good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Month: December 2014

Kouign Amann

Kouign Amann

The holidays call for extra special treats and above all, decadence. Well folks, that’s exactly what we have going on here. Since I had an extra day off, I decided to try my hand at a yeasted, laminated dough. Similar to puff pastry with a […]

52 Weeks: 50-52

52 Weeks: 50-52

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this year flew by. It was a busy one and I’ve jumbled the final weeks together here in this very thin post. I guess that’s what happens when things are going a million miles an hour […]

Apple Tarts with Caramel Sauce

Apple Tarts with Caramel Sauce

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I’ve been making these apple tarts for longer than I care to admit. If I had a “signature dessert” it would be these tarts. Crisp, buttery and flakey, they are my fail safe dessert that I can whip together at the last minute and know without a doubt that they will turn out fabulous. I don’t have to worry about the outcome- will it puff enough, be too sweet, apples too mushy/crunchy, etc… It’s become second nature to assemble these guys in a flash and proof that just a few high quality ingredients can be spun into something that not only looks amazing but will also dazzle your dinner party guests as well. Did I mention how easy it is to prepare? The best part is you can prep them hours in advance and simply pop them into the oven 20 minutes before they are to be served. Done and done.

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Apple Tarts:

serves 4 

1 sheet *frozen puff pastry, thawed (or fresh, rolled out to 1/4″ thickness)

1 round cutter or a small plate, 4″ diameter

1-2 honey crisp apples, peeled and cored (leave whole)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine the cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Using a round cutter or small plate, cut 4 circles from the puff pastry sheet and place onto a parchment lined sheetpan. Slice the apples thin, between 1/16- 1/8″ thick. Divide the apple slices equally and place on top of the puff pastry rounds leaving almost 1/4″ border on the edges. Brush the apples and edges of the pastry with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes or until edges become carmelized and golden. Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve immediately.

*If using store bought frozen puff pastry, try to find the highest quality possible. Ideally, made with butter and not oil/shortening.

To make ahead, assemble everything except the sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refregerate until ready to bake.

*From My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream

pinch of sea salt

* The original recipe calls for salted butter and the optional addition of more salt to taste.

Spread the sugar in a large skillet or wide saucepan and pour the water over it. Heat the sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan very gently, just enough to moisten the sugar with the water.

Once the sugar is moistened and starting to cook, swirl the pan only if there are dry spots of sugar that aren’t melting. Continue to cook the sugar until it begins to darken. Watching carefully, gently swirl the pan, only if necessary, so it cooks evenly. (If the sugar begins to crystallize, continue cooking, stirring only if you see very dark burnt spots appearing, and the crystals should eventually smooth out).

When the caramel is a deep amber color and begins to smoke, remove the pan from the heat and drop in the cubes of butter. Stir with a whisk until butter is completely melted, the gradually whisk in the cream and stir until smooth. If the sauce seizes up, gently warm it over low heat and it will begin to smooth out.

Once the sauce is cool enough to taste, you may want to add additional salt and adjust to your liking. Sauce keeps for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Mission Xavier del Bac/ 1950 West San Xavier Road/Tucson, AZ /website/ Last month, during our visit to Tucson after all the antiquing and eating far too much, we made a stop at Mission San Xavier del Bac . Initially, I was lured by the promise […]

Tunnel of Fudge

Tunnel of Fudge

Tis the season when things get super busy and sometimes complicated what with juggling the everyday plus getting ready for the holidays. I’m already starting to feel it. Talking about it is giving me anxiety. Why not make things easy on ourselves and bake something […]

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Huancaina Sauce

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Huancaina Sauce

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For those who know me, it’s no secret that I love Peruvian food. It’s one of my favorites and I get some mean cravings for the flavors in chifa, huancaina, aji’s, saltado’s, and ceviches to name a few. It would be fantastic to be able to go out for some excellent Peruvian cuisine, but sadly, that’s not a reality in these parts. So, like everything else, when we want something particular and don’t want to be disappointed, we resort to making it at home. That’s exactly what happened here with this huancaina sauce. I really had a taste for it and decided it was high time to scratch this itch.

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Huancaina Sauce

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, rough chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

8 oz queso fresco

5 tablespoons aji amarillo paste

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons m+1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

3 water crackers (saltines also work)

Heat one teaspoon grapeseed oil in a small skillet and add onion, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-low heat, until onions become soft and translucent, do not brown. Set aside.

In a blender, combine onion mixture with all other ingredients and puree until smooth. Mixture should be loose enough to fall off a spoon in a smooth and continuous stream. It should not be watery or too thick. If the sauce is too thick or close to the consistency of sour cream, add water, one tablespoon at a time to loosen. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted Potatoes:

1 pound miniature fingerling potatoes, washed and sliced in half

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and coat potatoes well. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.

Serve warm potatoes with a side of huancaina sauce for dipping.

52 Weeks: 49/52

52 Weeks: 49/52

It was so nice to finally get some much needed rain this past week. I always love how clean the streets look and how refreshed my plants appear after a good rain. This was another busy week but we did get some time to enjoy […]

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

It’s that time of year again and I decided to get a jump start on this baking business. I’m going to stop for a quick second and pat myself on the back for being ahead of the game this time instead of feverishly trying to […]

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park

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Saguaro National Park

Tucson, AZ/website

Drive a few miles out of town and you will find yourself in a National Park. I was surprised at how close and accessible Saguaro National Park (West)  was to our location. One morning, we woke up early and hustled it down to the park so we could take advantage of cooler temperature, morning light, and see more with less people around. It was fantastically quiet and peaceful. Each spot where my eye landed were saguaros of all sizes in various states of growth, decomposition, and every stage in between. There are some really tall ones with picture perfect arms and others with twisted, gnarled limbs. It’s almost as if they have personalities. Strange, I know. Something else I realized was that there is quite a variety of color among the desert plants and landscape. It just requires a closer look, color is hiding in the details.

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