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Posts Tagged ‘Pecans’

My mom bought me the last (sob) Gourmet cookbook and it is amazing. Seriously. This is why I miss Gourmet. I have been reading through it and literally marking down every other page. This is the first recipe I made from the book and now, I want to marry this cookbook.

This tart is delicious. The berries get soft and delicious, but not mushy. The crumble topping adds a satisfying crunch of pecan and sugar sweetness. And the contrast of the tart berries to the sweet topping is out of this world. It took way too much effort not to sneak extra bites of berries topped with extra crumble raked from the top. If this recipe is representative of Gourmet Today, this blog is going to evolve into one of those annoying (well I think so) blogs where an entire cookbook is cooked through.

The crust calls for shortening, which I have never actually used before. I substituted butter, but have any of you gentle readers used shortening in a crust? Leave me a comment and tell me why I should be using shortening! And where does one purchase it? I did use a pastry blender to make the crust. I have become a devoted fan of pastry blenders since I purchased one about a year ago. The Oxo is nice, but I purchased mine at TJ Maxx and it is perfectly fine. The beauty of the blender is that you can get perfect pea sized clumps of butter, but with a lot less work than doing it by hand and with a lot more precision than if you used a food processor.

P.S. Since this cookbook was a Ruth Reichl production, Aushak made it in! Check it out!

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Banana Bread

When I was a kid, I named my imaginary children Apple-ish, Orange-ish and Gum-ish. This leads to many questions. Yes, I really liked the suffix -ish. Yes, I had an imaginary husband; his name was He-Man. No, my brother wasn’t born until I was 9, so I was an only child for a long time. And no, there was no Banana-ish. Why? Because I don’t love bananas, so they didn’t make it into my imaginary family. Usually I think bananas are boring. I’ve read there is a reason for this, the banana variety we eat is considered bland but was very fungus resistant at a crucial time.

But then we had some bananas sitting on the kitchen table, rapidly turning spotty and mushy (obviously I wasn’t eating them) and I thought, banana bread! Banana bread is a vast improvement on bananas – nothing like mashing something up and baking it up with some butter, sugar and nuts to make it taste better (note: this works well for fruit, less so for spinach).

I picked this recipe out of the many across the internet because I really like the website where it was posted (Joy of Baking) and it turned out to be an excellent choice. It is not a flashy bread (other recipes I checked out included bourbon, which seemed intriguing, but also too much), but I don’t think banana bread isn’t supposed to be flashy. The brown butter Bananas Foster tart I want to make is where bananas go to be flashy. This is solidly delicious, not overly banana-ish (which leads to the dreaded mushiness) and the aroma when baking is unbeatable. Seriously, this is the best smelling thing I have baked in awhile.

And finally the answer to the usual last question, yes, I was a weird kid. My parents didn’t have cable. I blame them.

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Granola

You know, I never really realized it, but most granola you can buy in stores is bad. It is old, bland, stale and usually way too sweet and full of random ingredients. But homemade granola is another thing all together. Fresh, crunchy and best of all, very customizable. I can almost always find an ingredient in store granola that I don’t like (shredded coconut, I’m looking at you). But when you make your own, it can be eliminated! So here, I have very much tweaked this recipe and you should do the same. What is the point of cooking for yourself if you can’t eliminate hated ingredients (cashews, I am also looking at you).

Because I was able to change around the ingredients and create my own perfect granola, I found this stuff addicting. I literally couldn’t stop munching on it as it was cooling on the stove and ever since it disappeared, I’ve been dreaming about making more. Literally. Granola appeared in my dreams people, this is really that good. So since apparently the Northeast is supposed to get Snowpocalypse: The Sequel (AKA snoverkill, which I love), I recommend stocking up on rolled oats and making the granola tomorrow while enjoying what will hopefully be a snow day.

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Delicious Fig Bars

Wow, I cannot believe I have had the stand mixer for this long and not posted a recipe using it! Unacceptable! Thankfully, I found this recipe, which is practically designed to be used with the stand mixer. Seriously, this recipe a snap with it. The bars come together very quickly and it was mesmerizing watching everything get combined so easily. How did I ever bake without a stand mixer?!

These are usually called Food for the Gods and are a Filipino holiday treat. I’ve renamed them though because traditional bars have dates and the first time I made these with dates, I wasn’t in love with the date aspect. They were good, but the dates weren’t working for me. I had some leftover dried figs from the crostata and decided that I, a mere mortal, would tinker with the Food for the Gods. If I get struck by lightening, this is why.

But the figs in the bars are delicious! But perhaps I am partial to figs, so if you like dates, feel free to sub them back in. The bars are amazing either way, how could they not be with the scary amount of butter in them. I read the original recipe three time to make sure that I wasn’t overbuttering, but it really does call for three sticks! And all the nuts makes them very dense. So cut them into small squares and share the calories with others. Otherwise you’ll be like me, staring at an empty plate wondering where all the bars went.

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution about eating healthier and/or eating less dessert? I did not – not because I don’t think I need less dessert – but because I know that is a resolution I can’t keep. I love dessert! But I digress, this is about crostatas! Healthy, fruity crostata that allows for dessert and a modicum of nutrition. This is not overly sweet and the yogurt topping gives a nice creamy, yet fresh, taste. It is a great compromise between healthy and dessert.

Also, I love this dessert because it is essentially a free form pie. I adore the slightly messy look of galettes, crostatas, whatever you want to call them. So rustic, so charming, so much easier than fluting the edges of a formal crust.

I basically took the recipe whole hog from Bon Appetit (despite my undying love for Gourmet, I will admit, I do love the Fast Easy Fresh column. Hello black bean chili), except I subbed walnuts for pistachios. I do not like green nuts, they seem a bit unnatural to me. Plus you can’t go wrong adding pecans to a dessert. My crostata opened up a bit, as I was working quickly and did not properly pleat and press one of the sections. But the filling stayed put, so I’m deeming this recipe fast, easy, fresh and (mostly) idiot proof.

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I’m not sure why, but I very much associate this dish with New Orleans. I think it is the pecans and excessive use of butter. And because, like most food in New Orleans, it tastes out of this world. I guarantee, there is no better recipe for trout out there. This is it.

This recipe pretty much defines why I miss Gourmet. It is deceptively simple. It takes a few simple ingredients and completely transforms them. And unlike a lot of Gourmet recipes, it takes very little time to prep and cook. It will seem like you are Martha, but secretly, you are Rachel Ray, i.e. 30 minutes or less.

P.S. Don’t be afraid of the butter. I’ve reduced it some from the original recipe and it probably can be reduced again, but don’t take out too much. Butter=flavor here.

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This is easily the best roasted chicken recipe ever. Ever. Normally, I find roasted chicken to be seriously dry and boring. I’ve tried everything to get a good roast chicken, combining every recipe into a ridiculous amalgam. Once I used rosemary, thyme, white wine, lemons, chicken broth, lemon pepper and it was STILL dry and tasteless. Very disappointing.

But then, I found this recipe in an Epicurious Passover recipe special. Eureka! This is so-not-boring-roasted-chicken and it totally livened up a sad bread-less Passover meal. Like most Epicurious recipes, it seems a bit fussy – anything with saffron seems fussy to me – but since this is a roasted chicken, it is really quite simple.

As an aside, don’t be alarmed the next day if the sauce looks a little neon yellow/green, I think its the tumeric.

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