These rich honey squares satisfy with just a single bite. And they are so pretty once they come from the oven that you will proudly announce, “I made these!”
Equipment: A 9 1/2 x 9 1/2-inch (24 x 24 cm) baking pan; baking parchment; a food processor.
Pastry 3/4 cup (120 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour 1/2 cup (45 g) almond meal (see Notes) 3 tablespoons (35 g) unrefined cane sugar, preferably organic, vanilla scented (see Notes) 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 6 tablespoons (90 g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes 1 large egg yolk, preferably organic and free-range 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Topping 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter 1 cup (80 g) sliced almonds 1/3 cup (30 g) candied orange or lemon peel, preferably organic, cut into tiny cubes 1/3 cup (65 g) unrefined cane sugar, preferably organic 2 tablespoons intensely flavored honey, such as chestnut 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). 2. Line the baking pan with baking parchment, letting the parchment hang over the sides. (This will make it easier to remove the dessert once it’s baked.) 3. Prepare the pastry: In the food processor, combine the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt. Pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of water. Pulse to incorporate. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, tablespoon by tablespoon, through the feed tube, pulsing until just before the pastry forms a ball. You may not need all the water. 4. Turn the dough out into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and bake until the pastry begins to brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. 5. While the pastry is baking, prepare the topping: In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the almonds, candied peel, sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Heat just until the ingredients are incorporated. 6. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the almond-honey mixture evenly over the pastry. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is a deep gold, 12 to 15 minutes. 7. Remove from the oven. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan . Once it has cooled, remove from the pan and cut into 32 squares. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature f or up to 3 days.)
• Almond meal (sometimes called almond flour) is made from whole, unblanched (skin-on) almonds. For this recipe, whole, unblanched almonds can be finely ground in a food processor. Do not over-process or you may end up with almond butter. • To make vanilla-scented sugar: Flatten 1 or several moist vanilla beans. Cut them in half lengthwise. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds and place them in a small jar; reserve the seeds for another use. Fully dry the vanilla bean halves at room temperature. Place the dry halves in a large jar with a lid, and cover with sugar. Tighten the lid and store for several weeks to scent and flavor the sugar. Use in place of regular sugar when preparing desserts. variation : Substitute dried black currants for the candied citrus.
(* Recipe excerpted from 'The French Kitchen Cookbook' by Patricia Wells- published by William Morrow, October 2013- Photographs byJeff Kauck, all rights reserved)
These tasty, savory, miniature pastries are a huge hit in my cooking classes. There is always a great sense of satisfaction when one removes a tray of these fragrant, golden nuggets from the oven. These are best warm from the oven but are also delicious at room temperature. They can serve as appetizers or as sides to a simple green salad.
Equipment: A 2 3/4-inch (7 cm) round biscuit cutter; 2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment; a food processor; 2 nonstick petit four molds or mini muffin tins, each with twelve 2 1/2-inch (6.5 cm) cups, or a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.
A 14-ounce (400 g) sheet of Blitz Puff Pastry (page 294) or purchased all-butter puff pastry, thawed (see Note) 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter 1 pound (500 g) onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-moons Fine sea salt Coarse, freshly ground black pepper 4 ounces (125 g) soft fresh goat’s milk cheese Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic 3 large eggs, preferably organic and free-range, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme leaves Fleur de sel, for garnish
1. Evenly center two racks in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. With the biscuit cutter, cut out 24 rounds of pastry. (Note: you will get the most from the pastry if you begin on the outside and cut rings as tightly as possible from the outside. Then work from the next large inside ring. I usually get 31 rounds out of a sheet.) Arrange the rounds side by side on the baking sheets. Prick them with a fork and freeze for at least 10 minutes.
3. In a skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sweat—cook, covered, over low heat until soft and translucent—about 10 minutes. Season with pepper.
4. In the food processor, combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, eggs, and half of the thyme leaves and process to blend. Add the cheese mixture to the onions in the skillet and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning.
5. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into each mold or muffin cup. Cover each one with a round of pastry.
6. Place the molds or tins in the oven and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then remove them from the cups and turn them over, pastry side down. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with the remaining thyme leaves and fleur de sel.
Wine suggestion : The mineral-rich flavors of a blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugni Blanc, and Bourboulenc with their touch of spice make Domaine du Paternel 'Cassis Blanc de Blancs' a perfect palate opener to pair with the tatins.
The secret : Make sure that you cut the pastry slightly larger than the diameter of the molds, since the pastry may shrink in baking.
Variations : Replace the goat cheese with grated cheddar and bits of bacon; Feta cheese; crabmeat and tarragon; or peas, scallions, and pancetta. Add herbs. Bake as simple, lighter, “quiche-like” bites without the pastry.
Note : In our tests, we have preferred Dufour brand frozen puff pastry, available at most specialty supermarkets. Be sure to leave ample time for thawing frozen dough, at least 6 hours in the refrigerator.
(* Recipe excerpted from 'The French Kitchen Cookbook' by Patricia Wells-William Morrow, October 2013- Photographs by Jeff Kauck, all rights reserved)
Get le French Feel with Aperitif a la Francaise and many more things happening in the heart of New York (Bryant Park) with Taste of France this week-end (September 28-29).
Aperitif a la Francaise gives you chance to experience
"To celebrate its 10th anniversary Apéritif à la française is taking over the Apéritif area. Visitors will enjoy different atmospheres and traditional drinks such as Pernod Ricard, Absinthe, Calvados, Georges Duboeuf, Vin de Pays d'Oc wines, Kronenbourg beer and French cocktails along with Amuse Bouches prepared with delicious President cheeses. To access the Apéritif area you need to be pre-registredCLICK HERE to be added on the guest list (entrance is free but charge apply for purchase of drinks and food on site using Marianne, the show currency)."
I let crafty ideas from Gifts from the Garden (Kyle Books USA, June 2013) by Debora Robertson pass me by. Among them you will find food recipes you can bring to a party or a housewarming.
Sticky sweet cicely buns
Sweet cicely seeds add a hint of anise flavour to
these sticky buns. They’re a delicious contribution to take along to a brunch
or afternoon tea.
1 tablespoon fresh sweet cicely seeds
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
7g sachet fast-action yeast
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
50g caster sugar
80g butter, melted and cooled
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
150ml tepid milk
For the filling
60g dried apricots
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
85g light muscovado sugar
60g pecan nuts
For the topping
120g melted butter, plus extra for
greasing the trays
120ml runny honey, warmed, or maple
50g light muscovado sugar
80g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
2 baking trays, 40 x 27 x 2cm
Reserve 2 teaspoons of the sweet cicely seeds. Place the rest of the sweet cicely seeds on a chopping board and chop them finely with a knife. If they’re more dried
than green, pound them until fine using a pestle and mortar.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large bowl. Whisk in the
chopped sweet cicely, yeast, orange zest and the caster sugar.
Make a well in the middle, pour in the butter, eggs and milk and
mix until you have a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until silky and
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a plastic bag and leave
to rise until doubled in size.
This takes 1–2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.
To make the filling, put the apricots in a small bowl and add just
enough boiling water to cover. Leave for 15 minutes, drain, pat dry and
Meanwhile, put the reserved whole cicely seeds into a food
processor with the cinnamon, muscovado sugar and pecans and pulse until
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it
lightly for a minute.
Divide it in two and roll each piece into a 20 x 30cm rectangle.
Melt the butter for the topping. Brush some over the rectangles of
dough and sprinkle half the nut mixture and half the apricots over each.
Press the filling into the dough.
Roll each rectangle up into a tight cylinder, starting at the
Cut each roll into six pieces.
Brush the baking trays with melted butter.
Mix the melted butter, honey/syrup and sugar together and spoon
into the bottom of each tray, spreading it out for an even coating.
Scatter over the nuts. Put the buns in the trays, leaving about
2.5cm between each one.
Cover with tea-towels and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes
until slightly risen.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4.
Remove the tea towels and bake the buns for 30–35 minutes until
they are golden and feel firm.
Immediately turn them over and place on a wire rack to cool.
The buns are best cooled, stored in an airtight
container and eaten within a day of baking.
(* Recipe excerpted from 'Gifts from the Garden by Debora Robertson -published by Kyle Books USA, June 2013- all rights reserved)
A cut of fish glistening from the sea asks that we honor it. Simple slices of pristine Hamachi can’t bear the insult of ornamentation, but they are exalted by salt. Resting fresh fish flesh on a chilled block of salt returns it momentarily to its birthplace, impregnating it with salinity, firming its muscularity. You will need very high-quality fish for this dish. If you have access to an Asian market, the fishmonger there can usually get you sushi-grade hamachi. Plan ahead, because it might have to be special-ordered. Yes, I know it is pricey, but ecstasy isn’t cheap.
1 (9-inch) square or round salt block 1 pound sushi-grade yellowtail flounder (hamachi) 2 Tellicherry peppercorns 4 dried green peppercorns 4 Szechuan peppercorns 1/8 teaspoon Aleppo pepper 2 scallions, roots and dark green ends trimmed, thinly sliced 4 thin lime slices
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
Chill the salt block in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Cut the yellowtail into .-inch-thick slices. Place the fish slices on the chilled salt block and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Then flip the pieces of fish so the other side comes in contact with the salt and refrigerate for another 5 minutes.
While the fish is curing, smash the Tellicherry, green, and Szechuan peppercorns with the flat side of a large knife, a meat pounder, or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Mix the peppercorns together with the Aleppo pepper.
To serve, scatter the pepper and scallions over the fish, and serve on the salt block with the lime slices. Squeeze a lime over the dish if desired, or save it for a salty lime dessert.
(*Recipe excerpted from 'Salt Block Cooking' by Mark Bitterman- Andrews McMeel Publishing, May 2013- reproduced with permission)