A co-worker’s birthday is always a good time to remind my team that they are glad they hired me. This time, though, a super sweet baklava, or a big ass kugelhopf wouldn’t do the trick. This coworker likes their food light, not overly sweet, and beautiful. Well fuck. That rules out a lot of what I make. A frangipane tart though, that’s always a crowd pleaser, and a Bakewell Tart isn’t overly sweet, I mean the crust is barely sweetened at all. That’ll do, pig!
So I made the crust, and it rolled out so beautiful and thin that I thought the whole thing was going to go to shit because I’ve never made a crust so easily. In fact, it seems like usually I should just use the rolling pin as a can opener because every time I get the thing out I have trouble, but not this time! I blind baked the crust and let it dry out nicely because as my gurl Mary Berry says, no one likes a soggy bottom.
I made the filling before putting my little girl to bed, and when I went to pour it into the crust it didn’t pour. It was a big thicker than I remembered, and I really had to work at it to get it nice and even in the crust. As for the berries I had placed at the bottom of the crust…well…they moved to where they wanted to be and I had no choice in the matter.
In the end, though, the tart was well received by my coworkers. They’re still happy that they hired me. And I got to use my beautiful tart pan. That is success, my friends.
Like the Bûche de Noel, this Festive Panettone Pudding has become somewhat of an advent tradition since my dad passed away/baby was born. As I’ve said before, as soon as Christmas time rolled around after becoming a father, I felt the drive to become the most Christmas Tradition laden family on the planet. At the same time I was burying my grief over the loss of my dad in delicious holiday foods.
The good men of Sorted Food really caught my eye with their Chocolate Panettone Pudding, which I renamed Festive Panettone Pudding because, well, cranberries. I love these tart bitter little shits in everything at this time of year. They’re also the only food on the traditional North American holiday table that comes from North America. CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE. This bread-pudding style of dessert strikes me as very British Isles, too. ANCESTRALLY APPROPRIATE. And it calls for a Panettone. ADVENT APPROPRIATE. It’s a very appropriate dessert for this time of year.
Basically, you take 8 eggs, (4 whole, 4 extra yolks), 2 tbsp of sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon, whisk that shit right up with 250ml of cream, then rip up and dunk the panettone in it and toss it in a pan. Crush up some chocolate (whatever you have leftover from your other holiday baking) and toss a handful of fresh cranberries in it, then goosh it all up with your hands until it’s a dense, muddled mess. Then pat it down into your baking dish and let it sit for about half an hour. Once that’s done, toss it in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes, pull it out and serve it. DELICIOUS AND EASY.
You can even make it after the kids are in bed because it doesn’t call for a mixer. It would probably be good if you poured some booze on it too, but I’m not sure what kind would be best. Anyhow, go over to Sorted Food, watch the video, try the recipe, thank me later.
Macarons are notoriously testy when it comes to measurement, moisture, baking, preparation, not beating the merengue too hard (heh heh heh) and knocking all of the air out of it, etc. But I love the way they taste. And so does mommyPrimate.
This weekend is Mother’s Day in the good old U.S. of A. I think it might be that three years ago we were in France on Mother’s Day, eating macarons, croques monsieur, and soupe du poisson, but for whatever reason, mommyPrimate was all like “for mother’s day I want homemade macarons.” Knowing the varying degrees of success I’ve had with them in the past, I said “sure, honey.” On the inside I was like…
So after a bit of dickering about flavors, I decided to do lavender. It’s classic, it’s french, it tastes like Froot Loops cereal. So I whipped (and naynayed) the eggs, carefully mixed in the nuts and the sugar. Piped them onto the pan. Dropped it (turns out I did this step too early and they didn’t form feet), and let them rest.
They had fucking nipples. I tried to flatten them or at least make it look like they had pasties. NO JOY. They baked with fucking nipples. NIPPLES I TELL YOU. So I let them cool and stuffed them with some homemade buttercream.
So of course I had to try one, and I was all like:
They taste like macarons, have the texture of macarons, but look like my toddler baked them. I’m going to call this a success.
Continuing my why wasn’t I born Greek baking saga was pretty easy. Baklava was a huge success, family and coworkers were duly impressed. It was delicious. While my mother-in-law was in town we had planned to grill, but that was canceled by a torrential downpour. One thing that didn’t get cancelled was my Greek Yogurt Cake, or apparently in greek, Yiaourtopita.
This cake was interesting. The recipe I used from mygreekdish.com was fairly straightforward, but it called for self-rising flour and baking powder. I thought the two didn’t go together, but whatever. Per the recipe I started out by whipping egg whites into a meringue, then I folded in the dry ingredients, set it in a cake tin, and popped it in the oven.
When I was done it popped right out of the tin, and cooled off. It was dense, like a pound cake (another english-name for this cake is Greek yogurt pound cake apparently) and was a well balanced sweet but not too sweet. The lemon and orange zest gave it a nice fresh scent.
Now, if you’re less interested in the cake than in the continuing saga of my Greek obsession, you’d be amused to know that we’re redoing the front yard. While shopping for flowers for our new flower bed, I found a 5′ tall or bigger statue of Atlas holding up the sky. The sky was a planter box. I was willing to drop the $$$ to buy this thing, but mommyPrimate (who is wise and responsible) managed to distract me away from it with her fine understanding of distraction.
Baking in the morning is generally not something I do, because who the hell can do anything precisely before about 6 cups of coffee? Well, my mother in law was in town last weekend and she’s a delightful little lady who apparently sees my instagram posts and wanted baked goods.
About the same time, mommyPrimate had just started a new job, and she had a few things to get done on Saturday. Funny enough, the only time anyone can focus meaningfully on anything is when babyPrimate is napping, so mommyPrimate needed the morning to work. As luck would have it, she had a plan for breakie already that was basically a frittata and scones, so I said, “Don’t you worry mommyPrimate, I will handle this!” Then I guzzled my coffee and got to baking.
So scones are actually damn simple. I quickly put the dough together, formed it into a circle, brushed the top with egg, and popped it in the oven.
When this came out of the oven I felt like I’m basically a fucking magician. They were a little lighter than scones I’ve had in the past, not too sweet…delightful.
Scones are a go!
I’ve always thought there was something kinda noble about a plain old baguette. It’s super simple as far as ingredients go, but packs such a punch of flavor that it can stand up to your tastebuds without any help from butter or jam…and when you add butter and jam omg. But I always thought they would be super difficult to make.
So I got out my good old friend Paul Hollywood’s book and got to work. Flour, yeast, salt, water, mix mix mix, rise rise rise. Bake bake bake.
What I ended up with looked nothing like a baguette or even a demi-baguette (because let’s get real, you need a freaking HUGE oven for full sized baguettes. But it tasted like a baguette, and was just a few minutes away from the perfect crust.
Next time I will nail it, because j’adore les baguettes!!!
Almost 3 years ago (we’re coming up on our anniversary) mommyPrimate and I took a trip across southern Europe, and 10 of those glorious days were in Greece. I think we both agree that our favorite place we’ve ever been in the world together was Greece. The people were friendly and jovial (which says a lot given their economic situation), the land and sea were stunningly beautiful, and the food. OMG, THE FOOD.
Anyway, I think anyone who has ever eaten at a Greek diner or even a crappy food court “greek” option at the mall has had the chance to indulge in baklava. The flaky multilayered sweet treat with nuts and honey and spices and all. It’s so delicate, it seems like it would be really, really difficult to make. So I tried it.
You see, we had my mom and her husband over for dinner, and our main course was a moussaka, served with a Greek salad, so what better dessert to make than the ubiquitous Greek dessert favorite of non-Greeks? I found an excellent Greek food blog called MyGreekDish.com and got cracking. Of course, I didn’t follow their instructions and make my own phyllo…I could never get it thin enough without crying.
Anyhow, it wasn’t too difficult, if it was a bit tedious. Lay the phyllo, butter, lay the phyllo, butter, lay the phyllo, butter, sprinkle nuts. repeat. repeat. repeat. Until finally:
It was beautiful, it was delicious, it was a hit at dinner and the next day in the office…and it made me want so badly to go back to Greece with my (now larger) family to enjoy the sun, surf, and joy of simple pleasures.