I really love apples and in my Food Science Lab, we were focused on pastries. I totally jumped at the chance to make this apple tart and I think it turned out really well. I made a pear tart before and we used a almond cream custard as the filling, but interestingly, for the apple tart we just used some apple sauce. It came out nicely even though the apple sauce didn’t really set when we baked the tart. This tart was kind of annoying in that there were a lot of steps, but it was still so worth it and I’m dying to try it again this weekend. I don’t have work next week, so I’m supposing it’s going to be a week of baking/cooking. But I’m getting off the topic. So this apple tart, I made them in separate little tart pans (which were a pain to get out) but topped with some freshly whipped whipped cream, it was amazing. So let’s get started!
-1 1/2 cups AP* flour
-1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
-1/2 apricot preserves
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 1/2 ounces butter (frozen, in pieces)
-1 large egg
-1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
-3 tbsp butter
-6 tbsp sugar
-1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tbsp cognac/calvados/rum or water
- Pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can either use a pastry cutter or two forks. Add the butter (frozen) and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in, with some pieces the size of peas remaining. This will ensure a nice flakey crust. Stir the egg and add it to the food processor in three parts, pulsing in between each addition. Pulse the dough until it comes together.
- Flour your work surface and roll out the dough. If you are using small tart pans, divide the dough into equal parts (the same number as you have tart pans). Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/2 an inch thick and place it in your tart pan. Press the dough firmly along the bottom and the sides, trimming off any excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F or 190 C. Meanwhile, mix together the applesauce, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 3 tablespoons of sugar, lemon zest, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Set aside.
- Peel and core the apples. Then slice them into slices 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to squeeze some lemon juice on the apple slices so they don’t turn brown. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat and stir in the remaining sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Add the apples and sauté them until they just begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Set the cooked apples aside.
- Take the crusts from the freezer. Grease parchment paper with butter and line the crust with the butter side down. Scatter with pie weights (or uncooked beans) and bake until the crust begin to turn brown (about 20 to 25 minutes).
- Carefully remove the parchment paper from the crusts and allow to cool on a wire rack. Spoon the applesauce mixture into the cooled tart shell. Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles over the applesauce and brush with the remaining melted butter. Bake the tart until the apples are nicely browned and soft (about 25 to 30 minutes). While the pie is baking, make the glaze.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the apricot preserves until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain if needed. Stir in the cognac and set aside.
- Remove the tart from the oven and sprinkle with a little bit of confectioners’ sugar. Place in a broiler until the edges of the apples are golden and crisp. Once the tart has cooled, lightly glaze the apple slices with the warm apricot glaze to seal the baked tart. Serve with some whipped cream or ice cream.
I usually make my own whipped cream (it’s easier and you can control how sweet or thick you want it to be). It’s super simple, you just get some heavy whipping cream, place it in a bowl and whisk it until you get the desired consistency. I sprinkled my whipped cream with a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon so that you get a little flavor to go along with the apple tart. Pretty sure everyone enjoyed it (and by everyone I just mean me, Pat and his friend Will).
Hugs and puppies!
The Pasta Series part 5: Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Pasta
So I had a bunch of mushrooms and I didn’t want them to go bad, so I decided to put them in the pasta with some bacon. Also I feel like mushrooms make a good cream sauce, so I decided to make it a cream based pasta sauce. The muffins on the side are blueberry crumble muffins and I will be making a post for it, so if you want the recipe for that just be a little patient with me 🙂 Back to the pasta, this was super simple to make. I mean recently making pasta has been a real cinch. As long as you season it well, you should be perfectly fine. Also this may be one of the last pasta posts (so if you’re sick of pasta hurray!) My next project will be mastering adobo and other Philippino foods (no I am not phillipino, but Pat is and so is one of my best friends, leenerz, who will be visiting in July). So what are we waiting for? Here we go!
-4 or 5 slices Bacon
-3 tbsp Heavy cream
-1 tbsp Cornstarch
-Salt and pepper to taste
- First cook the linguine. I would cook it for 6 to 7 minutes, you want it to be al dente and not mushy. Make sure that the water is salted so that there is some flavor in the pasta.
- Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Set aside. Slice the bacon and cook until they are nice and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan onto a plate lined with paper towels. Remove the bacon fat, reserving about 2 tablespoons. Cook the onions and the garlic in the bacon drippings until the onions are translucent. Add in the sliced mushrooms and salt and pepper according to taste.
- When the mushrooms are fork tender, add in milk. In a separate bowl, mix together the cornstarch with the heavy cream to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the pan and cook until the sauce is reduced. Add in the linguine and the bacon and mix until everything is coated in the sauce.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese.
Hugs and Puppies!
The Pasta Series Part 4: Bacon and Asparagus Penne
The theme of the day was bacon (and let’s face it, it isn’t a bad theme at all). I had spent the day baking up a storm for my final Intro to Foods and Food Science class and yet for some crazy reason, I still wanted to cook. Yes I think I am crazy/insane/weird, but it’s okay because now at least I know what my passion is 🙂 Anyway for dinner, I decided to make some bacon and asparagus penne because bacon and asparagus go really well together (at least they do in my mind). To go along with that, I also decided to pull out my little file of bread recipes and make the spicy sun dried tomato and bacon bread. All of the bacon! Ahaha I told you this was a bacon themed day/meal. So first I made the spicy tomato and bacon bread because I had to wait for the bread to rise and whatnot, and then I began to make the penne. It was pretty good and I made enough to bring to work with me. The pasta recipe was just something I made up. The one thing I love about pasta is that it basically goes with everything and paired with the right seasoning, it can be amazing!
Anyway enough of me talking about nonsensical things. Off to the kitchen!
Bacon and Asparagus Penne:
-Bacon (4 or 5 slices)
-10 stalks of asparagus
-Garlic (one clove)
-Beef broth (about a cup)
-salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the bacon into smaller bite size pieces, dice the onion and the tomato. Slice the asparagus and mince the garlic. Prepare the asparagus, I suggest you steam them and then shock them (put them in ice cold water, that way they can retain the nice green color).
- Cook the bacon in a pan and remove onto a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Remove the bacon fat, reserving about 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Add the onion, oregano and garlic into the bacon drippings and cook until the onion is translucent. Add in the tomato and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the beef broth and let it reduce. Add in the salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, prepare the penne. Cook it until it is al dente.
- Add the penne to the sauce. Top with asparagus and bacon and mix it all together.
- Top with a little bit of parmesan and you’re ready to eat.
If you aren’t a huge fan of beef broth, then I’m sure you can definitely replace it with chicken broth or vegetable broth.
Spicy sun dried tomato and bacon bread:
Before I start, I just wanted to let you know that I have made this bread before and I do have a post for it. So here’s the link to that post 🙂
Hugs and puppies!
The Pasta Series Part 3: Spinach Pesto and Gnocchi
So I bought a new cuisinart emulsifer. It’s like this hand held blender and it’s really great for making soups. You just stick in a pot of of soup, press the button and watch it turn from a chunky soup to a nice creamy soup. You can also make amazing smoothies and such (but that’s another post). Since I was kind of dying to try my new toy out, Pat and I decided to make a pesto sauce to go with our gnocchi. Unfortunately, my basil is still quite young and there weren’t enough leaves to make an entire pesto. So we decided to make a spinach pesto from the bag of spinach I bought earlier. I used a pesto recipe from one of my cooking classes, but I kind of just went with it after looking at the ingredients. The pesto came out a beautiful vivid green (albeit it does kind of look like slime). However despite the appearance, it tasted really good and it went really well with the gnocchi. One day I’ll attempt to make gnocchi from scratch (I heard it isn’t too hard). Anyway, let’s get started on the pesto (you can also use a blender or food processor if you have one. I would recommend a food processor, I just don’t have one)!
-2 cups of roughly chopped spinach
-1 or 2 cloves of garlic
-1/4 cup of pine nuts
-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place spinach, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor or the blender cup of a hand blender. Pulse until it becomes a paste (about 1 to 2 minutes). Add salt, pepper and parmesan cheese to taste. Set aside.
- Boil water and add the gnocchi. Cook the gnocchi until it rises to the top. Drain and divide into bowls. Top with your pesto and garnish with more parmesan cheese.
You can always play around with this recipe by using basil instead of spinach (for the real pesto) or you could add a protein like pieces of grilled chicken or some shrimp. This is a really great dish to experiment with 🙂
Hugs and puppies!
So in my Introduction to Foods and Food Science lab today, we focused on eggs and how they are used as a main ingredient (omelet), a component ingredient (poached), mechanical leavener (soufflé), emulsifier (mayonnaise) and a thickener (custard). I was dying to try the soufflé because frankly I felt like that was a pretty challenging dish. But actually it’s not. I realize that a lot of people over exaggerate the difficulty of the soufflé and I just wanted to tell you that as long as you whip your egg whites to the proper consistency you should be fine. So if you’re a home baker who’s a bit intimidated by the soufflé, I dare you to leave that fear in your baking cupboard and make the soufflé 🙂
Let’s get started!
This recipe makes about 4 small soufflés or 2 slightly bigger soufflés. It depends on the size of your ramekins.
-3 eggs, separated
-2 oz bittersweet chocolate (or semisweet or milk)
-1/3 cup plus 4 tsp of granulated sugar
-1 tbsp butter
-pinch of salt
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350 C. Butter your ramekins and coat it with a teaspoon of sugar. You should have one teaspoon of sugar for each ramekin.
- Separate the egg yolks and the egg whites. Mix the egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar until it is light and thick. When you lift the whisk, the egg yolk mixture should fall in ribbons. Melt the chocolate in 10 second increments (or over a double boiler if you desire). Make sure not to burn your chocolate! Stir in the chocolate with your egg yolks and set it aside.
- Add the cream of tartar and the salt to your egg whites and, using a clean whisk, whisk your egg whites until soft peaks form (the egg whites should create a peak, but the tip should bow down a bit when you lift the whisk). It should take about 3 or 4 minutes. Then add the sugar, a little bit at a time, and beat until the egg whites become stiff and glossy (another couple of minutes). A stiff peak should not bow down when the whisk is lifted.
- Gently fold in a little bit of the egg whites into the egg yolk/chocolate mixture. You want to fold it so that you don’t break all the air bubbles you incorporated into the egg whites. Once it looks combined, add in some more egg whites and continue to fold the two mixtures together. Once all the egg whites are incorporated into the egg yolk, carefully pour it in the prepared ramekins. Since the soufflé will rise, I advise you to fill the ramekin about 3/4 way up.
- Bake in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, the center of the soufflé should not be set when you take it out of the oven.
Now because the soufflé will deflate, it is imperative that you eat it immediately after you take it out of the oven. I ate it plain, but I’m sure you could add some powdered sugar on top and some fresh fruits 🙂 That wasn’t too complicated was it? And hand whisking really shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes (otherwise you will break the egg whites and have to start over).
Hugs and puppies!
Pasta Series Part 2: Pasta a la Mimi
So basically this is pasta made with regular buy-at-the-store pasta sauce that I kind of made into my own by simply adding a few veggies and meats. It doesn’t really have a name or anything, so I’m just being narcassistic I suppose. Just a quick run down of what’s in the pasta: orange bell peppers, sausage, onions, mushrooms, pasta sauce, celery, and it’s topped with bacon and parmesan cheese. You essentially take any left overs or whatever you want from your fridge and toss it together with pasta sauce. It’s simple and really delicious. So let’s get started!
-Pasta (of your choice)
-Orange bell pepper
-Sausage (we used sweet Italian)
-Celery (2 or 3 stalks)
-Pasta sauce (about half a jar)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 clove garlic
- Dice the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Set aside. Slice the mushroom, celery, and sausage. Set aside. Slice the bacon and cook until nice and crispy. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Discard (or save in a jar) the left over bacon fat leaving about a tablespoon’s worth in the pan.
- Meanwhile, bring a well salted pot of water to boil. Once the water has boiled, add in the pasta, cooking until it is tender yet firm to the bite. Depending on the pasta I would say cook it between 5 to 8 minutes. Unless you like mushy pasta, I advise you to refrain from over cooking. You want the pasta to be al dente (remember carry-over cooking)! Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with a little bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Cook the sausage pieces until they are brown on the outside and thoroughly cooked. Remove from the pan. Add the diced onions and the garlic to the pan and cook until they become translucent. Add in the celery and the mushrooms, cooking until they are fork tender. Add in the bell peppers.
- Once the veggies are all cooked, add the sausage back into the pan along with the pasta sauce. Season the sauce to fit your tastes (salt, pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, have some fun with the spices in your spice rack).
- Add the pasta to the sauce and mix until the pasta is coated. Dish into pasta bowls, top with the bacon pieces and parmesan cheese and you’re good to go!
While I made the pasta, Pat made some quick and easy garlic bread to go with it. It’s super simple.
-1 garlic clove
- Make a garlic paste by mincing the garlic, sprinkling salt on top and mashing it with the blade of your knife. If you have a mortar and pestle, feel free to use that as well.
- Mix the garlic paste and paprika with softened butter. Again feel free to add spices of your choice be it rosemary, thyme, oregano, peppercorns, basil, sage, cardamom, etc.
- Spread the butter onto slices of toast or french bread or whatever bread you’re using (Challah bread might be really good. Same with ciabatta) and toast the bread under the broiler until it’s nice and golden brown.
And that’s all. Pasta and garlic bread in under an hour 🙂
Hugs and puppies!
The Pasta Series: Shrimp and Alfredo Sauce
So my boyfriend and I realized that we have a lot of pasta that needs to be eaten, so last night we made Shrimp and Alfredo sauce pasta. I believe that tonight will be another pasta dish, but we’ll leave that for my next post.
I’d never really made alfredo sauce before, so I turned to my favorite and most trusted website for alfredo sauce recipes. Yes, I went to foodgawker.com. Luckily I stayed focused and didn’t get distracted by all the other enticing recipes and found a very promising, yet simple alfredo sauce recipe by Tracey. And then we had some left over shrimp from the fish tacos I made the night before (I promise that I’ll make them again and have Pat take photos this time).
-3/4 cup of half and half (we didn’t have half and half so we used 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of reduced fat milk)
-A dash of nutmeg
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp cornstarch
-2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (grated)
- Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil (don’t forget to salt the water) and add in the pasta. Cook the pasta for about 6 to 8 minutes (you want the pasta to be al dente, tender yet firm).
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream, nutmeg and salt to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer. Whisk the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of milk and add that to the saucepan. Continue simmering until the sauce thickens (about 1 to 2 minutes). Remove the heat from the pan and cover.
- Once the pasta is done, reserve about 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest.
- Return the alfredo sauce to the stove top on medium low heat. Stir in 1/2 cup of pasta water and gradually add in the parmesan until the sauce is smooth. Add the pasta and cook until the sauce thickens and evenly coats the pasta.
-1 clove garlic (minced)
-1/2 lb shrimp (cleaned and deveined)
-salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
-1 tbsp butter
- Clean the shrimp and toss them in salt, pepper and paprika.
- Melt the butter in a small saute pan and add in the garlic. Add the shrimp and cook on one side for 1 to 2 minutes (or until they are pink). Flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes (be careful not to overcook them! Once overcooked shrimp gets tough and chewy).
- Add the shrimp to the Alfredosauce and toss to coat.
- Finally, divide the pasta into serving bowls and top with the shrimp and some parmesan cheese shavings.
It was so good and so simple to make, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it again in the near future. I might switch up the toppings though. Bacon and mushrooms anyone?
Hugs and Puppies!
Chocolate Espresso Banana Muffins
What does one do with over ripe bananas? Simple, make banana muffins or in this case, chocolate Espresso Banana Muffins.
It’s been a long time hasn’t it? I’m so sorry, I’ve been a bit busy and I keep forgetting to get the photos taken. So my room mate had some over ripe bananas and I decided to make them into muffins. Normally I would attempt a banana bread, but seeing as I have yet to purchase a loaf pan, I decided to just make muffins. I found a few banana muffin recipes online (from foodgawker.com) and sort of combined them to create these. The first recipe is here. The rest I sort of perused.
These muffins were so delicious and really moist. I think the espresso and the chocolate were a nice touch.
-1 2/3 cup AP flour
-3 ripe bananas
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1 1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter*
-1 tsp instant espresso
-1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
-1 tbsp vanilla
-a pinch of salt
-1 tsp flaxseed (optional)
*If you’re a vegan, simply replace butter with earthbalance and you’re good to go!
- Preheat the oven 350 F and either line muffin tins with paper liners or spray them with nonstick spray (such as Pam). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, flaxseed, and salt.
- In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Peel and mash the bananas and add to the bowl.
- Add in the flour mixture in batches. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Spoon the batter into the paper liners or the muffin tins until they are about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden and spring back when pressed lightly.
- Allow them to cool (or just top with a pat of butter and eat it hot out of the oven)
These muffins are great with a cup of coffee. Plus you can kind of say that they’re healthy because of the flaxseed (but I’m sure the chocolate and the espresso kind of counter that). Still, they taste amazing and are great for breakfast or for dessert.
Hugs and Puppies!