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Archive for the ‘pastry’ Category

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I picked up this recipe from Chef Carrie Nahabedian, from a class I took years ago. I was attempting to “organize” my office recently to no avail and came across a thick stack of papers, recipes from classes I’d taken pre-culinary school. Most held little interest now but this one stuck out … as I recall, they were quite good. Crispy thin layers of phyllo filled with creamy, slightly salty cheese. No spinach, no vegetables just that gorgeously salty cheese with a little parsley for a bit of color. She called them Phyllo Cheese Triangles but being of Armenian descent, I suspect she calls them boeregs at home. Many Mediterranean cultures have something similar; the Greeks call them tiropitakia. Salty cheese wrapped in layers of crispy pastry have universal appeal.

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When it comes to cranberry sauce on my Thanksgiving table, I’m a traditionalist. I make this triple cranberry sauce every year. Made with fresh cranberries, dried cranberries and cranberry juice it is bright, full of flavor and I love it. I might make a second one, spiced with ginger or zapped with horseradish or whatnot to mix it up, but the triple-cranberry version is non-negotiable. I might even make an allowance for a canned jelly, which is as much a tradition in some families as the turkey, but a whole berry, chunky sauce is a must have. Regardless of which direction you go, canned or homemade, we can all agree that cranberry sauce in some manner is required, especially on a leftover turkey sandwich. But what about cranberries in other parts of the meal? Like dessert? This year I decided to try something different and came up with a cranberry tart to cap the meal. I have to say, I’m quite happy with the results.

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I’m always on the lookout for new apple pie recipes. Lattice, crumble or dutch; salted caramel, cider or cranberry … I’ve made them all. I’ve experimented with all types of pastry too … butter, shortening, lard and various combinations of each. Every year when I find myself with a pile of apples, I’ll try something new or go back to an old favorite. Just depends upon my mood. My middle godson, the lover of apple pies, is often a recipient as an enthusiastic and receptive audience is always welcome in my book. A few months ago it was his birthday and it just so happened that his parents were out of town so I hung out with him for a few days. I think I was there pretty much to make sure the house was still intact when the folks came home but I didn’t mind a bit as hanging out with this kid is fun. He took me out to dinner (so sweet!) and I took him to the movies (Deadpool. He had to explain a lot of backstory for me.) To celebrate his birthday, I made him an apple pie.

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I’ve been doing quite a bit of recipe development work lately which is great but there is always the same end result: piles of random, leftover ingredients. The bags and boxes are open so I can’t donate them to the food pantry and it’s often too much for me to work through, knowing the next assignment is coming down the pike with even more stuff. In fact today, the FedEx guy delivered a 15 pound box of even more stuff from a client. Of the 9 things in the box, I really only need 2 of them and I’m not really sure why their light brown sugar is better or different than the brown sugar I have. But it is not for me to decide these things; I’ll use it at some point. The 5 pounds of lecithin, I’m not so sure. I’ve joked with my friends that when this round is over I’m going to have a pop-up grocery store in my dining room. Half filled bags of stuff for cheap! Kathy’s Store of Cheap Random Crap. C’mon down!

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Today is another of those goofy food holidays but this one actually makes sense given the season: National Zucchini Day. It’s that time of the year when for a lot of people, zucchinis grow 2 feet overnight and overwhelm their lives. Enthusiastic gardeners plant a little too aggressively in the spring and to their delight, the plants flourish. Come August, these formerly delightful gardens are spitting out giant zucchini like aliens. I’ve seen them abandoned in office kitchenettes, in paper bags mysteriously left near front doors, in sidewalk boxes marked “Take me! PLEASE!” and once, I saw a woman whip one out of her purse and give it to the bewildered hostess as an open house gift. Also around this time of year, I tend to get requests for a good zucchini recipe that isn’t a quick bread. As good as those are, they get pretty tired so I usually recommend this simple savory tart.

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Today is another of those infamous food holidays that either annoys me or makes me laugh depending on the subject: National Doughnut Day. Always the first Friday in June, I assumed it was something created by The National Doughnut Council or some such public relation entity until I did a little digging. Turns out National Doughnut Day is a real legit thing not some made up food holiday. The Salvation Army started National Doughnut Day during the Great Depression as a way to raise funds and bring awareness to their social service programs and is still one of their biggest annual fundraisers. The day commemorates the “donut lassies,” female Salvation Army volunteers who provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals, and of course, doughnuts, for soldiers on the front lines during WWII. Who knew? (Well, since you asked, Google. Go figure.)

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In French bakeries, often in a basket by the register, you will typically see little sugared pastries that look like unfilled cream puffs. When I first started traveling, I wasn’t sure what they were so I asked. “C’est chouquette. Pour l’enfant” I was told. I understood the “for the kids” part but I wasn’t sure what “chouquette” meant or even if I heard it correctly. Were they cream puffs? Was there cheese in there, like a gougeres? What the hell were they? Creamless cream puffs did not sound very appealing but I was too intimidated to do anything but smile and nod, like I knew what they were talking about. I always purchased something else.

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