Archive for November, 2010

Chocolate-Chestnut Pavé with Raspberry Coulis

Chestnut purée (also called crème de marrons) is a delicacy from the chestnut-growing regions of France, Spain and Italy. It is available in two forms: one plain, the other sweetened and flavored with vanilla. Its delicately sweet and nutty flavor pairs beautifully with chocolate and dark rum.
Pavé is a French word for [...]

Apple and Almond Galette

Fast, tasty, and beautiful — what more could one want from a dessert? A galette is a rustic, freeform tart. Sweet apples such as Golden Delicious or Gala work better than tart ones such as Granny Smith in this recipe, but be sure the apples are fresh and crisp rather than mushy, or they will be too soft when cooked. Using a mixture of red and gold apples makes an extra-handsome tart.

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla sugar is ridiculously simple to make, and ridiculously good. It makes a great gift: fragrant, unexpected, keeps forever, and can be used in any recipe in which you’d use vanilla extract. Buy plump, slightly soft vanilla pods for this recipe — it’s harder to get them chopped up properly if they are hard and dried up (they will still flavor the sugar nicely, though).

Amaretti (Italian Macaroons)

All too often, amaretti recipes are based on commercial almond paste, producing a gummy, overly-sweet, lifeless cookie with an overpowering marzipan flavor and no crunch. These are nutty, crunchy morsels with a chewy, almond-y center. They are delicious as-is, but if you are the sort inclined to gild all passing lillies on [...]

Almond Crescents

Yet another member of the wide-ranging Mexican Wedding Cookie/Russian Tea Cake family, Almond Crescents are buttery, only lightly sweet, and somewhere between crisp and crumbly. Finely-milled almond flour and a touch of walnut oil are the secret to their rich taste and tender, delicate texture. Almond Crescents keep well stored in a tightly-sealed container, although their confectioner’s sugar coating can get a bit spotty-looking if they are stored for a while, so give them a final roll in the sugar before serving to restore their snowy-white appearance.

Linzer Torte

Linzer Torte is a holiday tradition in Austria and Hungary, a nutty, spiced cookie dough surrounds a filling of tart-sweet raspberry or apricot jam, then is topped with a lattice of the same nut dough. Named after the city of Linz, Austria, it’s the oldest-known torte in the world — the oldest surviving recipe dates back to 1650. It’s a cinch to make, but since the jam is a major component of the torte’s flavor, the jam needs to really shine. And if you make home-made jam, this dessert is going to be your new best friend — what better way to showcase your creation?

Chocolate-Caramel Hazelnut Tart

This is a showstopper of a dessert: a crisp nutty tart shell, a soft, rich layer of caramel studded with crunchy hazelnuts, topped with a dark chocolate layer that lies somewhere between a flourless chocolate cake and a ganache, garnished with sparkly caramelized hazelnuts. It’s a sophisticated balancing act between sweet, bitter, and salty flavors.

Spicy (or Not) Triple-Chocolate Cookies

Plump, intensely chocolate, with a fudgy texture and a delicate shiny crust, these cookies are a chocolate-lover’s dream. Although chocolate purists may shudder at the idea, added hits of cinnamon and cayenne add warm, spicy notes that round out the chocolate flavors (as well as keep tasters trying to guess what on earth makes these cookies so deliciously different!)

Green Lentils with Pan-Roasted Vegetables

Tiny green Lentils de Puy keep their shape exceptionally well when cooked. Here they’re studded with pan-roasted vegetables and enriched with chicken stock, made fragrant with herbs. A perfect pairing with roasted meats and a hearty wine!

Crispy Duck Confit

Confit de canard (‘preserved’ duck, aka duck confit) is a traditional French dish of duck that is salt-cured, then slowly simmered in duck fat until meltingly tender. Traditionally, the duck confit was stored in sterilized jars under a thick layer of duck fat to preserve it. While making duck confit is a multi-day procedure, excellent duck confit is available canned and in vacuum pouches. Although it’s not strictly necessary to preserve the duck in these products, the fat is still added as a traditional touch. Briefly sauteed in a skillet, then given a quick crisping under the broiler, duck confit makes a fast and delicious meal.