A rainy weekend was spent in the kitchen baking Sour Cherry Focaccia. The same master dough recipe that was used for making Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls, was the foundation of this delicious focaccia with tart cherries and almonds.
Again, as with the Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls, the only change I made to the original recipe was to add additional flour (about 3-4 tablespoons) to the dough while mixing. Both times the dough was wet. I slowly added spoonfuls of flour to the dough until it was still soft, but did not stick to the sides of the mixing bowl.
I have a busy day ahead of me in the kitchen, making a Pavlova birthday cake for my daughter's 20th! Find the recipe for Bon Appétit's Sour Cherry Focaccia HERE.
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A weekend breakfast? Easter brunch? A platter of Bacon & Egg Tarts with Cornmeal and Black Pepper Pastry is perfect for either. Another easily prepared morning meal when you start a day ahead. Make the pastry dough, then line and freeze the tartlet pans overnight. (I recommend freezing the dough-lined tartlet pans for at least 30 minutes even if planning to bake the tarts immediately.) Bake the individual tart crusts the morning you plan to serve. Fry the bacon, fill the baked tartlet crusts and bake another 15 minutes or so, depending on size and depth of tins. Add a fruit or leafy green salad and, Voilà... breakfast!
I made small individual tarts filled with Parmesan cheese, apple-smoked bacon, and eggs in cornmeal and coarse black pepper crusts for breakfast today. I used shallow Matfer tin molds, but muffin tins would also work nicely, and hold more of the ingredients. Since the tart crusts I made were small and shallow, I ended up separating the yolks from the whites,and placing one yolk in each tart shell. I then added back egg whites to the tart shells by the teaspoonfull. Cracking a whole egg into a bacon and Parmesan-filled shell resulted in much of the egg white spilling out and onto the baking sheet. Using muffin tins with deeper cavities would prevent this from happening.
Rectangular Financier Molds (3 7/8-by-1 7/8-inches)
Round Tartlet Molds (3 3/8-inch diameter)
or, Muffin Tins
• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
• 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
• 4 tablespoons ice water
FILLING, PER INDIVIDUAL SERVING:
• 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
• 1/2 strip apple-smoked bacon, partially cooked but still pliable; either left whole or diced
• 1 medium organic egg
• minced fresh parsley, for sprinkling
TO MAKE THE TART CRUSTS:
1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, and coarse black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and pulse briefly, until the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water while continuing to pulse and stop when the dough just begins to clump. Do not over-process.
2. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap; flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic; refrigerate 2 hours before rolling.
3. Roll the pastry dough, dusted lightly with flour, in between a sheet of wax paper and plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/8-inch. Line the tartlet molds and trim along the edges. There should be enough pastry dough to line approximately 20 tartlet molds. NOTE... a little trick I learned from my niece who attended the French Culinary Institute: Top the dough-lined tartlet mold with an identical mold, pressing together gently; freeze for at least 30 minutes. Turn the tartlet molds upside-down on a sheet pan to bake. This will reduce shrinkage of the tart crust while baking.
4. If using muffin tins instead of tartlet molds, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch and cut rounds with a 4-inch diameter cookie cutter (or use a 4-inch diameter plate as a template and cut rounds with a sharp knife). Gently, and without stretching, press the pastry into the muffin tin. Because of the depth of muffin tins, the dough will crease in places. Be patient and genty press pastry onto the bottom and sides. Place the muffin tin in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to bake, line each pastry with a small round of wax paper and fill with dried beans. This will help avoid shrinkage of the tart dough while baking. You will get approximately 10 tarts with this recipe if using muffin tins.
5. Place the tarlet molds on a rimmed baking sheet, and/or muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 400˚F oven. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the wax paper and dried beans from the tart shells. The crusts should be a light golden color. Reduce oven temperature to 350˚F.
FILLING and BAKING:
1. Sprinkle the bottom of each tart crust with enough Parmesan to cover, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. If using an entire 1/2 slice of cooked bacon, lay the slice over the Parmesan, bending to fit molds. Separate the egg yolk from the whites and place egg yolk in tart shell; add egg whites to the tart shell by the teaspoonful. If making tarts using the muffin tins, it will not be necessary to separate the egg yolk from the white; but add the entire egg to the muffin tin tart crust very slowly.
2. Bake tarts on the middle rack of the 350˚F oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until the egg is done to your liking. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the minced fresh parsley. Serve.
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I could easily say that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day; probably the result of my extreme fondness for eggs. From a simple soft-boiled egg to a baked strata or frittata loaded with vegetables and cheese, I am always content with an egg as my meal.
And I am now making breakfast during the week far more often than I ever did. Before, baked breakfasts were reserved for weekends when my family was home and able to relax. Weekdays, my husband and daughters were out-the-door before 7:30 a.m., never allowing enough time to fully enjoy a proper breakfast. Bagels with peanut butter, bowls of yogurt with granola, and fruit smoothies had to suffice.
But with my husband now home after taking early retirement a little over a year ago, I am more likely to prepare a substantial breakfast -- or, I should say, "brunch". I spend my early mornings with a cappuccino and the paper, then feed and walk my French Bulldog, Pipi. It's usually 10 a.m. before I get hungry enough to even think about starting breakfast.
Baked Eggs in Potato Nests were a recent breakfast-lunch for us. They are similar to the savory tarts and frittatas I often make; filled with whatever I find in the refrigerator. Bake, scoop out the potatoes, and store shells in the refrigerator the day before you plan to fill, twice-bake, and serve. Then, no matter when you start your breakfast, it goes together quickly.
Plan on 1 large or 2 small potatoes per serving
1. The day before you plan to serve the stuffed potatoes, preheat the oven to 400˚F. Wash, dry, and lightly rub the baking potatoes with oil. Pierce the potatoes, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until easily pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from oven and cool briefly. When cool enough to handle, slice about 1/4-inch off the top of the potato. Scoop out the flesh of the potato to within 1/4-inch of the shell. Refrigerate potato shells until ready to finish.
2. You can be very creative with the potato filling and the amount of filling you will need depends on the size of your potatoes. I made 3 large potatoes and filled them with spinach, smoked salmon, Parmesan cheese, and an egg. I began by warming a drizzle of olive oil in my pan. To that, I added a large handful of fresh spinach which I sautéed until just wilted. I added about 1/3 cup chopped, smoked salmon to the spinach and divided the mixture between the potato shells. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, then add a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese to the salmon-spinach mix.
3. Crack 1 or 2 eggs (dependent on the size of the potatoes) over the filling and sprinkle eggs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the filled potatoes in a lightly oiled, ovenproof skillet or baking pan. Bake in the middle of a preheated 375˚F oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, until the yolks are just set, or done to your liking.
4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.
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Waffles... I occasionally make them on weekends when several people are usually around for breakfast. I will either make a traditional American Waffle or Cornmeal Waffles that have a grittiness to them that I like (recipe HERE). Yeast-raised Waffles have been on my "must make" list for some time, and finally today, I did! When I came across the New York Times article, Waffle and a Wink, the French Way by Dorie Greenspan (April 2002), I knew I had found the perfect yeast-raised waffle recipe.
It certainly didn't hurt that the recipe was French -- that's always a plus in my mind. But what I found irresistible were the ingredients of crème fraîche and kirsch. And even better, I had both in my kitchen (get the crème fraîche recipe HERE).
Dorie Greenspan's article on Parisian waffles mentions that the French do not eat them for breakfast, but for afternoon snacks purchased, many times, from vendors on the street. Also, you will not find the French drizzling maple syrup onto their waffles, opting instead for powdered sugar and jam, whipped cream or Nutella.
And this is how I ate my waffles today -- dusted with powdered sugar and placed briefly under the broiler. My husband took his waffles with whipped heavy cream and blueberries. With nothing more than the powdered, confectioners' sugar, I absolutely loved them! The addition of crème fraîche to the batter gives them a subtle tangy-sweetness. I'm hooked...
... and already thinking about inviting friends for a breakfast of Yeast-Raised Waffles; sans maple syrup, bien sûr!
My daughter just booked an eight-week trip to Paris, without me -- Je n'arrive pas à le croire! I'm sure she will be eating a French waffle occasionally, and I know I'll hear all about it.
adapted recipe from "Exquises Pâtisseries Pour les Fêtes" by Christophe Felder
ALLOW 90 MINUTES FOR RISING
• 1 cup milk, warmed
• 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
• 3 large eggs
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 2 2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 2/3 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
• 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tablespoon Kirsch
• Powdered, confectioners' sugar
1. Combine milk and yeast; let rest for 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar; add salt and vanilla, and whisk again.
2. Put flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the milk mixture, followed by the egg mixture into the center well of the flour; add the crème fraîche. Whisk the liquid ingredients together, then start incorporating the flour into the mixture. When combined, add the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Stir in the kirsch. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set batter aside to rise for 90 minutes.
3. Preheat an electric waffle maker. I used a Belgian waffle maker with deep grids. Spread grids with batter and heat for approximately 2 1/2 minutes. I found that these waffles browned for me faster than other waffles I have previously made. Adjust time accordingly.
4. Once removed from the waffle maker, dust with powdered sugar and place waffles, in a single layer, under your oven's broiler. Broil until the sugar just starts to caramelize. Watch closely. Enjoy -- these are delicious.
Makes about 14 waffles • Bon Appetit !
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I made Brandied Apricot Butter to spread on slices of the walnut bread I recently baked (recipe HERE). It was good, but the butter was competing with the strong walnut flavor. The way to eat this Brandied Apricot Butter -- on slices of toasted sourdough bread. Delicious!
recipe by Naomi Hebberoy
• 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
• 1/4 cup Cognac
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1. In a small saucepan, soak the apricots in the Cognac for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil; using a match, ignite the apricots. When flames subside, add the brown sugar and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a food processor. Once the apricots have cooled, add the butter and process until fairly smooth. Season with salt.
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I've had this recipe for Block Island Orange Pecan Scones in my files since I tore the pages from a House Beautiful magazine in 1995. I made the scones for the first time yesterday. I will be making them again -- often.
I googled the recipe and found that these scones are now available for purchase as a packaged mix. I guess that would save a busy person time, but I never quite understand doing that. These scones go together so easily, especially if a food processor is used to combine ingredients. Scones are best eaten the day they are made.
adapted recipe from Pat Doyle
PREHEAT OVEN to 375˚F
• 1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans
• Grated zest of 1 orange
• 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 tablespoon orange juice
• 12 pecan halves
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly just to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size.
3. Transfer flour mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the chopped pecans and orange zest. Add the 1/2 cup orange juice and beaten egg. Using a fork, quickly mix the liquid ingredients into the dry until just-combined.
4. Drop 12 equal spoonfuls of batter, evenly spaced, onto the baking sheet. Slide baking sheet onto center rack of oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
5. Prepare the glaze by mixing together confectioners' sugar and orange juice. Spread a small spoonful of glaze onto each scone and top with a pecan half.
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It's February, and I am again rifling through my grapefruit recipes. I always crave this bitter, tangy fruit during the winter months. These grapefruit halves are sweetened with the addition of brown sugar and a cloud of baked meringue.
Breakfast at my house! I only wish I owned a grapefruit spoon...
adapted from Gourmet | February 2002
• 1 large pink grapefruit
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 2 egg whites (1/4 cup)
• 1 pinch cream of tartar
• 1 pinch salt
• 3 generous tablespoons granulated sugar
PREHEAT OVEN to 425˚F
1. Slice grapefruit in half and sprinkle flesh with brown sugar.
2. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar, beating at high speed until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
3. Dollop or pipe meringue onto the grapefruit halves and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 7 minutes, or until meringue is golden.
4. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
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I am going to tell you something that you may not know -- I am happiest when I'm in my kitchen baking. You're not surprised to hear that, you say -- I do, after all, have a blog called Passions to Pastry. But I loved baking, or at least the concept of a bakery, at a very young age; before I even knew how to bake. I remember when I was about seven years old, searching our property and my aunt's next door, for the perfect "retail outlet". This would be a huge, hollow tree with a large hole in the trunk. I would stock my pies, tarts, cakes, and cookies inside the tree and sell to hungry customers through the walk-up window (i.e. hole). I can still remember my total and utter disappointment at not being able to find anything that met my specifications. To this day, if I ran across the perfect tree, I would probably entertain serious thoughts of setting up shop.
I've never told my husband about this either, but I don't think he'd be the least bit surprised. He's always asking me (with great trepidation) what's going on inside my little head. (Oh... he knows me well, and also knows from experience that he will be roped into becoming an accomplice to any plans I have brewing.)
Today I was able to spend an entire, happy day in my kitchen baking. These are buttery, brioche-like rolls infused with vanilla (take note of the tiny black specks of vanilla seeds in the yeast dough above). Spread with the easily-made fresh strawberry jam, they are quite a treat.
Before baking, the yeast rolls are brushed with milk and sprinkled with sugar. I used strawberry sugar, purchased at G. Detou on my last trip to Paris, but coarse or pearl sugar would be suitable substitutes.
Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls with Strawberry Jam
adapted from bon appétit | April 2012
• 2/3 cup whole milk
• 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
• 1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, * plus additional if needed
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon melted
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
• All-purpose flour, for dusting
• 1 tablespoon whole milk
• 2 to 3 tablespoons coarse or pearl sugar
• Strawberry jam (recipe follows)
1. Heat milk in a saucepan on top of the stove, or in the microwave in a 2-cup, heat-proof container until warm (110˚ - 115˚). Add 1 tablespoon sugar and the yeast. Whisk to blend. Let set for about 5 minutes, until foamy. Add the eggs and whisk to combine.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the flour. Pour in the milk mixture and stir briefly to combine. Add the 1/2 cup softened butter, one piece at a time, mixing well after each addition. When all of the butter has been incorporated, mix on medium-speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix/knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and shiny. * My dough was extremely sticky, probably due to my large eggs being VERY large. I used an additional 3 tablespoons flour, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough was not as wet, but still soft, and was no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.
3. Brush a large bowl with a portion of the 1/2 tablespoon melted butter and place the dough in the bowl. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining butter and cover with plastic wrap.
4. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until double in size. (If you would like to make the dough one day ahead, prepare through step 3 then refrigerate. When your are ready to proceed, remove from the refrigerator and let rise in a warm, draft-free location for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until double in size.)
5. Using the additional 1 tablespoon melted butter, brush the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly-floured work surface, roll half of the dough into a 12-inch log (cover remaining dough with plastic wrap). Divide the rolled log into 6 equal pieces. Take one piece and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a small ball by cupping your hand over the piece of dough and rolling it against the work surface. When you have 3 small balls, place them together in a muffin cup. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces and then the remaining log.
6. Cover the muffin pan loosely with a large piece of plastic wrap (I brush some butter onto the plastic to prevent sticking) and place the pan in a warm, draft-free location. Allow the dough to rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough rises slightly more than 1/2-inch above the rim of the muffin pan.
7. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Brush the tops of the rolls with the milk and sprinkle with the sugar. Place the muffin tin on the center rack of the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the rolls are puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve with the Strawberry Jam (recipe below).
The rolls may be baked, cooled completely, and stored in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to one month; thaw at room temperature and reheat in a preheated 350˚F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.
• 1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled and quartered
• 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, halved, cored, and coarsely grated
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Combine strawberries, grated apple, and sugar in a 2-quart sauté pan. Cook over medium-low heat, crushing the strawberries with the back of a spoon, until sugar is melted. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens; about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let cool. Strawberry Jam can be kept jarred and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
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We're finally having some bone-chilling, cold weather. Finally. Friday I actually saw a mailman going door-to-door with his satchel, delivering mail in shorts. This is Minnesota, for goodness sakes! It should be cold in January... The weather finally turned this morning and making Cheese & Sausage-Stuffed French Toast was the perfect way to spend a lazy (cold) morning.
It will take a little longer, but Chicken, Apple & Fresh Sage Sausage Patties are a healthy alternative to Brown-and-Serve-Sausages in this recipe. Either way, this stuffed French toast will make a great breakfast or brunch.
Cheese & Sausage-Stuffed French Toast
• 1 8-ounce package brown-and-serve sausages or Chicken, Apple & Fresh Sage
Sausage Patties (recipe here)
• 8-ounch loaf French or Italian bread
• 6 slices Muenster or Provolone cheese
• 5 large eggs
• 1 cup milk
• Pinch of kosher salt
• Warm pure maple syrup
• assorted fresh fruit
1. Prepare brown-and-serve sausages, or make Chicken, Apple & Fresh Sage Sausage Patties
2. Cut six 1 1/2-inch-thick slices from the bread. Halve each slice with a serrated knife, stopping before you have sliced all the way through the piece of bread. The slice should be hinged. Open the pocket and fill with a piece of cheese and sausages. I found I needed 1 1/2 of the chicken & apple sausage patties to fill each bread slice.
3. In a large shallow dish, beat the eggs, milk, and salt until blended. Place the filled bread slices in the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides of the bread.
4. In a large (cast iron) skillet over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter. Cook the stuffed bread until golden brown on both sides. Add more butter if needed.
5. Remove French Toast from the pan and plate. Drizzle with warm maple syrup and serve with fresh fruit.
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January always brings out the bread baker in me. Maybe it's because the heat is cranked up in the house and the radiators are toasty warm -- a great spot for yeast dough to rise. I was planning on baking a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread and eating slices toasted and slathered with butter. But then, I ran across this recipe for Cinnamon Bread Twists and everything changed. They seemed like the perfect morning treat alongside my cappuccino. I substituted Nutella for the two tablespoons of apple butter that was called for; probably influenced by the chocolate-hazelnut panettone I just devoured over the holidays from acclaimed Minneapolis bakery Patisserie 46 (definitely worth visiting if you're ever in the Twin Cities). Best eaten the day they are baked, but still pretty good the day after -- ENJOY! recipe HERE via the FOOD NETWORK
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