Law, Leaves and Baklava

Every semester I promise myself that this is the semester I’m going to take it easy and every semester I don’t do that even a little. This semester, for example, I was supposed to accomodate 35 work hours a week by taking easy classes, but that was before I showed up to day 1 of the most amazing and demanding classes I’ve ever taken in my life. The unexpected final addition to the schedule was a positively life changing class on Shari’a, Islamic law. I decided to indulge my inner nerd, and last night I ended up making baklava at 1:30 in the morning.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

While it might be ever so totally true that this wasn’t even kind of a class assignment, we WERE assigned a mock divorce court last week (complete with costumes and props) as an in-class exercise and – what do you know? –the mock plaintiff just so happened to own a baklava company! Unfortunately we were representing her mock husband and bringing in baklava for the other side was too time consuming to be justified. But I didn’t have homework last night and so for class tomorrow I will be setting the mood in style.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Besides, baklava is secretly a perfect fall food. With walnuts, honey, cinnamon and thin sheets of phyllo that could easily represent falling leaves, you could not possibly get more seasonally appropriate. I can’t lie, phyllo is a pain in everyone’s butt to work with, but I can promise the results will be well worth it. I may or may have nibbled on a store bought substitute while I waited for this to be ready and I can assure you, there’s truly nothing like homemade.

 

 

Walnut-Honey Baklava | The Road Home

 

 

Do you have any unexpected fall recipes? Or stories of classwork-turned-recipe? Let me know in the comments below!

Hubeners Butter-S’s

In Germany it’s an old and absolutely loved tradition to bake Christmas biscuits. There are million different kinds of biscuits. And we love to make them. With friends, with family, with children, … There are families, who bake 10, 15 or 20 different kinds. And every little biscuit gets some chocolate on top of it, or jam or any other decoration. Weihnachtsbäckerei…. That means „Christmas bakery“, but it means so much more: a warm kitchen, the smell of Christmas, children with flour in their faces, a Mum preparing the dough, .. I’m sure, you get the idea.

 

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My uncle, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, … were bakers. Their name was „Hubener“ and they had a little bakery in a little village. Every year they made Christmas biscuits to sell them (I loved those days, because we children always got a little piece of dough to make our very own biscuits). For generations they made the same ones: Hubeners Butter-S. Today I want to share this old family-recipe with you.

 

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Hubeners Butter-S – German Christmas Biscuits

From: Sophia Hermann

Ingredients:

  • 250 g butter 
  • 250 g sugar 
  • 500 g flour 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 pinch of baking powder

Directions:

  1. Mix those ingredients till you get a nice dough. 
  2. Then you need something to form the biscuits. We usually use a masticator or a mincer or how ever you might call it. It helps you to get pieces of a line, which you form in a S-shape. That’s just important for the name, but doesn’t really matter. 
  3. Then put them in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 10 minutes. 
  4. When they are cooled down, dip them in melted dark chocolate. To melt the chocolate, I have one advice: put the chocolate in a bowl and the bowl in hot water. Then it’ll work out fine. 
  5. Enjoy the German „Weihnachtsbäckerei“ and let me know, if you like my family’s butter-S. Merry Christmas!

Baking with Oma: Takes the Cake

I know everyone always says their grandmother is the best baker, but mine really is. Really. I think I might actually have a case here because my Oma’s baking isn’t even similar to anybody else’s. Her recipes all come from some undetermined german-hungarian-romanian-austrian place. They’re never too sweet and they always contain a twist ingredient that makes the other ones come alive. The only problem was that up until recently she had a monopoly on her recipes because silly Oma is from the “old country” and Europeans have magical skills and don’t need recipes. But we’ve realized recently that she’s no longer 35 (or 75) and while she shows zero signs of going senile… you never know, and this is not a risk worth taking. So yesterday we had her over for our first Baking with Oma session, where she wrote down the steps as best as she could and we translated them into recipes we (and you) could actually follow.

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

 

We started with two recipes, or Oma cautioned that we would be up until 3am. Mom made an apple tart which went… um… I’ll let her tell you the story. But I made Oma’s So Superbly Perfect We Can Only Have It Twice A Year Because Otherwise We’d Eat It Three Meals A Day And Get Superbly Fat Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake. Which is superbly perfect, no lie. We only get it on Christmas and Easter and it’s more or less the highlight of both holidays. It’s fluffy yet dense, and not at all too sweet – which is why we can get away with eating it for breakfast even though it’s totally cake. It peels apart in flaky, chocolatey layers and shimmers with subtle underlying notes of anise. And mine came out! I think I just got lucky but I’m still bragging like I got skills because I’m really excited and I’m super proud. I urge you to make it for yourself – it’s an amazing flavor, and not one you’ve ever had before. The only thing about it is it’s neither quick nor particularly easy – I would recommend having some experience with yeast before you try this one out (I think they  made it challenging so we wouldn’t make it too often). But I promise it will be worth all your time and effort – there’s no doubt it will rock your world.

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

 

Do you have any special recipes handed down through the generations in your family? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Oma's Incredible Bittersweet Chocolate Yeast Cake – transcribed from memory, like nothing you've ever had | The Road Home

German Chocolate Chip Yeast Cake

From: Oma (Edith Lang), recorded by Gabrielle Siegel

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar (you can add 2-3 tbsp more if you like it a little sweeter)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 packet yeast (I think active dry, but I actually need to get back to you on that)
  • 1/2 tsp anise seed
  • 1 package of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (or same amount of whatever kind you want)
  • Stand Mixer
  • Bundt Pan

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2 1/2 cups of the flour with all of the sugar, yeast and salt.
  2. Place the butter and milk together in a small saucepan and heat until the butter is just melted. The temperature should be about 130° F, or lukewarm to the touch, but if it’s not, heat or cool accordingly.
  3. Add this to the bowl with the flour, and mix on low with the paddle attachment until just blended.
  4. Add the eggs, yolks, vanilla and anise to the mixing bowl, and blend with a paddle attachment on speed 4 for about 10 minutes, and then on speed 6 for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, until a soft dough has formed.
  5. Take off the paddle attachment and replace with a dough hook, and add 1 1/2 cups more flour. Blend on speed 2, until flour is incorporated, and a stiff dough has formed, about 5 minutes. Feel dough – it should be moist, but not too sticky, workable, but not too dry. If you need to, add up to 1/2 a cup more flour, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. 
  6. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, and kneed vigorously for 2-3 minutes, to make sure the texture is correct.
  7. Place the dough in a large oiled or buttered bowl, and place in a warm, moist area to rise, until doubled in size. Be patient – this could take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. For best results, cover the bowl in a moist tea towel.
  8. When the dough has risen, punch it down, and turn it out onto a floured surface.
  9. Using a piece of string, measure about how big around your bundt pan is. Roll out the dough to about that width, and as long as it takes to make it about 1/3-inch thick.
  10. Evenly distribute the chocolate chips over the dough, and tightly roll up the dough.
  11. Butter the bundt pan, and place the dough inside, and set it to rise in the same warm place, covered with a moist towel, until doubled in size. Heat the oven to 350° F while you’re doing this.
  12. If desired, brush the top of the dough with an egg-wash made of a beaten egg with about a tablespoon of water (does not need to be precise at all) and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes to an hour, until cake is a deep brown, and not too squishy when you poke it (not scientific I know, but it’s the best litmus test Oma could give me).
  13. Cool for about 15 minutes in the pan and turn out onto a cooling rack until completely cool. Eat immediately, or cover very tightly until you’re ready. Try to eat it within 1-2 days, though if you cover it tightly it will keep a little longer. It’s a really good excuse to have people for tea.
  14. Enjoy the heck out of this cake – eat it for breakfast, etc. You worked hard for this, so make it worth it!

Landed

It’s been three crazy days since my second year of college officially began. My schedule’s still not complete, but my room’s nearly decorated, I have 5 amazing suite-mates, and most importantly of all… I have a gas stove! A lucky lottery number landed the 6 of us in a legitimate apartment (with a hallway and everything!) and while we had literally no water pressure for the first two days, I hardly noticed because we were making Tilapia Tacos with Lime Guacamole on the first night, then Pesto Pasta with Crostini topped with Goat Cheese and Bruschetta on the second. Ding dong, the meal plan’s dead. Peace out tofu meatloaf, I’ll be seeing you never.

 

This is none of the things I just mentioned ;)

 

So what does this mean for you? It means a year full of budget-friendly, schedule-friendly, super flavorful recipes. Because we’re not going to let our small city kitchen, busy schedules and utter lack of money get us down – we’re going to bring you apartment gourmet at its finest. I didn’t exactly pick my suite-mates for their culinary sensibilities… but that’s probably I’m friends with them in the first place.

 

It's a ricotta mousse. But it will all make sense in a second, don't worry.

 

Unfortunately, the card reader for my camera got lost in the moving process, so the kitchen escapades will begin as soon as I can get a new one. Meanwhile I’d like to share a recipe we developed in the final days of summer. Mom, Isabella, Francesca and I went to Le Cirque this past July, because we wanted to celebrate (belatedly) Isabella’s middle school graduation, and Francesca’s impending birthday… and because we are not the types to let $25 prix fixe Restaurant Week deals at (arguably) the city’s finest restaurant pass us by. Between the four of us, we ordered all of the desserts… except the ricotta mousse cake, which sounded kind of mediocre. Yet somehow, at the end of the meal, we had Plum Tarts in front of mom and me, Rocky Road Panna Cotta for Isabella, Crème Brûlée for Francesca (I kid you not) and a Ricotta Mousse cake in the middle of the table. Now, I’m not sure how that happened – kitchen mix up, superior charm, or divine intervention – but all I know is I have never tasted such a perfect cloud of wonder in my life. It was smooth, it was creamy, it was light, it was airy, it was pretty much Heaven… only it was a food.

 

 

See, told you so. And just for the record, you know you want one.

 

It was only a few days later that Isabella suggested we start a series called “Sweet Dreams,” to share our favorite baked goods. And when she said that, all I could possibly think of was this mousse. Then Vinny, the cheese guy at our local Italian store started bragging about how amazing their ricotta was, and all the pieces fell into place. And so the recipe that you see before you was born. And can I tell you a secret? It’s probably the easiest dessert I’ve ever made. So moral of the story? Your kitchen has the potential to be a five star restaurant. So as you wait on pins and needles to hear more college adventures (you know it’s true) whip up a batch of this ricotta mousse, and impress all your friends. You’ll be glad you did, and so will they. I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, sweet dreams!

 

(click on recipe for printable version)

The Secret Life of Macarons

 

After making the gelato for The Crostata, and subsequently 12 Lavander Crème Brulées for Isabella’s French class,  I had to find a home for about 25 egg whites. I obviously believe in somehow using up the other part of the egg after separating it, but on a normal day that belief just inspires me to feel a little guilty while I pour the excess down the sink. Baking is time consuming, and egg whites are fussy, and it just never seemed worth the pain and suffering (because clearly my life lacks perspective). But sometimes extremes are the best medicine, and two things happened that made me change my ways. First I learned that you can freeze egg whites, which easily solved the I-have-no-time problem (rumor has it they last about a month, maybe longer). Second, I remembered that a few days before I acquired all these egg whites, a good friend of mine from Berkeley, who is an excellent baker, texted me a picture of 8 beautiful, perfect, homemade macarons. Even on my phone they looked good. Unfortunately, I live nowhere near Berkeley. I have no money for a plane ticket and I have no car to drive myself. The Google Maps walking directions take 39 days, 17 hours, which I certainly don’t have, and they involve tolls, ferries, and a treck across Canada. They don’t involve sleeping. I was not in the mood for any of that. If I was going to get macarons like hers I was going to have to make them myself.

 

And honstly... look how pretty...

The blogosphere is teeming with macarons. Macarons at their best are beautiful, charming and perfect. I hadn’t actually had one until very recently, but I was shocked to discover that they even taste good! They are, as a food, everything a blogger could ever want. I was hesitant to join in the trend so late in the game (and so soon after a red velvet cake…) but again, 25 egg whites. What could I do? But I quickly discovered that, behind the blogs, there is a secret side to the macaron. They can be crinkly, they can get burned, they can be runny and turn into blobs, they can forget to rise, they can stick to the pan, and they can migrate all over the place. Even with Francesca’s help, my first rounds turned out like this:

It's like watching the clouds...

(Clockwise from top right: The Sea Turtle, The Island of Manhattan, The Funny Crinkle Face, The Empty Shell, The Pancake, and The Duckbill Platypus)

You know you’re in a bad place when The Pancake and The Funny Crinkle Face kind of look like victories. I should warn you, Ladies and Gentlemen, your first few rounds may very well come out like one of these. A lot of websites will give you alternative uses for the macarons that don’t come out, but that’s silly. Fill them anyway. They will look terrible, but everyone in my family agreed that these ones tasted the best.

I'm serious. They're hideous, but they're amazing.

If you want to leave yours right there, that’s fine, skip to the last paragraph. If not, here are some tips to make perfect macarons of your own.

Macarons and Origami, a classic combination...

First of all, don’t overmix the batter – the protein in the eggs breaks down so the batter won’t hold together. That’s the difference between Crinkle Cuts and perfect domes, and also the difference between circles and blobs.  On a related note, you should sift the powdered sugar and almond flour together after you process them, so you can avoid creating lumps that may have to break up.

I don’t recommend using a convection oven. If you do, remember to lower the temperature by about 25°F, though this can vary by oven. Convection reportedly brings mild advantages with rising (though I didn’t notice a difference), but even on lower temperatures it can cook the top of the macaron too fast, leaving the bottom sticky (the inside may remain on the pan, leaving you with a paper-thin shell). When I made them on conventional, they came out perfectly without any adjustments.

Fourth, very few people or books note this trip, but baking on top of several preheated baking sheets can do wonders for ensuring a crisp bottom, that doesn’t stick too much to the baking sheet. Bread bakers do this all the time to ensure a crisp bottom crust on hearth breads. I used four preheated sheets, but for best results I’d actually recommend using as many as six. This too, however, can vary a lot by oven. You may find your macarons bake better without any sheets at all, and sometimes if my macarons are sticking to the parchment and browning too fast, I find it helps to lower the temperature to around 225°F and stick the parchment directly on the rack so they can crisp up without burning. (Thank you to Duncan, from Syrup and Tang, for clearing this one up. Check out his definitive Macaron guide for more information.)

The most important thing to do learn the rhythm of macarons based on your kitchen. If it’s humid, leave them out to dry longer, because the skin will take longer to form, if your oven tends a little hot, lower the temperature a little bit, because they may burn.

The gods of French Pastry will probably smite me for saying this, but these actually have a lot in common with chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they’re delicate and sensitive and pretty too, but when you get down to it, they’re really just a fancy comfort food – gooey, crispy and fun. And no matter where you are on your macaron journey, you can experiment and personalize them. I decided to make macarons in the style of the Poire Belle Helène – a classic flavor combination of pear, chocolate and almonds – because we had pear liqueur on hand, but you can add any liqueur or extract, and fill them accordingly. If you want to make a more authentic Poire Belle Helène, serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or scrape some vanilla bean into the batter, but again, that part doesn’t matter. To be perfectly honest, none of this does really matter. These tips will help you make the perfect macaron, which is rewarding beyond belief. But even if they don’t come out, they will be less photogenic but just as (maybe more) yummy. And that’s the true secret behind macarons: if you don’t feel you can make them perfectly, you can and should make them anyway. Your taste buds will be none the wiser.

Macarons Belle Helène – Pear Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

From: Gabrielle Siegel, Adapted from the French Culinary Institute

Ingredients:

    For Macarons

    • 115 grams (4 ounces) almond flour
    • 200 grams (7 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tablespoon pear liqueur
    • yellow food coloring
    • green food coloring
    • 90 grams (3 1/4 ounces) egg whites, preferably old, at room temperature
    • 8 grams (2 tablespoons) confectioners’ sugar

    For Ganache

    • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (or chocolate chopped up in to smaller pieces) (you can use milk, dark, or semisweet too, whatever you like)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 325°F, and place 3-6 baking sheets, stacked, on a rack in the middle of the oven (make sure you’ll be able to put the one with the macarons on top of that though)
    2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    3. Combine the almond flour and 200 grams sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process for about a minute, until very fine. Sift through a fine sieve, and set aside.
    4. Place egg whites and liqueur in the bowl of a stand mixer, with 2 drops of yellow food coloring and one drop of green. If you prefer a deeper color, use 4 drops of yellow and two drops of green. Beat on low speed (about 2 on a Kitchenaid) until aerated. Add 8 grams sugar and raise speed to high, and beat for about 3 minutes, until soft peaks form. Don’t overwhip the egg whites, or they’ll be harder to fold into the rest of the ingredients and you may end up overmixing.
    5. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture in 2-3 additions, to prevent clumping Add next addition when first one is mostly, but not entirely folded in.
    6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag with a #2 tip.
    7. Pipe fifty 1-inch rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheet and set aside for 20 minutes-1 hour, until a skin forms on the surface.
    8. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until firm, and just slightly beginning to brown around the edges. If you nudge a macaroon, it shouldn’t shift off its foot. If it does, it’s not done. Watch them very carefully as they bake so they don’t burn.
    9. Transfer macarons to cooling rack. If they don’t come off the sheet easily, transfer the whole sheet of parchment to the cooling rack and leave there for a few hours, then carefully peel off.
    10. While they’re cooling, pour the chocolate for the ganache into a bowl, and bring cream to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
    11. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute, then stir.
    12. Let ganache cool until spreadable. Then spread, or pipe, ganache in a circle just inside the edges of one of the macarons. Place another macaron on top, and there you go! You made it! Photograph extensively, text all your friends… or just eat and enjoy.

    Just Peachy

    My roommate this year had a pair of purple Crocs that followed me everywhere. If I was at my desk, the Crocs were underneath, if I was by my bed, they were under my ladder, and if I was walking across the floor, I could be sure that the Crocs would be right smack dab in the middle. I think most people would be annoyed, or creeped out, if a pair of shoes were stalking them. But I’m a big believer in fate (one day I’ll tell you the story of how my parents met, and you’ll understand), so I knew it must be a sign of… something.

    It was a sign of this pie, if you can believe it...

     

    So it made perfect sense when, in March, I got an email from John Moore, who works with none other than Mario Batali, asking me to write a post on one of Mario’s recipes. At the time I was still in New York  – so close to Eataly but so far from my kitchen – but I hurriedly immersed myself in the vibrant Babbo Cookbook so I could get cooking as soon as I got home.

     

    This cookbook is awesome

     

    Picking a recipe was next to impossible. Goat Cheese Tortelloni with Dried Orange and Fennel Pollen sounded so decadent, but then again homemade Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù was reminiscent of the first meal I ate out in New York. I read about Duck with Chicory, Preserved Lemons and Kumquat Vinaigrette, Asparagus Vinaigrette with Black Pepper Pecorino Zabaglione, and even a Saffron Panna Cotta that sounded perfectly indulgent. It wasn’t actually until I got home that I could even make a decision. But when late May came around, and the sun began to shine, and the thermometer hit 90, and I got out my shorts and skirts and began to spend my days building fairy houses in the backyard with Francesca and Isabella, the answer was clear. “This weather clearly calls for a Peach Crostata with Honey Butter and Honey Vanilla Gelato,” I thought to myself, “I wonder if Mario has a recipe for anything like that…”

     

    Woah....

     

    And you can imagine my utter shock when Mario had a recipe for exactly that…

    (Just kidding) (I fudged the details of that story a bit)

     

    A cross section of the crostata

     

    I ran out to pick up some beautiful Georgia peaches, turned on Andrea Bocelli Radio (which is the only thing you can listen to while making Italian food, or really just while making food) and got to work baking. And I should warn you – making all the parts of this recipe will take you a good part of the day. But I can promise that it is ridiculously worth it. And even if you can’t, for example, make the gelato because you haven’t got the time (or the gelato maker), please make the Crostata. It is the perfect Italian twist on Peach Pie (or to use Mario’s words, what happened when “the perfect summer pie happened to take a little ride uptown”) and it brings summer wherever you are.

    I began a bit scared because I have very little experience in tart doughs. But this one, to my shock, took about 10 minutes, and it smells and tastes, like an amazing cookie. I kept on calling my family over to smell it while I was making it. Which is a weird thing to do with a tart dough. But it really smelled that good. And, in fact, I actually made cookies out of the extra dough, and filled them with spekuloos (although in the spirit of Italy, I’d actually recommend using Nutella instead). They’re a bit tougher in texture than the tart shell, since you have to knead them and roll them out again, but it’s so much better than letting the dough go to waste.

     

    Cookies&Milk

     

    There are just a few important things to remember. First of all, freeze your butter after you dice it so that your crust will be nice and flaky. It’ll only take a few minutes, but it makes a big difference. Second of all, if your refrigerator has a tendency to freeze things, as ours did the day I made this, then only chill the dough for three-four hours, rather than overnight, so it doesn’t have a chance to freeze. Otherwise you will have a very interesting time trying to roll it out. If it does for some reason, freeze, you have little choice but to let it thaw a bit, so just be careful to make sure the thawed dough doesn’t stick to your work surface. Put down a little flour underneath when you roll it out, but if it does still stick, carefully run the blunt end of a chef’s knife underneath the dough to separate it from the countertop. Then just pick it by draping it over your rolling pin, and lay in the tart pan.

     

    How to make a crust

     

    With the crust behind me I moved on to the filling and the gelato. Everything went off delightfully without a hitch. The almond filling is about as simple as a buttercream (and the process is very similar), and the peaches just need to be tossed with a few things to accentuate their flavor and texture. And as for the gelato, just remember – making gelato is quite a bit like making a creme brulée, or a creme anglaise – it’s very important to temper your eggs by whisking in a little bit (1/3 cup or so) of your cream, before slowly pouring the yolks into the cream, whisking all the while. That’s the best way to avoid fancy scrambled eggs (unless you like that kind of thing). But that’s the hardest part of the recipe, and it’s really not as scary as it sounds. Then just freeze the gelato in a better gelato maker than my $30 disaster (there are horror stories, but you don’t need to hear them… they involve cursing and a kitchenaid), and you’re done!

     

    The crostata again

     

    I hate to say it, but I always expect to have to change something when I use a restaurant cookbook, because professionals often don’t measure when they cook, making their recipes difficult to transcribe. So you can imagine my actual surprise (as distinct from the fake surprise of before) when everything came out the first time, without editing anything. This recipe translates beautifully from restaurant kitchen to home kitchen, which I think is one of it’s chief successes. The other thing I love, is that while there are many steps, none of them are too difficult, which perfectly illustrates the Fig philosophy, that a recipe doesn’t need to involve ridiculous techniques and liquid nitrogen to be absolutely perfect. The essence of good cuisine lies in knowing the best way to accentuate an ingredient, or in understanding how to blend flavors, which this recipe does perfectly. So whether your summer is here, or right around the corner, this Crostata is the perfect way to welcome it in. Serve it warm, or chilled, with a scoop of gelato and a drizzle of honey butter. Put on your favorite pair of Crocs, turn up Andrea Bocelli, and love your life. If you can get local fruit, even better – I can’t wait to make this after the first time I go peach picking. But even if you can’t, this quintessential, sophisticated summer dessert is tutto delicioso e tutto perfetto. Buon Appetito!

     

    Peach Crostata with Honey Butter and Honey Vanilla Gelato

    From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

    Ingredients:

      1 recipe Tart Dough (see below)

        Almond Filling

        • 1 1/2 cups blanched, sliced, almonds
        • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
        • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
        • 1 egg
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • pinch of kosher salt

        Streusel

        • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
        • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
        • 1/2 cup blanched, sliced Almonds
        • 3/4 cup sugar
        • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

        Peaches

        • 6 medium ripe peaches
        • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
        • 1/2 cup sugar

        Honey Butter

        • 1 cup honey
        • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
        • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

        2 pints Honey Vanilla Gelato (see below)

          Directions:

          1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
          2. Roll the chilled Tart Dough into a 12-inch circle, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides and trim the top so that the dough is flush with the tart pan. Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator and chill until completely firm, about 30 minutes.
          3. To make the filling: spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not powdery.
          4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the confectioners’ sugar until very smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla and the salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Thoroughly beat in the ground almonds. Set aside.
          5. To make the streusel: Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Place the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse to form pea-size crumbs. Spread the streusel out onto a cookie sheet and chill briefly.
          6. Peel the peaches and cut into 1/4-inch wedges. In a large bowl, toss the peach wedges with the lemon juice, vanilla, flour and sugar. Spread enough of the almond filling on the bottom of the tart to completely cover it, and arrange the peach slices densely on top. Sprinkle the streusel crumbs over the tart. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any juices and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crust and streusel are nicely browned and the juices are bubbling. Allow to cool completely before removing the tart from the pan.
          7. To make the honey butter: In a small saucepan, combine the honey and the insides of the split vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the hone is reduced by 2 thirds. Whisk in the butter until it is completely incorporated.
          8. Serve with a scoop of the Honey Vanilla Gelato and drizzle with the honey butter.

          Tart Dough

          From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

          Ingredients:

          • 2 1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
          • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
          • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
          • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
          • grated zest of 1 orange
          • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
          • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
          • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
          • 2 teaspoons heavy cream

          Directions:

          1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and orange zest. 
          2. Add the cold butter cubes and toss lightly to coat. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
          3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and heavy cream, and add it to the flour-butter mixture. 
          4. Pulse to moisten the dough, then pulse until it begins to come together. 
          5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand. 
          6. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of heavy cream. 
          7. Shape into a small disk, wrap, and chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

          Honey-Vanilla Gelato

          From: Reprinted with permission from Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook

          Ingredients:

          • 9 egg yolks (*note from Gabrielle – save the whites, we’re going to do something with them in an upcoming post)
          • 1/2 cup honey
          • pinch of kosher salt
          • 2 1/4 cups milk
          • 3/4 cup heavy cream
          • 1 plump vanilla bean, split lengthwise
          • 2 tablespoons sugar

          Directions:

          1. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk together with the honey and salt.
          2. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. When the milk and cream come to a rolling boil, quickly whisk some of the boiling milk into the egg yolk mixture, then return the egg yolk mixture back tot he pot. Whisk well to combine the rest of the milk with the egg yolk mixture. Strain through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer and save the vanilla bean for future use.
          3. Chill the custard completely, then freeze in a gelato maker according the the manufacturer’s instructions.

          Fall at its Finest

          I love autumn for so many reasons – the soft lighting, the crisp air, and the beautiful foliage – but somehow things always come back to food for us. Even when I was a little girl, great food superseded all other experiences. Sure, I was excited to go back to school and for Halloween, but what I really loved were the comfort foods my mother made in the fall. She used to make these wonderful Austrian plum dumplings called Zwetschgenknoedel. These cozy and rich Austrian potato dumplings are filled with Italian plums and have just enough sugar and cinnamon to be called dessert.

          When I went to college, I had Zwetschgenknoedel withdrawal every fall, and for years afterward I would beg my mother for the recipe. Like so many great cooks of her generation, she said there was no recipe and she would add a little of this and that each time. But in recent years, Gabrielle and Isabella got so tired of hearing about these special dumplings they begged their Oma to try to write it down. Fortunately, it was much easier to do than she predicted. They’re actually quite easy to make, and they’re spectacularly delicious.

          Most Americans have never had these delectable dumplings before. I’ve never seen them on a menu or sold anywhere. In Germany and Austria, they are as common as apple pie and it’s easy to see why. There is nothing better than one or two of these dumplings with a cup of tea after a light lunch or dinner. Help me spread the word and share this link with all of your foodie friends. I assure you, they will be grateful.

           

          Zwetschgenknoedel (Austrian Plum Dumplings)

          From: Heide Lang

          Ingredients:

          • 2 Russet potatoes
          • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter
          • Pinch of Salt
          • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
          • About 12 Italian Plums (sometimes called prunes) or damson plums
          • ¾ cup sugar1 teaspoon cinnamon
          • 1 teaspoon vanilla
          • 1 cup bread crumbs

          Directions:

          1. Boil 2 russet potatoes until soft (at least ½ hour).
          2. Peel off skin and add 1/3 stick butter sliced. Mash potatoes and butter until smooth.
          3. Add a dash of salt and mix again. Let cool.
          4. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a 12 inch saucepan.
          5. Add sugar, cinnamon, and bread crumbs and heat until breadcrumbs are slightly browned. Set aside and cool.
          6. Mix one whole egg and one yolk into the potatoes, along with one cup of flour.
          7. Mix well and knead until dough is smooth (you may need a little more flour).
          8. Shape the dough into a 4 inch by 6 inch rectangle
          9. Wash and dry plums
          10. Cut approximately 1/2 inch of dough (depending on the size of the plums) and flatten into round shape in the palm of your hand (dough should be about an 1/8 of an inch thick when flattened out).
          11. Wrap dough around the plum, making sure to cover it completely.
          12. Repeat until all the plums are wrapped.
          13. Fill a 6 quart pot two-thirds of the way with lightly salted water.
          14. Place the dumplings  gently in the water and let come to a boil again.
          15. Reduce to a simmer and cook until you can see the juice “bleeding” inside the dumplings.
          16. Remove with a slotted spoon and roll into the bread crumb mixture.
          17. Let cool 15 minutes and serve.