Au Peche Mignon – a little sin …

The best name for a French pastry shop I have ever heard. This is the one thing that makes going to Tallahassee, or through Tallahassee on the way to Orlando for work, or through Tallahassee on the way to Jacksonville tolerable. Thankfully we do not have to make the long (boring) drive to Jax on I-10 anymore. Just Pine trees – sigh.

This shop opened up the year we moved to Tallahassee and I am not entirely sure how I found it, might be because it near a great sushi restaurant – Kitcho, but Au Peche Mignon quickly became a favorite of mine. I could not afford it as a student very often, but it was a total splurge for me. Even one pain au chocolate was worth it – what a total pleasure.

D&D_2126This time I am ordering ahead of time to make sure I get the things that I want. As mentioned many (many) times, I am not a huge fan of chocolates, but Au Peche Mignon makes a bit of a liar of me – it is always the Noisette – a whole caramelized hazelnut (I want to know how to do that) covered in gianduja (which is odd because I do not like nutella), encased in dark chocolate. This is just the most amazing chocolate for someone who really does not care for chocolate in the grand scheme of things. I would like to just intern there and learn how to do things – that would make me really happy. Unfortunately these chocolates are a Christmas treat that I will not get in September. Sigh.

So here is the rest of the order for our way home from Orlando through Tallahassee.*

2 Croissants
4 Pain au chocolates
8 pieces of chocolate – it is so worth the $15.00
1 key lime tart – my first time with this.

I am going to spend way too much money, but I only do it twice a year at best. You have to eat the pastries fast, but the chocolates can last in the fridge for quite some time. Yep, spent $40, but it made me stupidly happy.

*Hopkins’ Eatery is another Tallahassee favorite – some of the best sandwiches ever – see: The Spin.

I have local fresh eggs – amazing!

My friend Tony told me his friend Dusty raises chickens and sells eggs. Finally, a source for farm fresh eggs  – that is so great! I know there have been several places in Milton that have signs out for fresh eggs, but I just do not go into Milton that often. Tony speaks very highly of his friend and from the description the chickens are kept in, it is the kind of environment that I think is great for chickens. I mentioned it at work and someone called them yard eggs, and I guess when you get right down to it, that is really what they are. Though I have never heard that phrase before.

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The colors are so amazing. It is like Easter eggs without dying them.

This is just in time for my Meyer lemons to come in from California so I can make all kinds of lemon curd. And lemon curd tartlets – oh yes, this is going to be a good couple of baking weeks. Or just a good couple of weeks in general. Yep.

I think Meyer lemon curd has to be first because the two most important things are egg yolks and Meyer (or any lemon, but prefer Meyer) lemon juice. I think the only other thing that will be made more outstanding is hollandaise because, again, egg yolks. And fresh ones have to be so superior.

Walnut Tartlets 

I bought these small tartlet pans  – they are kind of like tart pans with removable sides, but just smaller.  They have been sitting around for a couple of months, but I finally decided to do something with them. So I took a tart recipe and made do with it. I also changed the nuts from pecans to walnuts, but the idea remains the same. Mostly.

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Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 Tbs ice water

Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped walnuts

*^* special equipment: 4 – 4″ tartlet pans with removable sides.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until mixture is pea sized. Add ice water a teaspoon at a time and pulse until dough comes together into a ball. Turn dough onto a surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Press dough into bottom of tart pans and working up the side, making sure the pan is covered, but not too thick. Place a piece of foil on each pan, pressing into dough to hold its shape. Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pans from the freezer and remove foil. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet and add tartlet pans. Prick bottom of tart dough with a fork and bake 15 – 20 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Lower oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, egg, and salt until well combined. Divide filling among the 4 tartlets.

Place tartlets on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned and a little puffy. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch. Remove outer ring of tartlet pans. Let cool completely before cutting.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie – America’s Test Kitchen 

America’s Test Kitchen made the comment referring to this as pecan pie in their notes, “often called Karo pie in the south.”  Nope. No one calls it karo pie in the South.  No one. Ever. Guess that’s what people in New England think, but they could not be more wrong. Though, I do admit, this is an amazing pecan pie recipe – for all their yankee-ness – the maple syrup makes it. Indeed. And no need for corn syrup. dd_1664

I have been making this version of pecan pie for several years now and it really is pretty stupidly amazing. I have a soft spot for pecan pie. When I was a kid, you could have your favorite dinner and cake for your birthday. Well, my favorite cake, was pecan pie. That was what I wanted and that was what I got – along with tacos – my favorite meal at the time. Lord, what a small child can do with food, but damn skippy, it made me happy. Really really happy. Even typing that I have dumb grin on my face right now. Life can sometimes just be simple. And really good.

1 cup maple syrup, grade A or B, I prefer B, it is a bit richer
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs molasses
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted – Renfroes
1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell, chilled in the pie plate for 30 minutes (see: No Roll Butter Pie Crust – I am trying it this year.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a sauce pan, heat syrup, brown sugar, cream, and molasses oven medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter and salt and then whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.

Take pie pan out of the fridge and put the pecans in the pie shell. Pour in the filling and place in oven, but immediately reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center is slightly jiggly, somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Cool pie on a cooling rack for at least and hour and then set in the fridge for at least 3 hours more, but a day would be better. Bring to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Yes, for all my snark about Yankees, this is an amazing pecan pie. Sometimes you just have to try something new and then you love it and it becomes a new tradition.

The Boy always wants this for Thanksgiving and I understand why. It is the real deal.

 

 


No-Roll Butter Pie Crust 

Not sure about how this recipe is going to work. I have my fingers crossed.

1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 Tbs water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter in the microwave [or brown the butter in a sauce pan].  Let cool slightly. Add  water.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in butter & water mixture. Mix together but do not over mix. If the dough seems dry, add a little extra water, but do that judicially.

Dump dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate and press until an even layer over bottom and sides of the plate.

Dough can be pre-baked at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 30 minutes, for a no bake filling.

Or in my case refrigerate for 30 minutes and fill with America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie.


I have found that having experience in clay, which I have in spades, makes making pastry a lot easier. It really is, pretty much, the same thing. You just have to get a feel for it and trust your hands but not necessarily your eyes.  And the more often you do it, making pastry dough, the easier it gets.

Source: Baking Bites

Well, for all the finger crossing this crust just did not work. And I am not entirely sure why. This is going to bother me for a while, but I will get to the bottom of it. I think David Lebowitz and version of a French press in pie crust that I will give a shot next time. It is all just science after all. Or something like it. Or maybe it just simply is baking and trying new things that sometime work and sometimes do not.

Pear and Bleu Cheese Turnovers

I was always a big fan of turnovers. My Dad’s Mom made amazing fried apple pies –  which is a turnover – mostly. She made them with dried apples – not sure why they were made with dried apples but then she fried them in a  – I am not sure what that thing was called – I think it might be an electric skillet. Maybe? Not sure.

D&D_1492That said, when my grandmama came down from Rockingham North Carolina, she made those fried apple pies and they were (are) sublime. My Mom loved them – which was kind of cool because she was a great cook/bakery herself. Sometimes old recipes are the best. Indeed, mostly they are.

I have found a variation of  (chausson aux pommes “apple slippers”*) the fried apple pies that grandmama made and it totally works for me, but I think this new recipe might be just a little bit more interesting. I mean – pears – and then bleu cheese is involved. Although, I think Granny Smith apples would work well too.

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 good sized not over ripe Anjou pear, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1 egg, for egg wash, beaten with 1 Tbs water
Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Combine pears, lemon juice, cranberries, and bleu cheese in a bowl and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll a sheet of puff pastry into a square, about 11 x 11 inches. Trim back to a 10 x 10 inch square. Using a pizza wheel, cut into 9 smaller squares – oh, lord, math is involved – ugh. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Brush two edges with egg wash and fold pastry into a triangle. Press edges to seal. Transfer to baking sheet and chill 20 minutes.

Once chilled, brush triangles with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and make a couple of slits for the steam to escape. Bake 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

* The French make everything sound so much better, damn them. It is also Bastille Day.

Source: Baking Obsession

Butter Usage – by month – March 2016

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Meyer Lemon Bars

8 March – 16 Tbs – Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

11 March – 6 Tbs – Guinness Brownies

11 March – 16 Tbs – Pie Crust

12 March – 8 Tbs – Apple Walnut Pie

20 March – 13.5 Tbs – Walnut Muffins

24 March – 11 Tbs – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

25 March – 16 Tbs – Meyer Lemon Bars

86.5 = 10.8125 sticks = 43.25 ounces = 2.703125 pounds

Not embarrassing, to say the least – in the butter use department. And I have to say that butter pie crust was so amazingly good. Now I am feeling slightly guilty about knowing the source for it. Will dig through lots of papers to figure it out.