Habeas Brulee » Pies and Tarts http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Mushroom Chicken Pie http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/09/mushroom-chicken-pie/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2013/01/09/mushroom-chicken-pie/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 04:02:10 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=744

I hate mushrooms. The flavor is fine, but the texture grosses me out.

Wait, no, I only like expensive mushrooms. They have a different and much nicer texture. Morels, chanterelles, yum!

Wait, no, I also like mushrooms that have been finely chopped and sautéed with onions and/or shallots. That fixes up the texture, too.

Point being, this is my new perfect breakfast food. It’s ostensibly a pie, but it’s more like huge mound of meat-enhanced duxelles surrounded by a very thin layer of phyllo.

(My food blogging resolution this year is to be even more open to using terrible Hipstamatic photos rather than deny you tasty recipes when I lack the time to set up a nice photo shoot.)

Mushroom Chicken Pie
~2.5 lbs chicken thighs (or any poultry thighs, really)
~3lbs mixed mushrooms (we generally use chanterelles, portobellos, and shiitakes)
4-5 onions (same amount as the mushrooms, by volume)
phyllo dough
butter or oil
bread crumbs (optional – we generally don’t bother)
some truffle spread or olive tapenade (nice with, but still tasty without)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (nice with, but still tasty without)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

2. Heat a pan with a bit of oil in it, and sear the thighs. They don’t have to be cooked through, just nicely browned on both sides. When you remove the thighs, be sure to keep enough fat in the pan to brown the onions.

3. Pull the meat off the bones and set aside in a large bowl.

4. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

5. Coarsely chop the onions.

6. Saute the onions in the remaining chicken fat in that pan you used earlier, until golden, adding butter or oil if necessary (it probably won’t be).

7. Stir in the mushrooms and saute (in multiple batches if necessary, but you DO want to crowd the pan). Again, add butter or oil if necessary. When the mushrooms stop releasing liquid, they are done.

8. In a food processor, finely chop (but do not puree) the mushrooms and onions (and truffle/olive stuff if you have any).

9. Stir the mushroom/onion mix (and thyme leaves if you have any) in with the chicken.

10. Spread 4 layers phyllo into a pie pan, brushing butter (or oil) on and (optional) sprinkling bread crumbs between each layer.

11. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie pan over the phyllo, and cover with another 4 layers of phyllo, similarly layered with butter. Cut off any phyllo that hangs over the edge of the pie pan.

12. Stab a bunch of holes in the top crust.

13. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

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Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2011/06/24/lazy-rustic-haphazard-and-amazing-sour-cherry-pies/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2011 14:22:18 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/?p=567

I’ve gotten seriously lazy with my sour cherry pies.

I make at least half a dozen every year, or my father sulks. It’s just one of those things. The tree is ready in mid-June, so everyone gathers together to pick, pit, barbecue, and eat. I’ve learned to make the crust dough in advance at home and just bring it over and stick it into Dad’s freezer before we attack the tree. These things get easier over time.

But since the tree keeps growing and I make more and more pies each year, I’ve had to learn a few shortcuts along the way. A few improvements. How do you make so many pies without anyone getting bored, without driving yourself nuts with irritation, while maintaining high quality and tastiness? Well, I think I’ve finally figured it out. This is how.

Forget pie tins. Forget measurements and mixing up the filling carefully. Forget lattices or double crusts. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about how to make a beautiful pie. No one cares if these are beautiful. If they’re delicious, dayenu, it’s more than enough for us. Don’t lead us through the desert. Just make us a few more pies!

Lazy. Haphazard. I make an almond-meal based tart dough, roll out chunks of it, and just splat them onto foil-covered baking sheets. I squeeze much of the juice out of cherries, handfuls at a time, and spread them across the middle of the sheet of dough. Sprinkle on some sort of starch to absorb the liquid, brown sugar, flavorful booze, a bit of cinnamon, some vanilla and almond extracts.

Want variety? Sure, make a few wishniak pies, a few with whisky, some with amaretto. Whatever makes you happy. Just splash it right on top. Then cover all your sins with crumblies, and stick it in the oven. One or two pies per baking sheet. My oven fits four baking sheets. We get the job done. Someone else runs out for ice cream in the end.

Sour Cherry Archives
2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs
2006: Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet
2006: Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
2006: Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version)

Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies
For the crust:
2 C flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the filling (and no, this section doesn’t have precise measurements):
Sour cherries, rinsed and pitted
Flour or corn starch
Dark brown sugar
Almond extract
Vanilla extract
Booze (I prefer wishniak (a sort of cherry liquor), but kirsch or amaretto or whiskey or rum or whatever you like will work just fine)
For the crumblies:
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. (Or into smaller chunks, if you prefer smaller pies.) Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two reasonably large tarts (or more smaller ones).

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Prepare an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. (Or several!)

Take one chunk of dough out of the fridge at a time. I like to roll out my dough between floured layers of waxed paper, to keep my rolling pin clean and make it easier to flip it as I go. Every few moments, just gently remove the wax paper and sprinkle on a bit more dough to keep it from sticking. When it’s about 1/8″ thick, flip it out onto a prepared baking sheet.

You’re going to build a really haphazard filling right on top of the dough, keeping about 1.5″-2″ clear around the edge.

First, the sour cherries. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before piling them on top of the dough – no matter how much liquid you remove, you’ll still end up with too much remaining. I promise. (Save the liquid you squeeze out – you can use it to make syrup for soda!)

Next, sprinkle on some flour or corn starch to help absorb the liquid. A nice dusting over all the cherries should do just fine. You really can’t go wrong here. Then sprinkle on a light dusting of cinnamon as well.

Drizzle a few little dashes of vanilla and almond extracts over the cherries.

Heavily sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries next. My brown sugar tends to solidify, so more often than not I use a knife to just slice the brown sugar over the cherries. I use rather a lot, but it’s just a matter of taste. Sour cherries are more flavorful than sweet ones, and you add a lot of sweetness with ice cream at the end anyway.

Last, splash some booze over the whole mess. Rather a lot more than you did with the extracts. Definitely more of a splash than a drizzle, this time. Don’t panic. The alcohol will cook off, and it’ll be lovely.

To finish things up, make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter crumbly ingredients and then cutting in the butter until the texture is, well, crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.

At this point, if you’re making pies in bulk for a parent who sulks if he doesn’t get enough pie each summer, you can just freeze your pie in his freezer and instruct him on how to bake it himself whenever he wants. That’s a bit silly, though. He always bakes and eats them all within the first week anyway.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375° F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until it looks done.

Serve with vanilla ice cream for best effect.

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Saffron Duck Pot Pie http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/06/saffron-duck-pot-pie/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/06/saffron-duck-pot-pie/#comments Sun, 06 Jan 2008 15:41:44 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/01/06/saffron-duck-pot-pie/

Here is a meat pie to warm and satisfy you, now that winter has come and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the first real snowstorm of the year. Loosely inspired by Moroccan basteeya, this pot pie marries a rich and savory meaty filling with traditionally sweet spices, and you can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top if you like to heighten the effect.

I only post recipes I actually like, but I have to tell you that this one makes it to my list of personal favorites. Dave and I made one of these pies at first, and the next night we couldn’t resist making another few to last us for the rest of the week.

The crust is made with lard and butter, resulting in an extravagantly light and flaky pastry that contrasts well with the luscious filling.

And speaking of meat pie, has anyone seen Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd yet? I saw Sweeney Todd on Broadway a few years ago, and wasn’t very impressed by the production, but the story is fun and Johnny Depp is usually wonderful in all that he does.

Anyways, I suspect this pie tastes better made with duck than it would if it were made with your neighbors. And for best flavor, I suggest making it with duck, with the help and company of your neighbors.

Saffron Duck Pot Pie
2 C chicken or duck stock
3 big pinches saffron (threads)
1 pekin duck (about 5 lbs)
3 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cayenne
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteing
Juice from 1 1/2 lemons
Cinnamon pie crust (recipe below)

Prepare the pie crust as described in the recipe below, then leave it in the fridge to rest until needed.

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Warm up the stock, and add in the saffron, leaving it to steep.

Remove all external fat and skin from the duck and set aside. You should absolutely render the fat and skin to have tasty, tasty duck fat around the house. Cut it all up into little chunks, put it in a pot with some water, and simmer for hours. When that’s done, strain and refrigerate. The next day, you can skim the fat off the top, and enjoy both that and the duck stock that will have gelled on the bottom. The fat and skin can be refrigerated if you don’t have time to go through this process immediately.

Break down the duck into 7 pieces: 2 legs/thighs, 2 breasts, 2 wings, and the rest of the carcass. Lightly salt them all.

Roast the duck for about 40-50 minutes, taking out pieces as they are done (when the juices run clear, that is).

Let the duck pieces rest 15 minutes or so to cool down, then shred the meat. Save the neck and bones in your freezer to make stock (or make it immediately, if you prefer).

In a small saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil until golden. Remove the onion from the pan and transfer it to a large bowl. Mix in the shredded duck, spices, and cilantro, and set aside.

Whisk the flour and olive oil together in the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it is nice and thick and just barely golden, still fairly pale. This is your roux. Slowly add the saffron-steeped stock to the roux, whisking it all together as you go.

Raise the oven to 500 F.

Prepare your pie tins by buttering them, sprinkling flour over them, and then shaking out any extra flour. I really think this is tastiest made in smaller, deep-dish tins – the pies pictures above were only about 2-3 servings each.

Roll out the pie dough about 1/8″ thick and line the pie tins with it.

Fill the pies with the meat mixture. Add juice of 1 1/2 lemon (spread out among multiple pies as necessary). Pour the sauce over the meat. Cover with a top crust, and poke a few holes in it to release steam.

When you put the pie in the oven, lower the heat to 425 F. Bake until top crust is pale gold, about 25 minutes. At that point, rotate the pie from front to back (to even out the baking), reduce the heat to 375 F, and bake an additional 30-35 minutes until the crust is deep golden brown and it is done.

Cinnamon Pie Crust
12 1/2 oz flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 C lard
12 tbsp (3/4 C, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
6-8 tbsp cold water

Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the lard, and process until sandy. Add the butter, and process until you have pea-sized lumps.

Pour the dough out into a bowl. Add 6 tbsp cold water. Press the dough against the sides of the bowl with a spatula to combine. If needed, add up to the remaining 2 tbsp cold water.

Flatten into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.

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Rosemary Currant Shortbread with Cumin Ginger Apples http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/02/rosemary-currant-shortbread-with-cumin-ginger-apples/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/02/rosemary-currant-shortbread-with-cumin-ginger-apples/#comments Thu, 02 Nov 2006 12:43:15 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/11/02/rosemary-currant-shortbread-with-cumin-ginger-apples/

When Rose and I got together a few days after our apple picking excursion, we decided to experiment with some of the apples.

The rosemary currant shortbread is her adaptation of a shortbread recipe she found on Epicurious. Back when we were dating, she and I made rosemary chocolate truffles together; a love for rosemary is one of the things we have in common.

I’ve been throwing cumin onto apples lately, which is most likely due to my poor memory and Kathryn‘s inspiring use of coriander in her plums in spiced custard. Kathryn suggested using coriander in apple pie as well, but I somehow remembered it as cumin instead. Luckily, cumin turned out to work well with apples, too. And I could not resist the fresh ginger I found in Rose’s kitchen.

Rose and I stressed each other out quite a lot when we were dating, but our friendship works smoothly and is extremely important to me. This dish is a wonderful example of how we play together; our every conversation turns into an excited bubbling up of inspiration, ideas bouncing back and forth. It is emblematic of us, really – two complicated and very different things that when combined, turn out to work well together.

Rosemary Currant Shortbread with Cumin Ginger Apples
1 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/3 C dried currants
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary (fresh is better; dried is fine)
2-3 large apples, peeled and sliced
Sugar, cumin, and grated fresh ginger to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, currants, and rosemary. Add the soft butter and stir with a fork until it comes together as a [very crumbly] dough. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a 6 1/2″-7″ circle on an ungreased baking sheet. (I assure you, shortbread has enough butter in it to grease the sheet.)

In a separate bowl, toss the apple slices with enough sugar, cumin, and grated fresh ginger to make you happy. I didn’t measure the amounts I used, but I would err on the side of not too much ginger and more cumin than you think you need. A pinch of salt would not go amiss here, either.

Lay the spiced apple slices atop the shortbread circles.

Bake about 15-17 minutes, or until done. They will be lightly golden when they are ready. Cut each circle into wedges while they are still warm, and try not to worry too much about the crumbs you will inevitably scatter.

Optionally, throw together an apricot glaze to brush on top of the apples. This may help the whole thing stick together a bit better.

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Apricot Marzipan Tartlets http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/14/apricot-marzipan-tartlets/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/14/apricot-marzipan-tartlets/#comments Thu, 14 Sep 2006 14:22:48 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/09/14/apricot-marzipan-tartlets/

I just love the way that apricot in the center is peaking up his little head over the expanse of crust like a prairie dog going up on his hind legs to see the world outside his den.

This recipe was inspired by a photo of rustic apricot marzipan tartlets I came across in a magazine I was flipping through at B&N (I cannot remember which magazine, unfortunately). I loved the idea, so I threw together a cornmeal-based dough (instead of the typical tart dough the recipe had called for) and went ahead.

I made these right before I left for Hungary, and it just occurred to me that I ought to post the recipe before it becomes entirely impossible to find good fresh stonefruit at the farmers’ markets, at least here in the Northeast U.S.

Apricot Marzipan Tartlets
For the cornmeal tart dough
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C cornmeal
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C sugar
3 large egg yolks
For the filling
Apricots, halved and pitted
1/2 C sugar
Marzipan, sliced thinly

Mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together separately to blend. Beat in the yolks. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix in until the dough just starts to come together. Divide in half, and roll each half into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Put 1/2 C sugar with 2 C water in a saucepan, and heat until the sugar dissolves. Poach the apricots in this until soft but not falling apart. When you remove them, you can reserve the apricot syrup for myriad other uses. I am most likely to make truffles with it, pour it over ice cream or chocolate cake, or use it as a flavoring syrup for seltzer.

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Roll out the dough and cut out ~6″ circles. Place the marzipan in a thin layer atop dough, leaving a 1/2″ border around the edge. Cut the apricot halves into quarters, and place them over the marzipan. Fold the edges of the dough up and over to create the sides of the tartlet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until done.

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Grapefruit Almond Tart http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/28/grapefruit-almond-tart/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/28/grapefruit-almond-tart/#comments Wed, 28 Jun 2006 14:24:51 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/28/grapefruit-almond-tart/

Imagine, if you will: A rich, buttery, almond-based tart crust. A thick, granular layer of creamy grapefruit almond curd. Slices of fresh pink grapefruit, sweeter, pulp bursting with juice. The crunch of a thin layer of caramelized sugar.

The warmth of the crust, fresh from the oven. Curd and grapefruit, cool from the fridge. The warmth of the sugar just kissed by the blowtorch.

Grapefruit Almond Tart
For the dough
2 C flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For the filling
Grapefruit almond curd (recipe below)
1 pink grapefruit, separated into peeled slices
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. If necessary, slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two large tarts (or six of the size pictured above), so that may end up being the way to go.

When your dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 425°.

Roll the dough out to about 1/8″ thick and line your buttered and floured tart pan with it. Line the dough carefully with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and lower the oven temperature to 375°. Remove the foil and weights from the tart, and bake the empty shell for another 10 minutes.

Allow the shell to cool, then remove it from the pan. Fill it with a layer of grapefruit almond curd, and place the peeled pink grapefruit slices over that. Sprinkle the pink grapefruit with a heavy layer of sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a kitchen blowtorch.

Grapefruit Almond Curd
1 7/8 C ground almonds
3 organic grapefruit (scrubbed clean)
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
7 1/2 tbsp butter

Sterilize jars, an extra bowl, and a sieve. This will make about 2 pints of curd.

Toast the ground almonds in an ungreased pan until they brown very slightly and start to smell extra tasty.

Zest the grapefruit and set the zest aside. Juice the grapefruits, and keep 1 1/2 C juice for the recipe.

In the bowl of a double boiler (or a bowl set above a layer of water in a pot), beat the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, grapefruit juice, and zest. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a simmer. Add the butter and whisk gently as the butter melts. Keep stirring with the whisk (not whisking with it) as the mixture thickens and the eggs cook. The mixture should be thick enough for a spoon to leave a trail behind after about 10-15 minutes of this. Be wary of overcooking lest your eggs curdle.

Remove from heat, strain out the zest by pouring the curd through the sterilized sieve into the sterilized extra bowl. Whisk in the ground almonds. Pour into the sterile jars, leaving about 1/4″ space at the top, and close them up. Process in a boiling water bath for at least 15 minutes to seal. (Make sure the lids pop in as they cool, else the seal did not work out.)

This grapefruit almond curd is basically a variant of Clotilde‘s almond lemon curd, so credit where it is due, certainly.

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Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version) http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/#comments Fri, 16 Jun 2006 14:38:56 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/16/sour-cherry-pie/

My father planted a sour cherry tree by the side of the house a few years back, and every year he insists that I make him a sour cherry pie. The deal has always been that my brother picks the cherries and I pit and bake the cherries.

The tree has grown enormously in the past year. Sure, when I lived there I used to be able to lean out my bedroom window to pick cherries off the top of the tree, but still, we’ve never had such a yield! My father, my brothers, Dave, and I were all picking and pitting cherries last night, and we had to leave at least half the cherries still on the tree. We’ll do another round of picking next week as the rest ripen. In the meantime, there was a pie, and with the five quarts of cherries and juice left in the pot there will be other sour goodies to come.

All this took place at my parents’ house, so the pie is on the old Singer sewing machine table that they have in the kitchen, and the photo within the photo is of my mother and my youngest brother. The drink is framboise lambic, a sort of a raspberry beer which I cannot recommend enough.

Sour Cherry Pie
For the dough
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 C cold unsalted butter, in pieces
4 tbsp ice water
For the filling
4 C pitted and drained fresh sour cherries
3 tbsp corn starch
1 pinch salt
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp Wishniak
For the crumblies
1/2 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C butter

Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Slowly mix in the water until the pastry just comes together. Add more if necessary, but not too much. Gather it into a ball and flatten it to a disk, then chill in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out.

Butter and flour a relatively shallow pie tin, and line with the rolled out dough. Fill with pie weights and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and ditch the pie weights.

Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cherries before measuring them – no matter how much liquid you remove, you will still end up with too much remaining. You can use the liquid to make soda or jam. Mix in the other filling ingredients, and then continue to drain as much liquid out as possible as you fill the pie. Wishniak is a sort of cherry liquor; you can substitute Kirsch if necessary.

Make the crumbles by mixing together the non-butter ingredients for the crumblies. Cut butter into the mixture until the texture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the cherries.

Return to the oven and bake for another 50 minutes or so, or until done.

Serve with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. The contrast between the sour pie and sweet ice cream is what really works for me.

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Garlic Scape Tartlets http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/06/garlic-scape-tartlets/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/06/garlic-scape-tartlets/#comments Tue, 06 Jun 2006 21:17:59 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/06/06/garlic-scape-tartlets/

The tart dough I used here was actually developed by my friend Scott Lefton, who showed me the recipe and encouraged me to go forth and play with it. First, I used it with brie and sauteed leeks for a variant of Bron‘s leek and brie tartlets. The flavors combined so well, a slow rolling flow of green and gold across the tongue, leeks and brie and dill and suddenly oh, yes, there’s that saffron, too, pulling it all together.

And then I finally found some garlic scapes at the farmer’s market. Like most spring vegetables, garlic scapes benefit from very minimal preparation. I’ll usually grill them, add them to any stir-fry, or just saute them briefly with butter and salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar at the end. If you’re really searching for good ways to work with garlic scapes, just cook them as you would asparagus or scallions, their repertoir is so wide. But this time, I wanted to see how they would work in place of the leeks for this tartlet.

Garlic scapes are less buttery, less rich than leeks, but they add an interesting texture and subtle flavor to the dish. I couldn’t say which version I prefer. I want to eat more of both. And even moreso, I want to keep playing with this tart dough!

Saffron Dill Tart Dough
2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp (loosely packed) saffron
2/3 cup shortening
2 tbsp sweet (unsalted) butter

(I used a total of 3/4 C butter instead, because I have an unnatural and immovable prejudice against shortening.)

Garlic scapes

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter (or shortening and batter) in with a pastry blender until the consistency is homogenous. Sprinkle with 4-5 tbsp water and blend together just a moment longer. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour or so. It should still be rather crumbly before it is chilled; do not be afraid.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Butter/oil and flour your tartlet pans. Roll out the dough rather thin, maybe 1/8″ thick or so, and use it to line the prepared pans. Cover the dough with aluminum foil, pressing it in to fit inside the dough. Fill with pastry weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Take off the foil and weights, and fill instead with a layer of brie and sliced garlic scape. Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or so. Eat. Enjoy. Serve at parties and bask in the applause.

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Pear and Basil Tart http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/05/04/pear-and-basil-tart/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/05/04/pear-and-basil-tart/#comments Fri, 05 May 2006 02:54:41 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/05/04/pear-and-basil-tart/

My partner, Dave, and I joined the Park Slope Food Co-op as soon as we moved to the neighborhood. Last Sunday, we finally did our first work shift there. I desperately wanted to do something physical, since I spend so much of my time at the court sitting at a desk and writing. More office work on the weekends would be awful. So, we ended up stocking produce and other items around the store for a few hours.

The problem with stocking produce is that you end up finding yourself hit with all these cravings as you flit about the store, handling food. The organic red Bartlett pears smelled so damn good, I just knew I had to take some home with me. And, oh, they were stocked right next to a bin of fresh basil. I had an amazing apricot basil truffle at the Chocolate Show last year, so it occurred to me that a pear and basil tart may end up really working as well. And almonds. It needed almonds, too.

Our first attempt at putting this idea together was a tart tatin. This wasn’t too brilliant, because we had to flip it out of the pan quickly before the caramel hardened, and we should have used a large cutting board to flip it onto and risked the mess as it fell rather than using a perfectly sized plate to hold it and lower it out from the overturned pan. That, or I should have worn towels over my arms. Some caramel dripped on me and I ended up with a few burns on my forearms. I’ll spare you a photo of the blister, but here you can see the tart tatin.

The regular tart version was much less painful to make, but the tart tatin actually tasted significantly better. The pears were softer, sweeter, because they were more drenched with caramel and because the layer of pastry on top kept all the moisture in while they were baking. The caramel really saturated the dough, especially around the edges, so we ended up with a candied almond-flavored crust that just blew me away.

We’ll experiment with this concept more, I think*, but I wanted to go ahead and share the first two versions for now. Just, please do take more precautions than I did if you make the admittedly tastier tart tatin variant.

For the pastry crust
2 C flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C butter (slightly softened, but still cold)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
For everything else
3 tbsp butter
1 C sugar
heavy cream (optional)
4 red Bartlett pears
fresh basil

Mix together the dry ingredients for the crust. Add the butter and mix or squish together by hand until the dough reaches a texture like bread crumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until the dough just starts to come together. Slam it against a hard surface to remove the air bubbles, as you would if working with clay. Form it into a squat, chubby cylinder, and cut the cylinder in half so that you have two disks. Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour, and up to twenty-four hours. Alternatively, you can stick them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a few months. This makes enough dough for two tarts, so that may end up being the way to go.

Slice the pears lengthwise into slices about 1/8″ thick, and pick it out the pits and stems. Leave the peel on. Wash the basil and pluck the leaves off the stems.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Make the caramel by heating the butter and sugar together in a heavy saucepan until it reaches a nice color, stirring it from time to time. If you want a softer caramel, stir in some heavy cream. Personally, I preferred it without the heavy cream, so that the caramel gets hard and crunchy. With the clarity of hindsight, it occurs to me that had we used the softer caramel when we made the tart tatin, we could have waited longer to remove it and I may not have ended up getting burned. Anyways, if you make it without the cream, don’t make the caramel until just before you are ready to use it.

Dave prefers the texture of the softer caramel. As you can see, this did not stop him from licking the spoon after it cooled off and hardened when I was making the caramel without heavy cream.

Here, the methods differ depending on which sort of tart you plan to make.

For a regular tart:

Butter and flour a tart pan. Roll out your dough, put it in the pan. Pre-bake it with weights in for about 10 minutes. Take the weights out and continue to prebake it for another 10 minutes or so. Take it out of the oven and lower the heat to 375°. Cover the bottom of the tart with a layer of caramel, then put a thin layer of basil over that. A few layers of pear slices go over the basil. Put that mess back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes or so, or until done.

For a tart tatin:

Use a large, oven-safe pan to make the caramel. Once it is done, arrange a layer of pears in the caramel in the pan, and a layer of basil atop the pears. Roll out the dough into a circle sized to your pan, and carefully drape it over everything else in the pan. This will probably end up messy around the edges, but that’s fine – the more the caramel leaks around the dough, the more candied the crust will end up. Put the pan in the oven and bake at 425° for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 375° and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until done.

If you have made your caramel without the heavy cream, as I prefer, you’ll have to remove the tart from the pan as soon as you take it from the oven, or the caramel will harden too much. Use towels that cover your arms all the way up, or a thick jean jacket you don’t mind washing immediately or long silicone gloves. Use a platter or cutting board larger than the pan – hold it against the pan, then flip them together so that the tart falls out. Scrape out any edges bits that may have stuck and arrange them with the rest. Don’t worry, the caramel will glue it all together.

Enjoy, good luck, and try not to hurt yourselves too much!

* Actually, I know that we’ll experiment with this concept more. Our pillow talk last night was all about pureeing the basil, or steeping the cream in it before using the basil cream for making the caramel, or covering the tart pan during the last stage to keep more moisture in, &c.

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Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/04/10/freeform-caramel-prawn-pies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/04/10/freeform-caramel-prawn-pies/#comments Mon, 10 Apr 2006 12:13:47 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2006/04/10/freeform-caramel-prawn-pies/

Yes, I know, I know, even my savories tend to be sweet. To be honest, I made these a few weeks ago, and am only now getting around to posting about them. We finally unpacked the kitchen at the new apartment, though, but we got so caught up in making and eating our first meal here that I didn’t remember to photograph it. Soon, soon!

Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies
2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C chilled butter
5 tbsp cold water (or so)
1 egg yolk
1 lbs raw medium prawns
12 spring onions (scallions)
8 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt

Mix the flour and butter together until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough just starts to come together. Gather it into a ball, pound out the air bubbles, then wrap it and chill for at least 15 minutes. This is not an extravagant or amazing pie crust recipe – I save those for the sweet pies. This is about as simple as a crust can get. But it gets the job done.

Peel and devein the prawns. If you’re the sort of person who likes fish stock, throw the shells into a ziplock bag and keep them in your freezer until you’re ready to make stock. Rinse the prawns and pat them dry.

Chop half of the scallions into fine rounds, and shred the other half into inch-or-so long fine strips.

Make the caramel sauce by combining the sugar with 6 tbsp water in a small pan. Boil and then simmer until it reaches a dark amber color that pleases your eye. Take the pan off the heat and add 8 tbsp boiling water. It will sizzle and splash about a bit, but once it calms down you can stir it into a liquidy caramel sauce. If there are any lumps, simmer the mess over low heat until they are dissolved.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy pan over medium-high hear. Add the garlic and the scallion rounds, then throw in the prawns and stir until they are pink all around, about 3 minutes. Add the caramel sauce and the fish sauce and continue to cook and stir for another minute, then throw in the lime juice, brown sugar, salt, and scallion strips. Mix well, and remove from heat. There’s your filling.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Divide the pastry into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each portion between sheets of wax paper into 8″ diameter circles. Place filling into the center of each circle, leaving a wide border. (Your amounts will vary depending on your preferred pie to prawn ratio.) Fold the edges up and around the filling. Lightly beat the egg yolk, then brush the pastry very lightly with it.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden.

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