Saturday, October 31, 2009

France - Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

Upside-down Apple Tart

The story has it that the tarte Tatin was invented by the Tatin sisters, whose restaurant was located in Lamotte Beuvron (Loir-et-Cher). There are conflicting stories concerning the tart's origin, but the predominant one is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. 
So often, mistakes in the kitchen can lead to new and wonderful recipes!

Here is the recipe we followed in class this week:

{Make pie dough ahead of time so it has time to cool in the refrigerator.  You can also use packaged pie rounds or puff pastry from the grocery store.}

Sweet Pie dough -
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cake flour
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz cold unsalted butter (one and a half sticks)
4 Tbs Crisco (vegetable shortening) refrigerated
1/2 cup ice water

For caramelized apples, you will need the following ingredients:
5-6 granny smith apples
6 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar 
zest and juice of one lemon

- For pie dough, mix dry ingredients in bowl, then quickly cut in butter and crisco until pea-sized pieces are formed.  The dough will resemble lumpy cornmeal in texture.  
- Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time.  Stop adding water when you feel that the dough will squeeze together and form with your hand.  You will not need the whole 1/2cup.  In fact, probably only 5 Tbs or so will do.  Remember not to overwork the dough.  Only combine the ingredients and work the dough into a round, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Peel and core apples, cutting each half into four pieces.  Toss with 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice and zest.  Let sit for 20 minutes.

Using a cast iron skillet, or other pan which can go from stovetop to oven, melt butter completely then add 1 cup sugar.  Using a wooden spoon, stir to blend over medium heat. Keep stirring and watch for mixture to begin browning and bubbling

When mixture is caramel colored, remove from heat and add apple slices.  Lay them side-by-side facing the same direction, forming an attractive pattern. (This will be the top of the tart when served.)

Now fill in the gaps with remaining apples.  If the pan seems full, don't worry, the apples shrink while cooking. 
Place pan back over medium heat and cook until juices blend with caramel and bubble up through the apples.  Using a spoon or turkey baster, bring the liquid up and baste it over tops of apples.
When the liquid seems to have thickened and become syrup-like (about 5 minutes), remove from heat.
Let cool while you roll out your pastry dough.  Make the dough circle about 1 inch bigger than the pan.  
Place dough over pan, covering apples, and tuck the edges inside around the apples.
With the tip of a sharp knife, make 4 or 5 slits in the dough to let steam escape.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool slightly before inverting onto a large serving platter or sheet pan.
Serve with sweetened cinnamon whip cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 23, 2009

FRANCE - Cream Puffs


The French consider cooking an art, and French cuisine is famous worldwide. The first French cookbooks date back to the Middle Ages, and French standards were the early gauge of fine cooking. Regional traditions are strong. There are several types of cooking, ranging from hearty, inexpensive fare to sophisticated dishes with costly ingredients. Nouvelle cuisine, created in the 1960s, was a reaction to heavy cooking. While still made of expensive ingredients, it is much lighter, portions are smaller, and the presentation is more artistic.
Most people eat a light breakfast of coffee and bread or croissants. Lunch was once the main meal of the day, but urban society has changed and many people now have a light lunch, eating their main meal in the evening. In Paris, lunch (déjeuner) is usually eaten around noon or 1 p.m. and dinner often is not before 8 p.m. In other parts of the country, particularly rural areas, people eat earlier.
Filled croissants and sandwiches can be bought in shops and cafés. Cafés also offer toasted ham-and-cheese sandwiches (croque-monsieurs) and salad-type vegetables for a light meal. Pâtisseries (pastry shops) sell cakes, and some restaurants sell crêpes. The French population tends to resist foreign fast food because of health concerns about genetically modified foods and worries about globalization, which is seen as a threat to France's small farmers.

cream puffs

Cream puffs (and eclairs) start with pate-a-choux, which is simply water, butter, and flour cooked on the stove and then mixed with eggs, scooped or piped onto baking sheets, and baked. The dough rises quickly in the oven, becoming crisp buttery puffs, hollow in the middle. The cream filling is a sweet vanilla custard lightened with whipped cream. And on top—a glistening crown of bittersweet chocolate ganache.

1 cup water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup (liquid measure) eggs - approx. 5 eggs beaten lightly together
{pour any extra egg (anything over one cup) into separate cup and mix with a splash of water to use as an egg-wash before baking}

Preheat oven to 425.
In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously to combine. Continue to stir, using a figure-eight motion and smearing the dough against the sides of the pan to cook the flour and work out any lumps, for 2 minutes. The mixture will be thick and look like a firm ball, or balls, of sticky mashed potatoes that pull away from the pan sides. During this process, it’s normal for a thin layer of dough to stick to the bottom of the pan and sizzle.

Remove the pan from the heat, keep stirring to cool slightly.  Make a well in the center of the dough and add 1/4 of the eggs.  Stir until incorporated.  Keep adding eggs 1/4 cup at a time and mixing thoroughly between additions.  When finished, dough should be the consistency of cake batter.

Fill a pastry bag half full with dough and pipe onto a well-greased sheetpan.  Hold the bag straight up and down, squeezing evenly until one blob is formed, with a slightly smaller atop it.    Then stop squeezing and lift bag straight up to form a point.  Space them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Dip pastry brush into eggwash and lightly touch each puff.  
Immediately place the puffs in the oven and bake 10 minutes.  Turn the pans and switch shelves, then bake for about 10 more minutes.  Bake until the puffs have about doubled in size, are a nice golden brown, and are crisp to the touch. Rapidly remove from the oven and make a slash in each to let out steam.  Return to the turned-off oven for 5 minutes.

Pastry Cream Filling
You can use a  packaged pudding like Cozy Shack, and mix it with whipped cream as we did in class, or you can use the following recipe to make your own vanilla pastry cream:

1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear. Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the cornstarch and salt and whisk well. Pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens to the consistency of thick pudding, about 2 minutes. (It will look lumpy as it starts to thicken but will smooth out as you continue to whisk.) 
Remove from the heat and scrape the pastry cream into a large clean metal bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and then lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour.

Mix 1 cup pastry cream with one cup whipped cream.  Fill a pastry bag (with a small tip) halfway full, and pipe filling into puffs.  Do not overfill or they will be a mess to eat.
Next make your glaze and brush or spoon it on each puff.

Chocolate Glaze
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I prefer 55% to 63% bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. light corn syrup

 In a small saucepan, warm the cream over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces and the corn syrup. Let stand for 5 to 7 minutes and then stir until smooth.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mango-Coconut Burfi & Chai (Spiced Tea) from India


Diet depends on culture and region. For example, rice is a staple in the south, while wheat bread (roti) is a staple in the north. Indian meals are usually very spicy. Onions are used in most dishes. Different types of curry (vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat in a spicy sauce) are popular. Betel leaves and nuts commonly are eaten after meals to aid digestion. Vegetarianism is widely practiced, often for religious reasons. All castes have different food laws and customs, as does each religion. Hindus consider cows to be sacred and will not eat beef. Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol

Go to this link for more spicy, colorful photos of India:

This week's class recipes:

Mango Coconut Burfi

Yield: 10 pieces

  •  2 cups shredded coconut fresh (toasted)

  •  1/2 cup milk (whole)
    1/2 cup sugar

    1/3 cup mango pulp (fresh or canned)


    1 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
    1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1) Spread coconut on a sheetpan and toast in the oven at 350 degrees.  Keep an eye on it, as this takes only a few minutes.  You want it just slightly brown.
2)  In a small saucepan, add the milk, sugar and mango pulp and stir continuously on medium flame.
3)  Let it boil, stirring constantly until very thick. It takes about 15-20 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, cook it to 225 degrees F.
4) Remove from heat and add the ghee.
5) Add the cardamom powder to the coconut and mix thoroughly.  Add this to the syrup and stir together.
6) Grease a small plate and pour this mixture into it and even it on the top with a spoon or spatula so that it is about 0.5 inch thick.
Cut into desired diamond shapes or even make laddos (small balls) of this.

CHAI (Spiced Tea)

four servings:

4 cups water                                                          
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
10 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
3-4 teabags of black tea
1 cup milk

-bring water and spices to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes
-add teabags and milk and simmer for an additional 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove teabags, sweeten to taste, and serve, pouring the tea through a strainer to catch any floating spices.
-this tea gets stronger the longer it sits, so if you want a stronger spice flavor, let it sit for a while and then reheat.  Add more teabags if you desire a stronger black tea taste.


*****Many thanks to Karina Cherniske for photos taken in class this week!!*******

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Naan - Indian Flat Bread

There's no better way to mop up those last bites of a yummy curry dish than by breaking off a fresh, warm piece of garlic naan. It's not bad on it's own either, as we found out today. What an easy recipe! Make it for your friends and family on a breezy autumn day. Everyone will be pleased with a hot, buttery, salty garlic bread to nibble on.
Remember we talked about the various toppings you can use, including poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, cheese, or even honey. There are so many different recipes and variations for making naan. I encourage you to try some different ways. Some sources say to use yogurt(plain) and/or milk, and others include egg. Some use only flour, water, yeast and oil. I think the milk we used gave a richness to the dough, but I will experiment with yogurt and see how that turns out. Here is a link to some fun videos of Indian chefs making naan:
And try the Curry Corner Restaurant in Lacey for some authentic dishes and groceries.

The recipe we did in class:

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 pkg yeast
1 Tb sugar
1/2 cup warm water (not HOT)
1 cup milk
2 Tb canola (or other vegetable) oil
sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic, chopped small
melted butter

Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine milk and oil. Place flour and salt in a large bowl, and hollow out a space in the center. Pour the yeast mixture in, and then the milk mixture. With your hands, begin combining ingredients. It will be sticky at first. Have extra flour nearby to add more as needed. Knead the dough until it forms a ball and becomes less sticky.
Coat the bowl and dough with oil, cover with a wet dishtowel, and place in warm place for an hour to rise.
Heat oven to its highest temperature and grease some baking sheets.
Divide dough into four pieces. Do not knead it more at this point or it will become tough and unworkable. On a floured work-surface and with floured hands begin poking the dough with all your fingers to spread it out into an oval shape of even thickness.
Sprinkle with seeds and garlic, and press them in with flat hand.
Cook until puffed and brown, about 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't overcook.
As soon as it is out of the oven, brush butter on and sprinkle it with salt.
Best eaten the same day it is baked.