Monday, October 6, 2014

Tomato Pies and Tarts

One of my favorite things to make this past summer was tomato pie.   I have recipes torn out from magazines over the past couple of years, but when I bought a bunch of tomatoes in June, I could only find the picture of the specific one I wanted to make - apparently the recipe was later in the magazine and I neglected to keep that part.  So I went searching.  It's easy to find recipes these days, but I was looking for a specific recipe, based on the picture in my mind.   After reading A LOT of tomato tart and pie recipes, I started experimenting with the ones below.  I think I may have tried another, but it was not remarkable and was quickly forgotten.  

The tart is easy because it's just puffed pastry, tomatoes, herbs and Parmesan cheese.  One time I used fresh basil, another Italian Seasoning - most anything works.

My favorite is the Tomato Pie with Sour Cream Pastry.  It is best with regular sour cream (not light) and tomatoes in the peak of tomato season.  I made one last week; it was good, but not as amazing as the tomatoes that were summer rich and juicy.   I bought the larger tomatoes and used our grape, cherry, and Roma tomatoes that we grew.  The best one, of course, was the one I made with tomatoes straight from my Dad's garden in August when we were in Pennsylvania.  So very delicious!

Both crusts are pre-baked for 5-13 minutes.  The main different between the two is that the pie has a topping of mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and spices.   The pie takes about 35 minutes to bake once assembled, whereas the tart is only 10-15.  

The sour cream crust is pretty simple, I mixed it as much as I could with a dough whisk, and then kneaded it by hand the rest of the way.  It needs to be refrigerated for awhile, so I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on the day.   The crusts always looked so nice going into the oven, but then took on a life of their own.  So, don't be disappointed if they come out a lot different than when they went into the oven; the flavor is still wonderful!

To save myself a lot of time, I am just going to provide the links for the recipes that I based mine on.    So, if you are lucky enough to find some late tomatoes, give it a try, or file it away for next summer.

Sour Cream Pastry
Tomato Pie
Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart

Tomato Pie - Pennsylvania

Tomato Pie - Texas

Friday, October 3, 2014

Grandma's Cherry Cinnamon Cobbler

When Mr. SBQ and I were dating, he told me about this cobbler that his grandma made.  I am not a cobbler person, and was stuck on cherries and cinnamon candies in the same dish.  I am not sure if I let on that I didn't find it very appealing or if I just said "huh, interesting".   Fast forward several years and he found Grandma's recipe that she had sent him.  I looked at it and thought it might be ok, but I would surprise him and make it.  It didn't matter if I liked it or not, I would do it just for him.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised - it's very good!

The recipe calls for frozen or canned cherries, and the ingredients to make your own pie filling.  The store did not have canned or frozen sour cherries, so I just used a can of cherry pie filling.   I will confess that I forgot to put the brown sugar in the middle of the cinnamon rolls, with the butter and cinnamon, so I just sprinkled it on top.  Turned out just fine.

Cherry Cinnamon Cobbler
one can of cherry pie filling (OR 1 can sour cherries, 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c corn starch, 1/2 c water)
2-4 Tablespoons of cinnamon red candies (Brach's Cinnamon Imperials, red hots)

Heat the pie filling and cinnamon candies over low heat, to melt the candies.  I added a tiny bit of water (1 or 2 T?), stirring occasionally until candies are almost completely dissolved.   Place in the bottom of a square baking dish.

Cinnamon Rolls:
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
6 T brown sugar (divided, 3 for dough and 3 for filling)
1/4 c shortening (unsalted butter)
1 slightly beaten egg
2 T milk
1 T soft butter (melted)
1/2 tsp cinnamon

The recipe also calls for 1/3 cup of pecans and 1/2 tsp of salt, but I did not use those.  Also, I used rice milk.

Combine flour, baking powder, and 3 T of brown sugar.  Cut in shortening/butter.  Combine egg and milk and add to flour mixture.  Mix until moistened, adding a few drops of milk if necessary.  (I did not add any more milk and did the final kneading with my hands.)   Roll out on a lightly floured surface, to a 14x12 rectangle.  Brush with the melted butter.  Combine 3 T brown sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over dough.  Roll up, cut into 3/4 inch slices, and place on the cherry filling.  Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.  Glaze while warm.

Lemon Glaze:
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 T lemon juice
Mix together and drizzle over the cobbler after it comes out of the oven.

Cherry Cinnamon Cobbler

Friday, January 24, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake with a Cloud of Cherries

This is one of those desserts that I got so excited about, and I am ready to make again.

I was trying to figure out what to make for Small Group a couple weeks ago.  I was talking on the phone to my mom and flipping through recipes when this idea formulated.   I saw a picture of cherry topped brownie bites and told my mom.  She asked if I remembered when she made the brownies topped with cream cheese and cherries.  That got me thinking!  I really wanted to do something Black Forrest like, I just didn't know what.  I was trying to figure out which brownie recipe might work well when I saw a Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe that I had saved from King Arthur Flour.   It all fell together from there and I was super excited.

The recipe was to be made in an 8" round pan lined with parchment paper.  My only 8" round pan that is deep enough is a spring-form pan.  I coated it really well with olive oil spray, but didn't use the parchment.  I will next time.  I didn't have any trouble with it sticking, but to ease the serving, I had loosened the bottom of the cake with a large offset spatula.  It would be a lot easier just to use the parchment lining and turn the cake out with ease.  I made the recipe pretty much as listed, except I only used 2 whole eggs and 1 egg white.  I did not make the ganache since I was making my own topping.

I baked the cake for 20 minutes and it was the recommended 200 degrees.  This was the first cake that I ever tested the interior temperature to see if it was done.

Once the cake was cool, I mixed a package of cream cheese with about a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.  I spread that on the cake, and then topped with 3/4 of a can of cherry pie filling.

Recipe for the cake - King Arthur Flour
Cream Cheese Layer - 1 8oz package cream cheese softened, 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Cherry Pie Filling

So delicious!  This just has Valentine's Day written all over it!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese and Cherries

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Gingerbread Men

I am choosing to write about the Christmas Day Gingerbread People today as a little trip down memory lane.  Today is my birthday, and many years ago (I cannot believe how many!) my mom and I made Gingerbread Men for my Kindergarten Birthday Party at school.  Back when you could take a treat to school to share with your classmates, and they were just gingerbread men (not people).  I am 99% sure we made our own stencil and cut out each cookie - no cookie cutter for us.  They had pink frosting decorations and in my mind they were the best gingerbread men ever!

These were kind of a rush job since we made them Christmas afternoon and I was about decorated and baked out.  We made several large cookies and a ton of small ones.  Next time they will just be the large cookies - they are much easier to decorate.  I finally made a small batch of royal icing for the decorations, but I did not take a lot of time for details.   I had not worked with royal icing before, so it was a little more stiff than I thought it would be.  I just quickly gave the tiny people dots for eyes, mouths, and buttons.

The cookies were good and had a very strong ginger flavor.  I would make this recipe again, using only the large cookie cutters and taking more time to decorate.  Be careful not to over bake, so they stay nice and soft.

These cookies are long gone, and I am looking forward to birthday cake tonight!  My favorite dessert I don't have to make! :)

Recipe from Cuisine at Home's Holiday Cookies.

Spicy Gingerbread People
Whisk together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar

Blend in; Beat in:
1/4 molasses
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugars until smooth.  Blend molasses in to butter mixture, then beat in egg and vanilla until fully incorporated.  Add half the dry ingredients, mix until nearly incorporated, mix in remaining dry ingredients.  Shape dough in to a disk, wrap in plastic and chill at least 2 hours before rolling out.

Roll out on floured work surface, to about 1/8" thick.  Cut out and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350.
Cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack.  Decorate and store in airtight containers for up to one week.

Gingerbread Man

Monday, January 6, 2014

Molasses Spice Cookies

This was a new Christmas Cookie I tried this year.  The recipe is from the Cuisine Holiday Cookies book.  I have loved most every recipe I have tried in their two holiday baking books that I have.  I have made several and there are many more I want to try.  I was debating on making these Molasses Spice Cookies or Ginger Spice Cookies.  I did not have any candied ginger at the time, so I decided on these. I do have candied ginger now, so I will have to try the others too.  The only problem is that now I want to think about Valentine's Day - chocolate, pink, red........ahhh.  Anyway, back to a cookie that far exceeded my expectations.

Two common themes here - one, I think they are a perfect cookie and two, I did not have the time to chill the dough before I baked the first batch.  With all my planning, you wouldn't think this would be an issue, but it always is. (Gingerbread Men we baked on Christmas Day because they had to chill and I mixed them up Christmas Eve).

I ended up making these for Small Group and then freezing the rest of the dough and baking for our Christmas party.  The batch that had not chilled, and the batch that had been frozen and then baked both came out great.  Very moist and full of flavor!

Molasses Spice Cookies
In a medium bowl whisk together:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves, freshly ground black pepper, and salt
(yes, pepper!  I did not use that much salt; just a few grinds of sea salt)

In mixing bowl cream until light and fluffy:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light)
1/2 cup shortening (8Tbsp)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened (I do not like shortening, so I used all unsalted butter)

Add 1 egg; mix until combined.
Beat in 1/2 cup full flavor molasses and the minced zest of one orange. (I didn't have/use orange)
Add the flour mixture, beating just enough to combine.
Chill the dough at least 6 hours or overnight.  Or if you didn't plan like me, just bake them now. :)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop dough using a small cookie scoop.  The recipe used a #100/1tsp scoop; I used a #70 because that is the smallest I have.
Roll in granulated sugar and place on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  I think I had 5 rows of 3 on my sheets.
Bake cookies until edges are set, about 10 minutes.  Mine were perfect at 10 minutes.
Cool on the baking sheet.  I moved them to a cooling rack after about 5 minutes.

Enjoy the cookies and the "these are so good" comments you will get!
Molasses Spice Cookies