Wednesday, April 27, 2011

From Paris Sweets: Pavé Montmartre

Pavé Montmartre
Stone streets will wreck your fancy shoes — or cause you to stumble — yet this quite old and very well dressed woman glided along in her impossibly high heels. She never let a heel touch down on the old Paris street. I felt shabby in my Danish clogs.

I remembered her as I baked Pavé Montmartre, a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets, the book I am cooking in its entirety. It is an egg-rich almond cake that is wrapped in a thin sheet of almond paste, then lightly burnished in the oven for some color. It was designed to resemble a paving stone in Pâtisserie Arnaud Larher’s neighborhood.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recipe for Carta da Musica, Unleavened Flatbread

Carta da Musica

The kitchen was already a mess, and I decided it would not hurt to set one more appliance on the counter and — if I was careful to keep my elbows at my side — there might be room for my rolling pin. I wanted to make Mark Bittman’s recipe for Olive Oil Matzo, his version of an unleavened Sardinian flatbread called carta da musica. Its lovely namesake — music paper — means this dough should be rolled so thinly that you can practically see through it, like parchment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Smoked Sweet Paprika

Roasted Butternut Squash with Smoked Paprika

Ordinarily I wouldn’t notice you this time of year, Butternut.

But there you were, a solitary darling in last season’s outfit. Sturdy and dependable, just a bit out of place in a crowd of slender asparagus. Remembering the good times we’ve had since I discovered the recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Smoked Sweet Paprika from Kalyn’s Kitchen, I took you home.

See you in September.

Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash with Smoked Sweet Paprika
adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen and her friend Margarethe

One butternut squash, peeled and cut into about 1 inch pieces
2 T cooking oil (canola, olive, grapeseed — virgin coconut might be interesting)
2 t balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 T smoked sweet paprika
1/4 t ground cayenne (optional)
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place squash into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with the oil and vinegar (if you are using vinegar —sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t). Use your hands to toss the squash around until every piece is well coated with oil. Mix smoked paprika, cayenne and salt in a small ramekin. Sprinkle onto the squash and toss with a spoon or plastic spatula (not your hand!). Turn it out on to a large rimmed baking sheet, evenly spacing each piece of squash.

Place into oven and bake for 25 minutes, then turn the squash over to bake for another 15 or 20 minutes. Remove from oven and gently transfer to put a ceramic bowl for serving. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Other Recipes using Butternut Squash
Roasted Butternut Squash with Lemon, Thyme and Parmesan from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Butternut Squash Stuffed Poblanos from More Please by Margie
Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna with Smoky Marinara from A Hint of Honey
Butternut Squash in Fresh Green Curry from Champaign Taste

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lemon Curd for the Easily Distracted

Microwave Lemon Curd

Lemon curd is a beautiful thing. Tart, sweet, smooth and just a little bit buttery. And it’s highly versatile, perfect for filling a tart crust, slathering on scones or melting into a warm bowl of steel cut oats.

There is no mystery to making lemon curd, and therefore no reason to stray toward store bought versions. The more transparent and gelatinous a jarred lemon curd appears, the worse it will taste—overly sweet, bitter and sticky.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

From Paris Sweets: A Good Pie Crust Will Change Your Life

Tart au Chocolat from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
For a long time, I did not like pie crust. It could be bland or soggy or dry or burned—or all of those failings at once. Pie crust became the necessary and mostly ignored container for creamy or fruity filling that were eaten first. Some were homemade crusts but many were those things from the grocery store that, while convenient, just tasted a little off.

But once I tasted a crust made with butter, that made all the difference. Through the pleasures of travel, reading and pastry consumption, I’ve sampled different types of crusts. In French cooking, for instance, there are four basic breeds. Pâte fuilletée is puff pastry. Pâte brisée is your classic all-butter pie crust, perfect for savory or sweet fillings. Pâte sucrée and pâte sablée are for desserts. Both contain sugar, but a pâte sucrée also has whole eggs or egg yolks. It isn’t too far from what we know as a sugar cookie. A pâte sablée is flour, butter, sugar—essentially shortbread dough—pressed into a pie pan. This will be more crumbly, like a shortbread cookie. (A sablé, in fact, is French name for shortbread cookie.)

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