I just created this simple cake for the Cooking Channel blog, Devour. It has layers of white cake, brown butter icing and fresh berries. Check out the recipe.
Here are some more of my favorite 4th of July desserts. (more…)
On FB a fellow food blogger commented that by 5pm she’s so exhausted by her day in the kitchen that she can barely come up with a single thing for dinner. Oh, the irony. Truth be told, at my house there are typically 3 (or more) desserts on the counter, along with several loaves of homemade bread, but when it comes time to eat dinner I am scrambling around to cook something, anything. On any given night I would not call my meals inspired. I love to cook, but after a day of “working” (baking all the desserts and breads that are sitting on the counter cooling), I don’t always leave myself enough time to make something creative, tasty, and healthy. I have vowed in the past to widen my savory repertoire and as a result have made Julia‘s Beef Bourguignon, The Smitten Kitchen‘s meatloaf and short ribs, American Masala‘s lamb burgers and The Splendid Table‘s lasagna to wild raves from my family, but I mostly find myself trying to answer my kids’ hungry requests for dinner, with a blank stare. I tell them we have a “European” eating schedule, since I usually manage to get a meal on the table by 8pm, ok usually later. I know this isn’t ideal and I am saying it in front of all of you, “I will try at least one NEW savory recipe a week (this is so doable) AND I’ll get it on the table by 7pm (8pm at the latest).
Here I go, a tasty beginning to a more savory life. I admit, this isn’t exactly a meal, but we have to start somewhere and appetizers are a great way to keep my kids happy until I can get the rest of the meal figured out. A sheet of puff pastry, an onion, some herbs, cherry tomatoes, French olives, and a very soft feta all happened to be in my refrigerator and came together in a beautiful little treat. Try this combination, but really these tarts are a quick and easy way to clean out the little jars of yummy morsels in your cupboards. (more…)
These may seem a little upside down, we usually think of the meringue piled high above the lemon filling, not the other way around. This is a simpler twist on the classic, but all the same tangy-sweet allure. The best part is there is no crust to deal with, which makes them lighter and faster to make. The meringue shell is whipped until it is as light as air, spooned into little clouds and baked just until they are set, but still slightly soft in the middle. Once cooled they’re topped with lavender scented lemon curd. The tartness of the curd is always a perfect match for the sweet meringue, and a bit of lavender creates a gentle floral touch, without going overboard. It tastes like spring, which I am desperately in need of on this April day, when we’re anticipating a snow storm.
A brief meringue primer…because so many desserts call for them and it can be just a touch confusing which type to use. There are three different types of meringue, with three distinct characteristics and three countries laying claim to them:
1. The simplest is the French meringue, which is just egg whites with sugar sprinkled over them as you whip them to peaks. If consuming raw egg whites makes you nervous, the French meringue needs to be baked to make the egg whites perfectly safe and keeps them from deflating. There are also pasteurized eggs whites on the market that eliminate any fear, but I find they don’t whip up quite as well. It is the least stable and most likely to be over whipped, but the fastest and easiest to prepare of the three types. It helps to create a lofty, shiny French meringue by starting with room temperature egg whites.
2. The Swiss meringue is made by heating the egg whites and sugar together over a double boiler until all the sugar melts. This process cooks the eggs enough to make them edible without having to bake them and gives the meringue great strength. It CAN be baked (its what I used for these tartlettes) or used to make buttercream, mousse or toasted meringue topping.
3. An Italian meringue is the most stable of the three types, but also requires the most effort to create. A sugar syrup is heated to about 242°F on a candy thermometer and then very carefully poured over whipping egg whites. This creates a very stable meringue, which will hold up in a buttercream, toppings for pies and folded into mousses or Baked Alaska.
You could make these tart shells using any of the three techniques, and it may be interesting to try them each way. For this particular go of it, I chose a Swiss meringue and here’s how… (more…)
I seem to make big life changes on the 4th of July. I moved the Minnesota 19 years ago on this holiday, and this year I am moving again. Luckily it is just down the street, but it might as well be across the world with all the work involved. We’ve been packing for weeks and today I start to dismantle my kitchen. This is exciting and stressful in equal measures. I am happy to be moving to our new home, but there are so many memories in this old house. Not to mention throwing the contents of my kitchen into boxes is going to test the strength of my character. Wish me luck. Think of me as you are grilling and picnicking.
Here are some 4th of July desserts I recently created for the Cooking Channel. (more…)
A layer of raspberry jam is spread between a rich, buttery, hazelnut cookie dough. The crisscrossed lattice top is the signature design of what may be the oldest recorded pastry; the Linzer Torte. It was developed in Linz, Austria around the year 1650 and has been made much the same way ever since. Why fix it, if it is perfect just as it is. However, I can rarely leave things as they are, so I made them in bite sized portions.
There is a version of this same dessert in England and they call them Jam Biscuits. Today, after watching the Royal Wedding I think it fitting that we bake something British, even if they originated elsewhere. Check out the Linzer Cookie I made for the Cooking Channel blog, same ingredients, different look!
2/17/11 update: Michelle was just nominated for her 3rd James Beard Award!!!! So well deserved. Find more information from the Beard winning journalist Rick Nelson’s Star Tribune article.
I met Michelle Gayer’s desserts many years before I ever met her. When I was still a pastry assistant I came to work with Charlie Trotter’s Desserts, which Michelle wrote while she was the pastry chef at Trotter’s, and convinced the team to make everything out of it. Her style was entirely about the food, elegant, but not architectural and overly fussy. I did manage to bake and cook my way through her book and probably landed the Executive Pastry Chef job as a result. Fast forward a decade and I was introduced to Michelle by a mutual friend. Michelle had just moved to Minneapolis from Chicago with her family to create the desserts for a national bakery. It was one of the finest days in our fair city’s history of sweets. We became fast friends, not in the kitchen, but on the playground with our kids. The very first day I met her we talked about her dream of opening her own bakery, which seemed as inevitable as snow in Minnesota.
Just about 3 years ago she finally got the chance and opened the Salty Tart. It is an award winning treasure in the Global Market. Filled with artisan breads (she uses a sour starter she got when she worked with Nancy Silverton), French pastries, to die for cookies and cupcakes. We did an event together last summer for a Farm to Table dinner at the Walker Art Museum and I got to work in her kitchen. Not only were her desserts lick-the-plate-clean-delicious and gorgeous, but her team at the bakery loved every second of being there with her. She opened her dream bakery and it is as wonderful and fun as she is.
Michelle has generously shared her recipe (below) for this stunning Pear Galette, which is rustic and easy to make. She, of course, makes her own puff pastry at the Salty Tart, but you can create this dessert very quickly by using a store bought pastry.
Congratulations to the winners of last weeks American Masala Giveaway, details at the end of the post: