Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Apple Cake A Day...


...keeps the doctor away. We're pretty sure we read that somewhere. So, in pursuit of good health, we will force ourselves to eat this wtf?! cake from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook. It's a bit labor intensive, but come on, our health is on the line.

The star of this recipe is freshly grated nutmeg...


Fresh nutmeg is known to have some serious medicinal properties. See how good this cake is for us? If you don't have access to fresh, don't fret, just use whatcha got in that there cupboard.

Apple Upside-Down Cake


Apple Butter:
(This makes more than you need, but the leftovers are a delicious addition to pancake batter, a turkey/brie sandwich or stirred into oatmeal.)

1 vanilla bean
6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar

Split vanilla bean and scrape out pulp. Add pulp and pod to medium saucepan. Add apples, lemon juice, apple juice, nutmeg and sugar. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes. Apples should be steamed and soft. Smash apples with the back of a wooden spoon to form a sauce. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook til moisture evaporates another 10 to 15 minutes. Let the apple butter cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla pod.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350˚.


Caramel Apples:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 cup sugar
5 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 to 2 minute. Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and cook over medium heat until it caramelizes to a deep golden brown, about 5 to 8 min. Carefully add the apple wedges, fanning them in a circle, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the apples are tender but still retain their shape, about 10 min. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely in skillet. Leave the oven on.


The Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1 cup apple butter
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

While the apples are cooling down, prepare the cake batter. Cream the butter, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the egg and 1 cup apple butter and mix to combine. Add flour, taking care not to over mix. Gently pour the cake batter directly over the caramel apples in the iron skillet and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Cake is ready when skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Using a pair of kitchen towels or mitts, invert the cake onto a plate that is slightly larger than the skillet. Flip it quickly. Slowly lift off the skillet. If any apples stick, remove them gently with a spatula and place back on cake. Let cake sit for 20 minutes before serving.


Time to kick back, enjoy a slice and pat ourselves on our very healthy backs!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hit Me Baby One More Time

Pizza final

We know, we know, asparagus isn't really in season anymore, but the Tarts who rarely show up to a party on time, pay no mind. Besides, California asparagus has been taking a hit in recent years thanks to its cheaper competitors in Mexico and Peru. So when we saw some lingering asparagus at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, we pounced on it, eager to boost Cali's market share...ever so slightly. Your welcome Spears.

Deb, who's always on time, posted this recipe for shaved asparagus pizza back in May when the Spears were in their prime...way before they were charged with sexual harassment by their guard. Hold it. I've got my Spears confused.

We adapted her recipe, adding poblano and leeks to ramp up the flavor. We also opted for a whole-wheat crust that uses equal parts whole-wheat flour and all-purpose flour. You can choose 12 oz for a thinner crust or 1 lb. for thicker crust. Just click the link below for the 12 oz version.

I had just purchased new yeast that I couldn't find anywhere in my newly organized kitchen (why is it harder to find stuff when you're organized?), so I grabbed some old stuff I had stashed in a drawer. Thank Goddess one of us took a closer look...

Erin discovering

Apparently, it was ancient...

Yeast CC

Ye olde Hub ran out and grabbed us some non-toxic yeast. Thanks Ham!

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough
(for 1 lb. dough)

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package quick rising yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup hot water (120-130˚F)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine flours, yeast, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup. (We didn't follow the temp guideline...shocking, we know.) With the motor running, gradually pour in enough of the hot liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. The dough should be quite soft. If it seems dry, add 1 to 2 more Tbsp. warm water. If too sticky, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour. Process until dough forms a ball and then process for 1 minute to knead.

The recipe then calls to transfer to a well-floured surface, etc...but we just put it in a bowl and covered with a towel and let it sit for about 20 min.

CU Shaved asparagus

Shaved Asparagus and Poblano Pizza
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 lb. whole-wheat dough

1/2 lb. asparagus
1 poblano pepper
1/2 cup leeks, sliced into half moons
1/2 lb. mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup shaved parmesan
5 basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
1 Tbsp. olive oil
course salt/pepper

Preheat the oven to 500˚. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven.

Trim and seed your poblano and slice into full moons...or whatever shape that is...


Next, the most tedious and frustrating part...shaving the asparagus. Try and buy the thickest asparagus you can find. Ours was very thin which proved to be maddening. Grab each spear by the base, lay flat on a cutting board and with a vegetable peeler, shave by pulling from the base all the way to the tip. We found that the first one or two shaved nicely, but the last couple resulted in chunky, broken off bits. Don't worry. Just do your best and pitch it all in a bowl. Then lightly toss with olive oil, a pinch or four of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Marinating asp

On a floured surface, roll out your dough into a 13 inch circle. Don't worry if it's not perfect; just tell yourself it's rustic. Fold the edges under and pinch if you want a thicker edge, otherwise leave it be. If using a stone, place the circle on a floured pizza peel board, otherwise place the dough on a round, floured pizza pan. (You can also form your dough into a rectangle and place onto a floured baking sheet.) Brush the crust with a little olive oil to make it crispy then sprinkle with parmesan. Next, distribute the poblano rings evenly. Top with mozzarella cubes, then leeks and finally...pile with the shaved asparagus.

Raw pizza CU

Open the oven door and slide the pizza from the peel onto the pizza stone. (If you like to rebel against good advice, like we do, and you don't flour your board, you may need some extra hands and a few spatulas to get it from peel to stone.)

Raw pizza

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (we went all 15) until edges are browning, cheese is bubbling and a few spears are slightly charred. Sprinkle the pizza with the basil, serve and watch it disappear. If you want to take it up to a level of insanity, you can also drizzle your slice with this basil oil.

But beware...everyone will want a bite. Even a baby...may hit you up...

Tiny tart more time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Said You Wanna Be TART-in Somethin'... got to be TART-in' somethin'...

Burrata CU

And Big Sur Bakery TART-ed somethin' serious with this Heirloom/Burrata salad...somethin' that's too high for us Tarts to get over anytime soon.

You start with a basil oil that will knock your socks off...

Basil Oil

We halved the recipe and still had plenty left over. Erin drizzled it over eggs the next morning and said it was yummilicious.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Microgreens,
Burrata and Balsamic-Basil Dressing

Basil Oil*
3 bunches of basil (leaves and stems)
1 cup rice bran oil or canola oil
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt

*Makes about 1 cup

Fill a bowl halfway with water and about a dozen ice cubes. Set aside.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt and blanch the basil in boiling water until its bright green, 20 to 30 seconds. Immediately strain the basil and place it in the ice water. Let it cool for 2 minutes (the ice water will stop the basil from overcooking and help it color). Squeeze the basil dry in a kitchen towel.

Put the blanched basil (stems and all) in a blender, add the oil, and puree. Let the puree sit for 2 hours at room temperature.

Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a container. Reserve the basil oil at room temperature until ready to use. It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

12 ounces (about 3 balls) burrata
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup rice bran oil or canola oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 assorted heirloom tomatoes
2 cups (4 ounces) microgreens
1/4 cup basil oil

About 30 minutes before serving time, pull the burrata from the refrigerator and set it aside to come to room temperature. (We used one package that only had two large balls. Balls...he he.)

Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the pine nuts on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Let the nuts cool completely. (We pan roasted them on the stove instead.)

To make the dressing, put the vinegar, basil, mustard, and pine nuts in a blender and purée until smooth. With the blender running, add the rice bran oil or canola oil in a slow, steady stream, blending until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and set it aside.

This dressing is so DERN good, you won't be able to stop yo-self...

Erin licking

Cut the burrata balls in half and season them generously with salt and pepper.

Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange them on a serving plat ter. Season them generously with salt and pepper, and drizzle with some of the balsamic-basil dressing. In a mixing bowl, toss the greens with 1 tablespoon of the dressing; arrange them on top of the tomatoes. Place the burrata halves on top of the greens, soft center up, and finish with a drizzle of basil oil.

Salad final

This salad rocks so hard, even Tiny Tart wanted in on the action...

Tiny Tart

Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, BURRATA Sa!