Thursday, July 24, 2014

apricot and cherry tart with marzipan topping.

I have found myself hoarding stone fruit.  
(There are worse things I could hoard, right?)

It started with 2 quarts of cherries and before I knew it, I was coming home almost daily with pounds of apricots and plums and more cherries then I could ever possibly eat.  I can't resist.  (Restraint is not one of my strong suits.)  They look like jewels and if there is anything I am drawn to it's bright, shinny, colorful objects.  (Tyler can attest to this.)

This tart was made out of necessity but the result is so damm good that I may require myself to continue my stone fruit frenzy.  

A delicate French tart shell serves as the base for a plethora of apricots and cherries.  The marzipan topping is everything.  Crunchy, almondy (so much almond flavor because nothing goes better with fruit then almonds), sweet but not too sweet.  It's a strussel but so much better.  As the tart bakes, the fruit breaks down turning into a tender mess of deliciousness.  The softened fruit marries beautiful with the crisp topping which is why it's such a perfect summer dessert (especially if served with whipped cream, just saying).  

Apricot and Cherry Tart with Marzipan Topping
Recipe from David Lebovitz

I played around with the ratio of fruit by using more cherries and less apricots (9 apricots and about 23 cherries). But any ratio would be lovely.  It would also be stellar with just one of the fruits.  The choice is yours.  In my constant attempt to sneak in whole grains, I subbed half the flour in the topping for whole wheat and it was a welcome addition.  

For the marzipan topping

1/2 cup (70g) flour (or 1/4 cup whole wheat and 1/4 cup all-purpose)
1/2 cup (70g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces, 85g) almond paste
1/4 cup (40g) sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched) (or whole almonds chopped also works)
1-2 drops pure almond extract
4 tablespoons (2 ounces, 55g) salted or unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the fruit

12 ripe apricots
15 cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

One 9-inch (23cm) prebaked French tart shell (recipe below!)

Make the topping by mixing the flour, brown sugar, almond paste, sliced almonds, almond extract (if using), and butter with your fingers, or a pastry blender, until the pieces of almond paste and butter are the size of kernels of corn. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (109ºC).

Pit and halve the apricots and slice them into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) slices. Stem and pit the cherries, and halve them. Toss the apricots and cherries in a bowl with the cornstarch and granulated sugar, and spread the fruit into the baked tart shell.

Strew the marzipan topping over the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.

(I’ve not had this tart run over, but if you’re the cautious type, you can bake it on a foil-lined baking sheet, in case there are any spills.)

Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.

Serving: The tart can be served just as it is, warm or at room temperature. It can be accompanied by ice cream, such as vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Storage: The tart will keep for up to three days at room temperature however the crisp topping will soften considerably by the second day.

French Pastry Dough
Recipe from David Lebovitz

Makes one 9 (23 cm) tart shell

90 g (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 g (5oz, or 1 slightly-rounded cup) flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.

Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Let the shell cool before filling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

fuzzy pillows.

Kitchen seating has never looked so good.  

(The floor to ceiling subway tile is also pretty amazing.)

Kitchen's dont' need to be convetional.  Chandeliers and fuzzy pillows somehow manage to work.  And they work oh so well.  

(Can I move in?)

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Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

zucchini butter.

We are finally at that glorious time of year where the markets are brimming and overflowing with the ingredients that make me weak in the knees. Tomatoes! (I had my first heirloom of the season last night and I practically wept.)  Corn! (Slathered in butter with lots of salt and pepper please.) Peppers! (Slow roasted until they collapse and then stuffed into a foccacia sandwich with mozzarella.)

But I am not here to talk about those beautiful foods today (come back in a week or two).  I am here to discuss zucchini.  (If we were in a room together and I was making that statement, I'm imagining a long awkward silence to occur right

Zucchini.  Zucchini is a vegetable that somehow manages to give and give and then give some more.  If you have a garden and are growing zucchini $100 bucks says that by the end of the summer you are begging for the zucchini to stop because you can't bring yourself to eat another bite.  There is a reason why zucchini has ended up in so many baked goods (zucchini bread! zucchini whoppie pies! zucchini pancakes!), someone needed to find a way to consume all of it without going mad.  If that person knew about zucchini butter, I imagine they would have been encouraged their zucchini plants to keep on giving. 

Zucchini butter is basically shredded zucchini cooked down with a (little bit) of butter until it gets soft and tender and jammy.  At that point its spreadable vegetable wonderfulness that begs to be slathered on well toasted bread and served with goat cheese.  

Here's to the summer of zucchini.  

Zucchini Butter
Recipe via Food 52

There is an endless number of changes you could make to this dish. Spices! (Crushed red pepper flakes! Smoked parika! Aleppo pepper!) Herbs! (Basil! Mint!).  I am dreaming about endless varieties though I must admit, the original version is utterly addicting.

Makes about 2 cups

2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
¼ cup olive oil or butter (I strongly recommend the butter)
2 minced cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely grate the zucchini. Let it drain in a colander for 3 to 4 minutes or until you are ready to begin cooking. To hasten cooking time, squeeze the water out of the zucchini by wringing it in a clean cloth towel.

In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil/butter until warmed/melted. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté briefly. Add the zucchini and toss. Cook and stir over medium to medium-high heat until the zucchini reaches a spreadable consistency, about 15 minutes. If you scorch the bottom, turn the flame down! (And scrape those delicious bits into the butter for added flavor -- you can splash in a little water to help deglaze the pan.) The zucchini will hold its bright green color and slowly caramelize into a nice vegetable jam.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Enjoy on toast.  Or by the spoonful.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

cherry almond dutch baby.

Brunch in New York is taken very seriously which is why I both love and loathe it.  I loathe it because it's usually loud, (thanks to a child have a severe temper-tantrum) rushed, (turn-over is the name of the game) and underwhelming.  I love it because the foods that are socially acceptable to be eaten at brunch, namely eggs benedict and french toast (which if we are being honest here is practically the same as bread pudding) are some of my favorite foods in the world. 

So don't you think it's about time you start serving brunch at home?  You can eat in your PJ's! And you can serve thing's like a cherry almond dutch baby which may be the greatest brunch dish of all time.  
A dutch baby is essentially a giant pancake that gets baked in a cast iron skillet.  This one with it's addition of cherries and slivered almonds is an elevated version (that is extremely appropriate for the summer months).  I like it served with a plethora of powdered sugar (though I wouldn't be opposed if you decided to add a spoonful of whipped cream) and the current issue of NYMag.  

Suddenly brunch sounds dreamy.  

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 2 generously or 4 petitely

3 large egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (more or less to taste)
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, well-toasted
Powdered sugar
Lemon wedges

Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk egg, sugar, flour, milk, extract and salt together until the batter is blended but lumpy; you can also do this in a blender. In a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan, melt butter. Add cherries and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes. Pour in batter and transfer to heated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and rumpled-looking. (I err on the side of more cooking time with these pancakes, because I find the longer, within a range, they cook, the more rumpled and golden they get.)

Remove pancake from oven and quickly scatter with toasted almonds, dust with powdered sugar and squeeze lemon juice over. Serve in wedges, piping hot.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

101 cheap eats.

NYMag (one of my all time favorite reads) rounded up the 101 Best Cheap Eats in NYC and it's a pretty epic list.  

Of the 101 I've only eaten at 15 which is a pretty terrible showing on my part! 

Black Seed Bagels (Meh.)
Porchetta (Yum.)
Pok Pok NY (I preferred the cocktails to the food.  Is that weird?)
Parm (Always and forever a personal favorite.)
Roberta's (Just the pizza thus far which means I need to try all the other things.)
Sullivan St. Bakery (This bread. Divine.)
Bread's Bakery (My one true love.  The rye bread, the marizapan rugelach, the chocolate babka all makes me weak in the knees.)
Best Pizza (A perfect old school New York slice.)
Court St. Grocers (Perfect sandwiches. They comforted me after the hurricane.)
Bark (Hot dogs.  Really, really good hot dogs and burgers and fries and shakes oh my.  One of my favorite places.)
Mighty Quinn's BBQ (The BEST BBQ in NYC.  Oh the brisket.)
Red Hook Lobster Pound (Good but I prefer Luke's.  Personal preference.)
Henry Public (The BEST BURGER. Period.  The fries are superb as well.)
Victory Garden (Swoon worthy ice cream made of goat's milk!)
Artichoke Basille's Pizza (Go for the Grandma slice and only the grandma slice.)

My new goal is to hit 50.  I think 50 is a reasonable number.  More then that and I will probably regret my decision (and get fat).  First up! El Quinto Pino.  (I'll be seeing you this weekend because tapas, I love you).  If anyone wants to join me on any of these adventures, I would love the company.  

Oh and a return visit to Henry Public is for sure in order.  Because it's summer and burgers and summer go together like pasty skin and suntan lotion.  

(The picture is from NYMag and it's basically just some of the unreal offering's from Breads Bakery. BABKA)  

Monday, July 14, 2014


One of my life goals is to discover all of the different ways with which I can stuff fillings into bread-like vehicles for easy food consumption (because nothing is better then hand-held foods).  You would think this would be an easy task (how many riffs on the sandwich can there possibly be?) but it is not (do you know how many nationalities have their own version of a sandwich!).  This is why I am hear to talk about the piadina.  

I was introduced to the piadina by my parents (they tend to introduce me to all good things in this world).  It is a cross between a tortilla and a pita which I suppose makes it an Italian flatbread but calling it an Italian flatbread makes it sound so boring and un-special and piadina are the furthest thing from boring.  Essentially it is an unleavened bread that gets cooked over the grill until char marks appear (the char marks are key). It then gets topped with any number of things, though if this picture is any indication I am partial to delicious Italian goat cheese, sopressata, arugula, apricots, and a nice drizzle of honey.  

This is the perfect hot weather food and just the right vehicle for transferring the bounty that exists this time of year into your mouth via something other then your typical bread.  It also sounds cool which is reason enough to make it.  

Recipe from the NYTimes

Typically piadina are made with lard and while versions made with lard are spectacular, they aren't nearly as practical (who has lard on hand at all times?).  This version with olive oil allows you to make piadina any night of the week, no special ingredients necessary.   

Makes 8

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or 3 ½ cups all-purpose if you want to omit the whole wheat)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
¼ cup olive oil
Optional toppings (but let’s be honest, the sky’s the limit) – Goat cheese, arugula, sliced peaches or apricots (or really any stone fruit), sopressata or salami, Tallegio (a personal favorite), shaved Pecorino, the list goes on..

In a food processor or heavy-duty mixer, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the water and oil. Process or mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Remove from the machine, and knead briefly by hand on a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with a bowl, and let rest 1 hour.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Cover all but 1 piece with a bowl. On a lightly floured surface, shape the piece into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 8-inch circle. Place a piece of wax paper on a large dinner plate, and put the circle of dough on it. Roll out the remaining dough, stacking the circles on the plate with wax paper in between. (To Note – You can store the rolled out piadina in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking.)

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Heat a nonstick (or cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Test the temperature by flicking some droplets of water onto the surface; if the water sizzles and evaporates quickly, the griddle is ready. Place a circle of dough in the skillet. Cook 30 seconds, or until the dough begins to stiffen and turns golden brown. Flip the piadina, and brown the other side. Place the piadina on a piece of foil in the oven, and keep warm until serving.

Top each piadina with the toppings of your choice.  Fold the piadina in half and serve.