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January 31, 2010

Brief Hiatus

The past week has been really tough on all spheres of my life, plus school resumed on Friday. Once again I'm entirely immersed in my studies and have no time to cook : (

Hopefully the upcoming week will be a bit easier and I'll have leisure time to spend in the kitchen.

Have a great week, everyone!


January 25, 2010

Caramelized Onion and Bleu Cheese Tart

I’ve attempted to make this tart once before and it wasn’t a total failure but this time it was pure perfection. Looking back at everything I’ve ever cooked, this buttery, crispy, rich, pungent creation is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever made. This kind of dish requires lots of patience but it is definitely worth it. Don’t try to cheat time.

Last time I used goat cheese but this time I decided to go with bleu. I don’t have a preference for either one. I find both cheeses to be excellent compliments to the sweetness of the caramelized onions. Also, I used half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose but feel free to use all all-purpose.

(For the pastry)


1 c whole wheat pastry flour

1 c all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 ½ sticks butter

½ c ice water

(For the filling)


1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp butter

4 large yellow onions, sliced

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried thyme

2 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Begin by making the pastry dough. Cube the butter and place in freezer for about 10 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the mixture begins to resemble a coarse meal. With the food processor running, pour the ice water in and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead quickly into a ball. (Work fast here since you want the dough to keep cold.) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Prepare the filling in the meantime. Place a large skillet on low heat and add the butter and olive oil. Place onions, salt, pepper and sugar into the skillet, stir and sauté for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the end, the onions should be brown and mushy, almost pasty.

After the hour is up, roll out the dough into a 1/3”-thick circle on a floured surface. Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with foil. Spread the onions into the middle of the dough leaving a 1” border. Sprinkle with thyme and cheese. Fold the edges over.

Bake for 40 minutes-1 hour, until the edges are golden brown.

The cheese melts into the onions, the onions melt into the pastry shell and the tart melts in your mouth.

Serve this tart with sweet white wine and the music of Edith Piaf – you’ll think you’re in Paris, I promise.

January 20, 2010

Crepe Expectations: Crepes-Two-Ways

Today marks the day I lost my crepe-making virginity. They say the first time is never good but to my surprise, it was a success.

The crepe is one of my favorite foods. It is delicious, chic, romantic, and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My mom often makes crepes (‘blintzes’ in Russian) for Sunday morning breakfast. When she does, I can smell them cooking in the kitchen in my sleep and usually within ten seconds I’m sitting at the kitchen table, with heaven in my mouth.

I’ve never made crepes entirely by myself so I was definitely intimidated. I decided to go with Tyler Florence’s recipe, modifying it slightly.

(Yield: about 30 crepes)


2 c whole milk

2 eggs

1 ½ c all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

¾ tsp white sugar

4 oz unsalted butter, melted

Extra butter for greasing the pan

Add the milk and eggs into a blender and blend together. Add the flour, ½ c at a time. Then add salt, sugar and butter. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency. The batter should be very thin. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat up a crepe pan (or small skillet) on low-medium heat. Place a knob of butter into the center of a paper towel and grease the pan. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the center of the pan while simultaneously turning the pan around and up and down to cover the bottom entirely and evenly. *”The first crepe is a trial one to test out the consistency of your batter, the exact amount you need for the pan, and the heat.”-Julia Child. After about one minute, the edges will start to lightly brown at which point you will need to loosen the sides with a butter knife, hold it up gently and lift up the crepe using your thumb and pointer finger, slide the knife under the crepe and swiftly turn it over. (Sounds daunting but you’ll get the hang of it.) An average crepe takes about 1 minute on the first side and 20-30 seconds on the second. It should be paper thin. Grease the pan between every crepe, or at least every other crepe.

Crepes can be made ahead of time and reheated and filled right before service.

For a savory filling, I made creamy sautéed mushrooms. And for dessert, I made a blackberry sauce.

Mushroom filling (4 servings):

8 oz white button mushrooms, chopped

1 small yellow onion, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp olive oil


¾ tsp dried thyme

1/3 c evaporated milk

Beurre manie- *paste of softened butter and flour, 1 tsp of both, used to thicken the sauce and add sheen.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add onions. Cook 2 minutes until soft. Add mushrooms. Cook about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and add the beurre manie. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add the evaporated milk and stir. Wait until sauce thickens, about 1 minute, and turn heat off. Fill crepes as desired. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Blackberry sauce (makes about ¾ cup):

5 oz blackberries

¼ c sugar

The zest of one Clementine

2 tbsp water

1 tsp lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently.

The sauce should simmer 10-15 minutes until a syrup forms.

I’m very proud of myself for making these crepes. I have a feeling I’ll be making them all the time now. Just thinking of all the different filling possibilities makes me excited! : D