Friday, October 22, 2010

Rustic Free-form Apple Tart

This has been my month to really see more of Michigan. My parents came for a visit last week and we headed up to the Leelanau Peninsula where we enjoyed gorgeous weather and saw beautiful places like the Sleeping Bear Dunes (below).   

Before we went north, I treated them to a home-cooked dinner of pure comfort foods: deviled egg hors d'oeuvres made spicy with Sriracha, my favorite mac n cheese with ham and a free form apple tart for dessert.

It's the tart I'm going to share with you today. It was heavenly. It was perfect warm with a little round scoop of vanilla ice cream. The crust is so lighty, flaky and packed with flavor. Plus it was quite easy to put together — really.

Free-form Apple Tart
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
About 1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 teaspoon juice
4 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 large egg white, beaten
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and mix at low speed until it is the size of small peas, 30 seconds. With the machine on, gradually add 1/4 cup of the ice water. Add as much of the remaining ice water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is just evenly moistened (it shouldn't mass on the paddle). Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour or overnight.

This is how my dough looked poured out on the counter.
This is probably the first dough I've made where I didn't have to add all the ice water. 
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 17-inch round, then trim it to a neat 16-inch round. Transfer the dough to the cookie sheet.
What's funny about this picture? Read the directions carefully. Are you laughing yet?
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Add the apples and lemon juice and toss well. Arrange the apples on the dough in 2 concentric circles, leaving a 3-inch border all around. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the apples, overlapping the dough on itself as needed. Brush the rim with the egg white and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
Yes, that's right. I put the whole dang thing together — before transferring the dough to the cookie sheet! I managed to slide it on there without too much damage, but really, wouldn't recommend this technique.
Bake the pie in the center of the oven until the crust is golden and firm and the apples are tender, about 55 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool. Slide the pie onto a plate, cut into wedges and serve.

When the dough comes out of the frig, it is quite hard and difficult to roll out for this reason. But just keep working at it, it will happen. Plus, it didn't get all crumbly and fall apart as I was assembling it. Try it — you'll love it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Fair City: Ann Arbor on Design*Sponge

Back in mid-September, I showed you a little sneak peek of a project I was working on. I was very excited about it, but didn't know for sure if it would come to fruition. Well, it has! On Monday, the Ann Arbor City Guide went live on the Design*Sponge web site and features my illustration representing our fair city. If you are not familiar with Design*Sponge, it is a website dedicated to home and product design run by Grace Bonney out of Brooklyn. Since 2004, Grace has been sharing her great taste in everything from crafty DIY projects to glossy new interior design projects in a fun and fresh way.

I have to say that my favorite feature on the site is the city guides section. When my parents moved to Wilmington, NC from New York, I immediately sent them over to the D*S Wilmington guide and some of their favorite places — and mine — were found in that guide. And then, when I moved to Michigan, I lamented that there wasn't one for Ann Arbor but took great pleasure in Sweet Juniper's exhaustive guide to Detroit. (Though it appears to be missing from the site right now.)  I'm still working my way through his list! And now, I actually got to participate in the Ann Arbor one. What fun! Jaimi Gadaix put together a wonderful taste of our town focusing on the five senses. I definitely recommend a read through — and don't miss the comments section, it is chock full of fun extras! In case you are interested, I now have the illustration I did available as a print in my Etsy shop: 8"x10" here or 11"x14" here. The Ann Arbor name part is slightly redesigned to be more appropriate to a print (as shown above).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Garlic-Mustard Chicken Kebabs

Once again, I'm smitten with the Smitten Kitchen. I think it's the recipe index that gets me. I haven't had a bad recipe from there yet and can just go to the index and skim by category — brilliant! I hit on this one when looking for a tasty new chicken dish that was fast and easy. Packed with flavor, these kebabs would taste great in a pita with a little dollop of yogurt sauce. But they are equally good on their own with a handful of thin-cut sweet potato fries. 

Garlic-Mustard Glaze
Makes about 3/4 cup of glaze, or enough to cover and baste two pounds of skewered meat.

1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before using.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Boot for All Seasons… and Sizes

Gaston Boot from 7 for All Mankind.

It started with the Gaston Boot. I really like them. I really want them. They are the perfect mix of tall, sleak and sexy, with that chunky lug sole for a little oomph. Boots to wear with skirts. Problem: I have huge calves. There, I've said it. I just want sexy knee-high boots to cover those calves when I wear skirts. Is that so much to ask? Apparently not. I spent some time this weekend on the interwebs and guess what? There is a decent selection of "extended calf" and "wide shaft" boots out there. 

The splurge? Frye Paige Riding Boots
This one has my name written all over it. 
No, really: the Nicole Right Now Boot
These a little bit 1998, but I like. Nostalgia?
And these? These I just can't explain. I love them.
Now I just need to decide… Want to see more? Check out here, J. Crew, Piperlime, or Zappos.