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applesauce cake

adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), ...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

fresh raspberry mousse pie with lemon shortbread crust

a light, refreshing pie that surprises with hidden fresh raspberries and a lemony crust

lemon shortbread crust
  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
raspberry puree:
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup sugar (more or less to taste, depending on how tart or sweet your raspberries are)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
stabilized whipped cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoons gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
to assemble pie
  • 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries

make shortbread crust: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. butter a deep dish pie pan (or a 2-quart round glass casserole dish). using a wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. stir the egg yolks in one at a time, incorporating the first completely before adding the next. stir in the lemon zest. then add the flour and salt, and combine (but try not to overwork it). it may seem a bit dry, but a pinch of the dough should hold together nicely. press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the dish, making it as even as you can. prick the bottom of the dough with a fork three or four times, then place in oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, until edges just start to turn golden brown. set on a rack to cool completely.

make the raspberry puree: while the crust is baking, sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan, and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. place the pan over low heat and stir just until gelatin is dissolved. allow to cool (speed the cooling a bit by placing the pan in the freezer, or over an ice bath) to room temperature. wash and gently dry the raspberries, then puree them in a food processor or blender with ½ cup sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. press the puree through a metal mesh strainer and discard the seeds. whisk in the cooled gelatin, cover the puree and refrigerate to allow it to thicken a bit while you do the next step. 

make the stabilized whipped cream*: using the same saucepan you previously used for gelatin, bloom 1 ½ teaspoons of gelatin in 2 tablespoons of water. place on a burner on low heat, and stir just until gelatin is dissolved. cool as you did before. pour the cream into the stand mixer’s** bowl and beat on low for about 30 seconds. increase speed to medium and beat for another 30 seconds. increase speed to high, and add sugar, salt, and then the cooled gelatin. continue beating for another minute or so, until it forms very stiff peaks. scoop about 1 to 1 ½ cups into a smaller bowl, whisk vanilla into this smaller portion, and set aside in the refrigerator. scrape the remaining whipped cream out into a large bowl.

make the mousse: pour the refrigerated raspberry puree into the stand mixer's** bowl and beat on high until foamy. scrape the puree into the large bowl of whipped cream and fold together thoroughly, working quickly and carefully to keep it from deflating as much as possible. refrigerate mousse for at least an hour to allow it to firm up.

assemble the pie: set 3 of the prettiest raspberries aside to garnish the finished pie. scatter the remaining fresh raspberries in a single layer on the the crust. scoop the finished mousse into the crust, on top of the raspberries. smooth the top with a spatula. fetch the vanilla-flavored whipped cream from the refrigerator and use it to decorate the top of the pie. I put it in a pastry bag and piped little mounds around the perimeter and in the center; you decorate it however you’d like. arrange the reserved raspberries in the center to garnish the pie.

*you need to stabilize the whipped cream (rather than using regular whipped cream) for several reasons: 1) it improves the texture of both the mousse and the whipped cream decorations on top of the pie, 2) it keeps it shape better, so the mousse won’t deflate; it will stay fluffy and be easier to cut.

**if you don’t have a stand mixer, either use a hand-held mixer, or a bowl and a whisk. it truly can all be done by hand, but it’s a bit of a workout, so be prepared.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mexican-spiced potato oven fries

  • 4 medium sweet and/or white potatoes*, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick strips, lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
preheat oven to 425 degrees F. combine all ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to coat potatoes evenly. place potato strips on parchment-lined baking sheets in a single layer, leaving a little room around each strip so they can brown and crisp. cook for 15 minutes, flip the pieces over and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned.

*note: you can use any kind of potato you want. a combination of sweet potatoes and russets is particularly good.

bright & citrusy braised, shredded Mexican beef for tacos

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 pounds boneless beef for braising (chuck roast, flank steak, boneless short ribs, or other suitable cuts)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I use homemade -- will post the recipe soon)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and stems are fine -- it's all going to be pureed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
preheat oven to 325 degrees F. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large French or Dutch oven (or other burner- and oven-safe pot that's big enough to hold everything) over medium-high to fairly high heat, add the onion and pinch of kosher salt and saute until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. you're not caramelizing the onion; you're actually searing it a bit to get lots of good flavor, so let the pieces get nice and dark around the edges. you don't have to worry about softening them; they'll cook nicely with the beef.

while the onion is frying, cut the meat into large (1-2 inch) chunks. combine the paprika, cumin, chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper, cilantro, garlic cloves, citrus juices, olive oil and water (or stock), and puree in a regular blender or with an immersion blender. add the meat and the pureed mixture to the pot and stir. bring to a simmer, cover with an oven-safe lid (or cover tightly with aluminum foil) and place in the oven. cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until meat is very tender.

when it's nice and tender (shreds very easily with a fork), turn off the oven. using a slotted spoon, scoop the meat out onto a plate. place the pot on a medium-low burner and reduce the cooking liquid, uncovered, until reduced by about half (you just want to reduce it enough so the finished mixture isn't watery). while the liquid is reducing, shred the meat using two forks, then add the shredded meat (and any accumulated juices) back to the pot. combine and adjust seasoning, if needed. serve with hot flour and/or corn tortillas, and accompany with crumbled cotija cheese, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, guacamole or avocado slices, sour cream (or crema fresca, or Greek yogurt) and wedges of lime. very good when served with Mexican-spiced oven fries (that recipe is coming next)!