Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tarte Tatin, Dorie Greenspan, "Baking"


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (preferably all butter), thawed, or sweet tart dough, chilled
1 stick butter, 120 grams (I use half)
3/4 cup sugar, about 100 g
about 8 sweet firm apples, such as Fudji, Gala or Golden Delicious, peeled, cored and quartered (I cut in halves)

Choose a 9 or 10 inches oven-proof skillet or a tarte Tatin pan.

Working on a floured surface, (if you are using puff pastry), or between wax paper or plastic wrap, roll the dough out until it sis about 1/8 inch thick (it can be thicker if you'd like). Using a paring knife, cut the dough into a circle that is 1 inch larger of the diameter of the pan you are using.
Prick the dough all over with the tins of a fork and refrigerate it while you work on the apples.

Put the skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it melts, tilt the pan so that the sides have a thin coating of melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter. Remove from the heat.
Fit a layer of apples into the skillet, putting the apples into the pan rounded side down and making concentric circles.
What's important here is to pack in the apples-because they will shrink as they cook, you want to make sure they are snug in the pan. When you've got a tight single layer, cut the remaining apple halves (or quarters) in half and strew them over the first layer. (You might have to cut more apples to get a fairly even layer here, or you might have apple quarters left over).
Don't worry about making this layer beautiful -no one will see it, but it will give the finished tart a litte height.
Put the pan over medium heat and cook -staying close by- until the sugar turns a deep caramel color. You'll see it bubbling up the sides of the pan, but if you need a clearer view, you can gently push an apple aside. To get the color you want without burning the sugar, you may have to lower the heat after a while. Count on 15 minutes, more or less, to get the color.
Remove from the heat.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and center it over the fruits, loosely tucking in any overhang (it's okay if you have a double layer of dough on the edges), or not - the oven's heat will shrink the pastry to size.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is baked through and if you used puff pastry, puffed.
Now, cover the skillet with a large rimmed service plate and, acting quickly and confidently (and making sure you're wearing good oven mitts), turn the tart out onto the platter and remove the pan. If any of the apples have stuck to the pan, gently lift them off the pan with an icing spatula and press them gently back onto the tart.
Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Green Peas Soup, Katrien's recipe, Belgium

- 500 grams green peas
- 3L Water (I did less)
- 2 pieces of leek
- 1 onion
- 1 celery
- 2 pieces of beef bouillon
- salt and pepper

Just put everything together in a pot and let boil for 1.5 hour (low fire). Blend the soup and add salt and peper, to taste.

In a pan, add some olive oil and bake the prosciutto and the bread.

Add on top of the soup in a bowl and serve.
Brownies, Jessica's recipe, USA

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup flour (unbleached)
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 sticks of butter (unsalted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (make sure it's the real thing, *not* imitation) 3 egg

* Preheat oven to 350F

* Grease a 9"x9" glass baking dish with a bit of butter.

* Beat together sugar and butter. If you have an electric mixer, beat until slightly fluffy, if not, just beat by hand until well-mixed. * Beat in cocoa, vanilla, and eggs until well-mixed.
* Add in flour and beat just until mixed in.
* Batter should be pretty thick.* Pour the batter into the greased pan.
* Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center of the brownies is set and a toothpick (or small piece of raw spaghetti) inserted in the center comes out clean.
* The top of the brownies should have a very slight crust, and the centers should be very cakey and dense.* Let cool for as long as you can stand it, then devour with a big cold glass of milk.
**My favorite modification: add a big pinch of ancho chile powder and 2 big pinches of cinnamon to the batter when you add the cocoa. It adds a great spice!
Empanadas, Lucila's recipe, Argentina

Meat Filling:

1.- Mix in a large saucepan, 3 tablespoons of oil with 2 cups of chopped onions. Add 1 cup of chopped red peppers.
2.- Cook uncovered, at moderate heat for 2 or 3 minutes, add 2 1/2 cups of ground meat and stir with a wooden spoon for 12 - 15 minutes at high heat.
3.- Remove from heat and add 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chopped green onions, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons of oregano, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of mild paprika cook for 3 or 4 more minutes.
4.- Let the filling rest for 2 hours.


Before filling pastries add to the filling mixtures some raisins, 1/2 cup of chopped olives and or 2 chopped hard boiled eggs.

Preparing the empanadas:

1. Lay each pastry disc on a flat surface.
2. Put 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoon of filling in the center of each pastry disc.
3. Fold dough over filling and make the edges of the pastry meet.
4. Press the edges with a fork to seal them or bend de dough inch by inch to seal them.

Baking procedure

1. Preheat the oven at 400° F.
2. Lay empanadas in a large cookie sheet, previously sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray, and bake at 400° - 425° F for 15 - 20 minutes, until they get a golden brown color.
Pan de Jamón (Ham bread), Mabel, Venezuela

Cut preparation time in half by using premade white-bread dough, available in the frozen-food section at your local grocer, (Byerlys, Target, Cubs. Brand: RHODES)

1-pound loaf premade frozen bread dough, thawed
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
4 to 5 bacon strips
1/2 pound deli-style cooked ham, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1/4 cup raisins

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to make a rectangle of approximately 12 by 20 inches. Brush on 3 tablespoons of the melted butter, and stagger the bacon strips lengthwise along the center. Layer with the cooked ham, overlapping the slices, and leave a 1/2-inch edge along the perimeter of the dough. Sprinkle the olive slices and raisins evenly on top.

Starting at the short end, carefully roll the dough—jelly-roll fashion—to enclose the filling completely. Pinch both ends closed, and tuck them underneath the loaf. Place in a lightly buttered 12-inch loaf pan or baking dish. Prick the surface a few times with a fork and cover with a clean cloth.

Allow the bread to rise undisturbed in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Remove the cloth and brush the surface of the loaf with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Cut into 1-inch-thick slices and serve. Makes 1 loaf.