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Archive for the ‘pastry’ Category

I live near an empanada haven of sorts. Within a few blocks are three different empanada shops – and an Argentine gelato place. I’m not entirely sure why we’ve become the hot bed of these delicious pastries but I’m happy about it. Not long ago a friend and I decided to do an empanada crawl and hit them all, tasting and comparing. The first, a little grocery store that’s been in the neighborhood forever, sells hot empanadas from a case by the register. On our crawl night, they had a seasonal pumpkin version that was so good I went back and got two more. The pumpkin was caramelized in deep, dark, sweet chunks, almost candied, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

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When it comes to bringing a dessert to a party or summer bbq, a fruit galette is the way to go.  Absolutely, no question. First off, they are way easier to make than a traditional pie especially in an unairconditioned summer kitchen (hello, welcome to my world.) The pastry is a lot friendlier and forgiving than a pie dough due to the addition of a bit of sugar and is much easier to handle. Since galettes are free-form, they scale up or down easily and take any extra fruit additions like a champ. The filling is simple: some kind of fruit, sugar, a bit of thickener and if you’re feeling super duper fancy, some citrus zest and/or juice. But the number one reason you should be bringing galettes to parties is that there is no need to bring a pan home. Nope. No driving back the next day to get your pie tin, no wondering where the hell the bottom to your tart pan went. Slide that thing off the sheet pan onto a piece of cardboard or a cheap thrift store plate and you’re off. How many pie plates and tart pan bottoms have you lost over the years, left at long forgotten parties? Exactly my point.

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I had strawberries. A lot of strawberries. Due to a wet, miserable and achingly long spring, local strawberries haven’t yet made an appearance in my farmers markets so I turned to a not ideal option for a dinner party dessert I had my heart set on: Costco. Not surprisingly, they weren’t that great; rather large and bland without much of that sweetness that makes a strawberry a strawberry. Isn’t that always the case? But I hate wasting food so I made something with the extras, nearly half of the big ass container. Roasting often helps intensify flavors so in this spirit, I made a tart. An easy, freeform galette.

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Have you thought about how you’re going to attack your holiday cookie plan this year? Do you have your basic dough made? If not, don’t worry. I haven’t either. While I’ve made all 12 of this year’s recipes, I only did that because I had to photograph the collective group for the last post. Seriously. I muscled my way through them all the day before Thanksgiving so while I wouldn’t recommend it, it is possible. I still have a few to tweak but thankfully those won’t post toward the end. As it is, I am writing this post a mere half hour before it goes up and haven’t started writing numbers 2-12. I suspect they’ll get done on the wire too. That’s just how I roll during the holidays. And I haven’t started my regular cookie baking. Oh well. It’ll all get done. It always does. The postman might not deliver those cookies until New Year’s but so be it. I refuse to have a meltdown this year (she says now.) Commence meltdown. What the hell … let’s go!

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About this time every year I have the same problem: apples. Too many damn apples. In the fall I like to go apple picking and well, things happen. I overdo it every time. Just 6 of this kind I tell myself. And just 6 of that one, its not too many. Maybe a few more, so 8 of that one and oh, maybe a few more of this one. Before I know it, I’ve got more apples than I know what to do with and visions of baked goods dance in my head. I’ve googled “recipes that use a lot of apples” so many times it auto-populates my search bar. The funny thing is, a lot of the recipes that come up don’t use a lot of apples … maybe two or three. False advertising! One can only use so much apple butter.

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I am extremely prone to jet lag. Back in February, after a particularly long overseas flight, I had the worst bout yet. At one point, a day or two after arriving home, I was wide-awake for a good 36 hours with surprising amounts of energy. It was strange. So I did something I’ve been meaning to do for months – I reorganized all my cookbooks. I have hundreds of cookbooks and over the years, they’d gotten a bit messy. I prefer to organize my cookbooks by subject but they were willy-nilly all over the apartment. The pile next to my coffeetable was taller than the table. It drove me crazy but I hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about it. Now I had the energy so I decided to attack the piles.

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Researching the foods of Africa in an effort to learn more about this recently maligned continent, I found so many things that sounded delicious. Too many. One day, I googled “African snacks” curious to see what came up for any of the 54 countries. I immediately perked up at the results which were far better than I had hoped. A litany of amazing things – meat pies, fritters, meat on sticks, and fried dough in all kinds of shapes and sizes and glazes. Among these were a few things with really great names that caught my attention immediately … chin chin, puff puffs and fat cakes. What?!? How much fun do these sound?!? I want to eat them all. Obviously I started with puff puffs. How could I not?

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