Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby, Oh Bébé!

Ruby and I are awfully lucky girls lately! 

Sweet Ilke over at Ilke's Kitchen is hosting a virtual recipe shower for us this week. She rounded up (yes, a pun to match the theme!) a group of talented bloggers to contribute a post on a favorite freezer friendly or quick and easy recipe that a frazzled new mom can manage to reheat or pull together on the fly. A virtual recipe shower is such a brilliant and creative idea! I hear the first month with a newborn can get pretty hairy so what a godsend to have meals covered. 

I can't wait to see what these amazing ladies come up with! Thanks to all for participating:
Ilke from Ilke's Kitchen

Anna from Keep It Luce  
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama
Kristina from Girl Gone Grits
Elaine from   California Living  
Esra from Irmik Hanim
Jennie from Pastry Chef Online
Jennifer from Scissors and Spatulas
Lana from Bibberche
Lisa from Lisa Is Cooking
Renee from Sweet Sugar Bean
Robin from A Chow Life
Sarah from Snippets of Thyme

Also, dear friends hosted a Bébé shower for us last weekend. The hosts know my Francophile tendencies and went with a French theme for the shower. It was so great to see all of our local friends who came to celebrate Ruby's impending arrival with us.

Being the consummate control freak baker, I insisted on making the cake for the shower. I made Karen Krasne's Versailles Cake from Extraordinary Cakes- an almond joconde layered with a salted caramel mousse and topped with more salted caramel, a pistachio almond praline, and ringed with macarons tied in place with a bow. Karen suggested buying macaron shells but I said au contraire!  So I made almond macarons using Tartelette's macaron recipe and, after decorating the cake, sandwiched the leftover shells with an almond buttercream made from Miette's meringue buttercream recipe (I added a tablespoon of almond extract and left out the pistachio paste). 

We feel so blessed to have such great people in our lives and can't wait for Ruby to meet you all- both virtually and IRL (in real life)!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Berry + Brown Butter Tartlets

Contrary to my lack of posting as of late, I've been baking up a storm. I have a backlog of goodness to share with you and first up are these tartlets.

I received a review copy of Gesine Bullock-Prado's new cookbook Pie it Forward. I've heard good things about her previous cookbook, SugarBaby, but haven't yet picked up a copy. I couldn't resist her latest, though, seeing as how it is all about pie. And I loved that the title is a play on words. Now that's a woman after my own heart!

There were so many delectable looking recipes to choose from but I knew as soon as I saw the blueberry brown butter tartlet recipe, it would be my first attempt. While I had a few quibbles with the recipe, let me just tell you, the end product was fantastic. Really, really fantastic. The hint of lemon juice in the crust and the addition of browned butter in the filling really set these tartlets apart. Let me emphasize again, these tartlets were damn good.

So my quibbles are as follows: The recipe only called for one pint of blueberries but I'd have at least one and a half pints of berries on hand. The one pint of blueberries I had would have made a pretty meager filling. Luckily, I had a pint of blackberries so I mixed those in as well. This is a very short crust so handle it gingerly and try not to stretch it when lining the tartlet tins. When baked, it still receded quite a bit although I handled it as gently as I could. After going through the process to make the tartlets, I decided they were too fussy for their humble looks. Next time, I'd just make a whole pie. It's not like you can have too much of a good thing. Lastly, the instructions for making the browned butter filling were a little wonky as written in the book. I re-interpreted them in my adapted recipe below. I must have intuited correctly because it worked out fine but the directions were confusing upon first read- at least to me.

All things considered, these are pretty minor concerns for such a fabulous end product. Pick up Pie it Forward as soon as you get a chance.

Berry + Brown Butter Tartlets
adapted from Pie it Forward by Gesine Bullock-Prado

2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (225 grams) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter + 1-2 tablespoons
1-2 pints (340-680 grams) fresh blueberries or mixed berries

1. To make the crust, you can use a food processor but it’s just as easy to mix by hand in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, sugar, and butter to the bowl and cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry cutter until only small pea-sized chunks remain.
2. Add lemon juice to the ice water and pour, a little at a time, into the flour and butter mixture while turning with a fork just until the dough begins to come together – when pressed together with your fingers, the dough should hold together and not fall apart. You may not need to use all the water.
3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and use your hands to quickly bring together. Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice as big as the other. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least half an hour until firm.
4. With a rack centered in the middle, preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Roll the larger sized dough round out on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Work quickly and turn the dough as you go to ensure it doesn’t stick. Cut out six 6-inch circles to line six 4-inch x 2-inch tall fluted mini tart tins. Prick the dough a few times with a fork and return to the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes.
5. Roll the smaller dough round out to approximately 1/8 inch thickness. I didn’t have a lattice cutter as called for so I cut strips of dough, approximately 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, to layer, lattice-style, over the top of the tarts. Transfer the lattice strips to a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.
6. When fully chilled, remove tart tins from refrigerator and line each one with a parchment paper round cut to fit. Place the tins on a baking sheet and fill with pie weights. Bake crusts for approximately 15 minutes. Remove and set aside. Leave the oven on. When the crusts have cooled slightly, remove the pie weights and parchment paper liners.
7. While the crusts are cooling, make the filling by whisking together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Sift the flour over the mixture and carefully fold in.
8. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a small sauce or sauté pan. Continue cooking the butter, while whisking continuously, until it browns. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Reserve 1-2 tablespoons of browned butter to brush over the lattice strip top crusts before baking. Pour the rest of the browned butter into the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
9. Place the tins on a baking sheet and divide berries among the tart tins. Pour the butter mixture over the berries until just covered.
10. Remove lattice strips from refrigerator and layer over the top of the tarts. Press the strips down over the edges of the tart tin to crimp off excess ends. Brush with browned butter. Return the tarts to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Bake until the top crusts are browned and the filling is bubbly.