[Video] [Recipe] Rosemary Pine Nut Tart

img_3877

Your Thanksgiving table will thank you for this.  Each year, we gather to share in the bounty of the season and no matter how delicious the savory spread is, from customary turkey to rainbow of side dishes, I always look forward to dessert.  There are no fewer than four pies on the table, all homemade and no one alike from crust to filling.  My mother would have it no other way and boy does it make the holiday complete.  From the stages of preparation that materialize on the counter days in advance with currents of bakery smells flowing through the house, entry of self control-challenged persons is ill advised, as is wandering around on an empty stomach.

img_4307

Click to watch and learn from the professional, then don’t be scared to give it a whirl yourself. Source: Foodable TV

With the luxury of step-by-step video instruction from Michael’s Genuine® Pastry Chef MJ Garcia, I had the confidence to ask for the recipe to attempt her stunning Rosemary Pine Nut Tart at home and add another notch in my apron sash.   What are you thinking about making this Thanksgiving?

Rosemary 🌲 🌰 Tart

Invoking taste memory adds depth not only in meaning and enjoyment of a dish, but layers of flavor, too. Here Michael’s Genuine pastry chef MJ Garcia conjures Queimada, an ancient Galician ceremony from the mountains where a traditional spirited drink of orange-infused aguardiente called Orujo Gallego is passed around.  With its use of a specialty ingredient like pine nuts and decorative garnish in powdered sugar-dusted rosemary sprig, this festive dessert transports even the diehard Miami snowbird to a forest of towering furs on a snowy December evening, plumes of chimney smoke rising in the distance.

img_4316

Makes one tart

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 egg yolks
1 cup brandy
Peel of 1 orange, such as navel
3 sprigs rosemary
6 eggs
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 1/8 cups corn syrup
2 cups honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups pine nuts

Begin with the pastry dough or “pate sucree”. In a large stainless steel bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter, pinching to rub into the dry ingredients just until the size of small peas. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Add 1/3 cup cold water and the yolk, mixing with your hands until it barely comes together and doesn’t develop too much gluten. Divide in half and wrap each pound of dough tightly in plastic. You’ll use one for the tart and must refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to using.  Stow the other in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator the day before baking for a December gathering.

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Prepare the brandy syrup by placing a large sauté pan with brandy, orange peel and rosemary over medium high heat. Once bubbles begin to form, carefully flambé by tilting the pan toward the gas range until the fumes ignite the liquid. For electric or induction, use a long lighter or match and touch the edge of the pan to spread the flame. Simmer until syrup is reduced by half and set aside to cool.

Roll out one tart crust on a cool, floured surface until a scant 1/4 inch thin. Gently fold in quarters to more easily transfer to a greased 12 inch tart pan. Work with your palms to mold the pie crust to the inside edge of the pan while using your fingers to press the crust to the edge evenly. Clean the edges of overhanging dough. Line the pie crust with parchment paper a few extra inches larger than your tart tin and fill with weights such as dry beans. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and blanche in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the weights by pouching the edges of the parchment, and set aside. The crust shouldn’t take on any color at this point, as it will finish baking with the filling. Raise the oven temperature to 325°F.

For the filling, whisk the remainder of the ingredients in a large stainless steel bowl with the syrup, adding the pine nuts last and mixing until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the tart crust lined tin and return to the oven being careful not to spill as it will burn on the baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes or until pine nuts develop a deep golden brown. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Slice and serve with crème fraîche whipped cream, a spring of fried rosemary dusted with powdered sugar and a wine-poached pear half, although a dollop of quality orange marmalade would do quite nicely, too.

For This Pastry Team, Working Smart Means Cross Training with Donuts

IMG_3692

The 9 a.m. donut handoff! Ella GM Sandra Pepin receives the goodies from MGFD’s pastry chef MJ Garcia.

Every morning Pastry Chef MJ Garcia gets into Michael’s Genuine® Food & Drink around 5:45 a.m. and takes survey of her stock.  Then it’s time to cross train.

“If I ran a special that had pastry cream the day before, I’ll use it for a donut at Ella,” she explains.  “The other day we did butterscotch pudding here, so that became the filling for a chocolate glazed there.”

Restaurants like Michael’s flagship with its vast menu and myriad meal periods require a lot of rotation of product. MJ’s cross training routine makes for a fit operation, one with limited waste not at the expense of creativity. It’s a canvas that offers an outlet for new ideas to develop with discipline and structure because they are built on making something special from what’s around. “If you think about it from the culinary side, donuts are like the soup,” she points out.

Since our light and airy café first opened in late spring last year, the “Ella Daily Donut” (#elladailydonut on Instagram) has become a fixture in the display case, coveted for its surprising array of flavors and formats.  It was around the time MJ rejoined The Genuine Hospitality Group after a four year hiatus from Miami in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with husband (and now Cypress Tavern Chef de Cuisine) Max Makowski.  Her first placement was at ella, where she learned a tremendous deal about desserts in a retail environment, not to mention the benefit of direct customer feedback at the counter.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.32.19 PM

Rainbow of Flavors: Here, lemon and coconut ensconced on their perch in the morning light.

“I noticed things… saw the pastries and how they were behaving.  Fresh fruit like strawberries will look fantastic in the morning but they wilt and go pale by the evening,” she recalls observing.  “You have to think how many hours a particular donut is going to stand up.  At 7 p.m. closing it has to look as good at as it did at opening. So you have boundaries.”

IMG_3693

Sometimes the donuts would be too big or too little.  MJ made note of all these things at ella, and translated them to improvements on that offering, not to mention best practices for her department at large at Michael’s Genuine.

“You have to keep a lot of factors in mind while you do these seemingly simple things,” she continues. “Yeasted donuts are more irregular in the way the dough behaves and there is more room for error.  It can overproof which creates big air pockets which can explode in the frier!  You also have to be careful not to overwork the dough which will develop gluten and produce a tough, dense result.”

IMG_2656

Lemon Meringue donut in all her oozy glory; the perfect ratio of filling to fried dough dusted in sugar and laden with sticky, caramelized meringue topping.

The preparation of the yeasted dough is a one day process with bulk cold fermentation in large tubs to develop flavor, refrigerating overnight. Then she rolls it out and punches it, and waits an hour before frying. But as important as the foundation may be, the ultimate test is in the merchandising… read: decoration.

“Decoration is everything,” MJ agrees.  “We eat with our eyes, so when building the donut we play with color, texture and form, from punched or filled, to toppings like chocolate crunch balls and Oreo cookie crumbles.  If I made lemon lavender syrup and I have lemon juice, I’ll make a Lemon glaze and add coconut flakes. People love cookies and cream, and chocolate always makes sense on weekends!”

MJ says her team, helmed by pastry assistants Alexandra Sarria (lead) and Chelsea Hillier, “harass the Instagram” for feedback from customers, as well as those who post their own photos of the donuts. This feedback mechanism is invaluable, since they aren’t at the café to interact when people are eating them.

“Cypress sometimes gets leftovers, so my husband will let me know how they are and what his team thinks. It’s hard sometimes, so we take what we can.  Of course there’s the morning crew at Genuine. Those guys are a great source of feedback, especially when you catch them sneaking the scraps!”