Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

June 14, 2012

Adam & Eve on a Raft...Psych!

Light & crisp cornmeal pastry. Vanilla bean custard. And the star? A warm, tender, perfectly ripe apricot. I ate my first apricots of the season today, and my thoughts went straight to this utterly addictive treat. Make your dough and pastry cream the day before to save time in the morning. Then just roll your dough, top with pastry cream and apricots, and bake! 

The Dough

1 1/2 cups flour
6T corn meal
1/2t salt
2t sugar, + extra for baking
5T sour cream
7T water
10 1/2T butter, chilled (1 stick + 2 1/2T)
eggwash (1 egg, lightly beaten with a bit of water)

Mix the dry ingredients (1st 4) together in a bowl. Combine the water & sour cream in a bowl, and set aside. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes, and cut into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter, a fork, or quick pulses in a Cuisinart. Slowly mix in the wet ingredients until a dough is formed. You may not need to use all of it. Doughs will form differently depending on the amount of humidity in the air. Wrap the dough in plastic, and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. 

The Pastry Cream

3 yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2T corn starch
1 cup + milk
vanilla bean

Split a vanilla bean, scrap out the seeds. Put the seeds in the sugar, and the pod in your milk. Heat a little more than 1 cup of milk until just scalded. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Stabilize your bowl of yolks with a towel or rubber mat. Whisk in the hot milk VERY quickly (or you'll get scrambled eggs). Remove the vanilla pod, and pour the mixture back into the pot from the milk. Stir over medium heat until thick. It will thicken very quickly because of the cornstarch, so whisk constantly, and don't walk away. As soon as it starts to thicken (you can see the lines the whisk leaves), turn off the heat and pour the custard into a clean bowl. It will continue to thicken as you  pour it out, so work quickly, using a spatula to get it all out. Let it cool at room temperature for about an hour, then cover with plastic and chill until set. 

Ready to Roll?

Preheat your oven to 400'. Wash & dry 4 perfectly ripe apricots, and slice them in half lengthwise. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Keep the reserved dough covered and chilled as you roll. Roll each piece of dough into an oval, about 1/8" thick. Spread some pastry cream onto each oval, keeping the edge clear about 1/2" for crimping. Create a border for each tart by folding in the dough onto itself, all the way around. Using a thin spatula, place each tart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the crimped edge of each tart with the eggwash. Place 2 half apricots onto each tart (so it looks like 2 fried eggs). Sprinkle some of the extra sugar around the edge of the tart (over the eggwash). 

Bake at 400' until the pastry is golden on the edges and the bottom. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. 

Bring these to an outdoor concert, a picnic or brunch, and your friends will forever sing your praises. Hurry up, before apricot season is gone!