I know it seems like all I do is bake, but sometimes, I actually cook. In fact, I probably cook more than I bake, but it’s usually not as pretty or post-worthy as what I bake, so I don’t really talk about it.
However, I have to tell you about these coconut shrimp. I’ve been on a kick lately where I dip things into egg and flour batter and fry them. Mostly, this pays off; as we all know, frying things makes them extra delicious. This coconut shrimp is no exception. They are tender on the inside and crispy and flaky on the outside. There’s definitely a tropical vibe happening with these, which is great in the middle of winter in the Midwest.
If you decide to make these, I would use the best shrimp you can find. Peel and devein them, leaving the tails on, and then dip them in egg and flour and coat them in shredded coconut. Fry them in oil until they’re golden brown on both sides. You’ll know when the shrimp is done by how brown the outsides are, but also by how the whole shrimp looks; they should curl up slightly in the pan before you remove them.
I like to serve these plain with some basmati rice and a simple green salad, but feel free to get creative. I’m sure hot sauce or some kind of citrus dressing for dipping would also taste great.
Here’s a song to get you started on your coconut shrimp journey. I love Tennis, and this is one of their latest songs. I really like the theme of taking a risk.
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 2 large eggs, beaten 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails attached 3–4 Tbsp vegetable oil
Select three medium bowls. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and pepper. In the second bowl, beat two eggs. In the third bowl, whisk together the Panko bread crumbs and coconut. Set the three bowls in a straight line side by side.
Going one shrimp at a time, dredge the shrimp through the flour, then the egg, and then toss it in the coconut breadcrumb mixture until it’s well coated. Set it on a plate. Repeat this process until you’ve gone through all the shrimp.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until they’re golden brown, about two to three minutes per side. Remove the shrimp to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the process until you’ve fried all the shrimp. Serve them with rice and a green salad. Enjoy!
This holiday season was pretty much hell for me. It started with me dropping my car at the shop after a tire exploding and my bumper falling off. Then, I started feeling an internal sick tsunami; i.e., the feeling that I’m about to be very, very sick washing over me (it’s intuitive as much as it’s physical). Soon after, I tested positive for COVID and couldn’t get out of bed for a week. Every plan I had, including going out of town to see Jim’s mom and meeting my brother and his girlfriend in New York, went completely out the window.
I was really depressed about everything for about a week, but then I started looking for the silver lining. I think my body needed a break for a long time, and I kept overlooking it. I was so busy at work and at home from Thanksgiving on that I barely allowed myself time to just lie in bed and rest. The good news is, I got plenty of rest between December 19 and now, and I’m finally starting to feel better.
This morning, I slept late and then made cinnamon rolls from scratch. Some of you might be wondering how I could make cinnamon rolls in one morning. Most recipes call for them rising for several hours or overnight. The answer is, I used this brilliant recipe from Sally’s Baking blog (one of my go-to sources for basic pastry recipes). The recipe calls for instant yeast, not active dry, which makes the dough rise faster.
Sally also gives a tip for getting the rolls to rise quickly that is pure genius. You set your oven for 150 degrees (or in my case, 170 because that’s as low as it would go), and then once your rolls are formed into spirals, turn off the oven. Place the rolls in your prepped baking dish, put a piece of aluminum foil over the top, and then put the pan in the oven with the door cracked open for about 30 minutes. After that, close the door and leave them in the oven for another hour. The rolls will rise perfectly. Don’t forget to take them out before you preheat the oven to bake them.
The tip that Sally does not give but I would recommend is cutting your rolls with a very thin string. I’d read about this technique before but I was nervous to try it. However, after messing up cinnamon rolls and chocolate buns many times by cutting them with a knife, I was ready to try something new. It paid off. I cut off some unused fishing line from a roll that Jim keeps in the house. I used a knife to mark 11 places to cut to form the rolls. Then, I slid the inch-long string under the cinnamon roll log and used both sides to cut the log into pieces. It worked like a charm. If you want a good tutorial, King Arthur Baking has one. It calls for unflavored, unwaxed floss, not fishing line, but any thin string will do.
I hope you get to try these rolls soon! They do take a little work, but overall they come together way faster than overnight cinnamon rolls and taste even better. They’re soft, pillowy and sweet- the perfect thing to eat to start the new year. Here’s a song to get you started on your cinnamon roll journey.
It has been a while…like, four months a while. I have all the same excuses: New full-time job, new side gig (Amélie Bakery…more on that later), feeling under the weather multiple times and taking multiple COVID tests to rule it out.
But really, I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been wondering if keeping up this blog is worth it. Then, I was skimming the New York Times recently and I saw an article about the late Julie Powell. For those of you unfamiliar with Powell, she was the inspiration for the movie “Julie and Julia,” which was based on her story as a struggling admin in New York City who decided to start her own food blog about cooking every recipe from Julia Child’s famous cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
Sadly, Powell recently passed away at age 49. The article chronicles her life, but it also touches on the evolution of the food blog since 2003, when Powell started hers and cooked (almost) all Julia Child’s recipes. Back in 2003, which was actually seven years before I started this blog, food blogging was relatively new. People weren’t really specialized or branded the way they are now (think, blogs devoted to sourdough bread baking, or ones devoted to one kind of cuisine). As Julia Moskin writes in the NYT article, “Powell didn’t start blogging because she was a prescient media observer; she wasn’t trying to capitalize on the audience for digital food content…What Powell did possess was an understanding that starting out as a cook is a universal experience, and a voice that made every recipe sound like an adventure.”
Reading this article reminded me of why I started my blog in 2010. I had just moved back from France and I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. Also, I was trying to find my way as a baker and cook. Every recipe was truly an adventure to me back then because I had never made them before. My skills were almost zero, but my passion and drive were 100.
I go through times where writing this blog feels like a useless endeavor, because I wonder, how many people are actually reading it? I also think, is it worth it to set aside time to write when I have so many other things going on that demand my attention? Sometimes, when I’m stressed out or overloaded with work, the last thing I want to do is sit down at my laptop and write a blog post.
However, I’m beginning to realize that it’s the first thing I should do, because in writing this blog, I’m reaffirming my passion for food, cooking, and baking. It allows me to reconnect with myself and reflect on one of my greatest passions. It also reminds me that whether I’m making a recipe for the first time or the thirtieth time, it’s an adventure because I never know what’s going to happen next. The kitchen, like life, holds many surprises; some good, some bad, but ultimately, all teachable moments.
So that is my long-winded way of saying, I’m back, bébé. In honor of my return to blogging, I bring you these chocolate candied orange scones for your breakfast, brunch, or all-day pleasure. What I love about making scones is the process: You have to get kind of down and dirty if you’re really going to do it right. You might have a stand mixer on the counter and be tempted to use it, but I’d urge you to go the other direction and try make these mostly with your hands. It’s messy but so rewarding when you see the dough finally come together, and how the scones look when they’re right out of the oven.
Here’s a song to get you started on your chocolate candied orange scones journey.
Chocolate Candied Orange Scones
4 cups AP flour 5 Tbsp very cold butter, cut into cubes 1 Tbsp baking powder pinch of salt 1 Tbsp granulated sugar zest of one orange 75 g candied orange peel, finely chopped 75 g dark chocolate, chopped 1 1/4 cup of whole milk 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Add the cold, cubed butter to the flour mixture and use your thumb and pointer finger to pinch it flat into the flour. Once all the pieces are flattened, use your hands to work the butter into the flour until the butter is in pieces the size of peas. Whisk in the salt, sugar, and orange zest. Toss in the chopped orange peel and dark chocolate, then add the milk. Use your hands and/or a wooden spoon or pastry cutter to combine the milk with the flour mixture until it forms a shaggy dough that holds together without any dry, flour-y pieces.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a round big enough to cut out 12-14 scones. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many scones as you can (I got about 14). Place the scones on the pre-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with beaten egg. Bake them for about 12-14 minutes, or until they’re golden brown on top. Enjoy!
I can’t believe it’s been seven months since the last time I blogged. I feel guilty, but then, I don’t, because a lot has happened; I started a new job, left it, and started another one. I road tripped up the California Coast. I also made this batsh*t crazy blueberry cobbler.
How did you come up with the name? you might ask. It was inspired by the times. I can’t believe I live in a country where someone who owns a gun has more rights over their weapon than I do over my uterus. It’s distressing, horrifying, and disheartening. I honestly feel like crying and puking just writing about it.
I could go on for hours, but I’m basically speechless. I actually think this movie I just watched would be an eye opener for anyone who is trying to understand what it means to take away a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body. It’s a French movie set in the 60s, but the scary part is, it has direct parallels with what is happening today. There were parts where it was hard to watch, but I tried to force myself to watch all of it. If I’m having this reaction and I’m not dealing with this currently, imagine how the hundreds of thousands of women feel who are dealing with this reality every day.
I don’t consider myself a naive person, but the more I think about what I learned in school and what is currently transpiring, the more I feel like a fool. I sat through U.S. Government in high school proud that I lived in a country that gave women the right to choose. Of course, as I got older I realized that many women couldn’t choose, but I never thought the government would revoke this fundamental human right. Honestly, I feel like chattel. We’re all going around, making plans, living our lives, but HELLO. The country’s top authority decided we are less than human beings; we, as women, are basically nothing.
So anyway, as I try to grapple with all the above, I made some Batsh*t Blueberry Cobbler. I’m not one of those people who thinks if you don’t laugh, you cry; I’ve done plenty of crying over the past few weeks. But I do believe in directly responding to the times with the things I create. I’m going to brainstorm more on what that means the next few weeks, months, and perhaps years.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the recipe for this cobbler. You can sub in any fruit, but be aware that berries will probably work better here than some other summer fruits like peaches or nectarines. The juicier the fruit, the better your cobbler will be on the bottom. The top is consistently good as long as you don’t overmix the biscuit dough.
Batsh*t Crazy Blueberry Cobbler
Ingredients: 4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries 1/3 cup sugar 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp Kosher salt 1 Tbsp sugar 2 1/4 tsp baking powder 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 3/4 cup heavy cream turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the blueberries with 1/3 cup sugar and a tablespoon of AP flour. Let it sit for a while, stirring occasionally.
When you’re ready to assemble the dish, whisk 1 1/2 cups AP flour with the salt, sugar, and baking powder. Toss in the cold pieces of butter and use a pastry cutter, two forks, or your hands to create a mixture that has coarse crumbles. Stir in the heavy cream, mixing until the flour mixture is just moistened. You can add a little more cream if you need to, to make the dough come together.
Pour the blueberry mixture in a small baking dish. Using your hands, form pieces of the dough into small circles that are about 2 inches wide and place them the pieces on top of the berries, leaving a little space in between. I like to do about 3 biscuits per row. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top of the biscuits.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the blueberry mixture is bubbling. Serve warm with more heavy cream or ice cream.
These might be my favorite scones I’ve made recently, and I’ve made *a lot* of scones. They’re citrusy, sweet, chocolate-y, and delicious. Basically, they’re everything you need in a winter scone.
I’m a big fan of blood oranges. However, I only have a certain window when I can find good ones at the grocery store in the Midwest, and that window is usually now. Last week, I picked up a couple in preparation to make these scones.
My favorite thing about blood oranges is the color inside. They live up to their name (although I guess you don’t want to think about the inside of the orange being bloody), as their insides are usually a deep red color. When you cut into them to squeeze the juice out like I did for this recipe, your kitchen counter will probably look like a crime scene.
Before I turn you off blood oranges forever, just know that the mess (and slight trauma) will be worth the finished product. Whisking blood orange juice with powdered sugar makes a delightful pink glaze that you can put on top of any scones. The juice is good natural food coloring, especially for baked goods around Valentine’s Day.
If you’re an avid baker, you might notice a weird ingredient in these scones: An egg. Most scones just rely on milk to hold them together, but I’ve added a beaten egg into the mix. It’s a great binder and prevents the scone from spreading out too much as it bakes in the oven (as often happens, especially if you bake scones without freezing them first). It’s also a great time saver because I think few of us like to wait 15 or 30 minutes for scones to chill before baking them.
Another note: The scones and the icing are kind of improvisational. I’ve included a recipe below, but you might find that you need a little more milk to get the dough to come together, or a little more powdered sugar to get the icing the consistency you want it. Either way, don’t panic: You’re shooting for a scone dough that is just combined, but not dry and flour-y, or overly wet and sticky. With the glaze, if you like thicker glaze, add more sugar like I did. If you like glaze that’s less noticeable, add less sugar or more orange juice.
Here’s a song to get you started on your blood orange dark chocolate chip scone journey.
Blood Orange Dark Chocolate Chip Scones
for the scones: 180 g plain flour 120 g spelt flour 1 Tbsp baking powder 25 g light brown sugar 1/2 tsp Kosher salt 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 75 g cold butter, cubed 2 blood oranges, zest finely grated 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (I used 85% dark chocolate) 1 large egg, lightly beaten 100 ml whole milk, plus more for brushing the tops of the scones
for the glaze: 125 g powdered sugar 2 Tbsp blood orange juice
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut it into the dry ingredients until the butter forms pieces the size of small peas. Mix in the orange zest and dark chocolate, Mix in the egg and milk, using a wooden spoon or your hands to get the dough to come together. Turn the ball of dough out onto the counter, pat it into a circle that’s about one inch thick, and then cut it into eight pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with some milk.
Bake the scones for about 12-15 minutes, or until they’re golden brown on top and spring back to the touch. Let them cool a bit before placing them on a wire rack to cool the rest of the way. In the meantime, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and blood orange juice in a shallow bowl. When the scones are done cooling slightly, invert them and dip the tops into glaze and place them back on the wire rack to set. Enjoy!
I’ll be honest with you: This granola basically came about by me dumping every half-open bag of nuts in my fridge into a large bowl. But even so, it created something magical, warming, and delicious.
I like to improvise a lot with granola. The key is to make sure the dry ingredients are coated well in a liquid. For me, that usually means lots of olive oil and maple syrup. The combo might sound disgusting to some, but it actually works really well here. Olive oil gives the granola a slightly savory flavor, and the maple syrup gives it some sweetness and smokiness. It’s really a win-win situation.
For this granola, I used rolled oats, sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels, maple syrup, olive oil, light brown sugar, and some salt. I tossed it all together in a big bowl and spread it out on two baking sheets. I roasted it for about 30-40 minutes, raking the granola around with a spatula every 10 minutes to make sure the ingredients were toasted evenly.
You might be tempted to skip the raking step. I know I was. But commit to the rake; it will yield granola that’s more evenly done, slightly caramelized, and crispy. No one wants sad granola with undone or overdone pieces.
Feel free to make substitutions in this recipe. Like I said, mine came about through dumping the contents of my fridge into a bowl. I bet dried fruit, cacao nibs, or coconut would also taste great in this recipe.
Jim and I ate some of this for brunch yesterday with lots of milk and fruit. It’s so good, though, that you’ll probably want to eat it straight out of the storage container like we’ve been doing.
Here’s a song to get you started on your homemade granola journey.
500 g rolled oats 100 g sliced almonds 170 g sunflower kernels 70 g pumpkin seeds 160 g light brown sugar 135 g maple syrup 170 ml olive oil 2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Spread the contents of the bowl across the two baking sheets so they’re more or less in an even layer. Bake the sheets for about 30-50 minutes, raking the granola with a spoon or spatula every 10 minutes to turn over pieces and make sure they bake evenly. The granola will be ready when it’s golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving (or as long as you can…it’s hard to wait!)
These Meyer lemon poppyseed scones are like little rays of sunshine. I decided to make them this morning because I literally had nothing to eat for breakfast. I did have three Meyer lemons, half a container of buttermilk, flour, and poppyseeds, so these scones were born.
I love poppyseeds in (almost) everything. I’ve made poppyseed cake, muffins, and bagels, and now, I’ve made poppyseed scones. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with them…I mean, they’re great but they’re not an ingredient superstar. I guess I just like the way they look, and the way they subtly improve a baked good. They’re definitely not as loud and upfront as a Meyer lemon, but they’re striking in their own way.
Okay before I wax poetic about poppyseeds, here are some recipe tips. The scones come together pretty easily. I made them while I was working from home this morning and it didn’t take more than a half hour.
I started to believe (erroneously) that making scones was easier in a stand mixer, but I’m taking that back now. I used very cold butter and a pastry cutter and the scones were the best they’ve ever been. They were light and fluffy with the perfect crumb. I’m no expert but I think this has to do with how the butter is incorporated. If you use a stand mixer the butter is flattened, and it gets warmer faster because a mixing attachment is literally beating it against metal. If you use a pastry cutter and firm pressure, you can make sure the butter is more evenly incorporated.
These are great with a nice hot cup of coffee, or with a lukewarm one (I like to make my coffee and drink it as I bake). I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Here’s a song to get you started on your Meyer lemon poppyseed scone journey.
Meyer Lemon Poppyseed Scones
for the scones: 250 g AP flour, plus more for work surface 100 g granulated sugar 1/2 tsp salt 2 1/2 tsp baking powder zest of one Meyer lemon 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very cold 120 ml buttermilk, plus more for brushing scones 1 large egg 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 Tbsp poppyseeds
for the glaze: 120 g sifted confectioner’s sugar juice of one Meyer lemon 1 Tbsp half and half 1 Tbsp poppyseeds
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, Meyer lemon zest, and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut the stick of butter into cubes and then use a pastry cutter or your hands to work it into the flour mixture. The result should be a grainy mixture with pieces the size of small peas.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and the poppyseeds and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it into a ball. Flatten the ball into an eight-inch disk that’s about one inch thick. Cut the scones into eight pieces and place them on a baking sheet, using two if you don’t have enough room on one. Place the sheet with the scones in the freezer for 15 minutes.
While the scones are chilling, make the glaze. Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, Meyer lemon juice, half and half, and poppyseeds in a medium bowl until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the scones are done chilling, remove them from the oven and brush the tops with a little buttermilk. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the tops are lightly browned. Remove from the scones from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before topping with the glaze. Enjoy!
Y’all have been clamoring for this cranberry orange muffin recipe. I can’t say I blame you.
Cranberries are the ultimate fall fruit. I just discovered that a few weeks ago, when I bought two pounds of cranberries and ended up only using one to make cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. I had a whole pound left, so I decided to put them in everything.
I hadn’t baked much with cranberry before, but now that I have, there’s no going back. I absolutely love them in everything from scones to cake. They add little pops of tartness to sweet things, and they look great in baked goods. They’re like little cute polka dots you didn’t know your muffin or cake needed.
This recipe came to me because I wanted to have something to eat for breakfast all week, and I wanted to use up cranberries and oranges sitting in my fridge.
I also wanted to use up some yogurt, and so I mixed a bunch into the muffin batter. The result is a very tender crumb that practically melts in your mouth.
I glazed these muffins but you could always omit the glaze if you don’t want extra sugar. I might experiment with a crumb topping next time because I feel like these muffins have coffee cake vibes without actually being coffee cake. They’re great with a strong cup of coffee in the morning.
You can use fresh or frozen cranberries in the batter. I used fresh because that’s what I had, but you could mix frozen berries and it would still turn out great. Avoid using dried cranberries unless you want to sprinkle some on top for decoration. They don’t have the same pop of flavor as fresh cranberries.
Here’s a song to get you started on your cranberry orange muffin journey.
Cranberry Orange Muffins
for the muffins: 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 large eggs at room temperature 1/2 cup yogurt (I used 2%, but whole is great, too) 2 tsp pure vanilla extract zest of 2 oranges 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp salt 2 Tbsp orange juice (mine was fresh squeezed, but it doesn’t have to be) 2 Tbsp whole milk 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
for the glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 3 Tbsp orange juice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with a rack in the middle. Grease a muffin pan or line it with paper cups.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until creamed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, yogurt, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is well combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix until just combined. Add the orange juice and whole milk and mix again until everything is well combined. Fold in the cranberries with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Scoop or spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. I like to use an ice cream scoop, but regular spoons work well, too. Make sure the cups are 3/4 way full.
Bake the muffins for five minutes at 425 degrees F, then turn down the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 15-18 minutes more, or until the tops are golden brown and spring back to the touch. You can also check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.
Let the muffins cool completely. Once they’re cool, whisk together the powdered sugar and orange juice. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze on top of the muffins.
These will keep for a few days tightly sealed at room temp. Enjoy!
Every year around this time, I find myself craving tortilla soup. It’s simple, warming, and spicy. It’s the perfect thing to make after Thanksgiving when you never want to cook again but you also don’t want to eat leftovers or takeout for the rest of your life.
This soup comes together in less than an hour and it relies on some basics that you probably have in your pantry and fridge. It does require cooked chicken, but that could really be any variety. If you have leftover rotisserie chicken, shred it and throw it in. If not, you can do what I did and salt and roast some chicken breasts in the oven for about thirty minutes, and then shred them afterward.
Whatever your plan of attack is, don’t stress because the real star of this show is the tortilla chips. Some people like to use real tortillas in their tortilla soup, but I’m a fan of chips. I like to take a big handful, crumble them up, and throw them on top of the soup. There’s something about this bit of theatrics that makes the soup all the more thrilling to eat.
Plus, tortillas can get soggy. I’ve seen a tortilla soup recipe that calls for blending a spiced, boiled stock with pieces of cut of tortillas, and that sounds kind of gross to me, and it’s way too much work. Tortilla chips get soft in the broth but not too soft, so the texture is still on point.
You can get creative with toppings but I like fresh chopped cilantro, scallions, sour cream, lime, and avocado. You can also add more cheese on top (the soup calls for mixing in a lot of shredded cheese before it’s done).
Whatever you do, don’t skip the chips. You probably wouldn’t do that because why would you…it’s tortilla soup. But invest in higher quality chips-maybe the restaurant variety, or something on the same level. Make sure they’re corn tortilla chips. The flavor will pair much better than flour tortilla chips.
Here’s a song to get you started on your tortilla soup journey. Spotify Wrapped was just posted yesterday and I took a deep dive through my top songs of 2021. I still can’t believe not a single Kacey Musgraves song was listed in my top five, considering that I listened to her album on repeat pretty much every hour for a week, but maybe there’s an issue with the algorithm. In any case, here’s one of my favorites.
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 sweet onion, diced 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp smoked paprika Kosher salt black pepper 1 14-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 4 cups chicken stock 1 cup water 5 oz freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese quarter of a pound of cooked and shredded chicken diced avocado, crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, lime, and chopped fresh cilantro for topping
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. When it’s hot, stir in the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook about five minutes, or until the onion softens. Pour in the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce it to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the mixture for five minutes.
Stir in the cheddar cheese a handful at a time until it’s melted. Stir in the chicken. Cook the soup on low until it’s heated through. Serve with lots of tortilla chips, avocado, sour cream, lime, and chopped fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
Today started out casually enough; I got up late, stumbled out of bed, got coffee and did a little early holiday shopping (shipping is HORRIBLE this time of year). Little did I know that twelve hours later, I was going to make the best apple tart of my life.
It started when Jim and I drove out to Liberty Apple Orchard in Edwardsville, IL. Liberty is my favorite apple orchard in the area, partly because their apples are the best I’ve tasted and partly because everyone who works there is so warm and welcoming. It almost feels like you’re going to pick apples in your own backyard.
Today was the second to last day the orchard was open for the season, so we made it just in time. It was probably too cold to be apple picking- it was almost freezing temps, windy, and gray, but we really wanted apples so we did it anyway. We managed to find enough to fill two bags, and then we went and got hot chocolate on the way home to warm up.
I don’t know about you, but I always get anxiety after I pick a massive amount of fruit and bring it home. Even though I know that I can find things to make, I’m always overwhelmed with possibilities. So this time, I decided to keep it simple and make an apple tart.
Apple tarts are my favorite things to make with apples. The main work is making the crust, and once that’s done, you just put some peeled apples and sugar on top and call it a day. If you want, you can even use store-bought puff pastry for the shell. I decided to make my own tonight because I wanted to use spelt, which gives the crust a more nutty flavor.
The tart looked great when I took it out of the oven, and it smelled even better. Would it taste as good? I wondered. I let it cool for a few painstaking minutes, and then I transferred it to a cutting board and cut off a slice.
I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best thing I’ve ever baked. Yes, it helps to have fresh apples handpicked from a local apple orchard on top, but it goes beyond that. The crust was so flaky, light, buttery, and perfectly browned. It was crunchy around the edges with sugar. The apples, which have a healthy sprinkling of vanilla sugar on top, were soft and perfectly sweet. This was one of the first times I’ve thought to myself, “Did I really make this?” because it tasted like something I would get from a bakery in France. I know it sounds like I’m tooting my own horn…maybe I am. But I’m only doing it because this was so damn good.
ANYWAY. Before I keep going, I’ll leave you with a recipe. And here’s a song to get you started on your apple tart journey.
The Apple Tart of My Dreams
for the puff pastry: 340 g cold unsalted butter, cubed 140 g AP flour 145 g spelt flour 1 tsp Kosher salt 120 ml cold water
for the tart: 2 pounds (about 900 g) tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick juice of half a lemon 2 Tbsp AP flour 6 Tbsp vanilla sugar pinch of salt 1 large egg, lightly beaten 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
for the vanilla sugar: 1 vanilla beans, seeds removed 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
First, make the spelt puff pastry. Use a stand mixer to mix the two flours and salt together. Then, mix in cubes of butter all at once on low and mix until they are completely covered in flour and form small pieces. Add the water all at once and mix for 15 seconds until the dough is evenly saturated. If it looks a little chaotic, don’t panic; it will all come together on the counter.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Fold the right third of the dough to the center, then fold the left third over the other two thirds of the dough on the right. It will look like a folder letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees, press it back into a rectangle, and repeat the folding and patting process two more times. After three turns, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour. After it has rested, roll the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Repeat the letter folds three times. After you’re done, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for another hour.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with a rack in the center. Toss the sliced apples in a bowl with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. Make the vanilla sugar by mixing the granulated sugar and seeds from one vanilla bean in a small bowl.
When the dough is done chilling, remove it from the fridge and roll it out into a 10 inch by 14 inch rectangle. Transfer it to a lined baking sheet and sprinkle the flour and 2 Tbsp of the vanilla sugar on top, leaving a one inch border around the edges. Arrange the apples on top so they’re slightly overlapping, then fold the edges of the dough over the apples, pressing at the corners to seal. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the apples. Place the sheet with the tart in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
Once it’s set, brush the crust with the egg and sprinkle on the turbinado sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning once, until the apples are browned on the edges and the crust is golden brown. Let it cool slightly before cutting into it. Enjoy!