Almond fig galettes

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I recently got my hands on a giant box of fresh figs. I have never cooked with them before, I really have only seen them in jams and cookies, however I always loved their subtle sweetness. I am also smitten with how pretty these fruits are. Green skin with slight splashes of pink hide a rose interior. I’ve never worked with these fruits fresh, and to be honest, they are pretty boring looking once dried or cooked. These turned brown when baked, which lost all the pretty coloration. However they did become chewy, which gives a good texture to this dessert.

Since I didn’t have much experience with figs, I went to Pinterest to try to get an idea on what I could do and I found that tarts and galettes were the most popular choice. I have also never made a galette before, so I thought, well here’s a way to knock out two culinary experiences with one stone. The crust comes from the Smitten Kitchen, and I added an almond filling to make the galette a bit more substantial than just a fruit filling.

Ingredients

The crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A stick butter, cut into centimeter sized cubes
  • 1 cup ice cold water, only 1/4 cup will actually be used

The filling

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 4-5 fresh figs, sliced

 

flour

First, drop a couple ice cubes into the water. Set aside. Then in a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.

 

butter

Drop in the butter. Using a fork, start pressing the butter into the flour. Make quick, pushing movements. The goal here is to not make a dough by stirring, you are in a way, massaging the butter into the flour to make a sandy mixture. Move as quick as you can to ensure the butter doesn’t have a chance to warm and soften. Stop when you see pea sized bits of butter left, like in the picture. It doesn’t have to be even. In fact, you want it to be lumpy- those lumps of butter will create the flakey layers in your crust.

 

water

At this point, measure out 1/4 cup of the ice water and start mixing it into the mixture. Make sure any ice cube pieces are not included when you pour. Again, this will not be a stirring motion. You want to try to press the flour clumps into the water. Keep pressing until you get a uniform dough.

 

ball

When the dough starts to pull together, use your hands to knead the ball a couple times to ensure it is fully combined. Then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

 

filling

Mix together all the ingredients for the filling, except the figs, until combined. Set aside.

 

roll

Once the dough is fully cooled, cut it into four pieces. Leave three of these pieces wrapped in the plastic, and return them to the fridge. You want to make the galettes one at a time, and having the coldest dough possible will make your life easier. I promise you. Take the quarter of the dough and push its corners with your hands until you attain a make-shift circular shape. Flour your work surface and your rolling pin, then start rolling the dough until it is about 1/4 an inch thick.

 

fill

Take your almond filling and spread it in the center. Then spread your figs. You can move the figs in any shape you want, you can spiral them in a circle for example. However I wanted the almond filling to show, so I went in a line.

 

fold

Fold and pleat the sides together and transfer the galette to a baking sheet lined with foil. Repeat the process for the last three pieces of crust dough.

 

final 2

Bake at 375 °F for 50 minutes to an hour until the crust is golden brown. The goal is for the bottom of the galettes to be opaque and cooked through. If the almond mixture browns too fast, cover the baking sheet with foil.

The smell of these baking in my kitchen was unimaginable. Something about a simple butter crust turns unbelievably nutty in the oven. These could be made the more traditional route with sliced pear, the pear almond tart is one of the most common French pastries I’ve ever seen. However, there’s nothing funner than cooking with a new ingredient. I embrace the fact that I am a baking nerd. Let me know what you guys try out with this recipe!

 

Brussels sprout mac and cheese

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Alright, it is time for the last of the childhood favorites series. I’ve had fun with it and might revisit it in the future.

Here I took everyone’s favorite: macaroni and cheese. Only I took out the macaroni and topped it with, hilariously enough, most kids’ least favorite vegetable, the brussels sprout.

I’ve always liked them, I think that as a child I was determined to be the one kid who liked the detested vegetable. I mean, they make some adults still cringe.  Yet, I am determined to shed its infamous reputation.

If you take brussels and fry them in bacon fat, they can do no wrongs. Granted, my rule is that anything fried in bacon fat must be delicious. However the bitterness that most people associate with this cruciferous vegetable is paired nicely with a crispy texture and a good dose of fatty, umami flavor.

Ingredients:

2 strips bacon
1/4 cup minced carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion, red onion preferred
1 clove garlic
4 cups brussels sprouts, halved
2 cups dry pasta of your choice
4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups grated white cheddar
Hot sauce optional
Eggs optional

Season to taste

bacon

Cut the strips of bacon into chunks, fry. When cooked, pull them from the pan, leaving the fat behind.

 

veg

Cook the carrots and onions in the bacon fat on high for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. These are here mostly to season the sprouts so they have to be nearly fried and carmelized by the time you reach the next step.

 

brussel

Blister the brussels sprouts on high heat for  5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. At this stage the carrots and onions will be easy to burn otherwise. Cover, then continue cooking on medium low for another 5 minutes. They are done when harder core is firm, but not hard and the leaves are tender.

 

boil

Boil the pasta, al dente.

 

butter flour

Start making your roux, this will thicken the sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour. Cook while stirring for a minute  or two until the paste is lightly golden.

 

milk

Add the milk slowly. The first few tablespoons will make the roux recede into it’s self. This is ok. Continue adding the milk while breaking up the thickened paste. Eventually it will thin out until it reaches the proper consistency. It should coat the back of your spoon.

 

cheese

Add the cheese and in my case, the hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Pasta

Stir in the pasta.

 

mix

Pour the mix into a greased casserole pan. Top with the brussels sprouts and reserved bacon. Bake at 350 ˚F for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s finished when the top is golden brown and crispy.

 

egg

I happen to love eggs, and more specifically, warmed egg yolks. If you want you can separate some of the brussel mac like I did into smaller serving dishes and crack an egg on top before baking, I recommend it. You can also crack them directly over the casserole if you wish. The extra level of creaminess really does the trick.

 

Peanut butter and jelly French toast

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My last post introduced this week’s theme: reinventing childhood favorites. This post is going to play with the idea of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

In my opinion everyone has a childhood memory of this sweet and salty concoction. Whether they liked it or not, they will always remember it from their school days. I for example, cannot forget the memory of my mom surprising me with horrendous Cheese puff PB and J’s every Halloween with a note written in the wrapper making a cheesy pun on the “scary” flavor combination.

A girl just can’t shake the memory of her elementary-age self biting into a sandwich to find a soggy jelly covered cheese puff hanging out of her mouth.

Yet, here is my version on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I promise it is not going to include any cheesy junk food of any form. In fact, it isn’t even a sandwich anymore.

I decided to play with the idea of a peanut infused French toast with jelly syrup. Because if anything, I love taking the traditional idea of a food and completely messing it up. So here it is- my deconstructed PB and J sandwich.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons peanut butter, melted
1/4 cup milk or half and half
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds (I like how they add another nutty element)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash cinnamon
2 eggs
about 6 slices of bread, stale (Soaking time varies based on how many slices of bread can be used, adjust soak time based on your preferences)
Jelly, whichever you prefer

Cream sauce optional

mix

Take the melted peanut butter and slowly whisk in the milk. It will solidify to an extent, but it being melted will help with the first few stirs.

 

vanilla

Add the vanilla, stir.

 

sesame

Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and sesame. Stir.

 

egg

Add the eggs, stir until combined. Let the stale bread soak in the mixture on each side for a couple minutes.

Fry them with a knob of butter or with a tablespoon of oil. Cook a couple minutes on each side, or until they turn golden brown.

*Hint

If for some reason the heat is initially too high and the sides cook too fast while the middle of the bread remains raw, fear not! Continue to cook until each side is golden brown and if they are still a little too soft in the middle, pop them in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. This can also be done in the oven at 350 ˚F. This will in a way sear the bread for the coloration you want, but then let the bread finish off in less drastic heat.

 

cook

Finally take your jam and melt it in the microwave- do this in 20 second intervals while stirring. You should achieve a nice liquid. The above uses my dad’s homemade black grape jelly.

I thought that it could use a bit more liquid on top, so I added a last minute (optional) cream sauce made up of a tablespoon of marscapone, an Italian cream cheese, and enough milk to thin it out to the consistency of pudding.

Let me know how your French toast goes! I hope you like the combination of sweet and salty I’ve created.

 

 

Gluten-free berry tarts

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Hello guys. Finally, my first post is up! I am so excited to get the show started with this tart.

Now normally I am not the biggest health nut. I mean, my blog is named The Glutton Diaries for a reason right? However I am loving this gluten-free crust. It makes this dessert almost guilt free. If you ignore the heavy whipping cream used to make the chocolate truffle filling and the butter to hold the crust together, this tart is made up of primarily healthy ingredients. However health aspects aside, I love the body that the sesame and nuts give the crust. It gives this salty savory taste that’s bordering on peanut butter which really balances out all of the sweetness that’s going on in the filling and toppings.

Above all, this is a really simple dessert that looks fancier than it is and that is probably my favorite part about it.

 

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Toppings

  • ½ cup fresh berries
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Extra nuts or mint for garnish (optional)

 

Grind sesame

Grind sesame into a coarse powder.

 

almond

Add almond flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Pulse until it is bordering on the texture of coarse sand.

 

add butter

Add the cubed butter. Pulse until butter is combined.

 

egg

Add the egg to the processor, pulsing a few times to incorporate it. I realized here that the volume of my crust mix was starting to overwhelm the food processor. If this happens to you guys, feel free to pull some of the mix out to make space. As you see in the image, you can always give a couple extra stirs in a bigger bowl to combine everything at the last minute.

 

press

Press into greased tartlet pans.

 

poke

Press a few holes into the bottom of the pan to prevent any bubbling in the crust while baking. If any do occur, feel free to tap them down with the back of a spoon while the crust is still baking or fresh out of the oven.

However I am getting ahead of myself. Baking is the next step. For now, put the crusts back in the fridge for an hour to let the butter re-solidify.

 

bake

Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust becomes aromatic and slightly golden on the sides. This time will vary by about 5 minutes depending on how thick you make the crust. I chose to have a denser crust, almost like a cookie, so mine were in for closer to 20 minutes.

When finished let them cool completely.

 

cream

While the crusts cool, heat up the cream in a saucepan on high while stirring. If you want to be safe, you can go medium or medium high. However I am not patient … so I will be a bad influence and say you can cheat the time with a higher heat so long as you stir frequently and keep an eye on the pan. When the cream starts to steam, pull it from the heat.

 

melt

Add the chocolate. Stir until smooth.

 

oh yea

It’s right about here where you will want to stop and get ready to pour the chocolate filling into the de-panned crusts. If you want, you can add extra flavorings like a few dribbles of vanilla or lemon extract, or even a shake or two of cinnamon. I, however, wanted to go pure and simple.

 

cool

Refrigerate 20 minutes or until the ganache starts to set up. You want it to be stable enough for the fruit to barely sink in it.

 

fruit

Prepare your fruit.

 

final

…. And assemble it. I added a dollop of whipped cream and basil for color. If I am honest the basil really only came into play for color, but it actually worked pretty well with the strawberries. Of course for those traditionalists out there, mint would work perfectly as well.

Well here it is. My gluten-free berry tart. These are best straight out of the fridge because that’s when the chocolate will be the richest. I hope you guys like the recipe, and comment on what you think of it! If you have any suggestions on future posts, please include those as well.

Until next time … keep eating my friends.

-The Glutton

 

 

Greetings from the author

intro collage

Hello everyone, it’s nice to meet you. This will be a brief intro message just so you can get to know me.

Starting soon, I will be using this website as a means to experiment with three of my biggest hobbies: cooking, writing and photography. Oh, and eating. Most importantly eating. So let’s make it four of my biggest hobbies.

I decided to start this blog as a means to get my foot in the door in the world of food writing, and to play with my own personal culinary senses. Comment and communicate with me, I want to hear from you guys! If you have any foodie suggestions, let me know. I will gladly see where they take me and this website.

As for the story behind my blog’s name, I will share it with you later. After all, I kind of have to leave you guys hanging a little bit right?

*The above photos are examples of past work from another blog I work for. You guys can expect links later.