Cherry Galette

I bought a new toy last week – a cherry stone remover.  Since then everybody in our block had a chance to get tired of everything cherry, my family cannot look at cherries any more, though I feel  like I haven’t even started yet.  That thing is SO cool! You can load it with about 30 cherries at once and pit them in seconds! Here is one of the recipes that came out of all that.

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CHERRY GALETTE

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 16 tablespoons cold (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  •  1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbs sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp brown sugar

Yields: 2 galettes

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the dough. In the food processor combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add water and pulse to get a crumbly dough.  Transfer the dough into two plastic wraps and form into ¾ inch thick disks.  Wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400⁰F /200⁰C.

Prepare the filling.  Sprinkle cherries with the lemon zest and ¼ cup of sugar.  Mix to incorporate. In a separate bowl mix corn starch and 2 tbs sugar.

Assemble the galettes.    Roll each disk to a circle, 12 inches/ 30 cm in diameter.  Sprinkle the middle with the starch and sugar mixture, leaving about 2 inches/ 5 cm from the edges.  Brush that space around the edges with buttermilk.  Place the filling on the sprinkled area and fold the dough around it.  You can fold it any way you want – from clumsy to neat – it will look gorgeous in the end any way. Pinch the folded edges, so that the filling doesn’t leak out while baking.

Brush the dough of the galettes with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Bake for 30-35 minutes at 400⁰F /200⁰C until golden brown. Let cool for about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Russian Friday – Plushkas

If there was a CA (Carboholics Anonymous), I would have been a member. Perhaps I would have had a sponsor, who probably would have gotten a hundred calls from me today.  Alas, there was nobody to stop the vile addiction, and I was… oh, so naughty!!!! – white flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and the whole nine yards!

This Russian treat is called “Plushka”.  The dough is rich, the filling is simple, and your teatime is a guaranteed success!

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RUSSIAN PLUSHKAS

INGREDIENTS:

DOUGH

  • 8 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (divided)
  • 2 cups milk (lukewarm)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 20 g active dry yeast
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 225 g butter, melted, brought to room temperature
  • ½ tsp salt

FILLING

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup of poppy seeds or cinnamon or raisins (btw, I usually get such things online – you save lots of money buying in bulk)

EGG-WASH

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbs water

Yields: about 24 buns

DIRECTIONS:

Make poolish: whisk 2 cups of flour with milk and sugar with yeast, cover and let raise for about 1 – 1,5 hours.  The poolish is ready after it reaches it’s peak height and drops.

Mix the dough: whisk eggs, sugar, salt, and butter together till everything is dissolved.  Add the mixture to the poolish.  Slowly add sifted flour.  Mix till all ingredients are incorporated.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead (adding flour, if needed) till the dough stops sticking to your hands – for about 10 minutes.

Place into an lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for another hour.

Make the filling: mix sugar with poppy seeds or other ingredients on the list.  Set aside.

Make the plushkas: line a baking sheet with parchment paper and apply cooking spray.  Take enough dough for six plushkas.  Keep the rest of the dough in the mixing bowl, covered.

Separate the working dough into 6 balls (mine were a little smaller than tennis balls).  Roll each into a flat circle (about 4 mm thick) and apply a filling on top of it, staying away from the edges.

Roll the circle into cylinder (like a sushi roll).    Take the edges of the cylinder, and press them together in the center of the roll.  Turn it around, the edge seam side down, and place on the baking sheet.  With a sharp knife cut the new edge in half, stopping about 5 mm away from the center. Spread the cut into a heart-shaped opening.  Repeat with the second edge.

After all plushkas are on the sheet, cover them with a towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C, position the rack in the middle.

Prepare the wash: whisk the yolks with water.

Brush the non-sugared edges of each plushka with the wash and place the batch in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden-brown. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy

Russian Friday – Farmers Cheese Triangles

I remember these overwhelming feelings of excitement and anticipation when we decided to have kids! Oh, we dreamt how we’d be spending all the time with them, doing everything together, teaching them everything we know!

It’s incredible how much they absorb from us:  how to say “please” and “thank you”, how to make secret family recipes, biking…  At the same time we learn so many wonderful things too!  

Very quickly we discover that it’s best not to drop disposable diapers into the laundry basket; that it’s easier to clean yogurt out of the carpet, when it’s dried up, and that it doesn’t matter with the oatmeal – it’s a lot of pain to clean wet or dry.

Today I learned that permanent Sharpie markers are not the worst thing that can happen to hardwood floors (been there, done that). Apparently ball-point pens can be quite as damaging, you just need to lose the ball point, and the ink can be easily  goo-ed all over the floors!

James and I spent a good hour rubbing acetone into the ink and brushing it with toothpaste.  I baked these  Russian pastries as a reward for our hard work. 

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FARMERS CHEESE TRIANGLES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120 g butter, softened
  • 400 g farmers cheese
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs cinnamon (optional)
  • zest from 3 oranges (optional)

Yields: 20 pastries

DIRECTIONS:

Mix butter and farmers cheese to incorporate.  It will be crumby.  Add flour to the mixture.  After all the crumbs are coated in flour.  Knead the dough with your hands to form a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile mix sugar with cinnamon and zest.  The original recipe uses regular sugar, no cinnamon and zest.  I just stuff my favorite brown sugar/cinnamon/orange zest mixture everywhere.

Roll the dough to a 5mm – thick sheet.  Cut circles with a cookie cutter.  Dip one side of each circle in the sugar mixture.  Fold the dough in half, dip again, and fold again to form a triangle.

Make ahead: you can freeze cooking for up to 3 weeks.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pastries on it. 

Bake at 350° F/175°C for 25-30 minutes.

Voila!

Light Fruit Tart

We had our fair share of Valentine’s evenings that are quite memorable.   A few where we are sitting in this or that romantic restaurant packed with couples trying to be romantic pretending we are not hearing our neighbors trying to be romantic, pretending they are not hearing us trying to be romantic, pretending…  

The most special one is when while waiting to be seated in our favorite seafood joint, we met this older couple (he was a WWII veteran).  Here we are, thinking, wow!!!, what could be more inspiring than spending the evening with these old love birds!? They happily agree to share a table with us.  A few wine glasses later, Dave and I are just about to get all starry-eyed and envision ourselves  in 50 years still madly in love, when we find out that the couple is actually cheating on his hospitalized wife, they are swingers, and would love to invite us over to her place after the dinner!

So, this year we celebrated at home.  Of course I faced a dilemma.   How do you enjoy a festive dinner, and yet fit into that special night gown later on…

This recipe is a pretty light dessert – a much skinnier version of a traditional fruit tart, but still yummy and exceptionally easy to make.  Adopted from TasteOfHome

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LIGHT FRUIT TART

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tbs cold butter, grated
  • ¼ cup water, ice-cold
  • 1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup fresh kiwi, peeled, and cut in circles

GLAZE:

  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cups unsweetened pineapple-coconut juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Yields 16 servings

DIRECTIONS:
Make crust: in a large bowl, mix flour, confectioners’ sugar, and butter until crumbly. Add water and mix the dough. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to form a ¼ inch-thick (about 5 mm) sheet.
Place onto an ungreased 12-in. tart baking platter. Cover lightly with foil. Bake at 350°/175⁰ C for 10-12 minutes for about 20 min, remove the foil and bake for another 1-15 min or until very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Make filling: in a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth with a hand mixer. Spread over crust. Arrange the strawberries, oranges and kiwi on top.
Make glaze: in a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch and juices until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool and drizzle over fruit. Refrigerate until chilled.

And finally, my most delicious desserts, my little Valentines.

Dutch Letters

My father-in-law left this morning after staying with us for a week.  It’s interesting how many similarities there are between Dave and him!  They look alike (hmmmm).    They have the same voice (alarming).  They are both Dutch (Adieu, Kitchen Aid Pro 600 series, see you in my dreams).

No, they are really Dutch!  Funny last name and all.  FIL lives in this little town called Pella where they have even more funny last names, windmills everywhere, tulip festival, and a Dutch bakery. 

The bakery (Jaarsma) is famous for its S-shaped pastries – Dutch letters.  Traditionally the letters are baked around Christmas, but the Pella-cans bake them the whole year round.  And I don’t blame them.  The pastry is splendid!   This recipe is adopted from Saveur. 

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DUTCH LETTERS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb unsalted  chilled butter cut into pea-size cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 7 oz almond paste
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup milk

Yields 20 pastries

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the dough.  Whisk together flour and salt, add butter and mix until flour coats butter.

In a small bowl whisk water and 1 egg, and add the mixture to the flour.  Stir.

Transfer dour to a floured surface and knead until it comes together.

Roll into a 15×10-inch/38×25.5 cm rectangle .  Fold the sheet – position it horizontally, fold the sides to meet in the middle, and then fold in the middle.  Rotate rectangle and repeat rolling and folding.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Uncover; and repeat rolling and folding two more times.  Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 more hour.

Prepare the filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk together paste and 1 egg white using a hand mixer.  Add the 2nd egg white, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugars, and beat until smooth.

Prepare the egg wash by whisking the remaining egg and milk.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375⁰ F/190⁰ C.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut dough into 4 equal pieces.  Leave 3 wrapped pieces in the refrigerator, and roll the 4th piece into a 12.5×10 inch/31.75×25.5 cm.  Cut the dough sheet into 5 equal pieces  10 inch/25.5 cm long.

Using a pastry bag apply a line of filling in the middle of each strip.

Using a brush, apply a line of egg wash on one side of the dough strip.  Roll the dough like a cigar starting with a dry edge.

Place the roll on the baking sheet, seam side down, forming a letter S shape (or any other letter).

Brush each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before serving.

 

Carrot Cinnamon Cupcakes

My friend that I mentioned earlier, the super healthy one, just sent us a low fat, low sugar, and apparently enjoyable carrot cake recipe.

While chasing the kids outside this afternoon I was debating if we should give a try to this nutritious cake.  To my Evil-Me the idea seemed really disturbing.  Healthy cake? It must be AWFUL!  My Not-So-Evil-Me thought it may be beneficial for the family to eat something good. 

Then it hit me!  Why not make a “partial healthy” cake!? 

My Evil-Me and Not-So-Evil-Me reached a consensus and produced this awesomeness!  The cake part is pretty healthy while the topping is decidedly evil.  I converted the cake into guilt-free sized cupcakes! Now, if I could only manage eating them in guilt-free quantities!!!

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CARROT CINNAMON CUPCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup raisins

FROSTING

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz /225 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon

Yields 48 mini cupcakes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375º F /190º C.  Mix the first 11 ingredients (till carrots), making sure everything is incorporated; leaving a few lumps will make the cupcakes fluffier.

Mix in the carrots and raisins.

Line the mini-cupcake pan with paper liners.  (I like using this unbleached baking cups)

Spray them with cooking spray.  Fill each cup 3/4 full with the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the wooden stick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are at room temperature, with the hand mixer whip together butter and cream cheese.  Once combined and fluffy, add sugar 1 cup at a time.  I really liked the frosting with just 1 cup of sugar; however if you like a stiffer frosting, add more sugar. Add cinnamon.

Fill the pastry bag with your favorite attachment with the frosting, and decorate the cupcakes.

Now, try to restrain yourself from eating them all in one sitting!

Make ahead: these cakes will store well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

 

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