Flourless Chocolate Torte

This torte tasted great and I followed the directions to the tee. I cook all the time, so am never intimidated by complicated recipes, let alone simple ones. It was cooked perfectly, but for the life of me, I could not get it off the springform pan. I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and tried again; it just smooshed up together. So I put it in the freezer for a couple of hours and could finally get it off the bottom of the springform pan. I did not try to invert it or flip it as it did not seem to have the “staying” power. Previous to finally getting it free of the pan, I was about ready to scoop it out and just put it in compote bowls or old fashioned champagne glasses with a little whipped cream on top and some berries, as why waste a perfectly good dessert.

DESCRIPTION

A decadent, gluten-free flourless chocolate cake recipe with no added sugar necessary!


INGREDIENTS

  • 8 large eggs, cold
  • 1 lb. dark, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
  • optional toppings: powdered sugar and/or berries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of an eight inch springform pan with parchment paper or waxed paper and grease the sides of the pan. (Be sure to grease the sides really well!) Wrap the outside of the pan with 2 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil and set it in a large roasting pan, or any pan that’s larger than the springform. Bring a kettle or pot of water to boil.
  2. In stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until the volume doubles. This takes about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter together. You can either do this in a double boiler on the stove . Or you can do this in the microwave (by heating the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth).
  4. Fold about a third of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture using a large rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible. Fold in half of the remaining egg foam, and then the last half of the foam, until the mixture is totally uniform.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and VERY carefully pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are just beginning to set, a thin-glazed crust (like a brownie) has formed on the surface, and an instant-read thermometer inserted halfway into the center reads 140° F, 22-25 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cool. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
  6. About 30 minutes prior to serving, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan, invert the cake onto a sheet of waxed paper, peel off the parchment paper, and invert the cake onto a serving platter.
  7. If desired, lightly dust the cake with powdered sugar and top with berries. To slice, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife, dipping the knife into a pitcher of hot water and wiping the blade before each cut. ( I top with a chocolate ganache)

NOTES

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Flourless Chocolate Torte

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for over thirty years, I love Salmon of all types and cooked in a variety of different ways. I found this sort of accidentally online and thought I might try it with some of the beautiful parsley I grow in my herb garden. I planted my garden several months ago and it is finally starting to take off. The following bright and flavorful parsley oil makes a great salmon sauce. I served it with bacon wrapped asparagus for the perfect dinner. We paired it with a nice Pinot Noiir.


Ingredients


For the parsley salmon sauce:
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Whole30 salmon:
4 3-ounce salmon llets, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Instructions

  1. First, make the salmon sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender, and
    pulse until very smooth. Pour into a jar, and set aside.
  2. Next, sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the salmon llets, and heat a large skillet
    over medium-high heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan, and then add the salmon, SKIN SIDE DOWN.
  5. Watch the salmon cook on the edges. When it’s half-way cooked, move the skillet to the
    oven to nish cooking. No need to ip this salmon!
  6. Cook the salmon in the oven to your desired level of doneness. I like my salmon a little red
    in the middle, so I cook it for 8-10 minutes, but if you prefer it all the way done, cook it for
    12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the salmon from the skillet, place on a serving dish and drizzle with the pars

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus is one of the best recipes for easy entertaining! Cook it in the oven, on the
grill, or stove. Crispy and flavorful every time! It is so easy in the oven and you can cook it at the same temperature as the fish. I like to make many things with asparagus. The other night we had a simple asparagus soup. I used the leftover asparagus, cut up and added to our dinner salad.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound asparagus spears trimmed (about 20 to 24 spears)
  • 1 Tbl Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. ( and I put tin foil under this to make sure there is no mess)
  • Place the asparagus in a large bowl or on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Count the spears and divide the total number by 8. Gather that number of spears (likely 2 to 4 spears, depending upon their thickness) and hold them together in a single bundle. Starting midway to the top, wrap the bundle with one piece of bacon (overlap the starting end of the bacon slightly to secure it) and place the bundle on the prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining spears.
  • Bake until the bacon is crisp and the asparagus is tender, about 22 to 28 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your bacon and how crisp you’d like it to be. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note

  • You can add additional toppings, such as balsamic glaze, cheese, honey, and more!

Thought you might like to see a photo of my growing, still growing Herb Garden in California.

Note that the parsley is taking over the world and the chives are not doing so well yet! Hopefully they will take off growing soon, as they tried to take over my garden in Washington.

Salmon with Parsley Sauce

Spinach Soup

So easy and delicious and amazingly yummy! Made a few changes to the recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I doubled the amount of spinach used, added a little more homemade stock, did not add croutons and cooked my fresh spinach in the microwave to save time.

I view a lot of blogs that show step by step photos of all the simple food they prepare. At risk of being considered a food snob, I think all the illustrations are unnecessary if you know anything about cooking. I like to skip to the recipe and get to work. If you ever need assistance with a recipe, just let me know!

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cloves garlic, minced ( I used four and it was perfect)

russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes

2 lbs fresh spinach, thick stems trimmed ( I did not trim it and the recipe called for 1 lb, but 2 was great. I precooked it in the microwave in big bowl to save time)

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used about 6 cups and make my own, so it has a lot more flavour.)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper 

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for garnish

FOR THE CROUTONS ( did not add croutons, but served with Irish Soda Bread I had made the day before)

3 tbsp butter

1 cup cubed bread 

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and green onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, then add potato and spinach. Pour over broth and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is bright green, and potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in cream.
  3. Garnish with more cream and croutons.

MAKE CROUTONS

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add bread in a single layer and cook, tossing often, until bread is golden all over, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt.

We served this with a 2017 Suisun Valley Red Wine Petite Sirah from the Lanza Family Vineyard. Perfection!

Spinach Soup

What goes great with soup on a cold evening?

Soft Homemade dinner rolls!

You only need 7 ingredients to make these dinner rolls. Flaky, soft, and buttery, these fresh dinner rolls outshine any main dish. This is such a simple recipe, anyone can quickly put it together.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour or bread flour 
  • optional topping: 2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter mixed with 1 Tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour. Beat on medium speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. If the dough seems too wet to a point where kneading (next step) would be impossible, beat in more flour 1 Tablespoon at a time until you have a workable dough, similar to the photos and video above. Dough should be soft and a little sticky, but still manageable to knead with lightly floured hands. *If you do not own a mixer, you can mix this dough with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle!*
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 2 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes.
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. Takes about 2 hours.
  5. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans. You can bake the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Shape the rolls: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Divide the dough into 14-16 equal pieces. Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect! Shape each piece into a smooth ball. I do this in my hands.
  7. 2nd Rise: Cover shaped rolls with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
  8. Adjust oven rack to a lower position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Bake the rolls towards the bottom of the oven so the tops don’t burn.)
  9. Bake the rolls: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven, brush with optional honey butter topping, and allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Cover leftover rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

What goes great with soup on a cold evening?

Tomato Basil Soup

For the roasted tomatoes

Homemade Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I believe the best homemade roasted tomato basil soup made with fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, caramelized onions and optional add-ins for extra creaminess. This easy tomato basil soup recipe is full of flavor and the best way to use up garden tomatoes! You’ll never go back to the canned stuff after you try this.

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes

Servings 4 servings

Calories 275 

Ingredients

  • For the roasted tomatoes
  • 3 pounds roma or plum tomatoes, cut in half
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • For the caramelized onions: ( I did not caramelized the onions, but cooked till tender)
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • Possible additions to :
  • ½ cup packed basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano ( I added fresh from my garden)
  • 1-2 cups water or vegetarian broth, depending on how thick you want the soup
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional add ins:
  • Light/Regular coconut milk for a creamy vegan soup
  • Whole dairy milk/heavy cream for a creamy texture
  • Parmesan cheese, for a tangy, flavor enhancing flavor
  • A tablespoon or two of butter, for richer flavor

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place halved tomatoes and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
  2. While the tomatoes are roasting, you can make the caramelized onions: Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to a large pot and place over medium heat. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally. Check onions every 5-10 minutes until they have completely caramelized and turned golden in color. This ususally takes 20 minutes.
  3. Once tomatoes and garlic are done roasting, allow them to cool for 10 minutes, then add them to a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. Next add basil and caramelized onions and blend again. Alternatively you can add the tomatoes to the large pot and use an immersion blender. It’s really just about what you have available to you.
  4. After blending, transfer back to pot, turn to medium low heat and add in oregano, vegetarian broth and salt and pepper to taste. From there you can add in any additional add-ons you want (as listed in the ingredients). Allow tomato soup to simmer 10 minutes before serving. To serve, garnish with parmesan cheese and serve with grilled cheese, if desired. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes

I do not usually strain the seeds, but you can with a fine mesh strainer if that’s what you prefer. I just used an immersion blender after I cut up the tomatoes with a baker’s knife.

Tomato Basil Soup

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

In the winter months, there seems nothing better than making soup, and of course then having it for lunch or dinner. It is so fast and easy. I often make a couple in one day, so we have several meals from it. I freeze what we don’t eat, so we have something I can defrost on a busier day. Right now days are not too busy with the pandemic.

A French classic, this creamy potato leek soup is quick, easy, and delicious! And always good with a nice red wine! But then I think most anything is good with a nice red wine.

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 25

Minutes

Cook Time: 40 Minutes

Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream ( I did not have any, so used 1/2 cup of sour cream)
  • Chives, finely chopped, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until soft and wilted, about 10 minutes. Do not to brown.
  2. Add the potatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very soft.
  3. Remove the thyme sprig and bay leaves, and purée the soup with a hand-held immersion blender until smooth, or use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If soup is too thin, simmer until thickened. If it’s too thick, add water or stock to thin it out. Garnish with fresh herbs if desired.
  1. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the cream, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once heated through, add the cream and bring to a simmer before serving.

Note: I added some slice ham, so make it a bit hardier. It was wonderful.

Potato Leek Soup

Lemon Cake Roll with Candied Lemon Slices





Lemon in every bite! Lemon cake and lemon whipped cream filling make this the perfect cake roll for any occasio

INGREDIENTS

CAKE:

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice about 1 medium or ½ large
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar to aid in rolling

FILLING:

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd or pie filling would work too
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll (10×15”) pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. (Use the spray with flour or actually grease and flour the foil to avoid sticking.)
  • Beat eggs at high speed for 2 minutes, until frothy and dark yellow. Beat in sugar, lemon juice, and zest.
  • Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Stir into wet ingredients just until blended.
  • Spread in prepared pan. Batter will be in a very thin layer and you will need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it to all the corners of the pan. Bake for 9-11 minutes (mine took 10).
  • While the cake is baking, set a clean kitchen towel out on a large work surface. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar (about ¼ cup). As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, turn it over on the kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove foil carefully.
  • Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over the cake. Roll tightly, rolling up the cake into the towel. Let cool completely while rolled, at least one hour.
  • While the cake is chilling, make the filling. Beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold in the lemon curd. Chill until ready to use.
  • When cake is cool, carefully unroll the towel. Spread the lemon whipped cream over the cake. (You might have some whipped cream left over.) Gently but tightly, re-roll the cake and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill until it firms up a bit, at least one hour or overnight. Slice and serve. Cake will last covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Candied Lemon Slices

Candied lemon slices are an easy to make garnish to dress up your favorite desserts. Use candied lemons for decorating cakes, pies, cupcakes, and more. 

Candied lemon slices are lemon slices that have been cooked in sugar and dried out. You can eat them as a delicious snack or use them to garnish a plate. It’s simple to make once you know a few basic things.

How To Make Candied Lemon Slices:

First, you will want to cut your lemon slices as thin as possible. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife. I’m lazy about taking out my mandoline so I just use a knife. I prefer a serrated knife because it gives me the most control when cutting.

Second, some recipes say that you have to blanch the citrus before cooking them in sugar water. Blanching softens the rinds and removes the bitterness.

Next, it’s important to simmer the lemon slices in the sugar water using a WIDE bottom pot so the lemon slices do not over lap. This way each slice is more exposed to the syrup. Let the slices simmer away until they turn translucent.

Finally, you have to let them dry out using one of these options. The first is to dry them overnight by letting them sit out on parchment paper. The second option is to put them in the oven at a low temperature for about and hour.

I prefer using the oven because it’s quicker and results in a less sticky lemon slice. You do need to be careful not to over heat them in the oven so keep an eye on them.

Lemon Cake Roll with Candied Lemon Slices

Carne Asada with Chimichurri Sauce

Description

This Keto Carne Asada & Chimichurri Sauce is the perfect low carb grilling recipe for summer entertaining! Whole 30, Paleo, Atkins, Nut Free, Egg Free & Dairy Free!

INGREDIENTS

For the Carne Asada:

  • 1 pound flank or skirt steak
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Carne Asada:

  1. Combine the lime juice, avocado oil, cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, cilantro, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a bowl or gallon sized plastic bag.
  2. Mix well and add the steak to the marinade, turning to coat thoroughly.
  3. Seal the bag or bowl and and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight for the best flavor.
  4. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature.
  5. Prepare the grill and preheat to 450 degrees.
  6. Grill the steaks over direct heat for 4 – 5 minutes per side, or until your desired doneness is reached.
  7. Remove the cooked steaks and place on a clean plate or platter.
  8. Rest the meat for 10 minutes before slicing.
  9. Serve with the Chimichurri if desired.

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small blender or magic bullet.
  2. Blend for 20 seconds, or until fully combined but not completely pureed.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Carne Asada with Chimichurri Sauce

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

What’s for dinner on a weeknight? Got some hamburger in the freezer, some fresh mushrooms, sour cream and a few other additional items and you have the poor man’s version of Beef Stroganoff:

I served it with a ten-minute instant pot recipe for artichoke. They are on sale this time of year, so perfect accompaniment for a simple dinner.

The recipe can vary based on the ingredients you have on hand. I find ground beef gives the best flavor but you can certainly substitute another type of ground meat such as ground turkey or pork.  If using something other than beef, you’ll likely want to add some extra Maggi or Beef Bouillon for a richer flavor!

This easy Ground beef stroganoff recipe is made from scratch with fresh ingredients (no Cream of Mushroom soup as there is too much sodium). This way too simple to make!  You’re literally just  minutes away from getting this beef stroganoff on the table!

  1. Brown beef, onions and garlic.
  2. Add mushrooms, sauce & seasonings.  Simmer a few minutes.
  3. Start your egg noodles cooking!
  4. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles.

Sauce:

  • Sour cream may curdle if it boils so add the sour cream, after you have completed everything else.
  • You can use Greek yogurt if you do not have sour cream. I prefer “light” sour cream or non-dairy sour cream.

Add a little more flavor with any or all of the following:

  • A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard
  • Add a sprig or two of fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon of dried)
  • Add a couple of slices of chopped cooked bacon with the sour cream. ( You can cook it covered with a paper towel for six minutes)
  • Add a small bit of smoked paprika and a dash of hot sauce

I like to serve over thick fresh egg noodles, but you could serve it over potatoes, rice or normal pasta.

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 lb fresh mushrooms sliced ( I like a variety of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth (I have bone broth, which worked great)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Instructions
  • Brown ground beef, onion and garlic in a pan until no pink remains.
  • Add sliced mushrooms and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 more minute. ( I cook my mushrooms separately ahead of time, so there is less liquid)
  • Add broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low 10 minutes.
  • Cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • Remove beef mixture from the heat, Let sit to cool a bit, stir in sour cream and parsley.
  • Serve over egg noodles.

Enjoy with a nice bottle of red wine!

Poor Man’s Beef Stroganoff

Tarte Tatin

The Tarte Tatin was created accidentally at the Hôtel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, Loir-et-Cher, 169 km (105 mi) south of Paris, in the 1880s. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin. There are conflicting stories concerning the tart’s origin, but the most common is that Stéphanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. In an alternative version of the tart’s origin, Stéphanie baked a caramelized apple tart upside-down by mistake, regardless she served her guests the unusual dish. Whatever the veracity of either story, the concept of the upside down tart was not a new one.

The tarte became a signature dish of the Hôtel Tatin. Historians and gourmets have argued whether it is a genuine creation of the Demoiselles (Misses) Tatin, or the branding of an improved version of the “tarte solognote”, a traditional dish named after the Sologne region which surrounds Lamotte-Beuvron. Research suggests that, while the tarte became a specialty of the Hôtel Tatin, the sisters did not set out to create a “signature dish”; they never wrote a cookbook or published their recipe; they never even called it tarte Tatin. That recognition was bestowed upon them  after the sisters’ deaths.

Originally, the tarte Tatin was made with two regional apple varieties: Reine des Reinete Pippins), and Calville. Over the years, other varieties have tended to displace them. When choosing apples for a tarte Tatin, it is important to pick some that will hold their shape while cooking, and not melt into apple sauce.

So here is my story: Years ago (42) when I was pregnant with my oldest son, Chadwyck Montford Bennett Wirtz, who is now 41, I went to a cooking school in San Diego. I went once a week for a couple of years. I was working on my MA in Interior Design back in the time when everything was done on an actual drafting table, not CADD. I could no longer fit behind my drafting table to do my homework, so a I took a leave from school and needed something to do, so I went to cooking school and cooked and ate. I started my pregnancy at 110 pounds and gave birth at 185 pounds. Yes, I liked to eat what I cooked. No, I no longer weigh 185, but I still love to cook.

My middle son Kyle Michael Bennett Wirtz never loved chocolate, which seems totally foreign to me. He loved this Tarte Tatin and I would make it holidays for him, when everyone else wanted chocolate. It is still one of my favorites and Kyle is now 37, so when I made this today it made smile and think of him.

And yes it is much better with bourbon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The cooking school was in San Diego and called “The Gibson Girl”. It was a great concept as two people shared a cooking station, we all cooked part of the meal and we all shared it at the end of the evening. I have great memories of that time.

At about eight months the class was featured on TV and they loved that a “very” pregnant woman was taking the class. I continued the class well after Chadwyck, my first of three sons was born. We had a dinner where all the spouses were invited and Chadwyck’s father was thrilled to attend as he loved to eat and loved showing off his six month old son.

I will never forget, Chadwyck was sitting on Fred’s (Chadwyck’s Dad) shoulders and I looked over to see my quite cholicky son start to leave a deposit on my husband’s head. I looked over in horror to see it run off his head over his face and ears and down the sides of his custom-made suit, Fred being totally unaware. I started laughing and everyone, much to his dismay looked his way and broke out laughing. Luckily Fred was always a great spirit, so he started laughing as someone handed him a nearby towel.

This recipe was from The Cordon Bleu of Paris and to this day is one of my favorites. It is an easy recipe if you remember to cover the handle and can flip the tarte.

I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust Recipe, which I will add at the end. I change the recipe a bit and will add the changes I make to the original recipe:

TARTE TATIN

The amazing thing about Tarte Tatin is how the caramelized apples are somehow transformed into something entirely new while still retaining their distinct apple taste. It’s one of the easiest desserts I’ve attempted it make, but a little challenging. It’s easy because it’s baked upside down, which means there is no need for special decorations or even beautiful rolling of the dough. The real challenge is finding the right balance when caramelizing the apples. Julia Child captures the essence of the dessert in this quote.

“To be sure, a Tarte Tatin should be brown and sweet, but it needs to be more. The apples need to be cooked in sugar and butter long enough that they are not only coated in buttery caramel but also permeated with sweetness. Like what happens in jam-making, where some of the water in the fruit is replaced by sugar.”

The following recipe is courtesy of Julia Child’s book The Way to Cook, published in 1994.

Tarte Tatin Recipe

Ingredients for Pastry Dough
3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Ingredients for Tart Tatin
6 Golden Delicious apples, cored, peeled and halved ( I use 9 to 10)
1 lemon, zested and juiced ( I just add lemon juice to apples as I peel and slice them)
1 1/2 cups sugar. ( I used 3/4 cup )
6 tablespoons unsalted butter. ( I use 8 tablespoons)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, as accompaniment ( I like a bit of Gran Marnier in my whipped cream.

Directions
Preparing the dough. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the flours, sugar and butter. Pulse 5 or 6 times in 1/2-second bursts to break up the butter. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately add the ice water, pulsing 2 or 3 times. The dough should look like a mass of smallish lumps and should just hold together in a mass when a handful is pressed together. If the mixture is too dry, pulse in more water by droplets. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and with the heel of your hand, rapidly and roughly push egg-size blobs into a 6-inch smear. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar. (I let the butter and sugar blend and then add in the apples)

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook. ( As you can see from my photo I do them in a circle, then add some extra in between, so it is tight.)

Preliminary stove-top cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level. Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with the bulb baster – basting gives the apples a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. ( I do not press on the apples or put a lid, as the apples are up and over the rim of the pan). Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough. ( I do not let cool and have the dough ready to go)

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and 1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size, 1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan. ( I roll the dough around my rolling pen and gently unroll on the top of the apples)

Bake and serve. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. ( I was taught to start at 475 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes or until it starts to look done and the liquid is sizzling, then turn to 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the crust is a lovely medium brown)

Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional whipped cream or ice cream.

Now the fun part!
After you take your tart out of the oven, you can test to see whether it’s ready be unmolded. Simply tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove. However, be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan. If a few apples stick to the pan, rearrange the slices as necessary.

(I run a knife around the pan, put a protective cover on the handle, as once I sort of forgot it was really, really hot and had a lovely burn for quite a while. Make sure you have a nice flat beautiful plate to flip the tarte on). Eat and enjoy!

Italian Joe’s Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a food processor
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and give it a few pulses until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
    (Use cold utensils if not using a food processor to not melt butter)
    3) Add egg and milk mixture to the processor while pulsing a few more times until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  4. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture
    (do not knead)
  5. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  6. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  7. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  8. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  9. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!
Tarte Tatin