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.

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

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.

smart science: pasta edition

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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!

things i’m thinking about

Hey guys! Here’s some beautiful flowers from Palermo, and some thoughts of mine this week.

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As always, it’s been awhile. I didn’t have time this week to whip up a recipe post – and my brain is so stuffed full of science I thought I wouldn’t bore you with whatever wisps happen to sneak out. They’re probably about plants, definitely about water, and possibly about fossils. Just good ole incoherent ramblings.

Instead, here’s some ideas for dinner, things I’ve been thinking about, and a technique I’m becoming obsessed with (hint it’s the one with eggs):

  • Here’s how to make a french omelette, aka my current obsession. I can’t even play it cool and dramatically move it to the end of the list, because all I want to do is talk about it.
    I like mixing herbs and aromatics into the eggs, and then sprinkling cheese on right before I roll it on up. My dinner omelette last night was scallions and basil in the eggs, with sharp cheddar cheese. Mmm so soothing for hearts and minds and so quick for dinner.
  • I always listen to Nicholas Kristof in the wake of horrible events. He always sets up a nice clear path: and after the Vegas shooting, this opinion piece is no exception. Let’s take some steps in the right direction, for once.
  • Helping feed Puerto Rico while eating food? Sounds pretty good to me. Can’t make it to a participating restaurant? Just donate directly to the World Central Kitchen.
  • Now that it’s getting chilly, let’s eat these tahini chocolate chip cookies warm out of the oven. Have a glass of wine with it, and impress your friends with your knowledge of how it came to taste that way. Greatest fall party trick ever.

stay sane, everybody. xo.

smart science: wine edition

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Wine has always been something that varies from person to person. My mom and I like red, my roommate likes white, and my sister adores a solid (or not so solid) prosecco or champagne. After spending a semester in Italy, I was drawn to the idea that there are guidelines and rules for producing certain kinds of wine. A lot of these rules stem around where specific varieties of grapes can be grown, and whether you can call a wine a specific name. For example – you can’t make real Chianti outside of the Chianti region, in Tuscany. Complicated stuff. It got me to thinking… I wonder how these regions, these climates, and these grape varieties all interact with each other? There has to be a reason – and onto the smart science we go!

  1. There are a couple types of climate that matter here: macroclimate, mesoclimate and microclimate. Macroclimate is the easiest – essentially just the average temperature of a place – and unsurprisingly, some grapevines are more attuned to growing in one temperature than another. Think how cacti are happier in Arizona, and how maple trees are happier up north! Same idea. Mesoclimate is a bit zoomed in – differences within a specific region – like a hill, or a riverbed. This contributes to subtle taste differences between wines grown in the same region. Finally, microclimate is studying the individual vine. This can include how much sun it gets compared to its neighbor, proximity to water, levels of wind and airflow. These can all change how good a grape is from a specific plant.
  2. Soil matters too! Just like any plant, the type of soil you grow it in will affect your final outcome. Most good wines are grown in either clay or sandy soil. Clay soil is known for producing very rich wines (think – wines from Tuscany), while sandy soil is known for producing highly aromatic wines (think – Riesling).
  3. You may have heard the word “terroir” used to describe wine. Essentially, terroir is the entire natural environment of the wine – and then how that natural environment influences the taste. Winemakers from regions where great wine has been produced for many years take this really seriously – and rightfully so.
  4. In light of all these things it takes to make a great wine, it’s no wonder that really good wine can be quite expensive. Wine forgery has actually been around almost as long as wine (classic human innovation, eh), and still constitutes a pretty big issue today. There’s a couple different ways that people forge wine – some blend wine together to try and form a final product, some simply fake the bottle, and some create a bottle to look like a fancy wine. Interestingly enough though, people tend to enjoy wine regardless of the quality if you tell them it’s more expensive. Seriously – neuroscience and brain mapping has shown heightened activity in pleasure centers. Wild, right?

To beat the wine snobs at their own game, check out the links below to learn some timely fun facts you can insert into conversation! Drink some wine while you’re at it, and I’ll be back eventually with more smart science posts on wine.

  • A general overview on everything we’ve been talking about, with a bit more detail.
  • Want to know more about wine forgery? Read this article, and then watch the documentary Sour Grapes.
  • A whirlwind five things to know about the science of wine from the World Science Festival, some of which we’ll chat about later. It’s like homework! For wine!

bittersweet chocolate pudding with earl grey cream

There comes a time where we all must revert to childhood and eat pudding. Even better if the pudding could possibly exist in a pudding cup-type ensemble, and possibly eaten with the foil top because oops you have no spoon. All jokes aside, though, I honestly don’t actively crave pudding most of the time because I’m too busy craving bread and whipped cream and rose italian sodas. Correction – I didn’t actively crave pudding, because now I sure as hell do. It’s on the list – for good. Here’s why.

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It’s at the point in summer where everything feels like one of those fast action videos – things are moving far too quickly and there’s also far too many things to do. Between real-life work, this delightful blog baby of mine, a temperamental sourdough starter and the impending return of a school year where the lab hours seem to keep multiplying… I’m ready to move to New Zealand for a while just to calm down. No joke – been researching working holiday visas and requirements and plane tickets.Let me know if you’re feeling like New Zealand is where you’re headed too. We can hang.

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In a snap back to reality yesterday, I was forced to stop googling New Zealand and instead had to make something to share with you all. Probably good, because I’ve been in such a whirlwind lately that blog baby has taken a hit because temperamental sourdough starter has taken all of my free time because there’s so much real life work so there’s limited free time…..okay okay okay breathe. Think of New Zealand. Loop back around. I decided to make you all pudding. Because pudding is easy and it is good and it is pure of heart.

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To class it up – add earl grey cream and swirl and feel as much like an adult as you can considering you’re moving to New Zealand. To summer it up, add peaches, which I’m sure grow in New Zealand. To enjoy fully, share with friends, to convince them to move to New Zealand. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.

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bittersweet chocolate pudding with earl grey cream 
adapted from salt fat acid heat

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 cups half and half
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 heaping fine sea salt
3 eggs

earl grey cream:

2 tablespoons earl grey leaves (about 4 teabags)
1 cup heavy cream, separated into 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Splash of pure vanilla extract
Sliced peaches, for topping
how-to: 

Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl and place a mesh strainer over it. Crack the eggs into another medium bowl and whisk lightly to break up and combine a bit. Mix the cornstarch, cocoa powder, salt and sugar in yet another medium bowl. Place the half and half in a medium saucepan – and now we’re good to go.

Heat the half and half on low heat until just steaming and simmering. Don’t boil this – it won’t ever be the same. Pour the half and half into the cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine. Return to the pot and cook over medium-low heat, constantly stirring, until visibly thickened and the pudding can hold a trail on the back of a spoon. While whisking, stir about two thirds of the half and half mixture into the eggs, and then return all of it to the pot. Cook on low heat until visibly thickened again. You’ll know when it’s ready. It might take a minute, it might take ten. Just keep stirring and let it take it’s own sweet time.

Pour thickened pudding through the mesh sieve and onto the chocolate. Use a spatula to push the pudding through. Let the heat melt the chocolate, and then blend with a stick blender (or a normal blender, do your own thing), until silky and smooth and it looks like you want to eat it up. Adjust salt as needed, and pour into whatever cups for serving. Let come to room temp, or put in fridge for cold pudding.

To make the whipped cream, heat 1/2 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over low heat, until just steaming. Turn off the heat. Steep the leaves in the cream for 10 minutes, and strain. Add the rest of the cream and chill until very cold. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip up to soft peaks.

Pile earl grey cream on pudding cups and top with sliced peaches or other fruit. Breathe in, eat pudding, breathe out.