Can I live at Trader Joe’s? Rustic Summer Fruit Tart with Buttery Puff Pastry

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rustic Plum Tart
Summer Fruits on Puff Pastry

Remember that 80’s movie “Mannequin” starring Andrew McCarthy? When it came out my friends and I talked about what store we wanted to live in. I don’t remember what we selected...but I’m sure someone said Miller’s Outpost, Nordstroms and perhaps Contempo Casuals.

If I were asked that question today, I would answer: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and a toss up between Surfas, REI, and Yogurtland. Sigh.

My Trader Joe’s is now carrying frozen puff pastry. Made with BUTTER. Yes, all butter! Thank you Mary Jo for mentioning this in your blog, Bash!

Recently, I bought Dufour’s puff pastry at Surfas. Dorie Greenspan says it is made with all butter and better than, without mentioning any names, the Pepperidge Farm stuff in the grocery store. But Dufour cost…get this…$14 a package. I haven’t opened it yet because I’m afraid of messing up and ruining my “investment”!

I’m stoked that TJ now carries puff pastry for $4.99!!! Here’s the package of two frozen sheets.

Trader Joe's Puff Pastry Trader Joe's Puff Pastry
Wheat flour, butter, salt, sugar, water! I cut off the calorie's better not to know.

Trader Joe's Puff Pastry - Making a tart shell Mango-flavored nectarines and peaches
I decided to make Everyday Food’s Rustic Nectarine Tart with some additional summer fruits. This is sooo easy. Roll out dough, score the "border", bake off and then add the fruit and have a second bake! Easy. Delicious. and Butter!

Rustic Nectarine and Peach Tart
The tarts are filled with mango-flavored nectarines from Ken’s Top Notch Produce at So Cal Farmer’s Markets, some yellow peaches, plouts and plums. I heated some apricot jam to lightly glaze the fruit.

Rustic Nectarine, Peach and Plum Tarts
I made this in the morning and brought it to work.
The breakfast of champions: Butter and Stone Fruit!
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Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte (Tuesdays with Dorie)
Ice Cream and Chocolate Ganache. Together. In combination. Yes!

Thanks Amy of Food, Family and Fun for choosing Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte on pages 288-289 of Dorie's book.

Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte (Tuesdays with Dorie)
I made a really, really small batch. I used these mini canning jars (I think they are 4 oz) to make two small tortes.

I blended some raspberries with vanilla ice cream, and the chocolate band is a chocolate ganache. If you want the recipe, see Amy's blog.

Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte (Tuesdays with Dorie)
It's not pretty, but tastes good!

Check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers and their amazing creations! We have over 250 bloggers in the group!
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Chai in the Sky: Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream (Sky High Cakes)

Chai tea with milk.
Cinnamon and cardamom.
Cream cheese.

Oh, yes. I had to make this cake.

This Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream is one of the amazing recipes from “Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes” by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne! (page 152) Go out and get it from the library (like I did!) or buy it. It rocks!

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream (Sky High Cakes)
Milk is brought to a simmer and 6 chai tea bags are added. The instructions remind you squeeze the milk out of the bags. Note to self: Simmered milk is way hot, even after a 5 minute steep. Use some utensils to do this!

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream (Sky High Cakes) Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream (Sky High Cakes)
The frosting is a mix of powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, ½ t fresh grated ginger and some honey.

I didn’t do a good job frosting this one. It was supposed to have “open sides” with three layers of frosting just to the edges of the cake. However, I ended up with so much on top and I just carried it over the sides…but not really enough frosting for that. Oh well, it tasted good.

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream (Sky High Cakes)
This was a big hit at work! It’s like a light spice cake with the delicate flavor of chai with a nice not overly sweet frosting. It’s a winner!

Speaking of winners...have you seen this blog? Cake Wrecks. The best ever! This one is my favorite.
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Peanut Butter Crack or Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing
Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Icing from my BFF Ina
Recipe here

So, I dream of getting invited to Ina Garten’s house in the Hamptons for dinner. Or lunch. Or brunch. Or breakfast. Okay, I’ll take anything – package of ramen, box of Mac & Cheese or a McDonald’s Happy Meal. I just love the Barefoot Contessa. And her husband, Jeffrey is just too sweet and way smart.

However, since that probably won’t be happening anytime soon, I’ll have to satisfy my Ina obsession with a few of her recipes.

The cupcakes are made with Dutch-processed cocoa (I get mine at Penzey’s or Surfas) and the peanut butter is Skippy creamy (you need a non-natural peanut butter so the, um, chemicals and emulsifiers keep the stuff together).

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing
It is actually faster to pipe the frosting (and it looks pretty cool) than apply by hand. Now I know why bakeries do it this way! I have yet to buy a pastry bag and use a Ziploc freezer bag and a big ‘o star decorating tip. (Since Los Angeles has a never ending drought, I figure it might take me more water and natural resources to clean a pastry bag than to use a freezer bag…but I haven’t calculated my carbon footprint yet.).

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing
These chocolate cupcakes are very easy to make and go perfectly with this frosting. I wouldn’t use my favorite Dorie Greenspan Chocolate Chocolate cupcake with this frosting. This cupcake has a milder flavor (using only cocoa and no melted chocolate) and is moist from the buttermilk and sour cream.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing
The recipe says 14-15 cupcakes, but I got 20 out of the batter.

These were a hit at work. Especially with the not-so-secret society of peanut butter and chocolate admirers. Their eyes lit up at the sight and smell of these! One said I could barter anything with her simply with peanut butter payment. If you have one of these people in your life, make these cupcakes for them!

Gold medal beach volleyball game tonight with Misty and Kerri!! And I can’t wait to see BMX biking – who knew the neighborhood kids could have grown up to be Olympic athletes! Who needs Project Runway and reality TV when we have real life drama! :) [Well, that's what the DVR is for...]
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(Not Blueberry) Pumpkin Muffins

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Muffins
Oh. Yeah.

After my parking lot massacre of blueberry muffins, I made one more blueberry item. Now, it was time to make sure my muffin mojo wasn't gone.

I have been admiring the Pumpkin Muffins in Dorie Greenspan's book ever since I got it (page 13). Although I know the Tuesdays with Dorie group will eventually get to it (we are making one recipe each week - a project that will take years), I couldn't wait.

Pumpkin Muffins
I misread the instructions and baked it at 350 degrees instead of 400 so the tops aren't as golden brown as they could be. The inside had a nice texture!

Pumpkin Muffins
Walnuts and raisins are mixed into the batter and raw, unsalted sunflower seeds are placed on top before baking. I added some raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for an added crunch and well, yum!

Pumpkin Muffins
Combining butter, sugars, canned pumpkin, buttermilk, and cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice makes a yummy muffin! Even though it isn't fall, these are delicious all year round.

P.S. This message is to the TWD who wrote a special message to those with blog readers (duh duh duh - Law & Order theme): Couldn't find your email address, but I wanted to express my sympathies to you. I really, really feel bad for you. However, your post made me pee my pants I laughed so hard. You rock so I know you'll make it! (And what a remarkable use of technology that was!)
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Granola Grabbers (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Granola Grabber Cookies
Granola Grabbers...with my niece's Hello Kitty cup o' soy milk

Here's my past week:

Watch Olympics
Go to work and discuss Olympics (Did you catch the trampoline?!)
Come home and watch Olympics until my eyes can't stay open
Get up and catch last night's replay
Go to work and discuss the Lighting Bolt from Jamaica, volleyball, and the pommel horse
Volunteer at KCRW's pledge drive (support public radio!!)

Rinse and repeat.

Granola Grabber Cookies
This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe was selected by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking - Granola Grabbers on page 82 of Dorie's book.

I used gingersnap granola from Whole Foods, craisins, raisins, unsalted peanuts, and almonds. I nixed the coconut because I'm not a fan, and I skipped the wheat germ because I was cheap ($6 a bottle and I only needed a few tablespoons...I'm sure it would have been very tasty though...maybe next time)

Granola Grabber Cookies Granola Grabber Cookies
The cookies came out pretty flat - perhaps because I skipped a few ingredients! They were still tasty though.

Granola Grabber Cookies
Check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!
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Wedding Party Cake & Cupcakes (Lemon Curd and Chocolate)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wedding Cake & Cupcakes

The library celebrated a colleague's recent marriage with a party. I wasn't able to attend but brought this dessert for the celebration.

Wedding Cake - Lemon Curd Cake

White cupcakes with Lemon Swiss Meringue Frosting

I made Martha Stewart's Lemon Curd Cake as a 6" cake and cupcakes. I've made this before and it is seriously one of my favorite cakes. I was going to cheat a bit and get some prepared lemon curd at Trader Joe's but they didn't have any! So I ended up getting some lemons and making my own (Martha's recipe). I made her Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here are Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chocolate cupcakes. These sooo rock. I made them a bunch of times and they are always a big hit. This time, I frosted them with a cream cheese frosting (so easy: 2 blocks of 8 oz cream cheese, softened and 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted). Thanks Mrs. J for this recipe!!

Creating a cupcake stand Creating a cupcake stand

I developed this homemade stand. I didn't see the point of buying a large three-tier stand that had very limited use. I had these Crate & Barrel glass serving trays (Totally cheap - I think they were $6 and $8). I picked up the smallest one recently (on sale for $3!). Together with some short glass cups and some Quake Hold! putty (a must here in Southern California), it was an instant stand! (You could get the clear Museum Gel for a cleaner look too).

Gotta run. Olympics is packed tonight! Michael Phelps, gymnastics, and beach volleyball with So Cal players May & (Happy Birthday Kerri) Walsh! I'm so addicted to the Olympics. Yesterday, I was watching one of NBC's other channels and saw a great quarterfinal badminton game! Are you having as much fun (and no sleep) as me?! Even the commercials are good. I just want Morgan Freeman to narrate my life...those Visa commercials rock. "And then the Food Librarian combines the butter and sugar. Go Cake."

Consider my sleep deprivation my patriotic support of the U.S. athletes!

Wedding Cake & Cupcakes
Congratulations Catherine and Eric!
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Gold Medal Winning Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream (Tuesdays with Dorie)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream in my new Crate and Barrel mini bowl...I forgot to remove the C&B sticker - can you see it?

I’m completely sleep deprived and it’s only day 4 of the Olympics. So many events, so little time. I’ve been enjoying the Olympics and luckily, I made this ice cream before the opening ceremonies and two weeks of athletic coverage (albeit 15 hour delayed on the West Coast).

I just wish there was a filter I could set on my web browser that blocks out the results! However, all the events are really exciting! I love the swimming, gymnastics and beach volleyball makes me want to run to the beach!

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. (Recipe on her website and on page 434 of Dorie’s book). Great choice!

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
The night before…blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice are heated together for a few minutes (above).

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
The warm mixture is blended. I didn't put on the cover correctly and the "opening" triangle was next to the spout. I had lots of blueberry on the cabinets! Then heavy cream and sour cream are added. This recipe is easy because there are no eggs. After cooling overnight, the mixture was already a little thick. I poured it into the Krups machine that my friend Jessica loaned me (Thanks Jessica!)

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
Yippee! Poof! 12 minutes later and I had ice cream!! Like magic. This was my first time making ice cream...and won't be the last.

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
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Back on the Blueberry Saddle Again - Blueberry Boy Bait

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Blueberry Boy Bait (America's Test Kitchen)

After my parking lot massacre (thanks everyone for your nice comments...I'll be sure to call you when this happens again because there seem to be plenty of you who would eat 'em off the parking lot floor...), I still had a bunch of blueberries left. Some will be used for the next Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, but I knew I could pound out another blueberry disaster...I mean recipe.

And as long as I stayed away from the muffin, it would all work out fine!

Blueberry Boy Bait (America's Test Kitchen)

Blueberry Boy Bait (America's Test Kitchen)

I made the America's Test Kitchen Blueberry Boy Bait. Cake, blueberries, and a cinnamon sugar topping.

I brought this in my handy Tupperware container that found its butt on the parking lot floor yesterday (I love it! Flip over the muffin holder part and you can put a 13 x 9 cake on it!) This time I triple checked the latch!

Blueberry Boy Bait (America's Test Kitchen)

Was it my favorite? was okay. You could seriously taste the butter (2 sticks) and it was moist, but I liked the Everyday Food buckle recipe more because the slivered almonds added a nice texture.

P.S. [vent] Flickr upload tool - you suck! I'm using the latest version 3.0.5 and for about two months now, it keeps giving me "Houston, we have a problem" and "Oops, some of your photos didn't upload." Usually 90% of my photos don't upload the first time. Or the second time. It takes me 3-4 tries to get them uploaded. Anyone else having this problem? It'll probably be easier to manually upload them one at a time at this point... Okay, feeling better that I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening. [/vent]

P.S.S. Yippee! Olympics start tomorrow!!!
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Massacre on Muffin Hill

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
Started out fine...

Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
...ended in disaster in the parking lot

Seriously, you (the 10 or so people who read my blog) need to be in my pact. You know, that group of girlfriends you have that will stop you if you ever wear certain clothes after a certain age, think about calling that stupid ex-boyfriend, or bedazzle your clothes in inappropriate ways (not that there is any appropriate way to bedazzle anything)...

If I ever try to make blueberry muffins again, stop me. Really. Mr. Blueberry Muffin Man is THAT guy who is so wrong for me and just breaks my heart.

Here's the evidence:
1. Round one. Use baking soda instead of baking powder (Baking Illustrated recipe)
2. Round two. Leave them in the car in the heat to suffocate (Dorie Greenspan's recipe)
3. Round three. Spill them all over the parking lot (Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook recipe)

Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
I had a mega box of blueberries from Costco and used two cups of fresh blueberries for these muffins. I made them fresh this morning at 5:30 am. After they came out of the over, they hung out for a bit and then got packed in my adorable Tupperware cupcake container. It has two snug latches on the side that keep the aqua top on...until I think, while at a stop sign on my way to work, that the muffins are still warm and I need to give them "air."

I get to work. First person in the parking lot. I grab my stuff and the freshly baked muffins. In that Olympic type millllllisecond, I realize the top isn't on securely...and then see them splat all over the parking lot. (Luckily, I brought my camera to work that day and captured it). And, no, dropping food on an oil stained parking lot does not qualify for the 5-second rule. These guys were trashed!

Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
I have had lots of success with other blueberry baked goods. Tyler's Ultimate Lemon Blueberry cheesecake bars were fan.tas.tic. Ina's Blueberry Crumb Cake was yummy. And Everyday Food's Peach Blueberry Buckle is to die for.

Disaster Again Blueberry Muffins
Just promise me... please, please keep me away from the Blueberry Muffin!
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