sweets

Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
FOURStaying in for a movie night.
FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

Serves: 8 to 10 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Bread Pudding Ingredients
adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
3 whole eggs
8 egg yolks
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1¼ cups white sugar
2 tsp bourbon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


Crème Anglaise Ingredients

1 cup milk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar

Crème Anglaise Steps

ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

YAY!! xoxoxoxo

sweets

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

savories

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

sweets

Raspberry Opera Cake

HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

Serves: 6 to 8 people
Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

Almond Joconde

3 eggs, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
115 grams almond meal
28 grams flour

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt (a pinch!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
¾ cup raspberry jam

Dark Chocolate Ganache

12oz. dark bakers chocolate
12oz. heavy cream

Meringue Topping

½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

*Fresh Raspberries for topping

 

Almond Joconde Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


Raspberry Buttercream Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


Chocolate Ganache Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


Cake Assembly Steps

ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


Meringue Topping Steps

ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

sweets

Cornmeal Peach Cobbler

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying the last few days of official summer. I’m here to tell you though, that you can’t fully enjoy your last days of summer break without this cobbler. Adapted from this recipe from Food52, it’s the low maintenance, no fuss, last-good-peaches-of-the-summer peach dessert of your dreams. The filling is similar to that of a traditional peach pie, while the cornmeal biscuits add a new twist on the classic cobbler.

With the past week being so unbearably hot here in New York, it certainly doesn’t feel like September has arrived. That being said, I am more than prepared to pretend it’s fall until the weather catches up with us. Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite season for really all the reasons. Fall weather? The best and most beautiful. Fall clothes? The coziest. Fall food? Apple cinnamon EVERYTHING all. the. time. And I know it seems crazy to wish away the summer but honestly, I’ll take a crisp autumn day over 80º weather no contest. BUT, I realize that this is still a summer recipe so I should probably stop talking about that right? I’m SORRY I just get so overexcited, you know?

Before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about this week:

ONE. A good Labor Day trip to the beach, savoring the last beach day of the year.
TWO. A thunderstorm after days of a heat wave when the air finally feels cool again.
THREE. Seeing the fall’s first apples for sale at the farm stand.
FOUR. Collecting cookbooks.
FIVE. A weekend with no plans, where you can do whatever you feel like.

Okay, now that we’ve got that covered, who’s ready for cobbler??

Serves: 8-10 people
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes

Peach Ingredients

3 lbs peaches (about 9 peaches), peeled and sliced into wedges
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon

Cornmeal Biscuit Ingredients

1 cup flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
6 tbs butter, diced into ½ inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
Demerara Sugar, for dusting

Steps

ONE. Toss the sliced peaches with the sugar and let sit for 5 minutes or so until the peaches release some juices and become syrupy. Drain the peaches in a colander or mesh sieve and reserve ¼ cup of the peach juice.

TWO. Whisk together the reserved peach juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Pour this mixture over the drained peaches and mix thoroughly. Transfer to your 9-inch baking dish or pie plate, liquid and all. Place the filled pie plate on top of another baking sheet (to catch any leaks or spills).

THREE. At this point, preheat the oven to 375º F. To make the biscuits, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the cubed butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it resembles peas and is evenly incorporated.

FOUR. Stir in the heavy cream with a rubber spatula and mix until there are no dry ingredients left. Add more heavy cream as necessary, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is too dry.

FIVE. Scoop the biscuit mixture on top of the peaches, using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, leaving a little room in between each one, as the biscuits will spread. Brush the top of each biscuit with heavy cream and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

SIX. Bake for 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool completely to set the filling, then serve warm with a generous pour of cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

YUM! xoxoxoxoxoD

savories

BLT Pasta with Garlic Croutons

Hello friends!! For today’s recipe, yes, you read that right, it’s BLT PASTA!! One of life’s simple pleasures is a good sandwich, and in my opinion, nothing matches the near perfection of a good BLT in the summer. The crisp bacon, juicy tomato, fresh lettuce, it’s a classically delicious combination that one would not think could possibly be improved. HOWEVER, that was before you considered this recipe. Adapted from The New York Times (recipe here), this pasta has all the best parts of a traditional BLT sandwich, as well as the addition of peppery arugula and salty pecorino romano cheese. An added bonus? The sauce practically cooks itself! After frying the bacon, halved cherry tomatoes are cooked in the resulting bacon fat and reduced to a bubbling, rich but not heavy sauce, made even silkier with the freshly grated cheese and pasta water. All you have to do is stir it all together!

Enjoying these beautifully colored gems while I can!!

My own version of this meal includes one extra accent in the form of crispy garlic croutons because I just really love mixing bread and pasta. Is that weird? My all time favorite pasta dish is literally just pasta tossed with garlic breadcrumbs, sometimes with some sautéed kale and a fried egg, but also sometimes not, and it’s just SO delicious. So anyway, I figured, since this dish is adapted from a classic sandwich anyway, why not bring the bread back? And boy am I glad I did, because even just a small handful on top of your pasta swirl provides the most perfect and satisfying crunch and we quickly learned, as my mother remarked while eating this, “I could eat this pasta all night”.

I’ve been seeing fancy noodle swirls all over my instagram and quickly realized how challenging it is to get them all to cooperate with me. How’d I do?

Before we get started, I’m bringing you 5 more things to be happy about this week, are you ready? Let’s go!

ONE. The newly released Netflix movie To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – which is heartwarming, sweet, and impossible to watch just once.

TWO. Eating a cup full of cold, cubed watermelon and feeling instantly refreshed.

THREE. The immediate relaxation you feel when stepping into an air-conditioned space from the heat outside.

FOUR. Playing the same song over and over while driving by yourself, with no one to tell you not to.

FIVE. Dinners where everyone gathers around the table long after the food is finished, simply enjoying each other’s company.

Are we feeling happy? Hungry? Let’s get cooking!!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6-8 dinner portions (plus leftovers for tomorrow – or midnight!!)

Ingredients

2 boxes pasta of your choice (I used bucatini but any tube like pasta works!)
12oz. bacon, diced
2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
10 oz. arugula, washed and dried
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
½ loaf ciabatta bread, torn into bite size chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
Kosher salt + pepper
Red pepper flakes

Steps

ONE. Bring pasta water to boil in a large pot. Cook your pasta according to the package instructions for al dente, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water.

TWO. In a shallow pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add crushed red pepper flakes to your liking, depending on your spice preference. I used about ½ tsp for these croutons. Add in the torn pieces of ciabatta and stir so that every piece is coated with olive oil. Toast until the bread becomes golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

THREE. While the water is coming to a boil, crisp your bacon in a large skillet or pot on medium-high heat, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate, taking care to keep as much of the bacon fat left in the pan as possible. Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan with the bacon fat, and cook on medium heat until the tomatoes become soft and begin to burst. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate the browned bacon bits into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper, and after about 5 minutes of cooking, add half of the cooked bacon back to this sauce and mix to combine.

Look at these cuties doing their thing!!

FOUR. With the heat on medium-high, add the cooked pasta straight from the water into the skillet with the tomato sauce. Add in your arugula plus ½ cup pasta water and cook for a minute until the arugula begins to wilt slightly. Stir in the cheese and an additional ½ cup pasta water, mixing everything together until the sauce becomes smooth and almost shiny, and coats the pasta. Feel free to add more pasta water as needed, until you reach the desired consistency.

I almost dropped my phone into the pasta for this shot, you’re WELCOME

FIVE. To serve, pile a generous helping of pasta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl, add a handful of garlic croutons, a sprinkling of crisped bacon pieces, and a heaping snow shower of grated cheese. Best enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine.

YUM!! xoxoxoxoD

sweets

Cinnamon Plum-Apricot Pie with Vanilla Pouring Custard

Hello friends! After a week’s break I am back, and I bring more summer pie! Last week, my family and I took a trip to Portland, Maine, one of our favorite places, and it was exactly what I needed to clear my head. The city was named Bon Appetit’s city of the year, and for good reason. Portland is a food-lover’s paradise, but more specifically, a baked-good lover’s paradise. Every morning I had some form of doughnuts, pie, or cinnamon rolls with some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and I’m not kidding when I say that if the winters there didn’t get so cold, I would move there immediately.


If you’re planning a visit any time soon, here are the top three places from me:

ONE
. Tandem Coffee Roasters (above right photo): a bakery/ coffee shop in a refurbished gas station, aka the most aesthetically pleasing and delicious place in the world
TWO. The Holy Donut (above left photo): the only thing you need to know about this place is that the doughnuts have MASHED POTATO in them!!! The result is the most tender, pillowy doughnut you’ll ever have (my favorite is the maple one!)
THREE. Two Fat Cats Bakery: the pie here is UNBELIEVABLE, and the inspiration behind today’s recipe. (ALSO, I was told they now ship their pies, you’re welcome!)


Something that I like to do with my friends and have been trying to do more of recently is occasionally make a list of 5 things to be happy about, just to keep things in perspective, so before we get started, I’m going to share some with you as well!

ONE
. An unusually cool day in the summer, giving you a preview for the Fall season ahead, and a reason to sit on the porch with a hot cup of tea.
TWO. Finally finishing that book that you’ve been reading for months.
THREE. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning.
FOUR. Lying in bed listening to thunder outside as you fall asleep.
FIVE. That one TV show that you know front and back but never get tired off. (For me it’s Pushing Daisies!!).


OKAY now that that’s covered, some quick notes about today’s recipe. This beautiful pie is brought to you by The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book (buy it here!), which covers truly every question you could ever have about pie. This one in particular originally featured only apricots, but since I had such a difficult time finding apricots around me, I had to improvise without abandoning the recipe all together, hence, the plums. Technically, the fruit I used was an apricot/ plum hybrid called an Aprium, which I had NEVER heard before. They tasted more like plums than apricots really, but both fruits would be spectacular with the cinnamon and vanilla custard. Also, the thickening agent in this pie is potato starch, which I had never encountered before but am now in love with. According to the book, it’s easier to find than tapioca and more effective than cornstarch, which leaves a gritty texture often. I used one from Bob’s Red Mill and was so happy with how the filling came together in a way that was thick but not gelatinous, and certainly not soupy. Finally, this pie was designed specifically to pair with the Vanilla Pouring Custard, so I would highly recommend following through with it. However, this custard can go on so many things- cakes, other pies, ice cream, straight from the pot to your mouth (??), idk, I’m not judging here. Now quick, let’s get baking!

Adapted from: The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Makes: 1 double crust pie + approximately 2 cups custard

Pie Ingredients

Pie Crust recipe for 1 Double Crust pie, found here
1½ lbs. apricots/ plums (or both!)
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
3 Tbs potato starch
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbs water)
Demerara sugar

Pie Steps

ONE. Before starting your filling, prepare your pie dough following steps 1 through 4 of this recipe here. After the 30 minute chilling period, roll out half the pie crust and line your pie plate, then roll out the other half and chill both halves in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

TWO. Wash your fruit and cut in slices (in half, then in half moon slices), removing the stones. Toss the fruit with the lemon juice to prevent browning. In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and potato starch, then add this sugar mixture to the fruit. Stir until everything is evenly combined.

THREE. Pour this filling into the prepared pie shell, then place the top crust over it. You can do whatever you’d like here, whether you feel like a lattice or a full top crust! Brush the top with egg wash, and remember to cut some air vents if doing a full top crust. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and place the pie on a sheet pan (with raised edges), to catch spills and drips.

FOUR. Bake the pie at 425º for the first 20 minutes on the bottom most rack of your oven. When 20 minutes are up, turn the oven down to 375ºF, then bake for another 30 minutes. Keep watch for the crust, specifically the edges, which can burn, and cover with tin foil or pie crust protectors as necessary. Allow the pie to cool completely (to set the filling), before reheating and serving with Pouring Custard!

Vanilla Pouring Custard Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbs white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 or 2 Tbs dark rum (optional)

Vanilla Pouring Custard Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it’s just about to boil, but doesn’t quite yet. Keep an eye on it, it heats up faster than you think!

TWO. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar until pale yellow. Carefully and VERY slowly, drizzle some of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so as not to cook the eggs. This tempers the egg mixture and allows you to add it back to the milk without accidentally making scrambles.

My baking setup is usually this chaotic, I spy an espresso maker cluttering up this counter!

THREE. Add the tempered egg mixture to the rest of the milk in the saucepan and cook on low, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the consistency is slightly thickened and coats the back of the spoon. *It took me a long time to get the custard to thicken, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up too high because that tends to curdle the mixture. Just be patient!

FOUR. Place a sieve over a medium bowl and strain the custard to remove any lumps and give you the smoothest product. At this point, stir in the vanilla (and rum if you’re using it!). This is best served still warm, and trust me, there is no limit to how much you can pour on one slice of pie.


YUM!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxD