Tuesday, January 19, 2010

flaky brown sugar (pop) tarts

this recipe was born of christine's and my childhood love for brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts with NO frosting, my desire to bake something last thursday and my obsession with the book once upon a tart.  to top it all off, my sister had left vegetable shortening in my fridge (which i never buy... this was actually my first time ever using it), thus creating one of those "meant to be" kind of mornings.  if you do not own this book, i absolutely recommend it.  it is full of all sorts of buttery goodness (also, delicious soups, salads and sandwiches).
*this is the flaky tart crust recipe from this book (these scones are also from there), but as far as the filling for these, you will just have to make up your own little butter, brown sugar and cinnamon combo because i have no recollection of how much we used of each.  i am sure you cannot go wrong with any combination of those three things, however.  now brace yourself for another recipe with massive amounts of butter (and shortening)...*

Flaky Tart Crust (makes enough for two 9-inch tart crusts)
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
- small glass of ice water

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.  dump flour, sugar and salt into bowl of a food processor and pulse.
2. add butter and shortening all at once and pulse 5 to 10 times until it resembles moist crumbs and no chunks of butter or shortening remain. (they are very strict about the fact that you "pulse" not "run" your food processor).
3. dump crumbs into a big bowl.  sprinkle 3 tablespoons of ice water over the surface of the crumbs.
4. use your hands to bring the dough together.  add more water if you have to, 1 tablespoon at a time.  the dough should be just past crumbly and just barely coming together.  you don't want it to be so wet that it sticks.
5. cut the dough in half (if you are making a regular tart with this recipe, each half is enough for a 9 inch tart pan), press each into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
6. on a floured surface, roll out disk of dough as thinly as you can.  cut same-size shapes out of dough.  we used a round tart cutter for some, but they looked so much like silly little raviolis, that we decided to just hand-cut our own little rectangles, to more resemble pop tarts.  they would also be very cute in heart shapes for valentine's day...
7. place the first layer of each tart on a baking sheet (we lined ours with parchment paper) and plop a little of your filling (whatever it may be... it would probably also be really delicious with some sort of strawberry preserves to further the valentine's theme) in the middle of each.  then place the top layer of each tart on top of the filling and use a fork to press around all sides.   poke holes in the top of each with your fork.  at this point, you might want to brush the edges with an egg so as to keep them completely pressed, seeing as ours oozed a little, but either way they still come out delicious.  bake until brown around the edges (maybe 15 minutes?  i don't really remember...  just sit close by with your coffee and a good book, magazine, etc. and keep an eye on the first batch).

Jessica's Pot Roast

We call this "Jessica's" because she first made it for us after I had Sam, and it was one of those amazing dinners that tastes so good you almost die. Also, I have to distinguish it from my typical/ordinary pot roast that just involves a packet of onion soup mixed with a can of mushroom soup, slathered on the meat and roasted for several hours. But that one is also delicious. Anyway, it seems like pot roast time around here... so this is what we're having for dinner tonight. And I don't even have a slow cooker/crock pot. I just throw it all in a lidded pot and cook it in the oven for 6-7 hours at 250 or so. Mmmmm... its starting to smell good already. Try it with mashed potatoes or polenta on the side.

Country-Style Pot Roast with Gravy

Adapted from “Cook’s Country”

Cook’s Country Note: If you can’t find a large 5 1/2- to 6-pound chuck roast, use two 3-pound roasts.

* 1 large boneless beef chuck roast (5 1/2-6 pounds), tied
* Salt and pepper
* 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
* 3 medium onions, chopped
* 1 large celery rib, chopped
* 4 medium carrots, chopped
* 6 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup red wine
* 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
* 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
* 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
* 3 bay leaves
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Liberally season roast with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer roast to slow cooker.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to skillet, along with onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

3. Increase heat to high. Add red wine to empty skillet, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Add pepper flakes, bay leaves and thyme. Transfer to slow cooker.

4. Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook until tender, 6 to 7 hours. Or, cook on low for 9 to 10 hours. (Check the temperature with a meat thermometer about 2 hours before the roast is supposed to be done to prevent overcooking. It will be well done at 160 degrees F.)

5. Transfer roast to carving board; loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Discard bay leaves. Allow liquid in pot to settle, about 5 minutes, then use wide spoon to skim fat off surface. Puree liquids and solids in batches in blender or food processor. (Or, use an immersion blender.) Stir in parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Remove strings from roast and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to serving platter. Pour about 1 cup gravy over meat. Serve, passing more gravy separately.

NOTE ON REDUCING RECIPE: If you cut this recipe in half, be sure to reduce your slow-cooker time to about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.