Wednesday, July 20, 2011

apricot tart recipe

Here today, gone tomorrow. Tis the season but it's already gone. Blenheim apricots, like butter and sugar sweet corn, king salmon and dry farm early girl tomatoes, I wait all year long for those things I love. When I saw Blenheims at the farmer's market on Saturday, I grabbed some and saved them to make a tart today with my students.

Today was the second day of my Provencal week of classes. Didn't even have to leave my house. (And after traveling so much in June, what a relief.) I taught my course right here in San Francisco. Bought some lavender, lots of herbs and plenty of Bandol
rosé for a week full of the flavors from the south of France.

Today we took the Blenheims and made a luscious apricot tart with this very cool pastry. It's kind of a puff pastry without the hours of waiting and work. I call it a "rough, rough, rough puff."

Here's the deal... You freeze the flour and butter. Then pulse the two together in the food processor until half is the size of peas and the other half like oatmeal. Make a well and add ice water until it all hold together. Now roll it out.

You know how with puff pastry you have to do roll it out, fold it and do the turns. And patience is most needed because you have to wait 45 minutes between each turn. With my version, you do all three of the turns at once and then let it rest 45 minutes in the fridg.

OK if rough, rough, rough puff makes you dizzy reading the directions, run to the store and buy a package of frozen DuFours puff pastry and throw my recipe out the window. And you might also have to forget the Blenheims and just use any variety of apricot you can find.


pastry: 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup ice water

topping: 16 to 20 large apricots, pitted and each cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup apricot jam, melted and strained
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour and salt and place in freezer one hour before using. Place the butter in a bowl and place in the freezer one hour before using also.

Place the flour in the bowl to the food processor fit. Add the butter and pulse several times until half of the butter is the size of peas and the remaining is smaller. Turn the contents onto a work surface, marble if necessary. Make a well in the center. Combine the lemon juice and ice water and add to the cold flour and butter. Gather as best you can to make a ball. Press the dough together as best you can to form a rough rectangle shape, 4" X 6". There will be large chunks of butter showing.

Roll out dough into a ½" thick rectangle, 5" X 7". Fold the narrow ends towards the center to meet in the center. Fold in half again so that there are four layers. This is your first turn. Turn the dough a quarter of a turn and roll again to form a rectangle ½" thick. Repeat the folding process. This is your second turn. Turn the dough a quarter of a turn and roll again to form a rectangle ½" thick. This time, fold into thirds as you would a business letter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400oF. Combine the apricots and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Roll the pastry into a 12" circle and place on a baking sheet. Trim and crimp the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar onto the dough. Place the apricots in a concentric decorative pattern in a single layer on top of the pastry.. Brush with melted butter and bake in the middle of the oven. After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375oF and continue to bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and brush with jam. Let cool 10 minutes.

To serve, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks are formed. Sift the powdered sugar on top of the cream, add the vanilla and fold together. Serve with the tart.

Makes 1 tart, 10-inches diameter and serves 8

Monday, July 11, 2011

BLT salad recipe

I was so happy today to see that tomatoes are finally showing their face at the farmer's market. I was there early shooting with my producer and teaching a class on how to make my BLT Salad. I know a lot of you were there and want the recipe-- I promised I'd post it.

The class was fun! The Food Network was shooting me in action too which meant there were a lot of cameras. But the best part was the salad. You have to make it. It tastes just like a BLT sandwich without all the bread. I take that back... there are some croutons...

Words of warning-- Wait for delicious summer tomatoes, buy amazing bacon (how can you ever go wrong with bacon?) and make homemade mayonnaise for the dressing. Honestly, you have to make this thing. Like right now!

Please let me know how it turns out, OK? Promise?


6 slices thick-slice apple-smoked bacon, ½" pieces, about 6 ounces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups rustic bread, cut or torn into 1-inch cubes
12 cups mixed baby salad greens
8 ounces various cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (OK, if you have to, store-bought)
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is golden and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve. Remove the pan from the heat. Let the pan cool 5 minutes.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Remove and reserve 1 tablespoon for the dressing. In the pan, add the olive oil and crushed garlic. Cook over medium heat until the garlic turns golden and remove. Discard the garlic. Add the croutons and cook, stirring and tossing until golden, 5 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from the pan and reserve.

In the meantime, place the salad greens and cherry tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

Add the reserved bacon fat back to the pan. Add the minced garlic and vinegar to the pan and whisk together. Add the mayonnaise and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vinaigrette and the bacon to the lettuce and tomatoes and toss together. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Thursday, July 7, 2011

chocolate souffle cake recipe

I don't crave desserts very much but when I do it's usually a bite of rich, dark, creamy chocolate.

I love this chocolate almond souffle cake! I made it with my students a couple weeks ago when I was teaching in the mountains of northeastern Georgia at the Beechwood Inn. Why do I love it so much? It's my favorite kind of dessert.... It's not very sweet but being ever so chocolate-y makes up for it. We used to make a version of this gem when I worked at Chez Panisse. And can you believe, I'm still making it years later.

A few tips about the cooking time... It's crucial that you cook it long enough or the center with be gooey and the sort of gooey that's not very enjoyable. It's more like uncooked cake batter. And if you cook it too long, the cake will be dry. So make sure you use a timer and that your oven temperature is accurate. The recipe has very little flour and the eggs are separated so it rises like a souffle and once you take it from the oven, it falls slightly. Don't be surprised!

OK, I saved the best part for last... You can make this cake 5 days in advance and leave it covered with aluminum foil on your counter (that is if no one eats it). Five days later, it's just as good as the day you made it. You can't say that about many cakes.

To serve, all I do is top it with a sprinkling of toasted sliced almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar. A dollop of soft cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside and you have a chocolate cake that's almost as good as my Mom's!


1 cup unsalted butter
9 ounces excellent quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup toasted almonds
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment. Dust with flour and tap out the excess.

In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate just until melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Preheat an oven to 350o F. Beat the egg yolks, white sugar and brown sugar just until mixed. While the chocolate is still warm, whisk the egg mixture into it. Grind the nuts and flour finely in a food processor. Stir into chocolate mixture.

In a bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar to form stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is completely set around the sides but still has a soft and creamy circle, about 6 inches across in the center, 35 to 45 minutes. The cake should jiggle just slightly when you shake the pan gently. Cool the cake in the pan.

Just before serving, add the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar to cream and whip to soft peaks. Dust the top of the cake with confectioner’s sugar. To serve, cut the cake into wedges and serve a dollop of the cream on the side.

Serves 8 to 10