Blueberries for gals

It was only after we’d returned from our annual trip to Maine for the Fourth of July that the berries out back really started to ripen. Now, every day after work and camp, the girls and I head out back. Bea is still a little too young to only pick the ripe berries, but Lilli gets it. In bowls, Tupperware, and sometimes in the folds of our dresses, we collect the day’s berries.

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There’s another Maine connection to this post, in that I’d been waiting for ripe blueberries to make this recipe from The Lost Kitchen cookbook. The Lost Kitchen is this restaurant in Freedom, Maine, that opens up its doors to reservations only a few months a year. The chef is Erin French, and she forages her ingredients, and sources things directly from the farmers and fishermen. She’s considered a true visionary when it comes to farm to table, or, in some cases, ocean to table.

And this cookbook, oh my, this cookbook. We started the book in the spring with the macerated shallot vinaigrette (shallot, rice wine vinegar, olive oil and a couple twists of pepper) drizzled over asparagus from the front yard. I made the rest of my colleague’s yard rhubarb into compote, which I then baked into a rhubarb spoon cake. And the parsnip needhams were a smash hit at Bea’s birthday party.

But really I was just working my way up to this recipe: Fresh Blueberries with Basil Custard Cream. And yes, this recipe truly is seasonal: The basil started coming in the farm share last week, right on time to be paired with the ripe blueberries out back. And yes, the recipe is as astoundingly delicious and delightful as it sounds.

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First you steep the basil in warmed heavy cream, milk and sugar for 20 minutes. Then you make a custard with four egg yolks and chill it. If you’re anything like us, while that’s all steeping and chilling, you use the leftover egg whites to make meringues. I’m including a bonus recipe after the main one so you’ll have something to do with your four egg whites. Rich broke up his meringues into the custard and had himself an Eton Mess. I personally preferred the recipe as written, but still thought it was a great idea.

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Eton Mess or not, this recipe is a stunner. In the next day or two I’m going to take some more of our berries and make Summer Berries with Ginger-Cream Shortcakes. It is worth noting that because this book is set on the coastal shores of Maine there’s a ton of shellfish in the book. Not my thing, but if it is yours, you’ll love the book even more than I do, and that’s saying a lot.

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Fresh Blueberries with Basil Custard Cream from The Lost Kitchen by Erin French

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

¼ cup sugar

1 cup basil leaves, plus more for garnish

4 large egg yolks

1 pint blueberries

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, 1 cup of the cream, and the sugar. Bring to a slow boil over low heat, just to let the sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat.

Tear the basil leaves and add them to the hot mixture. Let steep for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until well incorporated. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly but does not boil. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the basil and any curdled egg bits. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill completely.

Whip the remaining 2 cups to stiff peaks. Fold in the custard and serve in bowls with the blueberries, garnishing with basil leaves.

Meringue Clouds from flour by Joanne Chang

We skipped the almonds and halved this recipe with perfect results. I prefer a chewy meringue, so ours were done at the 3 hour mark. I have read about some meringue bakers who set their cookies in the oven at night and open the oven door the next morning. It’s entirely your preference.

Ingredients

8 egg whites

1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

1 cup (140 grams) confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (100 grams) sliced almonds, toasted

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 175 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft peaks form. (This step will take 6 to 8 minutes if using a handheld mixer.) The whites will start to froth and disappear. Keep whipping until you can see the tines of the whip leaving a sight trail in the whites. To test for the soft-peak stage, stop the mixer and lift the whip out of the whites, the whites should peak and then droop.

On medium speed, add the granulated sugar in three equal additions, mixing for 1 minute after each addition. When all of the granulated sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 30 seconds longer.

In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold the confectioners’ sugar mixture into the beaten egg whites. Then, fold in the almonds, reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish.

Use large spoon to make baseball-size billowing mounds of meringue on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart. You should have 8 mounds. Sprinkle the reserved almonds evenly on top of the meringues.

Bake for about 3 hours, or until the meringues are firm to the touch and you can remove them easily from the baking sheet without them falling apart. For meringues with a soft, chewy center, remove them from the oven at this point and let them cool. For fully crisped meringues, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the closed oven for at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.

The meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

 

 

Up For Grabs

Lilli is six months old and the strongest baby in the world. She’s crawling. Changing her diaper and dressing her is like wrestling an alligator – minus the teeth. About a month ago we started to feed her. Well, tried to, anyways.  Although she loves the idea of using a spoon, it’s pretty clear that she’s not interested in pureed anything. Carrots she was noncommittal about; sweet potatoes were a no-go, the look she gave me with the avocadoes made it clear she thought I was trying to poison her. Cream of Wheat was clearly as bland to her as it is to the rest of us, and I really thought we would have a winner with the pears. We did not. It seems she wants to be eating, just not what I’m feeding her.

Lilli at the festival

Take these blueberry muffins. I’d been on the hunt for a good muffin recipe. Every time I’ve had a home-baked muffin they’ve always been too dull and far too flat. They always looked homemade. I wanted a big, fluffy muffin like you buy at the bakery, and these are them. They are from the Flour cookbook (the first one) so you know it’s a good recipe. They originally call for raspberry and rhubarb, but Joanne Chang said you can use blueberries, so I did. I’m not a scientist, but I know it’s the four teaspoons of baking powder that made them puff and rise.

Puffy Blueberry Muffins

I baked them once and we gobbled them up. The second time, I knew I wanted to share them with you. So I stood in the kitchen with Lilli on my left hip and plated the muffin. I got out a knife (a butter knife; come on, I’m not that bad a mother), cut the muffin in two and got out my camera. In a flash, Lilli reached down as fast as she could, poked her little fingers in the freshly baked muffin and shoved her hand in her mouth. All I could do was wipe the blueberry off her face.

Lilli approved muffins

That’s when it hit me: It’s not that she doesn’t want to be eating, it’s just that she wants to be eating what we’re eating. So we’re doing things a little differently now. We sat and ate a green pepper the next day. Or, more like she held a big piece of it in her hand and sometimes got it into her mouth. Baby steps — well, baby bites.

Classic Blueberry Muffins from Flour by Joanne Chang

Ingredients

3 ¼ cups (455 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 ½ cups (270 grams) sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks/140 Grams) butter, melted

½ cup (240 grams) milk, at room temperature

1 cup (240 grams) crème fraîche, at room temperature (I use the Greek yogurt that’s always on hand in my fridge. It works perfectly.)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups (320 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, coat with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until thoroughly mixed. Slowly whisk in the sugar, butter, milk, crème fraîche or Greek yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined. Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently just until the ingredients are combined. Gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed. The batter may seem lumpy, but don’t try to smooth it out. (The batter can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing it evenly and filling the cups to the rim (almost overflowing). I’ve found that a standard ice cream scoop works perfectly for this step.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.

Note: The muffins taste best on the day they are baked, but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you keep them for longer than 1 day, refresh them in a 300-degree-F oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Or, you can freeze them, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 1 week; reheat, directly from the freezer, in 300-degree-F oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Just Like Woodstock

Through trial and error, I came to the realization that if I take a pain-killer for my back pain in the morning, going to work is out of the question. (Rest-assured, there is no trip to the Bette Ford Clinic in my future; I think I have about 40 pills left from a prescription of 60 which was written to me at the end of December.) On days where a pill and nap were necessary, I would feel better by mid-afternoon, but not well enough to go into work.

When left to my own devices and if I’m in charge of my own time, my go-to plan is always a trip to Flour Bakery + Cafe. Stopping in is mandatory whenever we visit the Institute of Contemporary Art or anywhere else in the Fort Point Channel. But standing in a museum for few hours – let alone getting from Lower Allston all the way down to the harbor — is still difficult to manage.

Fortunately, Flour has recently opened up another location in Central Square in Cambridge. So one afternoon, still slightly addled from pain medicine, I checked the real-time bus schedule on my Android and wobbled down to the bus stop. Yes, I was a little high at the time, and clearly was not in the right state of mind to sign any legal documents, but have you ever had their sticky buns? Their dacquiose? Recently, my pastry of choice has been the granola bar. The journey was a success, although I decided to not mention it to Rich. (This is the first he’s hearing of it.)

This weekend Rich went to the Museum of Fine Arts to watch a film about drumming, and although I absolutely adore their collection, I didn’t think I was up for the trek and standing on the hard floors for two hours. Obviously, my first instinct was to head to Central Square for a granola bar, but the line is a good 30 people deep on weekends. So, why not make my own? I had been lucky enough to score one of the coveted copies of the Flour cookbook from Santa when it first came out, and so far I’ve made the cornmeal lime cookies, banana bread and cranberry pear crostata.

This recipe for me is a pantry recipe, but as you know, I have a somewhat unusual pantry. Most people have flour, walnuts, sugar, oats, dried fruit, and honey on hand, but I cannot guarantee you’ll have millet, flax seeds and sweetened coconut readily available. I must confess, I didn’t have an entire cup of dried cranberries, but had a surplus of dried raspberries in my collection. I was less worried about any seeds in the fruit given the multitude of seeds called for in the crumble topping. I also changed out flax seed for so-hot-right now chia seeds; they’re rich in Omega-3s and are a complete protein.

About half-way through the process I realized my first-edition cookbook was missing the crucial instruction of what to do with the toasted walnuts. Luckily, Joanne Chang is amazing at responding to Tweets; I’ve since discovered the cookbook corrections are in a sidebar on the Flour website.

joanne chang-myers @jbchang replied to you:

@CheapBeets they go in w oats. So sorry! Corrected in later printings (u have a 1st printing!)
In reply to…
@jbchang Having a granola bar freakout Where and when do I add the walnuts? Into the flour/oat mixture?Can’t find that step in the cookbook.

Well, the granola bars were a success, but, well, the baking project took an entire afternoon, and that’s not even counting the three hours the bars needed to rest after baking. Ms. Chang is a brilliant woman: I suspect her degree in applied mathematics and economics from Harvard College helped her realize that, even if she released a cookbook sharing all her store’s secrets, it would have very little impact to the bottom line. Yes, I am thrilled to have an entire pan of my favorite granola bars on my kitchen counter, but I can’t wait until I’ll be healed enough to ride my bike to the store. The ride will take about 10 minutes, so even if I have to wait in line for 20 minutes, it will still be a fraction of the time it took to bake these. But don’t let me frighten you away. These are superb baked goods.

Granola Bars from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

If you have a kitchen scale, I strongly suggest you utilize it for this recipe. To “speed up” this recipe, I did the first two steps of the granola jam, and, while it was cooling, made the crust in the food processor, cleaned the bowl and continued making the jam.

Chang notes that the bars stay moist for several days and actually get better with age. (She prefers them best after 2 or 3 days.)

Ingredients

Granola Jam

1 cup (80 grams) dried apples

1 cup (160 grams) dried cranberries

1 cup (160 grams) dried apricots

½ cup (70 grams) granulated sugar

2 cups (480 grams) water

Crust and Crumble

1 cup (100 grams) walnut halves

1 ¾ cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups (150 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)

2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup (80 grams) sweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 to 10 pieces

6 Tablespoons (128 grams) honey

3 Tablespoons flaxseeds (or Chia seeds)

3 Tablespoons sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons millet

Directions

To make the jam: In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cranberries, apricots, granulated sugar, and water and bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and let sit for about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until a chunky jam forms. (The jam can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Leave the oven set at 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In the food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, and butter and pulse about 15 times, or until the mixture is evenly combined. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle the honey on top. Work in the honey with your hands until the mixture comes together.

Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the remaining one-third of the mixture in the refrigerator.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until light golden brown throughout. Remove the pan from the oven, spoon the granola jam on top, and spread in an even layer with the spoon or rubber spatula, covering the surface. Remove the reserved granola mixture from the refrigerator, and break it up with your fingers into a small bowl. Add the flaxseeds (or chia seeds), sunflower seeds and millet and stir to combine. Sprinkle the mixture, like a crumb topping, evenly over the jam.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours, or until cool enough to hold its shape when cut. Cut into 12 bars.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Ba-na-na-na

Last week, I bought bananas. As a general rule, I don’t buy the yellow fruit. I used to buy them for Rich so he could enjoy them with his bowl of cereal in the morning, but at some point last year he let me know that he actually doesn’t care much for them. I like them well enough, but it really does bother me to eat a piece of food that’s traveled such a long distance to get to me. You know how I am about even the delicious mango. And then there’s the socio-economic issues: low wages and heavy chemical use in the industry, to say nothing of the history monopolies, colonialism and union busting. (If you’re interested in learning more about it, Peter Chapman wrote a very good book about the history of the United Fruit Company, the largest banana supplier in the world.) And don’t even get me started on the waning Cavendish.

But last week was my mom’s birthday, and this past summer I discovered a banana bread she absolutely adores. She, like me and my sister, doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth; we’re much happier eating baba ghanoush on challah for breakfast than challah French toast. So when I took my parents to Flour bakery for a little snack after a visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum over the summer, Mom ordered the banana bread, noting it was one of her favorite baked goods — sweet but not too sweet, moist and soft but still sturdy. And she loved it, proclaiming it the best banana bread she’d ever had. A perfect afternoon snack, — or, in my mom’s case, a perfect birthday cake.

So on Sunday, I bought yellow bananas. I set them on the counter until they ripened to mottled, baked-good-worthy status by Wednesday night, just in time to make the bread and mail it for Mom’s birthday on Monday.

This recipe calls for a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. I had two slightly smaller sized loaf pans, so I filled one pan about ¾ high, and baked the leftover ¼ in the other loaf pan for us to munch on. Side by side, they reminded me of the movie Twins; mom got the Arnold loaf and we kept Danny DeVito to munch on.

Although the recipe calls for two tablespoons of sour cream or crème fraîche, I used Greek yogurt instead. I toasted the nuts for about 8 minutes in my toaster oven set at 350 degrees. Keep an eye on the nuts as they go from perfectly toasted to burnt in a matter of 30 seconds.

Special note: My friend Tania tipped me off to these equal exchange bananas so I don’t have to fret about my bananas when I do buy them.

Flour’s Famous Banana Bread from Joanne Chang’sflour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

Makes one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients

1 ½ cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (230 grams) sugar

2 eggs

½ cup (100 grams) canola oil

3 ½ very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed/about 340 grams)

2 Tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (I used Greek yogurt and had no ill-effects)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup (75 grams) walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Directions

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes.)

On a low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, crème fraîche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

Champagne Wishes and Fish Sauce Dreams

A few weeks ago, I had a quick procedure. Not a big deal, not even worth getting into the details here, but they did need to sedate me. I was a little groggy afterwards, and I was given the instructions not to drive, go to work or operate heavy machinery for the rest of the day. But when Rich brought me home from the hospital, I grabbed a canvas grocery bag from the backseat and started wobbling my way to the market around the corner.

“Um, what are you doing, dear?” Rich asked.

“I have some stuff I need to pick up,” I replied.

“I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, given your condition.”

“Oh, I’m fine. It’s 500 yards from our house, and I promise to use the crosswalks. There’s no heavy machinery involved.”

Rich soon realized this was a battle he would not be able to win, even though his opponent could barely stand up. He watched me steady myself to the end of the street, green sweatpants and all, and turn the corner.

I had had Vietnamese noodles on my mind for the past few weeks, and the chalush (an uncontrollable hankering) was one that not even a minor sedative would keep me from. The secret to Vietnamese noodles is fish sauce, which can be found in Asian markets, and more often than not, in the Asian aisle of most decent grocery stores. It’s usually made of anchovies, and is a bit akin to garum, the stinky fish sauce the Romans doused nearly everything they ate with. Hey, I said the blog is “mostly” vegetarian, cut me some slack.

And the noodles were perfect. They were exactly what I had hoped for. Looking back, I probably should have stayed out of the kitchen that afternoon, and not used the stove or a large chef’s knife. When I tasted the sauce, I thought it was too citrusy, so I stumbled around the kitchen adding a splash of mirin and a dash of soy. Of course, after a few minutes of fussing, I realized I hadn’t actually added the fish sauce; it had been measured and waiting next to the bowl. Oops. But I did succeed in the end, and somehow I managed to photograph it as well.

When Rich returned home from work that night, I greeted him with an offer of the noodles spiked with fish sauce. “Oh,” he said, “so you did end up making them.” “Huh?” I asked. “Oh, you don’t remember? When you came to after the anesthesia, you were mumbling noodles with fish sauce.”

Vietnamese Noodles aka Thai Noodles slightly adapted from Myers + Chang Thai Ginger Chicken Salad, minus the chicken salad, from Bon Appetit September 2011

Ingredients

1 Thai chili, sliced thin

Juice of ½ lime

2 Tablespoon mirin

2 Tablespoon rice vinegar

¼ cup fish sauce

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoon. ginger, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

12 oz. rice stick noodles

4 oz. cubed tofu

4 springs cilantro, stems included, chopped

Directions

Put a large pot of salted water onto boil.

Whisk first 8 ingredients in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set dressing aside.

When the water boils, cook noodles until tender, but still firm to the bite, about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain; put in large bowl.

Add cubed tofu to the noodles, pour the dressing, toss to coat, then sprinkle with the chopped cilantro.

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

If you believe that fancy, complicated desserts are what bakeries were invented for, carry on, nothing to see here. However, if you love days-long baking projects which result in the most extraordinary of desserts, guaranteed to elicit oohs and ahs around the Thanksgiving table, continue reading, because, boy, oh boy, do I have a recipe for you!

Seriously, the making of this dessert, from Joanne Chang’s flour cookbook, falls into the “redonkulous” category. The book’s subtitle “Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café” is a completely accurate description. If you want to impress your in-laws, your boss or just plain love a challenge, this is it.

Rich and I baked this roasted pear and cranberry crostata last January during a blizzard. We figured we weren’t going anywhere and I had some extra pears lying around from a chutney project. It took an entire day to prepare. It’s basically the opposite of the idiot-proof Jacques Pepin apple gallete recipe that takes 15 seconds to prepare.

Hindsight is 20/20, and if I was to do it again, I would prep each piece of this dessert one step at a time over a three day period. It’s much more manageable that way. And don’t worry if you start on this project and soon realize you’re really not in the mood to take it all the way through. The pate brisée can be refrigerated for up to four days, and frozen for up to a month. I think the roasted pears, tossed with ginger, butter and sugar, makes a scrumptious dessert on its own. Or over ice cream – it’s up to you, really. And the frangipane, well, you can just spoon that right into your mouth if you like.

ROASTED PEAR AND CRANBERRY CROSTATA from Joanne Chang’s flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

Makes one 9-inch crostata (serves 8 to 10)

Ingredients

9 Bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored

1-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced

½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

¼ cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Pâte Brisée (recipe follows)

Frangipane (recipe follows)

1 cup (100 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons sanding sugar, pearl sugar, or granulated sugar

Directions

Position a rack in the center oven, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, toss together the pears, ginger, granulated sugar and butter. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the pears are soft when pierced with a knife tip and golden. Let cool completely. (The pears can be roasted for up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Place the dough circle in the prepared baking sheet.

Using the back of a spoon or a small rubber spatula, spread the frangipane in the middle of the dough round in a circle about 9 inches in diameter, leaving a 3-inch border uncovered.

Place about 8 pear halves, cut-side down, in a circle in a single layer on the top of the frangipane, lining them up with the edge of the frangipane and with the stem ends pointing toward the middle. Place 1 or 2 pear halves in the center to cover the frangipane circle completely. Sprinkle ¾ cup (75 grams) of the cranberries evenly on top of the pears. Top the first layer of pears with a second layer of pears, using about 7 halves and reserving 1 pear half, arranging them in a smaller concentric circle. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup (25) grams of cranberries evenly on top of the second layer of pears.

Place the reserved pear half on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, and starting at the squat bottom end, cut four or five lengthwise slices, stopping just short of the stem end. Fan the slices, and place the pear half in the center of the second layer of pear halves. Starting at one side of the crostata, fold the 3-inch border of dough up and over the fruit, forming six to eight loose pleats around the perimeter and pressing the pleats firmly together onto the fruit. The center of the crostata will remain exposed in a 3-to 4-inch circle, showing off the fanned pear. Refrigerate the assembled crostata for at least 1 hour before baking. (At this point, the crostata can be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.)

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

Brush the pleated pastry with the beaten egg, then sprinkle evenly with the sanding sugar. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the pleats are golden brown. Make sure all of the folds are evenly browned, so there are no chewy underbaked bits of dough in the finished crostata. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The crostata can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

PÂTE BRISÉE

Makes about 10 ounces dough, enough for one 9-inch single-crust pie, 10-inch crostata, or 9-inch quiche

Ingredients

1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon/128 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for about 45 seconds, or until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and pecan-size lumps of butter are visible throughout.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk until blended. Add to the flour-butter mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface, until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

FRANGIPANE

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

1/3 cup (50 grams) blanched whole almonds, or ½ cup (50 grams) almond flour

¼ cup (1/2 stick/56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup (50 grams) sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

If using whole almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into paste. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or hand-held mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. You should have about 1 cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, then let sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before using.