Vanilla Rhubarb Meringue Pie

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Summer is upon us and our rhubarb bush is the size of a small bus. It’s time to get to work.

First up: pie.

For anyone who has their own garden or goes to a u-pick patch for their summer fruits, you know just as well as I do that sometimes you can get carried away. What do you do when you’ve taken your fruit intake one step too far? You make pies. Lots of pies.

When I saw one of my favorite Instagram accounts, Delicious Mag , post their version of this made with coconut, I tackled the bus sized bush.

FOR THE SHELL:

1/4 c. shortening or lard

1/4 c. cold unsalted butter

1 1/4 c. flour

pinch of salt

1/8 – 1/4 c. ice cold water

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, butter and shortening until combined and crumbly looking.
  2. Slowly add the water until a dough forms that when pinched sticks together.
  3. Pat into a disk and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out into an 11-inch disk. The dough sill be crumbly and you may have to do some patchwork once it’s in the pie tin.
  5. Place the disk into the tin and crimp around the edges.
  6. Place the prepared pie tin in the freezer for about 15 minutes unti lthe dough is rock hard.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Set aside once baked.

FOR THE FILLING: large stalks of rhubarb

7-8 large stalks of rhubarb

3/4 c. caster sugar

a splash of lemon juice

4 T. cornflour

4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)

1 T. vanilla paste or 1 vanilla bean

3.5 T. room temperature butter

375 F / 190F

  1. Dice rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and toss in 1/2c. of the sugar. Dump them out onto a lined sheet pan and roast for about 20 minutes.
  2. Once roasted, blend until smooth in a blender and transfer to a sauce pan.
  3. Take a small scoop out and combine it with the cornflour and the remaining sugar and transfer back to the sauce pan.
  4. On medium heat whisk the mixture constantly until it comes to a boil and it has thickened to almost a paste like texture.
  5. Add the butter, vanilla and egg yolks and whisk quickly making sure to not let the eggs scramble. To ensure preventing this add a small amount of the hot curd into the eggs and stir before adding them to the mixture.
  6. Set aside to cool and to room temperature.
  7. Once both the pie crust and the curd are at room temperature, add the curd filling to the crust and bake for 20 minutes to set the curd.
  8. Once baked, set asie to cool to room temperature again.

FOR THE MERINGUE:

4 egg white

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 t. vanilla paste or 1/2 vanilla bean

425 F / 220 C

  1. in a stand mixer whisk the whites on high until they become frothy. Slowly add the sugar and beat into stiff peaks. Add vanilla.
  2. The meringue should be glossy and when rubbed between your fingers doesn’t feel grainy.
  3. Dallop in big swooshy piles over the curd until the curd is fully covered.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the meringue is golden but NOT dark brown. It can happen quickly so keep an eye one it. It may take a couple minutes more or less depending on your oven.

**When everything is assembled, baked and ready to go, let the pie chill as to not distrub the meringue. If cut when hot, it may weep.

 

 

Strawberry & Rhubarb Custard Choux Puffs

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Give these sweet little choux puffs a try. They’re filled with custard, chopped strawberries and homemade rhubarb jam and topped with whipped cream. If you need me to say more then you’re not meant to be here! Go do some online shopping or whatever.

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4 T. unsalted butter

1 t. fine sugar

1 pinch of salt

1/2 c. water

heaping 1/4 c. of flour

2 eggs

  1. bring butter, sugar, salt and water to a rolling boil. Add the flour until a dough forms.
  2. While still on the heat, vigorously beat the batter for at least 2 minutes with a wooden spoon and then transfer to another bowl. Continue to beat for a few more minutes until the batter is no longer steaming.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. The mixture should be fall off the spoon in a V shape.
  4. Transfer dough to a piping bag and pipe 1-inch rounds about 1 inch apart from each other.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Once removed from the oven, poke the bottoms of the puffs with a fork to help release the steam. Let cool.

CREME PATTISIERE:

1/2 t. vanilla bean paste

2 1/2 c. whole milk

2 eggs

4 egg yolks

1/2 c. corn starch

1 c. sugar

  1. Over medium-high heat, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer.
  2. In the meantime, combine the eggs, yolks, starch and sugar until smooth.
  3. Remove the milk from the heat and pour over egg mixture while whisking the whole time.
  4. Transfer the mixture back to the heat and stir until thickened. It might take some time. Be careful to stir the whole time so that the mixture doesn’t burn.
  5. Transfer to a clean bowl and chill until ready to use.

STRAWBERY RHUBARB JAM

1/4 c. chopped strawberries

1/4 c. chopped rhubarb

1/2 c. sugar

  1. Place sugar and fruit in a small saucepan and add a tiny splash of water. Cook on low-medium heat until thickened. Set aside to let cool.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Combine half of the jam and half of the cream together and put in a piping bag with the straight nozzle attachment.
  2. Insert in the bottom of each puff and squeeze until the puff is full.
  3. Dollop whipped cream on top of each one, topping with a strawberry slice.

Sweet Clafoutis with Summer Berries

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Kind of like the French version of a Dutch pancake, this custardy fruit clafoutis is perfect for those of you who don’t love really sweet desserts. The custard is as light as air and about the closest to cloud 9 you’ll be getting this week. It’s delicate enough to serve with afternoon tea or even for breakfast.

I used to have an obsession with making Dutch pancakes in college because they were attractive, easy and impressive for a college kid. You can make them savory or sweet and, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I love a one-size-fits-all type recipe. So when I was browsing my cookbooks and found this, I knew it was just up my ally.

If you don’t like sweet things at all, omit the sugar when making the custard and add some cheese, vegetables or herbs. Everybody’s happy and that’s what baking is about, right?!

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MIXED BERRY CLAFOUTIS:

1/4 c. cream

3/4 c. milk (not skim)

3 eggs

1/2 c. caster sugar

1 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean

1 pinch of nutmeg

2 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. AP flour

2-3 c. fresh mixed berries

325 F / 165 C

1. in a blender blend all of the ingredients for about 5 seconds. It should be just enough time to combine the ingredients, mainly the flour.

2. Pour into a greased pie dish or anything similar in size. Arrange the berries over the top. They’ll sink, but that’s fine.

3. Bake 35-45 minutes until the sides have puffed and are golden.

4. For best results, serve immediately.

Apple, Marzipan and Mascarpone Galette

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I would call this a bit of a recycled project because I made it my mission to use up ingredients from past posts. If you have leftover crust in the freezer from a pie you made last week, this is the way to go. Even if you don’t, you can start from scratch. A galette, which is just a flat round cake of pastry or bread, is simple and attractive. It has that homemade sitting on a country window sill to cool look about it that I love.

The mascarpone is the last bit left from the polenta cake and the marzipan is what was left after making the mini Battenburg cakes. It’s lemon flavored, but luckily, a compliment to the apples. I did make the crust from scratch, but I’ve done it just as good from leftover pie crusts I’ve kept in the freezer too.

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CRUST:

1 c. ap flour

1/4 c. semolina flour

2 T. caster sugar

8 T. unsalted butter, very cold

1/2 t. sea salt

1/4 c. ice cold water

  1. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients except the water until the butter has broken down into a crumb like texture with the dry ingredients.
  2. On the pulse function, slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all of the water.
  3. Dump onto floured surface, pat into a disk and chill for 30 minutes

APPLE FILLING & ASSEMBLY:

2 large granny smith apples, peeled and sliced

1 T. lemon juice

1 t. corn starch

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. caster sugar

1 T. cubed cold butter

2 T. dark brown sugar

2 T. milk

caster sugar for sprinkling

—–

1/2 c. or fist sized marzipan, softened

2 oz. mascarpone cheese

350 F / 180 C

  1. Mix apples with lemon juice, starch, caster sugar and butter. Set aside.
  2. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 14 x 14″ circle.
  3. Roll the marzipan into a circle half the size and place in the center of the dough circle.
  4. Spread the mascarpone cheese on top of the marzipan disc.
  5. Assemble the apples into a flower shape or just pile them on top, whatever works!
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar on top.
  7. When finished, fold the dough that hangs beyond the marzipan over on top of the apple mound.
  8. Brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes.

 

 

Raspberry & Lemon Bakewell Tart

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In honor of the Great British Bakeoff’s alternative ingredient episode I watched last night, I made frangipane. Just hearing the word you might think I’ve whipped up something with mushrooms in it, but no. In fact, it’s a tart with almond creme and jam. Oh la la.

I originally tested a pear and ginger version of this recipe and didn’t end up posting it because of how ugly it was in pictures. It tasted great, but it looked like a door mat. In an attempt to save my ego, I made a comeback with this little beauty. It’s a slice of summer in the midst of winter. You could even consider it a low carb-ish dessert with the main ingredient being almond flour.

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I’ll give you a little trivia I recently learned before you make this, too. You can even consider it a health advisory. The most common allergy that people develop as adults is a nut allergy. Maybe worth a check before you go suffocate yourself with this tart.

If you’re not keen on lemon and raspberry just try another combination. Pear and ginger or rhubarb and vanilla. Make what you like and go nuts (get it?).

**Recipe adapted from original at Williams & Sonoma**

PASTRY:

1 egg yolk

2 T. ice cold water or more

1 t. vanilla extract

1⁄3 c. sugar

1 1/4 c. AP flour

1⁄4 t. salt

8 Tbs. cubed cold unsalted butter

375° F / 190° C

  1. In a food processor combine the dry ingredients and egg. Add cubed butter and pulse the blade until mixture resembles bread crumbs.
  2. Add cold water until dough combines and begins to form a ball.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough out into a large round and place inside tart tin.
  5. Use a rolling pin to trim the edges and then push the dough to the sides to help raise the remaining edges slightly above the tin.
  6. Place a piece of foil or parchment paper over the dough and then pour baking beans over the top.
  7. Blind bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

FRANGIPANE FILLING:

2 T. unsalted butter

1 1⁄2 c. almond flour

2⁄3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1⁄2 t. lemon extract

1⁄4 t. salt

1 t.  grated lemon zest

1/4 c. raspberry jam

handful of ripe raspberries

1/2 c. apricot jam

375° F / 190° C

  1. Melt butter in small pan on the stove until slightly brown in color. Set aside for step 2.
  2. In mixer combine all ingredients except the raspberries.
  3. On the bottom of the blind-baked crust spread the jam evenly. In spoonfuls add the frangipane mixture careful not to combine the jam and almond mixture together.
  4. Top with raspberries and bake 40-45 minutes until golden.
  5. Gently warm the apricot jam until smooth and brush over the tart for a glossy shine.

Mini Palmiers

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For New Year’s Eve I wanted to make something a bit more impressive than your average tart. It’s a glitz and glam kind of holiday and  I had every intention of baking something that reflected just that.

Then I went to the gym.

I showed up for what I thought was my usual Body Blast class. Instead, I showed up to a class called Amazing Arms. One whole hour of arms. Biceps this. Triceps that. I felt the burn and as a result I can hardly use my rolling pin. Needless to say, I kept it simple in fear that my arms might fall off at the shoulder.

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Anyway. They’re sweet. They’re buttery. They’re easy. They’re French. They’re mini palmiers and they’re delicious. Let’s call this part 2 of my puff pastry post because this is what I did with the other half of the dough. Aren’t they cute? They’re easy to make, but they do check the boxes for a classy New Years Eve. Especially if you dip them in chocoalte!

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PALMIERS: (makes about 15 pastries)

1/2 recipe of last post’s puff pastry or 250 g of store bought puff pastry

3 T. vanilla sugar (mix your sugar with a few drops of pure vanilla extract if you don’t have any)

Preheat your oven 375° F / 190° C

  1. Roll your puff dough out into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Trim the edges to make a near perfect edge.
  2. Sprinkle half of your sugar onto the dough and gently roll over it so it sticks.
  3. Now, either eye-balling it or marking with a knife, tightly roll a short side into a spiral shape to the center of the rectangle. Repeat for the other side. The two rolls should meet and resemble a heart or butterfly shape.
  4. Using a very sharp knife, cut 3/8″ slices. Dip each heart in the remaining sugar on BOTH sides and lay them on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper. Chill for 10 minutes.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They should be brown, but not burnt.
  6. Make sure you resist from eating them right away as the sugar needs time to cool.

Easy right?

Goat Cheese & Spinach Tart (and how to make puff pastry)

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Today is one of those cold and snowy days that keeps you inside. The best kind of days I think. Perhaps not the popular opinion, but still my idea of fun. So, given my luck, it seemed like the perfect chance to try my hand at puff pastry. I’ve never made it before, but as someone who takes great pride in hand making everything, I owe it to myself. Don’t be fooled by its reputation because puff pastry is far easier than you may think. It may be fancy, but if you can use a rolling pin, you can make this pastry. It’s warm, buttery and flaky beyond any store bought brand. I used only half of my pastry and froze the rest, which means I can use it for something else later on.

Since it was my first time ever making puff pastry I have to say I’m really proud of this recipe. Making the dough is a loving process and it takes time. About an hours worth of time to be exact. If you’re already fumbling to the search bar to find another recipe…stop! There is some solace in the time-warp that is puff pastry. The time isn’t necessarily in the making, it’s in the waiting. So, get a book, practice your knitting or find a good documentary because this recipe welcomes multi-tasking and/or total laziness. You’re welcome.

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Just a tip before you start: Do not ignore the chilling process that makes this recipe so time-consuming. The reason for chilling is to maintain the butter-dough-butter-dough layers that you’ll form as you fold. In the oven, the butter will melt and create steam, which pushes against the dough and creates the airy flaky layers that puff pastry is known for. If you don’t properly chill between folds the butter will melt and your flakes will be sad and dense. That said, I used the freezer to speed up my chill times because I’m impatient.

So here’s the recipe! It’s literally just flour and water, but you’d be surprised how much can go wrong with so little. So, I knicked my recipe from BBC for my first try. It turned out to be the right choice because my puff came out perfectly. If you don’t have a metric food scale I have converted the quantities in the copied recipe below.

 

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PUFF PASTRY: (makes two tarts)

250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

150 ml (1/6 cup) cold water

225g (1/6 cup) good quality butter (room temperature, but not warm!) If you use salted butter, ignore the pinch of salt above.

  1. In a food processor combine flour and salt. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the dough just combines without being too dry or too moist. It should hold together when pinched. Once it’s combined and good to go, plop it out on a floured surface and bring it together into a disk shape and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place your butter between two sheets of parchment and flatten it out into a sheet the size of a postcard. Set aside until your dough is chilled.
  3. Once your dough has had time to rest and cool, roll it out to an 11-inch circle. Place your butter sheet in the middle and fold both the right and left sides over the sheet. Then fold the top and bottom sides over to finally cover the entire sheet. It should look somewhat like an envelope.
  4. Roll this out into a long rectangle rolling only one direction. It should be about 1/8 inch thick. Mark your dough into thirds and fold the top third to the middle and the bottom third over the top of that. Do a quarter turn with your folded dough and repeat the process again. Chill until it’s firm to the touch.
  5. Repeat step four at least 4 more times. This process creates the signature flaky puff pastry. As the butter melts in the oven, it creates steam and forms a flakey buttery crust.

While your layers are refrigerating you can prepare the topping.

For the topping I turned to the fridge to see what was available, but you could easily put this tart together with any other combination of veggies or meats that suit your tastebuds. I’m addicted to goat cheese, which is the reason this tart even exists.

TOPPING: (makes 1 tart)

This is one of those recipes that just works. Like stuffing on Christmas day, the cranberries only compliment the flavor. If you don’t like the sweet and savory concept, try an onion chutney instead.

1/2 t. thyme

1 large onion

a splash of balsamic vinegar

1 c. of sliced mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1/8 c. goat cheese

1/2 c. fresh spinach

1/2 recipe of puff pastry (above)

butter and olive oil for sautéing

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F

  1. Slice onions and mushrooms thinly and sauté in butter/oil, thyme and seasoning on medium-high heat.
  2. Once the onions are translucent add the cranberries and turn the heat off. Set aside until the tart is ready to be assembled.
  3. Take out a half portion of the puff pastry and roll it into a 10 inch square. Use a sharp knife to score a 1 inch border around the entire square. This will help the pastry time around the topping in the oven.
  4. Spread the spinach evenly within the border. Then, spread the onion, mushroom and cranberry mix on top. Lastly, crumble goat cheese over top to finish. Season further if you wish.
  5. Finally, brush the edges with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes. The puff should be golden, but not burnt.