I ♥ pastry dough. Yes, it’s a little intimidating at first, but once you master the basics it will become one of the most versatile things in your culinary repertoire. Butter, flour, salt, and ice-cold water are all you need to make an irresistible flaky crust for sweet and savory dishes.
Inspiration for this tart came from my one of my favorite summer desserts: berry tart with mascarpone filling. I wanted to make a cold weather version that could (a) satisfy a mean craving for mascarpone (a sweet Italian cheese that is similar to cream cheese) and (b) satisfy an even greater craving for pastry dough. Have I mentioned that I adore the stuff?
When it comes to dinner parties, I tend to overdo it. A week before the event, my list includes plans to bake my own bread, churn my own butter, and kill my own chicken (I exaggerate, but you get my point). In my defense, it’s the cooking part that I love best. To me, nothing is better than getting ready for a big meal. I love planning what I’m going to make and then working to make sure that each aspect is perfect. From the obsessively rolled sushi upon everyone’s arrival to the painstakingly baked tuile bowls that will cradle a scoop of homemade ice cream for dessert, I want to make sure that everything is exceptional. Unfortunately this slightly delusional behavior means that when the doorbell announces the arrival of my first guests, I often find myself stifling a yawn as I battle the urge to crawl in bed with a good book.
To heck with New Year’s resolutions. I know the season of over-indulgence is over, but I won’t deny that I’ve stockpiled peppermint ice cream and have frozen Christmas cookies to make sure the season lasts just a tad bit longer. For those who are starting out the New Year with the goal of shedding those holiday pounds, I apologize. You should read no further as this recipe is not for you.
It all started earlier this morning when I had to test a recipe for cream puffs for an upcoming class. No one needs 3 dozen cream puffs lying around their house and I was brainstorming about ways to use the puffs. They freeze beautifully and I was already thinking ahead to making them into savory appetizers filled with crabmeat or chicken salad. Such thinking makes one hungry and before I knew it, I had dug out my carton of peppermint ice cream, melted some semi-sweet chocolate with a little cream, and made myself a delicious peppermint profiterole. Sure you can use vanilla ice cream, but if you are like me and in a bit of depression now that the holidays are officially over, then peppermint ice cream will make you feel much, much better.
While I’d like to believe that my life can go on without access to the internet, I’m afraid it just ain’t so. My computer crashed last week and I’ve been in a tailspin ever since. In between trips to the Apple store (yes, I’m getting a new toy!), hour-long laments to my husband about the seriousness of the situation (sorry, North), and phone calls with service departments, I’ve thrown myself some serious pity parties. Fortunately, in what is proof that every cloud has a silver lining, I happened to have brownies on hand to get me through this crisis.
Adding just one more reason to the list of why the internet makes for happy living, North’s aunt sent me a recipe for brownies last week. I’ve known about these brownies for a while. My husband, whose sweet tooth is almost non-existent, gets a little teary in the eyes and drools a little at the mouth when he talks about them. His grandmother made these brownies for him growing up and he talks about how his parents never allowed him to eat more than two at a time.
I am planning to live until I am at least 125 years old. I’m not looking to set a new world record, I just have a very long to do list. Here on earth I plan to climb Mt. Ranier, eat street food in Thailand, successfully grow a garden, write a cookbook, live in Mexico, and…well…you get the point; it’s a long list.
This week I crossed off #89 on my life list: make a cheesecake. I realize that this little accomplishment pales in comparison to #176 which is to visit all 50 states by motorcycle or #211 which is to learn to speak fluent Arabic, but I’m practicing baby steps here. After all, I’ve got a good 90 plus years of living left.
I vividly remember the first time I tasted red bean ice cream. My now husband and I were sitting at a sushi bar having just eaten far too much sushi when he suggested we get red bean ice cream to end the evening. I had never heard of red bean ice cream and was a little wary of it. I mean, can you blame me? Ice cream with beans in it doesn’t just scream delicious to me. But as my husband went on and on about how much he loved it, I decided to give it a try.
If you’ve never tried red bean ice cream before, the taste is unusual. When I first tried it, I couldn’t tell if I liked it or not, but found myself going back again and again for one last bite. Even after scraping up the last bit of ice cream, I was still on the fence and it was only later, when I found myself wishing for another bowl, that I decided that I actually liked ice cream with beans in it.