Tag Archives: almonds

Apricot Honey Almond Tart

The photos of ingredients I’ve purchased for recipes I’ve tried recently grow in my photo library seemingly overnight even though I delete nearly as many as I decide to edit, mentally processing the quality of the recipe as I process my shots of it.  Recipes are sampled and the leftovers tucked away — or wedged considering the condition my fridge is currently suffering from — and the cycle repeats sans the writing that should factor in there somewhere.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are positioned on the kitchen counter tops in a sort of line up lest I forget they’re ready to be used. At some point, inspiration has to inspire, doesn’t it?  So that would be the problem.

And a lack of inspiration is not a small problem.

So while I prod, poke, and try to revive it, I’ve been cleaning up a few favorite old posts.  There’s nothing quite like restoring broken links, uploading photos from an old server onto a new one, and reformatting posts to keep one busy enough to justify a lack of creativity and avoidance of housework.

I also moved my photography station from the dining room to my office upstairs a few days ago, surprising myself with something I hadn’t given much thought to before it happened. It’s not a bad idea, but I’d just gotten organized in the office and spruced things up a bit — including the purchase of fabric to make curtains.  Nice curtains, too.  At this point, if I’m going to use the light from the window, then why put curtains up? Not an Earth-shattering dilemma, but still.

As much as I will enjoy not having lights and props lined up on the dining room table, I’ll miss the convenience of everything being right next to the kitchen.  I can still use the space when the light is perfect but won’t have to tolerate the things sitting around like a mess when I’m downstairs  I’ve already figured out a tray is in order to carry food upstairs, and a tote to carry props back and forth from the garage.  Perhaps one of those calorie counting gizmos is in order to make me feel even better about my decision since I’ll have to

Time will tell.  It always does.

In the meantime, I was lulled by the beauty of two kinds of apricots in the market a few days ago, and so they became my first experiment shooting with the light from my office window.  Leftover tart dough rescued from my freezer helped not only with the photography experiment, but a tart experiment as well.

This tart is perfect if you’ve got fresh apricots and want a tart that isn’t fussy to make.  The filling is is quickly mixed and poured over the apricots before baking.  A lovely recipe to end any meal.

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12 Layers: White Dobos Torte

White Dobos Torte

 

I haven’t always been a contrary person, but when I saw the August challenge the Daring Bakers were to task themselves with smack in the middle of the dog days of summer, I knew I wanted  to work with a light cake  and feature some aspect of the summer fruit that is so plentiful at this time of the year.  Of course, I’m a chocolate lover, but not so much in the summer. Bear in mind that not following the recipe in a Daring Baker Challenge is not in keeping with the spirit of the experience, but I’ve been doing this for a few years now, so know that rule.  I couldn’t help myself.  Besides, I could work with white chocolate instead, which isn’t always as forgiving as traditional chocolate, and then I would feel as if I was not quite avoiding my responsibility with the challenge.  Add some homemade peach puree and put a cream cheese spin on the white chocolate buttercream, and a White Dobos Torte is born.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella.  They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.  Many thanks to them both for providing the inspiration behind my torte.  The original recipe can be found at either of their sites.

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Bittman Salad 29: Balsamic Cherries & Bitter Greens

Rainier Cherries

There are any number of reasons I’ve decided to chop and chew my way through the 101 “Simple Salads” Mark Bittman conjured up for the summer season. Julie & Julia has been simmering in my mind since I finished reading the book a month or two ago, and as the movie opening date approaches and the resulting hubbub ensues, I guess I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about not only cooking my way through something to ground myself, but cooking period.  Sadly, my kitchen hasn’t been getting the workout it’s used to.  Does making salad count as cooking? Will Mr. Bittman deem it a stunt and suggest I’m a less than serious salad maker?  Is it possible that food snobs everywhere will comment on my efforts and suggest I’m not worthy of sampling this treasure trove of healthy minimalist fare?

Or, perhaps, there is the real reason I’ve decided to embark on this quest:   I will benefit from all the lovely green things I’m ingesting and could lose weight in the process.  Think about it:  101 salads in 101 days.  That’s a bit of roughage.  It’s healthy, easy and because I’ve scanned all the combinations Bittman suggests, I know I’ll find something new to add to my old standards.

I have some planning to do with organizing the salads into groups with common ingredients to make shopping more manageable, but in the meantime, I’ve begun with #29.  Why?  Because I had  Rainier Cherries in the fridge that were in desperate need of use.  I’m thinking that’s as good a reason as any.

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Nectarine Blondie Parfait

IMG_4434 Perhaps you’ve caught yourself doing this before:  you’re lost in thought — truly daydreaming about nothing in particular.  Then you wonder, “How in heck did I end up thinking about that?” and you proceed to trace back which thought led to what until you either figure it out (depending upon whether you have more patience than I do) or give up because in the long run, it truly doesn’t matter.

That’s the best way to describe how I ended up with these Nectarine Blondie Parfaits.  I’d seen Sunset magazine’s photo of “Chocolate Liliko’i Parfaits” ingredients layered deliciously in glasses, and wondered about the combination of flavors I’d use for a treat like that.  I just happened to have gelato, and had just finished making a batch of blondies.  Of course there were beautiful nectarines on my counter destined for a salad that I might also use.

And then there was a jar of Arequipe de Antano in the fridge.  Surely something good could come of a few of those ingredients if I stacked them nicely in a glass.

Right?

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Roundies: Almond Blondies

<img alt="Roundies - Almond Blondies"/>

I haven’t made brownies for a very long time.

Years.

Years as in, when my grown boys were very, very young.  I suppose that after countless results of either raw in the middle crunchy on the outside, or serious qualifiers for hockey puck status, I gave up.  Bear in mind that even box brownie mixes were beyond my ability.  Thinking about this after my eighth or tenth failure, I decided that it just didn’t matter — there were plenty of other chocolate goodies I could make quite successfully.  Some people have yeast phobias; I am a bonafide brownie flunky.

My avoidance could only last so long, however, when the sheer number of brownie recipes made with every variation imaginable are plastered all over the web — taunting me —  reminding me that everyone else seems to be gifted in the brownie making department.  Read:  I was the last person chosen for the kickball team.  Let’s face it.  I’d been jinxed, so that meant I needed to take a different approach in solving this dilemma.

I’d make blondies.  They look the same as brownies minus color, of course, chew the same, and also have quite a number of variations on a theme available to experiment with.  If I could pull off a nice blondie, then it just might pave the way for passable brownies.  And if I’m successful with the blondies, then I might be able to make my own rendition of a dessert I recently saw in a magazine:  chunks of brownies, fresh fruit, and cream all piled artfully in a cup.

And then I discovered Elizabeth Franken and Demolition Desserts.  Her blondies are, well, blondies, and they appear in a luscious combo of chocolate and ice cream.  At some point in her book in a completely different recipe, there’s fruit and a syrup that is heavenly.  I had the gelato, so splendor in a glass was born, and faith in my ability to bake your basic-baked-chewable-squares-no-matter-what-color-type-treat was given a very welcome reprieve.

It’s all water under the bridge, but perhaps now, I can produce a passable brownie.  I’m thinking the key is to have a completely different purpose in mind for them from the get go than to just cut them in squares and slate them for the inevitable teeth sinking occasion.

I don’t know what I’d call what I ended up with, but it was truly amazing.  Blondies and beyond?

Maybe.  But you have to wait for the end result.

All you get now is Roundies — or Almond Blondies.  Good blondies, but still.

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