I have taken a bit of a break. Unexpected and unintentional….
Nights where I would normally plop down and flip on the TV to something mundane and focus most of my attention on editing photos – just a bit of a tweak…up-ing the contrast or brightness – not a whole lot, because in all honesty, I don’t understand photoshop one bit. And then I try to write something down … generally the thoughts in my brain flood these pages….and more often than not, the words and thoughts have nothing to do with the recipes I post. Which is fine. And that is why I love blogging…there are no rules. You can over share, under share. It is up to you. Or me. More me than you…unless, you too, have a blog…which in that case you probably totally agree with me.
These nights of blogging haven’t been happening as of late. Vegging out on the couch with a bourbon cocktail of some sort (or hot chocolate because it is still freaking freezing here in the great state of Ohio) and watching Skyfall one more time or trying to watch Downton Abby Season 2 - which I just can’t get into. I am a minority on this one, aren’t I? My mind won’t stay focused. Half way through and I am on Twitter. Or find myself cleaning the kitchen. Or looking for brownies in the freezer. ADHD anyone? Ugh. I need Ritalin to watch Downton Abby. I think I am calling it quits. On to the next series. I am taking recommendations. Anyone?
But here I am …getting back into some sort of routine.
WIth routine comes lemon tart, naturally. There may be snow on the ground or freezing rain falling from the sky (ugh, really Ohio?)…but my daffodils are peeping through the ground and my mind is thinking spring. As is my stomach.
Lemons are full on spring. Right? Bright and sunshiny….being that they are yellow. Just makes sense.
Gather ingredients for your shortbread crust. Carry them around in your favorite pie plate you may have swiped from your grandma. The crack on the far edge makes me smile. I am a lover of imperfections.
Your crust will need a lightly beaten egg.
Egg is like food spackle. I work great with food spackle. Real spackle. Not. So. Much.
Fingerprinted crust. You will need to Instagram this bad boy. Normal, right?
I have a tendency to Instagram my weekend baking moments.
Bear with me.
Bright. Sunshine. Happy.
And if I must be honest…this tart was epic, if I may say so myself.
And I will.
Tart. Bright. Sweet.
Just what this dreary March is in desperate need of.
- 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- ⅛ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Stick Butter (1/2 Cup), Room Temperature
- ¼ Cup White Granulate Sugar
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten.
- 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 6 lemons)
- Zest of 1 Lemon, finely grated
- 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar
- 12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
- 4 Large Eggs
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- Prepare the crust first. Whisk together salt and flour. Set aside.
- Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, gradually add beaten egg. Mix until incorporated.
- Add flour and mix until ball forms – it will be crumbly at first, but it will eventually come together.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10inch removable bottom tart pan. Place the dough into the prepared pan and with your fingertips, evenly press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Poke the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. Place crust in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake crust for 5 minutes at 400F. Decrease oven temperature to 350F and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare lemon curd filling.
- Prepare filling. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Set aside. Also, have a mesh strainer at the ready.
- in a medium sized saucepan, combine lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter. Place over medium-low to medium heat and cook until butter melts. Stirring occasionally.
- Once butter is melted, slowly whisk about ½ cup of the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly, to warm(or temper) them.
- Scrape the warm egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining lemon mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens – about 20 minutes.
- Place mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl and strain mixture, pressing the mixture through with a rubber spatula.
- Pour mixture into pre-baked tart shell and place in oven (at 350F) for about 5 to 10 minutes to set the filling.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.
* lemon curd filling adapted from David Lebovitz
I love Ina Garten.
This post might as well be called ‘ an ode to Ina”.
I adore everything about her….even her button down shirts – that are tailored made just for her (why do I know this?) – with the popped collar – which makes me think of spring break and the cruise we took and the dancing we did, which brings be around to Grillz by Nelly…ad a whole top diamonds and da bottom row’s gold. Can we go back to those days? Days where spring break existed and you lived with your friends and weekends started on Thursdays? Did we know how good we had it? I don’t think we did…we were always wanting to get to the next stage. Little did we know the next stage was full of work and serious responsibility – mortgages are no one’s friend.
Yes, I some how just connected Ina to Nelly. That takes mad skills, people.
Did you know… she was a White House nuclear policy analyst. I don’t know what that entails. It seems pretty major. Therefore, she is not a classically trained chef. She is like us, a home cook with a bit of passion, a love for great ingredients, and a desire to make those around us happy and full. That she took a leap of faith on a gourmet food store and it became crazy successful. That she has since, hosted the famed Food Network Show – Barefoot Contessa, that she has written some 6+ cookbooks, and has been the inspiration for millions when it comes to hosting dinner parties, whipping up simple family dinners, or setting a table fit for a king or your best friends. This all from a whim. And major guts. For reals.
I am also, slightly in love with the fact that she lives in New England (and has an apartment in Paris…but who doesn’t love that?). I am a sucker for New England…the ocean, the homes, the food, the scenery, the accents…you name it – I love it. I sometimes get mad at the entire state of Pennsylvania. Downright angry. For if it wasn’t for the 311 mile wide state of Pennsylvania, lobster rolls and I would be so much closer. Sigh.
I have made many of Ina’s recipes…and not once have I been disappointed. And today is no different. These are a simple dessert, whipped up in a moments notice, and sure to please a crowd. I took these into work as a random Tuesday treat and they were gone before lunch. Well before lunch. Second shift only got crumbs. Not a raspberry fan? Use strawberry jam. Or blueberry.
Dear Ina. Thanks.
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, Room temperature
- ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2+ ⅓ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 12 Ounces Jam, Raspberry – use high quality
- ⅔ Cup Granola, I used Bear Naked Granola (maple pecan) – make sure it is free of dried fruit
- ¼ Cup (a good handful) Sliced Almonds
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper (easy removal).
- Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add flour and salt mixture to butter mixture. Mix until the dough starts to form into a ball. It will be crumbly at first, just keep mixing.
- Press ⅔ of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides of the pan.
- Spread the jam over the crust, leaving about a ¼ inch border.
- Mix the granola with the remaining dough. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the jam. Scatter slivered almonds over crumb topping.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until the top begins to turn golden brown.
- Cool completely before cutting and serving.
slightly adapted from Ina Garten.
I had a day off during the week.
Glorious. Delicious. Relaxing. Exciting….kind of like skipping class, but without the consequences.
No alarm clock mid – week…whatttt? Yeah, kind of awesome. Lazy mornings that leak into mid-afternoon…my sweatpants are quite versatile, they can take me from pre-dawn to late afternoon…it is all in the accessories. Trade off those slippers with socks and you are golden.
My mid-week day off was in exchange for weekend work. I get two of these days once a month…which means I have to work one weekend a month. In the world of pharmacy…this is a pretty good gig. People still get sick after 5pm on Fridays… Weekends happen. But days off during the week are a great exchange if you ask me…Now if you had this whole being an adult thing down, you would schedule eye/dental/doctor/hair/etc appointments or do whatever it is adults do on their days off…clean? Organize closets? Prep a whole week worths of dinner? Fold laundry? I don’t know…but I don’t do those things until I have to….
No, I do zero of those above mentioned things… I lounge in sweatpants, watch endless amounts of Netflix and Hulu, drink coffee until late afternoon, catch up on my Google Reader, and spend the entire morning thinking of what to make for lunch. I have time to make a kick ass lunch…a lunch not found in a brown paper sack or in my case, my purse…I just toss things in as I am walking out the door every morning…apple, yogurt, a box of soup from Trader Joe’s that will last me all week…all fits in my purse, no paper sack needed. Saving the earth, one lunch at at time.
I had cheese on the brain this go around. And bacon. And was craving a favorite pizza combo. I had hearty crusty bread. Ranch, check. Leftover roasted chicken, always. It was destiny.
Let’s make a day off grilled cheese. The best kind.
Buttered crusty bread. Ranch. Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Chicken. Bacon.
Done. Done. Done. Done. And. Done.
Step 1: Slather the non-buttered side of bread with ranch.
Step 2: Cheese.
And A LOT of it.
Step 3: Leftover Roast Chicken
Step 4: BACON!!!
Step 5: Even more cheese.
Step 6: Ranch slathered bread.
People, this is a masterpiece.
Step 7: Grill it. Or panini press it.
Step 8: Admire the masterpiece.
A tad cocky, perhaps. But this sandwich was AAAHHHMAAZZZING.
Step 9: Sit back, put your slipper/sock clad feet up, flip on some Friday Night Lights, and enjoy your mid-week kick ass lunch.
You earned it.
That morning was rough.
- 2 Slices thick cut crusty bread.
- 3 Slices Bacon, cut in half so you have 6 pieces of bacon
- 2-3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 3-4oz. Leftover Roasted Chicken, thinly sliced
- 1-2oz. Extra Sharp Cheddar, thinly sliced
- Extra Ranch Dressing for dipping – if you are like me and LOVE ranch.
- Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a papertowel lined plate (to drain excess grease) and drain off grease. If you do not have a panini press (join the club!), use this skillet to make the grilled cheese.
- Butter one side of each slice of bread.
- Take one slice of bread, butter side down and slather the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing (or a tad bit more if you like). Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
- Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up.
- Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you do not have a panini press, do not fret. Place non-stick skillet over medium heat. Transfer sandwich to skillet and cook until bread becomes golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip sandwich and cook the other side of the sandwich until golden brown. You may need to place a heavy pan atop the sandwich when you are grilling it, to smash it down a bit – helps stick it all together. I used a square pyrex dish.
- Remove from skillet, slice in half, and enjoy immediately.
Or it might be a tart….
A tart pan was used in the making of this pie. Or tart. Ugh, I don’t know. A tart pan with fluted edges and a removable bottom. Very French. Also, the cheapest thing I have ever purchased from William Sonoma. That store kills me.
For the purpose of this post and my sanity…let’s call it a pie. I am more of a pie gal, anyways.
Pie is very Saturday night family dinner, served by grandmas and eaten with mismatched forks and chipped plates around a crowded kitchen table while your brothers tell off color jokes and the resident 3+1/2 year old counts to 25, skipping the number 15 altogether…every single time.
Tarts are meant for catered wedding and baby showers and fancy brunches… Tarts sound like straight back chairs and uncomfortable couches that weren’t actually meant to sit on and throw pillows that are just to be admired, never ever ever used. Boring…stuffy?
Pies get ice cream.
Tarts…just a dollop of whipped cream.
I prefer ice cream and crowded kitchen tables….
Pie it is.
But I like the look of a tart (I am so torn!) The edges standing so straight and strong…yet so flaky and buttery and fragile. The removable bottom is key to that cherished edge. You wanna know what else is key?… greasing the edges of the pan…like, really greasing the edges…liberally is not to be taken lightly. Because if the tart won’t release from the sides of the pan…that removable bottom is useless and a disaster waiting to happen. Trust me. Butter. It. Up. Or make a pie crust (like the one below) that is so buttery…that there won’t be an issue on the release. Score!
Let’s make a pie. Or a tart…Read More
I made bacon jam.
I am also watching golf…on TV.
Today is weird.
I don’t even know me right now.
I enjoy bacon. I am a fan of jam. I figured I would love bacon jam. I was right.
I can’t play golf. I have never played one hole let alone a front nine or back nine or a full eighteen, which honestly is a little overkill. I can count the number of times I have played putt putt on my left hand (or right for that matter). My only attempt at golf was as a kid, we hit golf balls in my grandparent’s orchard…I spent more time searching for my golf balls in the bean/corn fields that flanked the sides of the orchard. A result of hooks and slices. I never grasped the ability to hit is straight. And those miniature golf pencils used for keeping score …we used those to keep score of the never-ending gin rummy game. That has to count for something. No?Read More