Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tarte Flambée – Alsatian Bacon & Onion Pizza (Not Pizza)

The hardest thing about this amazing tarte flambée recipe isn’t the prep, or finding some exotic ingredient, it’s actually trying to explain to your guests why it’s not called pizza. I’m reminded of that old saying, “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck, sometimes it’s a trout.”

That’s right, while this is a pizza almost everywhere else, in certain places on the German/French border, it goes by the totally dessert-sounding name of tarte flambée. Just tell people the name comes from the fact it used to be cooked in a fire, and then trail off.

Once your crust is pre-browned and topped, you have several options for bringing this to a successful, and hopefully crispy conclusion. Since the bottom is already browned, I usually just broil it on high, about 8 inches from the flame, for about 5 minutes, or until the top is looking just right.

The other method would be to pop it in a 500 F. oven, for about 7-10 minutes, or until you’re completely happy. Or, you can actually do both – start in a hot oven, and then give it a minute under the broiler to seal the deal. Either way, I really hope you give this tarte flambée a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 tarte flambée:
4 balls prepared pizza dough (about 5 ounces each) Note: Wolfgang Puck pizza dough recipe would would perfectly
12 ounces bacon, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced, cooked with salt, until soft, but not caramelized
For the cheese mixture:
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Dream Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

And by dream, I mean nightmare. I don’t test recipes. There is nothing in my contract that requires me to only post successful videos, and as you longtime viewers know, I do enjoy sharing the occasional flop, but this new and improved, vanilla bean pastry cream was not a one-take affair.

I’ve wanted to update our old crème patisserie recipe for a while, and long story short, I became obsessed, and ended up suffering through seven non-perfect versions before I was finally satisfied. The key to a great pastry cream is using the minimum of starch. You need enough so the cream holds a shape, but not so much it interferes with the flavor.

I found flour-based pastry creams easy to work with, but they have more of a pasty mouthfeel that gets in the way of the vanilla. That’s why this version is all corn starch, which we need less of to do the same job. Just be careful not to keep cooking it once it has thickened, otherwise you may compromise its thickening powers.

With the holidays, and their associated fancy desserts, right around the corner, what better time to work on your pastry cream game? So whether it’s for Napoleons, pies, tarts, or cakes, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes about 3 cups:
1 large whole egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon fine table salt)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeded, plus pure vanilla extract if needed
Tip: Save the scraped pods, and stick them in your sugar container for lovely, vanilla-scented sugar!
4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Pastry Cream is Coming!

Despite a few minor and uninteresting technical difficulties, the pastry cream video will be posted tonight! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“Mille Feuille” (Napoleon) – Short and Sweet

This mille feuille, which I’m sure I pronounced perfectly in the video, is also referred to as a Napoleon, and is the easiest, “fancy” pastry I know. The technique for creating your “thousand leaves” is very simple, especially if you use frozen dough, which any sensible person should do.

Whether you use frozen or homemade dough, the key is to keep it flat. We do this by “docking” the dough, and pressing with another pan. I used a few layers of foil before placing the pan on top, to make sure it was in contact with the dough, and depending on the size and shape of your pans, you may need to do the same.

Most patisseriers will make these well ahead, and keep them in the fridge, so that the pastry softens a bit, as it absorbs moisture from the filling. This is standard procedure, and they are much easier to eat that way, but I actually prefer to enjoy them right away, so as to fully experience the contrast between the crispy, buttery pastry, and the cold, creamy custard. 

Stay tuned for the new and improved pastry cream video heading your way soon. In the meantime, your favorite recipe should work, as well as things like whipped cream, sweetened ricotta/mascarpone, and/or lemon curd. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


-- Bake at 400 F. for about 15 minutes “pressed,” and then continue for another 10-15 minutes, uncovered, or until browned and crisp. I turned mine once during that time.

-- To make the icing, simply add enough water or milk to powdered sugar, until the right consistency is reached. For the chocolate one, I started with one part unsweetened cocoa to four parts powdered sugar, and then stirred in the liquid. Check this video if you are confused.