blood orange tart

This blood orange tart is full of velvety blood orange curd, crispy citrus crust, luscious piles of vanilla whipped cream – and candied orange slices, because we fancy. We’ve taken the step past sprinkles (though, to be honest, if you put sprinkles on this I would not be upset) all the way to real fruits garnishing our tarts. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine!

In all honesty, I spend what seems like my entire week in a lab, playing with fossils that are way too old for me – a casual 300 million years too old, and messing around (a.k.a. carefully using because I’m terrified to break) microscopes that are fancier than any piece of equipment I’ve ever touched. It’s almost spring! I’m doing fine!

I’m sure you’re being your best self right now. Maybe you had one too many mimosas for brunch last weekend, but it is citrus season, and we can still pretend that Vitamin C prevents all nasty illnesses – and hey – you won’t get scurvy anytime soon. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine and we don’t have scurvy!

This tart will help walk you out of any scurvy worries and into a land where blood oranges naturally make everything a delightful shade of pink – where candied oranges look good no matter how you arrange them, and where there’s blood orange curd to eat by the spoonful. It will help you walk out of the winter citrus with dignity, unlike the fourth mimosa you had last brunch. It’s almost spring! We like dignity!

So, by my logic, this tart will not only taste delicious, it will prevent scurvy, bring back your dignity that a mimosa ran off with, and help you gracefully enter springtime. And yes, I’m so fully aware that it is still February, but here outside of Philly it’s feeling an awful lot like spring, and despite my schooling in climate change, I’m here for it. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine in climate-change-warmness! Make this tart. You won’t be sorry.

 

blood orange tart

citrus tart crust:
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs cold water
Zest of 1 blood orange

blood orange curd:
2 eggs
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup blood orange juice
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tbs blood orange zest
4 Tbs butter

vanilla scented whipped cream: 
1/2 cup heavy cream
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbs sugar

candied orange slices:
1 blood orange/orange, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup powdered sugar

how-to: tart crust
Rub orange zest into sugar with your fingertips. Toss the zesty sugar with butter cubes in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until a paste forms with no lumps, about 5 minutes. 

Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Sift flour and salt together in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients, just until combined. Add the cold water and mix briefly.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead several times until smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Roll out dough to fit your tart pan, and don’t worry if it cracks or breaks here and there. Press it into the pan until there is a uniform thickness. Dock with a fork. For best results and less shrinkage, stick the lined pan in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (or rice, or baking weights) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottom is somewhat dry. Remove weights and bake for another 15-20 minutes more until the crust is evenly golden brown. Let cool completely.

how-to: blood orange curd
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and salt and continue mixing. Add blood orange juice, zest, water and butter, and mix until somewhat incorporated (the butter will not mix in). Pour the mixture into a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and whisk continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. Remove from heat and whisk for an additional minute or two. Pour mixture into the pre-baked and cooled tart crust. Cover surface with plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour – ideally more.

how-to: vanilla scented whipped cream
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together cream, sugar, and vanilla seeds until stiff peaks form. Spread over surface of the tart and garnish with dried orange slices.

how-to: candied orange slices:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Put the powdered sugar in a medium, shallow bowl. Dip each slice to coat and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until dried and slightly shriveled, about 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Arrange over whipped cream on top of tart.

blood orange and gin cocktail

This cocktail has everything you want in a winter cocktail. It’s pink. It’s summery. It’s full of orange juice and Vitamin C so you can kick that cold. Yes, I said it. This is a cocktail that will cure your cold.

This is a weird time of year, where the sky is still grey and the ground is still swept with snow, but with every glimpse of sun I think spring spring spring. This cocktail will help us through this transition. And I know, I know, it’s January. I have no business thinking it’s spring. But, eventually, it’ll be spring. And in the meantime, we’ll have this cocktail. It’s a seasonal win-win.

This cocktail is enhanced deeply by a spicy brown sugar syrup. Now we’re talking winter. It’s gingery, so… more health benefits? Yes? Good. One more cocktail for good coming your way.

blood orange and gin cocktail

2 oz gin
2 oz fresh squeezed blood orange juice or orange juice
Dash spiced  brown sugar syrup (recipe follows)
Club soda to fill

how to:
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add in the gin,  juice, and brown sugar syrup. Shake until mixed, about 20 seconds. Pour through strainer over a glass — a tumbler works well — that is about halfway filled with ice. Top the glass off with club soda.

spiced brown sugar syrup

7 oz. water
3.5 oz. dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Boil the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar and ginger and stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes until dissolved. Turn off heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a small jar and stir in corn syrup. Let cool.

earl grey pound cake

I’m a big earl grey fan. Like I’ve said before, Andrew thinks that it tastes like fruit loops… but he likes the flavor so it’s not a big deal apparently. This earl grey pound cake is definitely the way to go for tea and cereal fans alike though.  It’s moist, it’s dense in all the right places, and it’s not so sweet that you feel guilty eating a huge ole slice right in the morning. Lavender scented cream helps pull it all together and add an extra level of luxe. You could make it without the cream, but I hope you don’t. An important note – you can see both the toothpick mark, and where the cat took a chunk when I was setting up for pictures and I smushed it back in…no shame. We’re here for each other.

I’m getting ready for my last semester of school, and starting to think ahead for the rest of the year. It’s funny, because I find myself thinking that creating a whole list of goals can be unrealistic…. and then I go ahead and make a huge list of goals, which I go over and consider deeply while I inhale this cake warm out of the oven.

I want to learn how to properly make croissants, and I’d like to keep up with my Italian – or what’s left of it. I’d like to post on here and make delicious recipes and also actually learn how to use a camera. With any list of goals, we’ve got to give ourselves a few gimmes. At this point in the game, graduating from college is a gimme. Trying to do more yoga is relatively a gimme. We’ll get there. You’ll get there, with your tough ones and your gimmes. This earl grey pound cake will help.

This cake will be there for you when you can’t remember how to conjugate yet another irregular Italian verb, and it’ll be there to rub your back when you melt a pound of butter out of your best-looking batch of croissants. It’ll also be there to celebrate when you successfully do 20 minutes of yoga, and when you snatch your diploma from the giving hands of whoever’s in charge.

earl grey pound cake
makes 1 nine-inch pound cake. adapted from the fearless baker cookbook.

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
4 earl grey teabags
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lavender

how-to:

First, we will infuse the milk with the earl grey tea. Put the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the milk up to steaming, but not boiling, and drop the four teabags in. Steep for 10 minutes, and remove the teabags. Re-measure the milk, and add back any any volume that you lost (I added back in probably about 50 grams, so don’t be worried if it seems like you lost a lot). Cool the milk to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium low until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Add the vanilla, and mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl well to catch anything on the side. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Add 1/3 of this mixture on low speed. Once combined, add half of the infused milk. Repeat until all ingredients have been added. Scrape into prepared pan, smooth top with a spatula, and sprinkle generously with the turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 more minutes, and turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the whipped cream, heat the milk til steaming, and steep the lavender until it tastes good to you….depending on your lavender it can take different amounts of time, and you can kind of smush it up a bit if you want to extract more flavor. I did mine for 15 minutes. Strain and put the cream in the fridge and when chilled, whip in a stand mixer with a generous pinch of sugar until stiff peaks.

Time For A Beer, 2!

Winter citrus is a great thing. It brings brightness to a dark and cold time. Don’t get me wrong, I love having snow on the ground, but it has just been so cold this year. Luckily, there are beers with winter citrus to help warm the cold days. A clementine gose by Two Roads Brewing Co. in Connecticut is a great place to start.

Beer Notes

Two Roads Brewing is a craft brewery founded like many others: two friends breaking out of their old jobs with the dream of opening a brewery! In 2012 they started the brewery that followed the road less traveled, hence their name. This clementine gose is tart, light bodied and finishes as a juice ale that leaves you desiring more.

Gose beers may not be for everyone. They pack a pretty tart taste, but end with a refreshing feeling of citrus. Not only is this great in the winter when citrus is at its peak, but also on those hot summer days when all you want is to quench your thirst! A fun little note on the brewing of this guy is that it gets soured in an old milk tanker (now used in to finish off a few of their beers) that sits out on the grounds of the brewery.

Pairing Notes

As I said, a gose may not be the beer for everyone. If it is up your alley, or you are game to try something new, then grab a pack of these and settle down. While it is widely believed those goses are a magically versatile beer, they do play better with certain things. For one, any citrus based tart or dessert is a great way to create balance of sweet and tart. If you go down the dinner route, clementine gose is great next to a flavorful fish with lemon.

Gose’s also make for a great drink during appetizers as they are light in alcohol content (about 4-5% abv) and don’t sit heavy at all. It will leave you feeling light and refreshed for the courses to come. Maybe give it  try with some cured meats and cheese, Pecorino Romano is my favorite!

This is a good place to start with a gose, as it has an extra layer of flavor, the clementine! If you find yourself really enjoying the flavor and funk, here’s a list of some other great goses out there: Lost Nation Gose, Six Point Jammer, and Baxter Brewing Good To Gose.

Enjoy the tart and refreshing punch this gose delivers.

Cheers,

– Andrew

smart science: egg weights edition

Egg weights seem to always escape me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve googled “how much does an egg white weigh”. Here’s how the story starts: I make something with egg yolks. Usually a pastry cream, and I put all the little egg whites in a ramekin, convinced I’ll use them in the next couple days. Disclaimer: 80% of the time they wither in the back of the fridge. But – inevitably, if I want to make something with them, I google the constant question. How much does an egg white weigh?

I’ll be assuming you’re using large eggs. That’s what most recipes call for, and what most people seem to buy. If you’re using different sized eggs when they call for large and things aren’t working as planned…well, don’t blame me. Buy large,  because they’re right there with the rest of the types. Here we go!

A large egg weighs about 50 grams, or 1.75 ounces, when it’s nude, without its shell. Some eggs will be a bit bigger, some a bit smaller, so it’s good to multiply the amount of eggs you need and just try and get to that total, and not worry so much about a gram here or a gram there. Within the egg, about one-third is the egg yolk, and two-thirds is egg white. That means an egg yolk weighs 17 grams, or 0.55 grams. An egg white weighs 33 grams, or 1.2 ounces. I used my cunning and skills and made a useful infographic (infographic? how trendy! I used piktochart) about egg weights! This way, we’ll always know what’s up.

Print this baby out, hang it on the fridge, and stop googling anything about egg weights ever again. If you’re like me, this means less flour on the keyboard and butter on the phone screen, which is probably good for everyone’s sanity, wallets, and electronic happiness.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of weighing eggs, put it to the test! Make a pavlova – perhaps this one – but pile it high with winter citrus or figs or piles of salted caramel. You can do that now, since you know how to weigh out eggs! Have a beautiful week, friends.

peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread

When I was a kid, I wasn’t that into peanut butter and jelly. Quick, call the kid police, they’d be sure to post-arrest me for this horrible sin.  Any sandwich seemed to be too sticky and there was always too much peanut butter to jelly. Looking back on that ratio, I’m sure it was my mom trying to rein in some sugar consumption, which doesn’t seem like the worst of ideas. Generally though, let’s talk about peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread. It’s 2018 people, and some old habits (hating pb&j) die easily here.

When you wrap up peanut butter and jelly in buttery brioche even the most ardent of pb&j haters will jump on board.  It’s melty, it’s gooey, it’s buttery and soft. I imagine those people who liked Uncrustables would also like this. It’s for all levels of the pb&j experience.

The brioche recipe was from a new cookbook of mine – the Fearless Baker cookbook – and it was flawless. I had a bit extra after making the loaves, so I rolled it up into a ridiculously sized bun and popped it in the oven.  I almost (almost) wish that I had done that with all of it, since it was pure buttery perfection all on its own. But alas, we’re not here for simple brioche buns, we want them jam-packed (literally) and full of childhood nostalgia.

If you feel like a more breakfasty-eggy bread-brioche situation, check out this maple-bacon challah. It’s also sure to rock your world and maybe you’ll change your mind about bacon and/or maple syrup?? By that I mean you will only love them more.

In more news, I’ve been getting deep into Pinterest… I’m a little sad but a lot happy about it and I’d love if you joined me!! It’s spiraling out of control so come check in on me, here’s the link!

peanut butter and jelly pull-apart bread
recipe adapted from the fearless baker cookbook

5 cups bread flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
14oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used smooth, but am intrigued by chunky)
1/2 cup jam of your choosing

Egg wash: 1 large egg, splash of water, pinch of salt.

how-to:

Mix the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast and mix to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs a bit until they’re all broken up, and add the milk and eggs to the stand mixer. Mix for 4 minutes.

Increase speed to medium and add the softened butter a tablespoon at a time, waiting patiently for the butter to be fully incorporated before adding the next bit. If butter rides up on the sides, scrape down the bowl to make sure it can be fully mixed in. Once the butter has all been added, knead in the mixer for another minute. Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, grease and line two 9×5 inch loaf pans with parchment paper. I used one normal size loaf pan, and made the rest in an assortment of smaller pans and ramekins. Just be aware that the bake time will likely be different. Divide the dough into two pieces, and roll each out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut 3 inch circles out of the dough. Pat the circles down a bit thinner, and spread half with the peanut butter and half with the jelly. Fold the circles into half-moons, and nestle them (alternating) in the loaf pan, with the flat side of the half moon down. Once the pan is snugly filled, wrap it with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes. Depending on the temperature of your house this can take a bit longer.

Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a thermometer reads 190F. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and pop the loaves out with the parchment paper overhang. Enjoy warm.

 

 

 

Time For A Beer, 1!

Welcome to Time For A Beer!!

This will be the weekly spot for beer discussions, pairing ideas, and other fun things having to do with the world of craft beer. To break into this shindig we are going to discuss a seasonal beer from Stone Brewing in California.

Beer Notes

Stone is one of the oldest, and largest craft breweries in the U.S.  Breaking ground in 1996, the brewery has continued to expand from self-distributing in Southern California to operating worldwide.  In 2014, they brewed  Xocoveza, an Imperial Stout inspired by Mexican hot chocolate.  With flavors of cinnamon, coffee, nutmeg, peppers, and of course, chocolate, the beer floored the brewers, and it has since been a seasonal release starting in October and running through the holidays.  With a dark pour, the beer makes for a full bodied glass that is great at any point of a night.

Pairing Notes

Chocolate and cinnamon are the heavy hitters here, really opening up your senses to enjoy the more subtle notes of nutmeg and vanilla. It’s almost like drinking a thin mole, and if you’ve ever had mole, I know we are on the same page for how amazing that would be. Also, I imagine having it with a tangy or spicy noodle dish, as the semi-sweetness from the cocoa would make a great balance with the spice, especially with the pasilla peppers that are in the beer.  Throw a little pork or super tender chicken in that bowl, you have yourself a delicious meal.

Xocoveza may really be at its strongest when enjoyed with dessert though! Either next to a bowl of vanilla ice cream, or poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream if you are a bit adventurous ( I suggest being adventurous here!).

Well, until next time, enjoy a six pack of this seasonal beer! Really, run out and get it now, before it goes away until next year. Maybe even test out Stone’s Xocoveza Beer Nog! Who knows, you just might find yourself happily surprised with that one.

 

Cheers,

– Andrew

french coffee

A coffee cocktail is probably all someone needs during the holidays. A little boost, a little kick, and a big dollop of whipped cream to finish it off. Enter French Coffee.

My parents have this old mixed drink book, and the dog-eared pages and aqua blue highlighter give clues to the drinks they were fond of years ago. My dad’s handwriting seems to circle rum drinks, preceding his current fondness for a good Dark and Stormy. There’s a highlighted blue frozen margarita, and a note by a heavy cream and kahlua concoction indicating that it was far too heavy for their refined palates. All in all, it’s one of my favorite reads.

Hiding out in a corner of that book, amid many references to crème de cassis and blue curaçao is this little gem of a drink. For a split second, I was skeptical of the orange and coffee, but I’m glad I tried.

After a quick Google search, I can’t confirm that French Coffee has any connection to France, but that doesn’t make it any less warming and delicious. Try it with some cappuccino tea cake, and huddle around a fire.. .or a nice candle. Take a deep breath, sip, and enjoy a pillow of whipped cream.

french coffee

1 cup of hot coffee – 10-12 oz
1.5 oz orange liqueur
1/2 cup of heavy cream

how-to: 

Whip the cream to soft peaks with a whisk. This will make more than you need, but it’s easier to whip a larger amount of cream. Make a drink for a friend.

Mix the coffee and the orange liqueur in a small coffee cup. Garnish with the whipped cream, and serve with coffee cake and chocolate covered espresso beans.

almost new year, new look!

 Hi everybody, we’ve got a new look!
Welcome. There are a couple of changes brewing here, and I’m thrilled about each and every one. Here’s some of the updates:

 First things first, meet Andrew. He’s our new look! Kidding, but he’s going to have a bigger presence, keep eating all the cookies, and chat about beer with you all. He is already mostly an integral part of this, so we’re making it official and now he’s also married to the blog! He’s clicking around behind the scenes, making pages easier to navigate, grouping things together so we can make all of the cookies, and making sure the system stays up and running.  If you’d like to know more about Andrew, check out our brand-spankin’ new about page. This page now features a picture of me in a feather boa… so maybe check it out?

Second – we’re excited to have a brand new look! I hope that it is easier to find things, better to look at, and cooler to click through.  It’s still in process, but we hope to land on the perfect blend soon. In the meantime, we’re planning on filling the few holiday weeks with goodies galore. As a snapshot of what you get to look forward to… I was covered in powdered sugar from fluffy marshmallows, I was popping champagne to make a cake, and Andrew spent quite a while sipping a very special hot chocolate. These recipes are all perfect for winter, perfect for our new look, and perfect for you.

Come hang!

smart science: pasta edition

IMG_20170424_202649edited.jpg

Given the past post, and given my inability to stop staring at that twisty bowl of fettuccine… we’re gonna chat about pasta.

We’re gonna chat about the best way to make pasta, to achieve that perfect al dente bite. If you’re into really overcooking your pasta until it’s mushy and sad… take this to heart. I promise you it’s better.

Let’s break it down:

  1. Keep the water at a rolling boil – which means waiting until the pasta reaches a rolling boil until you put your pasta in. A rolling boil is when the whole surface is rapidly bubbling and wild-like.
  2. If you’ve been not adding salt to your pasta water… add it now. Making the water taste like the sea is a good level, but generally add in a bit more than you think you should.
  3. If you’ve been adding oil… stop. There’s no use for it. It’ll all pour off when you dump the water out. Oil and water just don’t mix.
  4. PASTA WATER IS LIQUID GOLD. Take this to heart, and scoop out some just before you drain the pasta. If you toss a bit of this water into your pasta as you’re tossing it with the sauce it’ll add flavor, texture, and help your sauce stick to the pasta. No one wants a pile of pasta sitting on a soup of sauce. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
  5. Don’t rinse your pasta after draining it. We need that starch on the pasta so the sauce will stick.

All of these ideas are backed up by scientists who work to make sure pasta tastes the best it could… what a job, right?

Here’s some more information:

have a beautiful sunday, friends!