Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pecan Malt Syrup Tart

Of all the wonderful pies I’ve had over my life, my favorite from back when I was a child is pecan pie. This southern classic has to be one of the sweetest pies I have ever eaten, and I recall baking it middle school with a pre-made pie shell and both light and dark corn syrups. This was the default recipe one found on the side of every Karo corn syrup bottle and back then, when it came to desserts, the sweeter the better. Now as an adult, I find pecan pies to be cloyingly sweet, but I still have fond memories of the dish, so I started experimenting with ways to reduce the sugar level while maintaining the integrity and the custardy structure of the pie.

My solution is, rather than using corn syrup for the entire pie, I substitute half of it with barley malt syrup, as malt syrup has less sugar than corn syrup. Plus it has a malty flavor that I love! I also reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe and added more pecans. And of course, I made my own pie shell. Overall, the recipe is pretty easy. There is some advanced preparation required with the par-baked pie shell, but you have that ready, it’s easy as pie. I recommend you make this dish for Thanksgiving or your next holiday gathering. Enjoy!

1 par baked 10-inch tart shell (see recipe below)
2 cups of pecans, chopped
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of organic corn syrup*
1/2 cup of organic barley malt syrup
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsalted melted butter, cooled
Special equipment:
10-inch tart pan
Pie weights or dried beans

1. Heat the oven to 350°

2. Spread the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Let cool.

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3. In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.

 

4. Add in the corn syrup, malt syrup, salt, vanilla extract and melted butter and whisk until combined.

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5. Put the par-baked tart shell and the pan on top of a baking sheet. In the tart shell, add cooled pecans and spread evenly.

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6. Give the custard mixture a final whisk and pour over the pecans.

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7. Place the pecan tart in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes (turning the tart at the halfway mark) until the center is set.

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*Organic Light Corn Syrup and Barley Malt Syrup can be found in most natural foods market like Sprouts or Whole Foods.

One 10-inch Tart Shell

1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 stick of cold butter (cut into cubes)
1/8 cup of cold water

1. To make the tart crust, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times.

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2. Add butter. Pulse 3 to 4 times.

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3. Add water. Pulse 2 to 3 times until the dough comes together.

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4. Move the dough to work station and gently knead it until it just comes together, and then form into a disk. Do not overwork the dough or it will yield a tough crust.

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5. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

6. Heat the oven to  325°

7. Roll out the tart crust wide enough to cover the tart pan. This will be roughly be 13 inches in diameter

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8. Press the crust down into the pan. Using a rolling pin, roll over the crust and to cut the portion hanging over the tart pan.

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9. Place the crust and pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.

10. Meanwhile, cut out a round piece of parchment paper about 12-inch in diameter.

11. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and line the parchment paper over the crust. Add the pie weights. Par-bake for 20 minutes.

12. Once out of the oven, remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Let the shell cool completely on a wired rack.

Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimp

With Thanksgiving around the corner, fresh corn is plentiful at your local supermarket and at the farmers market. When I find heirloom corn at the farmers market, I get excited about all the different things I might make with it – Johnny cakes with fresh corn, creamed corn with tarragon, cornbread with bacon – but every so often I want corn with Asian flavors. With that in mind, here is a unique corn recipe inspired by the Vietnamese street food Bap Xao Tom Bo. You can find this popular buttery shrimp and corn dish at mobile food stands in the streets of Saigon. In the traditional recipe, the corn is sautéed in butter, then small dried shrimp is added, followed by a little fish sauce, green onion, and finally a little hot sauce. Also, the dried shrimp is traditionally sautéed without soaking them first. In my version, I prefer to soak the dried shrimp in hot water to mellow out the shrimp flavor and to soften them a bit, otherwise I think the shrimp flavor can be a bit overpowering. I also add a little soy sauce and dark caramel sauce to balance out the fish sauce. Finally, I add fried shallots for a crispy texture. This corn dish is best eaten right away. Enjoy!

Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimp

Serving Size: 4
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb of fresh cut or frozen organic corn*
10 small dried shrimp (soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and chopped)**
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce
Freshly grated black pepper
1-2 teaspoon of Sambal Oelek (garlic chili sauce), more for serving***
1/2 tablespoon of Vietnamese caramel sauce (optional)
1/4 cups of fried shallots

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low. Add the butter and half of the scallions. Sauté for about 2 minutes.

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2. Add the dried shrimp (after it is soaked and chopped). Sauté for 1 minute.

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3. Add the corn and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté for 2 more minutes (3-4 minutes for frozen corn).

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4. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, a couple of turns of the pepper mill, chili sauce, and caramel sauce. Sauté for 30 more seconds. Add the remaing scallions and sauté for 30 more seconds.

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5. Divide among 4 bowls and top with fried shallots and serve with extra chili sauce.

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*If using fresh corn try to find heirloom corn at your local farmers market. Most corn sold at the supermarket tend to be genetically modified.

**Dried shrimp can be found at most Asian supermarkets. Store the remaining shrimp in an airtight freezer bag.

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***Sambal Oelek or garlic chili sauce are available at most Asian supermarkets.

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Birthday Cupcakes with Organic Sprinkles

Whenever my 4-year old sees sprinkles on donuts or cookies at bakery, I can’t steer him away from them. I make suggestions for other healthier options, but he’s insistent on the confetti-speckled treats. He, along with most kids, are drawn to the cute little, colorful dots. The sprinkles make kids smile from ear to ear. As a mom who’s constantly looking for healthier alternatives, I try to avoid foods with artificial coloring, so I recently started using sprinkles with natural food coloring. The colors are derived from natural vegetable dyes. Although the colors are little more pale and not as vibrant, the kids don’t notice the difference.

What better time than my son’s 9th birthday to use these sprinkles. They are perfect toppers and decoration for birthday cupcakes. Here is a simple birthday cupcake recipe using the best ingredients. The frosting is light and not too sweet and the cake is moist and tender. The sprinkles add a nice crunchy texture. These cupcakes are popular with the kids, but the leftovers were a hit with the adults at my office as well. Enjoy!

 
Birthday Cupcakes with Organic Sprinkles

Yield: about 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups cake or pastry flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
6 tablespoons of unsalted organic butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of organic sugar
2 large organic egg whites
1 large organic egg
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/3 cup of low fat organic milk
Vanilla bean frosting (recipe below)
3 oz of organic or natural dye sprinkles*

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

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3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides.

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4. Reduce the speed to low. Add the egg whites one at a time, and then the whole egg, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Scrape.

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5. Alternate 1/2 of the flour and then 1/2 of the milk. Repeat. Stop the mixer once the batter is just combined.

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6. Remove the bowl off the mixer. Fold in 2 oz of the sprinkles.

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7. Using a large ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the cupcake liners. (Make sure you level out the batter evenly to the top, no more and no less to ensure perfect size for icing.)

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8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the toothpick comes out clean.

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9. Cool on a wire rack until cool before frosting.

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10. Using an off-set spatula, spread a generous amount of vanilla bean frosting on each cupcake. Decorate with the remaining sprinkles.

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Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

1 cup of unsalted organic butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3 cups of organic powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1. On a stand mixer on medium speed, add the butter, salt and vanilla bean seeds. Beat for 2 minutes.

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2. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, making sure that the sugar is incorporated before adding the next 1/2 cup.

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3. Add the vanilla extract and increase the speed to medium and beat until cream about 1-2 minutes. The frosting should be light and fluffy.

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4. Place in an airtight container and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

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*India Tree and Sprinkels brand offers sprinkles with natural dyes.

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