Pear Almond Tart with Apricot Glaze

I have to confess, this is my brother’s recipe.  He frequently gets in a pear tart mood for some reason when he visits.  Perhaps because he knows if he makes it, we will watch the kids (3 and 2) while he does.  I remember waking up one morning when he and my sister in law were staying over, to the sounds of the cupboards banging shut.  Open shut open shut.  I thought, what is he doing? When I eventually came downstairs to greet the day, he was in the middle of making a gluten free pear tart.  He had been searching for all the ingredients and walked to the local store (ok, it was a well stocked gas station) and back with two pears.  All before 9 am.  I guess this is what having kids does for you, gets you up early and motivated, or well, I would call it obsessed.  My bro and I are a lot alike in that when we get something in our head, like a craving, we have to finish it out and go get the dish or make it to remove the obsession.  I get that way about Thai and Korean food.  He gets that way about Korean food and pear tarts.

You haven’t even started drooling yet as you haven’t seen any pictures.  Hang on.  I will get you one.

gf pear tart

Lately I have decided that I can’t wait for visits, I must have the pear tart more frequently. So, I have made it a couple of different times, using a homemade GF crust and a premade crust. The homemade is of course better as:

1. It tastes better.
2. You can do a lot more with the pear fanning.
3. The premade crust is really small and doesn’t oh and ah like the old ceramic tart pan.
4. Cause I said so, just believe me.

Unless of course you:

1. Don’t have a recipe for a homemade GF crust that you like.
2. Don’t have time but have a premade crust in your freezer.
3. Hate baking.

So, I have photos of both options for you. The both taste great although the premade crust is a bit over the top crunchy (read: hard and tough).

pear almond tart with apricot glaze

Pear Almond Tart
** if you can use equal weight of butter, sugar and almonds, that will be the best measurement**
5 Tbs butter
5 oz sugar (about 2/3 cup)
5 oz toasted and then ground almonds (or just buy almond flour) (about 1 and 1/4 cups ground)
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 – 3 pears (Bosc is my preference)

pear almond tart assembly unbaked pear almond tart

Cream the butter and sugar; add ground almonds; add eggs one at a time.
Pour into an uncooked crust. I used Rebecca Reilly’s Gluten Free crust recipe.
Top with fanned pear slices, sliced to about 1/4 inch thick.
Bake at 400 F for about an hour or golden brown. Let cool a bit and pour the glaze on.
For the glaze:
Mix maybe 1/4 cup of apricot jam in a pot with 2 Tbs of cognac and bring up to a boil or almost boil and then carefully pour it over the tart evenly. The glaze adds a nice tart contrast to the sweet pear and almond mixture. It also gives the tart more gloss and depth of color.

pear almond tart pear almond tart with apricot glaze

Happy Pear Week!

i’m out

Double Lemon Bars for all you tarty tooths out there

I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth, I have what you might call a tarty tooth. I love tarty cocktails and desserts. I like things spicy and on the hot side too and the tartness half of a dish cools the palate off quite nicely. These lemon bars fit the tarty bill perfectly.

GF lemon bars

I may have to make these again, this week. Perhaps I could cut the batch in half and find a 4×4 pan to bake them in. So tart, tangy, buttery and a hint of sweetness. I love lemon bars and have decided that I think they may be better than brownies for me. With a brownie, I want to eat 1 or 2 and then maybe 1 more the next day and I am done – unless they have raspberry in them. Lemon bars, on the other hand, I can barely keep away from and ate them all week. Ate them to the point of wondering, when does a lemon bar go bad? After all it is mostly lemon, eggs and sugar. Eggs being the worry point here, even if they are cooked. So cutting the batch in half will save me the worry trouble and the waist band, hopefully! This recipe is based on one I liked and altered from Bon Appetit several years ago.

Gluten Free Lemon Bars with Almond crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature ( I actually like a bit of salt in there to highlight the lemon, but you can use unsalted most certainly)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs (separated) gluten free flour
1/2 cup almond meal, finely ground
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 – 3 tbs lemon zest (about 3 lemons worth, depending on size)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Optional: powdered sugar for sprinkling on top (I didn’t do this)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a mixer, beat the butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in your powdered sugar. Add only 1/2 cup of the GF flour and the 1/2 cup almond meal, beating until almost comes together in clumps. Using your fingers, press dough over the bottom of a 9x9x2-inch baking pan. This is the messy part, filling in all the dough gaps and trying to not let the dough stick to your fingers. Bake the crust until it is light browned along the edges, about 20 – 25 minutes.

For the filling: beat the sugar and eggs in medium bowl until blended. Add in the fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, baking powder, and the remaining 2 Tbs of GF flour and continue to mix until blended.

Pour the lemon filling over the hot crust. Bake until the filling is set in center and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. One tip I found for cutting the lemon bars is to put the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes to set the filling and then slice into square. This will help to not rip up the edges. I was too impatient and didn’t let the above pictured bars chill long enough. Taste however was not affected!

i’m out

Triple chocolate brownies with raspberry

Vote for me in the Death by Chocolate contest

Jan 08 food and brewing 128

Oh, sometimes the chocolate gods are smiling down on me. Today was such a day. The honest truth is, before I was diagnosed with Celiac (2 years next month) I rarely made brownies that did not come from a package. Those were just so quick and easy and tasted pretty good to me! Since being on a gluten free diet, I still have only used GF brownie mixes (with my alterations of course) and have been somewhat pleased with the results. I mentioned that my boyfriend whipped up a batch the other day and those were tasty, but when I want chocolate, I want it to be gooey and heavy and all out dense. The recipe he used was on the cakey side and (horrors!) I have never been a fan of cake, not ever (ok, maybe when I was two).

I had this idea of raspberries in my head all week and kept asking him when he was going to make the raspberry cake (which didn’t sound cakey to me). I realized that it probably wouldn’t happen until the weekend and there was chocolate sitting around. So, I decided to whip up a batch. I went to go for my Rebecca Riley GF cook book and realized that I loaned out all of my GF cookbooks to some friends with a recently diagnosed Celiac son. So, I reached for the chocolate cook book that my mom gave me a couple of years ago. I hate to say it, but I had not made a single recipe out of that book and it is a book about chocolate! I don’t normally have much of a sweet tooth. The whole 8×8 pan only called for 1/2 of self rising flour – well that was easily replaced with coconut flour, for extra denseness and flavor. In fact, I altered the recipe quite a bit in order to create my chocolate raspberry fantasy brownie.

We happened to have two bags of frozen raspberries in the freezer. I took one out and started cooking it down. Once it had cooked a bit, I strained it and then took the puree and cooked it down some more adding about 1Tbs of sugar. I reduced it to about 1/8 of tart raspberry goodness and then drizzled it over the brownie batter and then ran a knife through it to swirl it a bit.

It worked. Every bite is loaded with chocolate (almost too much for me, not too much for the dear BF) and a nice tart raspberry punch. Perfect combo and super quick and easy to throw together.

Here’s the recipe:

Triple Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry

5 oz of dark chocolate (bittersweet) chopped into small pieces ( a task that I find is better accomplished by purchasing bars of chocolate instead of blocks of chocolate – those take some muscle!)

1/2 cup oil (just not olive oil) next time I will see if subbing melted butter will work

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar packed down

2 eggs

1 tsp VANILLA (for vanilla week) extract

1/2 coconut flour (you can sub any kind here of your fav GF mix)

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 bag of frozen raspberries

1 Tbs of sugar (or agave nectar)

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 pan.

Slowly melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler (on a simmer) or I just use a glass bowl over a small pot with water.

Combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a med/large bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate, mix well until smooth.

Add coconut flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and fold it in, then add your chocolate chips. I used a 1/2 cup, more might be too much I think, but go with what you like. Pour it all into your baking pan.

Raspberry puree: pour the whole bag into a small pot and slowly bring it up to a boil, do not add water. Pour the raspberries into a strainer of some sort (and over a bowl) and rub your spoon around and push all the juices and some pulp, just not the seeds, through. Make sure you get all the raspberry goods that are hanging on the outside of the strainer into that bowl. Pour this back into the pot. Toss the raspberry seed mixture into your compost. Add about 1 tbs of sugar to take the full edge of the tartness away, then cook it down until you have between 1/4 and 1/8th of a cup. This should be pretty thick and almost jammy. In lines, pour/spoon the raspberry mixture over the brownie mixture in the pan, if you have some left, pour in lines the other direction (like a checkerboard). Take a butter knife and go against the lines and drawn the raspberry paste into the brownie mix. Then pop it in the oven, for at least 30 min, maybe 35 (mine was pretty loosey goosey still in the middle – next time I will bake for 35 min). Let them cool as long as you can, cut into 16 squares and then dig in. The flash (I have a very dark house) really makes the brownies look lighter than they are. The flashless photo gives you the true color and chocolatelyness of these brownies.

Jan 08 food and brewing 133 Jan 08 food and brewing 129

Make sure you have some coffee nearby to bring you out of your chocolate coma.

i’m out

Cheesecake with ganache and kinnikitoos and fluffy

For a baby shower I co-hosted last weekend I was asked to make something for dessert. Now a lot of you might cringe, but I rarely think about desserts because I usually can’t eat them unless I make them and it is enough to cook dinner most of the time. But apparently others think about desserts/sweets with some frequency. I hadn’t made a GF cheese cake yet, mostly because I only find occasion to make a cheesecake about every two years. Somehow, I decided that I wanted an Oreo style cheesecake, even though I don’t recall ever eating one. Mostly I wanted the chocolate cookie crust. So I made one. And, if I am going to make a dessert, well, I want to be sure it will be delish and what makes everything delish? Ganache. It conveniently covers up any blemishes that may occur while baking too. Here is the cheesecake framed by my partial spice rack:

cheesecake<br /> with ganache

Looking back over the last 3 months blogs, I noticed that I haven’t included very many food photos. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking them. They all get loaded on Flickr.com. So today is photo day. After digging into the long awaited cheesecake (well it was about 24 hours after making it) I regretted crushing up the extra cookies and mixing them into the batter. They were soggy and actually took away from the cheesecake flavor I think. The ganache made up for it.

I have been on a huge “eat as much seafood as I possibly can” kick and this happens to me every January. So to satisfy my craving I made my own sushi rolls one day:

spicy tuna roll with flying fish roe

and some miso soup with sizzling rice (I know they traditionally don’t go together, but it sounded good):

Jan 08 031

I am always in the mood for Vietnamese food and lately I have been experimenting with ban xeoh and dipping sauce:

pdrworkdrinkshizzle 120 ban xeoh or vietnamese crepes ban xeoh or vietnamese crepes

These are so fresh, tasty and easy to make. The crepe consists of rice flour mixed with turmeric, coconut milk and water and then you make the crepe and add bean sprouts, pork, and loads of fresh asian herbs and cut a piece off, wrap it in a lettuce leaf and then dip it! The dipping sauce is shredded carrots, fish sauce, green onion, a bit of sugar and maybe some rice wine (I will have to check). I marinate my pork in GF tamari, ginger, garlic and red chile before frying. This dish is so satisfying as it is crunchy, salty and porky (new adjective) with coconut overtones.

Now, on to fluffy the killer squirrel.
Fluffy was very quiet today, so quiet that I thought I had better make sure that Fluffy was not in the trap. We expected to hear lots of noise and protesting if the trap went off. Wrong. Quiet as a mouse. I opened the door and there he was, in the haveaheart trap. So I picked him up and set him down in the hallway and he promptly pee’d on the floor. I grabbed some tissue to soak it up and then picked him up again (in the trap) and he pee’d again. So, we moved a little more quickly this time. Down the stairs and into the sunroom – but before you are free you must pose for a picture:

Fluffy the killer squirrel is trapped!

I hope he learned his lesson, but I am guessing he will be back in the roof tomorrow as they have been working on destroying the foam we put in the hole. 

fluffy is outside now

I am off to a hard cider tasting!

Update on fluffy:  Fluffy was indeed sealed in the roof for 5 days as there have been no attempts to return to the hole in the roof.  I think fluffy’s partner was running around on the roof and trying to tell fluffy what corner to try to break out of and it was also ripping up the foam on the outside in an attempt to rescue it’s friend.  Both squirrels are back to playing happily in the backyard.

i’m out