Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Last week I finished reading My Life in France Julia Child. Although I had to shield my eyes during certain parts (every mention of bones crushing or blood gushing or really any too-in-depth meat discussion), it really was an inspirational book. All I could think of was how much fun it would be to write a cookbook someday. Now I've written a book before, a math book, and I never thought I'd be doing it again anytime too soon, but a cookbook seems much more exciting. Julia was so scientific about all her recipe-tasting, much more so like a baker than a cook. I'm constantly wishing I had the time and money to make certain recipes over and over again with slight tweaks and alterations here and there. Just last night I made cupcakes out of my pumpkin bread recipe and spent a long time comparing that recipe with another recipe I have for pumpkin cupcakes. It's still not fully clear to me how a quick bread recipe fundamentally differs from a cake recipe (in terms of ratios of flour to sugar and the amount of fat, etc); quick breads are typically both denser and drier than your average layer cake or cupcake, but there are very moist loaf cakes out there... It's probably the mathematician in me, but I can't imagine a better way to spend an afternoon (or a whole week!) than finding a definitive answer to this question. Plus, I really should have answers to questions like these when I teach my baking course in January. So you should expect lots of fascinating investigative baking projects in the hopefully near future. And maybe a book, but that's a long way off yet!
Currently I'm reading another book written by a professional chef, a pastry chef this time. Now maybe I'm being overly harsh, having just finished Julia's book, but this current book irks me. I don't expect a pastry chef to apologize for her abundant use of butter and eggs and cream, but there are a lot of great reasons to be a vegan, and doesn't a vegan deserve a tasty baked treat too? I can understand that a pastry chef may decide not to offer any vegan goodies, but to be annoyed that someone would even dare ask about vegan options seems kind of ridiculous to me. I'll post some of my vegan recipes soon, but in the meantime, here's a treat for the gluten-free folks out there who also deserve some tasty treats.
It's kind of a combination tart/frittata. Except that I don't like frittatas (even though it's fun to say), and I like this. It's not too heavy, and it has a great lemon flavor to it. It's also great with homemade vanilla ice cream, though what isn't?
Recipe (from New York Times):
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, more for garnish
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Heat oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest, and juice.
Melt butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat; when foam has subsided, add almond mixture to pan, tilting pan to distribute batter evenly. Continue to cook tart on stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in oven and finish cooking, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
When tart is done, put it in broiler for about a minute or until just golden on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Serve. It's great with vanilla ice cream!