Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arugula/Parsley Pesto Pizza with Rosemary Whole Wheat Crust

Sometimes I can't write about a new recipe right away, even when I'm dying to.  Life happens and really you can't spend all your spare time in front of a laptop.  When I sit down to write about something I made a few nights ago, sometimes the topic is a little cold.  I have to heat it up in my mind, to remember the taste, the texture, and the actual quantities I used.

What I really like so far about blogging is that I've taken photos of the process that can help with the warming process.

This one is my favorite of the night, but seeing that is like jumping into a pot of boiling water.  If we wanted to start a little cooler, I'd show you these.

We have an overabundance of rosemary in the garden and I love the way it smells and feels.  I decided it was time to put some rosemary to use along with some other home grown veggies and herbs.  

I was reading someone's post the other day about making bread and they were praising the "no-knead" bread.  I always thought that that was part of the fun with making bread or pizza dough.  Working with my hands in the dough can be messy at first, but it's satisfying when it all comes together to make something that you can form and eat and enjoy. 

I took a general pizza dough recipe I've used before and modified it to be part whole wheat flour with a generous helping of fresh chopped rosemary.  Wheat flours absorb more water so I did have to correct for that, but the crust overall turned out splendid.

The pesto was another garden specialty, substituting Arugula for Basil in my Basil Parsley Pesto.  The resulting pesto was creamy and spunky, with that zesty arugula taste.  I topped the pizza with chopped red bell pepper, vidalia onion, and garden cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.


Arugula & Parsley Pesto Pizza with Rosemary Whole Wheat Crust

For dough                                                           
1 c warm water +  1 - 2 Tbsp water
2 1/4 tsp (0.25 oz) yeast
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c + 1/3 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
For pesto
1 c Italian parsley
1 c arugula
2/3 c olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 c walnuts
1/2 c grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp kosher salt
For toppings (can sub whatever cheese, veggies, etc)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
3 rounds onion, chopped coarsely
1 small red bell pepper, sliced thinly
15-20 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

To start dough, place yeast and a pinch of salt in a cup of warm water and let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together, whole wheat and all purpose flour and salt.  
Make a well in the flour mixture and when yeast mixture is ready, pour yeast mixture and olive oil in.  Mix together with your hands, until dough just begins to form a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes.  During kneading, the dough may be a little dry.  To make it more workable - add some extra water (1-2 Tbsp) 1/2 Tbsp at a time.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Set aside to rise for about 1 hour.  

Dough should double over one hour.  Punch down dough and add chopped rosemary.  Knead in to dough.  Once rosemary is well dispersed, cover again with damp cloth and set aside for another hour.  

While the dough is rising a second time, you can prepare your toppings and pesto.  The pesto can simply be made by combining the ingredients in a blender or food processor.  

Preheat the oven to 475F about 15 minutes before you are ready to roll out dough.  Lightly oil a 9 x 13 inch sheet pan.  When dough has risen appropriately, roll out on a floured surface to approximately the length of the pan.  Place rolled out dough on the sheet pan and press edges in, to fit pan.  Brush dough with olive oil.  Top pizza with pesto, cheese, and veggies and bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until crust is golden brown and firm, cheese is melted, and tomatoes appear cooked.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ginger Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got the idea for these cookies, while screwing up another recipe.  I use the term screwing up lightly because 1) the resulting product ended up in stomachs and not the trash and 2) they were actually still delicious.  In my last post I talked about Ginger Peach Muffins from a recipe in Good to the Grain that I modified slightly. 

The combination of fresh ginger and oats was great.  Too often ginger cookies or ginger cake has a smooth texture but adding whole oats gives it a little more to grab onto.  So with Ginger Oatmeal cookies on the brain, I proceeded on to search the interwebs and see if this has been done (or overdone).  It looks like there was a run of Ginger Oatmeal Cookies and Salted Ginger Oatmeal Cookies a little while ago, but they seem to all use ginger spice and not fresh ginger.  There also had to crystallized ginger in these hypothetical cookies.  And dark chocolate chips.

So I set to work.  To be completely honest, I have made my oatmeal cookies for years now following the recipe on the inside of the Old Fashioned Quaker Oats container.  But I never put in raisins.  I mean, come on, oatmeal chocolate chip is way better.  And ginger oatmeal chocolate chip was going to be the best.

The cookies came out marvelous.  The ginger flavor is just enough so that you can experience it without being overwhelmed by it.  I had the urge to add Garam Masala instead of Cinnamon but resisted, feeling like that might drown out the other important flavors. 

Ginger Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 dozen medium cookies

1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar (I use raw sugar)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 heaping Tbsp fresh grated ginger
3/4 c all purpose four
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 c (heaping) dark chocolate, with chips or cut into small chunks(I used 60% bittersweet)
1/3 c crystallized ginger, cut into small chunks

*There is an option to chill the cookie dough once prepared for an hour, but if you plan to bake the cookies right away (they'll still come out yummy), preheat your oven to 350F.

First peel and grate fresh ginger and set aside.  Prepare the crystallized ginger and dark chocolate (if necessary) and set aside.

Beat together softened butter and sugars (brown and granulated) until creamy.  Add the egg, vanilla, and grated ginger.   Mix in with beater.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk together.  Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir together.  Now stir in oats, dark chocolate, and crystallized ginger.

For a thicker, chewier cookie, refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour before baking.  I just covered the bowl with plastic wrap.  Be sure to preheat your oven at about the 45 minute mark.

Place rounded spoonfuls (about a tablespoon size) onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper because my cookie sheets are old and not very photogenic).  Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes.  They will be done when they are golden brown.  Let cool on the pan for a minute or two before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Make sure to have at least one while they're still warm!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Experimentation with Spelt (aka Late Nights with the Baking Midwife)

Honestly, I've always been a recipe tweaker.  This has mostly been out of necessity, the poor college baking pre-midwife didn't have the right oil (or other ingredient) and she sure didn't want to be going to Publix at that hour.  I had a thing in college about baking at odd hours of the night.  I'd get home from "socializing" at the pub and break out the baking supplies.  I actually pulled an all nighter once to make Gingerbread People - seriously. 

But over the years necessity changed to taste (hey I really prefer dark chocolate to milk) and experimentation.  I've bragged before that I always tweak at least one thing in a recipe.  Now that I'm trying to learn more about the building blocks of a recipe, I'm doing it on purpose. 

* A quick note on the adapted recipes in my blog.  If I post a recipe, I have changed something or multiple things from the recipe I've adapted it from.  If I'm writing about a recipe and I haven't changed anything, I will post a direct link to that recipe (unless it's unavailable).

Friday morning, just off call and getting psyched for some daytime baking, I perused Good to the Grain before hitting the grocery store and the farm stand.  This book is amazing.  I think I want to make everything in it.  I was sold on the Ginger-Peach muffins and picked up a basket of incredible yellow peaches, which I've been devouring ever since.

I've eaten the peaches in the muffins but have also enjoyed them in my cereal, and, my favorite method of eating ripe peaches - hunched over the sink taking large juicy bites.

I also decided to play with a Spelt Yogurt Pie Crust that I'm excited to say I put together on my own and it was functional, delicious, and contained only 1/2 a stick of butter. 

For dinner Friday night, I filled the Spelt Yogurt Pie Crust with a simple quick quiche filling - 5 eggs whisked, large splash of milk, halved garden cherry tomatoes, diced yellow onion, and herbed goat cheese.  Apparently spelt flour cooks a little quicker than all purpose because about 15 minutes in, I started to smell a delicious nutty bread-like smell and realized the crust was already beginning to brown, so I ended up tenting the quiche until about the last 5-10 minutes.

I did end up tweaking the muffins and I think in doing so, they lost some of their stability.  The main thing I did wrong was using 5 Grain cereal (which contains Oats, Rye, Triticale, Barley and Golden Flax) in place of oat flour.  Originally I planned on using whole Oats instead of oat flour, but I didn't have any and apparently had bought this 5 Grain cereal as an Oatmeal substitute.  I used spelt instead of whole wheat flour and yogurt instead of sour cream.  These subs don't seem to have the ability to compromise a recipe as much as the 5 Grain cereal.

Even though the muffins came out delicate - they were still delicious.  There have been several people to blog about these muffins already so look here to find the recipe (The Dirty Oven).

Spelt Yogurt Pie Crust
Makes one 9-10 inch single crust             

2/3 c spelt flour
2/3 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 c cold butter, cubed
1/4 c whole milk yogurt (you can use low fat here as well)
1/2-1 Tbsp ice water

Sift together flours and salt.  Add butter and mix in with the tips of your fingertips until the pieces of butter are smaller than a pea.  Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yogurt.  Mix together and dough will begin to come together.  You will need to add a small amount of ice water, since spelt soaks up more moisture than other flours.  Add in 1/2 Tbsp increments until you are able to just work dough into a ball.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before use.  Can be made up to 24 hours before use.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte

So this was the first of many baking firsts, I hope.  The first time I made a Linzer Torte (or ate one for that matter), the first time I baked with almond flour, and the first time I made a lattice crust.

Double crusts kind of intimidate me.  

There I said it.  I've been making crumble top crusts on my pies for years because I'm afraid of what kind of disaster I could create trying desperately to succeed at a double crust.

The lattice crust seemed like a good bridge.  You cut that dough into strips and just lay it across the pie.  Simple as...pie?  Hmmm, not quite.  This particular dough is very delicate and that particular day was a little warmer than the ideal for making a pie crust. 

 First of all the dough recipe doesn't even call for refrigeration before rolling out, unless you won't be using right away.  I did refrigerate but figured that even 30 minutes would be fine since it didn't require any chilling.  Rolling the dough out, went fine, until I tried to transfer it to the buttered tart dish.  I started with a nice round of dough and ended up with a pile of dough askew in the dish.  Plan B - press dough into tart dish.

Plan B fails and I start to curse almond pastry dough.  At this point I decided that the best thing to do would be to put the pastry dough down and walk away.  I'm taking my own advice that I give to patients that are having a panic attack or frustrated at a crying baby.  Put down the baby and walk into the other room.

The pie crust chills in the fridge and I chill in the bedroom.  After 10-15 minutes, I take a deep breath and try to make nice with this crying pastry dough.  There, there pastry dough, you can go evenly into the tart pan and then leave me enough for a lattice crust.

Almond dough pressed in to tart pan, not so pretty but functional
Laying it down at that point actually goes fairly smoothly.  Then I add the almond cream and apricot puree and set out for a beautiful lattice crust.

I realize that not only am I having trouble due to how delicate this dough is, but also I cannot cut in a straight line!  There are several cycles here of refrigerate, roll out, flour rolling pin, roll out, cut, attempt to place strip, strip breaks, throw strip of dough angrily on pastry board.

OK, it wasn't THAT bad.  I did have several strips of dough break and did refrigerate in the middle once.  And it is true that I cannot cut in a straight line.

But I think it actually had a little more character that way - like I cut different size strips on purpose.  My Linzer Torte is Postmodern.  It rejects other lattice crusts' perfection.
Pre-baking, Post egg wash
Even though this Linzer Torte had an attitude, it turned out delicious.  I loved the almond filling with a touch of apricot preserves, and the trouble making crust?  Delicate and actually so yummy that I could help myself from nibbling on the crumbs left behind in the pan.

And this is what happens when you bring Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte into work.

Postmodern Apricot Linzer Torte
Adapted from Baking (p.209) by James Peterson 

Pastry dough
*  2/3 c almond flour
* 1 2/3 c cake flour
* 1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp cold butter
* 3/4 c confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
Almond cream
* 1 1/2 c almond flour
* 1/2 c butter
* 1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
Apricot filling
* heaping 1 c apricot preserves (you can make your own by following this simple apricot puree)
Egg wash
*1 egg, whisked
*1/4 tsp salt

To make almond pastry dough:  (Can also be made in a food processor.)
Cut butter into small cubes.  In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, cake flour, butter, sugar, and salt.  Toss together by hand and place in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.

Remove the bowl and mix in the butter by pinching it with your finger tips until there are no pieces of butter bigger than a pea.  Add egg and vanilla, mix in with a spoon.  Now work the dough by hand, kneading and folding until it just comes together.  It may be "a ragged mess", but James Peterson says that's OK.

Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make almond cream:  Combine butter and sugar with hand mixer until smooth.  Add in egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating in well after each. Stir in almond flour until it is well incorporated.  Refrigerate covered until ready to use (up to 3 days in the freezer).

Once the above preparations are done, butter a 9-11 inch fluted tart pain and preheat the oven to 350F.
Remove pastry dough from fridge and roll out on a clean, flat, well floured surface (if you have a marble pastry board - use it).  You want the dough to roll out to approximately 2 inches larger than your tart pan.

Now, ideally, if all the elements are correct, you should be able to line your tart pan with the dough easily, but it is possible you could wind up with sticky, delicate dough and have to press it in like I did.  Either way, cut off the excess, form into a ball, and refrigerate until ready to use for lattice crust.  Place the tart shell in the fridge as well for about 10 minutes.

Roll out the extra pastry dough into a rectangle that is about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut six 1/2 inch wide strips that are about 9 inches long.  Place strips on the torte with about 3/4 inch in between each strip.  Cut another 6 strips and place these diagonally over the first set to create a lattice top.  Cut the ends of the strips off so that they fit on top of the torte.

Make an egg wash, using one egg whisked with 1/4 tsp salt.  Brush egg wash on top of lattice crust, taking care not to get any on apricot filling.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour or until golden brown.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things that Go Well Together

You know when you cook something that is so delectable that you're already plotting to make it again?  That was the feeling I had Thursday night when I tried out David Lebovitz's French Tomato Tart.  I'd been wanting to try a savory tomato tart that was simple enough to fully highlight the delicious tomatoes of the season and this seemed perfect.

We demolished the majority of this tart so quickly that it is actually a little scary.  I originally wanted to tweak the recipe more, but was intrigued by the Dijon mustard layer and ended up staying fairly true to the recipe.  The ingredients all went so well together; but you're also able to taste each individual flavor without the melange overwhelming them.

I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's back up a little.

It was time for another pie dough recipe, this time the classic Pate Brisee (french for short pastry).  Sorry, people.  I cannot figure out how to make the accent aigu and accent grave on blogger or my mac, so we will remain accent-less.  Anyways, I've made this before and it is a solid recipe.  Remarkably similar to Chez Pim's pie dough in ingredients, but lacked the puffiness and layers because you don't fold it over and over.  I'm always amazed at how the technique of cooking and baking can change a recipe so drastically.

I used my new tart pan, to lay the crust down, and cut off the extra (more on what this resourceful midwife does with extra pie crust at the end of this post).  Then I laid down some Maille Old Style Dijon Mustard that has whole mustard seeds - mmmm!

Our dock cherry tomatoes are thriving and if we let 1-2 days go by without plucking the ripe ones off their vines, we have 20-30!  The taste and juiciness is phenomenal - home grown is where it's at.  In planning this tomato tart, I wasn't sure we'd have enough cherry tomatoes to fill the tart, so I bought some farm stand tomatoes to supplement.  I did end up using most of 1 farm stand stand-in, but the rest of the cute cherry tomatoes (and they are cute - I'll show you!) were ours.

Partner in Crime would, I'm sure, like me to let you know that these tomatoes and the rest of the garden are his labor of love.  He has the green thumb and I have the hands covered in flour.  It's a good relationship.

I added the olive oil, fresh herbs (I chose chives, thyme, and rosemary) and goat cheese and got the tart to work in the oven.

While the tart was baking, I diced and sauteed some fresh radishes that I picked up on a whim.  I did this simply in butter with salt and pepper until they were slightly browned and tender.  I find the texture and subtle flavor of a sauteed radish satisfying, but this view is not shared by all, I know.  I may experiment with roasted radishes next.  Or maybe sauteed with garlic and/or white wine.

Dinner was fabulous.  I think the tart was slightly overwhelmed by the magnitude of juiciness in the tomatoes which resulted in non-picturesque pieces.  This, however, did not harm the taste, or oddly the integrity of the crust.  It was more the filling that wouldn't stay together - I guess that's the problem with using cherry tomatoes.  The dough that I used, was slightly different that the dough on the French Tomato Tart recipe.

I followed Martha Stewart's Pate Brisee without sugar, since this is one I've used before.  I made 1/2 the recipe since it makes either one double crust or 2 single 9-10 inch crusts.  With the left over dough, I created an impromptu Banana Chocolate Tart, which was actually the perfect size for 2 people to split after gorging on French Tomato Tart and watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Being someone who is a banana bread fiend, I never want to be caught unprepared for banana bread.  So I try to keep a supply of frozen ripe bananas.  And being me, I almost always have a few bars of dark chocolate for baking emergencies (you have those too, right?).  The two are great together, actually maybe better together than alone.

Tomatoes, goat cheese and Dijon mustard may now all be grouped together in my mind as well, thanks to this Thursday evening. 

Pie doughs coming soon on Buns in the Oven - experimentation with whole grains, more yogurt, and less butter!

Impromptu Banana Chocolate Tart

Leftover pie dough (you could sub frozen puff pastry here)
Frozen ripe or fresh ripe bananas
2 oz dark good quality dark chocolate (I had 60%)

Serves 1-2

Preheat oven to 400F

Roll out pie dough to a thin round.
Cut banana into small chunks and place in center or round.  Place chocolate, cut into chunks on top of banana.  Fold up edges of dough so that they roughly meet in the center and pinch edges together. *
Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown.  I started the tart out in the center of the oven but moved to the top shelf for the last 10 minutes.  Serve warm and enjoy the hot melted chocolate!

*This can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until you are almost ready for dessert.  Then bake and eat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hungry Midwife

So I have a confession.

I read a book about how to make your child into an adventurous eater.  This is weird for 2 reasons, the first being that I have no children.  The second is that I am not pregnant or even planning a child anytime soon.  However if you read the first three chapters of Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton, hell the first three pages, you'll probably get hooked too.

You can read the first three chapters online for free at the above link.  Go on, do it.  Even right now.  I guarantee you'll laugh a lot.  I have to say there is something appealing about an edgy parenting book.

Amster-Burton makes me laugh and eggs me on to try new things for cooking in my childless kitchen.  One of his favorite recipes (and his daughter's too) is Potstickers.  While he talked a lot about his Bok Choy Potstickers, he ended the book with a recipe that included pork.

So I decided to experiment on the filling but follow his advice for cooking.  The first night I was making these, there was an impressive thunderstorm and subsequently the power went out.  Fortunately we have a gas stove, but unfortunately it's hard to create a beautiful caramelized bottom to the potsticker if you can't see it.  We did try flashlights and headlamps but it wasn't the same.  They did turn out good, but honestly more like steamed dumplings.  After that, I read some good advice on Herbivoracious (and the power came back on) and success was had in the potsticker department.

Turns out that having read this great book gives me something new to talk and joke about with my patients who are trying to learn how to feed growing children, especially those picky toddlers.  All in addition to an awesome read and new recipes to try.

Bok Choy Potstickers
Inspired by and cooking adapted from Matthew Amster-Burton's Hungry Monkey

1 small shallot, diced
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 small bunch bok choy (ok to use baby bok choy here), coarsely chopped
4-5 shitake mushroom caps, sliced
canola oil or sesame oil
soy sauce
12 potsticker wrappers (I used Nasoya round wraps)

Serves 2-4 people as an appetizer or side dish
For an awesome, easy to make dipping sauce - follow the sauce recipe on Herbivoracious

First do all your chopping, and set aside your veggies.  Heat about 1 Tbsp of canola or sesame oil on a large frying pan over medium heat.

Add garlic and shallot to oil and saute briefly until garlic just begins to brown.  Add shitake mushrooms and cook until they become slippery, stirring frequently.  Add bok choy and mix well together.  Cook until bok choy has cooked evenly and greens are slightly wilted.  Add a few splashes (2-3) of soy sauce and mix well.  Remove from heat, place in a bowl and chill for a few minutes.

While the mixture is chilling, this is a great opportunity to make the dipping sauce.  

To prepare for the construction of the potstickers, have a small bowl of water handy.  Get out your wraps and bok choy mixture.  For each wrap, place a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the center.  Then, using your fingers, wet the edges of the round with water and fold over, pinching together the edges of the wrap.


Heat 2 Tbsp of oil (I used canola) in a same pan you used for filling (I'd recommend washing it and drying it first, or even better having a loved one do that for you).  Heat should be medium high.  Then add dumplings to pan and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  At this point you add 1/2 cup of water and cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid.  Reduce heat to medium and steam dumplings for about 6 minutes.

Just added to pan, pre-steaming

Status post steam treatment

Remove cover and increase the heat slightly to cook off the water.  Cook until the potstickers are deep brown on the bottoms and live up to their names.  Dry on paper towel to soak up some of the oil before serving.

I served the Bok Choy Potstickers with a variation on Patent and the Pantry's Saifun Salad.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Stuff!

New and exciting baking equipment for the Baking Midwife
Courtesy of my Partner in Crime - My birthday presents!  But after all the rich food we've consumed this weekend, I need a break before making another tart or quiche.  It's sushi for dinner tonight!

Remember Why We're Here

The stress level at work has been high recently.  And it has nothing to do with mothers and babies, or patients at all.  There is a certain amount of anxiety that goes along with delivering babies, which varies greatly depending on the person.  I feel like I tend to be on the lesser end of that spectrum, although I've had my moments with particularly hard situations.  This stress, is part of the job, and I can handle that.

What I have trouble putting up with is the business aspect of it all.  Working to up your "numbers", to bring in more revenue.  I shied away from economics in school because I'm not business oriented.  I'm a midwife and I like that.

Of course in recent months, especially with the continued economic downturn and the changes in healthcare reimbursement, decreasing expenses and increasing productivity is a constant topic of conversation.  I understand that this is necessary.  Right now the economy sucks and the hospital is trying to be proactive to make changes so that our small community hospital can remain that.

What I'm finding, is that contract renegotiation can bring out the worst in some.  I'm having trouble getting behind the attitude that we should "stick to our guns" and not give in to lose a perk to our contracts, when someone else may lose a job because of it.  The ironic part about it, is that the people that are so upset about losing this perk make more than double what I do.  And I have a comfortable salary.

There's infighting and the inevitable gossip.  Feelings of being "unappreciated" are boundless, however I have a hard time correlating money with appreciation.

Times like these make me want to run away to another country and work for free.  Maybe I will.  Right now though, I'm going to remember why I'm here, what brought me to midwifery.  I did not go into it for the money.  Or the hours.  I'm a midwife because I love the bond you form with a woman when you help her through some of the most important times in her life - the wonderful births, sharing good news, frightening test results, and the heartbreaking losses - and because I think I do it well.

And I'll bake, because that always helps.

Chaussons aux Abricots
I first tasted these in Avignon, France where I did a summer abroad in college.  Yum!

For the dough
Recipe for Pim's Perfect Pie dough
For the filling
*Adapted from NY Times Recipe for Health Apricot Puree
1 1/4  lbs fresh, ripe apricots
1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar
For the egg wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp of water

Makes 8-10 Chaussons

Prepare the dough according to Pim's instructions.  Should chill at least 1 hour total.  The folding process is vital to create a flaky layered dough.

Bring a medium to large pot of water to a boil.  While you are waiting for water to boil, cut a shallow X at the bottom of the apricots.  Also fill a large bowl with ice water.  Once the water is boiling, drop the apricots in and blanch for about 20 second.  You can either remove one by one with a slotted spoon to bowl of ice water, or drain apricots into a colander then place each in ice water.  Remove skins, which slip off pretty easily.  Cut apricots in half and remove pits.

Place apricot halves and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, then simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is a chunky puree.  It reminds me of cooking applesauce actually.  When it is to desired consistency, remove from heat and let cool completely.  This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

To construct the pastries:  Once the dough has chilled for at least an hour total and the apricot puree is completely cooled, remove the dough from the fridge.  Place on floured pastry board or sheet and roll out to an thin rectangle.  If you make the full dough recipe, you'll have 2 rounds, therefore 2 thin rectangles.  Also be sure to preheat your oven to 375F.

To make your egg was, simply whisk 1 egg and 1 Tbsp of water together.

Have both your egg wash and puree handy.  You can create the pastries in whatever shape you'd like, I decided on a triangle, so cut a square piece of dough.  Place a tablespoon of puree in the center.  Brush the edges with egg wash.  Fold edges over and pinch together.  With a sharp knife cut a few slits in the center to vent.


Place pastries on parchment paper and bake in oven at 375F for 20-25 minutes total until pastries are beginning to brown.  Place on bottom shelf for 12-15 minutes then move to the top shelf in the oven for the remainder of the time.  Serve warm and forget your troubles!