sweets

Creme Brûlée with Rhubarb Coulis

Hello! Let me start of this post by wishing all the moms a very happy belated Mother’s Day, I hope your days were full of flowers and good food! It was a gloomy day here, I’m talking chilly and on/off rainy all afternoon, so it was a perfect day to stay in and take on some big cooking endeavors. My mom does so much for me and my family that the least I could do was make a fancy dinner, right? That’s how I best express my love, in slow-cooked french stew and desserts. Our menu was Beef Bourguignon, a recipe that can be found here, and these gorgeous creme brûlées. For those of you know have been keeping tabs (I know everyone is SO interested), I finally got some butane for my kitchen torch and this was the first recipe on my list.


Now I have ALSO been awaiting the arrival of rhubarb at the local farm for ages, and yesterday morning I showed up prepared to fight off anyone who tried to take more than me. As luck would have it, there was a table FULL of it and I confidently grabbed two large bunches, some for this recipe, and some for a pie later this week- I am on rhubarb lockdown here you guys!! So anyway, when brainstorming how to somehow use rhubarb and also make creme brûlée, I came across a recipe that used raspberry coulis on the bottom and custard on top, and I knew immediately that this was it. Substitute the raspberry for rhubarb, and the tartness is a perfect compliment to the richly sweet custard.

In all seriousness, I was crazy proud of how these came out, and they’re surprisingly easy to do. It’s mostly assembling the parts, and the hardest part will be using the kitchen torch. I found that some came out better than others, but it’s a learning process and you’ll soon be able to tell what amounts of sugar feel right and the height of the flames, etc. But I believe in you and this is going to go great! Let’s get to it!

*Recipe adapted from this recipe from Food Network*

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes- 1 hour
Total Time: ~1 hour 30 minutes

Rhubarb Coulis Ingredients

Approximately 4 cups (about 6 stalks) rhubarb, chopped
½ cup water
2/3 cup sugar

 

Rhubarb Coulis Steps

1. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Add in the rhubarb and turn the heat down to medium-high.

2. Cook until the rhubarb softens and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer to a glass bowl and allow to cool completely. While this is cooling, let’s make the custard!

 
Vanilla Bean Custard Ingredients

4 cups heavy cream
2 cups half-and-half
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped + the pods, or 1 tbs vanilla extract)
16 egg yolks (I know, I’m sorry- make sure to save the egg whites for THESE!)
1 cup granulated sugar

Vanilla Bean Custard Steps

1. In a large saucepan, add the cream, half and half, salt, and vanilla (plus the pods if you’re using whole vanilla beans). Bring this mixture to a boil over medium heat, then remove and cover while you prepare the eggs.

2. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until the mixture is pale yellow in color.

3. Slowly drizzle the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time to make sure the eggs don’t cook! Strain the mixture through a sieve into another glass bowl.

 

Creme Brûlée Assembly

1.  Begin by preheating your oven to 300ºF, and make sure you position the rack in the center position. Place your ramekins in a large tray or roasting pan with sides.

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2. Start by filling each ramekin with 2 tablespoons of the rhubarb coulis (or enough to evenly cover the bottom). Carefully ladle the custard on top, filling almost to the top.

3. Next, create a bain-marie by filling the roasting pan around the ramekins with boiling water, but be careful not to get the custards wet! The water should reach about two-thirds of the way up on each.

4. Bake the custards for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly. When finished, remove from the roasting pan and allow to cool completely, at least 3 hours.

5. When the time comes to brûlée them, evenly coat the top of each custard with a scant tablespoon of white sugar- you don’t want too much sugar on top because it will burn more easily, but you do want enough to make that classic crunchy top.

6. Using a kitchen torch, brûlée the sugared top of each custard until it turns an even golden brown. Allow to cool for a minute so that the sugar can harden completely before eating. When the time comes, prepare your spoons and crack those perfect shells.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxD

 

sweets

Lemon Meringue Pie (with a broiled top because my dumb torch didn’t have butane)

Welcome friends! Once again I find myself writing posts a whole week late because my concept of time management is just ridiculous. The weekends come and go in such a flash that I never seem to get anything done. (Also, time really flies when you accidentally sleep until 11:30 on Saturdays.)

ANYWAYS, today’s recipe is the classic Lemon Meringue Pie, something that I was hesitant to make after a disastrous attempt several years ago made me too afraid to try again. But after buying a fancy new blowtorch I was excited to see how it carefully toasted the peaks to perfection. Well. Of course things didn’t go to plan. BECAUSE after finishing the whole pie and taking out my torch to begin, I discovered to my dismay that it didn’t come with the butane I needed to get going. As you can see based on the title of this recipe, I’m DEFINITELY not still bitter about it and have clearly moved on. In hindsight, it probably should’ve been obvious that it wasn’t in there, and this could all have been prevented by be opening the packaging more than 30 seconds before I was planning to use it, but I’m not perfect so I made do!

Look at those clean cut lines!!!

In the end, I used the tried and true oven broiler to get the meringue top brown and toasty and, while this isn’t my preferred method (it starts to make the lemon filling too liquid if it heats up too much), it’s how I always remember my grandma making it, so that’s got to count for something! But I digress, let’s get baking!

(recipe adapted from The Fearless Baker + my grandma’s recipe cards!)


Pie Crust Ingredients

1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, very cold and cubed
3+ tablespoons ice water
1 egg white, beaten

Pie Ingredient Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed and roughly the size of peas.

2. In the center of the flour mixture, add the 3 tablespoons of ice water to start and begin kneading with your hands until it comes together as a dough, sparsely adding water if necessary. You know it’s done when it can be gathered into a ball but still feels slightly dry- never wet or sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. When ready to blind bake, roll out the crust on a well floured surface until it’s a few inches wider than your desired pie plate on all sides, making sure to check that it isn’t sticking anywhere. Carefully transfer to your pie plate; I like to fold mine in half and then in half again, then unfold in the plate, but some people like to roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer that way.

Okay but this is the neatest pie crust I have EVER made

4. Trim and crimp the edges as desired (I like a fluted crust myself), and prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place a square of parchment paper larger than your crust in the middle and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or rice and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is just golden.

It’s high time I buy myself some pie weights I think, I waste a LOT of rice doing this

5. Remove the parchment paper and weights and brush the whole crust with one beaten egg white, then return to the oven. Bake for another 12-15 minutes- watch your edges and cover if they begin to brown too fast! Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Lemon Curd Filling Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1¼ cups lemon juice (fresh squeezed, about 5 to 6 lemons)
10 egg yolks (save 6 of the whites for the meringue!!)

Lemon Curd Filling Steps

1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, eliminating all lumps. Add this mixture to the melted butter, along with the lemon juice and the egg yolks, mixing until everything is combined.

2. Turn the heat to medium-low and mix constantly, this time with a silicone spatula so that nothing on the bottom of the pan starts to burn. The mixture will begin to thicken in 5-10 minutes, and is finished when it looks like it’s just about to start bubbling.

3. Strain this mixture through a sieve to get rid of any accidental cooked egg, and cool in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming. While this chills, make the meringue.

That YELLOW! So fresh! So summery!

 


Meringue Ingredients

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup white sugar

Meringue + Pie Assembly Steps

1. Before you start, make sure the bowl of your mixer and it’s whisk attachment are grease-free. Whip the whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks begin to form.

2. Gradually add in the sugar, allowing it to dissolve and be incorporated, then beat the mixture on high until medium-stiff peaks form.

3. Fill your cooled pie crust with the chilled lemon curd spread evenly. Generously dollop the meringue on top and spread to the edges. I like mine piled high up and swirled so that when it toasts, the peaks and swirls are highlighted golden brown.

Obviously with a torch you’ll get a more controlled, even color, but all things considered I’d say this looks pretty delicious!

4. Once you’re satisfied with the look, you can use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue, or you can place the pie on a high rack in your oven and broil on low for 2-3 minutes- do NOT take your eyes off it, it can go from barely toasted to burnt in two seconds in the oven!

Now go bask in the glow of the compliments from your friends and family because this pie deserves them! xoxoxoxox

ALSO while we’re here, it is my dearest mom’s birthday today, so while we won’t be having this pie to celebrate, this post is dedicated to you. YAY!

Some pretty epic meringue height here!
savories

Baked Meatballs with Cheesy Parmesan Polenta

Ah yes, Sunday dinners. I think we can all agree that Sunday nights are the saddest part of the week, knowing what’s to come. To counteract that, Sunday dinners in my house have become the solution- a fancy meal and a glass of wine to lull you into a sense of coziness so that you briefly forget that the work week lies ahead. This week? Fricken meatballs and cheesy polenta because why the heck not. And, because there are better things you can be doing with your Sunday besides individually searing each meatball, these are baked all at once and then finished in a mouthwatering and deceivingly easy tomato sauce that people will think you spent your whole day standing over the pot. Adapted from this recipe by Ina Garten, it’s served with a heaping portion of cheesy polenta in lieu of spaghetti, and as a diehard pasta enthusiast, I can promise you won’t even miss it.

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This weekend I somehow fell down a cooking/ baking hole where every project I’ve been putting off recently all accidentally happened at once. In a span of two days, I made a batch of raspberry macarons (following another batch of toasted marshmallow ones from Tuesday), the FLAKIEST biscuits I have ever made, a lemon meringue pie (coming soon), and this dinner. I think I stood for 8 hours straight on Sunday but wow it was worth it. But honestly, enough about that, let’s get down to what really matters, cooking and eating THIS.

Makes: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: about 1.5 hours

Meatball and Sauce Ingredients

2 cans (32 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
2 onions, peeled and cut in half
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter
2 lbs ground beef (or 1lb ground beef, ½ lb ground veal, ½ lb ground pork)
1¾ cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup ground pecorino romano cheese
½ cup ground parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs fresh chopped parsley
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup dry red wine
¾ cup water
Olive Oil, for brushing
Salt and Pepper, to season

Meatball and Sauce Steps

1. In a large, deep pot, add the crushed tomatoes, butter (sliced into tablespoons), and the halved onions. And honestly, that’s it for the sauce. Turn the heat to medium low, and stir occasionally, cooking for 45 minutes, or until the onions are soft.

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2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400ºF and line your baking trays with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, breadcrumbs, cheeses, garlic, parsley, beaten eggs, red wine, and water. With your hands (or a spoon/ spatula) mix everything together until all ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout.

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3. Scoop roughly 1½ tablespoon amounts and roll them into neat balls with your hands, and line them up on your trays. Brush each meatball with olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

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4. At this point, remove the onions from the tomato sauce, and add the roasted meatballs and allow them to cook in the sauce for 10 minutes more. Serve a heaping portion on top of a luscious bowl of polenta (recipe below). YUM!

Cheesy Parmesan Polenta Ingredients

8 cups chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup stone ground cornmeal
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 cups fresh grated parmesan cheese (this sounds high maintenance but the fresh grated kind makes a difference I promise, it melts way easier and more smooth)
1 cup creme fraiche
½ stick (4 tablespoons) salted butter

Cheesy Parmesan Polenta Steps

1. In a medium sized pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the garlic. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the cornmeal to eliminate lumps.

2. Add the salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the polenta is thick. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the pot!!

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3. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, creme fraiche, and butter. Serve with meatballs and prepare for a food coma like you’ve never seen before.

xoxoxoxoxD

 

sweets

Fresh Fruit Tart

So ever since we’ve had a minimum of one nice day a week, I have convinced myself that the warm weather is here to stay, and with that comes an overpowering desire to bake with summer fruits, you know? I’ve been waiting for the rhubarb to arrive at the farm since practically last spring, but thanks to the stubborn cold weather, it won’t be for sale for around another month. A MONTH. I am devastated, as you can imagine, so to try and fill the void left in its wake, I made this tried-and-true fruit tart last weekend and I am happy to say that there was not a crumb left after dessert.

It begins with a buttery tart shell with just a hint of sweetness, topped with vanilla pastry cream that is literally so good that I ate the leftovers out of the bowl with a spoon, and an artfully disheveled pile of fresh fruit on top. The best part about this is that you can really use whatever fruits you feel like based on what’s in season- blueberries and blackberries alone would make a gorgeous and dramatic looking tart, pitted cherries or mango or some stewed rhubarb- it’s totally up to you what fruits should be featured. For this one, I settled on what I could find at the store because it’s technically not berry season, so I was going to take what I could get, but I would love to hear your flavor ideas as well!

I’m posting this on a Saturday because this week just got away from me, but hopefully this will give you an excuse to try your hand at this tart right away. As for me, I will be looking for any excuse to use a blowtorch so I think I’m seeing a meringue pie in my future. Happy Saturday!

Tart Shell Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

2 cups All Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons salted butter, very cold and cut into cubes
¼ cup ice water

Pastry Cream Ingredients
from 
The Fearless Baker, by Erin McDowell

3 cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup granulated sugar (divided into ¼ cup for milk mixture and ½ cup for egg yolk mixture)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract), or ½ vanilla bean (seeds and pod)
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Plus assorted fruit and berries, to top

Steps

1. Using a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is coarse and the butter is in small, pea-sized pieces. If you don’t have a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt, and then cut in the butter with a pastry blender or mix with your hands until the butter is incorporated in the same way.

2. Move the mixer from the food processor to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the ice water into the middle and knead with your hands until the dough comes together and looks smooth. At this point, it should not be overly sticky or too wet. Wrap this dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

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All ready to roll!

While the dough is chilling, start your pastry cream here.

3. Combine milk, salt, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the vanilla (extract or paste), or add the seeds and the pod of the vanilla bean to the mixture. Heat to a simmer over medium heat- do not let it boil!

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Confession: I forgot to capture the pastry cream I was making this time, but this is what the beginnings will look like!

4. Meanwhile, in a glass bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cornstarch so that they are evenly mixed without lumps. Whisk the egg yolks into this bowl until all is incorporated.

5. When the milk is simmering, remove the vanilla bean there is one and turn the heat to medium-low. Slowly, and whisking constantly to prevent scrambled eggs, add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper. Then, pour the bowl of egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and return the pot to the stove, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until the mixture is thick and just about to bubble, about 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter until incorporated. Chill in the fridge until cold and set, pressing plastic wrap directly to the surface to prevent a skin forming.

Back to the tart dough!

7. Let your dough rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so that it rolls out easily. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into one large circle, about 2 inches wider than your desired pan on all sides. Make sure to check periodically to make sure that the dough isn’t sticking to your work surface, and re-flour as necessary.

8. Very carefully roll the finished dough over the rolling pin, and then drape into your tart pan, pressing it into place and allowing the extra dough to hang over the side. If you’re using a metal fluted pan (like I am), you can roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan, and the excess dough will be cut off, leaving you with a perfectly neat tart.

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Look at those perfect edges!

9. To blind bake this crust (bake without a filling in it), cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the pan size and place it in the pan on top of the crust. Fill this with dried beans, rice, or pie weights and bake like this for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust starts to turn golden.

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Ready for blind baking!

10. Remove the parchment paper and weights from the shell and return the tart to the oven, baking for another 10 minutes until it’s evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with 1 egg white- the heat of the shell will cook the egg white and seal the tart to prevent a dreaded soggy crust. Let it cool completely before removing from the pan.

11. When the shell has completely cooled, fill with the chilled pastry cream, and top with your desired choice of berries and other fruits. Now, eat the whole thing in one sitting and never look back.

xoxoxoxoxoxD