As much as I love a good pumpkin pie, when my wife requested a “pumpkin dessert” to serve at a dinner party we had last weekend, I found myself fishing about for something that was a twist on the traditional. I found this deeply flavorful and quite beautiful tart in Bon Appetit’s November 2015 issue, and just from the picture in the magazine knew we were in for a treat. The secret to this little number is the caramel you make as part of the filling. It adds such a great depth and complexity to the confection, that I’m quite certain my next slice of standard issue pumpkin pie will taste meh by comparison. As always when making caramel, taking care to let it cook until its the color of an Irish Setter dog and is just whisping smoke, will be the difference between a good and GREAT result. Pulling the caramel from the heat while still too pale will produce a filling with much less depth of flavor. Trust me on this. Take it a little further than feels totally comfortable, and you’ll be amply rewarded with a richly flavored result.
Pies + Tarts
This dish is called “Pizza” Rustica, but it actually has more in common with a quiche than a pizza. I had never heard of the dish until this past Easter when my wife craved one, fueled by a memory of the “pies” her Grandmother brought to every Easter feast of her youth. Sadly, her Nana’s recipe is lost somewhere in her extensive family tree, so she did some on-line research and chose this one as the one that best reflected what she remembers her Grandmother making. It comes from one of our favorite pastry chefs, Nick Malgieri. I debated holding this post until next year as the Easter holiday approached, but this dish is so good, and would make such a great addition to a Summer pot-luck, I thought I’d share it with you now. The filling is a rich mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino, studded with a variety of Italian meats such as prosciutto, and dried sausage. It has a slightly sweet crust which balances the salty, cheesy filling beautifully, and when baked, makes a photo worthy star of any family spread.
A quick freezer organizing the other day turned up a small container of basil pesto as well as an unopened box of puff pastry. These items along with some fresh basil from my mom, some good old Vermont cheddar in my fridge, and a couple of lovely tomatoes from my farmer's market led to the creation of this fab little side-dish.
How many of you out there watch the PBS – Masterpiece show Downton Abbey?
Well, for those of you who do and would like to whip up a little "period appropriate" treat to enjoy when watching the show, then this Treacle Tart is for you. Quintessentially British, and with a pedigree that goes WAY back, this is exactly the kind of dessert that the Crawley's would have eaten after an exhausting day spent lounging about the castle.
I call this a pear or apple tart because it is equally good with either fruit, or some combination of both. The possible permutations of fruit options is nearly limitless as you can use the same fruit for the pureed filling and the sliced fruit topping, or different varieties of the same fruit for each, or entirely different fruits if you wish.
Just a quickie today 'cause I've got a parade to get to and a bunch of lobsters and corn to cook for our holiday BBQ, but our dessert for this afternoon, this red, white and blue tart turned out so well that I couldn't help tossing it up in a quick post.
I've had the thought of these little buggers marinating in the back of my brain for a while now. In fact, about 6 months ago I titled a post "S'more Tarts" as a placeholder and reminder that the concept seemed worthy of a little investigation and culinary creativity. Well, last week after having seen that empty post yet again, I decided it was time to get off my ass couch and get busy making a Oui, Chef version of these treats.
For those of you itching with the early onset of Spring fever and longing for the flavors of a new season, this post is for you. Like many of you reading this blog I seldom buy fresh tomatoes once the height of tomato season has passed, preferring instead to cook with high quality canned tomatoes through the fall, winter and spring. As is the case with their seasonal compatriots, asparagus and corn, I'd rather go without than suffer through tasteless, woody tomatoes in the off-season.
I've made countless pumpkin pies over the years, but this was my first dance with a sweet potato version. I was expecting it to be nearly identical to all the squash pies I've made over the years, and while it looks just like a pumpkin pie, and has a similar texture, in many ways this is an entirely different beast. For me, this darling was head and shoulders above any pumpkin pie I've ever made, and in fact, now that I've found this recipe I'm not sure I'll ever go back to the pumpkin pies of my youth.
I had the great fortune of cooking with Jacques Pépin for a whole week at the end of a multi-month culinary course I took at Boston University many years ago. Cooking a variety of dishes under Jacques' direction marked the culmination of the course, as we students helped him prepare the dishes to be served to the guests at a large hands-off cooking demonstration he gave at the end of the week.
It was not only an honor and privilege to share a kitchen with Jacques, but it was also a blast. He had mad skills and decades of great stories to share, but more importantly, he was a patient and dedicated teacher. It was a fun filled week that I'm sure I'll never forget.