Pear/Apple Almond Tart

We all have tried and true recipes.  You know, the things that you make over and over again.  You know how to do it well.

…If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it.

I know I certainly do.  Sometimes you need something you know is going to taste good.

Here are some of my tried and trues.  I’ve made each of these a handful of times, and each time they turn out well.

Peach Pie

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes/Cake

Protein Pancakes/Waffles

Lentil Chili over Sun-dried Tomato Cornmeal Waffles

Sometimes when I make the same recipe, but change them slightly.

Take this Pear Almond Galette

I’ve made a few times, but this time…

I changed a few things:

1. I made a large Apple Almond Tart.

2. I made mini Pear Almond Tarts.

The basic differences are shape and fruit.  The taste is pretty much the same, though.  Let’s be honest though, sometimes we all need a “fancy dessert” in our arsenal.  This is mine.

Apple Almond Tart

For Crust:

350g all purpose flour
2 sticks of butter, cold and cubed
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup very cold water (or vodka, yep, you read correctly)

For Apple Almond Filling:
2-3 apples, peeled, carefully cored and thinly sliced (you can also use pears or peaches or pretty much any fruit)
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
2 egg
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp flour
1 cup almond meal (ground almonds)

Prepare the dough a day or two in advance.  Measure out flour, sugar and salt.  Combine in a large bowl.  Drop butter cubes in the flour mixture.  Using your hands break up the butter and work it into the flour until you get it to be the size of small peas.  Pour in the water, using your hand, work the dough together to form a ball.  You might need to add more water (rarely if you measured the flour correctly), but only the tiniest bit.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  This will help keep your crust from shrinking.

The next day, or when you’re ready to make the tart, remove the dough from the fridge.  Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.  Not too thin.  Place in the tart pan, press into the sides and trim the edges (patch up any areas that are too thin or stretched, this will help avoid strinkage).  Poke with a fork and stick in the freezer while you make your filling.  You can do the same with mini tart pans.  This is enough dough and filling for about 8 mini tarts.

Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Using a hand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until smooth.  Add the eggs (one at a time) and almond extract.  Beat until well combined.  Add all purpose and almond meal, beat until combined.

Pour the mixture into the tart pan, fan the thinly sliced apples on the surface and press them down lightly.  Sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like.  Bake for about an hour and 20 mins for a large tart or until the top is golden brown all around, including the center, or about 45 mins for the mini tarts.  Check periodically as every oven is different.

Allow to cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve and enjoy the almond-y goodness.

Go ahead make changes, choose different fruits, but in the end, this is a tried and true.

You’re bound to like it.  If not, at least it looks fancy.  Maybe you’ll add it to your list of go-to recipes as well.



Quinoa Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

On this blog, I have a tendency to tell you how great the featured recipe is.  This time, I’m not going to call it amazing or mind-blowing.

Rather, these cookies are interesting.

Interesting taste.

Interesting texture.

Interesting ingredients.  Quinoa in a cookie?  Yes.

Not bad-interesting, by any means.  Definitely good-interesting, but these don’t taste like your average cookie.  I’m going to recommend that you make them, but here’s what you should expect.  These are sweet and cakey.  They’re not chewy cookies; so don’t expect hard, chewy cookies.  They’re soft and cakey, good qualities in my opinion.

So give it a try.

Quinoa Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Epicurious’s Almond-Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup oats
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Cream together butter and sugars, add agave nectar and eggs.  Beat until combined.  Next add almond flour, all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Fold in quinoa, oats, and chocolate chips (you can also mix it up and add dried fruit and nuts). The dough will be sorta sticky, so you can stick it in the freezer for a while if you’d like, but don’t worry your cookies won’t turn out super flat.

Place 2 tbsp sized balls of dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden.

Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before removing from baking sheet.  Makes 24 cookies.

If you look closely, you can see the quinoa in there.  Every foodie in America pretty much loves quinoa, so why not try it in your cookies?

Potato-Carrot-Parsnip Soup

I’m a firm believer in a few things:

1.  Cooking enormous meals such that you will have tons of leftovers.

2. That most soups taste better the next day.

3.  My friend, the Biscotti Queen (or Sara), is the best recipe recommender on the planet.  (Like the Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta I made last week)

Let me elaborate on the third thing.

Biscotti Queen and I no longer live across the street from each other.  Rather, we live across the country.  Her in NY, me in CA.  Sad times.  But thanks to gchat, we still talk everyday.  We recently had a discussion that the top three things we talk about are:
1. Jobs
2. Boys
3. Food and things we want to make
Honestly, that’s probably in backwards order…

So she recently suggested I make Potato, Carrot and Parsnip soup from Epicurious.  But you know me.  I can never actually follow a recipe.  I always have to make changes. I tried to go the healthier route with this one… resolutions remember.  We won’t talk about the fact that I just ate 4 cookies…

Potato-Carrot-Parsnip Soup

adapted from Epicurious

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 good sized russet potatoes, chopped into 1″ cubes
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh thyme 
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Sherry
salt and pepper to taste 

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add carrots and parsnips and cook an additional ten minutes.  Add herbs, potatoes and broth.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender (about 15-20 mins-ish).  Next, using an immersion blender, puree the soup (the original recipe says to only puree half but I did the whole thing.  Whatever’s your style is fine).  Add milk, sherry, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!  (Serves 6-8)

Now this was tasty when I had it last night for dinner, but I swear it tasted about 8384940284949 million times better tonight.

So Biscotti Queen and I recommend you go make this now.

I promise it’ll be delicious, and if it’s not right when you make it, try it again the next day and be prepared to be wow-ed.   Can you say no to that?


Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta

Happy New Year!

With the start of 2012, I’m sure everyone’s thinking about resolutions.  Most people’s are probably to exercise more or travel somewhere exotic.  For me, it’s to cook more savory dishes.  So I’m starting 2012 with a bang! (I actually made these on January 1st!)

Ok I’ll be honest.  This is only sort of savory, but it’s also a little sweet.  Caramelized onions and pears.  Naturally sweet, but perfectly balanced with salty brie.

Baby steps.

I’ll get to fully savory soon enough.  After all, I have all year.

Pear-Onion Brie Bruschetta

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2-3 pears, diced
2-3 tsp fresh thyme
1 baguette
few ounces of Brie

Heat oil and butter together on medium.  Once oil and butter is hot, add onions and pears.  Cook until caramelized (about 30-40 minutes).  Basically you can put it in there, stir it around, leave it alone for 10 minutes, stir it, leave alone for 10 minutes, stir again, etc.

Once it’s a nice caramel color, stir in the thyme, cook for another minute and turn off the heat.  At this point you can either serve it or put it in a container to transport.  That’s really the beauty of this appetizer/snack.  You can take it anywhere.  It can be eaten hot or cold and it’s easy to assemble.

So for the assembly, cut a baguette into thin slices (about 1-2 centimeters thick? I’m bad with measurements, use your best judgement), spoon some of the onions and pears onto the bread, and top with a small slice of brie.

Serve and enjoy!  Just to note, I tried putting the brie under the pear-onion mixture but I found that it slides off more for some reason.  But if you want to put the brie under the pears and onions, go for it.

Like I said, this is perfect for any occasion.  I took it for a picnic.

You should try it too.  Feel free to make it a resolution, and by that I mean your resolution should be to eat more delicious things.