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.



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.

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

This pear crisp saved my dad’s life.

True story.

That cookies and cream ice cream from Thrifty sitting next to it…  That did nothing for him.

But the pear crisp? Bonafide hero.

Let me tell you why.

Last Sunday, I saw my dad about to serve himself some of this peachy, puddingy-looking dessert a family friend brought over.  I had seen it sitting in the fridge for a loooong time, uncovered, not looking too hot.  I get closer, I see that it’s gray.

Now, I’m all for consuming everything and not letting anything go to waste, but your peach dessert should not be gray, nor should it be fuzzy.   I made him throw it away.  I’m sure we can imagine what the results would have been if he consumed that…

But LUCKILY, this guy saved the day, and you can too.

Quick and Easy Pear Crisp

6-7 pears, sliced (you can leave the peel on)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 flour (or corn starch), for the filling
1 cup flour (for the topping)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Combine sliced pears with sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 cup flour.  Put in a greased baking dish.

Make crumble topping by combining 1 cup flour, brown sugar, oats and butter.  Use your fingers break up the butter and combine it with the dry ingredients to make small clumps.

Sprinkle with crumble topping.  Bake 30-45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the pears are bubbling.

Serve warm with ice cream and thank goodness you won’t be calling the diarrhea hotline.

Pear Almond Galette

Last night, I couldn’t sleep.  Around 11pm, after a while of tossing and turning, I decided to just get up and have a glass of wine.  Because really, wine makes life better.

Around midnight, while I sipped on wine and did everything BUT read about the global food system, I decided this was a good time to start baking.  So I made tart dough, since the idea for a pear almond galette had been brewing in my head for a few days.

Galette Dough

adapted from Joy of Baking

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, cold and cut into pieces
about 1/4 cup ice water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Using a pastry blender or knives or your fingers, blend butter into flour mixture.  Gradually add in ice water and mix using your hands until you get a ball of dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours (I refrigerated over night).

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out to about a 12-13 inch circle.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a perfect circle.

Put the rolled out dough, place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then put it in the refrigerator while you make almond cream (frangipane).

Almond Cream

adapted from Joy of Baking

1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Next, beat in egg and almond extract until smooth and sorta runny.  Blend it one tbsp flour.  Lastly, add almond flour and continue to blend until smooth.

Take the dough out of the fridge and spread the almond cream onto the dough, leaving a inch or two border all around.

Next, take some pears.  I had some raggedy old ones that were on their last leg…

Peel, core and thinly slice.  I used two but I wish I had used three because they definitely would have fit.

Arrange the sliced pears onto the almond cream part of the galette.

See I could have fit 3 pears… Oh well.  Next fold the edges up over the top.  Trim any excess dough.

Take one tablespoon of melted butter and brush it onto the assembled galette.

Then sprinkle it with sugar.

Bake at 375 for 45-55minutes.  (Mine took about 50 minutes but start checking it around 45).

Allow it to cool.  If it’s 28 degrees outside like it is here, putting it next to the window speeds up the process.

Once the galette has cooled

Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or creme anglaise.

Now I just need to figure out who to feed this to…  Shouldn’t be that hard to find a worth recipient, right?