Friday, August 30, 2013

Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Is it time for apples yet?  You bet!  Even if I'm ready to face fall season I'm confronted to the fact that my son will start school soon and I'm back working as well.  Fall means cooler weather with more rain and the feeling of wanting for comfort food.  Apples fit perfectly because in the season because there will be apple cider, apple pies, crumbles, and many more.  What's more perfect is the aroma of apple and cinnamon, that just spells fall to me.

This pull-apart bread is very easy to make and will guarantee to make your kitchen smells good.  I've a friend whose apple trees bear enough fruits for me to pick some to be used in this bread.  Since this bake in no time, I'm planning to make it often for afternoon snack for my son when he gets home from school.  Try it, you'll probably welcome fall more than you like to :)

Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Makes 6 servings

Nonstick cooking spray

1 7.5-ounce package (10) refrigerated reduced-fat home-style biscuits

4 teaspoons ground flaxseeds--I didn't have it so I substituted with wheat germ

2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup thinly sliced apple--I used 1 medium apple and used up all the apple slices to fill the bread

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts--mine is chopped slightly fine

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened

2 teaspoons orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Coat an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; set aside.  Cut biscuits in half crosswise.  In a small bowl stir together ground flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar, and the cinnamon.  Roll biscuit halves in flaxseed mixture to coat.  Alternately arrange biscuit halves and apple slices in the prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle with any remaining flaxseed mixture and the walnuts.

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, the 2 tablespoons orange juice, and the butter.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until boiling.  Pour mixture over biscuits.  Bake about 25 minutes or until edges are golden and biscuits near center are done.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Invert bread onto a small baking sheet; invert again onto a serving platter.

For icing, in a small bowl whisk together cream cheese, the 2 teaspoons orange juice, the vanilla, and the remaining 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.  Drizzle bread with icing.  Serve warm.

Source:  adapted from Better and Home Gardens Fall Baking 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Peach and Cream Cheese Slab Pie

Peaches are quintessentially summer fruits which means summer without eating peaches is just wrong.  I was late in buying the fruits from my friend who owns an orchard but I managed to pick some on another orchard.  I went with my husband and son to pick 36 (!) pounds of peaches and about slightly less than 10 pounds of nectarines.  We had gone crazy was an understatement.  The problem with going to u-pick is always on how to reign the uncontrollable desire to pick every fruit on the trees.  I didn't even know if I wanted to deal with so many peaches because I kept changing my mind on how I wanted to process the peaches.   Don't I sound so gluttonous and indecisive?  And talk about tree-ripened peaches, oh boy...they're not going to last forever before they start to go mushy and moldy.

But all went well at the end.  We ate some fresh ones, drank endless but yummy smoothies; I froze some and also baked this peach and cream cheese slab pie.  The idea was an apple-cheese danish from a magazine and I was pretty sure it could be made with fresh peaches as well.  Now, I always have frozen puff pastry in the freezer--make it homemade if you want it--but it's much easier and a snap to make with a store-bought one especially if you're pressed in time.  My suggestion is to make this early on the day because you want to eat it the day it's made to make sure the pastry stays crispy.  And make sure the peaches are nicely ripe but still slightly firm, that way they'll keep their structures in the pie.  Other than that, the pie is stupendously delicious!

Peach and Cream Cheese Slab Pie

Makes 12 servings

1 17.3 ounce package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, ripe but slightly firm; peeled and thinly sliced (about 7 cups)

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 tablespoons coarse sugar--I used demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  Lightly grease a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside.  On a lightly floured surface, unfold one pastry sheet and roll into a 15x10-inch rectangle.  Transfer to the prepared baking pan, pressing pastry to edges of pan.  Bake about 12 minutes or until golden (pastry will puff and shrink from sides of pan).  Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, combine peaches with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg.  Toss gently and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Beat in egg and vanilla just until combined.  Carefully spread cream cheese mixture over baked pastry to within 1 inch of the edges.  Spoon peach mixture over cream cheese mixture.

On a lightly floured surface, unfold the remaining pastry sheet and roll into a 13x10-inch rectangle (make sure pastry is large enough to completely cover peach mixture).  Place on top of peach mixture.  Lightly press edges of top pastry to edges of bottom pastry.  Lightly brush top pastry with milk.  Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in pastry to allow steam to escape.  In a small bowl combine coarse sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over pastry.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is slightly puffed and golden.  Cool on wire rack about 45 minutes.  Serve slightly warm.

Source:  adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

This pie should be called summertime in a pie because eating one would be like savoring what are the essence of summer and labor of love in the mouth.  My parents grow several tomato plants among other vegetables in their backyard.  My dad would religiously water the garden a few times in the day and my mom would pick the weeds whenever possible, these plants are like their babies.  It makes sense to cultivate sun-loving plants in their plot because my two planter boxes in the backyard receive paltry sun rays, that growing anything is next to impossible.

My mom said to me when we picked tomatoes together that she really loved the smell of tomato plants and I couldn't disagree more!  To see these little orbs getting bigger and redder isn't unlike getting a prize--each oozes juicy and sweet liquid; it reminds us that the peak of summer is here even if it also means that it is winding down from here on.

This pie has a biscuity crust filled with layers of tomato slices and shredded cheese.  I used white cheddar whereas the original recipe uses the regular cheddar, hence my pie has a slight pale color.  There are other ways to eat summer tomatoes but for me, I like this pie--layer upon layer of cheese and tomatoes with a spread of mayonnaise mixture in between--my idea of comfort food in the heat of summer :)

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Serves 8


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 cup buttermilk


2 lb. large ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4" slices

2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (8-9 oz.)

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (1/2 oz.)

1 scallion, trimmed, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 Tablespoons cornmeal

Note:  Use a 9"-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish for this recipe

Make the crust:  Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Using your fingertips, rub in butter until coarse meal forms and some small lumps remain.  Stir in buttermilk and knead gently with your hands until dough forms.  Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Make the filling:  Lay tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with 2 layer of paper towels.  Place another 2 layers of paper towels on top of tomatoes.  Let stand for 30 minutes to drain.

Preheat oven to 425 degree F.  Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an 11" round.  Remove top layer of plastic wrap.  Invert dough onto pie dish.  Carefully peel off plastic wrap.

Toss both cheeses in a medium bowl until evenly incorporated.  Reserve 1/4 cup of cheese mixture.  Whisk scallion, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

Sprinkle cornmeal evenly over bottom of crust, then top with 1/2 cup cheese mixture.  Arrange 1/3 of tomatoes over cheese, overlapping as needed.  Spread half of mayonnaise mixture (about 1/3 cup) over.  Repeat layering with 1 cup of cheese mixture, 1/2 of remaining tomato slices, and remaining mayonnaise mixture.  Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese mixture over, then remaining tomato slices.  Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup cheese mixture.  Fold overhanging crust up and over edges of tomato slices.

Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes (check crust halfway and tent with foil if it's getting too dark).  Let pie cool at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before slicing and serving.

Source:  Bon Appetit, August 2011

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mango Frozen Yogurt

One of my favorite fruits of all time is mango and it's no surprise that both my husband and son love this fruit as well.  Most of the time we eat it fresh, though my husband like diced fresh mango with his ice cream.  That gives me the idea of making this mango frozen yogurt.  I grabbed a few champagne mangoes at the market since these are sweet with smooth texture.  Back when I was growing up in Indonesia, the variety of mangoes are numerous and each mango has distinct taste and smell; it'll be wonderful to able to have a selection of mangoes like that here.  How I miss eating those mangoes!

Mango Frozen Yogurt

Makes about 1 pint

1 cup water

2/3 cup sugar

2 small ripe champagne mangoes, peeled and diced

1 cup Greek yogurt--I used whole milk Greek yogurt

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Pecan Lace Cookies, optional

In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 6 minutes.  Let the sugar syrup cool.

In a blender or food processor, puree the diced mango with 2 tablespoons of the sugar syrup.  Transfer 1/4 cup of the puree to a bowl and whisk in the Greek yogurt, milk, lemon juice and the remaining sugar syrup.  Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and let chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.  Refrigerate the rest of the mango puree as well.

Freeze mixture in the ice cream maker according to unit's instructions.  Towards the end of the unit cycle, pour the remaining mango puree to make a swirl pattern.  Store the frozen yogurt in an airtight container and freeze for at least 4 hours before consuming.  Served with Pecan Lace Cookies if desired.

Source: adapted from Coconut-Mango Frozen Yogurt, Food & Wine, March 2010