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Showing posts from August, 2011

My August

This past August was a bit touch and go for me.  Although I had planned on writing about several subjects, a certain event in my life prevented me from even getting to them.  I did manage to start off with The Monthly Cookie , but soon after that, I had to stop writing.  At the time I felt as if I had had the wind knocked out of me as a result of a setback.  I was stunned, speechless, devastated, & utterly miserable.  The blog quickly took the back burner for me, because there were so many uncertainties.  After those two weeks and fully understanding what exactly our family would have to go through, I finally felt comfortable enough to continue writing and publishing good photography.  I hope you can understand that I needed this short absence.    These were those chocolate pretzels that I made at the beginning of August.  They were very good.  I think I preferred their flavor the next day more than fresh out of the oven.  If you haven't given them a try, click here  for the

Deluxe Raspberry Tart

At the beginning of July I had the pleasure of picking raspberries from the numerous brambles on the property.  The day was thick & muggy, and rain was looming in the skies above.  I quickly gathered one of my baskets lined with a cotton flour sack cloth & made my way to the brambles.  Many of them line our long driveway, so I stopped to pick there first.  I then made my way to the edge of the field to see what I had left.  So many animals partake of the bounty that it's hard to even get some for ourselves.  As I was picking, I thought of ways to use my beautiful raspberries.  Should I make jam with them?  A jelly roll filled with plump berries and some freshly  whipped cream also seemed like a good idea.  After awhile though, I quickly envisioned a spectacular tart.  A tart made with a delicious, flaky crust, filled with the silkiest of  pastry creams & topped with fresh-off-the-cane, raspberries.  Have a look at how it came together. D for Deluxe.  D f

Pastry Cream ~ Crème Pâtissière

Pastry cream is a thickened custard that is rich, yet light, and is used to fill many different types of pastries.  This is the typical filling you find in Napoleons, cream puffs, fruit tarts and many cakes (think Boston Cream Pie).  The technique for making  crème pâtissière   is not difficult at all and it's the kind of cream filling you're going to want to master if you haven't already.  The time spent at the stove is mere minutes, but I caution you to pay close attention to certain visual clues.  I think once you see how easy it is to make pastry cream, you may find yourself filling and sandwiching many desserts with it, because it's so tasty.        The Ingredients 2 cups whole milk 1/2 cup granulated sugar pinch of salt 1 vanilla bean 5 large egg yolks 4 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon unsalted butter Yield: about 2 1/2 cups, enough to fill a 9" round tart. Split your vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a small, sharp paring knife.  With th

Cornmeal Pâte Sucrée

Making a pâte sucrée is so easy & it takes no time at all.  The process is exactly the same as making a basic  pâte brisée .  A  pâte sucrée, however, has more sugar in it, is more cookie-like & crumbly, and rolling it out without any tears always presents a bit of a challenge for the baker.  This type of crust is used as a base for tarts and is always prebaked; it isn't meant for double crust pies.  After baking and cooling, the crusts can be filled in a number of ways.  It really is up to you.  The addition of cornmeal to this recipe yields a toothsome crust that makes it suitable for light, creamy fillings.   A fully baked 9" crust. The Ingredients 2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup stoneground yellow cornmeal 6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes 2 large egg yolks 1/3 cup ice water (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon), plus more if needed Yield: Enough for two 9" crusts. N
Dear Friends, I plan on returning to the blog very soon.  The past 2 weeks have been rather difficult for me, but luckily there is some hope and I do so want to continue posting here.  Unfortunately, it won't be possible for me to get to every story on my Good Things in August  list.  I ask you to please be patient and stay tuned for more Good Things in the near future!   Cheers, David
Dear Friends, I have to take some time off from blogging.  I received some sad news this morning and I don't think I'll be able to post for some time, I hope you can understand.  The blog will stay up for you to access my past posts. Sincerely, David

Blind Baking a Tart Crust

What exactly is blind baking a crust for pies, tarts & tartlets?  Why do we do it for some recipes and not for others?  Blind baking is nothing more than prebaking a pie or tart crust, either partially or fully, before filling it.  Partially baking a pie shell is done whenever you're going to bake a pie with a very wet filling (think pumpkin pies and quiches).  Fully baking a tart or tartlet crust is what you want to do when it is going to be used as a stand alone tart that has a custard or curd filling.  Blind baking is essential for these types of tarts and pies, because not only does it give the crust a head start in the oven, it also helps seal it, thus preventing a soggy bottom.  Whether you partially or fully bake a crust, the method is very simple.     Pâte Brisée This is a disk of pâte brisée .  I always flour my surface to prevent sticking and keep a bench scraper to help me along whenever I roll out this type of dough. The dough gets rolled ou