Saturday, November 28, 2009

Upside-down Apple-Pear tart

I have often admired the soft, moist fruit, and the crispy upper crust in American apple pies, but I like the appearance and lightness of a french apple tart. How could I combine the two? By jumping off the Tarte Tatin.
Tart tatin is an upside-down apple tart where you first make a caramel (with a stick of butter and a cup of sugar) and spread it at the bottom of the pie plate. I wanted something lighter, less sweet, and less time-consuming. Enter: Upside-down apple-pear tart.

Upside-down Apple-Pear Tart
  • Make a flaky pie crust dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for an 45-60 minutes.
  • Cut 6-7 apples and pears into thick slices (~8th)
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375F
  • Butter 1 large or 2 small pie plates. (The crust was enough for me to make 1 9in and 1 5in)
  • Place the fruit neatly on the bottom.
  • Roll out the pie crust and lay it over the fruit, tucking the edges around the fruit
  • Using a fork, make some holes in the crust to let steam out.
  • Bake at 375F until the crust is golden brown (it took me an hour, but I was at a high altitude)
  • When the tart is done, use a knife to loosen the crust from the pie plate.
  • Just before serving: Put your serving plate upside-down on top of the tart and flip the everything so that the serving dish is right side-up underneath the now upside-down pie plate. (Does that make sense?)
  • Slowly lift the pie plate, gently shaking it to free the fruit.
  • Manually take any fruit pieces that remain stuck to the pie plate and put them on top of the tart.
  • Serve hot or room-temp, with optional ice cream or whipped cream.
I made a mini cranberry tart with the leftover crust

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Ok, well, I didn't make it. My mom did! For my birthday! Isn't that nice?

This is pretty much one of my favorite cakes out there. It's like nutella, but better, and in a cake. More hazelnutty too.
I love this cake because it is quite light and airy for a nut cake, and the flavor combination is delicious. Make sure you use good hazelnuts though, rancidity is just not very tasty...

This is a french recipe from Elle magazine, so it is in grams. Just get yourself a balance and be happy I translated the instruction for you.

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake
  • 200g shelled hazelnuts
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g sugar
  • 20g flour
  • 60g melted butter
  • 50g chocolate chips
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (350F.)
  2. Butter a 9in diameter round cake pan.
  3. Using a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a coarse sand-like texture.
  4. Separate the whites from the yolks and beat them into stiff peaks.
  5. In a medium-large bowl combine the sugar with the egg yolks and beat until pale and mousse like. (about 3 minutes with an electric mixer)
  6. Slowly, still mixing, add in the flour.
  7. Add the melted butter, mix it in, then add the hazelnuts.
  8. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
  9. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  10. Pour the batter in the buttered pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden.
  11. Let it rest 10 minutes out of the oven before un-molding
  12. Enjoy! You can decorate with a thin dusting of confectioner's sugar if you like.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I'm back! After almost three months of silence, I am writing today.
Lately, in the past month or so, I have been making quite a bit of pizza. Here are photos:

This is the book that gave me the recipes for the doughs. I got it at Williams-Sonoma

This is a Pizza Margherita: Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, and Basil-> The colors of the Italian flag! Unfortunately, I put too many tomatoes, and the crust was soggy.

This pizza has asparagus, mushrooms, red onions, Manchego Cheese, and tomato sauce. I cooked the mushrooms and asparagus a bit before putting them on the pizza.

This pizza is a variation on the Margherita with red and green heirloom tomatoes, basil, pre-packaged mozzarella, and roasted garlic. This one was not soggy.

Me attempting to stretch out my dough the cool way.

A specialty from Southern France: Pissaladière. Lots of Caramelized onions with Anchovies and Olives. The anchovies are really a must if you ever make this.

This pizza was topped with Broccolini (Microwaved a few minutes before topping,) Marinated red peppers (in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and oregano,) Cherry tomatoes, a couple of Brined pearl onions my dad bought, Tomato sauce, and Cheese.

So, those were my Pizz-Adventures. You can use pretty much any bread dough recipe for the crust, and the topping possibilities are pretty much endless.
(If you have 10 possible toppings for a pizza, how many distinctly different pizzas could you make if you must take equal amounts from each topping you choose? Now that would be 10C1+10C2+10C3...)

Unleash your inner pizzaiolo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Simplest Apple Compote

Compote is a french word that is usually translated as "applesauce," but more generally can mean "cooked fruit." Many upscale restaurants in America like to use his word to sound fancier, but there is nothing especially complicated about compote.
I decided to name this post compote rather than sauce because I feel that applesauce tends to be associated with smoothness and liquidity. What I am writing about here has distinct pieces of apple and dried fruit and is more a dessert than a snack.

My mother and I decided to make this when we found 5 2-month old apples in the kitchen. We were a bit scared of eating then, and my mother realized we could cook them. We added a handful of extremely dry raisins and a of couple rock-hard dried plums.

I enjoyed this apple stew stirred into yogurt and spread on top of an English muffin, but I am sure it is delicious with ice-cream, waffles, cake, etc...

  • 4-5 apples
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Peel and core the apples.
  2. Chop them into small cubes (1/2 inch thick.)
  3. Add apple, dried fruit, and water to a small-medium saucepan.
  4. Cook over low heat with lid until apples are tender, stirring eevery 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Herb Salad

With this past heat wave in California I decided it was time to break out the salads again. Of course, by the time I actually get around to writing this up, I'm back to wearing sweatshirts to school.
When I found this recipe on Epicurious, a pretty reliable site for recipes, I knew I needed to try it. I love asparagus, cucumber, and green onions. I followed the advice of many reviewers and decreased the oil by a factor of three. The recipe originally asked for 3/4 cup! I used a 1/4 cup instead. Strongly flavored vegetables don't need as much flavoring, and pools of oil are quite unappetizing.
I wanted my salad to be fresh, so I increased the herds for a couple meager tablespoons of many different herbs (which leaves a lot of waste) to a whopping 1 1/2 cups of just 3 kinds. I served the whole cold rather than at room temperature.
The original recipe also included complicated steps to cook the green onions in the asparagus water. I just left the green onions raw.

Recipe: A slight variation on Epicurious' Asparagus, Green Onion, Cucumber, and Herb Salad (Serves 10)


  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about a half lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (1/2 tsp regular)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
  • 4 cups thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 large hothouse cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup mint
  • 1/2 cup chives/chervil/more parsley or mint/whatever you like


For dressing:
Whisk first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk beforeusing.

For salad:
Fill large bowl with lightly salted ice water; stir until salt dissolves. Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. (or steam 3 minutes) Transfer asparagus to bowl of salted ice water to cool. DO AHEAD: Asparagus can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap separately in several layers of paper towels, then enclose in resealable plastic bags and refrigerate.

Combine green onions, cucumbers, and herbs in mixing bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange asparagus on platter. Spoon cucumber mixture over and serve.

**I have not tried it yet, but it might be beneficial to just mix the asparagus in the dressing with the cucumbers and onions instead of spooning the dressed cucumbers on top of them**

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poll Results! What is your favorite type of cookie??

Chocolate Chip
7 (53%)
2 (15%)
0 (0%)
Peanut Butter
2 (15%)
Chocolate (not just chips)
1 (7%)
Ginger Snaps
1 (7%)
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 13

Yes, I am finally writing about this poll (I think I started it in December.) I must confess, I can't remember what I voted for, but I know that I like chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies. Peanut butter, not so much.
I also tend to really like creative cookies, like these maple-pecan-oatmeal cookies, or my own cranberry-pistachio biscotti.

To me, cookies are just a blank canvas to be painted with whatever flavor is desired. Unfortunately, I never really manage to pull them off the way I would like. I've tried several times to make chewy cookies, using melted butter or other techniques, but they still always end up soft and cakey. (just as tasty though!)

So, do any of you have a favorite cookie recipe you'd like to share?
And don't forget to vote on the new poll!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Naan (Indian Flatbread)

I don't know if I've told you this already, but I eat a vegetarian dinner once a week (I also eat vegetarian lunches almost every day). So, during spring break, I decided to make an Indian meal with vegetable curry and homemade naan.
Naan is a type of Indian flatbread that is traditionally baked in a tandoor, a beehive-shaped oven that can reach scorchingly high temperatures. Since I, like most people, do not own a tandoor, I decided to look for a recipe adapted to the typical American kitchen. I found one in the newest Spring Entertaining, by Cook's Illustrated magazine.

The recipe was not to complicated, and made naan thattasted just like the ones I get from Indian restaurants. Rather than baking them in the oven like most American adaptations, it called for cooking the naan in a cast-iron skillets on the stove to simulate the one-sided high-heat of tandoor. The disadvantage of this was that I had to cook each loaf one at a time, but according to the magazine, using the oven resulted in dry and tough bread. It also instructed to brush the finished naan with melted butter or ghee, but I decided not to.

Naan (from Cook's Illustrated, makes 8 6"-7" naan)
  • 13 1/2 oz (2 1/2 cup) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 oz whole wheat flour
  • 1 package instant/rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (I used more)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbps olive oil + extra for bowl
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (opt)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted (I didn't)
  1. Combine flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl of stand mixer and mix with paddle attachment until blended.
  2. Add water, yogurt, and oil and mix on low speed until shaggy dough forms, about 30 sec, adding more water in 1 tbsp increments if necessary.
  3. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 8 minutes, adding more flour if necessary (one tbsp at a time), to allow dough to clear sides of bowl but stick to very bottom.
  4. Transfer dough to clean work surface and knead by hand 1 minute.
  5. Shape dough into ball, transfer to lightly oiled large bowl, cover w/ plastic wrap, and place in draft-free spot. Let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour (Until dough has doubled in size)
  6. Transfer dough to unfloured work surface, cut into 8 equal portions, and roll each into a ball using a cupped palm and the friction of the work surface.
  7. Let balls rest 5-10 minutes.
  8. Using a floured rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch circles (add sesame seeds on top if using.)
  • Heat a heavy skillet (I used an iron tortilla pan) over med-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes (no oil).
  • Working with 1 piece of dough at time, left dough and gently stretch about 1 inch larger, and lay in skillet.
  • Cook until dough starts forming bubbles under the surface (about 30 sec), then flip (tongs are good) and cook until bottom is speckled brown/black (2 minutes)
  • Flip again until other side is also brown (1-2 minutes)
  • Transfer bread to wire rack and brush lightly with melted butter. (if you want to)
  • Serve immediately, store uneaten portions in a plastic bag or aluminum foil at room temperature.
My vegetable curry with cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, and tomatoes

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Apple-Pear Crisp

Ha! I have finally have time, during this wonderful Presidents day Weekend, to blog!!!
Today I am making Apple-Pear crisp, from a recipe adapted by me from 101 Cookbooks.
I have scaled it down to fit exactly four people, and baked in individualized ramekins.

The topping is a bit different than usual, it has chew and is similar to granola. Some may prefer a bit less topping, and can reduce the recipe accordingly.

  • 4 small apples
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Half a lemon (The juice)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (I used quick cooking, haven't tried it with anything else)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour.
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Small pinch salt (1/4 tsp-ish)
  1. Peel and core the apples and pears. Slice into wedges about a centimeter thick.
  2. Add the lemon juice and nutmeg.
  3. Divide evenly into 4 or 5 ramekins, or serve it "family style" in a 8x8 dish. (this can be done in advance.)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. When the oven is hot, cook apples without topping for ten minutes.
  2. Prepare the flour, sugar, salt in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a medium-small saucepan and cook until it starts to brown slightly.
  4. Add the cinnamon and stir.
  5. Add the oats and almonds and sauté on medium heat for 5-6 minutes, until the until has darkened slightly and a REALLY delicious smell of cinnamon, butter, and oats wafts out strongly.
  6. Pour the oats/almonds into the flour bowl and combine well. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir into the mixture.
  7. When the apples have cooked ten minutes, remove them from the oven and spread the topping equally over each ramekin. Try to make it look "crumbled."
  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the apples are soft and bubbling and the topping is crisp.
  9. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.

More Pictures.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My winter break

My vacation was quite busy. See, I wanted to make a gingerbread house house because my aunt had given me a book titled The Gingerbread Architect for my birthday. So I did! On the first day I mixed together the dough from scratch. The second I invited friends over to cut out the dough and bake it. The third day a friend came again to help me build the house. This was the hardest part because the parts kept breaking. They would crack whenever I touched one of them!!! On the fourth more friends came to decorate and attach the roof we weren't able to attach beforehand because of out fear of making the entire building collapse!

After making this gingerbread house, which I finished on the 23rd, I made a Chocolate roulade filled with whipped cream for Christmas eve. It was very successful, even thoses who sually do not enjoy dessert took second helpings! I plan on making it again someday, and when I do I will post the recipe.
While we ate this ethereal roulade, we opened presents, and can you guess what my parents gave me? A Kitchen stand mixer with a 6 quart bowl! It's huge and powerful, something I could testify to after making Panettone in it the next day.
This baby barely fits under the cupboard on the counter.