December 22, 2009

TWD- Puff Pastry Pecan Pie (my 200th post)

{printable recipe here}

Christmas is here. We are overloaded with goodies, enjoying the perfect Arizona "winter", and loving the excitement our little man has for "Chissmas tine" (as he says it!) This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe sounded delicious, especially since I tried pecan pie for the first time last week and loved it (you can find the original recipe at Beth's blog). That's right, I'd never tried it before. Sometime I decided I didn't like it and so I've never eaten it, heading instead for the apple or berry pies. But Pecan Pie has been redeemed for my palate, not unlike guacamole which was a smash hit when I finally tried it when I was about 18.

With all the Christmas craziness, though, I didn't have time to make a pie crust. So I rolled out a piece of puff pastry, trimmed the edges, glued the strips on to make a little wall, and crisped it in the oven for a few. Meanwhile, I prepped half the filling, added a little flour, and cooked it until it boiled on the stove. Then I stirred in the egg and vanilla, poured the sauce into the shell, and sprinkled it with nuts. The good news is that the whole thing only takes a few minutes to make, even with two crazy kids in the kitchen. ANYONE can make this, really! And while this isn't exactly a traditional pecan pie, you can't really go wrong with butter, nuts, and brown sugar. Then go ahead and top it with whipped cream. Like Ina would say, "How bad can that be?" And while I'm glad to know I actually love pecan pie, I guess my "skinny jeans goals" should just be grateful it took me a while to figure that out!

PS This is indeed my 200th post (so you get a picture of my little man and baby strawberry!). I guess the picture is pretty fitting since she's the most delicious thing I've made since I started this blog. You can click here to see some of my favorite recipes so far- and admist many buttery, delicious treats there are even a few salads (promise!). Thanks for reading along and have a very Merry Christmas!

Puff Pastry Pecan Pie
{printable recipe here}
from Anne Strawberry
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
3/8 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves or pieces

Preheat the oven to 350.

Flour a board and roll out the puff pastry to about 11 by 11. Trim a 1 inch strip off each side. Place large sheet on a lined baking sheet.

Whip one egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the borders of the puff pastry and gently place the strips on top to adhere them (forming a frame). Dock the center of the pastry with a fork, using the tines to prick all over the dough every 1/4 inch or so. Brush the top of the edges with the egg wash to promote browning. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup, brown sugar, butter, flour, and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the mixture boils then set aside for a few minutes. Then, while whisking, slowly pour in the egg wash and the other egg. Whisk in the vanilla until everything is thoroughly combined. Carefully spoon sauce over the pastry shell, filling the created cavity. Sprinkle with nuts and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the pastry is browned and the filling it set.

Cut and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

December 16, 2009

Brown Sugar Raspberry Blondies (and the winner!)

{printable recipe}

Slacker, slacker, slacker. Between working on getting the laundry folded before it's time to wash again and Christmas fun, I've pretty much totally neglected my blog. I do have fun news though. First, I have a winner for my Lemon Tart Giveaway- it's Megan! Thank you so much to the author, Josi Kilpack, for donating the book and for everyone's great reading suggestions. Hopefully my Baby Strawberry and Little Man will be on the same nap schedule soon and I'll start reading things besides cookbooks and emails again, haha.

I also received a nice but very frustrated email from someone who wants my recipes to be printable. So, in honor of my 200th post coming up next (and yet to be planned, ahem) I'm going to try to start including a printable recipe with the posts, following Aggie's wonderful instructions. Don't tell my husband I'll be taking one extra step, he already thinks I spend too much time as Anne Strawberry, instead of Anne Wife (but I think the roles go together, right?)! Maybe sometime I'll go back and add links in (which I did with my Orange Rolls). Let me know how they work out for you guys. I do love the feedback people give, especially when a recipe worked out for them.

Okay enough business- I feel like I just held a meeting or something. On to some brown sugar laden goodies I made specifically for my Tall Man with more of the delicious sugar from C&H. This recipe comes from their site and I modified it to include raspberries (since I had those in the freezer). It's a winner, especially for the non-chocolate eaters out there. It's not such a wonderful time of year to have to skip out on chocolate but eating these will help you forget that! That said, a dark or white chocolate drizzle would be amazing on these...

Brown Sugar Raspberry Blondies
recipe adapted from C&H Sugar

{printable recipe}

1 1/3 Cups Flour
1 1/3 Cups C&H Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen raspberries
½ cup chopped pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour small rectangular baking dish (line the pan with foil for easy removal and cutting later. If you want these gooier use a small square pan, but next time I'll keep them a little thinner for even baking).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed of electric mixer until blended. Mix 1 minute on medium speed. Batter will be thick. Spread half of batter in pan. Toss raspberries in small amount of flour. Scatter berries over batter; spread remaining batter on top (gently!). Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and cut into 16 pieces. Chocolate Chip Variation: Sprinkle ½ cup chocolate chips over batter with pecans.

December 8, 2009

Sables (easy, delicious butter cookies)

I've always loved those butter cookies in the blue tin that you find around Christmas. I haven't, however, had much luck with shortbread in my hot kitchen. So when I read this recipe, I decided to go for it but wasn't expecting much. That said, I was so WOWED by these cookies! They were quick, easy, Christmas-y, delicious, buttery... pretty much everything you want in a holiday cookie. I made the original version but can't wait to try the orange and lemon flavors. And then the pecan version for my mom. Use a light hand and don't over think these- Dorie's directions are clear and simple and will get you a great result from a few simple, delicious ingredients. I love that.

This is one that will be on regular repeat in my kitchen (and since I know you'll love it and NYT already printed it, I'm including the recipe). This is the best slice and bake cookie I've ever made and I'm making them again soon. Thanks to Bungalow Barbara for an amazing choice- just in time for Christmas cookies. I probably never would have made this if not for TWD and I'm glad I did. My only regret is that I gave the rest away and now I will be looking at pictures of these all day without any to try!

Don't forget to enter my special Lemon Tart Giveaway!

Dorie Greenspan's Master Recipe for Sables
(use a Silpat for these cookies! And if you don't have one... Christmas is coming and they are cheap on ebay! Mine were cheaper when I bought two, which you'll want!)

from the NYT

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the decoration:
1 egg yolk
Crystal sugar

Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball -- and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it's easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

Lemon Sables- Before mixing the butter and sugar together, pour the sugar in a bowl with the grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons. Work the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and aromatic, then cream it with the butter in the mixer.

Parmesan Sables- Replace sugars with 3/4 cup very finely grated Parmesan added to the beaten butter. A few grains of fleur de sel may be gently pressed into the top of each sable before the baking sheet is slipped into the oven.

December 5, 2009

Lemon Tart Giveaway

Recently I heard about the book Lemon Tart- a culinary mystery. I couldn't get over the "culinary mystery" part so I decided to check it out. This book centers around a homemaker who loves to bake and includes the recipes along the way. I loved reading it and couldn't wait to try a recipe- so of course, I made the lemon tart. It was simple enough that I could make it with Little Man's help and Baby Strawberry in my arms. That's the kind of recipe I prefer these days. So really, anyone can make it. You could even sub out a graham crust if you don't want to bother with the pastry.

C&H also sent me some money to buy some of their sugar (which I did, in bulk, at Costco. I'm not the only one that buys the 30 pound bag and fills a huge bucket in the pantry, right? Right? Well, I know my mom does too, so I don't feel too bad). I used the granulated sugar in the tart and the powdered sugar in the crust and whipped cream. My husband loves to eat the C&H dark brown sugar right out of the bag. Don't let him know I told you that. They also have a huge selection of holiday recipes on their site. I'm going to feature one next week... as soon as I pick which one to try. I'm thinking maybe the egg-free sugar cookie dough for my beautiful (allergic to eggs) niece Carlee or the peanut butter topped toffee bars for my Tall Man. He's going to get hungry after he finishes off that bag of brown sugar (fortunately I have several back ups, he's lucky to be married to a stockpiler!) Either way, check back next week. It's going to be delicious.

You can read the first chapter here and see the recipes she has included. There is also a nice interview here about the book and how she came up with the ideas. I also contacted the author and she agreed to giveaway a copy of the book to one of my readers. Leave a comment letting me know the best book you've read lately. And don't forget to check out Lemon Tart and the next in the series, English Trifle for a fun and refreshing read. You can find out more about Josi Kilpack at her blog or site. Thanks Josi for the fun giveaway!

Here's a culinary mystery for you... who swiped a lick of that cream? I'll give you one guess...

Lemon Tart
adapted from the book "Lemon Tart" by Josi Kilpack

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup C&H powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (I added this to get my dough to come together)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor or mixer, combine ingredients for crust. Pulse together until a dough starts to form in clumps (then I pulsed in the egg). Press into tart pan, making sure to cover bottom and sides evenly. Pierve the bottom of the crust with a fork and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place tart on a cookie sheet and bake until crust is a golden-brown color, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Filling (I made about double of this, using the whole stick of cream cheese and 3 eggs, since my tart pan was especially deep)

5 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used neufchatel)
1/2 cup C&H granulated cane sugar (I would use another 1/4 cup like she suggests since my Tall Man likes things sweet)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
zest from one lemon (get zest from lemon before juicing)

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Mix cream cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add sugar. Mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg. Stop and scrape bowl halfway through. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until smooth.

Pour the filling into the tart crust and bake on cookie sheet for 20 to 30 minutes or until filling is set. Let tart cool on wire cooling rack. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Use whipped cream as an optional topping. It can be piped on in stars or served on top with each piece (I liked lots and lots of top of mine!).

The giveaway will accept entries until next Thursday night, December 10, at midnight AZ time. U.S. addresses only and one entry per person please.

(This giveaway is now closed... thanks for all the entries!)