Pear Frangipane Tart – Holiday Dessert or Afternoon Tea

Easy, elegant desserts are my favorite.  Mix a few ingredients together, add heat, and presto, something beautiful and delicious is born. Plus anything made in a tart pan has to be elegant, right?

Initially I intended this to become a holiday dessert slated for company, but when it came out of the oven, it smelled so good that Jon and I had it on a rainy afternoon with Earl Grey tea. He came home early from a blustery day working down at the boat and let me tell you, didn’t we feel decadent!

The classic combination of sweet, slightly tangy pears combines perfectly with the robust, nutty layers of almond flavors in this recipe.  Apples and hazelnuts would also make good partners.

download (1)Pear Frangipane Tart
This recipe was inspired by one in the cookbook “Baking” by James Peterson.

Almond Frangipane:
1 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum

In a food processor, grind the almonds to a fine mixture. Add the butter and sugar and pulse until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time and then the dark rum.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 puff pastry sheet or enough puff pastry to line an 11-inch tart pan
1 1/2 cups almond frangipane
4 1/2 pears peeled, halved and cored (the 1/2 a pear is a little off, I know. This is what worked for me, but if you’d rather squeeze the other half into the tart, go ahead.)
2 tablespoons melted salted butter
2 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press the puff pastry into the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides. Spread the frangipane over the dough and then place the pear halves on top, arranging so that the wider part of the pear is toward the outside edge of the pan. Reserve the odd 1/2 pear and slice it into three wedges for the center.

Combine the melted butter and sugar and brush over the tops of the pears. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the pears have cooked through. Remove from oven to cool and then remove from pan and slice. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream flavored with almond extract and sugar.

Serves 12 to 16

 

 

French Apple Cake – I Wouldn’t Change a Thing!

Most of the time when I follow a baking recipe, I have to change something.  It might be the extract or the zest or the alcohol or the fruit that I change, but I must change something.  When I made this recipe, for some reason, I just followed like a sheep in a herd and I’m so glad I did.  It’s lovely.  It’s delicious.  With coffee, with tea, by itself.  I’m a fan.

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French Apple Cake
Published September 1, 2012,  Cook’s Illustrated.
Serves 8 to 10

The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it’s too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted.
Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon Calvados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.
3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

Annie
This is me, not changing a thing

Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake

Chocolate, strawberries and cream?  What could be better?  Nothing in my estimation!

This recipe is a little simpler than the one in the photo, but it’s no big deal to split the cake and the cream in two, add the strawberries to the center and garnish with a few more.

The girls can’t believe they have to wait until after dinner to have it!

Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake

Chocolate Strawberry Cream Cake
Chocolate Cake:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks of butter)unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the rest milk to make 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and dust with cocoa an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar together.  When incorporated, add the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla extract.  Sift all dry ingredients together and add to the mixture alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour into cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes clean.  Cool for 10 minutes.

Strawberry Filling:
1 pound strawberries, washed, dried and stemmed
6 tablespoons sugar
pinch salt

Slice strawberries into 1/4-inch slices.  Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and let sit 1 hour.

Cream Frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and salt and then slowly add the heavy cream.  Increase the spead and whip until the mixture holds stiff peaks and the volume has doubled.

To assemble, place cake on a platter with a lip.  Spread the cream frosting over the cake and spoon strawberries and juice over top and.  Serve immediately.

Serves 8 to 16 people depending on the size of the slices.

Annie

Elderberries – Takes Me Back

Okay, these shrubs are huge.  When I think shrub, I imagine bushy, low to the ground, reachable… manageable even.  In contrast, the reality of my elderberry bushes are heading-to-the-sky enormous and this is only year three.  On the other hand, I have a huge amount of juicy, aubergine berries to go with my out-of-control shrubs.

With those berries, what will I make?  A perfectly balanced sweet and tart pie with a flaky, buttery crust?  Elderberry syrup for both our mile-high pancake stacks or our viral ailments during the winter months?  Gem-like elderberry jam or jelly for shockingly purple smoothies or homemade bread and butter?  Maybe all three given the amount of berries we have.

The tiny treasures that are elderberries pack a powerful punch in both flavor and health benefits.  My grandmother used to make pies and jams the recipes for which are both on the blog already.

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On Air and At Sea with Lemon Yogurt Three-Grain Pancakes

Cameras and questions at the ready, Jackie Ward and Mike (the super fun camera guy, okay, Jackie’s super fun too) from the local NBC station, WCSH6’s the Morning Report, spent a morning with us in the galley, in the garden and then on the bay.  We had Lemon Yogurt Three-Grain Pancakes with Berry Syrup for breakfast and Asian tacos and spring rolls for lunch. We were especially relieved when the day turned out to be a gorgeous one and the sunny shots were easy to come by.  Thank you universe (and Jackie and Mike).

Here’s part one of two segments airing on WCSH’s Morning Report.  The second we’ll post when it airs.  If you are local, be sure to tune in between 6 and 7am tomorrow morning! This recipe also ran with the Maine Ingredient column in last week’s Portland Press Herald.

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Multi-Grain Lemon Yogurt Pancakes with Fresh Berries

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest; zest from one lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice; juice from one lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the skillet

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add all of the wet ingredients.  Mix well with a whisk starting in the center and working outward.  Mix only until just combined.  Let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

Turn the oven on to warm.  Heat a large griddle or skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes.  Coat the griddle  with a small amount of butter and ladle the pancakes onto the griddle.  When the pancakes begin to bubble on one side, it’s time to flip them to the other side.  Cook until they are golden brown on both sides.  Transfer the first batch to the oven to keep warm and cook the second batch.  Serve immediately with fresh berries or a berry syrup.

Makes 12 pancakes

Fresh Berries with Lemon
2 cups mixed berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
(hulled and quartered)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a small bowl combine all ingredients and set aside while the pancakes are cooking.  Serve immediately on top of the pancakes.

Raspberry, Strawberry Syrup
1 cup raspberries
1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the berries and the sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the vanilla and serve. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of syrup

Dawn’s Raspberry Squares

When E needs a little chocolate pick-me-up, this is one of the recipes she turns to.  I never knew.  Until last week.  The combination of buttery shortbread crust, tart raspberry jam, crisp almonds and rich chocolate is an unbeatable one.

Great, now I have another chocolate recipe to turn to as well.  Oh sigh, what’s another mile or two of running in the whole scheme of things?

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Dawn’s Raspberry Squares
This recipe is inspired by Dawn, a former schooner chef, who got it from the Brown Bag a long while ago.  This is my own iteration of this deliciousness.

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together and then add the egg.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add the flour and mix using your fingers until the dough is a coarse crumble.  Transfer 2/3rds of the dough to the pan and press flat with your fingers.  Spread the jam evenly over the dough and then sprinkle the remaining dough over top of the jam.  Layer with the chocolate chips and then almonds.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Cool in the pan and lift out before cutting.

Makes 24 squares

Annie
You’ll be happy you tried them

Spinach Smoothie – Green AND Tasty

A good friend of mine often shows up to our meetings together with her breakfast – a bright green drink so brilliant, it’s hard to know how she got it to be that green.  We are talking neon, nuclear green.   So one day, I asked her.  Spinach, she says, is the key, without the purple or red colored fruits which muddy the hue.  She then goes on to tell me that she adds kale, celery, cucumber and cilantro to her morning beverage.  I’m skeptical.  Until I try it.  It’s actually not that bad… and then I get used to it and it’s pretty good… and then I look forward to it.

There are mornings when I feel I’m drinking salad, but hey, I feel good, it tastes good and my pants like it too.  Win, win!  This one is one of my favorites and for more smoothies, click on over to the Maine Ingredient.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when we go sailing and the cord for the blender doesn’t reach the plug on shore.  Maybe Jon will rig up a human run generator where everyone can take a few spins around the deck while the blender is going and then we roll it up until the next morning.  Or maybe I’ll just have an apple for breakfast.

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Spinach, Celery, Kiwi Smoothie
2 cups lightly packed spinach
5 ounces partially peeled cucumber; about 1/3 of a cucumber
1 stalk celery
1 peeled kiwi
1/2 ripe banana
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw honey

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until completely combined and smooth.

Makes 3 cups

Annie
Salad, it’s what’s for breakfast

Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones Celebrate the Cover Coming Off

This week the cover came off the schooner!  Sunny, warm, and folks we are going sailing soon.  Now it’s just a race to see what we can get done before we drop the paint brushes and sanders, the cleaning rags and brass polish and hoist the sails for the first time.

This is a lovely time of year when the weather turns to bearable and the jobs don’t seem quite so dirty, the wait for sailing not quite so long and the layers of clothes not quite so confining.  The crew begins to sing while they work, chat together now that the sanders aren’t running constantly and imagine what their summers will be like once we are out on the bay.  Here’s a look at what we are doing.

Meanwhile, as a treat, I baked some of these scones for the crew.  It’s a keeper of a recipe!

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Don’t you wish you were going to sail this summer too?  It’s easy to join us, just call us or email 800-869-0604 or sail@mainewindajammer.com

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Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones
This recipe is adapted from Kate Schaeffer’s cookbook Desserted:  Recipes and Tales from and Island Chocolatier who adapted her recipe from Kyra Alex at Lily’s Café.

Scones:
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream (a little less than)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
4 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 cup frozen Maine blueberries

Frosting:
1 ounce cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk, plus more if needed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks and enough heavy cream to measure 1 cup.  Sir in the vanilla extract.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients and mix with your hands, rubbing gently.

Cut or tear the cream cheese into small chunks and toss inot the dry ingredients.  Add the blueberries and mix all together.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the heavy cream mixture.  Add more cream if needed, mixing quickly.  You should have a crumbly mixture that barely qualifies as dough at this point.

Turn the dough onto a cutting board and quickly knead together using a bench scraper to help you form the chunky mixture into a dought that barely holds together.  Flatten the dough into a disc and cut with a biscuit cutter into 8 rounds.  Place the rounds into a muffin tin lined with small pieces of parchment paper.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating once during baking.  The scones are done when they are lightly browned and just firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Frosting:
In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese to remove any lumps.  Add the powdered sugar and mash together.  Add the vanilla and then the milk slowly, increasing the amount if needed to create a spreadable but not drippy texture.  Frost the cooled scones and serve.

Makes 8

Coffee Cocoa and Chili-Rubbed Pork Loin with a Brandy Cream Sauce

OR a Pineapple Salsa.  I couldn’t decide.   Should it be a round, full, rich Brandy Cream Sauce or a Pineapple Salsa bursting with fresh, bright and healthy?  I couldn’t decide so I made both.  The rub is a snap to make but oh, so elegant.  Then all you need to decide is do you go decadent or fun?  Either will work.  Both are in the column that ran today in the Portland Press Herald.  Coffee, Cocoa and Chili-Rubbed Pork Loin with a Blood Orange, Walnut and Manchengo Salad.

Coffee Cocoa and Chili-Rubbed Pork Loin

Annie
With friend or all to your self!

Dear Grandma, Can I tell you about my Elderberries?

Dear Grandma,

Well, the moment I’ve been dreaming about and waited on for so long has arrived and I’m about to go out to harvest my first crop of elderberries.  When I do, I’ll don a white, long sleeved shirt that Jon tossed into the rag pile, only it won’t go down to my knees like it did when I was little and I’ll only need to roll the sleeves up once.  We used to have metal buckets when we tromped out to the fields behind Uncle Bob and Aunt Marjorie’s house, but mine all have wood ash in them from emptying the wood stove so I’ll bring a basket lined with some parchment paper so that the berries don’t fall through the bottom.  I don’t remember ever picking through the berries with you once we got home.  I suspect that I made myself scarce at that point and you and mom did the lion’s share of that work with me running into the kitchen for a snack to take out onto the patio where I sat in some much needed shade and watched the daddy long-legged spiders build nests and listened to the background music of you and mom catching up and telling each other stories.

I’m going to make your pie first, but I have a lot of berries so I’ll also make some jelly and syrup.  If you were here, I’d love to share some with you over a cup of tea, but I guess we’ll have to wait on that until I see you again in the future.

Love,
Anne

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