HOW TO PEEL HAZELNUTS

It takes some work to give hazelnuts a satiny ivory finish but the smoother taste and texture are more pleasant when baking or simply enjoying a handful for a snack.

 


 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toast the hazelnuts until browned and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool then rub them between your hands or inside a towel. The friction flakes away most of the skin.

PATE BRISEE RECIPE

2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
5 ounces butter, cut into pieces
½ cup chilled water
 


 
Combine the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Add the water a little at a time pulsing until the dough appears moist enough to stick together. Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour before use.

 
Makes one large tart or about 10 tartlets

CHESTNUT CREAM ECLAIRS

Pâte à choux
1 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

4 large eggs

Chestnut Mascarpone Filling

¾ cup chestnut spread (crème de marrons)

2/3 cup mascarpone

Chocolate Glaze

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons milk

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

 


 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a large baking sheet.

The pâte à choux

Bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir well. Lower the heat.

Stir in the flour and keep stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until you obtain a thick mass of dough that detaches from the sides of the pan. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool 5 minutes.

With the paddle attachment on, add the eggs, one at a time, and work the dough until it looks like thick, sticky cake batter. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag or Ziploc bag and pipe 2-inch rounds or logs onto the prepared pan, leaving 2 inches between puffs.

Bake the puffs 25 to 35 minutes, or until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped or shaken. The best way may be to test taste one to make sure it is not dough-ey in the middle. For me, getting perfectly golden and hollow puffs took exactly 32 minutes.

Let the puffs cool to room temperature on a rack before filling them.

The filling

To make the filling, simply stir the chestnut spread and mascarpone well in a medium bowl until you obtain a light brown cream.

Cut the puffs in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Fill one half with the filling using a spoon. Place the other half on top.

The glaze

To make the glaze, heat up the butter and milk over medium heat in a small saucepan until melted. Reduce heat to low, add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted. Remove from heat.

Glaze the top half of the puffs with the chocolate glaze. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
 
Makes 24 mini éclairs.

PATE A CHOUX RECIPE

1 cup water

1 stick unsalted butter

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

4 large eggs

 


 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a large baking sheet.

Bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir well. Lower the heat.

Stir in the flour and keep stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until you obtain a thick mass of dough that detaches from the sides of the pan. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool 5 minutes.

With the paddle attachment on, add the eggs, one at a time, and work the dough until it looks like thick, sticky cake batter. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag or Ziploc bag and pipe 2-inch rounds or logs onto the prepared pan, leaving 2 inches between puffs.

Bake the puffs 25 to 35 minutes, or until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped or shaken. The best way may be to test taste one to make sure it is not dough-ey in the middle. For me, getting perfectly golden and hollow puffs took exactly 32 minutes.

Let the puffs cool to room temperature on a rack before filling them. You may like this chestnut cream filling.
 
Makes 24 mini pastries.

CURRIED SWEET POTATOES ON A STICK

2 medium sweet potatoes, boiled and cut into wedges
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil

 


In a large bowl, whisk the curry powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper and olive oil. Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.

Pierce the sweet potato wedges onto skewers and grill 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Serves 4

Adapted from On a Stick! by Matt Armendariz.

 

PEPPERCORN MUSHROOM PASTA

Pappardelle works beautifully for this recipe but any kind of pasta will do.

 

10 ounces pasta, preferably multi-grain
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced scallions
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (any kind)
Salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
Chopped fresh tarragon, for garnish (optional)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

In the meantime, crack the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until they start sizzling. Add the scallions, mushrooms and peppercorns. Season with salt, and cook for 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and add some salt if necessary. Add the cooked pasta and Parmesan, and cook for a couple extra minutes, tossing to combine the pasta with the sauce.

Plate the pasta and top with extra cheese. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs.

4 servings

GLUTEN-FREE LEMON LAYER CAKE

This recipe makes a small rectangular layer cake made from a single cake cut into thirds.

For the gluten-free génoise cake
¼ cup agave syrup
5 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup millet flour (or all-purpose flour)

For the filling

8 ounces mascarpone
Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus some extra for garnish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave syrup

For the syrup
4 tablespoons agave syrup
Juice of ½ lemon
1/3 cup water

 


 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8×9 pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the agave syrup with the egg yolks and vanilla extract in a medium mixing bowl until frothy. Gently whisk in the flour. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the egg yolk, agave and flour mixture. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 13 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the mascarpone, grated lemon zest, lemon juice and agave together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

When the cake is cooked, unmold it onto a large cutting board or dry surface, gently peel off the parchment paper and cut the cake into three rectangles of the same size. Let it cool.

Make the syrup by combining the agave syrup, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan. Cook the syrup over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Brush the first cake rectangle lightly with the syrup, spread a third of the mascarpone on the cake. Top it with the second cake rectangle, brush it with syrup and spread it with mascarpone. Repeat with the remaining cake rectangle and top it with a thin layer of mascarpone. Garnish with lemon zest, if you wish.

Serves 6

PEANUT TRUFFLES

1 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts
1 cup corn flakes
1/4 cup honey
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

 


 

Grind the peanuts and corn flakes into almost a powder using a food processor.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate over gentle stove heat or in the microwave at 30 second intervals. Shape the peanut mixture into 1-inch balls. Dip the peanut balls in melted chocolate and allow to harden on wax paper 30 minutes or so before serving.

Makes about 12

BLACKBERRY ALMOND TORTE

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey or agave syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
1 ½ cups almond meal
1 tablespoon coconut flour or 2 tablespoons millet flour (or 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup blackberries
 


 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch springform tart pan or individual tartlet pans.

In a large bowl, whisk the butter, honey or agave syrup, vanilla extract and almond extract until creamy. Whisk in the eggs. Combine the almond meal with coconut or millet flour and salt, and add to the wet mixture. Stir well to combine. Pour the batter in the prepared pan and scatter the blackberries on top, pressing them lightly in the batter. Bake until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
 
Serves 8

CREAM CHEESE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, preferably at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee (or liqueur of choice), optional
10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or finely shredded coconut, for coating

 


In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese well until fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract and coffee or liqueur. Melt the chocolate in the microwave and slowly add it to the cream cheese while stirring. Continue stirring until the white from the cheese is no longer visible and the mixture is uniformly brown.

Refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out the chocolate and shape it into 1-inch balls.

Place the cocoa powder or shredded coconut in a shallow dish and roll the truffles in the coating.

Refrigerate leftovers. Allow them to warm up and soften a bit at room temperature before serving them.

Makes 16

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