Tag Archives: pastry

Roasted grape, goat cheese, and walnut tart

Roasted grape, goat cheese, and walnut tart

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The word “tart” is probably one of the most used homonyms in culinary terms. First of all, “tart” used as an adjective has to do with taste — like bitter, sour or acerbic. But today I’d like to focus on “tart” the noun. This kind of tart can come in many, many forms: sweet, savory, shortcrust based, puff pastry based, fruit-filled, custard-filled, cheesy, etc., and is usually served as either an appetizer or dessert.

The tart I’ve decided to whip up this week is a mix of sweet and savory — roasted grapes and goat cheese — on a bed of flaky puff pastry crust. It’s an easy-to-prepare, classy appetizer that’d be perfect for a fête during any season.

So why did I pick puff pastry over a short crust pie dough? Honestly, I’m a lazy baker and puff dough is as easy as grabbing from the freezer, thawing then baking. It’s also a party food lifesaver and should always be kept onhand for last-minute appetizers, main dishes accoutrements and desserts. For flavor, always choose puff dough made with butter, not vegetable shortening, as it will give you a buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth product versus one with a weird aftertaste. Another cook’s tip: an egg wash (see recipe below) will give puff pastry a golden-brown kiss of color.

Try out this sweet, savory, and not too tart (the adjective) tart recipe that’s topped with roasted grapes, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh rosemary. It’s a breeze to bake up and your party guests will surely be impressed.

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Top Chef Podcast – Just Desserts season 2, Ep. 2: Disharmonious desserts

Top Chef Podcast – Just Desserts season 2, Ep. 2: Disharmonious desserts
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During the newest episode ofTop Chef Just Desserts, there was plenty of drama but not much delivery — delivery of entertainment, that is.

When life gives you lemons, make dessert! The Quickfire welcomed famed cake artist Margaret Braun as guest judge. She challenged the pastry chef’testants to create a delicious and original dessert with lemon as the star ingredient. What we learned from this challenge: Chocolate and caramel aren’t the greatest flavor pairings with lemon. We also saw an infringement of Top Chef Rule #27 by Orlando: Don’t talk smack about the guest judges (the ones who are culinary professionals, that is) — they’re more experienced than the chef’testants and they deserve respect, plus it just looks tacky and unprofessional (and could come back to bite you in the ass later). Matthew ended up taking the win and immunity in the Elimination Challenge with his Lemon Vanilla Créme with Mint Purée and Hazelnut Sable.

For the Elimination, the chefs had to team up in trios to build towering cakes for an event at the Walt Disney Philharmonic in L.A. The rules: each team member had to create a layer for the cake that represented them (in flavor?) and they all had to make it look purty on the outside. Not an easy task when one has to present their creations in the hot sun and/or the person decorating it doesn’t know what they’re doing.

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Top Chef Podcast – Just Desserts season 2, Ep. 1: Soda shop sweets and fairy-tale treats

Top Chef Podcast – Just Desserts season 2, Ep. 1: Soda shop sweets and fairy-tale treats
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Top Chef Just Desserts is back with a vengeance this season with a new cast, new challenges and a new hairdo for Johnny (a more deflated-looking version than his former bouffant). But one thing for sure that hasn’t changed: the bitchery! (Yes, I made that word up. Deal.)

We could already see some of the strong personalities come out in episode one, like the very forthright Orlando Santos whose shop is named “Orlando’s Chocolate Treats” (I swear these jokes write themselves), Sally Camacho who is the head pastry chef of WP24 (a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant) at the Ritz Carlton in L.A., and Chris Hanmer, the youngest American to win the title of World Pastry Champion (in ’04). And then there were those who left us scratching our heads, asking, “How did they get on this show?” (*cough* Craig *cough*)

Of course, the chefs were thrown right into the first Quickfire challenge right after their little meet-and-greet. The chefs had to pair up to create a “modern soda fountain treat” at a Soda Jerks ice cream shop. Some looked avant-garde and chic, while others’ desserts just looked — as James Oseland would snootily quip — too “pedestrian”.

We also learned a new term this episode, “NFG” which stands for “non-functional garnish.” It’s something I have been very vocal about in past seasons of Top Chef and basically means, “if you can’t eat it, then get it the heck off of that plate!”
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Tonight’s Top Chef Just Desserts preview: New faces and fairy tale sweets (videos)

Tonight’s Top Chef Just Desserts preview: New faces and fairy tale sweets (videos)
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Another sweet installment of Top Chef Just Desserts premieres tonight on Bravo, welcoming 14 new pastry chef’testants and some familiar faces as Gail Simmons, Johnny Iuzzini, Hubert Keller and Dannielle Whatsherface (Kyrillos) return to the judges table.

Like last season, one chef will be eliminated each week (unless we have another surprise double elimination or someone gets carted off to the loony bin again) until one chef remains to claim the title. The winning chef will receive $100,000 furnished by KitchenAid, a feature in Food & Wine magazine and a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Cayman Cookout.

Celebrity guest judges this season to include Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, the cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, renowned Pastry Chef Francois Payard, and acclaimed chef Cat Cora among others.

During tonight’s premiere episode, we meet these fresh new faces who are immediately thrown into their Quickfire Challenge (though the preview video below gives no clue as to what it is). For their Elimination Challenge, the chefs team up to create fairy tale inspired pastry creations and show pieces.

My favorite quotes from the preview videos (below):
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Festive Irish Soda Bread Scones for St. Patty’s Day

Festive Irish Soda Bread Scones for St. Patty’s Day

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It’s that time of the year again: St. Patty’s Day! I’ve been reminded of my fondness for Irish soda bread thanks to the bombardment of St. Patty’s themed emails from various foodie websites. I also have a deep love (and a hankering) for scones lately, too, so I was happily surprised when I stumbled upon this recipe for Irish soda bread scones — two in one! These scones are also great because I can bake a batch or two and give them away as treats on March 17th.

This recipe is very simple and virtually foolproof, especially for novice bakers. I love these scones because they’re more bread- than cake-like and not too sweet: the perfect blank canvas for butter and jam. They’d also be great with raisins or currants, spices (i.e.: cinnamon, ginger), chocolate chips, or even green food coloring! Start off your St. Patrick’s Day with one of these warm delights topped with your favorite spread or dunked in your morning coffee (they’ll help soak up the booze you’ll be probably consume later on, too). Read the rest of this entry