Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for March, 2012

Pear Almond Tart

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 24, 2012

It is hard to come up with pear desserts even at the height of pear season, which this is not.  But I did go to Costco and surprised myself by buying a whole case of  pears.  I scouted around for a recipe and this pear almond tart (in Bon Appetit) caught my attention because it used both pears and almond paste.   I had a log of almond paste (Odense, available at Whole Foods) at home, so I did not have to make the paste from scratch.  I  scouted around for additional recipes so I could get the  proportions of paste eggs etc right.  The final adaptation is from Bon Appetit, David Lebowitz’ website (for the tart shell, which used melted butter and caught my eye) and Smitten Kitchen.  The result is a lovely tart, but not one that overwhelms the taste buds.  But it is very satisfying.  The best part is the liquid in which the pears are poached.  I reduced  it by half, until it got syrupy and stuck it in the freezer for a future jam tart or mojitos.

Poached Pears  (Adapted from Bon Appetit and Smitten Kitchen)


4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled   (You can fit 4-5 pears into the liquid, if you want to make a couple extravand save for another use)

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean + pod (optional)


1.Bring 4 cups water, sugar, vanilla seeds (you can throw in the pod as well), and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

2. Add pears and reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup.  (Cover and refrigerate).

Brown Butter French Tart Dough (Makes One 9 tart shell.  Source David Lebowitz).  This tart dough is made with butter melted and browned in the oven.  It is very easy to make and does not require refrigeration prior to rolling out.  In fact, it does not require rolling out at all, you just press the dough in place in a tart pan.  It is every bit as good as any other tart dough that I have made.

6 tbs. (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 slightly-rounded cup flour


Preheat the oven to 410º F.

1. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.

2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

5. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks (I didn’t do this.)

6. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

7. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.

I find it best to pinch off a small amount of the reserved dough, roll it gently between your fingers to soften it, then wedge it into the cracks, smoothing it gently with your pinky.

8. Let the shell cool before filling.

Almond Filling

6 ounces (170 g) almond paste
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
6 tbs butter, salted or unsalted, cubed, at room temperature
1 large egg, plus one egg white, at room temperature
a few drops almond extract, optional

1 1/2 teaspoons rum, Calvados, or Kirsch (I omitted)

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Set the pre-baked tart shell on a baking sheet.

2. In a stand mixer, or by hand, beat the almond paste with the sugar and flour, until smooth.

3. Gradually beat in the butter, until smooth, then beat in the egg and the egg white, the almond extract, and the liquor, if using.

Assemble Tart: 

1. Spread the almond filling evenly over the cooled tart shell (should be at room temperature).

2. Cut each pear half cross-wise into thin slices.  Fan the pears slices as shown in the pictures, pressing gently into the almond filling,  Leave some space between the slice rows.

3. Bake the tart for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the almond filling between the pears has browned.

4. Cool slightly before serving, or serve at room temperature.


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Mango Mint Garlic Scapes Dip

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 11, 2012

The first of the season’s goodies are here: garlic scapes, scallions, cilantro, mint and what have you.  I had a raw mango in the fridge for a Thai raw mango salad, but it kind of went over the raw-ripe line by just a smidge.  So I hatched this dip with all my farmer’s market goodies and this is what I got.


1 large, barely ripe mango, grated in the food processor

1 large bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1 bunch garlic scapes, coarsely chopped

1 large bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, coarsely chopped

1 cup mint leaves, stems removed

1 serrano pepper, chopped, optional

1/4 cup cooking oil (more if desired)

Juice of 1 lime

Salt, to taste


1. Peel and grate mango in the food processor.

2. Place grated mango and all remaining ingredients in the food processor, except the oil, lime and salt. Pulse until nearly smooth.

3.  WIth the motor running, add the  oil until the dip looks like it has the consistency of pesto.  Add lime juice, taste and adjust salt.

3. Serve with tortilla chips, pita bread or naan.  Slather on sandwiches or eat with crab cakes (what we did).

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Chile Braised Pork Tacos

Posted by fourclankitchen on March 5, 2012

Anytime I ask my son what he would like for dinner, the answer is always Mexican.  He definitely got exchanged  in the hospital and really belongs with a nice Mexican family, who is wondering why their son craves Indian/Jewish foods!  A few weeks ago, he went so far as to place check marks against recipes in Sunset’s Mexican Cookbook, in case I was tempted to oblige.  This dish is described by Sunset as a basic pork filling for a taco or burrito.  It is really delicious and simple to make.  There is nothing but pork, dried peppers and a few spices in the original recipe.  However, I also added some onions and sweet red and yellow peppers, because I just can’t bear to cook meat alone.


2 lb. lean boneless pork butt, cut into 1″ chunks

3 cups water

6-8 small sweet peppers, chopped coarsely

1 onion, chopped

8 dried ancho chiles or 3 tbs. sweet paprika (if you want this less spicy, adjust to your tolerance)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

2 tsp dry oregano leaves

2 tbs. red wine vinegar


garnishes (shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole etc).


1. Place meat in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add water.  Add half the salt.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until meat is tender (about 1 hour).  Skim off excess fat.

3. Remove stems and sees from chiles, break into pieces and whirl in a coffee grinder (or blender) until finely ground.

4. Add to pork along with garlic, salt, oregano and vinegar. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens (35 min-45 min). Taste and adjust the salt.

5. Serve with heated tortillas and garnishes.

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