Friday, July 29, 2011

cherry and apricot crisp: love song

Aside from Christmas, there are a couple of times of the year that make me really excited. And they all happen to involve food. Fresh produce in fact. Rhubarb in the spring/early summer, yummy Quebec strawberries, delicious Ontario peaches in August (BEST peaches of life) and just about right now....sweet, sweet cherries. 


I have to tell you something.

I love cherries. No, I mean I LOVE cherries. The darker, the better. They have to stain my fingers to be amazing. Yes, they're expensive but if you wait long enough, they go on sale for a short period. Totally worth it.
But I have to admit something else: I'm not a big fan of cherries in desserts. You know those cherry blossom chocolates that come in those little yellow boxes? HATE them. I never really cared much for Black Forest cake, or cherry ice cream, or cherry pie, or pretty much any other cherry-filled dessert. I know it's a little strange, but I think they are best left untouched and just naturally delicious. 


So what are cherries doing in my crisp? Weeell considering it's been about a year since I've had cherries, I thought I might try it out. The result: great crisp with the apricots but I could do without the cherries. I think I just prefer the raw texture better than baked. But the wonderful thing about crisps is that you can use just about any fruit. I think stone fruit like peaches, plums and apricots are best. Or rhubarb and strawberry is always a fantastic combination. In any case, you can use whichever you like best!

Dark Cherry-Apricot Crisp

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart


2 pounds of cherries and apricots (combined) or other stone fruit
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 + 1/2 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut cherries in half and remove pit; same with apricots, cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss with 1 cup of the white sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup of the flour in a medium bowl. Place in 9x13 inch baking dish or individual ramekins.

In a food processor or with a pastry cutter, pulse remaining 1/2 cup flour with the butter until pea-sized clumps form. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, rolled oats and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and mix until just combined. Sprinkle over fruit and bake until fruits are tender and topping is golden, about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm and preferably with ice cream!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

summer fruit tart with creme patissiere: hot days ahead

HOLY MOLY IT'S BEEN A WHILE! Yes, that deserved to be written in Caps lock. I wish I could tell you that I was away on a fabulous trip or on a top-secret mission, but alas, no, I was here...just busy.

After the wedding, I had to quickly pack up all of my stuff to move to my new apartment then live out of a suitcase for a little while at my parents' house while waiting for my apartment to be ready. So during that time, all of my baking tools and dishes were packed away. Sure, I probably could have made something at my parents' but I'm going to be completely honest: I didn't feel like it. 

Yes, I said it. I didn't feel like baking. Because it's just been too hot! So you're going to say that I could have made some ice cream....yeah, well (apart from my ice cream maker being packed up too) I barely wanted to move after work some days. And then when I actually had the urge to bake again....BAM! Flu.

So, that's my excuse. I feel like I've been away from the blogosphere for far too long. I need to catch up on everything that's been going on with all you people and I'm excited to check out all the wonderful recipes on some of my favorite blogs.

I feel like there are so many recipes I want to try this summer, but it's so hard to believe that it's already mid-July! Where has the summer gone by? Well, there's still time, right? Technically summer doesn't end until September 22nd so there's no need to stress. Alright, so now that I've settled that on my own, I'll stop rambling.

Summer is the best time to enjoy delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. My mum and I planted some vegetables in her back yard at the beginning of the summer and I even have a little balcony planter full of herbs and some pots with bright flowers. There's nothing more satisfying then stepping right outside my door to get fresh ingredients.

A couple of years ago my mum even planted a raspberry bush that, admittedly, has taken over the back part of the yard. But we get some lovely leftover raspberries. I say leftover because the birds and squirrels apparently have dibs on everything. Oh and I almost forgot the red currants bush! Note to self: pick those soon and make something tasty with them. 

Yup, I think it's going to be a pretty great summer. Despite the fact that one of my best friends is now living on the other side of the planet. Sad faces all around. I don't know how I'm going to get through it but I guess that's what skype is for. 

This post is linked up at This Chick Cooks

So in the name of summer, I give you: the fruit tart! I love fruit tarts. They're so easy, versatile and always delicious. You can put any of your favorite fruit and it will look luscious and sweet. And yes, pastry cream does require using the stove top for a bit, but it's so quick and easy you won't mind with the final results!
Summer Fruit Tart
Bake a pate sucree shell in the desired tart ring. There should be enough for a 8", 9" or 4 x 14" like mine.

Ingredients for creme patissiere
2 cups (500 ml) milk 2% or whole
1 egg
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup (125 g) sugar
1/3 cup (50 g) cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
The first thing to do is to prepare a heat-resistant tray like a baking tray and line the whole bottom plus more on the sides with plastic film wrap. Leave somewhere within easy reach.
In a medium sauce pan, heat milk until just simmering on low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg, yolks and sugar in a small bowl until well blended. Sift the cornstarch into the mixture and whisk vigorously. When milk is warm, add a little bit at a time to the egg mixture while stirring. This step is called tempering the eggs. It is important to add the hot milk slowly so as to not cook the eggs, but instead bring them to the same temperature as the milk. Keep adding milk until mixture is liquid enough and transfer everything back into the sauce pan. Cook over low-medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Do not stop stirring throughout the whole time otherwise you may end up with a burnt bottom. Don't be afraid, just keep stirring (work those muscles!) and when it starts to bubble like a volcano (as one of my chefs would say) keep stirring for about another minute (it'll help remove the starchy taste) and remove from heat. Quickly add vanilla.
Immediately pour and spread onto the baking tray and cover tightly with the plastic wrap. Leave to cool a bit then refrigerate one hour. I have to admit though, I don't remember if I did half this recipe or the whole thing. In any case, making the full recipe will be enough plus more! 
When ready to use, whip the pastry cream a little to make it smooth again (you can heat it up for a few seconds). Spread into baked tart shell and top with a handle full of your favorite fruits. Light, silky and sweet!

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