Tag Archives: dessert

Strawberry & Balsamic Galette

You  know when you were a kid, and every day at dinner your mom would be trying to feed you meatloaf or tuna casserole* or some other real horror, and you’d say “when I’m an adult I’m going to eat candy for dinner and stay up all night playing Sonic the Hedgehog, and instead of going to school I’m going to found a pirate colony in the backyard”?  It’s a shame that now, as an adult, I have evenings where I eat a sensible dinner made up of vegetables and lean protein followed by a piece of dark chocolate (Antioxidants! Moderation! PHOOEY!), then fold laundry and go to bed early.  My child-self would be appalled, not to mention seriously bored.

*I would like to issue an apology to my mother because she was right about meatloaf being good, but also demand one from her because she was NOT RIGHT about tuna casserole being good.  When is hot mayonnaise a good idea?  Oh!  Maybe when you put peas in it.  Blech.

*Note from Sue-I love tuna noodle casserole AND hot mayo, I think it’s fair to say we all just hate the cream of whatever soup. Mmmm hot mayo dips.

So, I made a strawberry galette for dinner.  BECAUSE I CAN.

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cold butter, diced

1-3 tbsp ice cold water

Method: Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms a thick crumbly mess.

any recipe where the butter can be cold is a recipe i can get behind.

this was much sandier and finer than the recipe led me to believe.

Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing very briefly between, until the dough JUST holds together.  Smush the dough into a big disc, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

don’t smush it too much, though, because it’ll get chewy instead of flaky.

For the filling:

2 cups  fresh strawberries, quartered

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp corn starch

Method: Mix strawberries with vinegar and honey and let sit for an hour or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick circle.

someday maybe i’ll get a rolling pin. until then, there’s metal waterbottles!

Lay the dough on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle the brown sugar/cornstarch mixture around the whole circle, about 1/2 inch from the edges.  Strain the strawberries, reserving the liquid. Arrange the strawberries, artfully, this isn’t a hoedown, and fold over the edges of the galette.

ARTFULLY.

Bake the galette until golden brown and bubbly, about 40-45 minutes.  Let it REALLY cool until you cut it, or the strawberries won’t have had a chance to solidify and you’ll have a runny, sad mess.   In the meantime, pop the reserved strawberry liquid into a small saucepan and reduce it by half or so, until it’s thick.  To serve the galette, cut it into pretty slices and drizzle it with the sauce. I didn’t photograph the sauce, because I took this picture at 7am.  But I did eat it for dinner and it was fantastic.  The strawberries cook down into concentrated strawberry perfection.  You know when you eat a strawberry, and it’s sublime and transcends the way that normal strawberries taste to become a sort of strawberry archetype, informing your opinion forever on what a strawberry SHOULD taste like?  This is like that.  Also, the crust baked perfectly- crispy on the bottom and flaky and buttery. Plus, look how attractive it is.  This is the kind of thing that people who live in Italian villas whip up when they have visitors and then eat while drinking chilled wine from the estate on a stone patio at sunset.

And let me say: DO NOT SKIP the sauce.  You want the sauce.  Really.  Trust me.

– Cat

pretty, huh.

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Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

Last weekend, I went berry picking with some friends.  I have never done so in Oregon, which is idiotic, because everyone knows Oregon has the best berries anywhere.  It is strawberry season in Oregon, and is starting to be blueberry and raspberry season.  Blueberries are easy to pick, because they are on trees at a normal, human height.  Strawberries, however, are low to the ground and apparently enjoy hiding in thickets of thorny nonsense.  You kind of squat down and scuttle along the rows looking for berries.  Collecting a big bucket of berries made me feel satisfied to have come from a long line of peasants on both sides of my family, which is contrary to my childhood feelings about the same subject, during which time I was sure I was descended from royalty.  Not so, I’m told.

In any case, I picked a shitload of berries.  Far more than one person can consume.  So, I froze a bunch of them, in that Martha Stewart-y method where you lay out the berries on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then gather them up into ziploc bags individually when they’re frozen, so you have pretty, individually frozen berries instead of a frozen gloppy mess.  It worked perfectly.

In the interest of using up some of my berries AND of making a gluten free dessert for a buddy, I landed on Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars.  (I wanted to make a blueberry tart, but I don’t have a tart pan and seeing as I DO have a bundt pan AND a springform pan, that seems like enough pans I use once per decade.)  If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about celiac disease, wheat allergies or the general gluten free food thing, I’d like to introduce you to the internet.

I’ve never made anything gluten free on purpose.  You know, like roasted asparagus.  That is gluten free.  But something normally made with wheat not made with wheat?  No.  Turns out, though, that there is a plethora of gluten free choices.  Almond flour, amaranth flour (?  This seems like what lembas bread is probably made from, and if you get that reference, you’re a dork and we would get along famously), rice flour, oat flour, arrowroot flour, fava bean flour, chickpea flour, etc.  I opted for rice flour, because a dessert made out of fava beans is weird, and oat flour, because that is something I could make myself.

These bars were so easy.  So so easy and so very delicious.  I think with nuts in them, these bars would be easily good enough for you to have for breakfast, or you could have them for dessert with ice cream and they’d still be wonderful.

Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

Crust:

1 cup rice flour

1 1/4 cups oat flour (you can make your own by pulsing oats in a food processor until more or less fine, but they make a nice base when they’re a little rough)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (1/2 a stick)  butter, softened

1 egg

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Blueberry compote:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

3 tbsp corn starch

juice of half a lemon

Method:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then let it cool until you can touch it.  It should be relatively thick, like jam.

For the crust, mix together all the dry ingredients, then smush in the butter, egg and oil with your fingers until the crust is sandy but mostly holds together.  Into a greased square baking pan, press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom, pretty firmly and be sure to cover the pan completely, not leaving any holes.

tamara doing the actual work.

Pour the blueberry compote onto the dough, then drop the remaining 1/4 of dough onto the top of the berries.

notice in this picture that i have some extra Thai chiles from when i made stir fry last week.  they’ll just sit there.  forever, probably.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top dough is lightly browned.  Let cool completely before cutting.

These turned out perfectly. Taking the extra step of cooking the blueberries was my way of ensuring that they didn’t get too runny and create a cobbler instead of bars.  They turned out beautifully.  I even took them to the beach.  And!  No gluten!

– Cat

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Rice Pudding

that's my coffee table. it's attractive, but has dangerous splinter potential.

When I was a kid, I had two even younger and more obnoxious siblings, which meant that Wendy’s was the only place my mom ever took us for lunch. (Mom and Dad, before you protest that I only remember the things you’d rather I didn’t share on the internet, I very much recall the time you took me to some fancy place for dinner when I was 6 and I wore the flower girl dress I wore in Aunt Carol’s wedding and some old man gave me a silver dollar.  I had a lovely childhood, even though once I broke my toe and my mom didn’t believe me, and another time my dad gave me a fat lip while playing catch because he chucked a fastball at my face.  Lovely!)

As the cultured among you will undoubtedly recall, Wendy’s used to have a salad bar.  Included among iceberg lettuce and probably 23 gallons of ranch dressing, the salad bar also had TWO kinds of pudding, vanilla and chocolate.  That meant that, to me, my mom saying “we’re meeting your Aunt Carol for lunch because I’m going insane listening to your plan to put on a production of Cinderella in the backyard for all the neighborhood kids with yourself as the star WHILE trying to make sure your sister doesn’t eat any cigarette butts off the sidewalk”, meant that I was about to get to eat a shitload of pudding.  I really love pudding.  I will admit that making pudding, from scratch, properly, is sort of a pain in the ass.  I won’t judge any of you if, instead of making this recipe, you go get a box of Cook & Serve chocolate pudding from the store, make it, and then eat it while it’s still hot.  In fact, if you do that, let me know, I will totally come over.

But, if you don’t mind the time it takes to make it, this pudding is GREAT.  If you have homemade vanilla extract, or a vanilla bean, it would be even better.  But as it is, it’s creamy and gently sweet and just so very nice.  It’s like fleece socks.  They might not be sexy, but they sure are nice.

Rice Pudding (Note that this recipe will double very easily, I just didn’t think it wise to have that much pudding lying around.)

1/2 cup rice (I used brown Jasmine rice, because I accidentally have like 3 bags of it.  It turned out just fine, and I figure, hey.  Fiber!)

1/2 cup white sugar

4 cups of milk (1/2 cup set aside, I used 1%)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

dash of salt

Method:  In a saucepan on medium-high heat, mix together the rice, sugar, 3 1/2 cups of milk, salt and vanilla.

kindly disregard the french onion soup i was cooking at the same time. also, apparently i need a spoon rest.

Bring it to a boil, cover it and reduce to low heat.  Here’s the annoying part.  Cook it for 45-50 minutes.   It’s not so bad- you should keep it covered the whole time, and stir it every once in awhile, but other than that you can just let it cook.

yep, still cooking.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the egg, and set aside.  After the 45-50 minutes, when the rice is cooked and the mixture is a lot thicker and reduced, mix the milk/egg mixture into the rice, and stir it REAL fast, so it doesn’t cook the egg.  If you don’t fancy taking a risk in your cooking, you can let the rice cool awhile before mixing the egg/milk mixture back in.  Either way, once it’s in and the egg isn’t cooked, turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring the whole lot to a boil, stirring frequently.

ok. this picture is gross. but i had a little of my egg whites cook when i poured in the egg/milk mixture, and i wanted to prove to the internet that not only is it ok to mess up a little, but that a lot of the time, mess ups are fixable. for example, i just fished these out. problem solved. it does look like alien boogers though.

Then, let it cool a bit, pop it into a pan or bowl ( I housed mine in an 8×8 baking dish), and let it set in the fridge for a few hours.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and have at it!

– Cat

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Pecan Blondies

do they look like they have butter in them? because they do. lots.

You know that thing where you start doing a task a really stupid way, for instance deciding to break up whole toasted pecans with your fingers because you don’t feel like washing the cutting board and knife it would take to chop them properly, and you realize like 4 pecans in that you’ve made a serious error, but you think to yourself “there aren’t THAT many, this isn’t THAT stupid” so you go ahead and break up the rest of them with your fingers and then realize that it took you 15 minutes of your life because you were too stubborn to admit defeat EVEN TO YOURSELF?

Also,

You know that thing where you cook something really lovely at home, such as caramel made out of butter and brown sugar and it makes your hair smell like sugar for once instead of the steak you cooked in a pan that made your hair smell like charred meat,  or channa masala because you were standing over the pan while you made it and now your hair smells like leftovers, especially when you first step into the shower, but this time you like it because it’s nice and sugary instead of totally gross?

Furthermore,

You know that thing where you take a bite of something and know immediately that you have absolutely no control over how much of that thing you are about to eat and will also be totally consumed by thoughts of said thing during any of the times you manage NOT to eat it in the time it is still in your house, and then lament immediately when you do eat all of the thing and realize it’s out of your life forever?

All of those things happened to me while making these blondies.  These are dense, chewy, caramely, nutty morsels of buttery, fatty perfection.  They are what you want chocolate chip cookies to taste like.  They are what you hope shortbread will be.  They are absolutely what they serve during snack time before recess in Heaven.  Also, they take place in one pot and are really, really easy.  Hallelujah.

Pecan Blondies, from Fine Cooking

2 sticks (1 cup) of butter

3 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

3 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

healthy pinch of salt, plus more for sprinkling on top

1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted pecans

Method:  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and butter or Pam a 9×13 baking dish.  In a pot on medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved.

the sugar has mostly dissolved, and i let mine boil for probably 5 minutes.

Then, let it boil gently for a couple minutes.  Take the caramel mixture off the heat and let it cool until you can touch the pot.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, and mix it into the cooled caramel, taking care not to cook your eggs*, because that is gross.  Then, mix in the flour, salt and pecans until JUST combined, pouring it into the pan.  Sprinkle some kosher salt on top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Enjoy complete adulation from everyone you feed these to.

* A note on tempering eggs:  the official recipe wants you to make sure your eggs are room temperature before mixing them into the warm caramel mixture.  The reason is that if the caramel is too hot, it will cook the eggs instead of incorporate them into the batter, and that means your blondies will have scrambled eggs in them.  Foul.  To avoid this, try to make your eggs as close to the temperature of the caramel as possible.  If you, like me, never ever have room temperature eggs because you never plan anything food-related that far in advance, you can break your eggs and yolks into a bowl, and whisk them together over another bowl of hot water to warm them up a bit, though the process of whisking the eggs together in a warmer bowl will do that as well.  Then,  whisk the egg mixture into the caramel a little at a time, whisking the whole thing constantly until the eggs are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

– Cat

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Caramel Corn

this is probably the snack they have waiting for you right after you stroll into heaven.

Homemade caramel corn came into my life recently when Linda (good buddy and ex-roommate) made me some for a surprise.  I think she did this because she felt bad, thanks to the time she refused to make me cinnamon sugar biscotti and then I blogged about it.  Nagging works!  Every time I go to the movies, which is a normal amount, I say aloud “I wish that instead of stupid, gross, old, fake-chemical-butter popcorn, they had homemade caramel corn like at the Arclight in Los Angeles.”

The Arclight is a very fancy movie theater in LA, with a location in West Hollywood, which, if you attend a showing of anything on a Friday or a Saturday night, you’re more or less guaranteed to see someone famous.  The fun in that, really, is that mostly they are only kind of famous, such as that guy who played Billy in 6 Feet Under and was also in Clueless, or that girl from that movie where she played a cheerleader who got pregnant and then they robbed banks.  The game is trying to figure out exactly which Law and Order it was when that M list celebrity, eating Sno-caps THIS VERY MINUTE, that time they got murdered in an alley next to a kebab joint.  Or you could get a 20 pointer, like I did once, and see Natalie Portman and Devendra Banhart (they were dating then? Celebrities are weird), which looked exactly like if a very pretty, very normal girl wearing flip flops and shorts went around arm-in-arm with Jesus, if Jesus sometimes wears an afghan as a shirt and then accessorizes with 43 necklaces and leather sandals.  The point is, they sell pints of homemade caramel corn, access to which makes the $42 it costs for a movie ticket sort of worth it.

All that is why I had to make caramel corn for the blog.  So that your ass will be as fat as mine when you can’t stop eating it either.  Just imagine that butter is good for you.  Or that there’s no butter in this at all.  Or that you don’t care.  I guess it turns out that Kim Kardashian has a purpose on this earth after all, because fat asses are in style!

This recipe is pretty easy, provided you know how to cook popcorn on a stovetop (I had to Google it) and have a candy thermometer.

Caramel Corn

10-12 cups popped popcorn (I bought plain kernels and made them on the stovetop, because I didn’t want any gnarly stuff that most microwave popcorn has in it.  Get our your dutch oven or stock pot, heat 3 tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat until shimmering.  Toss three kernels into the oil and when all three have popped, pour in all the kernels you want to make and put the top on the pot.  When the pops are a few seconds apart, shake the dutch oven and pour into a bowl.)

1/2 cup of butter, or 1 stick

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tbsp water

1/4 salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking soda

kosher salt

Method: Turn on the oven to 250 degrees, and pour all the popped popcorn into a deep roasting pan.  Put the pan in the hot oven while you make the caramel.  In a saucepan on medium-high heat, with a candy thermometer clipped to the side, melt the butter.  When the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.

it will look like this.

Whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and reaches 250 degrees.  This takes maybe 15-20 minutes.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s not that fun.  Bring a magazine.

this is about 2/3 of the way through. my whisking hand was tired.

When it reaches 250 degrees, remove from the heat, mix in the baking soda and vanilla and whisk some more, the mixture will bubble up, turn creamy and lighter brown.

this is right before i turned it off and put in the baking soda and vanilla.

Pour the caramel all over the popcorn in the roasting pan, mixing well and sprinkling liberally with sea salt.

Bake the caramel corn in the oven, on 250 degrees, for 45 minutes, stirring it all around every 15 minutes.

blarg isn't this frigging caramel corn done yet.

Keep the caramel corn in an airtight container, probably in a safe to which you don’t know the combination.

– Cat

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Cinnamon Roll Cake with Maple Drizzle

tastes like a cinnamon roll, but is far less annoying.

I love cinnamon rolls.  I LOVE THEM.  I think the only thing I love as much as cinnamon rolls is s’mores.  Recently, I  made the frozen kind in the tube, and forbade Dom from eating any.  (He doesn’t cook, he doesn’t get dibs, that’s my rule.)  I’m even territorial about the kind of gross, frozen, in-tube kind of cinnamon rolls.  You should see how nasty I get over homemade cinnamon rolls.

The thing about homemade cinnamon rolls is that they are a giant pain in the arse (arse is less offensive than a** because it’s British, you know).  There are two things in cooking that I hate: baking with yeast and deep frying at home, and the reasons are because I am impatient and because I hate a mess.  I made Alton Brown’s Cinnamon Rolls a long time ago, and while those were heavenly, they both required yeast AND made a big mess.  The good news is that cooking blogs are always coming up with ways for lazy bakers like me to eat cinnamon rolls without using yeast/waiting for dough to rise/waiting for it to rise again/rolling it out/waiting overnight.

Like this Cinnamon Roll Cake.  It’s basically a homemade version of the in-tube store bought cinnamon rolls, except cake batter instead of yeast.  It even has a sugar/butter mixture you spread on top and then swirl around.  It’s also REALLY easy and doesn’t make a ton of cake, which is probably best for everyone.

I timed myself, and this took 21 minutes, from measuring out the ingredients as I went, to melting the butter in the microwave, to softening the other butter in the microwave*, to spooning on the butter/sugar, to swirling it around with a knife to getting it in the oven.  21 minutes. Plus 5 minutes to make the icing.

*My A+ method for softening refrigerated butter to room temperature: take the stick, in the wrapper, and microwave it 5 seconds at a time, turning it after each 5 seconds, probably 4-5 times.  This method does require you have a reasonably deep understanding of your microwave’s cooking strength, but if you’re concerned, turn the power down to about half and I promise you this will work like a charm.  If your butter is frozen, instead of refrigerated, as mine often is, do the same thing, except use the defrost setting for the 5 second increments, and then after 6 or 7 of them, switch to full strength.  The method isn’t as foolproof for frozen butter as it is for refrigerated butter.

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Maple Drizzle, from Cooking for Seven

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup all purpose)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, melted

For the topping:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp flour

For the icing:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp maple syrup

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray Pam on an 8 inch cake pan.  In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients for the cake, the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Into that bowl, mix the egg, milk and vanilla, and mix until just combined.  Then, slowly mix in the melted butter until combined.  Pour the batter into the cake pan and set aside.

Next, in a small bowl, mix together the topping ingredients: the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, until well mixed.  Drop this in spoonfuls onto the cake batter, and then spread it out across the top of the cake.  Take a knife and swirl the topping into the cake batter, so it looks like this:

mmm, sugary butter.

Bake the cake for 28-32 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into it comes out with only a few crumbs.

when it's done baking, it should look like this. firm to the touch, but with valleys from the melted butter.

While it’s baking, mix together the icing ingredients: maple syrup and powdered sugar, until it’s a drizzly texture.  When the cake comes out, let it cool until room temperature or just slightly warm, then drizzle the cake with the icing.  Serve warm or at room temperature, or hide it from whoever you live with and eat it on the sly.

– Cat

i probably should have baked 3 of them.

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Salted Fudgy Brownies

fudgy!

There are 4 things I like about this recipe.

1. It calls for melted butter instead of room temperature butter.  My butter is never room temperature unless it’s in my butter bell, and if it’s in my butter bell, it’s for putting on bread.  My butter is always refrigerated or frozen, so making it room temperature is a battle of wills between me and my microwave, as I heat it for 5 seconds at a time, turning it between each 5 seconds, telling my microwave that it better not melt it while worrying that I’m getting head cancer from standing in front of my eye-level microwave.  Melting it is easy- not melting it is hard.

2. It takes place in one bowl.  Melt the butter in the bowl, put everything else in, the end.

3. It produces fudgy brownies as opposed to cakey.  I’m a fudgy brownie girl- always have been.  The reason, I think, is because I would always rather have fudge.

4. I like to sprinkle kosher salt on sweet things.

Salted Fudgy Brownies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

2 cups sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 cup good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

more salt for sprinkling

Method:  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees and spray Pam on a 9×13 baking dish.  In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt that butter.  When it’s melted, stir in the sugar and let it sit for a few minutes, cooling off the butter and melting the sugar a little.  Stir it around, too.  After 4 or 5 minutes, stir in the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract.

it's very sandy at this stage. that's okay.

Mix in the eggs.  Mix in the flour, then the chocolate chips.  Spread the batter evenly in the pan (taking care to save some to eat with a spoon).  It’s a very thick batter.

seriously, save some batter to eat with a spoon.

Sprinkle the whole thing with more sea salt and bake for 30 minutes.  If, at 30 minutes, you stick a toothpick in and it’s still batter in there, bake for 3 or 4 more minutes.  You should see a nice wet crumb, because these are supposed to be fudgy.  I baked mine for 32 minutes all told, but ovens are different.  Let them cool fully before you cut them, because they will firm up a lot as they cool off.  ALSO- I read a tip recently that if you cut brownies with a plastic knife, they won’t stick to the knife and make those horrible ragged edges.  I didn’t have a plastic knife, but if anyone tries this tip, please let me know if it worked!

– Cat

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