Torta Rustica – A Savory Italian Pastry

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Torta RusticaThis Torta Rustica is a savory Italian pastry which I am assuming means Rustic Tart.  Its memorable crust holds a filling of spinach with cheese, eggs, onions and bread crumbs to bind it.  It is layered with red peppers, artichokes and provolone.  It is hard to go wrong with these ingredients.  The one caveat here is to thaw the spinach completely and squeeze all the water from it.  It is important it is dry when combined with the other ingredients.

We would squeeze 30 pounds of spinach to make 12 Torta Rustica at a time.  No matter how long we thawed the spinach it would be freezing cold when we squeezed it.  We would keep a bowl of warm water next to us to dip our hands into to  warm them as we prepared the spinach. Continue reading

Honey Thyme Apple Tart

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Honey Thyme Apple TartThis simple Honey Thyme Apple Tart came about out of total boredom pressing in forty three pastry shells for a dessert at the restaurant. My mind started wandering around the fifth shell. I knew I wanted something simple, easy to put together with an unexpected element to start the year. It is not only beautiful to look at, it is even better to eat. The little bit of thyme gives this an unexpected note while the honey and balsamic vinegar offset each other. Continue reading

Heavenly French Toast with Blueberry Compote

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Finished PhotoThis recipe for Heavenly French Toast was originally posted in May of 2014 but it is the perfect brunch dish for the first of January.  When I was recently in Chicago, my family took me to Heaven on Seven for a  get together with some friends.  I’d heard about this restaurant for years – especially from my son Dirk – who loves it.  In fact, I was given their cookbook as a gift.   As we approached an office building, I thought perhaps we were making a quick stop, but as we entered the elevator I watched as the number seven was punched. As we exited the elevator, I still had no clue.  A few steps later, we entered Heaven on Seven and I was awestruck by the hundreds and hundreds of hot sauce bottles from ceiling to floor covering wall after wall.  There couldn’t be a better wall covering for one of the countries premier Cajun restaurants, Continue reading

Brandied Chocolate Cherry Almond Garmisch

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Brandied Chocolate Cherry Almond GarmischGarmisch is another wonderful yeasted coffeecake as only the Germans can make them. Superb bakers, their products not only look beautiful but are luxurious tasting.

This yeast dough is really easy to put together and even if you have been slow to come to yeasted doughs this is a great place to start. It is a firmer dough that handles easily. It can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days before shaping and after baking, it freezes to be eaten another day – maybe as a special treat on New Years Day morning.

This Garmisch dough comes from a recipe that is so old I can’t remember where I got it. The dough itself is not sweet. The sweetness of the Garmisch comes from the filling. The original filling was walnuts and while delicious, the chocolate cherry almond filling adds a note of excitement. Dried bing cherries are soaked in brandy. Almond paste, a European favorite combines exquisitely with the cherries and brandy. The processor makes quick work of combining the ingredients into a filling with the egg white used to bind the filling. Continue reading

Chocolate Raspberry Gateau

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Chocolate Raspberry GateauThis Chocolate Raspberry Gateau is one of the most flavor packed, moist cakes to be found.  Please don’t be put off because this looks so intimidating.  While it looks intimidating, it really is not hard to make.  I have provided a schedule starting a month out and it has to be competed a day or two before serving.  The Chocolate Raspberry Gateau is ideal for entertaining, and is one of the great celebration cakes. This is an updated version of the one originally written in my first book, The New Pastry Cook.

Gateau is the French word for cake. It generally denotes items made with delicate ingredients which are best consumed soon after the confection is made. Cakes can last much longer, some even improving with age (fruit cake). Torte is the German word for cake, with similar properties. Continue reading