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Posts Tagged ‘Pastry’

I sat daydreaming in front of recipes for several hours today, overwhelmed by the freedom I have gained after completing my exams. What will I cook, I asked myself, unsure of what to do since until recently my cooking was restricted by time and what was in the fridge. I was overwhelmed with the decision of what to cook, yet I yearned to create something.

I came across a few savoury tarts, and made up my mind. Tonight’s meal would be simple, a goat cheese tart with red peppers and a green salad. I could hardly wait to get the ingredients, and get the tart in the oven so that the apartment would be full of delicious aromas when my partner G. came home from class.

Goat Cheese Red Pepper Tart

Ingredients

1 savory shortcrust pastry

2 large shallots, finely sliced

1 Tbsp butter

Pinch salt and pepper

1 small package plain goat cheese

1 egg

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Pinch salt and pepper

2 pieces of prosciutto (optional)

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into thin rounds

1 Tbsp honey

Directions

Prepare the shortcrust pastry and let rest at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, slice the shallots finely. Heat butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat, and sauté the shallots until they become caramelized, stirring occasionally, around 15 minutes. The key is to cook the shallots slowly as it allows them to caramelize without burning. Once ready, season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Wash and core the red pepper and slice it into thin rounds. Set aside.

Whisk together egg and goat cheese until smooth. Add the nutmeg and the salt and pepper. Let stand while you roll out the pastry between two sheets of wax paper, and place in a buttered pie shell or tart pan. Crimp the edges with with your fingers or a fork, and prick the base of the shell with a fork.

Spread the goat cheese mixture over the bottom, then sprinkle half of the caramelized onions. Slice the prosciutto (if you want to make this with meat) and drop the pieces evenly over the goat cheese mixture. Top with the red pepper rounds, and then drizzle the honey over top.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the red peppers cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle the remaining half of the caramelized shallots over before serving. Serve this tart with a large and simple green salad. This tart would be great for a simple weeknight meal (especially if you make pastry in advance and store it in the freezer like I do), or would be a lovely piece to take over to a friend’s potluck dinner party, as it does not require reheating!

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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What in the world is Canadian food?  Well, it’s something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately, because a friend of ours from Denmark asked us to make him some Canadian food.  That was more of a challenge than I thought it would be!

My family’s roots in Canada are not long; I am first-generation Canadian on my mother’s side, and second on my father.  This means we do not have long-standing “Canadian Recipes” that have been passed down generation to generation.  Catherine, on the other hand, may be able to speak to that.

What exactly is Canadian food?  In a course this past week (human nutritional ecology), we asked the question of what are and why do certain foods become culturally defined?  Sometimes, such as the famous British Christmas Pudding attests to, it is a cultural recipe by the making: in this case the government decided it was time to bring the nation together with a dessert.

In Canada, however, the situation is very different.  We are, by nature, a diverse bunch of people who have been living on this land of ours for very different amounts of time.  There is lobster on the East Coast, smoked fish in the great lakes and the West Coast, Ukranian/Polish food in the prairies, Inuit food in the North, poutine and other dishes in Québec… so I struggled to decide what to make.

In the end I decided that I would have a theme running throughout: maple syrup, because this food has been a part of this land for much longer than it even was known as Canada.  There were sweet potato fries dipped in maple syrup, maple-walnut ice cream, and butter tarts with maple syrup and pecans. Today, I am sharing the butter tart recipe.  I adapted the recipe from Canadian Living’s Best Butter Tart recipe from a magazine clipping I had from a few years ago.  I hope you enjoy them!  They are absolutely delicious, with a wonderfully flaky crust and oozing with maple deliciousness.

Ingredients – 12 tarts

Pastry

-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
-1 egg yolk
-1 tsp vinegar
-1/3 cup ice water, plus more if necessary

Filling

-1/2 cup brown sugar
-2/3 cups maple syrup
-1 egg
-2 Tbsp butter, softened
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 pinch salt
-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

To make the crust, mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl.  Cube the cold butter and keep in fridge to make sure it is as cold as possible.  Cut it quickly into the flour mixture, until pea-sized butter lumps and a few bigger ones remain. Then mix the egg yolk with vinegar and 1/3 cup water.  Quickly mix this into the flour mix with your hands, and form it into a ball as fast as possible without kneading.  Form it into a disk and let it rest at least 1 hour in the fridge in plastic wrap.

To make the filling, heat the maple syrup over medium-high heat, and let it boil down until it is about 1/2 cup in volume, close to 5 minutes of bubbling. Watch it carefully as it easily bubbles over.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, cooled syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt.

Roll out the pastry between two sheets of wax paper or onto a well floured surface.  Cut into 12 squares.  Butter a muffin tin, and place the squares in each muffin container.  Drop some pecans into each, cover with syrup, and drop a few more pecans on top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400F for between 12-17 minutes, until the tips of the pastry are golden and the middle is bubbly.  Remove from the oven once they are cooked, and let cool at least 30 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin (syrup will end up everywhere if you are impatient… I can attest to this!).  Enjoy with afternoon tea or for dessert.  These are an absolute treat, and judging by their name, I was expecting far more than 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp butter.  But then again, my background is French…

-Sitelle

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I’m sure that most will agree with me when I say crust is key to the success of pies and other delicious treats.  The crazy thing is, it only takes 5 minutes to make (well, once you’ve done it a few times).  I swear it is no more efficient to buy it in the grocery store ready-made, and it is definitely tastier home-made.  Plus, if you like making things in doubles, you can freeze half the dough in a ziplock and use it a week or two later.  Just take it out 1/2 an hour before rolling it out!

There are few ingredients in crusts, so the key is less them and more how they are handled.  Too much work and/or heat results in a rubbery mess that can be very disappointing.  To avoid this, use the coldest ingredients possible (if I use the food processor, I like to freeze cubes of butter 1/2 an hour in advance!), and I use water that I chill in the freezer while preparing the rest.  I’ll give both my machine-free and my food-processor variations so that everyone can indulge!

Ingredients

-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp granulated sugar (*OMIT For savoury crust)
-2/3 cups cold cold cold butter, cut into 1-2 cm cubes (put them back in the fridge or freezer after cutting them if it gets soft before being incorporated in the flour)
-1/2 cup cold cold cold water
-pinch salt

Directions

By hand

Cut butter into cubes, then refrigerate or freeze.  In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.  When ready, cut butter into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Cut the butter quickly, mixing it into the flour, until it forms pea-sized lumps.  At this point, add 1 Tbsp of water at a time as you try to form a ball with the dough.  Do not overwork the dough.  At the first real signs that it can form into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

By food processor

Cut the butter into cubes and place in freezer, as well as water.  Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of the food processor.  Pulse to mix.  Add the butter, and pulse several times until pea-sized lumps remain.  Turn this out into a bowl, and add water 1 Tbsp at a time, until a ball can be formed, without overworking it.  Place the ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Then, the easiest method I find for rolling the pastry out is between 2 sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin (or, as was often the case in the first years of university, a wine bottle).

Some recipes require blind baking, which is just cooking the pastry alone before filling it.  A simple blind-bake can be done by preheating the oven to 375F, rolling out the crust, and placing it into a greased pie dish.  Then, just prick the crust, and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper (make sure there’s at least 1 inch of overlap all around).  Place baking weights, or, if you’re like me and don’t happen to have any of those you can just as easily substitute uncooked rice or beans or lentils, onto the parchment paper.

Cook it for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment paper (carefully, because you can reuse the weights an infinite number of times if you don’t spill them), and cook for another 10 minutes uncovered.  This allows the crust to be extra flaky in recipes like lemon tarts.

Enjoy!

-Sitelle

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