Wednesday, February 22, 2012

cookbook request: lady lemon bars in a tart pan

when someone contacts me about my book, i get slightly worried that they are calling or emailing me because they are unhappy with a recipe; it didn't work or it just wasn't any good.  luckily, that hasn't happened and just about everyone i have heard from is happy and excited to have the book and the chance to bake the desserts they remember from the cafe.  

when joy mc-waitress extraordinaire, came to me with a note from a guest, i was worried.  it seems that a woman (so sorry that i do not know your name-but i wouldn't use it without your permission anyway) who was visiting the cafe from all the way down in boca raton, florida, was wondering about a recipe in the book.  she has a copy and wants to make the lady lemon bars the way they are photographed-in tiny little tarts rather than bars.  

the problem; the recipe only contained instructions for bars.  the explanation; when you have to take 75 photos, things get changed so that the photos look different.  we made a spur of the moment decision to assemble the lemon bars using a mini muffin pan rather than try to cut them into squares; squares are messy and sometimes the filling can ooze and separate from the crust.  in short, the tarts were much more camera friendly in 90+ degree temps for a photo shoot that was happening outdoors!

the good news, i made a batch of little tarts and am posting the recipe and instructions here so that anyone who would like to make tarts rather than bars, can.  enjoy!

lady lemon tarts
makes 20 mini tarts
to make the dough, place the following into the bowl of a food processor:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

 pulse that mixture until it resembles coarse meal

 add 1 egg yolk and process until it comes together to form a soft dough.  

preheat the oven to 350.  divide the dough into 20 equal pieces.  if you use a scale, as i did, it will be about 1/2 ounce each.  if you do not have a scale, pat the dough into an evenly shaped rectangle with the same thickness through out and then cut it into 20 even pieces.  lightly spray the pan with grease and using your fingertips, gently press the dough into the cups of the pan.  be sure to bring the dough to the top of each cup.

 bake the tart shells until they just begin to color on the edges and are no longer glossy in the bottom, about 10-12 minutes.  while the tart shells bake, prepare the filling.

 ***a note about the filling; the tarts use a lot less than bars do!  so, i am including a half recipe of filling that will be more than enough to fill 20 mini tarts.  if you want to make more than 20, both recipes are easily doubled!

place the following in a mixing bowl:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
using a whisk, mix well.

whisk in the following:
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
using a tablespoon, carefully fill the tart shells taking care not to let the filling go over the edges or it will seal the crust to the pan and make it difficult to remove the tarts from the pan.  bake until the filling is firm, about 10-12 minutes.  allow to cool completely before removing them from the pan.

 the finished tarts, fresh from the oven.

using a thin bladed knife, carefully lift the tarts out of the pan by inserting the knife down the side of the cup.  take care when doing this so that you do not scratch the finish of your pan if it has a nonstick finish.  to decorate, sprinkle additional powdered sugar over the top and place a fresh berry or two in the center-we used blackberries for the photos.

bake on friends and feel free to ask me questions about the book anytime-it's nice to know that the recipes are being used and the results enjoyed!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

twd: chocolate truffle tartlettes

are you ready for another tuesday with dorie?  this week's challenge is being hosted by 4 different participants; steph, spike, jaime and jessica.  i know i was raring to go-how could you not be ready for chocolate?  since this was a chocolate challenge, i decided to make them for valentines day with my husband and one of our daughters.   both of them are fans of chocolate, especially dark chocolate but being a pastry chef, i decided to customize my tart for them.  what that means is rather than dark and white chocolate chunks and chopped biscotti being added to the tart, i opted to use dark chocolate, peanut butter cups and peanut brittle.

 first, the dough mixes up incredibly fast in the food processor.

 rather than 6 small tartlettes, i made one 9" tart

 as always, the marbles came out of the closet with a coffee filter to serve as pie weights

 perfectly baked!

 for the filling-egg yolks are whipped with sugar to the ribbon stage

 the booty-peanut brittle, mini peanut butter cups and bittersweet chocolate were folded into the mousse filling.

 the filling in the prepared tart shell before going into the oven

 after baking-the large tart took about 25 minutes at 350 to bake

fudgy perfection!  it was a huge hit with the husband and daughter-me too!!!

many thanks to this weeks hosts-looking forward to the next challenge.  bake on friends and if you dare, bake one and send me a photo-i will post it here!  see the tarts from all of the participants here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

kaiser rolls-a work in progress

i've come to realize that my sanity may depend on securing another book deal...but, i digress.  my new found freedom (read that as kids out of the house and husband working insane hours) has left me with time to try new things.  so what do i do with this freedom?  why, i bake of course-what did you think i would do???  kaiser rolls have always been something that i love-the thin, crispy crust and the fluffy, light bread...mmmmmm...then again, cookbooks are a bit of an obsession too.  i went onto the public library's website and secured myself a copy of peter reinhart's book, the bread baker's apprentice and decided to try my hand at kaiser rolls.  luckily for all of us, the recipe was posted by the gang that blogged their way through the book and can be found here.  i say luckily because none of the recipes in this book are short-all are extremely detailed and take a lot more time than you would expect.  this recipe spanned two days and honestly, i wasn't happy with the results, but that is probably my inexperience and not the recipe at fault.

a preferment-or a batch of "old" dough is mixed and allowed to rest overnight in the fridge.  on baking day, it is cut up and allowed to come to room temp so it can be incorporated into the dough.

my old mixer got the workout of a life time!!!

if you read this book, you will see that temperatures are just as important as measuring and mixing.

the dough after mixing

after the first rise

yes, i have had lots of practice shaping rolls-old habits die hard...

i tried the stamp this time, next time i will try the other two methods; tying a knot and folding the petals to the center.

they rise upside down and then you turn them over


not bad for this attempt but definitely not the rolls of my youth!  i will work on these again because i love kaiser rolls and good ones are impossible to find here in nashville.  that and the fact that mine looked nothing like all the ones i looked at from the bloggers group!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

gingerbread beer cake with bittersweet chocolate glaze

gingerbread.  beer.  chocolate... what more does anyone need?  mix it all up and bake it in a bundt and trust me, you will not need anything else.  i recently entered this recipe in a contest so wish me luck!  you can view the recipe here and use the photos below from the step by step to see what things should look like.

 when i know that i need to sift dry ingredients, i place a mesh strainer over a bowl and place all the ingredients to be sifted in it.  then i sift it into the batter a portion at a time.  the bowl makes it easier to contain and the stuff that falls through the strainer can be dumped in without the hassle of lifting paper...

 the two batters in the pan before swirling them

 swirling the batters carefully, so that you do not remove the grease/flour layer from the pan, is best done with a small spoon.  gently insert the spoon and stir and lift small quantities of batter to marbleize it.

 the cake after turning it out of the pan.  the hardest part-not cutting into it while it is warm!

 drizzle the glaze over the cake in a free form manner for the best look.

and that meeting i took the cake to-this was all that was left; two skinny slices of this is in this weeks contest for your best chocolate and spice.  and as always, if you bake one, send me a photo and i will post it here!  bake on my friends, bake on...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

thali restaurant, decatur

while i enjoyed the rainy weather during my trip to atlanta, i enjoyed the food even better.  we ate out every night but only once did we take photos of the food.  in decatur, there is a large indian population and judging from the restaurants, many of them are vegetarian.  we stopped at one strip center where 3 of the 4 restaurants proclaimed they were vegetarian-indian restaurants.  not a problem for us.  we walked in to thali restaurant and were seated, handed menus and like a couple of tourists who don't speak the language-we sat there lost.  luckily for us, a nice young man came over and explained to us that we didn't need to worry, the menu was prix fixe and all the dishes would be chosen by the chef-all we had to do was eat.  so, eat we did!  and by the way, we have no idea what we ate; we took comfort in the fact that it was vegetarian and that at least it would be plant parts and not critter parts.

  a snack to start with-fried crunchy snacks that were a bit spicy when dipped in the sauces

  the appetizer platter.  i tried it all and i enjoyed it all too

 the main course.  i loved the breads and the potatoes.  the soup and the dal were tasty too, i ate a lot

the third course was beans and rice and sauce.  i liked the beans, they were creamy like refried beans but they were probably mung beans and not pintos.  our fourth and final course was a scoop of ice cream with saffron, pistachios and fruit-it was tasty.  we finished up, paid the check ($37.08 for 2 with a $5 tip!) and we rolled (literally) to the car...had fun and i can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

mega mart, atlanta=mega amazing!

parents dream of the day that the kids move out and they finally get the house to themselves.  then, in the blink of an eye, it happens and parents don't know what to do with themselves...what you do is you pack a bag and go visit them in their house-you take up space, eat the groceries, watch all the wrong shows, sleep in their bed and complain a lot.  just a thought.  i recently went to atlanta to visit alix in her new home town.  she and i spent a lot of time wandering the shops and one of the best stops was mega mart.  the korean community is huge in atlanta, so are many other ethnic asian communities, and the variety of shops that cater to each community is huge!  after visiting a bunch of places, mega mart made the biggest impression on me and i look forward to going back to shop there and at another similar store, h mart.  between you and me, mega mart has more to offer but h mart has better prices.  like tourists in disneyland, we took lots of photos-gotta love the iPhone! 

 one of the cleanest produce sections i have ever seen and certainly one of the largest as well.

 off to one side of the produce section is one of those little walk-in fridge sections that had an amazing selection of noodles, tofu and miso
 just look at the different kinds of miso-have you ever seen so many to choose from?

 the fresh seafood selection was impressive-so are the prices.  amazing what being 8 hours from the gulf can do to prices.

 i don't care what you say, monkfish are ugly.  so ugly that they are not at all cute...

 grouper-try and find that in nashville

 i loved these packages-fish soup kit.  all you do is put it in a pot with water and cook-instant fish soup!
providing you like fish soup.

 for those of you not likely to purchase a whole fish, no problem.  they had the largest selection of cut/cleaned fish i have ever seen in a grocery store.

 no trip to the market is complete without checking the bakery case.

 gorgeous cakes!

the rest of the store looked like this aisle.  wide, neat and clean.  can't wait to go back.  i will share more of my trip to atlanta-i did plenty of eating there too!