Friday, May 29, 2015

Almond Plum Tarte Tatin #FridayPieDay

This plum tart, baked upside down with caramelized sugar and slivered almonds then flipped, is perfect summer fare, for when stoned fruit is in season. Any fruit can be used in a tarte Tatin, although apples are traditional. Try it with apricots or peaches as well as plums. 

A couple of months ago my friend Heather from girlichef decided she was going to designate the last Friday of the month as Friday Pie Day and I vowed to join her. Then the last Friday in March came and went and I completely forgot. And I did have something to share in April (You are looking at it!) but other real life commitments got in the way. Despite being on the road, on my way to our younger daughter’s graduation from Rhode Island School of Design today, I just had to participate this month. Because, as Heather says, life needs more pie!

Ingredients
1 cup or 200g sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 ripe plums (about 1 lb 6.5 oz or 640g)
Good pinch salt
1/4 cup or 55g unsalted butter
8.5 oz or 240g block puff pastry
1/4 cup or 20g slivered almonds plus a little extra for sprinkling after, if desired.

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Halve the plums and remove the stones.

Put the plums in a bowl and sprinkle them with the remaining sugar and salt, mix, and leave to sit while you get on with caramelizing the sugar.



A note about the pan: I use one that goes from stovetop to oven so I can caramelize the sugar, add the butter and then add the fruit and pastry all in one. If you do not have such a pan, simply pour the caramelized sugar into a baking pan and continue as per the instructions.

In a pan, simmer half the sugar with a couple of tablespoons of water until a golden caramel has formed.



Stir in the butter.



(Here’s where you pour the sauce into a tart pan, preferably non-stick, if your stovetop pan won’t go safely into a hot oven.)

Sprinkle the almonds on the caramelized sugar.



Put the plums on top, round side down, and spread them out to cover the base of the pan.



Roll out the pastry until it is just slightly larger than your pan.

Cover the plums with the pastry, pushing it right into the sides of the pan. Cut two or three slits in the top to let the steam out. I was just messing around so I stuck a few scraps on top of the pastry but since we are turning this over to serve, they won’t even show.



Place the tart in the oven for around 25 to 35 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown and the syrup is bubbling up.



When the tart is baked, allow it too cool for about 10 minutes.

Put a large serving plate with sides on top of the pan and turn the tart upside down onto it. The deliciously sticky plummy syrup will come out over the pastry so a plate with sides is essential. Sprinkle on some more slivered almonds, if desired.


Serve nice slices with ice cream, thick pouring cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.


Enjoy!



FridayPieDay is the brilliant invention of Heather from girlichef.

I am pleased to start joining her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FRIDAYPIEDAY page!


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Red, White and Blue Sangria #SundaySupper


Crisp dry white wine, mixed with a little lemon vodka and Grand Marnier, then topped up with lemon-lime soda and lots of pretty fruit, makes a refreshing libation for summertime. 

This week Sunday Supper is remembering all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in our armed forces, just ahead of Memorial Day tomorrow, by showing off our red, white and/or blue recipes. Even as you feast and enjoy the extra day’s holiday – if you are living in the US, that is – we hope you will be inspired to honor military personnel from every country who died to preserve our freedoms, including those who put themselves in harm’s way to bring aid to the needy and try to ensure safety and peace in troubled regions worldwide. (Did you know that there are more than 30 countries whose flags are red, white and blue?) Unlike Veteran's Day, which honors the service of all soldiers, Memorial Day is especially to recognize those who gave their lives.

Many thanks to this week’s host, the great DB from Crazy Foodie Stunts. Make sure you scroll on down to the bottom of my post to see all the colorful recipes we are sharing today.

Let me introduce this sangria ingredient list with a disclaimer. When I told my husband that I was making sangria and, did he want some, he said, “Nah, thanks. I’ll just have a cold beer.” Well, I’m all for taking one for the team, particularly my Sunday Supper group, but drinking an entire one-wine-bottle batch of sangria seemed ill-advised, so the amounts you see here photographed are for half of the recipe I share below. And, yes, I did drink the whole darn half pitcher over the course of a hot afternoon! It was refreshing and delicious.

Ingredients
1 bottle dry white wine (My favorite white is Sauvignon Blanc, both for sangria and drinking in general.)
1/3 cup or 80ml Grand Marnier
1/4 cup or 60ml lemon vodka
3 cups or 710ml lemon-lime soda (Two of the 12 oz or 355ml cans.)
6 oz or 170g raspberries
4.4oz or 125g blueberries
1 dragon fruit

Method
Starting at least a day ahead, wash some of the blueberries and raspberries and put three blueberries and one raspberry in several of the holes of a muffin pan. For a more decorative look, I used the Nordic Ware one known online as the Bundt Brownie pan. <affiliate link Add a little water, until you see the blueberries just barely start to float.



Put the pan in the freezer and leave until the water freezes enough to hold the fruit in place.

Top up with more water and freeze until solid.

When the fruity ice is frozen, release by running some water over the back of the pan and store in a airtight container in the freezer. If you want to skip all these steps and get straight to the sangria, just use normal ice cubes.


When you are ready to serve, peel and slice your dragon fruit and cut it into pieces about the size of your raspberries and blueberries. Wash the berries and drain well.



In a pitcher, combine your wine, vodka and Grand Marnier.

Add your fruity ice (or just some normal ice) and then top up with the lemon-lime soda.


Add in more raspberries, blueberries and some of the cut dragon fruit. Put some berries and dragon fruit and ice in each glass and fill up with sangria.



Enjoy!



And make sure to check out all the other great red, white and/or blue recipes we have for you today.

Food Using One Color

Red Food

White Food
Blue Food

Food Using Two Colors

Red and White Food

Blue and White Food

Red, White and Blue Food
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7 p.m. ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Sangria outside on our new-to-us outdoor sofa set.  Doesn't it look refreshing!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Culture Confusion Rocky Road Bundt #BundtBakers

This Bundt is a riot of cultural influences and flavors and colors that somehow come together to create one of the richest Bundts I’ve ever baked: Turkish delight, dried apricots, syrupy stem ginger, pistachios, dried cranberries and date molasses, in a Jamaican ginger batter, finished off with a decorative flourish of American marshmallow fluff.


This is the TCK or third culture kid of cakes, feeling the pull of the Far East, Middle East, Jamaica by way of the British Isles and the United States as well. This month our Bundt Baker host, Laura of Baking in Pyjamas, challenged us to bake a Bundt with the flavors and ingredients of Rocky Road. For those unfamiliar, rocky road is an unbaked confection that usually contains nuts, fruit, chocolate and marshmallows, sometimes cookies, but a little research soon revealed that the combinations depend greatly on where one lives.  I was intrigued by a recipe on Taste.com.au for a Turkish Delight Rocky Road and decided to use those basic ingredients, but baked in cake batter. (And substituting a North American ingredient, cranberries, for the glacé cherries because glacé cherries? Just no.)

Ah, but which cake batter? Sure, I could have done a plain cake but if you’ve been reading along here a while you know that I don’t often take the easy way out. I like a challenge. So I started looking for a cake recipe with Turkish delight and came across this moist and beautiful ginger loaf baked with fond memories of her English childhood, from my fellow UAE blogger, Sally of My Custard Pie. Now Sally’s ginger cake was already loaded with flavor and the only thing Turkish delight about it ended up being a gorgeous pink rose flavored icing. But I could already taste all of my added flavors baked in that fabulous batter. It’s a gift.

To finish it off Rocky Road style, I piped on some marshmallow fluff. Only after it was baked did I realize that, with so much going on, I forgot chocolate. Sorry, Laura!


Ingredients
For the cake batter:
1/2 cup or 90g dried apricots
1 cup or 150g unsalted pistachios, divided
1/2 cup or 85g dried cranberries
 3 1/2 oz or 100g Turkish Delight
1 knob of stem ginger
2 cups or 250g flour plus a little extra for flouring Bundt pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground (powdered) ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup, firmly packed, or 100g brown sugar
1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter
1/2 cup or 120ml golden syrup
1/3 cup or 80ml date molasses (Normal molasses can be substituted.)
1 generous tablespoon syrup from jar of stem ginger
1 large egg
2/3 cup or 155 ml milk

To decorate:
1/2 cup marshmallow creme or fluff or use a thick glaze of your choosing
Cranberries and pistachios, amounts as per the instructions below

Method
Finely chop about one quarter of your pistachios in a food processor. You are looking for a lot of pistachios dust, very fine crumbs and some small pieces.



Roughly chop the rest of your pistachios with a knife and set aside about one quarter of them to decorate the Bundt after baking.

Cut your cranberries, apricots and Turkish delight into small pieces.  Using scissors is easier than the knife. Mince your stem ginger.  Set aside about one quarter of the cranberry pieces for decorating the cake after baking.


Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and liberally butter and lightly flour your 10-cup Bundt pan. In case you are curious, mine is the Nordic Ware Fleur de Lis.  <affiliate link

Now sprinkle the finely chopped pistachios around the side and middle of the Bundt pan. The bigger pieces will not stick and will fall into the deep grooves of the pan. This is a good thing.



Sift the flour for the cake into a large mixing bowl and add in the baking powder, ginger, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Add the cut apricots, Turkish delight and the bigger pile of cranberries to the flour mixture and use your hands to make sure they are all well coated and not sticking together.



In a large saucepan, gently warm the golden syrup, date molasses and the ginger syrup with the brown sugar and butter till the butter is just melted and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.



Measure your milk into a measuring jug, add in the egg and whisk well with a fork.

Pour your barely warm molasses mixture into the flour bowl then add the milk with egg and the minced stem ginger. Mix lightly.



Fold in the larger pile of chopped pistachios.



Pour the batter into your prepared Bundt pan.



Bake on the middle shelf in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. The cake should be pulling away from the sides slightly.



Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then use your wooden skewer to loosen any bits of cake adhering to the sides or middle of the Bundt pan, before turning the cake out.



Allow to cool completely before decorating.

To decorate, put your marshmallow fluff in a piping bag and follow the contours of your cake. My initial plan was for fuller coverage but the diamonds that appeared on top because of the pistachios were too cool to hide, so I ended up not using all the marshmallow fluff. If you have a traditional Bundt pan, just pipe that sticky stuff all over.



Poke bits of cranberry and pistachio all over the cake until you think there’s enough or you run out. Over the past 20 years I’ve had a couple of good friends who have baked and decorated with me and they will tell you that I often need to be stopped when contemplating the addition of just one more thing. But more is more, I say.



A note on marshmallow fluff: It’s not the best medium to stick stuff to a cake, even a cold cake, because it starts to slide. If you aren’t trying to mimic rocky road ingredients, feel free to substitute your favorite glaze. Perhaps even Sally’s pretty in pink Turkish Delight one or her alternate option, flavored with fresh lemongrass.



Many thanks to Laura from Baking in Pyjamas for this great theme. I know you all are going to enjoy the variety of flavors and cakes we have for you today! Remember, just because it's called Rocky Road, doesn't mean it's all the same inside!


BundtBakers


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.


Aaaaand, if you happen to have extra marshmallow fluff and a willing pooch (and by willing I mean he sits patiently waiting for a taste whenever I fill a green piping bag - he knows!) then by all means, give him a mustache and let him lick it off.  Hey, it's his 8th birthday on Saturday. Special treat.

















Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Camel Milk Caramel Basbousa #CreativeCookieExchange


Basbousa are little squares or diamonds made with semolina dough that are traditionally topped with almonds and then soaked with rose flavored syrup when hot. For a twist to the typical recipe, I’ve soaked mine in caramel syrup made out of camel milk. 

Sometimes for these Creative Cookie Exchange posts I have a recipe in mind – sometimes even baked - weeks ahead of time because our organizer, Laura from The Spiced Life reveals the theme several months in advance, to help us plan. But this month, with the delicious theme of caramel, I just wasn’t finding inspiration anywhere. Until my fellow CCE member, co-creator of Bread Bakers and friend, Renee from Magnolia Days asked the following question in the group: “Does dulce de leche count as caramel or is it strictly caramel for the May event?” This set off a flurry of comments where several of us defended dulce as absolutely a caramel and got me thinking about the camel milk cajeta or dulce de leche sitting in my refrigerator. It does keep for months, but why not use some of it in a cookie? So the wheels started turning.

Camel milk caramel can certainly be put in any cookie. But wouldn’t it be fun to find an Arabic one to use it in? Hence, the basbousa. With their traditional sugar syrup, I’ve always found basbousa too sweet – and I’m not a fan of rose water and rose essence, which taste like eating soap to me – but with the addition of the sweet and slightly salty camel milk caramel, they are perfect. Another treat entirely.

So, with my apologies to the Arabic world in general, and Egypt in particular, I've adapted from this recipe from SBS.com.au.  Do watch the video if you are making the original, because the instructions differ from the written recipe. I’ve written mine to include the half hour rest, for instance.

Ingredients
1 1/8 cups or 215g coarse semolina
3/4 cup or 50g freshly grated coconut
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 cup or 30g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 100g thick yogurt or crème fraîche
7 tablespoons or 100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
16-30 whole almonds, depending on how small you cut your basbousa.

For the caramel syrup:
1/2 cup or 120ml dulce de leche, cajeta or thick caramel. I used a camel milk version, instructions here.
1-2 teaspoons milk

Method
Grease an 8x8 in or 20x20cm baking pan and set it aside.

Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.



Add in the yogurt and melted, cooled butter and mix well.



Your dough should be fairly stiff but pliable.



Spread the mixture with your hands into your greased baking pan. Make sure to get it right up to the sides and nice and even.



Cover with a towel and let rest for half an hour. When the time is almost up, preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut the dough into diamond shapes then press an almond into each one. I chose to cut mine pretty small, but you can certainly cut yours larger. You just won’t need as many almonds then.



Bake in your preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. While it's baking make the caramel syrup.

Put the stiff caramel in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl and warm it slightly, just to loosen it. Add a little milk to make it even more runny and stir well till the milk is completely incorporated. You are looking for the consistency of maple or chocolate syrup.

Right when the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the caramel syrup over it.


It sits there for a few short minutes.

Then it sinks in, leaving the almonds with a lovely shine.

Cool to serve and use a sharp knife to cut through again and lift them out.



Enjoy! Basbousa is a term of endearment in Arabic meaning something like "little sweet," so make these for your basbousa.



Are you looking for more caramel cookie goodness? Here you go!



If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You can find all of them on our home page at The Spiced Life. We post all together on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


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