paste, and no spell check).  If I wanted to call my parents from school I used a payphone.  Planning jaunts with friends was based on your word of honor, there was no possibility of “texting” to say you couldn’t make it or were running late.  I can still remember those times so clearly, cast in the golden glow of a bygone era.

I also remember clearly, the moment the internet arrived.  We had dial-up (Oh that strange dial-up screech!) and I thought it was the cat's meow.  There were prehistoric chat rooms, all monochrome and basic, with none of the Technicolor bells and whistles social media has today.  There was my brother and I, jockeying for turns to “connect”.  I remember my first mobile phone…huge, unwieldy thing.  I remember the thrill of communicating through SMS.  After that, in what seemed to be a blink of an eye, although it’s really been decades, this new way to connect and communicate gained such size and speed and fantastical proportions that now many cannot imagine the world before it.

And as I sit here anxiously checking if the connection is up and running, I take a step back, a deep breath, and a little reality check.  There’s a reason it’s called “virtual”.  A lot of the times, best kinds of connections and the real and old fashioned ones.  A hug, a kiss, eye contact, a hand on an arm in emphasis, or one on the back for guidance and protection while crossing the street, your baby’s little hand grasping your finger with surprising strength, your dog’s warm body beside you in bed, a sonnet read aloud, happy tears, the way your mom smells.

Baking cookies for your child’s last day of school.

 Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted very slightly from the Ambitious Kitchen)

    2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup unsalted butter
    1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
    2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
    1 jar of Nutella, chilled in the refrigerator
    Coarse sea salt for sprinkling


- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a skillet until browned (not burned!), with a warm nutty aroma. You can find a fantastic tutorial on browning butter over at Simply Recipes. Set aside to cool a bit.
- Mix the butter and sugars in an electric mixer until thoroughly blended (give it a sniff…this mixture smells awesome, like all your candy dreams come true!).  Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined.  To this, slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator overnight (which I now try to do with all my chocolate chip cookie dough since this), or at least for 2 hours (to chill enough so you can form the dough).
- Once the dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the dough very thinly into the palm of your hand.  Place 1 teaspoon of the chilled Nutella in the middle and wrap the dough around it.  Gently roll the ball and make sure that the Nutella is not seeping out anywhere.  Use little bits of dough to patch up any holes.
- Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I don’t feel the need to flatten the dough anymore as per the original recipe).  Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookie begin to turn golden brown.  They will look a bit underdone in the middle but that’s ok, they will continue to cook out of the oven.
- Cool the cookie on the pans for about 2 minutes then sprinkle with a little se salt.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies were a resounding success with little C’s classmates and teachers.  I didn’t put any sea salt on the batch I sent to school with her but I did try some with and it is toe-curling good.  Really.  The cookie itself resonates with that nutty burnt caramel flavor you get from brown butter and the chewy, Nutella-seeping center can cure a myriad of ills.  This is now tied in first place for my favorite along with THIS one.  Like will most of the cookies I make, I only bake what I will use and freeze the rest of the dough, either in logs, or in the case of these Nutella-stuffed ones, in balls.  I can think of no greater comfort that knowing you have frozen cookie dough in your freezer, for, you know, “emergencies”.

Albeit I don’t get to do it that often, what with work and life and all that jazz, I love this act of making something for my child to bring to school and share with her friends.  Just the very old-fashioned, home-and-hearth-ness of it makes me feel I am giving her something good and solid (despite the fact that what I am really giving her is chocolate and sweets!).  It also, I fervently hope, makes up for the fact that I will most likely never teach her to finger-paint or do origami.


Don’t be misled though, I am in no way of the camp that decries the internet as “evil”.  I love the internet!  Which should be obvious as sit here and post on my blog…an activity that would be impossible without the internet and has, for me, lost none of its charm.  I love how it has given me another way to reach out, interact, and connect with people I would have otherwise never had the chance to.  It can truly be a wonderful tool.  But it is only one of many.  And even with the frustration of dealing with an iffy connection when you are trying to get work done, I am happy to be reminded of that.

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