YOGURT TART

Not too long ago I was browsing the internet searching for entremet cakes, and stumbled on a site that was new to me: Cooking Me Softly, hosted by Arianna, a chef from Italy. All I can say is that I had a very hard time moving away from the computer. Her concoctions are things of complete beauty, her flavor combinations unique and her presentation style superb. Not only she shares detailed recipes, but also short videos with the crucial stages of preparation. Basically, her site is culinary gold for those into patisserie. She blogs in Italian, but I can follow most of it closely enough to get the important points. Or so I hope. I fell in love with her Yogurt Tart the moment I first saw it, and could not wait to try and make it. The use of semi-spheres of mousse on top of the tart? Genius.

YOGURT TART
(slightly modified from Cooking Me Softly)

for Sablé Breton:
80 g egg yolks
100 g granulated sugar
125 g very soft butter
125 g pastry flour
2 g salt
5 g baking powder
grated lemon peel (1 lemon)
MyCryo cocoa butter (optional)

for white chocolate ganache:
340 g Lindt white chocolate
85 g heavy cream

for yogurt mousse:
120 g full-fat Greek yogurt
30 g granulated sugar
15 g of lemon juice, sieved
240 g fresh cream
6 g gelatin, 200 bloom
18 g cold water for gelatine hydration

for decoration:
small meringues
Gold dust
sprinkles of choice

Make the cookie base. In a Kitchen Aid type mixer, whisk the yolks with sugar and lemon zest until pale. Replace the whisk with the leaf beater, add the sifted flour with baking powder, salt, and then the butter. Mix well until creamy.  Place in a piece of plastic wrap, form as a disc and refrigerate for 8 hours.

Roll between two sheets of parchment paper to 1 mm thickness an put in the fridge for another hour, as you heat the oven to 350 F.

Cut a disc of dough with a 20 cm ring (7 + 3/4 in), and bake inside the ring for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, and while still hot sprinkle MyCryo over the surface. Allow it to cool completely. Before continuing with assembling, place the base inside the ring and add a band of acetate around it so that the ganache will be poured nicely on top. I like to use a ring that is adjustable, so that I can tighten it better around the base. Often the base shrinks a little during baking.

Make the chocolate ganache. Melt the chocolate gently in the microwave or in a double boiler. Heat the cream to simmering (about 175 F). Add to the chocolate in three additions, whisking gently to fully incorporate the chocolate and the cream.  Reserve. Cool to about 90F before pouring into the cool base. Place in the fridge to cool completely and then in the freezer overnight.

Make the yogurt mousse. Hydrate the gelatin in the water indicated in the recipe. Heat part of the yogurt with the sugar to about 140 F.  Melt the gelatin heating gently for a few seconds in the microwave (do not boil it). Add the melted gelatin to the warm yogurt/sugar mixture.

Add the lemon juice, the remaining cold yogurt and mix. Whip the cream to the consistency of melted ice cream, and fold gently into the yogurt base. Spoon the mousse into a piping bag (no need for a piping tip) and fill half-sphere molds (3.4 and 5 cm in diameter), smoothing the surface well. Put in the fridge to cool and then freeze overnight.

Assemble the tart. Remove the base with chocolate ganache from the freezer, place in a serving tray and remove the acetate. Arrange the mousse spheres of different diameters over the ganache. Decorate with mini-meringues plain and painted with gold spray. Put in the fridge for about 6 hours to allow the ganache to soften and the mousse to thaw.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I truly enjoy making desserts that involve multiple components particularly because they can be made in advance and wait in the freezer or fridge. Finishing the dessert then is easy and fun (assuming it all worked well in the previous steps). For this preparation, Arianna’s video was very helpful, as the Sable Biscuit is quite a bit softer than I anticipated. Watching how she handled it was key to succeed. Also make sure you make the dough the day before you intend to bake it, it needs those 8 hours in the fridge. Another important point is the white chocolate ganache: you need it to be firm enough to slice and hold its shape. Arianna uses a specific brand of chocolate that would be a bit of a hassle for me to find. Using her proportions with the Lindt bar, the ganache ended up way too loose, so I made another batch using a 4:1 ratio chocolate to cream. You can probably get by with a 3.5:1, but not much less than that.

My schedule went like this: I made the biscuit dough on a Friday evening, baked it Saturday morning and made the mini-meringues, the chocolate ganache and the mousse on Saturday afternoon. Once the ganache cooled enough I spread it over the biscuit base and froze it. Sunday afternoon I un-molded the frozen mousse spheres, sprayed some of the meringues with edible gold color, and assembled the tart.

The only issue I had was the golden stars used for decoration. The ones in contact with the ganache held their shape well, but the yogurt mousse (probably due to its acidity) melted the stars within an hour or so.

The flavors were quite amazing, as the sweetness of the white chocolate ganache stood well to the bright flavor of the yogurt mousse. The biscuit base had excellent texture, even if I overbaked it slightly. It was hard to see it inside the ring, next time I’ll be more careful.

Arianna has a cookbook published online and I could not resist getting my copy. It is absolutely amazing, you can get it with a click here.  The name is just too clever: Aria di Dolci. Loved it! Keep in mind it is in Italian, so you need to have some level of understanding of the language.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pita Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: Elderflower Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: A Duet of Sorbets

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sobering Peach Sorbet

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spiralizer Fun

SIX YEARS AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

NINE YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

TEN YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye

LEMON PISTACHIO LOAF

Where is that “PLEASE MAKE ME” folder when I need it so badly?  This recipe from  Homesick Texan is fabulous. Lisa calls it Lemon Bread, I took some liberties with her recipe and decided to change it to loaf. To me, bread immediately brings the thought of yeast, and a drier crumb.  This is very moist and tender.  I also used pistachios instead of pecans, because one of our graduate students is nuts about pistachios (sorry, lousy pun). We like to keep our students happy, because happy students do great experiments. Or so we hope… 😉

LemonPistachioLoaf1

(made on May 18th – blogged on August 17th)

LEMON PISTACHIO LOAF
(slightly adapted from Homesick Texan)

for the loaf:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped coarsely

for the glaze:
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cups granulated sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9×5 bread pan, lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Stir together the buttermilk and the baking soda and set it aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat together the eggs and slowly add to the creamed butter. Stir in the buttermilk and then slowly add the flour. Mix until a smooth batter is formed. Stir in the lemon zest and the pistachios.

Pour in the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.

As the bread is cooling, mix together the lemon juice and sugar for the glaze. To apply the glaze, tear out a sheet of foil large enough to contain the loaf when wrapped. Remove the loaf from the pan by running a knife along the edges and gently tapping it out onto the sheet of foil.

Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the loaf and on the sides. The glaze will be runny, just make sure to contain it all when you wrap the bread with the foil.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Serve cold.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 LemonLoafEdited

I am sure Lisa’s original version is amazing too, but when I saw the bright yellow-green color of the cut pistachios in the loaf, and how well their taste combined with the acidity of the lemon flavor, I was glad I used them.  Of course, for weeks I’d seen packages of shelled pistachios at the grocery store, but they disappeared the moment I wanted to make this recipe.  I had to buy whole pistachios and shell them, one by one.  A labor of love, but worth it.

This would be perfect for brunch, to take to a potluck, or to brighten up the morning of your co-workers.

ONE YEAR AGO: Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich with Green Pea Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

FOUR YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

FIVE YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!

 

FRENCH LEMON YOGURT CAKE WITH POPPYSEEDS

It’s a little hard to believe that it took me 5 years to finally blog on this cake, a classic that I’ve made quite a few times in the past decade to take to graduate students in our lab. The funny thing is that I thought it was already in the blog, so whenever I made it, I never bothered taking a picture. Last month, searching through my index to retrieve the recipe, I was shocked to realize the harsh reality: it was nowhere to be found.   Better late than never, this is the cake-challenged dream.  One bowl, one whisk, absolutely nothing can go wrong. Except of course, if you tip the bowl…

IMG_4759

FRENCH-STYLE YOGURT LEMON CAKE
(from Alpineberry)

for the cake:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup canola oil

for the glaze:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with a parchment circle and butter the paper.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest with a whisk. spoon. Add the eggs and mix well.  Add the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Mix until flour is just incorporated.

Add the oil and mix well. The batter will look curdled at first but it will come together. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until your cake tester is clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Allow cake to cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and set on a rack to cool completely.

Combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Such a perfect little dessert or morning treat with a cup of cappuccino.  Not too sweet, not too rich, poppy seeds are of course optional, but they add a very unique flavor, and look pretty cute in their random distribution through the cake.  If you have kids, it will be hard to find a recipe more appropriate for their first lesson in baking. By starting them early enough on this path, they won’t turn into cake-o-phobes like certain food bloggers you may know 😉

 

sliced

Disclaimer: No bowls were tipped during the making of this cake.
Isn’t that something?

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2013

TWO YEARS AGO: Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Ina Garten’s Banana Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Beer Bread with Roasted Barley

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Confit with Arugula and Zucchini

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LEMON POPPY-SEED MUFFINS

At the risk of repeating myself over and over and over, I must say the last Monday of each month makes me feel as happy as a kid in a toy store… Why? It is the day in which bloggers of my group at The Secret Recipe Club reveal which blog they were assigned to cook from, and post their recipes. This month, I could not be more pleased with my assignment. I got April’s blog, Angels Homestead. April is a very active participant of the club. You see, we have a Facebook group to discuss issues, make sure everyone is aware of what needs to be done (participation forms to be filled, upcoming Reveal Days), and April is always there with her very unique and personal touch. I was thrilled to cook from her blog! It took me just a few minutes to settle on a recipe, because right when I got the assignment I was wondering about something to bake and take to our department. Lemon poppy-seed muffins seemed perfect. And perfect they were! 😉

muffin1.
If you want to make a batch of muffins to cheer your co-workers early in the morning, here’s the way to do it:  before going to bed, measure the dry ingredients, place the flour in a large bowl, the baking powder and baking soda on small bowls next to it.  Get the two eggs ready to go, same for poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon.   Place paper liners in your muffin pan.  Measure the butter, the yogurt (or sour cream), and place both in the fridge. Marvel at your uncanny sense of organization, and go to sleep. Have pleasant dreams.

ingredients
Next morning, turn the oven on.  Grab the yogurt from the fridge, zest and juice the lemon,  add the poppy seeds and mix them al together.

poppy
Beat the sugar with the butter and the eggs, add the poppy seeds mixture, incorporate all very well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix gently.  Add scoops of the batter to the muffin pan, trying to add the same amount to each paper liner.  If you are like me, at this stage of the day the caffeine has not kicked in yet, so your consistency won’t be stellar.  Oh, well…  Do your best.

unbaked
Now, all you have to do is bake those babies, and get ready to brighten up the morning of your colleagues.  If you can make that a Monday morning, even better…   😉

baked

for a printable version of the recipe, click here

For some serious fun with the productions of my fellow Secret Recipe members, click on the blue frog that is smiling at you at the bottom of the post. She is a bit cross-eyed, but still pretty adorable.

April, I hope you know how much I enjoyed getting assigned to your blog this month!  A real special treat…  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Mascarpone Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Tacos

THREE YEARS AGO: Cinnamon Turban Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Summertime Gratin

SLOW-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS: an ICE BREAKER

Ice storm. Two little words that I’ve come to respect (and fear) since the big one that hit us in December 2007. When the weather gurus forecast another this past week, we braced ourselves in preparation. Groceries, candles, firewood, cash… and indeed, it arrived. We’re now locked inside, with two happy dogs who don’t quite understand why they can stay in the house all day, snoozing in the comfort of their beds. At least, the 2010 version didn’t disrupt our power, so the fire in our fireplace is for pleasure, not necessity.

This weather calls for comfort food! For the first icy evening, I prepared a recipe from the latest Fine Cooking, described therein as “elegant enough for entertaining, but simple enough to make anytime.” It calls for a cut-up chicken, but I used packaged chicken thighs instead, which are so under-appreciated and inexpensive, but so full of flavor!

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH OLIVES AND LEMON
(adapted from Fine Cooking #103; recipe by Melissa Pellegrino)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 medium lemons
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
3/4 cup jarred brined olives, rinsed, pitted, and halved
6 fresh sage leaves
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp thyme (I used dry, could not find fresh)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350F.

Blot the chicken absolutely dry with a paper towel before you begin, then season it on all sides with salt and pepper.

Cut the ends off the lemon, stand it on one end, carefully peel it, and release the lemon segments from the membranes, dropping them in a small bowl. Cut the segments in two or three pieces.

Heat the butter and the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, cook the chicken skin side down until golden-brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish with the browned side up. Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the fat. Add the shallots, olives, sage, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and lemon segments, and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the lemony sauce to the roasting pan; cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and increase the heat to 400F for 10 minutes to ensure the skin is crisp (alternatively, run the roasting pan under the broiler for a few minutes).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The original recipe “pan-roasts” the chicken. That is, after browning the skin and sauteing the flavor ingredients, the chicken is returned to the pan and placed in a high temperature oven (450F) for 18-20 minutes, or until the meat reached 165F. I’ve cooked chicken this way before and was always disappointed by the results. The high heat toughens the meat, blocking the juicy texture that I enjoy, especially in the thighs. I adapted the recipe for slow-roasting, almost a braise, as covering the pan with foil created the perfect environment.


Pasta dressed with the lemony sauce from the slow-roasting was an excellent side for this dish, that made us forget the icy evening outside. This is a “Perfect Sunday Dinner“,  even if the only ice you want to melt is that of a first dinner at home with a special date.

Variations to try: we felt that mushrooms will nicely complement the dish, so next time I’m definitely adding some.  Reducing the amount of olives and substituting some capers could work too.