Tag Archives: Brunch

Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

As I have worked my way through so many of my grandmother’s incredible recipes, I have come to notice a few things about her “style” or signature touches, especially with baking. Two big stand outs are the use of orange zest and sour cream as so many of her recipes call for one or both.

In her coffee cake recipe there is no orange zest but the addition of sour cream makes for a wonderfully rich and moist cake. I have made the cake a few times now and have been playing around with it, gilding the lily a bit.

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The first time I made it, I made the mistake of questioning grandma Ibby. Why would you want to top the cake with the streusel mixture and then end up with all of the “good stuff” on the bottom of the plate when you invert it out of the pan? So I put the streusel in the bundt pan first in order to have a pretty crumbly crunchy top to my cake. What I ended up with was an unattractive just about burnt mess. Sorry grandma, you do know best.

Still determined to update the recipe a bit and add my own touches, I decided to embrace the current salted caramel craze (a craze I am very fond of by the way) and add Fleur de Sel to the streusel. Let me tell you, that crunchy hit of salt on your tongue mingled with the sweet of brown sugar and spice of cinnamon – glorious. I’m talking Hallelujia Chorus G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

But how to finish the cake? How to add a little flourish to it without overdoing it or taking away from the beauty of the base recipe. I opted for finishing it with a simple maple glaze and Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze was born; a most welcome addition.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse sea salt
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I just do it with a fork, not with a mixer) and stir in the Fleur de Sel and chopped pecans.

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Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream

Cake Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Grandma’s Tip: Cream the butter for a few seconds before adding the sugar. Add the sugar slowly, a little bit at a time and then add the vanilla and cream 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.

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Grandma’s Tip: Crack each egg into a small bowl, not directly into the mixer. This way you will avoid any stray pieces of shell and the potential for a bad egg ruining your whole mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the sour cream; start and end with dry and mix each addition until just combined being careful not to overmix or overwork your batter.

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Take your time, do it right, enjoy the process and  you will end up with one gorgeous batter.

In a prepared 10 inch bundt pan (buttered and floured or coated with baking spray) spoon half of the batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Top with remaining batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with remaining streusel mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto a cake stand or serving platter – make sure your serving dish has enough room for the maple glaze to pool around the cake. Let the cake cool completely (about an hour) before icing with the glaze.

Maple Glaze

Maple-Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

MIx together until smooth.

Maple-Glaze-2The glaze should leave a sturdy “ribbon” when drizzled back into the bowl as you want it thin enough to run over the cake but thick enough to form a beautiful icing.

Drizzle over the cake and decorate the top with a few pecan halves or a light sprinkling of chopped pecans.

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Let me tell you what happens with the addition of the glaze.

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It puddles and pools around the base of the cake, seeping underneath and mingling with the salted pecan streusel creating a gooey almost caramel like sauce that is plate licking delicious.

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How I would love it if you could pull up a seat at our backyard picnic table under the blooming Palo Verde tree and enjoy a leisurely late breakfast. Happy conversation, a gentle warm breeze, bird song and the soft buzzing of honey bees in the tree’s yellow spring blossoms.

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I enjoyed just such a morning this past Saturday with a wonderful group of ladies who make up the prayer team I am blessed to be a part of. We spent some peaceful time in the comfort of the spring sun praying together and then enjoyed each other’s company as we shared this very special cake. My grandmother would have loved it; the prayer and the fellowship. And the cake.

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My grandmother’s original coffee cake recipe specified only “nut meats” in the streusel ingredients; leaving the possibilities wide open. I started with pecans, which is the recipe you have here. Next up, a walnut orange combo using the same basic batter and then having a little fun with orange; a bit of a tribute to her love of orange zest. I also have a hazelnut chocolate chip version rolling around in my head. Stay tuned!

Kitchen table, dining room table or backyard picnic table, I hope you find a moment to slow down, gather round and enjoy!

“Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

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Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

If you have read my blog for a while now, you are pretty familiar with the fact that I adore the Barefoot Contessa. Some people love Kobe or Tom Brady, some love Meryl Streep, some love JT, Adele, Ryan Gosling, or Bono. But me, I love Ina.

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One thing, well, there are many things, but one thing in particular that you will never see on my blog are the words “recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa”. 

I love taking a basic recipe idea and tweaking it to add my own unique touches – that is half the fun of cooking. And I will ALWAYS give credit where credit is due but I will never adapt Ina. It can’t be done. I can’t add anything that she hasn’t already perfected. At least according to my taste buds and that is why I love her. Well that and the fact that I feel like I could pull up a chair in her barn (LOVE the barn) and talk with her for hours over coffee and oh, I don’t know, Lemon Yogurt Cake.

And that is just what I am going to share with you today. What a coincidence. Lemon Yogurt Cake, one of my absolute, all-time, favorite “tessa”, as my five-year-old calls her, recipes. We watch her show quite a bit if you couldn’t guess.

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Originally, I had planned on sharing the crustless Quiche recipe I’ve been working on but it still needs some work before I put it out there; the finished product is too “liquidy”. Oh, if only I could pick up the phone and give Ina a ring …

“Ina, hi, it’s Dani. I’m great. Yes, the kids are fine. Thanks for asking. How’s Jeffrey? So glad to hear it. Listen, what are your thoughts on mini-crustless Quiche that turns out  just too soft and liquidy?”

And yes, she would know just what I mean by “liquidy”.

You have your dreams. I have mine.

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The Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Yogurt Cake

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So why is this one of my favorite Barefoot recipes?

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Lemons. I love lemon anything.

No mixer, just a whisk and a bowl – that I love!

It is light, made with yogurt and vegetable oil but it still has an incredibly rich flavor.

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And the lemon simple syrup … WOW!

In prepping for this post, I happened to discovered yet another thing I love about this recipe;

it is forgiving.

What do I mean exactly? Well, you know when you are outside weeding and suddenly you think “OH CRAP! MY CAKE” and run for the back door, bursting into the kitchen to find your assistant lying on the couch, remote in hand as he glances up and casually says “mommy dat stove been beepin”.

Forgiving like that.

Just keepin’ it real. And I can say crap – my kids don’t read my blog yet.

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Crap.

Lucky for him, he’s just too cute to fire.

Lemony. Quick. Easy. Moist. Light. Delicious. AND Forgiving. That is why I love this cake.

Note: the only thing I do a little differently than Ina (I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that) is simply that I don’t often add the glaze to the top as we are not big “frosting” people. We like the cake as is, moist with a bright lemon tang that is just right and not overwhelming. Although the glaze is a nice touch and I do add it when I’m making the cake as a gift.

In retrospect, this probably would’ve been a good time to add the glaze. Then you might have never known about the over-baking. Mistake covered up. But that’s just not my style. I’d rather have a little fun with it.

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Besides, Ina is so good that even when life happens and you overbake one of her recipes, all is not lost and you can still …

Enjoy!

I promise, I’ll bake a prettier one with glaze and update the post; just for you guys and for Ina. Her wonderful cake deserves a little bit better representation. But for now, let’s just bask in the freedom of admitting we aren’t perfect. And that’s okay! Besides, this is nothing. Oh the epic kitchen fails I could share with you – maybe someday.

Of course, you are MOST welcome to comment and share any of your memorable kitchen failures. I would LOVE to hear about them. We can be blissfully less than perfect together.

How to Make a Bran Muffin Look Pretty

Grandma Ibby’s Bran Muffins are not pretty. They are delicious but they are not photogenic. Not at all. They are also not overly exciting as far as culinary creations go. In fact, I saw many a similar recipe in the church/fundraising cookbooks I have been combing through lately and am pretty sure they were another 1960’s-70’s homecook’s staple.

So, now that you are intrigued and can hardly wait to make them, I will tell you that while they may not be pretty or exciting, they are delicious. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. My mom made them for us often and usually served them with a light, crisp Waldorf salad – I will most certainly have to tell you about that soon. And that Waldorf salad/bran muffin combo is by far one of my absolute favorite childhood meal memories.

So while I am excited to tell you about these muffins I do have to say, they were a challenge to photograph. Who says hummus and oatmeal are the hardest? I’m telling you, its bran muffins. I actually considered trying to artfully arrange some of the bran cereal with the other ingredients but a shot of flour, one egg, baking soda and a pile of shredded bran is about as exciting as the wall in the doctor’s office after 45 minutes of waiting; just staring at the mint green wall.

Making these bran muffins look pretty was important to me. Add that to the long list of comments that in my career driven 20’s I could never have imagined myself making. Get off of your brother’s head. Why are you standing on the table? No, NO Legos in the toilet. Don’t bite your toenails. You get the idea. Sorry, that last one might have been a little gross for a food post; unless you have boys, then you get me and are no longer grossed out by much.

You see, I have really been working on my photography skills, particularly my food photography skills, and my knowledge of the Nikon D3100 that is just begging me to use it to its full potential.  So, I am reading, studying and learning all there is to know about how to photograph food. Not because I want to be a professional photographer or because I’m obsessive or because I think everything needs to look perfect but because it is fun! Okay, so it is also because I like it when things look sort of perfect. Okay, and I’m a little bit obsessive. Do you think they make a bumper sticker that says “I ♥ Depth of Field?” No?

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All-Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 cups 100% Shredded All-Bran
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter and flour or spray with baking spray, 2 muffin trays.

Mix together 1 cup of the All-Bran and 1 cup boiling water and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add in the egg and mix to incorporate. Add the buttermilk and wet All-Bran mixture, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the remaining 2 cups dry All-Bran.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Yield: 24 muffins.

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So, I am still a novice photographer and have a long way to go but I’m sure having a good time. I am absolutely inspired by so many of the photographs of my fellow bloggers; food, nature, architecture, landscape, you name it, you guys are amazing. Photography is such a true individual expression and I love that when I sit down to go through my reader, I can almost always tell who’s post I am about to read, just by looking at the featured photo.

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I would love it if you would share with me any tips, thoughts or ideas you have for taking great photos. Or even if you’d just like share what you love about taking pictures; whether you consider yourself a photographer or not.

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I did my best with the bran muffins. But really, it was the blackberries that stole the show!

Enjoy!

Easter, Friendship and Orange Sour Cream Cake!

So sorry I didn’t have a chance to wish everyone a Happy Easter yesterday but as you were hopefully enjoying a wonderful day with family and friends and not reading blogs, I’m thinking that even a day late it is still okay to say Happy Easter!

So, HaPpY EaSteR!

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We had a wonderful day, celebrating the Savior and enjoying friends old and new. A beautiful Spring day. Hunting eggs. Laughing. Breaking bread. Sharing life.

We do not have a lot of family close by but we are incredibly blessed to have friends who have become family.

Old friends. Friends who’s children have grow with ours. Friends we have cried with through the tough stuff (and there has been some tough stuff) and rejoiced with at the victories, the healing and the hope. Because there has been a lot of that too. They are moving to Texas this summer and I am reminded that life is filled with change. But they are family, that will never change, and distance doesn’t matter.

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Old friends we once lived next door to, shared a fence with. They are family too. I miss seeing them everyday; knowing they are right there, just over the fence. I promise, I do love them, I just didn’t get a picture of them yesterday. I’m still working on my “capturing the moment skills”.

New friends.  Isn’t it the best when your kid’s best friend has awesome parents?!  Not only are they good people but brave people, undeterred by the giant snake at the end of our driveway. At least it wasn’t poisonous.

Oh, how I wish I were kidding.

Easter-12One tiny tangent because I must forget about the snake and tell you what is in Eileen’s glass. Trust me, you want to know! It is simple but, wow; half lemonade, half Prosecco and a whole lotta delicious! Cold, bubbly, refreshing. Sooooo delicious! I see a few more of those in her an my future this summer.

One more guest and friend to tell you about. The Colonel. My husband’s former commander whom we love to visit with. His last name is Patton – if only he hadn’t retired and had become a general. I’d love to be able to say General Patton’s coming for dinner. Well, except that he’s Air Force. And nice.

So much and so many to be thankful for.

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We missed the family and friends we couldn’t be with and hope for many Easters to come where we can all be together.

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Oh, right, cake. I promised you cake. I’ll tell you about the cupcakes above some other time. The cake I promised is my Grandma Elizabeth’s Orange Sour Cream Cake. It was a big hit yesterday. I had to hide away one last little piece so that I could photograph it this morning.

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My plan was to photograph that last little morsel of cake with orange wedges but unaware of said plan, my husband ate my garnish. I plated one little slice of orange and stepped away for just  a moment; but around here, that’s all it takes. So instead, plan B, I threw in a few of the kid’s colored Easter eggs and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not sure which is more fun, making the food or photographing it.

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Orange Sour Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar, extra fine *see note
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside to be used later. Beat the whites until you just have stiff peaks. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly (3-5 minutes). *Note: the recipe calls for super fine (also known as caster sugar). If you don’t have any, you can make your own by pulsing granular sugar in the food processor a few times.

Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure to thoroughly incorporate each. To the creamed mixture, stir in the orange zest and chopped walnuts (I leave the nuts out).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture, alternately with the sour cream; starting and ending with the flour. Beat well and then gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into a  well buttered and floured bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack that has been placed on top of a sheet tray.

Orange Simple Syrup:

Bring to a boil 2/3 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Boil for 2-3 minutes. It will not reduce much and is not supposed to as it is a syrup to flavor and moisten the cake and not a glaze. Slowly spoon the syrup over the cake to let as much as possible absorb in.

Let it sit for at least 30 minutes and then gently move to the serving dish. Garnish with orange slices and a dusting of powdered sugar if you like.

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This would be a great brunch cake. Enjoy!

And finally, just a few more Easter Highlights from the Brew Crew …

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We always color eggs the night before Easter. My family did it that way growing up and I now have some of the best memories of the crazy eggs my dad would color and the fun we had together.

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I want my kids to have that too.

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Every year, I have taken a picture of my kid’s egg dye stained fingers. I love their hands.

 Every year, the hands are bigger and not quite as stained.

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They are getting so big. Older and more careful.

Pretty soon there will be no more messy little hands to photograph.

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This year, only Nathans.

Actually, I’m pretty sure this boy will be makin’ a mess for a long while to come.

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But wild messes or not, his still sleepy Easter morning face is what mommy will remember. Snuggles with his new friends left by the “Easter Bunny” and the calm before the “wild”…

Easter egg hunting. Big yard. Lots of eggs. TONS of fun!

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And thankfully, Easter egg hunting still seems to be cool; or at least not totally lame.

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A well deserved break. After all, those eggs don’t hide themselves.

I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but there is a silver bowl that sits as the centerpiece on my dining room table (in the very first picture of this post). It was a precious gift from my aunt; something she knew I really wanted but would never buy for myself. It is precious not because it is silver but because of what is engraved around it …

“Together with friends and family is always the happiest place to be.”

Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets

Yesterday I shared how I deviated from my St. Patrick’s Day norm of Shepherd’s Pie to create a menu entirely from the “Irish Pub Cooking” cookbook I’ve had for sometime but hadn’t yet experimented with. I was so inspired by the gorgeous photos and recipe details that I just had to break the cardinal rule of never serving recipes that you haven’t perfected or at the very least, tried once.

Actually, I break that rule all the time. Life is too short to take food so seriously. Home cooking and entertaining should be fun.

Experiment. Yes, on your guests. Don’t be afraid.

Besides, if you fail, they will love you for being human, laughing it off and ordering pizza. And sometimes, your bravery will be rewarded with a gem of a dish that has everyone swooning over their empty, crumb licked plates.

Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets is just such a dish.

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“Irish Pub Cooking”, Parragon Books Ltd.

You will need six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans.

Ingredients

Pie Dough

  • heaping 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbsp COLD butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp creamed prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Spanish capers, chopped
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 7 oz smoked salmon trimmings
  • bunch of fresh dill, chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Note: I have modified the directions slightly, adding more instruction, as they were a little vague for a less experienced cook. “Add a little cold water” isn’t really going to cut it for someone who has never made a crust before. And if you are anything like me, you would totally try this recipe even if you’d never made a crust before.

Butter six 3 1/2 inch loose-bottom tartlet pans. Sift the flour and salt together and put into a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.

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Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add a little cold water (see what I mean), just enough to bring the dough together (2-3 Tbsp). Start with 1 Tbsp at a time and mix together with your hands so that you can feel when the dough is the consistency that you are looking for – soft but very workable, not sticky or dry and crumbly.

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Turn out onto a floured counter and shape into a log so that it is easy to portion out into six equal-sized pieces.

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Roll each piece to fit the tartlet pans.

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Carefully fit each piece of dough in its shell and press well to fit the pan.

My tart pans are 4 1/4 inch (I am now in the market for 3 1/2 inch pans) but I was determined still to get six tarts out of the recipe so my shells are rolled a little thinner.

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Roll the rolling-pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough.

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Put a piece of parchment paper in each pan, fill with dried beans or pie weights …

(learn all about Blind Baking here)

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and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake the tartlet shells blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and beans/weights. If you use beans, you can save them in a mason jar to re-use again and again. Be sure to label them though because once you have used them for blind baking, you won’t want to eat them.

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Meanwhile, put the sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, and drained capers into a bowl with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Be careful with the salt as smoked salmon is pretty salty.

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Add the egg yolks, smoked salmon, and chopped dill (I put in about 2 Tbsp) and carefully mix again. Divide this mixture among the tartlet shells and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until just firm (mine took about 15  minutes).

About the salmon; I used cold smoked salmon, which is more like lox with a soft, silky texture. You could also use hot smoked salmon which is drier and flaky. Both are usually either in the deli section or by the seafood counter.

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Here’s where I lost my sixth tart, there just wasn’t enough filling.

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Thankfully, I only had two dinner guests so there was a tart for each adult and Sara and David split one; although they devoured their respective halves and would most certainly have eaten a whole one. Don’t worry about Nathan, he wouldn’t have eaten one of these tarts for anything.

Not a chance. No way.

Which is just fine because I did not want to share.

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Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with dill sprigs.

Smoked Salmon, Dill and Horseradish Tartlets Printable Recipe

I am planning on making these again for Easter (they are that good)  but I will be making them in smaller tart pans as bite sized appetizers for a bigger crowd.

I will let you know how they turn out.

In fact, I may experiment ahead of time. No, not because I’m perfecting anything, I’m just not sure I can wait until Easter to have another tart.

Enjoy!

Tomorrow, I will tell you all about my second favorite dish of the day;

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage.

I may make this again for Easter too as it had gorgeous color and was absolutely delicious!

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Thanks to everyone who came for breakfast this week, I loved having you all here. Thanks for the comments and for letting me know what you liked and what you are going to try in your own kitchens. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

So, here were are, Friday (happy Friday) and the question remains, how to wrap up a week of posts dedicated to breakfast? Well, that’s easy! French pastry, of course. Isn’t it funny how pastry is often the answer to life’s questions?

Should I go to college or take a break, travel and see the world first? Oh, I don’t know. Is anyone going to eat that last cinnamon roll?

Why did I put off this paper until the night before it’s due? I know I put those Pop Tarts somewhere in here. I should have gone to Europe.

Will I marry you? Ooooh, is that a bearclaw?

Heels or flats? Croissant.

Should I go to the gym today? Creampuff. Oh the irony.

See, told ‘ya.

If you think French pastry requires a lot of training and skill, you are right. Sort of. True French pastry is an art and is mastered by those who spend years perfecting their craft. Thankfully, for those of us who are slightly less accomplished with no training and just a little bit of skill, the freezer section at the grocery store holds within its frosty depths the secret to creating French pastry at home.

Here’s what you need …

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I promise, that’s it! Two sheets of puff pastry (there are two in a box), two 3.5 ounce chocolate bars – I like the 60% cacao best for this, egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water), and sugar for sprinkling the tops of the pastries.

Here’s what you do …

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Thaw the frozen puff pastry for about 40 minutes so that it is easy to handle. It will open out into thirds; I don’t even flour a board, I just put it on a piece of parchment paper. Slice the pastry lengthwise down the fold lines.PauC-3

And then slice each third in half so you have six pieces. PauC-4

Chunk up the chocolate. PauC5

Brush each piece of pastry with egg wash. Place a little of the chocolate at one end of the piece of pastry and roll it up.  Pinch off the ends to seal them up.PauC6

Place your pastries on a parchment lined sheet tray and put them back into the fridge for at least an hour. The pastry will be flakier the colder it is. If you are thinking ahead, put your pastries together the night before, cover them with plastic wrap and then finish and bake them in the morning.PauC7

Just before baking, brush the top of each pastry with egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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Crisp and golden on the outside, flaky and oozing chocolate on the inside. PauC15

You are getting up to head to the grocery store right now, aren’t you?

Go … Go, I don’t mind. PauC16I’ll just be enjoying my dainty French pastry with my enormous American sized cup of coffee. Strong. No cream. No sugar. Because that’s how I roll.

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Have a great weekend. I’ve got to run because I’ve got a sick little guy on the couch who’s just waking up and needs his mama. I’m saving him a pastry for when he’s feeling better.

Barefoot Contessa’s Challah French Toast

I couldn’t get through a week of blogging about food without Ina or a week of blogging about breakfast without French toast, so today’s Post …

Challah French Toast, from Ina Garten

Look, it is so good it made the front cover!

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“Family Style” is probably my favorite of her cookbooks; “easy ideas and recipes that make everyone feel like family” – gee, I wonder why? I love “Barefoot in Paris” but as I looked through this one this morning, I realized just how many of the recipes in it I have made and loved.

Until recently, I have always just intuitively made french toast, I mean “how hard can it be?” (Ina says that all the time if you didn’t know). Eggs, milk, bread, a griddle. No sweat. As I became a better cook, I started playing around, adding things like a bit of sugar, a splash of vanilla, a shake of cinnamon and a little orange zest. Precise, I know but the results were pretty yummy.

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Then one day, I wanted to look up an exact egg to milk ratio – mostly out of curiosity – so I took a peek at this challah French toast recipe. I was excited to find that I was making French toast very similarly but the Barefoot Contessa always does it best. I now have the ratios right and have dropped the sugar for honey – which is far better. I’ve dropped the cinnamon but do like to grate in a little bit of fresh nutmeg, which she does not call for but I love. I also use a rustic artisan bread but will try it sometime with the challah – which I know will be amazing.

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Click the highlighted link above and it will take you right to the recipe.

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For me, the orange zest is what really makes this French toast something special.

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Just like pancakes, a little butter on the griddle will give you a nice crust and a rich flavor.

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Mmmmm, I can smell the perfume of the orange zest, nutmeg and butter right now. Of course, it is all in my head because I have been eating oatmeal and berries all week; a breakfast I do enjoy but it is impossible for me to write about this French toast and not dream about the scent of sizzling butter. Thankfully, dreaming is calorie free.

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There are those turkey sausages again, which are made even better when they are nestled in a pool of warm maple syrup that has runneth over the French toast, a gooey rich cascading stream of sweet indulgence (sorry, all week – oatmeal and berries).

Is there anyone out there who does not like it when their sausage mingles with their maple syrup? Anyone? I can think of no one.

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I will let you in on a little secret. I like to make this with the thinner sliced Italian bread because I always make enough for leftovers and then freeze them so they can be popped into the toaster for a quick kid breakfast on a busy morning. Sure makes for a happy kid!

Enjoy!