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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lemon Ricotta Tart with Raspberry Mousse

California has spoiled me forever.

 

I know I seem every bit the native Californian (at least that’s what I like to tell myself) but I was actually raised in Washington State.  And no, it didn’t rain all the time.  It may come as a shock to many of you…but there is actually an entire Eastern side of the state that doesn’t perpetually reside beneath constant cloud cover.  Eastern Washington is, in fact, categorized as an arid desert.  My hometown of Wenatchee had four very distinct seasons featuring freezing white winters, blindingly hot summers, and very little rainfall.

 

Growing up in Wenatchee brought me to the conclusion that I don’t like weather.

 

The lack of seasons was a very important factor in my decision to move to Southern California when I graduated high school.  Maybe it’s because I hate change of any kind, but I like my temperatures to remain relatively constant throughout the year.

 

Hence, California has spoiled me.  I was completely useless during this year’s heat wave.

 

Despite my hometown reaching well above 100 degrees every summer, I now begin complaining of excessive heat once temperatures reaches the mid 80’s.  I recently spent an entire Saturday afternoon fanning myself on my couch (in my air-conditioned living room) watching Harry Potter and The Help and refusing to leave the house.

 

My husband and I even escaped to the mountains for a weekend of camping.  Although the afternoons were still pretty warm for my taste, the evenings and mornings were blissfully cool.  It was super relaxing, lounging by the fire crocheting granny squares for an afghan I’ve been working on.  Because everyone crochets when they camp…right?

 

My husband made a fire from scratch (no matches or lighter fluid) and as you can see he’s very pleased with himself.

Morning coffee by the fire? Yes please!

 

But back in civilization, the drastic increases in temperature (and in California I admittedly use the term “drastic increases” loosely) completely saps any desire to bake my usual dessert of choice…cupcakes.

 

Summer is the time for light and fluffy mousse tarts.

 

Omnomnom!

Despite searching, I was unable to find the perfect summer tart recipe.  So, I had to get a little creative.

 

The final recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart’s Raspberry Mousse Pie and Sprinkle Bakes White Ricotta Tart.  And it was DELICIOUS!  It was light, cool, and made from fresh lemons and raspberries!

 

I’m of the opinion the lemons and raspberries should always be baked into tarts together.  I’m also a great lover of lemons and blueberries, especially when in muffin form.

 

This recipe is slightly more complicated than your average tart.  It is done in three stages and will take most of the day from start to finish.  But don’t run away yet!

 

It can certainly be made the day before you plan to serve it (this is what I did).  Most of the time needed for this recipe is allowing each layer to cool before the next one is added and then allowing the mousse to set completely, so it’s not a significant amount of “hands on” time.  And trust me, the end result is well worth it!

 

I cut you a slice! But then I ate it (sorry).

Lemon Ricotta Tart with Raspberry Mousse

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes and Martha Stuart

Tart Shell

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Liberally butter a tart or quiche dish and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Add butter pieces and cut into flour mixture until fine crumbs form.  Add yolk, vanilla and water and mix completely until dough forms a ball.  Press dough into buttered pan (using flour if dough is sticky).  Chill shell for 40 minutes.
  3. Prick the tart shell with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.  Let shell cool completely.

Lemon Ricotta Filling

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 egg whites
  • Lemon zest from one lemon, finely grated
  • Lemon juice from one lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine cream cheese, ricotta, and sugar in a large bowl and cream together.  Add egg whites, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Mix at medium speed until combined.
  3. Pour into cooled tart crust and bake for 20 minutes

Raspberry Mousse

  • 1 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ¼ tsp powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (plus extra for garnish)
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  1. Place lemon juice in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin.  Let sit until gelatin softens, about 3 minutes.
  2. In a blender, puree raspberries until smooth.  Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup (you should have ½ cup of puree, if not puree additional raspberries as needed).  Discard solids.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine raspberry puree and ¼ cup sugar over medium heat.  Cook until bubbles form at edge.  Add gelatin mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, 20 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, beat heavy cream and 1 tbsp sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until firm peaks form.  Gently fold in cooled raspberry puree until combined.
  5. Pour over cooled tart and smooth top with a spatula.  Arrange raspberries on top of desired.  Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours or overnight.
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Devil’s Angel Food Cake

Today, I’m feeling positively sinful!

I have just purchased the most perfect pair of taupe knee-high boots and am currently contemplating acquiring a brown pair of boots as well as a new purse.  Yesterday I enjoyed a delightful dinner of pizza, breadsticks and chocolate ice cream after completely ignoring a sink full of dishes.  I believe that covers pride, greed, gluttony, and sloth.

I think times like these are necessary for a woman to keep her sanity…even a self-proclaimed housewife like myself.  I can’t be June Cleaver every day after all; though tomorrow I shall put on my pearls and apron and try very hard to be.

I have a busy Saturday planned baking cupcakes for a friend’s 30th birthday party, so my apron will certainly see plenty of action.  Decorations have already been prepared (greatly helped by the Cake Cricut my friend got me for my birthday last year), baking begins this evening, and the bulk of the work will be done tomorrow morning (hopefully before it gets too hot with this heat wave we have all been having).  You will have to wait for that post, as I am sure these cupcakes will make the cut to be included on the blog.

But, back to being sinful.  If one is going to be sinful, this is certainly an excellent choice of dessert to do so.

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I made it for my father-in-law’s birthday.  Some years ago he had requested an angel food cake with chocolate frosting.  I had made a simple angel food cake and covered it in chocolate ganache.  He requested the same this year, but I decided to take it quite a bit further.

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You can use just about any chocolate angel food cake recipe to make this cake.  I chose one from Food.com.  The frosting is simply chocolate ganache which has been beaten into submission.  Constructing the cake is very easy…but the final product is devilishly delicious!

Devil’s Angel Food Cake
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup sifted caked flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (divided)
  • 12 large egg whites, at room temperature (about 2 cups)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Fresh Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sift together the cocoa, ¾ cup sugar, and flour.  Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites at a low speed in a large mixing bowl (be sure it is clean and dry) until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt.  Gradually increase speed to medium while beating in remaining ¾ cup sugar.  When sugar is incorporated, continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients over the whites in thirds, gently folding in with a spatula after each addition.
  5. Pour the batter into two 8 or 9 inch baking pans.  Cut through to remove air pockets.
  6. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, until top springs back to the touch.
  7. Let cake cool about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the side of the pan and invert onto a cooling rack.  Cool cake completely before frosting.
  8. Heat heavy cream on medium high just until it starts to boil.  Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over the bittersweet chocolate.  Let it rest for about thirty seconds to one minute, and then stir until completely mixed and glossy.  Allow the ganache to cool.
  9. Reserve about ¼ to ½ cup of the ganache.  Whip the remaining on medium high speed until it is thick and at spreading consistency.
  10. Take half of the whipped ganache and spread it over one cake layer.  Place the second layer on top and then top the whole thing with the remaining whipped ganache.
  11. Drizzle the reserved ganache over the entire cake and garnish with fresh raspberries.

2nd Anniversary

My relationship with my husband would make a terrible romance novel.

We are in no way an exciting couple.  It would be like watching glue dry.  Worse even…like reading about someone who is watching glue dry.

Our friends have often referred to us as the “old couple”.  So what if we sometimes go to bed at 9pm on a Saturday?  Don’t judge me.

Some call it a rut – we call it routine.  Every Sunday morning we go to the same coffee shop and order the same drinks.  We spend our evenings watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, even though we’ve seen them all.  We go to the same restaurant every Valentine’s Day.  In the seven years we’ve been together, not a year has gone by when we didn’t watch The Brother’s Grimm – the movie he took me to see on our first date.  We really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Recently we celebrated our second wedding anniversary.  Unlike all other holidays and special occasions, this is one where we don’t have an established routine.  Last year we went to an Irish pub and saw Captain America.  I know…super romantic, right?

This year we considered a weekend getaway – but with my sister’s Vegas wedding and an upcoming camping trip the thought of packing, driving, and sleeping in a strange bed was not high on our list.  So we decided to keep it local…but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make it special!

Since our anniversary was on a Sunday, we began the day the same way we begin every Sunday…a trip to our favorite coffee shop in Newport Beach!  He ordered his dark chocolate mocha and I had my Turkish café latte with cardamom!

Our next outing was all for me…a picnic in the park!  We ate lunch in the grass next to the creek, lounged on our blanket reading our books, and fed the ducks in the pond! It was marvelous and I loved every minute of it!  For the lunch I packed goat cheese pizza pockets, fresh pear slices, couscous salad (recipe below), and brownies.

A delicious picnic for two

Beautiful setting!

The duckies!! And you can see the world’s more ginormous coy fish in the center of the picture!

After a relaxing afternoon, we packed up the picnic basket and headed to the movie theater to see The Dark Knight Rises (I know, we are so unromantic, but we can’t help that we love superhero movies).  I suggest it to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, but I don’t suggest too many liquids before sitting down to this 3 hour movie!

For dinner, we went to the Orange County Mining Co. where we sat at a window overlooking Orange and Anaheim.  This place is the perfect balance of casual and fancy.  The atmosphere is comfortable and informal, but the food is worthy of any fine dining restaurant.  I enjoyed the most delicious filet mignon with béarnaise sauce and garlic mashed potatoes!

The view from the Orange County Mining co.

I know…not exactly a day worthy of romantic prose…but it was exactly perfect for the two of us!

We did get each other gifts…which perfectly illustrate how nerdy we both are!  I got him the special edition Derpy Hooves pony from the 2012 San Diego Comic Con and he got me a pink cupcake necklace from Tiffany’s!

Special Edition Derpy Hooves Pony

There are few things greater than seeing that special blue box!

Israeli Couscous Salad
Adapted from Use Real Butter
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous, uncooked
  • 1 cob of corn, cooked, cooled
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • ½ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • ¼ cup feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, diced
  • ¼ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water to boil.  Pour the couscous into the water and cook until pasta is tender, about 5-10 minutes.  Drain the couscous and rinse with cold water.
  2. Shuck the corn kernels off the cob.
  3. In a large mixing bowl add couscous, corn, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, and feta cheese.
  4. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and sprinkle with salt, pepper, parsley, curry powder, and turmeric.  Mix until coated.  Adjust seasoning to your liking.