apricot clafoutis

August 13, 2015 § 68 Comments

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There are three very temperamental wild apricot trees down the street and during the six years we have lived here in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of West Seattle they have only produced two seasons of soft juicy fragrant apricots. Nobody takes care of these trees and it is difficult to tell whose property they are on.  For all one knows maybe this is the reason for their oversensitive nature. Perhaps it is up to me to give them a little affection and show my appreciation for the fruit they unselfishly bear for no one other than a passer-by who happens to notice.

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If you happen to come across six juicy ripe apricots here is a wonderfully easy dessert you can put together for your family or guests. You may dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar if you like.  We prefer ours without.  And it is delightful served warm with a ball of vanilla bean ice cream on the side.

Recipe adapted from William-Sonoma recipe catalog.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 apricots, pitted and halved
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

M e  t h o d

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter to your baking dish and place  in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the butter is hot and bubbly. Arrange the apricots in an even layer in the bottom of the dish.  In a blender, process the eggs, milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and flour until smooth. Pour the batter over the apricots.  Bake until the clafoutis is puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

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tiramisù

February 20, 2014 § 77 Comments

There are loads of tiramisu recipes out there, but this one, borrowed from Jovina from jovinacooksitalian is straightforward and when you have a teenage boy with a love for chocolate, but not a love for coffee, this is your cake.  No coffee in this tiramisu.  The best part, it has only six ingredients and after mixing you simply put it in the refrigerator for two hours.  A refrigerator cake…

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I brought the ingredients home a couple of days before and let me just say we have all heard stories of mother’s who hide cookies and treats in the house so the kids don’t eat them all in one sitting.  Although I have been surprised to see a whole package of chips devoured in a blink of an eye, for the most part, I would rather not hide refreshments from the young man.  Now, as case in point, the ladyfingers.  He found the ladyfingers in the cupboard and was having a sweet time dipping them in milk, just long enough for perfect absorption and he was already a half a dozen in when I discovered his fun.  My first thought, the tiramisu!  He looked up at me and said, “These are great!  What are they?”  and then proceeded to happily give me a lesson on how to perfectly time the dipping without letting the cookie dissolve in the milk.   I sat down and dipped one, perfectly timed of course and yes! he’s right, they are delicious!  Then his friend stopped over and joined in.  At this point I relinquished my tiramisu idea, well at least until I run to the market and load up on ladyfingers. Oh, and it was Valentine’s Day.  Yes, this was going to be my “special” Valentine’s dessert.  Perhaps a bowl of leftover ladyfingers on the table after dinner will suffice.

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When it was all said and done we were only down by eight, yes, I counted.  I made the tiramisu anyway and it was wonderful.  The process is so easy; melted chocolate, mascarpone and heavy cream whipped, chilled and dusted with cocoa. And lady fingers, don’t forget the layers of lady fingers.  Silky, creamy, chocolatey and rich;  it was like eating the centers out of a half-dozen truffles and we loved it.  Thank you lovely Jovina for the recipe and the inspiration to make a dessert I have loved for many years.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 24 ladyfinger cookies (from a 7-ounce package)

M e t h o d 

In a medium bowl, mix cocoa powder with 1 1/2 cups very hot water until dissolved; set cocoa mixture aside.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, place 1/4 cup cream and chocolate; microwave in 1-minute increments and stir until melted. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer cooled chocolate mixture to a mixing bowl; add cheese and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until blended. Add remaining cream; beat filling until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Spread 1 cup of chocolate filling in the bottom of a 2-quart serving dish. One at a time, dip 6 ladyfingers in cocoa mixture, then arrange in a single layer in the bottom of the dish; spread with 1 cup of chocolate filling. Repeat with three more layers, ending with filling.  Cover tiramisu and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days). Dust with cocoa powder or shaved chocolate before serving.

apple galette

February 3, 2014 § 51 Comments

After baking this blueberry crostata I experimented using other fruits hoping to get the same heavenly results.  However, my efforts fell short when I tried to make an apple crostata; it turned out very dry and so did my enthusiasm.  I gave up, until  two weeks ago when I read this gorgeous post from The Rustic Plate and knew I had to try one more time to get it right.

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I really love making this type of “pie” considering it is both rustic and quite frankly…couldn’t be easier to put together.   The galette was nicely moistened by the apricot preserves and baked without butter.  Keep it on the lighter side or serve with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened softly whipped cream or a dollop of creme fraiche, either alone or stirred into whipped cream.

Please visit Serena’s beautiful blog and see her wonderfully photographed steps in making this galette.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • zest of a full lemon
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • a little milk for brushing the pastry dough
  • a sprinkling of sugar on the edges of pastry dough
  • basic pie crust recipe

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Place the apple slices in a bowl with the sugar and lemon zest.  Mix well and set aside.  Roll out your pie dough and place on parchment paper lined baking tray.  Cover the center of the round with ¼ cup of apricot preserves, leaving a 1 – 1 ½ inch border plain. Starting from the outermost circle, begin to arrange the apple slices in a circular fashion, overlapping them slightly. Most likely you will create three overlapping circles of apple slices.  Fold the crust over and around the edges to make a circle.  Brush the crust with milk and give it a light sprinkling of sugar.

Lower the oven temperature to 425°F. Place the galette into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the crust is nice and golden, approximately 30 minutes.

mexican chocolate pound cake

January 23, 2014 § 68 Comments

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The definition of a pound cake is a rich cake containing a pound, or equal weights, of each chief ingredient, typically flour, butter, and sugar.  Add chocolate, cinnamon, spicy chile and sour milk and you have a Mexican pound cake.  This cake is deeply flavored and encompasses such a lovely, somewhat spongy texture.  A wonderful stand alone chocolate cake; no adornment needed.  Simply cap with a dusting of confectioners sugar.

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Mexican chocolate cake is a surprisingly delicious spicy cake if you are looking for something to do with your bundt pan.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 – 8oz. chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar – optional

Preheat oven to 325°.  Melt the chocolate bar.  Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric mixer 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and vanilla until smooth.  Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a buttered and floured bundt pan.  Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool completely (about 1 hour and 30 minutes). Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

blue cupcakes

September 5, 2013 § 52 Comments

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We used to make these cupcakes quite often several years ago when my son was 9 or 10.  It was always his delight to mix the “color” for the frosting.  And you can imagine with a 9 year old mixing colors we had some interesting looking cupcakes back then, to say the least.  Although I am not a fan of using “food coloring” in cooking, I do make an exception for these because they are so festive and exuberant.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks “Apples for Jam” by Tessa Kiros.  I love  how she organized her recipes in the book according to color of the food.  She offers some very good cooking advice as well as subtle attention to preparing meals with children in mind.  Tessa’s cupcakes are “tiny and pink”, and as you can imagine pink was always out of the question for the young man.

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An encaustic painting by “little T”, he was only 9 years old…

I had a little leftover mascarpone and decided to whisk up a small batch of frosting too.  The mascarpone frosting was so creamy and fluffy, delicious and buttery rich!

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2  1/4 sticks of butter, softened (1/4 pound plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk

I c i n g

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • food coloring….of your choice
  • 4 tablespoons water

M a s c a r p o n e    F r o s t i n g

  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

M e t h o d 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.  Add the vanilla, then sift in the flour and baking powder.  Mix well while adding the milk a little at a time.  You should have a thick and creamy batter.

Spoon the batter into paper cupcake liners.  Make sure to only spoon in enough so the cake does not puff up above the liner top when baked.  The icing sits on the top nicely when the finished cake is level with the top of the liner.  Place the liners into a muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

For the icing, put the confectioners sugar in a mixing bowl with a few drops of food coloring.  Gradually stir in approximately 4 tablespoons of cold water and stir until your have a smooth, yet thick consistency.   Drop about one teaspoon of icing on top of each cake and smooth around with the back of the spoon.  (If the icing starts to thicken too much add a little more water to thin it out.)  Sprinkle any decorations on before the icing dries.

For the mascarpone frosting, using a mixer fitted with a whisk, mix Mascarpone cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until well mixed.

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Makes about 18.

cherry yogurt cake

August 28, 2013 § 68 Comments

Here is a lovely breakfast cake which could be made with just about any fruit.  I happen to have a nice bunch of cherries in the refrigerator and thought of making either a bread or cake for breakfast.  When it comes to sweets I tend to keep it very simple.  And in my usual “less ingredients is best” here’s what I came up with.

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c h e r r y    y o g u r t    c a k e

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup fresh cherries,  pitted and halved

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M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 350°F  Prepare a cake pan.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs,  mix well.   Mix in flour and yogurt.  Spread mixture into your greased cake pan.  Sprinkle cherries on the top and then pat them down gently with your hand.   Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

peach buckle

August 15, 2013 § 44 Comments

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I didn’t think it was possible but I think I hit my fresh peach threshold.  I have been eating as many as two to three fresh juicy ripe peaches every day for the past week, or so.  Peaches are still abundant at the market and I never make it out the market door without 4 or 5 in my hands.  Time to turn on the oven and start baking some peaches!  Being the rustic baker I am, naturally I would make a cobbler, crostata, galette or a buckle.  A buckle?

My mom loved cobblers and she taught me how to make a very good blackberry cobbler, which I will be making soon.  I already made a lovely blueberry crostata and posted it.  So, for now a peach buckle.  A buckle is assembled with the cake on the bottom and the fruit on top.  As it bakes the fruit slightly sinks to the bottom while the cake rises around the fruit, causing it to “buckle”.    Simple, rustic and absolutely delicious.  You may want to serve it warm straight from the pan with either a splash of cream or ice cream.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 ripe, juicy peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

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m e t h o d

Heat oven to 375°F.

Pour melted butter into a 2 quart baking dish.  In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix to blend.  Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended.  Pour the batter over the melted butter.  Arrange the peach slices over the batter and bake for 30 minutes or until browned.  The top will be brown and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

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