Blueberry Buttermilk Tart

I am not sure what is going on with me and the blueberries this summer but it is getting intense. Intense like this tart. This is the fabulous blue half of two desserts for the Fourth of July. The other red half is obviously the Mascarpone Tart with strawberries. This dessert does not disappoint and once you get the great unshrinkable sweet tart shell down, you will create these beautiful desserts as fast as your guests will eat them. I used a 9 inch tart pan for this and had a little extra filling. I would definitely serve this with something bubbly. Domaine Chandon, Napa Valley, Brut Classic American Summer Limited Edition. I mean, look at that little bottle, its perfect!

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Blueberry Buttermilk Tart
Makes one 10 inch tart

Sweet tart shell
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

Filling
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
Lightly sweetened whipped cream for topping

To make the tart shell:
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Add the egg and process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough forms clumps. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Form into a disk, wrap the dough in plastic, and chill for two hours.

Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (I rolled mine out between saran wrap.) Turn the dough into your prepared 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in to create double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 5 minutes longer.

Allow the tart shell to cool completely while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling:
Whisk together sugar and cornstarch to remove any lumps. Whisk in egg, yolks, melted butter, buttermilk, vanilla bean paste, lemon juice, salt and nutmeg, and pour into tart shell. Sprinkle surface evenly with 1 1/2 cups blueberries.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the tart until surface is barely golden and still wobbly in the center, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove and allow the tart to cool to room temperature. Serve lightly chilled, with whipped cream.

Adapted from The New York Times.

St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

The first time I made this cake was for a dinner party. The edges of the cake browned too much and I thought it was ruined. My husband is often annoyed with me because I say the food I make is ruined all the time. He finds this too dramatic. But the edge of this cake was not suitable to me. So instead of letting it be ruined, I just cut the entire middle of the cake out and divided it into bars. when I came home from work that day, there was nothing left of the overbaked edges in the pan. Andrew had eaten all of it, stolen bite by stolen bite, throughout the day. Luckily for him, teaching me a lesson means eating large amounts of cake. If you use a metal pan you may brown the edges too much, a glass pan is probably best. There are many versions of this cake out there and this one from Smitten Kitchen is really the best. I am not a fan of using a boxed cake for this dessert. Serve this dessert with Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. If you want to boggle your mind, buy a bottle of Mumm Napa Cuvée M and drink a glass after you taste this cake. I don’t know that they would pair well together, but it is shocking how similar they taste.

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St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

For the cake
3 tbsp milk at room temperature
1 ¾ tsp active dry yeast
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

For the topping
3 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour

Make the cake dough: In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tbsp warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.

Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Switch to a dough hook at this point to beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes.

Stretch dough into a buttered 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Make the gooey topping: Heat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare topping, in a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tbsp water and the vanilla. Using a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use an offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes (baking times will vary depending upon your pan). The cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Allow to cool before serving.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

White Pizza

This is an ideal recipe to class up your football watch party this fall. I have never been the biggest fan of tomato sauce on pizza. The white sauce here is simple to prepare and this pizza feels a little fancier than the usual. Obviously on game day most of the guys are drinking beer. But with this pizza I would pair Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay. This is a budget Chardonnay that can be found at many grocery stores. It is buttery but crisp and goes great with the white sauce in this recipe.

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When making pizza, you can use parchment paper to roll the dough out on. This helps in transfer from the pizza peel to the stone in the oven. The oven in my apartment unfortunately is much hotter in the posterior part, thus I have to rotate everything I bake. If you have a similar problem, halfway through the baking time, you can rotate the pizza so it bakes evenly. When you rotate it you should be able to easily slide the parchment out from under the pizza. You can use cornmeal on the parchment and the pizza stone to make this go smoothly.

White Pizza

1/2 lb pizza dough (enough for a 12 inch crust)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup parmesan

White sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Prepare the white sauce:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring continuously. Add the cream, decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.

Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to cool.

Prepare the pizza:
Place a baking stone on the middle oven rack and heat to 500 degrees. Roll out and/or stretch the dough to 12 cm. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and slightly thicker toward the edge. Place on a pizza peel (if using a pizza stone) or on a cookie sheet if not.

Stir together the ricotta, thyme, salt and pepper. Spread the sauce over the surface of the dough, leaving a small border uncovered. Spread the ricotta mixture over the sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella over this.

Slide the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake for 12 minutes. When it is done, the crust should be crisp and slightly charred on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling and brown in places. The underside of the crust should be brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

Adapted from Serious Eats New York-Style White Pizza.

Chicken Piccata

I can’t believe how few images I have of this chicken considering how often I prepare this dish. The piccata sauce in this dish goes well on so many things… Mashed potatoes, green beans, Lima beans, asparagus. The list goes on and on. This recipe will not disappoint and is fairly simple. I have often doubled the recipe when I have extra guests and it comes together perfectly. It takes more time to reduce the wine and chicken broth but otherwise it is easily doubled for larger parties.

I have used many dry white wines in this dish. One of my favorites is Sauvignon Blanc. It’s an excellent dry wine for summer. During the winter I like to use Chardonnay. Tom Gore makes an oaky, impressive Chardonnay that is very affordable.

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Chicken Piccata

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped vidalia onions
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers

1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness. Place 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl, and place remaining flour in a shallow dish to dredge chicken in. Sprinkle both sides of chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour in shallow dish; shake off excess.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side or until done (165 degrees). Remove chicken from pan; keep warm with foil.

3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan; swirl to coat. Add onions to pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup broth to reserved 1 teaspoon flour; stir until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup broth to pan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Stir in flour mixture; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, juice, and capers. Place 1 chicken breast half on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 2 tablespoons sauce.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Faux-stess Cupcakes

Throwback to childhood, this is a super fun cupcake courtesy of Annie’s Eats. They are actually really simple to make and the filling/piping of the frosting could not be easier. Use a tip that is approximately 1/2 inch diameter to fill the cupcakes and Wilton #3 for the swirl. People seem to be impressed when cupcakes have filling. Literally all you have to do is fill a pastry bag with an appropriate piping tip and stab the cupcakes. I make these with store bought marshmallow cream but Annie also has an incredible recipe for homemade marshmallow creme that I hope to try in these cupcakes soon. I also use Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips for the icing here but chopped chocolate is recommended. Do not worry if you are stirring and stirring and your ganache has not come together yet. It will! Keep stirring! See video and image below to learn what “stiff peaks” means.

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