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Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

Apples, Again

It’s that time of year, of course, for making wonderful things with apples. One of my favorite baking blogs to read is Confessions of a Tart. Great pictures and inspiring recipes. A few days ago, she posted this apple tartlet recipe which I knew instantly I had to try. I mean, how could I not?

Obviously, I need more practice at this one to get the ratio of apples to ricotta correct. But it was a fun and quick recipe to whip up on a cold, cloudy autumn morning, while contractors were tearing out my bathroom (finally!). I had to slice the apples very thin, as I was using a big old Mutsu. Next time, definitely more apple, even if I have to slice them paper thin like this.

Irene wasn’t kidding when she said her house filled with the scent of baking apples and vanilla. Right now, ours is redolent with the same.

Thanks, Irene, for hosting such a great site! Also, your chocolate cupcakes were a big hit here at the house a few weeks ago.

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Crust III: Crostata

Blueberry peach crostata, infused with vanilla, using the other half of the tart crust we made the other day.

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Crostata

When Cynthia and I lived together before, the area we worked in was thick with wild raspberries. As soon as she’d park the car, she’d wade hip deep into the bramble to pluck and eat as many raspberries as she possibly could; on the way in to work, on the way home, on the way to or from lunch, or even if we were stuck in traffic due to a bridge raising. She’d come back to the car with a berry smeared smile of raspberry bliss.

So when I saw one of the vendors at yesterday’s famers’ market selling black and red raspberries by the half pint, I knew what had to be done.

A crostata is essentially, a rustic Italian tart. Once you have your tart/pie crust made (and really, make up a batch — they’re always a double batch — you can keep it in the fridge or freezer and you’ll have some ready for any fresh fruit emergency), a crostata is one of the easiest things you’ll make.

I’m not a huge fan of the traditional cinnamon/allspice/nutmeg seasoning of fruit. I mean, I’ll do it, but it seems so … predictable. Once I made my first tarte Alsacienne, which uses no spice, just lovely vanilla custard and apples, I was hooked on pairing fruits with softer flavors.

After rinsing the berries, I let them soak for awhile in a quarter cup of sugar, a tablespoon of flour (I don’t have any corn or tapioca starch!), a squeeze of lemon, and a healthy splash of vanilla. I divided my tart crust into four equal-ish pieces and rolled them out to rough six inch circles.

Once a healthy dollop of berries have been added to the center, quickly fold the edges up, leaving a hole at the center. This was a little more tricky with berries due to all the berry juice rapidly running in all directions, unlike say peaches would do.

Give the tarts a wash with a beaten egg, and sprinkle generously with granulated or raw sugar.

Fresh from the oven is the best way to eat these (and they really should not be refrigerated, eat them up the same day), either with ice cream or crème fraîche, or they’re lovely on their own.

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