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apple compote baklava v. 1.0

way back when in my pastry school days, chef divulged that the secret to amazing baklava laid in the usage of brown butter, rather than simply melted butter.  the caramel nuttiness of brown butter enhances the flavor of the pistachio mixture and intermingles with just about everything in between the  mille-feuilles of phyllo crust. i remembered chef’s advice, while i decided what to do with the quart or so of apple compote i had left in the fridge.  i figured i could marry the two concepts and concoct an apple compote baklava.

the baklava emerged from the glistening in golden brown hues. i could definitely smell the apples; however, the nut mixture seemed to over-power the apples in taste.  i think in the future i’ll tweak the recipe a bit more to have more apples, less nuts, and involve apple juice in the making of the steeping syrup for a truly apple-ly baklava experience.

Apple Compote Baklava v. 1.0
(makes one 9×13 inch tray, about 2-3 inches deep)

For the Baklava
Browned Butter 1 lb (4 sticks); melt butter in a sauce pan until it begins to brown slightly.  Watch the butter carefully, as it will go from being deliciously browned to bitter and burnt rather quickly.
Phyllo (Filo) Dough 1 package (16oz); i use the fillo factory brand available at whole foods.  Each sheet folded in half fits my plan perfect (13×18”)
Apple Compote 1 quart per a layer; if you want to do more than 1 layer, you need more. See recipe here.
Pistachios or Almonds 200g per a layer; i had 2 layers in my original recipe
Cinnamon 1 tsp per layer
For the Syrup
Water 2 cups (~500 ml); in the future, i might substitute the water with apple juice; and then cut the sugar down to 1 cup
Sugar 2 cups (~500 ml)
Honey ½ cup (~125 ml)
Apple 1 apple, washed, cored and sliced into quarters
Cinnamon stick 1 stick
  1. In food processor, coarsely grind up nuts.
  2. Mix nuts together with cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Brush pan with generously with butter (preferably not browned butter).
  4. Place 6 layers of filo dough on bottom of pan, generously brushing with browned butter between each layer.  (note: if you’re using 18X13 inch phyllo, cut the layers in half lengthwise, so that you have 9×13 inch sheets.  cover with a clean towel between use, as the filo dries out very quickly).
  5. Spread one layer of nuts evenly on top of 1st phyllo layer.
  6. Place 6 more layers of filo on top of nuts, brushing with browned butter between each layer.
  7. Spread a layer of apple compote (or nuts if that’s what you like).  Repeat step 6.
  8. Repeat step 7 and 6 one more time. The top layer should be comprised of filo.
  9. With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds.  Make sure you cut through the bottom of filo pastry.
  10. Bake at 350ºF for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Make the syrup while the baklava is baking.  Combine all syrup ingredients into a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil and allow the liquids to reduce by 1/3.
  12. Then set aside to cool.  [Remove apple and cinnamon stick when ready to pour over baklava].
  13. When baklava is ready, remove from oven and pour about 1/2 the syrup over.   Wait for 10 minutes and then pour over the rest of the syrup.
  14. The baklava is ready to eat when it has entirely cooled.

fig and orange tart à la christine ferber

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in another life, i’d be christine ferber living in the enchanted alsatian village of niedermorschwir.  i’d wake up, smell the crisp alsatian air, waddle out into the alsatian market place, and be instantly inspired to make an alsatian tart.  new combinations of fruits and nuts, herbs and cheeses would spring alive around me in vivid colours.   i’d have published countless tart recipes in infinite variations. i’d be giving birth to new flavour profiles with the fecundity of the duggar family.  making tarts would be in my blood, my dna, and my soul.  i’d be snow white and her more than seven tarts…and my best friend would be none other than pierre herme.

living out in tribeca, i’ve got the greenmarket on greenwich street to look forward to every wednesday and saturday, the itinerant fruit stand on the corner of greenwich and chambers, whatever produce whole foods decides to stock for a particular week, plus my personal indoor garden. while my fig tree has sprouted about 20 still-green figs, i decided to spare my babies and buy a pint of figs from the fruit stand this morning.  they were cheap, in season, and perfect for russeling up my version of ms. ferber’s fig and orange tart.   (note: hers utilizes creme fraiche, semi-puff pastry, and walnuts — i don’t live in the enchanted village of niedermorschwir, okay?!)

Tribeca Fig and Orange Tart
(makes 1 nine-inch tart; my tart is a cross between ferber’s old bachelor’s tart and her fig and orange tart with walnuts from her book Mes Tartes)

Pastry Dough enough to make 1 nine-inch tart. i used pâte sucrée. in ferber’s original recipe, she suggests a rich flaky pastry with praline
paste and hazelnuts.
Almond Cream 200g. i used the recipe from the french pear tart
Fresh Figs 6
Fresh Oranges 1-2
Sugar ¼ cup
  1. Roll-out the pastry dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick and lift it onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cut a 9.5 to 10 inch circle in the center of the dough.
  2. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out enough hearts using the left over scraps to completely line the edge of the circle.
  3. Moisten the the edge of the circle with cold water and gently press the hearts onto the circle.  If your dough has gotten too warm, it may be easiest to freeze the roll-out dough for five minutes before transferring the hearts onto the circle.
  4. While you are heating the oven to 350ºF, let the pastry shell rest in the freezer.
  5. Blind bake the shell for 10 minutes and then let it cool.
  6. When the shell has cooled, spread an even layer of almond creme on the bottom of the tart.
  7. Clean and dry the figs.  Remove the stems and cut the figs into quarters.
  8. Peel the oranges and remove the white membrane.  You want the orange sections without the membrane.
  9. Place the fig quarters and orange creme on top of the almond creme in an alternating patter.
  10. When the tart has been completely covered with fruit, sprinkle it with the sugar. I also sprinkled on some sliced almonds because I couldn’t resist. I also had some extra hearts, so I stuck those into the tart as well.
  11. Bake the tart at 350ºF for about 40-45 minutes.
  12. You can coat the oranges with some apricot glaze (optional). The figs don’t need it as they produce their own glaze.