Blood Orange and Honey Almond Cake

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This is a dense, sturdy cake, with a coarse almond-y tasting texture. The perfect cake to get us through the Winter. It has a slight sweetness from the Honey, but is not overly sweet, or too citrusy. Note: If you family has a sweet tooth and you tend towards liking a sweeter cake you could use 1 cup of Demerera sugar, instead of 3/4 of a cup listed below. For a more citrusy cake you could try adding a tablespoon or 2 of blood oranges to the sugar butter mixture as well as the required zest. Feel free to experiment! The blood oranges that decorate the top, need to be sliced thin. They will cook in the honey and be similar to a marmalade taste. 

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 2 inch high x 9 inch wide baking tin with butter. 2. In a bowl, beat (I use a hand mixer for easy clean up) 14 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (this is 2 tablespoons shy of 2 sticks.) and 3/4 of a cup of Demerera Sugar. Slowly beat in 3 room temperature eggs, one by one… note: you are not ‘creaming’ the butter and sugar so don’t worry if once all the eggs are added, it’s still looks sand-like, it’s fine. Add one teaspoon of vanilla essence and a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of zest from your blood oranges. (If you used regular salted butter instead of unsalted no need to add extra salt.) 3. Squeeze about 2-3 tablespoons of runny honey over the base of the greased tin. (You could quickly microwave the honey bottle beforehand so it’s easy to spread evenly. The honey will help stick your citrus slices so that when you flip it over at the end they will hold better in place.) 4. Arrange blood orange citrus slices. Try any design you like, but try not to overlap. You’ll need to purchase about 4-5 Medium to Small Blood Oranges of similar size, preferably with less pith. I like to use thin slices, of about an eighth of an inch wide, that are then cut in half, so they look like half moons. Bear in mind what you lay down will be your top, once this is flipped over. Don’t over think this step. Just have fun! 5. Put 7.5 oz or 200 grams of ground natural unsalted almonds in a separate clean bowl. (I put 200 grams of whole natural unsalted almonds into a food processor and pulse it, because I like the freshness that newly ground nuts have.) Add to your food processor, or bowl: quarter cup of cornbread and muffin mix or depending on what kind of consistency you like you could add dry polenta or dry yellow grits instead. (the dry yellow grits will give a much more coarser nutty granular texture even when cooked) and a quarter cup of All Purpose flour. Combine. 6. Tip dry-nut mixture into the butter-sugar mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Pour into the baking tin, and spread evenly pushing down to make sure the cake is pressed into the orange slices. Try not to dislodge your pattern. Put in the 325 degrees fahrenheit oven for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle, comes out clean. I have a very hot oven so my cooking time is a neat 35 minutes but you may need longer. Don’t over cook. You will start to smell the almonds towards the end. 7. Remove cake from the oven and while still warm, run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the tin. Don’t worry if the cake has not risen to the full 2 inches, it will be fine. Place a flat plate on top and gently flip the cake in one motion. Arrange sliced that may have moved. 8. At this stage you can glaze the cake if you wish… I reduce about half a cup of juice from the remaining blood oranges down with some sugar till you get a thick syrup and pour gently over the top. You could also use pomegranate juice with sugar or just warm up some honey alone, whatever you wish. Or leave it free as I did in the above picture to save on calories. 9. Serve immediately while cake is still warm. My son likes his slices spread with butter. I had originally intended this cake to be served with natural yogurt. I thought the rich sourness of yogurt would compliment this sweet citrussy cake well. You can try that also.

If you post on Instagram, please tag me #dimityjones so I can see how it turned out and let me know how it worked in the comments section below! Happy Winter everyone!

 

 

‘Healing’ Honey-Buttered Pear Tart with Balsamic Herb Pistachio Crust.

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So here’s the thing: I’m sad and devastated about the results of the election last night and what I do when I’m in pain or stressed out, is bake and bake and well, bake. And bake anything. it doesn’t matter what, the sheer rhythm or cutting, melding, stirring is therapeutic. I’m calling this the ‘healing pie’.. I am terrified about the future under Trump and scared for my Muslim, Black and Mexican friends. Hatred, distain and marginalization have won, and the country will never be the same. I’m deeply disturbed and disappointed in the American public and horrified for the future. For global warming, for women’s rights, for my Gay friends who want to still marry. Hold on for the next four years, everyone, it’s going to be one hell of a rough and hateful, racist, horrible and deeply embarrassing and depressing ride. So, so, incredibly sad. I cried on 9/11 for the country and then today, 11/9. And no doubt there will be a day in the next 4 years when I’ll be crying again. Maybe when the new president builds that dumb stupid wall or starts hauling immigrants out of their homes for deportation. Yes, probably.

Ideas come from many places and so I credit @finecooking and @cannellevanille for the inspiration for this lovely pear tart. As you know if you asked about five food stylists to make the exact same recipe, using the exact same ingredients, each one would look different and taste different and that’s the way it should be. Please feel free to improvise with whatever you have on hand to make it your very own pie!

You’ll need: A springform tart tin, with removable bottom. Parchment and blind-baking weights. 4 firm-ish but ripe Bartlett Pears, about half-a-cup of shelled Pistachios for the dough and also later for garnish, a savory Jam or Jelly of your choosing. You’ll also need staples like All Purpose flour, Unsalted butter, Salt, Sugar and Honey.

Make the dough: In a food processor combine 1 cup of all purpose flour, and 1 stick of butter, (cut into small pieces ). Pulse. Add a heavy pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1/3 cup of shelled pistachio nuts, and pulse till dough resembles small pebbles. Add iced water (start with 2 tablespoons, add more as necessary). Pulse again till dough starts to clump, and pulls away from the edges. Remove. Shape into a disc, cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Remove dough from fridge. Roll the dough into a 1/8th-inch-think round. Coax into the buttered pan and press dough up the sides about 1 inch. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Place back in the fridge for another 20 mins. (Or freeze for 10 mins.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill it to the top with beans or weights. Bake until the edges are golden brown (around 15 to 20 mins) Remove weights and paper. Bake further till center begins to color and pie looks to be about 95 percent cooked. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Release spring form pan, leaving dough still sitting on base. Spoon Jam onto base liberally in an even 1/8th-inch coat. (Note, I had Balsamic Garlic and Herb Jam from Terrapin Ridge Farms on hand, click here for details. but you can use whatever you have. I opted for more of a savory jam, but feel free to experiment.)

Assemble: Peel, half, and core and slice 1 Bartlett Pear. Repeat with 3 other pears. Assemble pears onto the baked crust. Fan them out to create a pattern of your choice. You need to work fairly quickly but don’t stress. The pears will begin browning but that’s Ok because you will be covering them with Honey Butter. The sticky jam will help hold them in place. Melt about 3 tablespoons of Honey in a heavy based small saucepan with about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter on low heat. Brush pears with buttered-honey. Place back in the 400 degree oven for about 6-10 minutes or until the top starts to caramelize, the kitchen should smell lovely. and the pears are warm-to hot right through. Test with a skewer if you are uncertain. Remove. Scatter with whole pistachios for garnish, sprinkle with powered sugar. Serve straight away with sweetened cream or good quality Vanilla ice cream.

Making this pie? Make sure you tag me on Instagram so I can see. @dimityjones. 

“Love-Heart” Pie. (Raspberry and Apple)

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“Love-Heart” Pie. (Raspberry and Apple): I made this pie for my friend Brennan Cavanaugh who was hosting a dinner party this past Saturday night. The red raspberries give the apples a lovely crimson color, adding to the love-heart feel. Because you blind bake the base crust, and pre cook the filling, all you have to look out for when it’s in the oven baking is that the crust gets golden and browned and cooked through.  

What you’ll need: You’ll need to purchase a heart-shaped cookie cutter, which you can get either at a pastry/cake supply store or online. A 1 x 9 inch pie tin or recyclable aluminum foil pie pan. Parchment, and weights or beans for blind baking.

Pastry: I love the Pate Brisee pastry recipe from Martha Stewart. To make it quickly, I use a food processor. Put 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, with 2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pulse. When it starts to combine add 5 tablespoons, (or more) of ice water. Pulse a couple of times till it gather into a ball and clump. Take dough out, divide into 2 pieces, form each into a ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate both for at least 30 minutes.

Filling: I like to pre cook my apples. Peel 3 large Apples. (I used Ginger Gold apples for this recipe. You can ask your favorite fruit stand at your local farmers market for tips on the best apples to purchase for baking.) Cut apples into a half-inch square dice. Heat a med-large pan on medium heat, add half a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Add diced apples to the pan, with 2 handfuls of frozen organic raspberries. Stir with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of cornflour, about 4 tablespoons of tap water, a quarter cup of sugar (raw or regular) and a big pinch of salt. Stir gently. Leave sit on lower heat till mixture is cooked through, has the consistency of at thick chunky apple sauce, and is a lovely red color. Taste. Add more sugar if desired.

Blind bake: Roll out the first pastry disk and line the pie tin, blind bake shell at 400 degrees till 90 percent done. Take out and set aside to cool.

Now the fun part: Roll out second pastry disk till 1/8th of an inch think. Using the heart cookie cutter, make hearts. (You’ll need about 60)

Fold in raspberry-apple cooked filling to baked pie shell, fill high to brim (that will help support the hearts) and smooth out. Line hearts starting from the outside and work your way in. Apply egg wash to hearts. Bake at 400 degrees till crust is golden brown and pie smells heavenly.

Enjoy with a loved one. 🙂 Oh! And if you Instagram your pie, please tag me so I can see! Thank you.  (@dimityjones)

“Bloody Mary” Ratatouille.

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There are lots of very complicated recipes for this style of Ratatouille. The Thomas Keller one is excellent and if you can get your hands on that you won’t be disappointed, but I wanted to so a simpler version, that was easier and had a lot less steps and took a lot less time to make. The Bloody Mary spin is my own idea. It’s a tomato sauce base made from tomato juice, spiked with celery salt, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Feel free to doctor that up anyway you wish. (Or you can even mess around with a store-bought Bloody Mary Mix if you would like!) You’ll need a mandolin to make slicing these quick and easy, and a shallow pie tin covered with parchment. You’ll also need some tin foil to cover the ratatouille for baking. This recipe requires a lot of oven time, that’s why it’s best for end of Summer, early September, when temps have cooled but produce is at it’s peak. 

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You’ll need 2 large Green Zucchini, 2 long but firm Chinese Eggplants, 4 Roma Tomatoes. It’s really important that they are all similar in widths. Also purchase 1 Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, (I liked the Orange best for color.) Using a mandolin slice all into coins thickness of about 1/8 or 1/16 inch. The bell pepper you can’t mandolin into coins so I just sliced it into strips. You’ll layer the strips when you assemble the dish.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place 2 cups of canned Tomato Juice (like Sacramento) into a saucepan, with 1 teaspoon of Celery Salt, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce, 1 teaspoon of prepared Horseradish, 1 teaspoon of Hot Sauce, (if you like it hotter, kick it up a notch!) A big pinch of Salt, a few turns from a freshly ground Pepper Mill. Taste. Add more hot sauce or horseradish accordingly to your liking. It should taste a little bit salty and rich. (It has accommodate a lot of veg!) Bring liquid mixture to boil, reduce to simmer, and stir occasionally until mixture is reduced to at least half and quite thick. (20-30 mins, at least.)

Place tomato liquid in shallow pie container or ceramic pie dish. (I like to put a parchment sheet on top of my pie tin, but it’s not mandatory.) The tomato liquid will help the coins sit in the pattern neatly and easily. Arrange coins in a circular pattern, alternating between eggplant, zucchini, tomato and bell pepper until covered. This should take you about 7 minutes. Don’t stress. Just be deliberate and keep moving. The point is to keep them as upright as possible and don’t worry if they’re not perfect. You will have some leftover ‘coins’ so if you don’t use all of them up, don’t worry. Season lightly with Salt and Pepper. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake in a 275 degree oven for 2 hours. Then uncover and bake for an additional half hour or until brown and caramelized. Watch that it doesn’t burn. Sprinkle with fresh Basil before serving. (Optional.) Serves 6-8 as a side dish, or appetizer.

Notes:
-Leftover unbaked coins of eggplant, tomato, and zucchini can we reduced down in tomato juice at a later date and served as a side dish to grilled chicken or salmon. Or as a breakfast dish with poached eggs.
-Make sure you use firm, fresh, eggplant. Soft, withered or old eggplant will be hard to slice in the Mandolin.

To see a video on how to make this, check out my Instagram. Video by @tarasgroi 

 

Easy American Berry Pie for July 4th

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An easy pie prefect for July 4th: You basically cut, fill, crimp and bake.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. To make it easy I used 2 rounds of already rolled out sheets of store-bought short crust dough. (Or you can use your own home-made short crust dough, note: Puff Pastry will not work for this). You’ll need a small punnet of Strawberries, diced in half and some into quarters. A small punnet of Blueberries. Keep both separate. Toss each separate bowl of berries with granulated sugar, (you should use as much as you want according to your taste, I used about 1-2 tablespoons) and little bit (I used a teaspoon) of cornstarch, and a pinch of salt, for each. Lay down one round of dough on a 9-inch pie dish. Using the second dough round, cut out stars using a cookie cutter. (See illustration.) Lay wedge of dough on top, stuffing blueberries underneath. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes, so berries have a chance to ‘meld’ or stick to dough and won’t run or escape, giving you a neat edge to fill in the strawberries. Fill rest of pie with Strawberry mixture and place strips on top. Cut off and crimp edges of the pastry simply with a fork. Press demerera sugar into the pastry, bake at 350 degree oven for 30-50 mins till pastry is golden brown and fruit is bubbly and the room smells fragrant. Serve warm with cold Vanilla Ice-cream or Low-fat Gelato in a flavor of your choosing. Happy Independence Day!

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Easy American Pie, with Raspberry and Cream Gelato from Talenti.

Photographs by Aaron Graubart 
Concept, Recipe and Illustration by Dimity Jones. 

Recipe: Rhubarb & Orange ‘Chevron’ Galette

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RHUBARB & ORANGE ‘CHEVRON’ Galette
Recipe: Dimity Jones.
Click on link above for video by Tara Sgroi. Check out her fabulous work, here. 

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Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Rhubarb: Prepare the 1 lb (or 4-6 sticks) of Rhubarb. Try to purchase rhubarb of differing shades, which makes the pie pretty, but the pie will come together best if the stalks are of similar thickness. (Depending on the thickness of the stalks, you may need only 4 sticks, but I’ve also tried it with thinner stalks and I needed 6.)

To Prepare: Trim off stalk ends. Cut the stalks diagonally, keeping them all the same size, (about an inch and a half long, or shorter if you want a tighter ‘knitted’ look) then slice down the middle, giving you a flat surface on either side of the Rhubarb.

Place all the Rhubarb pieces in a bowl and add the zest (or 1 tablespoon), and the juice of (at least 4 tablespoons) of one Medium-large, very ripe Orange. Add to the bowl 1 quarter cup of granulated sugar and one tablespoon of all purpose flour. Toss to coat. Let the rhubarb sit in the bowl for at least 10 minutes, or until you are ready to start placing the pieces in a pattern.

Dough: Roll out pie dough on a lined baking sheet. I’m a fan of the tried and tested Pate Brisee shortcrust dough, from Martha Stewart, (which is a ratio of 2 and a half cups of flour to 2 sticks of butter, plus sugar, plus salt.) Click here to get the recipe. 

Spread dough with a layer of Orange-Apricot Marmalade (I love Sarabeth’s Kitchens brand, which is readily available. It is a sweeter version of Marmalade, which is what you want, as it pairs well with the naturally tart Rhubarb,) leaving about an inch and a half around the edges.

Mix and match Rhubarb ’tiles’ into a Chevron pattern, until Marmalade surface is completely covered. (Or any pattern you desire. Play around!) Mix up the tones of the rhubarb to get a pretty effect. Tuck stray marmalade pieces between the cracks.

Fold up the pastry edges, (cut off any overhanging rhubarb so pastry can fold over), and crimp slightly. Sprinkle and then press pastry edges with Demerera Sugar.

Place in 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and Rhubarb is soft to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack. Serves with vanilla ice-cream, cream or traditional custard. Serves 8, (at least.)

Notes: The leftover Orange Juice/zest liquid and any rhubarb can be heated down to make Rhubarb sauce to serve at another time with Oatmeal for breakfast or later with Ice-cream as a dessert.