Archive for June, 2012



Pipe Dream #116: To Pick Right – Truffled Parmesan Biscuits with Ham, Asparagus and Pesto

It just so happened that I celebrated my birthday when I visited Nice this last April (pictures to come this week). Clearly, I’ve never had it so good. I didn’t make myself a cake, I didn’t plan my own party. I just had to choose the restaurant, which is actually kind of a big deal if you are on vacation with your friends. I mean, if the biggest thing you have to worry about is which fabulous restaurant to pick among hundreds, I’d say you’re doing pretty well, but it’s still a lot of pressure, trying to make everyone happy and all that. But I didn’t worry too much. It was my birthday.

Anyway, we went to this place called Terre de Truffes (Earth of Truffles, I think) that was totally dead (it was a Wednesday night). After debating outside for a few minutes, we decided to chance it and walked in. And we were glad.

I’ll just say this. After a full thirty minutes of poring over the menu and exclaiming over the food and gasping repeatedly at the bountiful subtler-than-garlic-but-better-than-garlic-if-you-can-believe-that offerings (things like fresh sea scallops with shaved truffles, truffle saffron reduction and truffled romano potatoes and truffled caramel baba au rhum), we finally decided. And really, there was no way we could have gone wrong. I had never had truffles before, and it is likely that I will never have such a truffle experience ever again. Especially considering the bill for three…but it was totally worth it.

So imagine my surprise when I got home. My mother had bough a whole bottle of truffle oil without even knowing my newfound truffle love! Needless to say, I was very pleased and even more pleased when I found this truffle biscuit recipe.

These biscuits are easy to prepare and turn out very flaky. Make sure your biscuit dough is cold, and you’re golden. Add some accompanying flavors and you have a whole meal deal. Plus the experience of a truffle lifetime. I’m sure you could make them with regular olive oil too, but really, just get some truffle oil. It will change you for the better.

OH,

L

Truffled Parmesan Biscuits with Ham, Asparagus and Pesto

Adapted from aspicyperspective

For the biscuits:

2 cups  all-purpose flour
1-½ tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
¾ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon shaved truffle (or 1 teaspoon truffle oil)
⅓ cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter, or egg wash

For the rest of it:

1 cup pesto, fresh or jarred (I used a dehydrated sundried tomato pesto)

12 slices ham, proscuitto, or whatever else you have around

4 or 5 asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces

Heat oven to 450ºF with the rack in the center.

Using a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients together. Add the butter and shortening, then pulse until it resembles course chopped nuts. Add the buttermilk, truffles and Parmesan, then pulse again until it forms moist clumps.

Dump the wet dough onto a well floured surface. Flour your hands and press the dough into an even rectangle, 1 1/4 inch high. Use a 2-inch cutter to cut the biscuits. Gather the scraps, press and cut again; you should have 12 biscuits all together. (Try to cut as many in the first round as possible. The second batch will be slightly tougher.)

Using the melted butter or egg wash, brush the top of each biscuits and place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Lightly sprinkle them with sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil (or truffle oil) in a frying pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, chuck in the asparagus and season with salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until the spears have turned bright green and are slightly tender. They should not be super soft.

While the biscuits are warm, crack them open and smear them with pesto. Then layer a piece of prosciutto and three asparagus chunks on each biscuit and place the top back on.

Advertisements

Favorite Shots: Check

Sun flare? Check.

Neat vantage point? Check.

Living thing? Check.

Favorite shot. Check.

L

Pipe Dream #115: To Play Better Live – Venice

I think that what really makes a good band is a good show. Seriously, if a band doesn’t sound just as good live as they do on their record, I write them off. It may be judgmental, but I’m all for being picky about music. There is too much awful out there not to be.

It goes for people too. It is my heart’s earnest desire to portray my real self on the internet. Heaven forbid that someday, someone should see me and say, “Wow, her profile picture is way out of date” or “Lauren is just not as witty, charming and cool” as her blog seems to suggest!” Jokes. :]

Ah, Venice. It was the one place I visited where everything was exactly as picturesque and romantic as in the movies. Even Paris didn’t compare. All of these shots portray Venice as it actually is. Rare.

Dream on,

L

Rando Tuesdays: Italian Bakes

The pastry you see above is the inspiration for yesterday’s recipe. In addition to my regular diet of pizza, gelato and pasta, Italy afforded me a constant stream of ‘bigne con chantilly,’ otherwise known as ‘choux avec chantilly’ if you are in France. While I kept up the tradition in France, I first discovered these little balls of joy in Venice. And I was a literal ball of joy after eating like that for three weeks.

Bakeries in Europe are just so different compared to bakeries in the states. In Italy, there was a bakery around every corner, it seemed, and picking up a pastry and espresso for breakfast was the norm. How I wish that were the norm in Minnesota!

Speaking of coffee, I had one called a ‘caffé nutté,’ which was essentially a double shot glass spread with Nutella inside, then filled with espresso, whipped cream, hazelnut sauce and hazelnuts. My relationship with hazelnuts can never now be the same.

I also had sfogliatelle a number of times. I was so excited to try them after seeing the ‘lobster tails’ on Cake Boss. They were filled with anything from lemon pastry cream to chocolate and taste just as you’d imagine that many layers of delicious pastry to taste.

I think I’ll go running now,

L

Pipe Dream #114: To Stay Flated – Choux Chantilly (Cream Puffs)

I will tell you tomorrow how obsessed I was with these pastries. But until I reveal my ultimate shame, I suggest you find out for yourself how easy this pastry is to work with and how addicting these little babies can become.

Especially if you have some spare strawberries lying around.

I have to say, pastry dough in any form is usually pretty intimidating to me. You know, don’t chill it for long enough or handle it too much and it’s all to waste. But all you really need to watch with choux dough is its consistency. It should be really soft, but not so soft that you can’t pipe it into shapes. They key is to add the eggs slowly and test the consistency often. If you pull a spoon out of the dough, the tip of the peak should fall over. If it stands up, you need more eggs.

Also make sure to bake the choux to an even golden brown–no light sides. They’ll deflate like a week-old birthday balloon if they have light sides. Sad, really. But once that is out of the way, you’re really golden any way you look at it.

Oh dear,

L

Choux Chantilly

Adapted from Food Network

1 cup water
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (for sweet)
1 teaspoon salt (for savory)
5 3/4 ounces flour
1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Boil water, butter, and salt or sugar. Add flour and remove from heat. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture into bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 or 4 minutes.

With mixer on stir or lowest speed add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip.

Pipe immediately into golfball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

When cool, whip 1 cup (or more as needed) heavy cream with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. When ready to serve, cut the cream puffs in half and pipe cream onto the bottom halves of the pastries. Replace top half and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, as the pastry will become soggy once it is filled.

Favorite Shots: Ocean Emotion

How does this picture make you feel? The shots that are really my favorite always evoke emotions. Perfect composition, or a neat edit mean nothing unless the shot makes you feel something. That’s what I think.

Feeling peaceful and grateful,

L

Pipe Dream #113: To Skip Allergy Season And Keep Paris Season

Paris was a dream and a half. Besides one bad experience in which several Parisians in a row would not tell me how to get to the Pantheon, which was approximately three blocks away, I had a grand time. Oh, and I had to buy allergy medicine from a French pharmacy too. It would have been a lot worse if the lady selling it to me had been rude and not understood that I wanted non-drowsy meds. Enjoy these!

L


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,944 other followers

Lane Cake

Chocolate Clementine Marquise

Spicy Chai Biscotti

Red Wine Pear Trifles

Coconut Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peach Cobbler

Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise

S’mores Cake with Malted PB Frosting

Lemon Mousse Crepe Cake

Strawberry Shortcake

Nectarine Brown Butter Upside Down Cake

Raspberry Espresso Fudge Cake

Cherry Clafoutis

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Banoffee Pie

Blueberry Bourbon Bread Pudding

Pink Sprinkle Cupcakes

Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf

No-Bake Nests

Butter Pecan Shortbread

Black Garlic Herb Bread

Pumpkin Chiffon Torte

Maple Pecan Brown Butter Cupcakes

Advertisements