Pear Cardamom Tart

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Last month we went to Portland Nursery’s annual apple tasting festival. Everything is $1 per pound, with 60 different varieties of apples and pears. So we bought a lot. A real lot. Exactly 28 pounds. Maybe too many but they do store well in the refrigerator. I made this Pear Cardamom Tart which is a variation on the Pear Almond Tart I made a while back. I was inspired by this pear tart on Instagram which is absolutely gorgeous, Lauren Ko’s pie designs are amazing. So mine didn’t turn out like that, but I’m still happy with it, and it tastes really good which is sort of the bottom line when it comes to food. I used a few different types of pears: Bosc, Seckel, Red Anjou, Forelle. After it’s baked it loses the variety of bright colors, but you end up with some nice rich browns. I think it would make a handsome dessert for Thanksgiving. Enjoy :)

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Pear Cardamom Tart

  • 6 ounces almond paste

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons flour

  • 3 ounces unsalted butter (about 6 tablespoons) room temp 

  • 1 large egg, plus one egg white, at room temp

  • 1/4 teaspoon Almond extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dark rum

  • 4 pears (in a variety of color and size)

  • Pre-baked 9-inch Tart Shell, at room temperature (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

In a stand mixer beat the almond paste with the sugar and flour, until smooth. 

Gradually beat in the butter, until smooth, then beat in the egg and the egg white, the almond extract, cardamom and rum. Spread the almond filling evenly over the tart shell with a rubber spatula. 

Slice the pear quarters into 1/4” slices, then fan the slices in clusters over the almond filling, alternating colors and sizes. Press them slightly into the filling. Bake the tart for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the almond filling between the pears has browned. Remove from oven onto rack and cool slightly before serving. Can be served at room temperature. 

Tart Shell

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

  • 1 large egg, whisked

Whisk sugar, salt, and 1 cup flour in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Drizzle egg over butter mixture and mix gently with a fork until dough just comes together.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Form dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.) Place dough on floured surface. Roll to 11-12” circle, place dough in pan and press to fit, overlap edges inside. With a fork make holes in the crust to prevent bubbling. Cover the crust with parchment or foil and fill with rice or weights. Bake 10 minutes at 350° then remove foil and bake another 5 minutes until just firm but not browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before adding almond mixture. 

Pumpkin Bread

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It’s that time of year again. All things Pumpkin! And dark. Well actually this October has been unusually sunny for Portland, but this past week the rain finally kicked in, raining every. single. day. oh no! But this time of year is also an opportunity for walks on misty mornings. I like this Pumpkin Bread recipe, it’s good but maybe not as good as the Pumpkin Loaf Cake with Walnut Glaze from four years ago. But I wouldn’t not eat it! It tastes great with a Double Spice Chai tea by Stash. This isn’t an endorsed or sponsored post, I just happen to love their tea. They do everything right.

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Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 Teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Spice

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 3 egg whites

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz can)

  • Sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350º F.

In a medium bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and Pumpkin Spice.

In a large bowl whisk together sugar, brown sugar, milk and egg whites. Add the canned pumpkin and mix together well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, stirring until well combined.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan, then sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan before removing.

Preserved Lemon + Herb Focaccia

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And I’m back with a Preserved Lemon recipe! You might remember I preserved lemons in April and wanted to follow up with some ideas on how to use them. I’ve since added them to dishes like rice salad and they really add some great flavor. The lemons are super salty (even after rinsing) which makes me think I might have used too much salt, so something to keep in mind for next time. I got the idea for this Focaccia bread not too long ago. The bakery at my local grocery store makes this and wow, it’s incredible. It’s very flavorful, you can eat it on its own or with pasta or salad. For this recipe I used dried oregano, I wished I had used more so that it would look a little more “herby” for the photos.

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Preserved Lemon + Herb Focaccia

  • 2 cups warm water (105°-110°F)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • olive oil
  • Oregano (fresh or dried)
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinsed, rinds chopped
  • kosher or sea salt for sprinkling over the top

 

Preheat oven to 425°F

Put the yeast in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook. Pour in the warm water. Add the salt and 2 cups of the flour, mix into a soft and sticky dough. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix well. (The dough will be sticky)

In a large bowl add olive oil, enough to cover interior of bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover the dough with some olive oil. Cover and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Press out the dough on a well oiled baking sheet. Using your fingers, shape into a rectangle approximately 9”x13”.

Add olive oil to the top of the dough, poking the bread surface and leaving little pools of oil. Do this all over the bread. Don't skimp; this will result in great flavor after the bread is baked.

Top with the preserved lemon and oregano and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

 

Adapted from The View from Great Island

Coconut Cake

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Wouldn’t you know. On Jeff’s Birthday I’m ready to make this cake and… the oven is broken. It won’t heat and it’s only three years old! Luckily I had only prepared the cake pans while attempting to preheat the oven, so it wasn’t a total loss. We had an extended warranty on the stove but even with that it took a couple weeks to be resolved. Like it didn’t work when the repairman showed up, then it did and he left unsure of what was wrong, and then it didn’t again so he came back the next week after ordering parts. Turns out the ignitor needed replacing. Anyway, back to cake! I changed a few things but mostly stuck to this recipe. The original recipe says to buy a coconut and drill holes in it, bake it, crack it and all sorts of crazy stuff I didn’t want to do, so I just bought coconut cream and milk in cans at the market. It came out great. Really great. The texture of the cake is perfect, it has a nice density to it. The flavor is exactly what you would want. I read the reviews on the cake and one of the biggest complaints was the frosting, that it tasted too much like marshmallow, and I knew I didn’t want that super sweet stuff, so I made a version of the frosting I made last year for Jeff’s Birthday Cake with Mascarpone and whipped cream. Last time I ran short on frosting, so for this recipe I doubled it, then I went lightly frosting the layers (as you can see), but I ended up with so much leftover! I was concerned about running out, but believe me you can pile on the frosting between layers and have plenty for the top and sides. This is a delicious cake and well worth making.

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Coconut Cake

  • Butter, for cake pan
  • 14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • Coconut flakes 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and then flour the pans. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate, they will be easier to slice. While the cakes are chilling prepare the frosting (recipe below) Assemble: Cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers.  Frost each layer with a generous amount, then top with coconut flakes.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Beat together all ingredients in a stand mixer for a couple minutes until fluffy. 

Adapted from Alton Brown

Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

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Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread. That’s some alliteration there.I wasn’t planning on posting this but it came out so good I decided to take a few photos and share the recipe here. The brown butter adds such a great flavor, I’m not sure I would make banana bread any other way. The bourbon adds even more richness making this recipe a keeper. This is my second post with this awesome Cast Iron Loaf Pan I bought recently, it bakes very evenly and it has handles! And it’s cute!

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Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350° F. and butter a loaf pan. (I used 5”x9”)

Place the 1/2 cup of butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Continue to melt butter for a few minutes until it starts turning brown and smells good! Set aside to cool.    

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl beat together the eggs and sugars until well combined, then add the bananas, yogurt, brown butter, bourbon and vanilla, whisking until all combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with wooden spoon until combined. Spoon into loaf pan and smooth out the top. 

Bake 40-45 minutes, it will be done when knife placed in center of loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes. 

Adapted from Food52

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Dill Rye Bread

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It’s strange. I forgot that I had wanted to make this bread back in late January and just now found the text doc I started, which was a week before my mother became ill with pneumonia. I was writing about this bread, how she discovered it on a trip to California in the 1970s and brought back a loaf in her suitcase. It wasn’t something she could find in Connecticut and really loved it. The words I wrote just a few weeks ago couldn't possibly express the emotions that I feel now that she’s gone. 

I’m going through a lot of… I should have called her more, I should have visited her more, and just missing her so much. While I’m experiencing the sadness of losing her, it’s left me with a greater appreciation for family and friends, and life in general. This post is for my sweet Mom who introduced me to Dill Rye Bread.

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Dill Rye Bread

  • 8 oz rye flour (2 cups)
  • 12 oz all-purpose flour (almost 3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant (rapid-rise) yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 15 oz water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill weed

In a large bowl combine flours, yeast, salt, dill and caraway seeds. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with towel and let rest about 15 minutes.

Place the dough in a cast-iron loaf pan, cover with a cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Score the dough down the middle. Bake about 45 minutes until loaf is browned and internal temp reaches 190°F. Cool on a rack about an hour before slicing.

While looking for ideas for an open faced sandwich with rye bread I came across the Danish Smorrebrod here. Pictured above, I layered the rye slices with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, sliced cucumber and fresh dill. It tastes amazing on this bread.

Apple Pie

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As simple as it can be to make Apple Pie, I still found myself searching for a recipe last week. You might remember I’ve made a French Apple Pie, but it’s actually been a very long time since I’ve made a traditional Apple Pie. So here it is! And the pie crust here is really my favorite, it’s easy to roll out and work with, when baked it keeps it form nicely without falling apart and at the same time doesn’t taste like cardboard. The apples? For this pie I used King David apples that we picked up at an apple festival last month. I’m never sure which apples are which these days with so many varieties, is it good for baking? eating? This was a good choice, they didn’t mush up and had a really nice texture, some bite to it, with a spicy flavor. So thumbs up on the King David Apples. 

We had a lovely Thanksgiving for two this year. I made a turkey roulade - a turkey breast rolled with dried cherry and sausage stuffing. It was the third time I’ve made this and it works out really great for a small feast. It’s deserving of a blog post so I’ll just have to make it again. I’m sure Jeff won’t mind.

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Apple Pie

  • 6-8 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • Lemon juice, 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 clove
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg for egg wash 
  • 1 tablespoon or so Muscovado sugar (or large granulated sugar)

Pie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

To make the dough in a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt until combined, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 5-7 pulses (you don’t want to over work the dough too much or it will become tough.) Remove from processor and place dough in large bowl, add 6 tablespoons of the ice water, combine with wood spoon. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it’s crumbly, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half (I make one half slightly larger for the bottom crust) and shape each into a disk. Wrap separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

 

Filling and Assembly

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

In small bowl combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. In large bowl place sliced apples, squeeze lemon juice, then add flour mixture and toss until well combined. Set aside.

Roll out your bottom crust about 2-3” larger than diameter of pie dish, place in pie dish and trim around the edges. Add the apple mixture. Roll your top crust to fit, cut out any desired designs, place on top of pie, trim any excess and pinch the edges together with thumb and forefinger. Roll out any additional dough and use pie cutter to top with leaf or apple design. Adding a leaf pattern around the edges looks pretty. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and brush over top of pie, sprinkle some granulated sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until brown. Allow to cool a bit before serving. It will slice better if you refrigerate and then bring to room temp. 

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Also, I’m sorry to see these pie cutters are no longer available, I’m sure there are more out there but this was a nice selection of designs.