Tuesday, December 27, 2011


asparagus spinach pesto

Here’s an easy way to eat your greens:  make this fabulous pesto.  Toasted nuts, garlic, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese bring nice flavor profiles to the asparagus and spinach.  Serve it or take it to your next gathering, with fresh veggies, crackers or chips.  Use it as a sandwich spread or as the base for a gourmet pizza.  I sometimes eat it straight out of the jar, it’s just that good.

aspar-spin pesto
Asparagus-Spinach Pesto
Adapted from Southern Living,  March 2010
Rating:  9.5 out of 10


3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, peeled, tough ends cut
1/2 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup freshly grated good-quality Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup toasted nuts of choice (pine nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds for example)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, grated or minced
1-1/2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or Morton kosher salt

Cook asparagus in boiling water to cover 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender; drain and cool on paper towels.  Coarsely chop.

aspar-spin pesto (4) 
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down as needed.
Yield:  About 3 cups

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Make the best spiral-sliced ham ever -- moist and delicious -- following the easy steps I've outlined.  And don't forget the sweet potatoes.  I've included a link to the easiest and best candied sweets.

Finally, for something different that the crowd will love, try my pineapple stuffing.  It's a recipe from many years ago that still pleases.

You'll find the recipe for the ham plus links to the sweet potato and pineapple stuffing HERE.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Here is a dessert that everyone will love.  It’s rich, decadent and absolutely mouth-watering delicious – perfect for a holiday gathering.  You’ll get 12-16 servings from this 9” cheesecake pie, and unless you are serving gluttons or giants, no one will be able to request seconds.  It’s that rich and filling, but oh, so very good.  It’s not a 1-2-3 quick recipe, but very worthy of your time and trouble.  Read more...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Here’s a rich, creamy, firm, New York-style cheesecake that delivers a subtle Nutella flavor from Nutella that is spread over the cooled crust before adding the cheesecake filling.  The filling, itself, has hazelnut liqueur added, and the cheesecake can be topped any way you like.  In the above photo, I sprinkled with bittersweet chocolate shavings and toasted chopped hazelnuts for a nice crunch.  Below, I drizzled with Nutella.
On another piece, I spread Nutella over the top and sprinkled with hazelnuts.
My hubby prefers the cake as is, with no topping.  I prefer it with Nutella spread on top with hazelnuts.  The flavors, along with the creamy and firm texture of this cheesecake, make it a winner.  Everyone who tasted it raved, as did I.  This one is definitely a keeper!

Nutella Mascarpone Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust
Rating:  10 out of 10

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, natural or Dutch
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (1 pack)
4 Tbsp. butter, melted + 1-1/2 tsp. butter to grease pan

Heat oven to 325F.  Combine ingredients in medium bowl and mix with fork.  Grease an 8” springform pan on bottom and 3/4 up sides with 1-1/2 tsp. butter.  Pat graham cracker mixture onto bottom and sides.  Bake 10 minutes to set crust.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.  Increase oven heat to 350F.

Bottom Layer:
1-1/2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup Nutella

Heat heavy cream in microwave or small pot till steaming.  Add butter, stir till it melts.  Whisk in Nutella till smooth.  Spoon over cooled crust, spreading evenly. 

Mascarpone Cheesecake Filling
8 oz. mascarpone
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 2 Tbsp. Nu Natural Stevia)
16 oz. Neufchatel cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla)
2 Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelica

Increase oven heat to 350F.  Have all ingredients at room temperature.  Cheeses should be very soft.  In work bowl of food processor, combine mascarpone cheese and sugar.  Pulse till well mixed and smooth.  Add Neufchatel, 8 oz. at a time, and pulse just till smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, pulsing each just till yolks disappear, then briefly pulse to stir in cream.  Sift cornstarch over filling; pulse briefly to combine.  Add flavorings, scrape  bottom and sides with spatula and pulse one last time, briefly.  Pour filling over Nutella-filled crust.  (You can wrap the pan in tinfoil and place inside a roasting pan filled with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan, or just bake as is, as I did.)  Reduce oven temperature to 300F after cheesecake goes in oven.  Bake about 75 minutes, till still jiggly in center.  Off heat, open oven door and leave cheesecake in oven 1 hour.  Transfer to wire rack.  Loosen edges of cheesecake with thin, sharp knife.  Allow cake to cool thoroughly, away from drafts, 2-3 more hours.  Place in refrigerator 1 hour uncovered, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Serve plain or topped as desired.  Yield:  8 –10 servings  (Cut the slices thin, as this is a very rich cheesecake.)


Tuesday, December 6, 2011



When I unpacked this year’s box of free Kikkoman products, there were two bottles of Ponzu Lime sauce.  For those of you who may not be familiar with Ponzu, it is a tart citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine.  Ponzu shoyu  is ponzu sauce with soy sauce added, and the mixed product is widely referred to as simply ponzu

But, back to the box.  When I saw the two bottles of lime Ponzu, I remembered last year’s box that contained a bottle of lemon-orange Ponzu.  It was still in my pantry, unopened.  I was anxious to try the lime flavor, but knew I had to first use the lemon-orange.  So I started adding it to salad dressings, basting grilled chicken and meats with it, as well as adding it to mayonnaise.  I was pleasantly surprised at the boost in flavor to these foods.  (Kikkoman’s Ponzu has a soy base with citrus flavors, so it provides a salty-sweet component that is very enjoyable.)

I decided to get even more creative.   I want to get to that lime Ponzu.  And so, today’s recipe is one of the most enjoyable fish dinners that I’ve had the pleasure of eating, and I’ll be making it often.  Besides being an easy recipe with minimal clean up, the fish is moist, tender and succulent with amazing complex flavors from the also moist and tender vegetables and the seasonings, and it provides a complete meal in one package.  This can be a dinner for one or a dinner for 6, depending on how many packages you prepare.  Make one for however many people you need to feed.  They each get their own private package.  How cool is that?
For more recipes using Kikkoman products, visit their website.

Asian-Inspired Fillet of Fish in Parchment
Adapted from Epicurious, February 2010
Rating:  10 out of 10 

1 (18”) piece of parchment paper
4-6 oz. fillet of fish of choice
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
1/16 tsp. black pepper
About 1/3 medium zucchini or yellow squash, julienned
About 1/2 medium carrot, peeled and thinly julienned
1 green onion, white and tender green, cut into lengthwise strips
1 25-cent size, 1/4” thick, slice ginger, peeled and very thinly julienned
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (I used parsley
1-1/2 tsp. Kikkoman Ponzu sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Heat oven to 425F.  Lay the parchment on a baking sheet.  Fold the parchment in half. 
Sprinkle fish very lightly with the salt and pepper on both sides.  (Remember the Ponzu is salty.) Lay the fish right at the crease where the parchment is folded, in the middle. 

Lay the vegetables on top of the fish.  Sprinkle with parsley. 
Stir the Ponzu and sesame oil together in a small dish and sprinkle over the vegetables.  Fold the parchment over, then fold in the open edge twice.
Next, pleat it all around to make a semi-circular airtight package. 
If it tends to open up where the folded edges meet, secure that place with a paper clip.  Bake for 10 minutes.  (If you have a fairly thick fillet, you may need another minute or two.  Also, if you are baking a lot of packets, you may need a few extra minutes.)  Test with a skewer; if it goes in easily, the fish is done.  Plunk the whole parchment package on a dinner plate and enjoy!  (A word of caution:  Please open packet carefully – the contents inside are steaming hot.)
Yield:  1 serving.  Make as many packets as you have diners.  Everyone gets their own private dinner packet.

Be creative with this recipe and use the vegetables that excite you.  I happen to love this combo but potatoes, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, bok choy and eggplant are other possibilities.  

Full disclosure:  My opinions are my own and not influenced in any way by free products received from Kikkoman.

Monday, December 5, 2011



Last fall, I was contacted by the Rogers Group and asked to use one of their Kikkoman recipes and blog about it.  In return, the Rogers Group sent me a basket of Kikkoman products and a $25 gift certificate to purchase a turkey.  I accepted, tweaked their recipe to my liking and found a new family favorite:  Soy-Apple-Brined Grilled Turkey.  We’ve had it several times since last fall and love it more each time. 

This year, the Rogers Group again sent me a basket of Kikkoman products and several recipes to try.  My first was the crunchy-topped chocolate chip muffins of today(originally titled,  “Crunchy Topping Coffee Cake”).  My picky hubbie loved them!  The crispy-crunchy topping, made of pecans, panko breadcrumbs, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, imparts complex flavors to a tender, moist and flavorful muffin filled with semi-sweet chocolate chips.  The muffins are just sweet  enough and really satisfy as a snack or dessert.  For those of you who like sweets for breakfast, this one would be great for Christmas morning!

I used vegetable oil in place of shortening and nonfat Greek yogurt in place of buttermilk in order to bring some healthy notes to the recipe, but I used unbleached all-purpose flour to get the full effect of a tender, light and fluffy muffin.  You’ll get 2 dozen muffins from this recipe, but if you can’t use them all at once, freeze some for later.  They’ll taste fresh if you just nuke them for about 10 seconds, rest 10 seconds, nuke 10 seconds more, let rest 5 minutes. 


Please note:  The free Kikkoman products in no way influenced the writing of this post.  I truly like their products and am happy with what I’ve made with them.
Crunchy-Topped Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Kikkoman Crunchy Topping Coffee Cake
Rating:  9 out of 10
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled
2/3 cup Kikkoman Panko Breadcrumbs
2/3 cup toasted chopped pecans

Heat oven to 400F (375F for dark or coated pans.)  Adjust oven rack to upper middle position.  Spray 2 (12-cup) standard-size muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.  In medium bowl, combine ingredients with fork.  Set aside. 

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt or fine sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla flavored
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla.)

In large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Stir in chocolate chips.

In medium bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla.  Pour over dry ingredients and lightly stir with spatula or spoon till just barely combined.  Some lumps are okay.  Do not over mix.  Divide  the thick batter evenly into muffin wells, using about 2-3 Tbsp. per muffin.  Spoon about 1-1/2 tsp. topping over each.  Bake 13-16 minutes (mine took 15 minutes).  Cool in pan 3-4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.    Yield:  24 standard-size muffins

Note:  Find more recipes for Panko, visit kikkomanusa.com/pankoThe site has Buy One, Get One coupons!

Friday, December 2, 2011



In December of 2009, I made a scaled-down version of the Four Seasons Hotel Chocolate Ginger Cookies, thanks to Kristin of the Schell Cafe blog who was able to track down the chef and get the recipe.  She then worked it down to a sizeable batch for home cooks.  The cookies are amazing – crispy edges with chocolaty chewy centers that have a nice zing from the ginger. 

Today’s cookie is from Martha Stewart.  After I made them and compared her recipe with the Four Seasons Hotel’s cookie, I realized that they were the same.  Martha cut the recipe in half,  switched the chocolate chips to chunks and added some freshly grated ginger, but everything else is identical.  This makes me wonder how many TV and internet chefs are taking recipes from bloggers without giving proper credit. 

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Source:  Martha Stewart???
Rating:  9.0 out of 10

7 oz. best-quality semisweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used sanding sugar.)

Line baking sheets with parchment.  Chop chocolate into 1/4” chunks; set aside.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes.  Add brown sugar, beat until combined.  Add molasses; beat until combined.

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in –1-1/2 tsp. boiling water.  Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture.  Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture.  Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap.  Pat dough out to about 1” thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.

Heat oven to 325F.  Roll dough into 1-1/2” balls; place 2” apart on baking sheets.  Refrigerate 20 minutes.  Roll in granulated sugar.  Bake until surfaces crack slightly, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes on pans; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Yield:  about 2 dozen

Thursday, December 1, 2011


This year was a bad one for New Bern area pecans, thanks to the unwelcome visit of one blustery Irene.  All the unripe nuts were blown off the trees before they could be harvested.  Fortunately, I found pecans at Sam's Club and I still have some in my freezer from last year.  I love the buttery flavor of pecans, especially in shortbread cookies where they can be the star.  Like this recipe from Ina Garten.  These are simple cookies, but oh, so very good, with a nice flavor from almond and vanilla extracts.  Read more....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


For the Nestle holiday cookie contest, I entered Chocolate-Almond Snowballs.  These are fudgy treats covered in white chocolate ganache and coconut.  Two bites of deliciousness.  The dough is made in a food processor, so easy.  The recipe is now on the Nestle Facebook Ap.  You can get it by clicking here.  Once you are at the site, click on "view entries."  Scroll down till you see the above photo.  Unless, of course, you get sidetracked by some of the other great recipes.  This contest has judges, but if you have a spare minute, would love you to leave a comment.  I don't expect to win, but it was fun coming up with an original, easy recipe.  The extra bonus here is that I have a new Christmas cookie and it's one of my top faves.



If you’re looking for the best recipe for these delicate cookies (aka butter balls, Mexican wedding cakes and Russian tea cakes), look no further.   I always thought the best version would have a higher ratio of nuts, but Pillsbury uses fewer nuts in their recipe, producing a more tender cookie.  They also use a higher ratio of vanilla.

I made 3/4 of the full recipe, but used the full amount of flavoring, subbing vanilla  powder for the vanilla extract.  Then I added 1 tsp. of rum (not extract).  Instead of mixing the dough with an electric mixer, I just threw everything into the work bowl of my Cuisinart – so simple and quick.  The flavor and texture of this cookie is outstanding.

Pillsbury’s Swedish Tea Cakes, Adapted
Rating:  10 out of 10
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla powder
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. rum (not extract)

In work bowl of food processor, combine all ingredients.  Pulse till dough forms and walnuts are finely chopped.  Shape into 1” balls.  Place 1” apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes, or till set but not brown.  Immediately remove from cookie sheets.  Cool slightly, roll in powdered sugar.  Cool completely; roll again in powdered sugar. 
Yield:  about 33 cookies

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011



My Sicilian mother-in-law used to make the most wonderful fig bars.  Unfortunately, I never got her recipe, but this one from a 1960's Pillsbury recipe is not bad.  Of course, you have to love figs, because that’s the main ingredient.  The recipe makes 4 dozen, a nice batch of cookies for Christmas, or any time of the year.

Fig-Filled Bars
Source:  Ann Pillsbury
Rating:  9 out of 10
Sift together………….2-1/2 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
                                   1/4 tsp. salt
Cream………………1/2 cup butter.  Gradually add
                                   1/2 cup sugar and
                                   1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, creaming well.
Blend in……………...2 unbeaten eggs and
                                   1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract.
Add………………….the dry ingredients; mix thoroughly.  If desired, chill dough for easier
Roll out………………half of dough on floured surface, to a 15x9” rectangle.  Cut into three
                                    15x3” strips.
Spread……………….1/6 of filling down center of each strip.
Fold………………….sides of dough over the filling, using spatula to lift sides, so they just
                                    meet.  Press together slightly.  Cut into 2” bars.  Place, seam-side down,
                                    onto baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough. 
Bake…………………in moderate oven (375F) 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Fig Filling:  In a saucepan, combine 2 cups (1 lb.) figs, ground or finely cut, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp. grated lemon rind, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1/8 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring constantly.  Cool.  Yield:  4 dozen

Friday, November 18, 2011


al roker's chili (2)

When I was a finalist at the Branson Taste of Home Great American Pie Bake-off, Al Roker, one of the judges, gave all of us a signed copy of his barbecue cookbook.  In it were several chili recipes, one of which was his.  I doctored it up quite a bit because I like a chili with complex flavors, and his recipe  seemed very one dimensional.  I doctored it so much that I can no longer call it by his name. 

The flavor of this chili is great – it’s everything I would ever want in a chili.  But, after eating it, Guy and I both agreed that we prefer ground meats in our chili, rather than cubes of chuck steak.  Our senior jaws and teeth prefer as little chewing as possible.  It didn’t stop us from eating it though, because this is some good chili.  There’s just enough heat, and it comes in waves so that you don’t get it all at once.  The hot Italian sausage and Hatch chili peppers seem to take turns delighting your tongue with their presence.  Next time I make this, however, it will be with ground beef.

Spicy Chuck Steak-Italian Sausage Chili
Inspired by Al Roker’s Chili
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

2 lbs. chuck steak, cubed in bite-size pieces (or 2 lbs. ground chuck)
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
2 large onions, diced
12 cloves garlic, grated or diced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. paprika (not smoked)
1 tsp. Mexican oregano, crushed
3/4 cup chopped fire-roasted chiles (I used fresh Hatch chile peppers that I roasted on the grill.)
2 (8-oz.) cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
6 oz. low-sodium beef broth
6 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
6 oz. beer
1 Tbsp. finely ground cornmeal
about 1/2 oz. dark chocolate
1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans
1 (15-oz.) can Northern beans
1 (15-oz.) can dark red kidney beans
Toppings:  chopped scallions, sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown beef and sausage in a large Dutch oven.  Do this in batches so as not to crowd the meat. 
al roker's chili (7) 
Transfer meat to bowl; set aside.  Drain fat, reserving about 2 Tbsp.  Saute onions and garlic in reserved fat till transparent, about 7 minutes.  Add cumin, paprika and oregano; stir and cook about 1 minute, then add fire-roasted chiles, tomato sauce, broths, beer, cornmeal and chocolate.  Stir meat back in.  Bring to a boil, stir thoroughly, reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 1-1/2 hours. 

al roker's chili (8)
Add the beans and simmer gently for another 30 minutes. 
al roker's chili (3) 
Serve with toppings listed above.  Cornbread is also a great accompaniment.  Yield:  about 12 servings
al roker's chili

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


perfect yellow cupcakes (3)

This is a great recipe from the April 2010 issue of Ladies Home Journal.  The recipe is actually for a cake baked in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan, but I wanted cupcakes.  The cupcakes don’t crown, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you view it.  I viewed it as a good thing, because it’s easier to swirl frosting on a flat cupcake. 
perfect yellow cupcakes (2)

The only other problem is that there’s too much batter for 12 cupcakes.  I put the extra batter into a 6” ramekin, so someone got a double cupcake.  I don’t know of anyone that has a 14-cupcake tin, so this was my best solution.  The cupcakes are fluffy, light and moist with a rich buttery flavor.  They really are perfect.
perfect yellow cupcakes

Perfect Yellow Cupcakes
Adapted from Ladies Home Journal
Rating:  9 out of 10

1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked then lightly spooned and swept
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/8 tsp. salt (I used kosher)
1/2 cup (4 oz. or 1 stick) unsalted butter, soft but still cool
1 cup sugar, preferably superfine (whirl granulated sugar in a food processor)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. low-fat buttermilk

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 12-cupcake tin with paper liners.  Grease a 6” ramekin and line with two wax paper circles to fit the bottom.  

Measure then sift  flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.  In large bowl, beat butter and sugar till fluffy, about two minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition just till incorporated.  Add vanilla.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in three stages, beginning and ending with flour, only beating till each addition is barely incorporated.  Remove and scrape beaters of excess batter.  Using a spatula, stir batter briefly, scraping sides and bottom.  Using about a scant 1/4 cup batter for each cupcake, fill cupcake wells.  Spoon extra batter into ramekin.  Bake cupcakes about 14-16 minutes and ramekin about 20-24 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool on wire rack.  Frost as desired.

(Shown:  Double Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)
nfl sundays (9)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


apple frangipane galette (5)

Not quite up for a fussy apple pie?  Make this easier galette with only 1-1/4 lbs. of apples on top of a luscious almond cream filling.  The sophisticated flavors and rustic presentation are perfect for company, or just make the galette for yourself and your family.  You’ll get 6 - 8 servings of a rich, flavorful dessert.  And if you use my new favorite pie dough recipe, you’ll all be raving as much about the uber-flaky pastry as the apple-almond filling.

Apple-Almond Galette
Rating:  10 out of 10

Crust:  Use your favorite recipe, or try my new favorite pie dough recipe.  Chill pie dough in fridge while you make the apple filling and frangipane. 

Apple Filling:
1-1/4 lb. tart apples (4 small) (I used Stayman Winesap.)
2-4 Tbsp. sugar, depending on tartness of apples
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Peel, core and cut apples in 3/8” thick wedges.  Combine with sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
apple frangipane galette (2) 
Almond Cream Filling (Frangipane): 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (I used 1-1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Stevia + 1/4 cup confect. sugar)
big pinch sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup almond meal or 3/4 cup very finely ground almonds
1 Tbsp. flour
1 large egg
1-1/2 tsp. almond liqueur (You can substitute 1/8 tsp. almond extract, if desired.) 

In medium bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and salt till smooth.  Add almond meal, flour, egg and flavoring and whisk again till smooth and well combined.  Set aside.
apple frangipane galette (3)

Assembly:  Heat oven to 375F.  Roll out pie dough into a 14” oval shape. 
apple frangipane galette (6)

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Spread almond cream filling over dough, leaving a 2” border around edge. 
apple frangipane galette (13) 
Arrange apple slices over almond filling, pouring juices from apples over top.  Fold over border, pleating dough and covering outer edges of apples.  Freeze 10 minutes.

Melt 1-1/2 Tbsp. butter.  Brush folded dough with some of the butter and drizzle remaining butter over apples.  Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
apple frangipane galette (17)

Bake 45-55 minutes, or till almond filling puffs up, apples are cooked and crust is golden brown.  Cool slightly before serving. 
apple frangipane galette (18) 
Serve slices of galette with sweetened whipped cream, creme fraiche, ice cream, or as desired.
apple frangipane galette (4)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


apple frangipane galette
Pie crust made with nonfat Greek yogurt?  Weird, yes, but amazingly tender and uber-flaky, too.  It’s a cinch to mix – right in your stand mixer!  The crust has a wonderful flavor and texture that belie the simplicity of this recipe.   No doubt about it, this has become my new favorite pie crust, thanks to salad-in-a-jar.com. 

Flaky All-Butter Pie Crust with Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Adapted from salad-in-a-jar.com
Rating:  10 out of 10

1-1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (I used Morton coarse kosher salt)
1/2 cup (4 oz., or 1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup unflavored or vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt (thinned with a little milk if too thick)
(You can use regular full-fat, low-fat or nonfat yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, if desired.)   

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar and salt on low speed for about 5 seconds. 

apple frangipane galette (7)
Cut cold butter into 8 tablespoon-sized pieces and add to flour.
apple frangipane galette (9)
Mix on low speed for about 45 seconds to partially combine butter with flour mixture.  The mixture will be shaggy with some large pieces of butter.
apple frangipane galette (10)
Whisk egg yolk and yogurt together in small bowl and add all at once to flour mixture. 
apple frangipane galette (11)
Mix on low speed for about 12-15 seconds.  All particles should be barely moistened but not yet coming into a ball.  In other words, you’ll have a shaggy mess that will hold together if you squeeze it between your fingers.  It will not look like it’s thoroughly mixed.
apple frangipane galette (12)
Dump the dough onto a big piece of plastic wrap.  Using the palm of your hand, slide it face down from the middle toward the side of the pile to smoosh the crumbs together and flatten out the big pieces of butter that are still in the dough.
apple frangipane galette (14)
Work your way around the pile until dough is smashed into one big flat clump.  It's still not smooth.apple frangipane galette (15)
Fold plastic wrap up around dough, pressing gently to form a smooth round  patty approximately an inch thick.  You should still be able to see pieces of butter in the dough. 
apple frangipane galette (16)
You can roll the dough out and bake it right away, but I like to refrigerate pie dough for a few hours, or overnight, to develop the best flavor and texture.  To roll out chilled dough, let it rest on the counter, still wrapped, for about 1/2 hour.
apple frangipane galette (6)
Here's the dough, rolled out.  Can you see the pieces of butter?  After your dough is rolled out and fitted into its pie plate, it’s a good idea to chill it again for 1/2 hour.  Dough that’s very cold bakes up flakier.

More tips:  Handle the dough as little as possible and keep it cold.  If it warms too much, put it back in the fridge to get it cold again.  When you fit the dough into a pie plate, don’t stretch it, just lay it in gently.