Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Strawberry Tarts, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Carrot Cupcakes

Emeril Lagasse's Strawberry Puff Pastry Tart.

Sounded so really good.. but it was a let down. I think I know why.
1) I didn't melt ice cream and place the tart on top. The sweetness would have elevated the tart. It needed it.
2) The puff pastry I used wasn't really all that good. It wasn't super flakey and buttery as I would have liked. It really does pay to make your own puff pastry.. but man OH man is it time consuming.

The mascarpone filling was yummy but I think I over mixed it because it became this congealed blob. Thank goodness it still tasted ok. It was easy to make and overall an ok dessert. One sure fire way to tell how good (or bad, in this case) your food is: there are left overs. =(

Oh well. I guess I can't take it too personally since it wasn't my recipe. Though... I may not have executed it well and thus wasn't as tasty as it could have been.

When you take out the puff pastry, thaw it out, and then unfold it, it looks something like this. You have to roll it out gently with flour to make the creases go away and into one uniform sheet.
Emeril's original recipe called for one full sheet. But since I planned on taking these to a dinner gathering, I thought it would be a good idea to cut them into smaller squares and rectangles for individual portions. Bad idea...

I cut small squares and scored them as Emeril says to do.

I egg washed the scored edges and folded them over. I even squished them down with a fork..

But when I baked them, it looked like one big puff ball. Even with the docking (the holes in the middle) it all rose together. Because the surface area of the folded edges were so small there wasn't enough mass to keep them together. So in the baking process all the folded parts unraveled.

Chefs are great at improvising when things don't go according to plan. What did I do? Cut the center part and pushed it down so I could put the filling inside.

This filling was very easy to make but I think I mixed to too long because it became like this. I don't know what caused it to do that. Maybe the acid in the orange juice?? Yo no se.

Then I filled the centers with the congealed.. I mean delicious filling.
Then I sliced strawberries about 1/4" thick and laid them on top of the cream.

The glaze was a mixture of jam and water. I happened to have this $9 bottle of strawberry jam that my brother bought for me (I had made another tart for my dad's birthday that didn't turn out so well). So I used this jam for the glaze.

I heated the jam just a tiny bit to get it loose and added some water until it became pretty liquidy.
Emeril's recipe ends there, with the addition of melted ice cream that I left out, but I had this crumble mixture that was made for the other strawberry tart as mentioned before. So I added it for garnish.

The crumble process...

Left over tart shells.

Ground in a food processor.

Added some brown sugar.
Then some oats.Cut in butter.

Baked until golden brown.

It was... OK. Needed more butter I think.

* * * * *
Garlic Mashed Potatoes are one of my rare savory dishes that I love to make. It was my dad's birthday and to accompany the many steaks we had was the mashed potatoes.

I don't really use a recipe. I steam them in our rice cooker (actually, my mom does because I still don't know how to use that advanced looking thing). While it's cooking, I heat up some half and half or heavy cream with minced garlic. That way the garlic infuses in the cream. Then I mince up some onions and celery really, really fine.

Crunchy in something soft.. something that Gordon Ramsay might yell at me for but I love it. The crunch gives the taters some substance for me. The more crunch.. the better.

That's pretty much about it.

As soon as it comes out of the steamer, I mash it with a potato masher. Butter is added as well with plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I slowly incorporate the warm half and half until it's fully absorbed into the potatoes. In the middle I switch from the masher to a whisk. Add onions and celery.. and there you go. Cheese would also go very well but I forgot to get it.

* * * * *

Carrot Cupcakes.

Hannah sent me this recipe that she got as a wedding favor from her boss's wedding. It was her husband's mom's recipe. I gave it a go and is pretty dang moist and delicious! And really easy to make too!

The Cake
2 Cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
Sift together

2 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Canola Oil

4 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla

2 Cups Grated Carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1 (8.5oz) Can Crushed Pineapples, Drained
(I think I used about 1 cup)
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

In a bowl combine the sugar and oil and mix well.
Add the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
Add vanilla (there was no vanilla in the original reicpe but I wanted to add it in).

Fold in the carrots, pineapple, and walnuts until distributed well.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients until fully incorporated.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the center of the cupcake feels firm.

The Filling
I had so much of that mascarpone cream left over from the tart I just used that. Afterall, mascarpone is the cream cheese of Italy.. or so I like to think.

The Topping
Don't know why I thought coconuts would go well with this. I hate coconuts. But I toasted them and topped the cake and cream with it and it was quite delicious! It lost its crunchyness after a bit so I recommed waiting just until it's about to be eaten to top it with the coconts.

Bon appetit!


  1. Dude Nads...Your pictures look AMAZING!!!

    I sure wish I could "attend" one of your cooking sessions...again! hahahhahaa Like I said, you should facilitate your own class as you cook...
    I really enjoyed it! :D Miss you.


    carrot cake looks SO goood.
    and the pah on the mashed potatoes. hahah
    i miss youuuu i wish we could hang out tomorrow haha
    fly over. now. i mean. please? : ) hah