Monthly Archives: May 2009

Green Is My New Black

A few weekends ago I had a small gathering for my birthday. I decided to make my own cake. I felt it was OK since I’m the pastry cook of the group.

PHOTOS: NICK BILTON

There were four layers to the vanilla cake, and in between I filled two with dulce de leche butter cream and the middle layer with chocolate pastry cream (a la Pierre Herme).

The strawberries were too good too pass up at the farmer’s market, so I made a “strawberry salad” to accompany each slice of the cake. And green being my new black,  I colored the frosting a bright birthday green.

After indulging in the cake, we all danced the night away…

Strawberry Salad:

1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup granulated sugar
the juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

In a small bowl, toss together all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Poached Pear Tart

Trying to make desserts healthier and taste good is tough, I’m not going to lie. Why spear the rich texture of the yolks in a perfect custard or the fluffy sweetness that is meringue? Well, I’m taking baby steps.

I started out with poaching pears in port, and whole spices.

If you need to store the poached pears, the best way is to store them in their poaching liquid.

Where I really took a leap of faith, is with my tart crust; I used half whole wheat pastry flour.

I used frangipane filling (almond cake batter like filling) to set the sliced poached pears in. Our friends Deidre and Jon, had Nick and I over for a delicious dinner (Thank you Jon!). After dinner, I presented my tart to our friends without telling them of the bait and switch. And it was pure indulgence; they loved it. I topped each slice off with a small spoonful of creme fraiche. They all raved about the flavor of the whole wheat crust coming together with the almond filling and the pears. Once I revealed the true identity of the crust, they all felt more than happy to ask for seconds.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

Poached Pear Tart

For the crust:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

1) Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in 1 egg. Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flours all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

2) Divide dough into 2 equal balls and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

3) To line tart pan, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Lift and rotate dough after every few strokes, dusting underneath as needed to discourage sticking.

4) Carefully transfer rolled dough into tart pan, easing it into bottom and sides, gently pressing into place. Do not stretch dough, or the side will shrink during baking. If any tears occur, just patch it up with extra dough.

5) Trim dough with a knife, to level with the edge of tart pan. Place tart shell on a cookie sheet and in the refrigerator until firm about 15 minutes.

6) After refrigeration, dock (make small holes in) dough with fork about 2 inches apart.

7) With a butter knife or small offset spatula, smear about 3/4 cup of frangipane filling onto the bottom of the tart shell.

8)Gently press and arrange sliced, poached pears into filling.

9) Bake tart until the crust is golden and the filling is set, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. The filling should feel firm. Let cool and serve with creme fraiche.

For  frangipane filling:

Frangipane cream variation on page 211 from TARTINE BAKERY cookbook

Poached Pears:

5 bartlett pears, peeled, sliced in half, and cored

3 cups port wine

1/2 cup agave nectar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1) Bring wine, agave, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean to boil in heavy large saucepan. Add pears; bring to simmer.

2) Cut parchment paper round to fit pan; press paper atop pears. Partially cover pan; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until pears are tender, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes.

3) Transfer pears and poaching liquid to medium bowl. Cool to room temperature. (Pears can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Miso Ramen Noodle Soup

Hello all! It’s been too long. Since my last post I’ve grown a new obsession for ramen noodle soup. Not the cup’o noodles, but freshly made ramen. My husband and I often go to this tiny East Village Japense restaurant called, Rai Rai Ken. Now, there is a close tie for the best ramen with Momofuku noodle bar and Rai Rai Ken; I prefer the cozy atmosphere at Rai Rai.

My obsession was getting a little expensive, so I decided to make my own miso ramen.

Making it was a bit much, but so worth it in the end. I even made garlic chips! Which is just thinly sliced garlic fried up in a small sautee pan. I didn’t have a recipe to work with, so I just went on taste.

I had purchased my noodles from fair-way, they were manufactured by KA-ME. I was very pleased with the end result. It was not quite Rai Rai, but very close. In the end, I had threw in a lot of different sauces: soy sauce, fish sauce, sirracha, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, and miso paste.

I used organic chicken stock, bok choy and cooked the noodles separately; which is a must or they get mushy.

PHOTOS: DANIELLE BILTON

One Problem:

I was so excited to make it, that I didn’t write any of my measurements! Only until I sat down to write this post had I realized. I will make it within the next two weeks and re-post the recipe then. In the mean time, have a Sapporo beer! (Japanese beer) Cheers!