Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is the smell of Gingerbread baking

There is truly nothing like the smell of gingerbread dough baking in the oven on a cold December day. I love making these traditional Christmas cookies.
The recipe I have used for years is from my favorite baker Rose Levy Beranbaum.

naked gingerbread


3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar*
12 Tbsps butter, softened
1/2 cup grandma's molasses
1 lg egg

Add dry ingredients together and toss. Place butter in mixer and beat add brown sugar and cream. Then add molasses and egg. Next add dry ingredients and mix until well beaten.

Refrigerate dough until very chilled at least an hour. Then roll out on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick and cut out with your favorite gingerbread shape. 

Bake at 350 degrees F. When cool decorate with royal icing and your favorite decors.

For Royal icing I use the recipe on the can of Wilton meringue powder. It is the best!

*I have used both dark and light. If I have dark I use it, it produces a richer flavor and darker color. If I am out light works just fine.

Wishing you all the Merriest Christmas. Hugs to you and yours! See you in the New Year for more good eating. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Tart

Good Food photography and styling plays a big factor in which recipes we choose to prepare. 
When I see a great food photograph with perfect lighting I am inspired. I usually want to make it. 

So when perusing through a new Donna Hay book with beautiful photos by renowned food photographer Con Poulos I fell in love on page 167 when I saw a vegetable tart in all it's free form glory. I went out later that day and grabbed what I needed that was lacking in my pantry and make it I did. 

I was having a friend over that night for tea so I thought the tart would be something different than the usual sweet that accompanies a cuppa.
We all know that making a dish for the first time when company is coming is never a good idea. But sometimes you just have to break the rules!

 As I was making the crust I knew I was in trouble. It was a crumbled mess. It was too late to do anything so I went with it and added a bit more moisture and got it to come together. The crust was filled with roasted vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and garlic. 

The tart overall did not live up to the beautiful photo. I knew the crust would be dry and it was. The vegetables needed some zip. So I made a balsamic vinegar reduction and drizzled it over and that helped so much.

The only crust I make is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. Her crusts are buttery and foolproof to me. So when I redid the recipe I made sure I used her crust. 


8 Tbsps unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 -3 1/2 Tbsps ice water
1 1/2 tsps cider vinegar

Take 5 Tbsps of the cubed butter and refrigerate. Take the other 3 Tbsps cubed butter and place in custard cup in freezer.

Combine flour, salt, baking powder in metal bowl or ziploc bag and freeze.

Chill ice water and vinegar in refrigerator. 

After chilling ingredients for 30 minutes place flour mixture in food processor and pulse. Then add the chilled butter starting with the refrigerated butter and ending with the frozen cubes. Pulse until resembling coarse meal.

Then add the lowest amount of water and the cold vinegar and pulse. Check the mixture it should hold together when pinched. If not, add a little more water and pulse again.

When completed place in large ziploc bag and gently knead to get the dough together. I do this because the heat from our hands makes the butter melt.
Work fairly quickly  until dough is in a disk and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

1 head garlic, unpeeled, cloves separated
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered or chunked
2 red peppers, chunked
2 small eggplants, I used baby, chunked
4 roma tomatoes, or large cherry tomatoes
3 small zucchini, chunked
2 Tbsps olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
3 ozs goat cheese
fresh oregano leaves
white balsamic vinegar, reduce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the crust and chill.

On large cookie sheet with sides roast the vegetables by drizzling with olive oil. This should take about 45-60 minutes. Turn a few times during cooking to assure even roasting. Should be nice and caramelized but be careful not to burn.
Remove from oven and salt and pepper them.

When Crust is ready roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness on a parchment lined tray. Take garlic cloves and pinch out cloves onto dough and spread. 
Fill with remaining vegetables and gently fold sides up to form a free form tart. 
Be sure the vegetables are not hot or it will melt the butter in the dough.

Place tart in refrigerator for about 20 minutes to set the crust.

When ready to bake. Sprinkle tart veges with goat cheese and oregano leaves. Possibly a little more olive oil if needed and adjust for seasonings.

While baking take some white balsamic vinegar and reduce on top of the stove. This can be tricky because it does burn quickly. You just want to get rid of the water and concentrate the flavor by making it a thick syrupy consistency. If it gets hard you can gently warm it up to drizzle. 

When tart is finished baking and golden brown usually about 45 minutes drizzle with balsamic reduction. 

The End