Pine Nut and Pineapple Tart

Oh how I love a challenge. In my search for Mad Men inspired foods; and all foods for that matter from the 1960’s a friend of mine suggested a Pineapple and Pine Nut Pie.  I know it sounds weird, but I instantly knew what she was talking about. It was mentioned in an episode, and I remember thinking “What is that?” I scrambled though recipes, cook books, and the internet and came up empty handed. I wanted a dessert that was as elegant as I feel the show it. I was not going to give in to canned pineapple; overly sweet pie filling of some kind, have pine nuts tossed in just to be there, or wanted something dated this dessert has to be timeless. I started to think about how Julia Child was first hitting her popularity in the 60’s. How French food was in vogue, and how exotic pineapples were at the time, along with how foreign pine nuts must have been for some.  It hit me at that moment….combine the difference of these times like the differences of the ingredients and where they come from. I would use the pine nuts just like the French would use almonds and make a Frangipane….I would make a tart instead of a pie, and place fresh pineapple over the top of the Pine Nut Fangiapagne.  It is elegant, lovely, and the fresh pineapple creates an exotic aroma that perfumed the air as it came out of the oven. Happy Baking!!!! I know you will be dying to try it out for yourselves.

 

Pine Nut and Pineapple Tart

2 cups of Pine Nuts

1 cup and 1 tbsp of sugar,

6 oz of butter, softened

2 eggs

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Fresh Pineapple, cubed and sliced(about ¼ of one)

 

Pate Brise, ½ a recipe

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your pate brise and press it into a 9 – 10 inch tart pan. Place it into the frezer and chill until your filling is ready.

Next, in the bowl of a food processor place your pine nuts and ¼ cup of your sugar and pulse until you have a fine even ground on your nuts – but not into nut butter!

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer combine your butter and ¾ cup of sugar and cream them together.  Add in your eggs and vanilla bean. Be sure to mix well before you add in your pine nut and sugar mixture and combine well.

Then, remove your tart shell and pan from your freezer and place it on a sheet pan. Fill your shell with the pine nut mixture and evenly place the sliced pineapple chunks over the top. Be sure to leave spaces in between so that the pine nut filling may rise and bake evenly.  Sprinkle the top with the remainder 1 tbsp of sugar.

Finally, place your prepared tart in the center of your oven for about 40 minutes. You will want to rotate it half way through. Bake until it is firm, and evenly browned. Remove from the oven and cool about a half hour until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature and enjoy.

Sweet Potato Pie Time!

It is chilly here in Seattle. When I took Martini and Latte for their morning walk the grass was all glistening with frost. We hit a high of 41 degrees yesterday. If you know me you would already know that I am not a fan of the chilly temperatures, and yet I didn’t mind it. When I think back to last year this time we had our first snow fall and the temps were in the high 20’s. It was a shock to us after dessert living for a decade. Brian dusted off the car with our broom and went to the store to get an ice scraper for our cars and winter boots for himself. The girls ran through the snow as fast as they could and ran back to our apartment door. They were not messing around with it! So even if it is chilly here now, it is not as bad as last year.

With the holidays approaching and a birthday on the horizon for myself; both my husband and I agree that this weather really feels like the holidays and it adds to the excitement of it all. As I am sure everyone will be cooking up a storm for Thanksgiving this week, so I thought it best to keep my pre-holiday cooking simple. Sweet Potato Pie is one of my favorite things to make this time of year and something I make for my birthday just about every year as well. It is simple, delicious, and also worthy of a Thanksgiving Day table. It also warms the house and makes it smell wonderful; perfect for this chilly day.

This recipe as I said is simple. It doesn’t use a lot of sugar because you bake your sweet potatoes first which lets their natural sweetness shine though with the tiny hint of cinnamon and ginger. It's filling is not custard like or dense, but fluffy and delightful. I hope you make it and enjoy it just as I and my family has for years now.

Sweet Potato Pie

3 1/2 lbs of Sweet Potatoes

4 oz of Butter, softened

1 cup of Sugar

1 Egg

1 tsp of Cinnamon

1/2 tsp of Powdered Ginger

1 pt of Heavy Cream

1 tsp of Vanilla Extract

1/2 recipe of Pate Brisee for crust First, bake sweet potatoes in a pre-heated oven (375 degrees) until they are fork tender. (Be sure to prick before going into the oven or they will explode!) Once done set aside to cool. Next, roll out your Pate Brise to an even thickness and round enough to fit about a nine inch pie shell and chill in the fezzer untill your filling is ready.

Then, when Sweet Potatoes are cool cut open and scoop out flesh into bowl and mash up them. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss in butter and the sugar and mix well with mixer on low speed. Once combined, slowly drizzel in your heavey cream and mix well. Be sure to scrape down the sdes of your bowl so that everything is combined.

Finally, add in your egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. Sprinkle your cinnamon and ginger and stir well. Be sure all is mixed well and incorporated. Pour in to your pepared Pate Brise pie pan and bake about 45 minutes to an hour, or until filling is slghtly firm. Let cool before cutting or serving.

Pear Tart with Gorgonzola Sauce

Yes, I make desserts and bake for a living. I think the most commonly asked question I get is “What do you love to make for yourself?” That is probably the hardest thing to answer. Although I love what I do, you do get tired of things after a while. I mean, I do not want to eat the same thing day in and day out. Since I am dealing with sweets and desserts all day I crave something other than that when it comes to a dessert I make for myself. I personally like when the sweet borders the savory for a dessert. There was a restaurant in Phoenix that I loved to go to for brunch. I had gotten to know the chef there and we became big fans of one another’s work. When I was there one day he offered me something special he was working on, a scone with roasted pear and blue cheese. I was channeling that delicious scone when I created this dessert from the local pears I got from the farmer’s market this week. I personally think this would even make a great appetizer besides a dessert.

Pear Tart with Gorgonzola Sauce

3 Pears (peeled, cored and sliced)

3 tbsp Brown sugar

2 tbsp Honey

2 tbsp Butter

½ batch of Pate Brise (chilled and rolled into a ball)

¼ cup Gorgonzola

¾ cup Half and Half

1 tsp Flour

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Pinch of Nutmeg (freshly grated)

¼ cup Pistachios (chopped)

First, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll out your Pate Brise evenly (if possible) to about a 10 – 11 inch circle. You can trim if needed dough if needed if not perfectly round. Place your rolled out dough on a baking sheet.

Next, sprinkle your brown sugar evenly over your dough leaving a 1- 1 ½ inch border bare. With your sliced pears layer them around in a circle evenly, overlapping where needed. Drizzle the honey over the pear slices and cut up 1 tbsp of butter and scatter over the top of it all. Fold the rim of your dough over the edge of your filling and place into your pre-heated oven. Bake about 30 – 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Meanwhile, while your tart is cooling start your Gorgonzola sauce. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Melt your remaining butter and sprinkle with flour. Keep stirring, because your flour and butter will become one and simmer together. Add in your nutmeg, salt and pepper at this point. With a whisk, stir in your half and half and once it simmers add in the vanilla and your Gorgonzola. Keep whisking until cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened.

Finally, to plate your tart- drizzle a plate with as much of the Gorgonzola sauce as liked. Place a slice of your tart on the sauced plate and sprinkle with your chopped pistachios. Enjoy!

Apple Galette

My Uncle Sal and Uncle Dave have an unknown apple tree in front of their home. The variety of apple is up for question. It is kind of small and colored like a Gala, yet the skin is somewhat tough; it is tart like MacIntosh but not green or nearly as large. Anyhow, they are ripe and needed to be picked. They ended up with a large basket of them on their front porch with all of them up for grabs. When I was there for dinner the other night we took some home and my husband and I have been snacking on them. I was looking at them on my dinning room table yesterday and felt they were asking to be baked with. With some extra pate brise I had in my refrigerator I made a galette that not only made my apartment smell fantastic but tasted wonderful. I really love autumns little treasures.

Apple Galette (serves 6)

4 small to medium apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tbsp butter (sliced thin)

Pate Brise (recipe to follow) *at least 1/3 to 1/3 of the recipe

Egg Wash (one egg and 2 tbsp cream whisked together)

First, set your oven to 375 degree. Place your apples, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla in a bowl and toss well.

Next, on a floured surface place your portioned out pate brise dough. Working quickly (you want to keep your dough chilled - this keeps your dough flaky and delicate) roll your dough out to about 9 to 10 inches round. While rolling out your dough, keep rotating it to ensure it stays even and gets worked from all angles. If it is not an exact circle that is fine...this is a free formed dessert!

Then, place your dough round on a baking sheet and lightly egg wash the rim of it. In the center of your dough pour your apple mixture in. Working around your apple filling fold the rim of your dough over the apple mixture (about 1 - 2 inches over your filling). Place your sliced butter over your apple filling. On the folded rim of the dough lightly egg wash it and you may sprinkle it with sugar if you wish.

Finally, place your Apple Galette in the oven and bake about 30 - 45 minute rotating it half way though. You want the filling to be golden brown, and  bubbly. Remove from the oven and cool about 20 minute before cutting and serving. It is always good with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream!

 

 

 

Nectarine Fruit Crisp

It has been that odd time of year; were you know fall is here and yet we spent the previous two weeks thinking we were back in summer. It was anywhere from the 70’s - 80’s here in Seattle and people were everywhere out and about trying to soak it up before the leaves change and the cool misty northwest weather comes into play. I love fall and I feel that autumn is my most favorite food season.  Although I look forward to all of Mother Nature’s offerings from it, I always find it hard to let go of the late summer fruits that I wait all year for. Nectarines in particular I find irresistible. I love putting them into a crisp like the recipe below. It lets the natural flavors of the fruit shine through. The cinnamon spiced oatmeal crust topping makes the house smell wonderful and “fall like” while combining the two seasons into one.  I hope some of you will try this and let me know what you think of it. Enjoy.

Nectarine Fruit Crisp (feeds 4 +)

FILLING

3 large Nectarines (pitted and chopped into bite size pieces)

2 Tbsp. of Sugar

1 tsp. of Vanilla Extract

CRISP TOPPING

¾ cup of AP Flour

½ cup of Old Fashion Oats

½ cup of Light Brown Sugar

¼ cup of Unsalted Butter (melted)

1 tsp. of Cinnamon

½ tsp. of Cardamom

½ tsp. of Ground Ginger

Pinch of Sea Salt

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then in a bowl mix together your filling and pour into a baking dish. I use an oval gratin dish because it looks nice to go from the oven to the table, but any small baking dish or pie / tart pan would do.

Next, in another bowl mix together all your dry ingredients. Then add in your melted butter and with a clean hand or hands mix together your topping into small crumbs. Take your topping and distribute over your fruit filling.

Finally, place your baking dish on a sheet pan, and place into your preheated oven and bake about 35 minutes. You want your crisp topping to be golden and your fruit bubbling around the edges. (Your kitchen and home will smell great too.) Let it cool at least 10 – 15 minutes before serving and eating. I personally like to serve it with a bit of freshly whipped cream.

*Note: This recipe can easily be doubled, although you will most liking need to extend your cooking time by 15 – 20 minutes. ** You can also replace the fruit for Plums or Peaches. Although the Peaches will need to be pealed; and if using Plums you will need more than three – possibly double the amount depending on their size.