June 24, 2011

Blueberry Pie

Given the number of years I've been baking you'd think that I'd be pretty proficient at it.  I'd like to think that for the most part that was true, but there's one thing where I definitely lack skill - pies .  I don't know why, but for some reason I've never really had much success with them; ironic considering how much I love making tarts.  Perhaps it's the double-crust that's my downfall?

So this summer I'm determined to conquer my pie-making fears.  To kick things off I tried  Cook's Illustrated blueberry pie recipe and had fantastic results.  

The crust is super flaky and the filling holds up beautifully with just the right amount of sweetness.  My favorite way to enjoy it?  Slightly warm with a scoop of Haagen-Dazs lemon ice cream...absolute bliss!  

Dare I be so bold as to attempt apple next?  Stay tuned and see.....

June 21, 2011

Meyer Lemon & Raspberry Tartlets

Summer has finally come to the Bay Area, after months of rain and gray this spring.  Even today in San Francisco it was a hot one, in the low 80s, which is considered a scorcher for us.   This weather leaves me craving something refreshing.    

I stocked up on more meyer lemons from my brother's tree and was anxious to use them right away.   Normally I'd make lemon bars but today I wanted to do something a little bit different.  Instead of bars I made cute tartlets and topped them with a fresh raspberry.  They're the perfect bite-sized treat to beat the heat. 

June 18, 2011

Chewy Lime Sugar Cookies

My nieces are on break from school and their mom has been taking them on various day trips to local cities and attractions before the start of summer camp.  One such journey was with me to Sausalito, a quaint town just north of San Francisco.  

The kids have been wanting to go on a cruise for some time but since that wasn't in the cards this year my sister-in-law thought the ferry ride from San Francisco would suffice.  The girls seemed to enjoy the ride, but I think they were more interested in the picnic lunch we brought along. 

Sophie was anxious to tuck in to the huge sugar cookie she got as her dessert from the deli.   I admit, it was a pretty good cookie.  But being the baker that I am, and a competitive person at that, I wasn't going to let some store bought version outdo me.

This Cook's Illustrated recipe for chewy sugar cookies is one I've been wanting to make for a while, but I wasn't motivated until I saw Sophie enjoying her cookie.  I made a variation of the recipe by adding lime zest and lime juice which gives the cookie a nice twist.   When Sophie tried these they got the thumbs up.

June 7, 2011

Goldfish Sugar Cookies

My niece's co-worker ordered goldfish sugar cookies for her son's first birthday party this month.  I just love the color theme she chose.  The orange and blue are reminiscent of the colors I use on my blog.    

The inspiration for these cookies came from one of my all-time favorite snacks, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Crackers.  I think they turned out super cute.  Hopefully the kids don't confuse them for the bite-sized crackers!


June 4, 2011

Cherry Clafoutis

Fresh, ripe cherries always herald the beginning of the summer for me.  I just love them - especially the sweet, crunchy bing variety.  But beware, don't indulge in too many at once or you'll be sorry....if you know what I mean!

The Saturday before Memorial Day I went cherry picking in Brentwood with my nieces and sister-in-law.   It was the first day of the season so we headed out bright and early with the hope of getting the nicest fruit. 

Even by 9:30am the parking lot was already jam packed with minivans and young families.   Sixty minutes, one pair of dusty sneakers and nine pounds of cherries later I was a very happy person.


I immediately got home and set about searching for a new cherry recipe.  I happened upon this one for clafoutis from Bon Appétit.   I'd never made it before, but it's the quintessential French dessert using cherries.  It tastes very much like a pancake or crepe and is so good served slightly warm with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Think we've just discovered a new Memorial Day tradition. 

June 1, 2011

Fruit Tarts made with Pâte Sucrée

Do you want to hear something funny? I've re-discovered all that is great about the library.  Which is pretty ironic because when I was a kid I practically lived there, I loved it so much.  But, the advent of amazon.com, coupled with a steady paycheck, pretty much killed that love affair.  

A few months ago, in an effort to scale back on my amazon addiction, I was reminded by my sister that the neighborhood library was recently remodeled.  So I went to check it out and see what they had to offer. What I found were tons of magazines, cookbooks and DVDs to peruse...score!  

On a recent trip I saw The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook among the stacks and immediately grabbed it.  It had been featured before on the Martha Stewart Show and the fruit tarts pictured on the cover immediately caught my eye.

The crust is made with a pâte sucrée or sweet short pastry dough.  I normally use this Sweet Caillat Crust for fruit tarts, but I wanted to try something new and I'm glad I did.  The crust is crispy and crunchy, similar to a cookie and tastes fantastic with the pastry cream and fresh fruit.
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