Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plum Apple Pecan Tart

During the summer, I was making tarts left and right using an easy olive oil crust that I had found on several blogs. After making it the first time, I didn't measure anymore or use an exact recipe however La Tartine Gourmand has a great one for starters. The ground almonds can be exchanged for another type of nut. I've use pecans and walnuts successfully. Put the fruit in the middle, drizzle some honey or maple syrup over the fruit, fold over the edges and bake until golden. They came out delicious and the crust was flaky. Any combination fruits would work but I really loved apple and plum tarts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pecan Caramel and Pistacchio Cranberry Macaron Balloons

Pecan Macarons with Caramel Pecan Filling

Oh, macarons, why, why? I made another batch of macarons this weekend by measuring by weight, sifting, proper (I think) folding and nice piping. I let them dry then popped them in the oven. They grew feet and were happy like little children playing next to the bonfire. But when I took them out of the oven, I found that they had huge air pockets and sticky fallen insides. Even though my last batch was finicky in a totally different (wrinkled shell) way, they didn't have air pockets.

After extensive research I think this may have been due to the oven temperature (too low - I knew I should have taken out those baking tiles!) and maybe me not baking them for long enough. I don't know. I can only eat these macarons with my eyes closed so I don't see the gigantic hole the middle of the shells. They still taste great. I'm just gonna pretend that this is a 'variation' of macaron, the balloon macaron, which is widely received in the smaller states such as Delaware and Rhode Island.

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio Cranberry White Chocolate Ganache

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seitan, Peppers and Onions

I made this with the Seitan Chorizo but I think it would be better with a more subdued flavored seitan.

Seitan and Peppers

1 T veggie oil suitable for high temperatures
1/2 lb seitan sliced thin
1 t minced ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
lotsa freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t salt

2 T oil
2 onions wedged
2 sweet peppers sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup veggie broth
1 t sugar (or two mini scoops stevia)

1 t cornstarch dissolved in 2 T water

1. Heat oil over med heat. Throw in seitan, ginger and garlic. Fry, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add black pepper. Add some more. Add salt. Stir and sautee until browned. Remove seitan from pan.

2. Add 2 T of oil to pan and heat over med-high to high. Throw in onions and peppers. Give the veggies a stir then let them sit for a bit to get nice and brown on one side. Stir and let sit. Repeat until onions are about cooked through.

3. Add in the soy sauce, broth and sugar. Give it a few stirs and then turn the heat down to low.

4. Add in the cornstarch slurry and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.

I've been really bad at taking pictures of my food BEFORE I eat it these days. But here's a picture from my phone. Just pretend I wrote this back in 2001 when digital cameras were still new...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seitan Chorizo

I used Kittee's Basic Gluten Log as a the "bones" for the chorizo, except I halved it even though she said not to because I only had a cup and a half of vital wheat gluten.

1 onion sliced thin
1 T olive oil
pinch salt

1 t oregano
1 t freshly ground cumin (I did mine in a mortar with a pestle, a pestle I tell you!!!)
1 t sugar or 1 mini scoop of stevia (the scoop should come in your stevia bottle)
1/2 t chili powder
1 dried red chili crushed (I used a guajillo chile and crushed fine with my mortar and pestle)

2 gloves garlic minced or microplaned
1 T barbeque sauce
3/4 c water
1 T apple cider vinegar

1.5 c vital wheat gluten
1.5 T chickpea flour
1 T nutritional yeast
1 t instant tapioca

1 guajillo chile crushed

1. Over medium heat sautee onion and salt in olive oil until it is caramelized. Stir frequently while sauteeing.

2. While you're caramelizing the onion, measure out all your spices in a small bowl. Measure out your liquids in another container. Measure out your dry into a large bowl.

3. When the onions are done, chop them finely and add them to your liquids.

4. Mix your spices into your dry. Add the liquids and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Shape the gluten into a log about 2.5 inches in diameter. If you want the outside to have a brown color, rub the crushed guajillo pepper evenly all over the log.

5. Roll the log up in foil and secure the ends by twisting (as if you were wrapping a hard candy).

6. Place 2 cups of water in a pot and add a steam basket. Put foil wrapped gluten onto steamer. Bring to boil. Steam for 1 hour (maybe over medium heat?). Be sure to check that the water does not all evaporate during the cooking or else you will have burnt pot. Yum.

Notes: This was very tasty. The texture is unlike any seitan I've made before. Not chewy or rubbery at all. Very soft and biteable. As for rubbing the pepper on the outside of the seitan, it makes a great color but also stains everything red so you may want to leave that out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A mighty Poire D'Eve attempt

My roommate D's birthday was this weekend and I wanted to make her a special cake so I thought of this beautiful concoction that Tartlette posted a while ago. It's a Poire D'Eve, a crispy chocolate feuillantine layer topped by a caramel mousse layer topped by a poached pear bavarian cream layer topped by a pear syrup "glass". It looked light and beautiful.

I started the night before, making the feuillantine and the caramel mousse. Both were delicious and I almost ate all the caramel mousse right away but I exercised great restraint and put it in the fridge instead.

In the morning I made the bavarian cream but used agar agar instead of gelatin. It wasn't the easiest substitution since the two are very different. Next time I think I would boil some agar agar in water to make sure it is completely dissolved and then put 3-4 tablespoons of the liquid into the creme anglaise. Also, you have to be careful with agar since it starts setting earlier than jello. I would keep stirring the agar'ed creme anglaise until it's cooled. Then whip in 1/3 of the whipped cream before folding the rest in.

When I brought out the mold to add the bavarian cream, I noticed that there was caramel liquid leaking out. Maybe I didn't whip the cream stiff enough?

When using agar agar for the mirror, I found it best to simmer the syrup and agar for 10 minutes then keep stirring it until it cools down to just slightly warmer than finger temperature. If you wait longer than that to pour it, it will be too thick and chunky as evidenced by my mirror.

Here's it is before unmolding:

It was quite pretty unmolded but I definitely didn't have a chance to take a picture. Also, I think the bavarian cream and the mousse were too soft so it was hard to cut nice slices. Maybe the cake has to be sliced frozen? Or it could be the agar agar. I think the agar has to be incorporated before it cools down otherwise it doesn't really gel the mixture, just makes clumps of gelled mixture in the whipped cream. I'll try to make a small 4" version of this with gelatin to see what the consistency should be and then see if I can recreate it with agar.

Also D made some pretty awesome matcha cupcakes with pomegranate cream cheese frosting: