Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Warm Pear Custard Tarts with Pomegranate

This is a jazzed up version of a classic french custard tart from the Normandy region, traditionally made with apples but pears are also a popular choice.

The sweet crust tarts are filled with sliced pears and a cream custard, which is then baked and finally sprinkled on top with pomegranate seeds.
The addition of pomegranate gives the tarts a vibrant burst of flavor and crunch.

The tartness of the fruit is a nice contrast to the sweetness of this tart and adds a splash of vivid color scattered over the tarts like little ruby jewels.

Warm Pear Custard Tarts with Pomegranate: (adapted from Julia Child's Tarte Normande Aux Poires in Mastering the Art of French Cooking)(Makes 6 small tarts)
  • x2 medium pears (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cognac (I altered this- recipe calls for 3 tbsp)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (my addition)
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds (my addition)

Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Par-bake the tart shells, directions in my Lemon Tarts post.

Peel, core and slice the pears.

Toss them in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon, coating the pears well.

Arrange the pears in the tart shells and bake in the oven at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and sugar together until it becomes thick and pale yellow.

Beat in the flour and then the cream, cognac and vanilla.

Pour the custard in the tart shells filling them almost right to the top.

Return the tarts to the oven at 375F for about 10 minutes until the cream begins to puff.

While the tarts are still warm from the oven sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread

This chai spiced pumpkin bread brings the best of fall flavors together with warm fragrant Indian chai spices.
As the days begin to cool, there's nothing more perfect than this warmly spiced bread to take the chill out of those upcoming crisp days.

This bread is so luscious and moist. The earthy chai flavors enrich the hearty pumpkin taste and infuse the bread with the most wonderful aromas. The fragrance of your home while these are baking should be bottled up and made into a candle.

Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread:
(makes 1 loaf)
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 black tea bags steeped in 1/4 cup hot milk (I used assam tea)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of all spice

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl.

Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Fold in the pumpkin puree and the milky tea 
(make sure the tea has completely cooled before adding)

In another bowl mix together the all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Then add all the spices to this.

Add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mix.

Fold until just combined.

Grease a loaf pan and pour the mixture in.

Bake for 55-60 minutes at 350F

Allow to rest and cool on a rack.

Serve slightly warm and buttered, maybe with a nice cup of hot chai!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider is back in season and that means cider doughnut time!
This is a doughnut that began to sell at apple orchards as a treat to accompany their farm fresh apple cider.
Now they can be found easily around the New England area, but you absolutely can't beat the
taste of these when they are homemade.

The apple cider is subtle but definitely gives these doughnuts their classic fall flavor; and when combined with cinnamon and nutmeg the perfect apple spice is created.

Since moving to New York, these have become one of my favorite things about autumn.
There's nothing better than a cider doughnut with a cup of spiced apple cider on a crisp autumn day.

For more farmer's market pictures view my Flickr

Vermont Apple Cider Doughnuts: (makes 12)
(adapted from a recipe recommended on Chowhound)
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup cinnamon-sugar mixed

Boil the apple cider in small saucepan until it is reduced to 1/4 cup. Allow to cool down fully.

In a large bowl beat the sugar with the butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs, then add the buttermilk and reduced apple cider.

In another bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

Add the flour mixture slowly to the liquid mixture and mix enough to combine.

Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead slightly to combine well without over working the dough.

Roll or pat the dough to a 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut with an approximately 3-inch round cookie cutter

Then cut in the middle of each with a smaller round cookie cutter. (Re-roll scraps and continue with the cutting process.)

Place the doughnuts on a tray lined with grease proof paper.

Take a deep pan and add enough oil to fill it approx 3 inches deep.

Fry a few doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice until they are browned and fully cooked through.

Allow the hot doughnuts to drain on some paper towel.

While the doughnuts are still warm, coat them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Eat these doughnuts warm and freshly made.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pear and Ginger Muffins

An essential part of autumn is smell. Walking into a home where you can smell pumpkin spice, or an apple pie baking is really what autumn is all about for me.
These muffins are definitely one way to bring these aromas into your home.
The comforting pear scent will permeate your kitchen and taste buds alike with a sweet and slightly spicy scent, an appetizing autumn invitation.

I absolutely love pears; the ginger really intensifies the sweet pear flavor without overpowering it and the pears give the muffins a really luscious texture.

I've been eating these almost everyday for breakfast or as a snack; they even work perfectly when partnered with a good pungent cheese.

The pears I used were the first ones I bought this season from the green market. There are so many varieties of pears and honestly I love them all but I chose to use Bartlett pears this time, they're always very sweet.

Lovely pears at the Green market in Union square NY.
For more pictures from the market check out my Flickr.

Pear and Ginger Muffins: (adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express)
(makes 12)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (and more for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced pear (peeled and cored)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, white sugar, brown sugar and the ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

In another bowl whisk together the sour cream, oil, honey and eggs. Fold this in to the flour mixture.

Mix in the diced pear gently.

(Dice the pears right before you add them, or they will start to turn brown.)

Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers and fill each muffin case with the mixture evenly.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with brown sugar.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins at 400F

When the muffins are golden and baked through, remove and place on a cooling rack.

These are lovely when eaten warm.

They smell amazing! I need a candle that smells just like this :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raspberry Bavarian Cream

Bavarois aux Framboise

Continuing with my Julia Child obsession, she has several Bavarian cream recipes In her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking
I decided to go with the raspberry Bavarian cream. 

As the book says, "Bavarian cream is a mold of crème anglaise (custard sauce) with gelatin, beaten egg whites and flavoring. It is un-molded after it has been chilled, and makes a dessert as beautiful to see as it is to eat."
I did not end up un-molding the cream as I wanted to keep them in individual serving glasses rather than on a serving plate, but I will have to try that one day.
This dessert is so perfect in every way. It's almost like a mousse but the texture is more velvety; it's very creamy and light.

Even though there are some really nice variations of Bavarian cream in the book, I thought raspberry would be a great treat before the summer ends.

Raspberry Bavarian Cream:
(This recipe makes enough for 8-10 people, I made half of this.)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (or raspberry juice)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gelatin powder
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • a tray of ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries (and extra for decoration)

In a bowl add the orange or raspberry juice and the gelatin powder and mix together and set aside to soften.

In a large bowl beat the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar together until pale yellow.

Beat the boiling milk into the bowl pouring very slowly.

Pour this mixture into a sauce pan over a medium heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon.

Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and add the orange/gelatin mixture and beat all together until dissolved completely.

Rinse out the previous mixing bowl and pour the custard cream in.

In another bowl beat the egg whites, salt and tablespoon of sugar until it forms stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the custard cream mixture gently and set the bowl over another bowl filled with the ice and water. Allow this mixture too cool down without setting, mix a few times.

In another bowl whip the whipping cream until it doubles in volume. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard mixture.

Push the raspberries through a sieve into a bowl to make 3/4 to 1 cup of puree.

Fold the raspberry puree into the custard cream mixture.

Add the cream to individual serving glasses, top the cream with fresh raspberries and place in the refrigerator to set for approximately 3 hours or until they are ready to be served.

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