December 18, 2016
February 27, 2016
Living in England and not being able to travel home to the States every year for the holidays has meant that I have become accustomed to lots of English Christmas traditions. One such tradition is the mince pie. Mince pies are simple little creatures, a simple pie crust is filled with mincemeat (not beef- remembering Rachel from Friends making that trifle comes to mind!). Mincemeat is booze soaked fruit that contains spices and candied citrus peel for a tart, rich filling that just screams Christmas.
Come September, these little pies full of mincemeat line the supermarket shelves and feature in towers at the front of every store. This is my take on the mince pie- by topping mine with frangipane (almond paste) and flaked almonds for the best little Almond Topped Mince Pies.
I don’t think I could have Christmas now without these Almond Topped Mince Pies. Not only are they yummy, they are super easy to make, especially if you take a few shortcuts (like refrigerated pie crust dough). Do feel free to make your own crust, that will make them all the more satisfying, however during the holidays it’s always great to save yourself a few precious minutes in the kitchen.
March 22, 2015
One of my favorite things about this time of year is some of the different produce that you see in the supermarket. From rhubarb to leeks and venison to goose, this time of year is all about the produce that gives us some of our most comforting dishes. Walking into a store to see all these wonderful ingredients in abundance is heart-warming, but there is only one thing that truly makes my heart skip a beat: a blood orange.
There is just something so special about an ingredient that is familiar, an orange, that when sliced reveals a surprising red-tinged flesh that makes the tart, subtly sweet juice it is known for. Whenever I see them, I always leap to grab as many as I can. I love them so much one of my first recipes on this blog was for Blood Orange Mimosas (which are still a MAJOR fave).
The other week I picked up a lovely bag of blood oranges and knew that I needed to make something special. I instantly thought of some sort of pie to really show off the flavor of the blood oranges. But what better way to top a pie than a billow of pillowy, marshmallow-like meringue? Blood Orange Meringue Pie? Turn on your ovens, it’s time to get baking!
This Blood Orange Meringue Pie is absolutely delicious. The filling has a great orange flavor and is flecked with pink from the pulp of the blood orange. The custard is as smooth as silk and is a great partner to the fluffy meringue and the crumbly crust. This pie is different than most in that it has a graham cracker crust rather than a traditional pasty crust. I really enjoy the graham cracker here with the addition of cinnamon which gives the crust a subtle spiciness. If you’d prefer a pastry crust, you can make your favorite pie dough, blind bake, then pour in the filling and bake as directed in the recipe.
One note when making any kind of meringue pie: if your filling is cold when adding the meringue, your meringue may weep (leak! Yuck.). To prevent this, add the meringue on top of the pie whilst the filling is still hot to help cook the meringue from beneath. You could also try an Italian meringue, where the meringue is cooked by adding a hot sugar syrup to the egg whites while whipping. Either way, you don’t want a weepy meringue.
Visiting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal was life changing. Not only is Portugal a beautiful country, it is full of life and culture. The people are lovely and the food is even lovelier. I must’ve had way more than my fair share of these beautiful, vanilla scented tarts during our 10 days in the country. But they were pretty irresistible! I mean, just look at these photos I snapped of the most delicious Pasteis de Nata I’ve ever had:
My mouth waters just looking at these images again…
There are some foods that just burn into your sense memory, and for me this was one of them. I will always remember not only the taste, but also the feeling of popping into tiny little backstreet bakeries and purchasing one that has literally just been taken out of the oven. Those experiences are rare and for me, worth trying to recreate.
The key to great Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) is actually quite simple.
- Uber flaky pastry.
- Super vanilla flavor.
- Silky smooth custard.
oh, and let’s not forget the iconic dark spots on top (which are incredibly difficult to master in a home oven, but let’s give it a go, shall we?).
A few tips to help make the best Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts) possible: Take care in rolling the pastry properly. We want flakiness and lots of layers! Also, be sure to whisk your custard like mad: no lumps here! And lastly: don’t skimp on the vanilla. It takes your tart from ordinary to extraordinary! Get ready for your cheapest ever vacation to Portugal!
Look at the spiral on the bottom of the pastry! This is where your hard work rolling and cutting the pastry pays off! So many layers of flakiness!