Simple Apple Tart

apple_tart_4
Yum! It’s summer and warm again!

This apple tart is really easy to make and can be in any shape or form you’d like it to be in. I ended up making a long oval-ish apple tart because I had a few too many apples compared to my tart crust, but in the original recipe photos, it’s a cuter circle shape. If you’re craving anything with apple and cinnamon and sugar, this is a very fast, quick option.

apple_tart_6
The crust is buttery and flakey

Since I’m a student, cost is always an issue with any new recipes I try, and I’m happy to say that this dessert is very cheap! I used two little apples and I already had the baking essentials (flour, sugar, salt, etc.) in my pantry.

Recipe (original from Taste of Home)

Crust
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
6-1/2 teaspoons cold water
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling
1-1/2 cups chopped peeled tart apples (I didn’t peel mine)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

Topping
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping, warmed (I didn’t include this)

apple_tart_3
Apples + Cinnamon + Sugar = Winning combination!

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add water and vanilla, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10-in. circle. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Combine the filling ingredients; spoon over pastry to within 2 in. of edges. Fold up edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over filling.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Drizzle with caramel topping (optional). Serve warm.

Yield: 4 servings (my boyfriend and I usually finish it off between the two of us in one sitting though…)

Banana Bread

IMG_0706

This banana bread recipe should have been the first recipe on this blog. I like to think of it as my “signature” recipe, if it’s at all appropriate for a complete novice cook/baker to have a “signature” recipe. I’ve made it dozens of times and brought it to many potlucks and dinners with good feedback. It’s easy, quick, and the perfect way to take care of those 3-4 bananas that are looking a little bit too brown for plain eating. You can add chocolate chips (I almost always do), a drizzle of Nutella, or nuts. Or keep it plain, and it’ll still be delicious.

I found this recipe online my 2nd year of college; it’s from the famous Flour Bakery in Boston, MA. I’ve never been to the actual bakery before, but I’d love to one day. Their motto is “Make Life Sweeter… Eat Dessert First!” which, as a serious, non-recovering sugar addict, I agree with completely. The owner, Joanne Chang, also wrote a cookbook (which is where this recipe originally came from, I believe–I found the recipe on Food Network’s website).

IMG_0715

I moved to New York about a month ago, and I’ve already made this banana bread 4 times. I think it was the first thing I baked in my new apartment, actually. It’s perfectly moist, super banana-y, perfect with a bit of chocolate (if you like), and it never gets old.

Banana Bread (from Flour Bakery via Food Network)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional:
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Chocolate Chips
Nutella
Or nothing!

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. I know it says 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, but I’ve always interpreted that very, very liberally. I just dump in a ton of cinnamon until it looks good. I love cinnamon.

In a separate (larger) bowl, mix together the sugar, 2 eggs, oil, and the mashed-up bananas. It can be nice to recruit a minion to help you mash the bananas, be that a roommate, a boyfriend, etc. etc. They will be enjoying the fruits of your labor so get them to help a bit. Add in the 2 tbsp of sour cream (I have substituted heavy cream, yogurt, greek yogurt, milk, or soy milk for the sour cream in the past with fine results). Add some vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient bowl and stir until combined. At this point, you can add in any of the extras you might like. I usually go with about 1 cup of chocolate chips. I’ve never tried putting nuts in, but the original recipe does call for nuts. I’ve also drizzled in Nutella which was heartily appreciated by everyone. Leaving it plain is also just as good.

[Edit: I realize I never included the baking temp and time when I first posted this! Whoops.] Bake at 375 for 45-55 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s done when you insert a knife and it comes out clean.

IMG_0656

IMG_0665

IMG_0703

Last of all, I know this post was a long time coming. I haven’t stopped cooking or baking (maybe I bake a bit less) since starting medical school in New York, but I definitely have much less time to take photos and write about the results. I’ve also just been making a lot of plainer, quicker stuff–rice with kale, simple pasta, lots of salads, quinoa with veggies, etc. Not very exciting stuff to blog about.

What IS exciting: my boyfriend made a video of the banana-bread-making process! See below on YouTube:

Creamy Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I’m going to get to the ice cream, but first we have another exciting new development on the blog. Not only does the fancy new camera take fancy photos, it can also take fancy video. We’ve come out of the stone age into the 21st century!

Boyfriend (aka Guinea Pig #1) has a bit of background in video editing and is working on making it a full career. Ice-cream making gave him an opportunity to film the process  put together a super short video that’s pretty well done in my opinion (no personal bias here of course). Check it out at the end of the post!

IMG_0031

Last night I mixed together copious amounts of sugar, heavy cream, milk, and peanut butter to create a delicious peanut butter ice cream. I was able to buy this Cuisinart ice cream maker for $20 from my friend/roommate (now ex-roommate) as our lease ended and we were moving out of our apartment. I myself am essentially moving cross-country in less than a month and have been trying hard to get rid of a lot of junk and non-essentials–however, I couldn’t resist acquiring the ice cream maker.

IMG_0071

And look at the results! I’ll tie it to the roof of my car for the move if I have to.

The ice cream maker came with a little handy recipe book. Here’s the recipe for peanut butter ice cream:

Peanut Butter Ice Cream (from Cuisinart)
2 cups cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2%)
1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

The recipe recommended using chopped-up peanut butter cups, but I went with chocolate chips since that’s what I had already in the pantry.

Mix together the peanut butter and white sugar, then add milk and cream. Add vanilla. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or overnight (I actually skipped this step and it turned out fine). Turn on ice cream maker and slowly pour in mixture. It’ll take about 15-20 minutes for the ice cream to begin firming up. About 5 minutes before it’s done, add your chocolate chips (or peanut butter cups).

Eat!

IMG_0081

IMG_0056

IMG_0073

The little Cuisinart recipe book had a bunch of other ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt options. I’m interested in trying the strawberry ice cream next, which would be the perfect treat on a hot summer day.

And here’s the video, which I would describe as visual accompaniment to the recipe; there aren’t actual instructions or narration, but it can give you a quick snapshot of what the ice-cream making process is like and help visualize some parts of the recipe if ice-cream making is unfamiliar to you. Hopefully we’ll be able to do more of this kind of thing in the future for other recipes. It was quite fun to film and I really liked the finished product. Enjoy!