• Pear Clafoutis

    In honor of Queen Ina Garten’s new cookbook Cook Like A Pro, this weekend I pulled out a recipe from another classic, Barefoot In Paris, as it also makes a second appearance in this new cookbook. I’ve made a clafoutis before here, but fall temperatures call for cozy fall flavors, and a custardy, cinnamon-y, pear dessert seemed like the right move. For those who weren’t around last time, a clafoutis is a baked french dish that’s a bit like a cross between a dutch baby and a custard, traditionally made with dark cherries but so delicious with other sturdy fruits as well. It’s incredibly easy to make, requires one bowl and 15 minutes of prep, and can be done within the hour, so really there’s no excuse NOT to make it.

    Now let’s talk a little bit about cookbooks. Anyone who knows me knows that I have the most excessive collection of cookbooks. If I see one I like, I can’t stop myself, and suddenly I’m at the checkout counter handing over my card and leaving with another book under my arm. The thing is though, I would probably be nothing without them. I look over my collection of books from some of the people I look up to most and realize how much they’ve taught me, and how much they’ve inspired me to do better, be brave, and trust my instincts. It was countless episodes of Barefoot Contessa that I watched in high school that made me start to see cooking as something other than a chore. It was Ina Garten, who, back when all I was baking were Toll House chocolate chip cookies and some apple pie, taught me about flavors and to never settle for less than the best. Good vanilla is a lifestyle people!!! I love my cookbook collection and here’s to many more years of adding to the pile. But, for now, here are some of my favorites:

    1. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
    2. Molly on the Range, by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh
    3. The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell
    4. Foolproof, by Ina Garten
    5. Cooking For Jeffrey, by Ina Garten
    6. Genius Recipes, by Kristen Miglore of Food52
    7. Florentine, by Emiko Davies

     

    See? I wasn’t kidding. Now if only I could get to the books at the bottom…

     

    Go forth and start cooking, but before you do, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Halloween themed TV episodes.

    TWO. 
    Dinners that you start preparing in the morning and that cook all day, surrounding you and your house with comforting smells.

    THREE. 
    Crisp walks through the changing leaves.

    FOUR. Kraft mac and cheese.

    FIVE. Walking through a greenhouse when it’s cold out and feeling warm and refreshed.

    Makes: 8 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes

    Ingredients
    adapted from 
    Barefoot In Paris

    1 tablespoon butter, softened
    1/3 cup + 1 tbsp white sugar, separated
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    3 eggs, room temperature
    6 tbsp all purpose flour
    1½ cups heavy cream
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp lemon zest
    ¼ tsp kosher salt
    2 to 3 ripe but fragrant Bartlett pears
    Confectioners’ sugar

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. In a small bowl, mix together the 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon. Using the tablespoon of softened butter, grease a 10 inch round baking dish entirely, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar so that it coats the bottom and sides completely, tapping out the excess.

    TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and remaining granulated sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then, with the mixer on low, add the flour, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Mix until combined, then turn the mixer off and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the pears.

    THREE. Peel, halve, core, and slice your pears into thin slices, then fan them out in the bottom of your prepared dish as desired. Pour the batter on top of the pears and place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any spills and make it easier to transfer into the oven.

    FOUR. Bake the clafoutis for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden. This dish can be served warm or room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Happy Tuesday!!! xoxoxoxD

  • Classic Focaccia

    If you’re even slightly a food person like myself, you’ve probably seen or heard about the new Netflix show Salt Fat Acid Heat. I admit that since its premiere, I have watched it through at least 3 times, crying, laughing, and planning food for the future. The premise behind the show comes from a cookbook of the same name, written by Samin Nosrat. Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, the four elements of good cooking. Master the balance of these, master good cooking. The special is broken into 4, each in a different location and each tackling a different element. Unsurprisingly, the episode that I felt myself watching over and over again centered around Italy. Titled “Fat”, it tackled just what makes Italian food so good, from the olive oil, to the pork fat, to the cows milk cheese.

    The recipe that caught my eye for sure was this focaccia, and even though I have a deep-seated fear of bread making, nothing was going to stop me from this. It is SO good, so crisp on the outside and light and airy on the inside, rich and salty and perfect for dipping in coffee (the Ligurian way) or eating straight from the oven. It reminds me so much of the Schiacchiata bread that makes the best sandwiches in Florence, which I’d get on my way home from school and finish eating before even getting to the steps of my apartment. I would give literally anything to be back there right now, but until then, this is pretty close to perfect. By the way, the original recipe can be found here, but I tried to keep this as close to the original as possible!

    Before you go become your best bread-making self, here are 5 things to be happy about today:

    ONE. Puffy winter coats.
    TWO. Keeping your room cold so that you can sleep with two cozy blankets.
    THREE. “Flannel Fridays”.
    FOUR. Apple cider cocktails.
    FIVE. Impromptu photoshoots.

    Makes: About 24 pieces of focaccia
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Inactive Time: 12-14 hours
    Bake Time: 25-30 minutes

    Ingredients

    2½ cups warm water
    ½ tsp active dry yeast
    2½ tsp honey
    5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
    2 Tbsp large crystal kosher salt
    ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    Salt, for sprinkling
    1½ tsp kosher salt (for brine)
    1/3 cup warm water (for brine)

    Steps

    ONE. In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey and stir until dissolved. In another large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add in the dissolved yeast mixture and the olive oil and stir until everything is just combined. At this point, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to ferment overnight or for at least 12-14 hours.

    TWO. When the dough has finished fermenting and is more than doubled in size, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil on an 18″ x 13″ baking sheet (a baker’s half sheet) so that the whole sheet is covered. Gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula, and carefully add to the baking sheet. Add another tablespoon of oil and gently stretch the dough so that it covers the entire bottom of the sheet evenly. Because the dough will shrink at first, over the course of 30 minutes gently push the dough back to the corners until it stays.

    THREE. Press your index, middle and ring fingers into the dough at an angle to make the signature focaccia dimples. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the warm water and salt until the salt has been totally dissolved. Pour this brine over the whole sheet evenly, and then proof for a final 45 minutes.

    FOUR. About 30 minutes into this final proof, position your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. To bake, either place a baking stone on the oven rack with the baking sheet on top of it, or flip another baking sheet upside down and place the baking sheet with the dough on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden brown.

    FIVE. To finish, generously drizzle olive oil over the top (it will sink into the bread), and sprinkle with flaky salt. Serve thick slices warm and try not to eat the entire sheet yourself, but if you do, I won’t judge.

    YUM!! xoxoxoxox

  • Pumpkin Creme Brulee

    Yes hello and welcome, I know I bring you another pumpkin recipe this week, but this one is a real showstopper so you won’t be mad for long. I’ll start with a question: what’s better that a creme brûlée? The answer? A PUMPKIN creme brûlée!! There is nothing quite as satisfying as taking your spoon and cracking that top shell before digging in to one of these, but the combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, and caramel waiting for you inside is a close second. I have adapted today’s recipe from this one here, changing around some proportions and things to make eight bigger pots, because who wouldn’t want more?


    Creme Brûlée may sound daunting, but it’s actually one of the easiest things to make, the hardest part honestly being separating 12 eggs for the custard. I know, it feels like such a waste of egg whites, but save them for macarons like these or these how about?? You’ll be glad you did. But anyway, I promise you’ll be surprised how well these turn out, and how easily you’ll be able to trick people into thinking you’re a master of french desserts or something.

    Before we get started as always, here are 5 things for you to be happy about at this very moment:

    ONE. The fact that otters hold hands when they sleep so they don’t float away from each other.
    TWO. A hearty stew on a cold night, complete with buttered noodles.
    THREE. Finally thinking of a really great Halloween costume.
    FOUR. Buying Halloween candy but ending up eating it yourself.
    FIVE. Pumpkin beer with the cinnamon sugar on the rim.

    Let’s go!!

    Makes: 8 (9oz.) creme brûlées (4 oz. pots will yield about double)
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Bake Time: 40-45 minutes
    Inactive Time: 2 hours

    Ingredients

    12 egg yolks
    3 cups heavy cream
    9 tablespoons brown sugar (a little over ½ cup)
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    3 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
    1½ tsp cinnamon
    ¾ tsp ground ginger
    ¾ tsp ground allspice
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    White sugar, for brûléeing

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 300ºF. Since my ramekins are large, I used a 9×13″ baking dish plus another 8×8″ baking dish to fit all 8 pots, but whatever you can fit is fine, as long as the dish is deep enough that the top of the ramekin is about flush with the top of the baking dish. Line your dishes with a folded dish towel and place the ramekins inside. They can be touching, but just make sure they all fit straight, otherwise some custards will bake up lopsided.

    TWO. Add all your egg yolks to a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream, brown sugar, and salt until just simmering. Remove from the heat and add in your spices and vanilla, then allow to steep for 5-10 minutes.

    THREE. Whisking constantly, add a little of the warm cream to your egg yolks to temper them (this will prevent the heat of the cream from cooking the eggs). After this is done, continue to add the cream in a slow drizzle until it has all been added to the yolks and everything is combined.

    FOUR. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until smooth, then pour the whole mixture into a large measuring cup or something with a spout to easily pour. Evenly pour the custard into each pot, making sure to leave some room on the top.

    FIVE. Place the dishes side by side in the oven and, while they’re on the racks, create a bain-marie by pouring boiling water into the large baking dishes so that they’re filled 2/3 of the way up the side of the ramekins, avoiding spilling any water into the custards themselves. This makes sure the custards steam and cook properly, and putting them in the oven before you do this means you don’t have to carry a heavy dish filled with hot water across your kitchen!

    SIX. Bake the custards for 40-45 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly. Cool the ramekins in the fridge for at least 2 hours before brûléeing.

    SEVEN. To brûlée, sprinkle about a teaspoon of white sugar onto the top of each custard and gently shake so that the entire top is evenly covered. Using a kitchen torch, heat the sugar so that it caramelizes and spreads, until the top is one unified sheet of solid, caramel colored sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can use the broiler in your oven, but watch very carefully because it can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

    ENJOY!! xoxoxoxD