Honeyed Apple–Peanut Butter Tart

9781118095126_p0_v1_s260x420Many projects I work on have a moratorium on sharing. Sometimes by me, other times by the publisher or editor who usually lets me know when I can start blabbing about it. Sometimes the lead times are long (a year or two in advance!), other times I just have to wait a month or two until whatever I photographed has hit the streets.

Of course, most of the time it’s ok to share a little bit via instagram and facebook, but I usually err on the side of caution and keep my mouth shut.

Which is painful when there are great recipes I want to talk about.

Like this one.

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Oh my goodness, this one.

I am a peanut butter freak, and combined with an apple or banana it’s my standard sweet snack. I knew I’d love this recipe from Jenny Flake’s The Picky Palate Cookbook when we were reviewing the recipe list, and when Adam and his team began to assemble it I knew that the shape would photograph beautifully, and I knew that the shape would also fit in my stomach perfectly.

I think I ate the whole damn thing.

Jenny says it’s easy to make, which it is. The hard part was waiting for quite some time to share this recipe, and now that it’s out Apple-Peanut-Butter-Tart-Cutyou really should try it. And the book, too. I’ve given a few copies to friends, not only to show them what we’ve been up to but also to encourage them to get into the kitchen and make stuff. Mainly this. And then to call me and invite me over so I can enjoy my favorite flavor combination via the ever-so-delightful Jenny Flake.

Honeyed Apple–Peanut Butter Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons honey, warmed, divided
2 apples of choice, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

2. Cut the puff pastry into 3 equal-size rectangles and place on the prepared baking sheet. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the peanut butter in the microwave until liquid-like, about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of the honey and stir to combine, then spread evenly over the 3 pastry rectangles, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.

3. Layer the apple slices neatly over the peanut butter. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining honey in the microwave for 15 seconds, until liquid-like. Drizzle over the apples, sprinkle with the sugar, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and puffed around the edges. Let cool completely, then drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons honey. Dust with the powdered sugar. Serve as whole tarts or cut each tart into fourths.

Recipe reprinted by permission, The Picky Palate Cookbook by Jenny Flake (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2012. Photograph by yours truly.

 

Winter Citrus, Revisited. Again.

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There’s really not much left I can say about citrus. Particularly, how I feel about citrus. I’ve talked about it for years via my annual citrus round-up, and if I had my way I’d probably write a whole damn cookbook on citrus fruit. I totally would.

Matt-Armendariz-Citrus-Ring-550I think I’ve run out of words to describe the fruits of the Rutaceae family; I’ve used all the zippy and zings, tangy and tarts to last a lifetime. Besides, do you really need me to tell you what a lemon tastes like? Um, no. I’m pretty sure just about everyone knows what they taste like and how indispensible they are to cooking.  In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a cuisine that doesn’t include citrus in one way or another.

To me, it’s that citric acid that makes food come alive, but it also doesn’t need to knock you over, either. It can add balance to a dish, cause a chemical reaction, preserve, intensify and enchance, and it’s also an equal opportunity ingredient, happy in both sweet and savory dishes. To me it’s one of life’s absolutely perfect things.

So how have we been enjoying these beauties at our place? In so many ways. I thought it’d be fun to put together a few suggestions for all those lemons and limes that are their peak right now. Oh, and grapefruit and tangerines. And kumquats and tangelos. And, and…

 

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MARGARITAS, ANYONE?

As luck would have it, one plentiful lime tree stands smack dab in the middle of our new yard. We moved just in time to become intoxicated by the lime flower blossoms (and if you’ve ever need proof as to whether miracles exist, lean in and smell that tiny mighty flower). The blossoms gave way to fruit, so much fruit! It seems like I couldn’t give the limes away fast enough, but being the resourceful guy that I am, I opted for a giant batch of margaritas. You can keep your neon-gree fake mixes, thankyouverymuch. A real margarita could not be easier, nor more satisfying. It goes like this: lime juice, a fantastic tequila, simple syrup or any orange-flavored liqueur like triple sec or Cointreau. I’ve been known to skip the last ingredient, which is just fine if you ask me.

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FRIED LEMONS AND POTATO CHIPS

We recently finished an assignment for Food & Wine Magazine, and one tempura recipe included in the shot list used tempura-battered lemon slices. We were all so collectively bowled over by what happens to a battered and deep-fried lemon – it’s more amazing than you’d think! Incorporating that premise into snacktime yielded these chips with fried lemon slices tucked throughout.  You’ll want beer to enjoy with these things (they’re simply dipped in tapioca flour and fried), and if you need more zing, simply spring with an equal blend of lemon or lime zest and salt. Easy.

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PALOMA

Oh my sweet Paloma, you are a beautiful thing, aren’t you? You make me wish I lived on a grapefruit plantation. And while this Mexican cocktail is usually served with Mexican grapefruit soda and tequila, I’m going straight to the source by mixing fresh grapefruit juice, sparkling water, along with plenty of simple syrup and crushed ice. And good tequila. Fly away, Paloma!

Update: About a day after this post went live a box of Texas Rio Star Grapefruit arrived on my doorstep. Can I tell you how amazing they are? I plan on remaking a batch of Palomas with the sweet juice of these grapefruits, which I learned are only grown in Texas. Thanks for sending, Kymberly, and hugs to everyone back in Texas!

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SWEET CHILI LIME SAUCE

Oh, this is cheating. Ok, let’s not be so harsh. This is doctoring.  Which I’m not opposed to doing if it’s easy, delicious, and let me bring more flavor to the party. In this case, a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice and garlic added to bottled sweet chilI sauce makes an excellent dipping sauce for grilled shrimp and squid. OH AND LOOK, THESE THINGS ARE ON STICKS! I wonder what gave me that idea. I really do.

Oh, and don’t forget squeezes of fresh lime before serving!

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STEAK & NUOC MAM

You may know the Vietnamese condiment made from fish sauce, sugar, chiles and lime juice as the umami-rich dipping sauce of spring rolls, bánh xèo and bánh bèo, among other things. But this FREAKING MAGIC SAUCE (yes, emphasis mine) makes an appearance at our house all the time. ALL THE TIME. Especially when meat like slow roasted pork, flank steak or grilled chicken are on the menu. I use Andrea’s recipe all the time, which can be found here.

But I don’t usually stop there. I’ll add tiny amounts to a bowl of beans, sprinkle it over pasta, and even add it to my guacamole. It’s my fave.

Curd-Tarts-Matt-Armendariz-2013

CITRUS CURD

Juice + eggs + sugar + butter + heat = curd. And it’s fantastic on just about everything. Cakes, scones, cakes, you name it. In this case Adam made these beautiful little citrus curd meringue tarts and well, they disappeared. INTO MY MOUTH. A very easy little shell was blind baked and cooled, then filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue.  A quick torch to brown the peaks of meringue came next, and then some blackberries finished it off. Tart, sweet, buttery, berry, oh lord these things didn’t stand a chance.

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CANDIED KUMQUATS

Oh really, this cannot be easier. All you need is time and a few ingredients. And thanks to Pim for the inspiration for this: simmer covered kumquats in water and sugar and a little vanilla bean and a dash of salt for about 2 hours, then uncover and reduce so that you’re left with an amazing citrus syrup. That is all. Seriously. The fruit turn soft and delicious, losing any bitterness they may have had from the long soak. Enjoy the kumquats on dark chocolate cake, on a cheesecake, or along with the syrup over vanilla ice cream.

Alrighty my friends, what’s your favorite thing to do with citrus? I’d love to know! I’m thinking 2014 already!

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The Beginning

palm springs blog collage

There’s no reason for this post, other than to share a few images. We spent the first few days of this year in Palm Springs where it was chilly yet sunny. We ate, walked, picked oranges and grapefruit, went to the movies, napped (several times!) and slept late. I can’t think of a better way to bring in a fantastic 2013!