What’s been for dinner lately:
Sheet pan pizza with prosciutto, Parmesan, and white sauce. The crust is from America’s Test Kitchen’s “Pizza al Taglio with Arugula and Mozzarella,” but I baked it with a Parmesan/garlic white sauce, fresh mozzarella, baby spinach, and prosciutto. [There’s a paywall on this site.]
Beef stir fry. This is just a version of the one I make on the grill in the summer, with more veggies. I used some steamed frozen broccoli to avoid the longer cooking that fresh broccoli requires.
Rigatoni and butternut squash casserole with pancetta and Parmesan. Just like the one I’ve made before with bacon, but I find the pancetta to be milder and less overpowering than the bacon.
Boston Cream Pie—made this for my husband’s birthday. Specifically the Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie from America’s Test Kitchen. One word of caution: The written recipe omits the most important line from the video. When making the pastry cream, you don’t stop when bubbles break the surface; you continue whisking until the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the pan, sort of like when making jam. Otherwise the pastry cream will be runny. It’s a delightful cake. [There’s a paywall on this site.]
I’ve separated the instructions into three separate recipes.
I’ve been away cooking for other people, but I’m back now and continuing the strudel idea. My last post was a tomato strudel with some of my tomato jam. What I never posted was that I also made some apple jam—maple-apple jam to be specific—pretty much following what I did with the tomato jam, but with different seasonings. If you don’t like apple butter because of the heavy spices, you might like an apple jam made to suit your tastes. It might look like an extra thick applesauce if you don’t blend it fine, but it can definitely be spread on a peanut butter sandwich like any other jam. I left mine a little chunky and used ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.
I had about 2 cups of pecan streusel in the freezer, from some recipe when I made too much. I figured that if you can put streusel on an apple pie, why not put it in a strudel to flavor the apple filling? The flour, butter, and sugar in a streusel thicken the apple juices as the strudel cooks, and the pecans added just the right flavor and texture to each bite.
FYI I’m not used to the new Apple IOS camera filters, so my colors seem a little off. Change 🙄
- 4 lbs apples, peeled, cored and chopped—mine were Honeycrisp
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste or grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy stockpot.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low to keep the jam at a low boil for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, and a little more often during the last 20 minutes. I found that the apples need more stirring than the tomatoes in my tomato jam.
- When the jam is so thick that your wooden spoon leaves a path when dragged across the pan, turn off the heat and fill your jars. Cool slightly before sealing with lids. Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.
Streusel can be frozen to use later. This recipe is enough for at least two strudels.
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) cold butter, diced
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecan halves
- Combine sugars and vanilla, then stir in remaining dry ingredients.
- Cut in butter with your fingers until well distributed. Don’t worry about some larger chunks of butter.
- Stir in chopped pecans.
Although this recipe makes two strudels, I only made one, baking the rest of the apple filling in a baking dish alongside the strudel.
- 2 puff pastry sheets, thawed and rolled to 12″ x 16″
- 1 cup apple jam
- apple filling:
- 5 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
- 1 1/2-2 cups pecan streusel
- egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 1/4 cup water
Preparation of one strudel
- Transfer rolled out pastry sheet to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. (Roll the dough around the rolling pin to transfer it.)
- Spread the apple jam down the lengthwise center of the dough, then make about 12 diagonal cuts down each side to create weaving strips.
- Pile half the apple filling on top of the jam down the center of the dough.
- Alternate the pastry strips across the top of the strudel until you reach the end, tucking in the ends as needed.
- Brush the strudel with egg wash.
- Bake at 400º for 35 minutes. You can slide the parchment paper with strudel onto a cooling rack to cool. The strudel can be served warm or cool.
Just think of all the savory things you could put in a strudel
I made a tomato pie once, but I can’t eat a whole pie by myself, and my husband didn’t want any part of it. This year, I still wanted something with a crust, just not as big as a pie. I did think about turnovers or a tart, and am keeping those ideas for another time. This year it’s strudel, made with frozen puff pastry. I have used frozen phyllo sheets (long ago) and even tried rolling out authentic strudel dough (longer ago), but, come on, frozen puff pastry is a handy piece of magic.
The tomato layers are my Maple Tomato Jam plus layers of roasted tomatoes. I pretty much follow Rachael Ray’s recipe for the roasted tomatoes, but did not use any garlic this time. The tomatoes are topped with shredded fontina cheese and fresh thyme. My husband said it was a kind of pizza. Hmm. Puff pastry pizza—there’s an idea.
Tomato Strudel with Fontina and Thyme
- 24-40 roasted roma tomato halves (some of mine were Big Russians, which are very big; most were small San Marzanos)
- 1/2 cup maple tomato jam
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, rolled out 12″ x 16″
- 1/2-1 cup shredded fontina cheese (I went light on the cheese to highlight the tomatoes, but you could add more)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (Note: thyme is also used in roasting the tomatoes
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water whisked for egg wash
- Optional: coarse sea salt
- Roast tomatoes according to recipe link above and let cool. I roasted mine the day before when I was doing other garden-related things. That made it easy to put the strudel together. I took them out of the refrigerator about an hour before assembly so they would come to room temperature.
- I had some of the tomato jam in the freezer and took it out to thaw beforehand.
- Thaw one sheet of puff pastry (folded) on a lightly floured mat for about 40 minutes or until it will unfold without cracking. If at any time during the making you think the dough is too warm and sticky, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes, then continue at whatever stage you’re at.
- Roll out the pastry to a 12″ x 16″ rectangle. Just keep at it and don’t try to rush it. If the dough seems stiff, it will begin to soften as you are rolling. When rolled out, lift and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet pan. It will be a little floppy, but you can easily rearrange it into an even rectangle (I say confidently).
- Spread the tomato jam down the center third of the pastry lengthwise.
- Layer on roasted tomatoes as thick as you desire. I would say I had about three layers.
- Sprinkle with cheese and thyme.
- Cut slits at an angle into the remaining thirds of the dough, ending about 1/2 inch from the filling, so that you have about 12 strips to weave.
- Some people try to close the ends of a strudel with the first and last strips—I don’t worry about that. Just begin alternating the dough strips across the filling until the whole strudel is enclosed. If you find too much flour on the dough, you can brush it off now.
- Brush with egg wash of 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water whisked together. Sprinkle on coarse sea salt, keeping in mind that your roasted tomatoes were already seasoned with salt.
- Bake at 400º for 35 mins. I lowered my oven to 375º for the last ten minutes.
Unlike my last muffins, these are quite sweet.
I seem to be in the habit of using up leftover ricotta in desserts, whether they be cakes or muffins, and I’m fine with that. Last weekend, I made my Ricotta-Velveeta® Mac ‘n Cheese for a neighborhood picnic, and I bought way more ricotta than I needed, just because I’m happy to have an excuse to use it up. This time, instead of adapting recipes from the web, I decided to go back to Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and start with a basic 2-egg muffin formula (p. 71)—2 eggs, 8 oz flour, 8 oz milk, 4 oz butter, 4 oz sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder—and fit in my changes. I guess ricotta could be substituted for part of the butter, but who really wants to omit butter? If you want your muffin to be a little lighter, you might decide to play with the butter. I found that it works better to take out some of the milk, and I decided how much by adding it last, since you can’t take out what you’ve already added. 🙄 I like a thick muffin batter—I think I’ve said that before—and a rather dense muffin, so I poured in the milk 2 oz at a time until I was satisfied. I ended up using only 4 oz of milk and 8 oz of ricotta. FYI I did weigh the ingredients.
The chocolate chunks and flaked coconut were an attempt to please both me and my husband. He’ll eat anything chocolate, and I’m in love with Bob’s Red Mill® unsweetened flaked coconut. It has a great chew and just the right coconut flavor. At the last minute, after going back and forth, I threw in some good vanilla, just to round out all the flavors.
Another Ricotta Muffin: Coconut and Chocolate Chunk
Preheat oven to 350º; butter a muffin tin or line with paper liners.
- 2 large eggs
- 8 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 oz butter, melted
- 8 oz all purpose flour
- 4 oz granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 oz milk ( or amount that gives the batter the consistency you want)
- 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill® flaked coconut
- 1/2-1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla until fully combined—the mixture will be thick and fluffy.
- Continuing to whisk, stream in the melted butter until fully incorporated.
- In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients—flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined, without overmixing.
- Stir in the coconut and chocolate just until distributed.
- Scoop into muffin tin. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Cool muffins on a rack until completely cooled.