To Taste: Cranberry-Pear Shortbread Tart

Last week, fresh cranberries (Sunny Harvest | Kirkwood, PA) showed up in my Greensgrow Farm CSA and I can’t say I was thrilled. Throughout the summer, the CSA challenges me to cook with items I wouldn’t usually purchase or, in this case, was convinced I didn’t like. But I needed a dish to take on a weekend trip to see friends in North Jersey and just couldn’t resist the stunning ruby of these cranberries.

After too much time scanning my cookbooks & the internet for inspiration, I finally settled on a simple recipe for cranberry bars. I really don’t enjoy baking (messy flour + precise measuring, oh my!) so I was really excited to discover how insanely delicious and easy this was to make.

In an obvious improvement of Gourmet’s version, Picky Cook added raspberry jam & lemon to brighten the cranberries, but I still lived in fear of an over-tart end product. To buffer this anxiety and use up some produce “on the edge”,  I decided to add the sweetness of yellow pears (Three Springs Fruit Farm | Aspers, PA) reduced into a coulis which created beautiful rosey waves baked atop the cran-raspberry compote. It was the perfect slice of early autumn for an awesome weekend with friends. If only I could always shoot with this natural light and scenery!

Check out my Cranberry-Pear Shortbread Tart recipe after the jump! Continue reading

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VDay Sweet: Lemon Buttermilk Cake – Cream Cheese Icing & Lemon Curd Filling

I ❤ U Lemon Buttermilk Cake

I have a hard time following recipes. I prefer to peruse a few different versions and just go for it. That, obviously, is why I rarely bake. Since Dre made me a delicious breakfast in bed & an impressive dinner, I decided I’d whip up whatever flavor of cake the he wanted. I looked up a recipe for Lemon Cake & came across Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Lemon Buttermilk Cake. I carefully measured each ingredient & set up a mise en place to take a pic of them all…

Lemon Cake Ingredients

… and then I realized I had already ignored the first two instructions. I had mixed ALL the dry ingredient together, including the sugar. Thus, there would be no creaming of the butter & sugar and then no folding in the flour, baking powder, & salt. I couldn’t give up so I figured I’d see how things would turn out if I just went for it. I creamed just the butter in my stand mixer and added in the eggs, vanilla, & lemon zest.  I then folded in the dry mix & buttermilk for a smooth, lemony batter. After about 25 min in the oven, I had successfully baked one 9″ layer of my lemon cake (recipe or not!).

Lemon Cake Layer

While the second layer was baking, I made my first attempt at lemon curd from the Joy of Baking’s recipe. It was really easy and the perfect filling for my cake!

Lemon Curd Filling

While the lemon curd set in the fridge, I worked on a simple Cream Cheese Frosting. I whipped together (1) pkg of cream cheese & (1) stick of butter, both room temp. Once smooth, I added in powdered sugar, scraping the bowl & whipping to a smooth finish in my Cuisinart stand mixer.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

So in the end, persevering after a little mistake turned into a delicious lemon cake. It was moist with a dense crumb cake consistency. The tart lemon curd filling & sweet & creamy frosting blended for a perfect end to our Valentine’s Day!

I ❤ U

Vday Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Saturdays w/ Sarah: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes w/ Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

I hope to make a habit of spending more time in the kitchen with my friend, Sarah. For our first session, we decided to bake something to start getting in the holiday spirit. We poured some vodka cocktails, played some Rummikub, and cracked open a Guinness for a batch of Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. We followed a simple Dave Lieberman recipe on my FrankenBerry.

The Ingredients + The Frankenberry

I measured out each ingredient as Sarah combined them. Nothing better than a batter from scratch!

Mixing Bowl

I like extra large muffin tops on my cupcakes so we filled the cups to the top. None of that 2/3 full business.

Batter cups

Cream Cheese Frosting seemed like a perfect topper to these cupcakes but I knew adding Brown Butter would make them even better. After a few samples, I packed up a plate of the oozy, sweet Chocolate Stout Cupcakes for Sarah to enjoy at home. Til the next Saturday…

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes To-Go

Quickie: Snacktime w/ Chef Derek III

I really think he’s trying to make us fat! Today, Chef Derek delivered some amazing homemade Macarons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache. YUM!

Fresh Baked Macaroons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache

Fresh Baked Macaroons w/ Lemon-Chocolate Ganache

UPDATE: Derek just brought a sample of Corn & Chive Spoonbread for us to try too! Got a quick pic before we devoured it.

Corn & Chive Spoonbread

Corn & Chive Spoonbread