Peach tart

The tart is somewhat of an archnemesis to me.  It’s the dough, you see, it hates me.  It has such simple ingredients: a little butter, a little sugar, some flour, salt, and egg- how could one screw this up, right?  Well I could, and have, several times.  This is where Smitten comes in.  She took Dorie‘s recipe and she worked it and she published it and she explained that we need not be afraid of it because she had conquered it- and she was right!

I tried this tart shell recipe once last fall and loved the flavor, but the texture did not come together right for me.  I was impatient, you see.  This time I took the time and had the patience, and it paid off.  The dough is like shortbread in flavor and consistency.  In this particular instance, I used local peaches from the Open Square Farmer’s Market in Holyoke.  I baked them into the pillowy love of a goat cheese custard.  It was a marriage made in heaven.

Tart shell

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon frozen, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

  • In a food processor pulse the flour, sugar and salt together
  • Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in
  • Stir the egg, just enough to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition
  • When the egg has all been added, process in long pulses until the dough forms clumps, and eventually turns into a ball
  • Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about an hour before rolling
  • To roll the dough: Roll out chilled dough on a floured sheet of parchment paper to a 12-inch round
  • Peel off paper. Seal any cracks in the dough.  Fold any overhang in, making double-thick sides
  • Pierce the crust all over with fork
  • Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking
  • To par-bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  • Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 15 minutes
  • Let the crust cool on a trivet while you prepare the filling

Filling:

  • 6 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 6-8 slices per peach
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup soft goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • zest of one lemon

To make the filling:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Arrange the peach slices in overlapping circles on top of the crust, until it’s completely covered (don’t be afraid to overfill the crust, as peaches will shrink during cooking)
  • Combine the egg yolks, goat cheese, sugar, flour, and lemon zest and beat until smooth. Pour the mixture over the peaches
  • Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the custard sets and is pale golden in color
  • Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool. When cool, remove the side wall of the pan

Fantastic accompaniments to this dessert would be vanilla ice cream, freshly whipped cream, and/or a brandy reduction.  Enjoy!

J

Jasmine rice pudding

Rice pudding can be a great way to use up left-over rice (unless, of course, you’re me and typically cook your grains in a savory meat stock).    It’s a little sweet and a lot creamy and, this version at least, full of a variety of textures.  I particularly like to use Jasmine rice because of its fragrant floral notes, but really you can use any grain that you like- be it white, brown, or purple.  If you use something other than jasmine rice, I would suggest adding a splash of pure vanilla extract.

Ingredients:

1 cup jasmine rice

2 cans coconut milk (lite if that’s your preference)

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup raisins and/or currants and/or dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped raw cashews

1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • Put the jasmine rice and 2 cups of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low, give the rice one stir to be sure that it’s not suck to the bottom of the pan, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Place the cooked rice in a mixing bowl, remove the cinnamon stick, and add the raisins/currants/cranberries, half of the cashews & half of the coconut, and stir
  • If the mixture is dry, add additional coconut milk until it looks creamy
  • Scatter the remaining cashews & coconut over the top of the pudding and either serve warm immediately, or cover and chill overnight

Personally, I think that this dish makes a wonderful dessert but is equally as good as a breakfast.  It also travels well and is easy to make ahead.

J

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

A while back I had tried out Heidi’s recipe for a healthier version of the standard peanut butter cookie and really enjoyed them.  Then the other day I was working on new recipe development for a makeover of the Peanut Butter Blossom and couldn’t get the phrase “peanut-butter-jelly-time” out of my head the whole time that I was measuring and mixing and baking and cooling, and I had to do something about that.  My solution was to take a healthier peanut butter cookie, make a welt in the top of it with the back side of my cookie scoop, and fill it with a tart raspberry jam that I had picked up a the Tuesday Market by Beaumont’s Berries which is sweetened with nothing but the berries and some honey.  The pairing was a match made in heaven!  The salty peanut butter cookie topped with the tart berry jam was wonderful and very satisfying as a sweet snack.  What’s even better is that with the lacks of eggs in this cookie, you can eat the dough!

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup organic, natural peanut butter

1 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt
  • In a stand mixer bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla & stir until combined
  • Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir until just combined
  • Let sit for five minutes and give one more quick stir
  • Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes – but don’t over bake or they will be dry
  • Immediately sink the back side of your cookie scoop/spoon into the top of each cookie to create a well
  • Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack
  • Fill the cookie wells with your favorite jam

J

Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

the Rocky cookie

J

Carrot-Walnut Cookies

Are you a fan of the “morning glory” muffin?  They are the breakfast muffin with a little bit of everything in them- carrots, raisins, apple butter, wheat germ, nuts.  Well this cookie is similar to that.  Packed with fiber, servings of fruit and vegetable, whole grains, and warm spices this cookie has a lot going for it health-wise.  And it’s tasty too!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw, un-salted walnuts

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 carrots, grated

1 apple, grated

1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

1/4 cup apple juice

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine the walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger

  • Add carrots, apples, banana and apple juice and mix until combined

  • Drop by tablespoons one inch apart on the baking sheet, making about 24 cookies
  • Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten them a bit (peanut butter cookie-style)
  • Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes

Inspired by this recipe by Whole Foods Market.

J