Friday, June 28, 2013

Strawberry Cream Cheese Hand Pies

Yet another cold and rainy day here in Maine today, I'm needing the warmth of the wood stove, or better yet, the oven!  I have fresh strawberries and cream cheese in the fridge, I think some Strawberry Cream Cheese Hand Pies are in order.  A tender light and flaky crust wrapping itself around a not to sweet filling of strawberries and cream cheese, with a hint of lemon.  Oh yeah, this days getting better already!  


Recipe makes 12  3-1/2" pies

For the strawberry filling...
1 Tablespoon butter
2 cups fresh strawberries , sliced
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour,sifted

For the cream cheese filling...
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 large egg yolk

For the crust...
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks) cold, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3 Tablespoons cold milk
1 egg for egg wash
coarse sugar, optional 

1.   Prepare the filling first.  Place butter in a medium saucepan on medium, heat until butter starts to brown.  Add strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.  Stir to incorporate and bring to a low simmer.  Cook 5 minutes until strawberries have released their juices.  Remove pan from burner and cool completely.  Add flour and stir to combine.  Spread the mixture into a large 
plate and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2.   In a small bowl, whisk cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk until smooth.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

3.   In a bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Pulse several times to mix.  Add cold butter cubes and pulse only until pea sized lumps remain.  In a small bowl beat together, the egg and milk and add to the dry ingredients and pulse until moisture is introduced throughout all of the flour mixture.  Do not over process. Transfer flour mixture to a lightly floured work surface, and gather mixture together until it forms a ball.  Divide evenly in half and shape into a disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

 4.  Remove one disk from the refrigerator and on a well floured surface, roll the dough out to an 11-1/2X11-1/2" square, shy of 1/8" thick.  Using a 3 1/2" square cookie cutter, a pastry wheel or a knife work well also, cut out 9 squares.  Gather together scraps and set aside.  Do the same with the other disk.  Take your leftover scraps and combine into a disk, roll and cut and repeat until you have a total of 24 squares.

In a small bowl, beat remaining egg with 1 Tbs. of water, brush 1/2 of the squares all over with the egg wash.

Spoon about a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture and a teaspoon of the strawberries in the middle of each egg washed square, don't over fill.  Top with the second (unwashed) piece of dough and press all around with your finger, or the tines of a fork.  With a sharp knife poke a few small holes on top to vent steam.  Brush top of each pie with egg wash and if desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Place tarts on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill.

 5.   Heat oven to 375° let the tarts rest in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a light golden brown on top.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly, then remove from pan to a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


For more fresh fruit recipes, click the links below.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Herb Pasta (Pâtes Aux Herbes)

 This being my first savory recipe, I wanted it to be special and in season!  Herbs are abundant in the garden right now and so, what better way to use them than in this delicious Herb Pasta.  Served with melted butter and fresh grated Parmesan cheese, it's very easy to make, especially if you have a food processor.  Serve this flavorful pasta with Italian sausages, Yum!
A variety of herbs may be used, it's up to you and what you have available.  I used garlic scapes, chives, parsley, thyme, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, and swiss chard and romain lettuce to fill out.


large pinch of salt
4-5 ounces mixed fresh herbs and salad greens, chopped
about 3 cups, all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
water, if needed

Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, unsalted butter and fresh ground black pepper for serving.

1.  Place chopped greens and salt in a food processor, pulse until an herb paste forms.  Add 2 cups flour, eggs and olive oil.  Process until dough comes together in a soft sticky ball.  Add a little water only if needed, the herbs should release enough water to form a sticky dough.  


2.   Remove the dough from the food processor and on a well floured counter, knead repeatedly:  turn the dough into the flour, push with the heel of your hand to stretch the dough, fold it, turn it in the flour and repeat.  The greens will release more of their liquid absorbing more flour.  When the dough is silky and no longer sticky but still supple, form it into a ball.  Cover it with a towel and let rest for an hour.

3.   On a clean surface, sprinkle flour and place your dough in the middle, sprinkle flour on top and roll out the dough to an 1/8" thickness.

4.   Cut into strips about 2" wide and cut across the strips into squares.

5.   Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil.  Toss the squares loosely in your hands to rid them of any excess flour and drop them in the boiling water.  When the water returns to a boil, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon regularly, until tender, about 6 minutes.

6.   Drain and and toss with melted butter in warmed plates.  Offer fresh grated Parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper.



 For more yummy Herb recipes click below

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

Bacon seems to be all the rage these days, bacon ice cream, candied bacon, and the altogether funny, big bowl of bacon with a lettuce leaf in the middle, "look I made a salad" of Face Book fame.  I always get a chuckle out of that one.  I thought I would get on the band wagon myself when I found these wonderful looking Bacon Fat Gingersnaps over at Leite's Culinaria
These crunchy, spicy and slightly smoky little cookies are a true delight!  They are quick and easy to put together but you do have to have a supply of bacon drippings on hand.  I've been saving bacon drippings for two weeks, waiting to get just the right amount in my measuring cup.  It didn't help that the bacon I buy is quite lean, so rendering fat from that bacon was a lengthy process.  I hope you'll give them a try!


3/4 cup bacon drippings (from 1 1/2 -2 pounds of bacon) at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses (not Blackstrap)
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
extra sugar for rolling the cookie dough in.


                                    Rendering that bacon Fat!

1.   Sift flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl.  Add bacon drippings, granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses and egg.  Mix together until a stiff dough forms.  Gather together into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours up to two days.


2.   Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper.  In a small bowl, pour in about a 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  With a small scoop or a tablespoon scoop out dough and form into balls.  Roll the dough balls in the sugar and place them on the parchment lined pans about 2" apart.

3.   Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in the pan slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.