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A Stunning (But Simple) French Pastry, Bejeweled With Berries

I am always hesitant to commit to a favorite anything, especially food—since my favorite food at any given moment is probably what is right in front of me, or what’s on the docket to be prepared, or what smells really really good as its aroma wafts out of the kitchen. But every year, come spring, I have a little epiphany. This year, it came while I was visiting my family in Kansas.

It was a Saturday morning, and I had just left my favorite hometown coffee shop with my dad. He drove me out into the country and we blasted bluegrass out of the speakers with the windows down. After a few miles of absolutely nothing, we ended up in a crowded field full of cars and people. We waited in line while kids climbed on hay bails to slide down a plastic slide propped on one end—a very farmy playground situation. Finally, we were handed our boxes and given our row and told to go to work. I had managed to plan my trip smack dab in the middle of pick-your-own strawberry season, so my first real strawberry of the year was covered in dew, juicy enough to run down my chin, and just amazingly, insanely, eye-rollingly good. I turned to my dad and said, “Strawberries may be my favorite fruit.” For some reason, I’m afraid to say it the rest of the year. It’s like I’ve been drugged by the sweet promises of berries and stone fruit to come. Strawberries, though, are definitely my gateway fruit.

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Don't forget the powdered sugar!
Photo by Julia Gartland

When something is that good, and so fresh, you just don’t need to do much to it. Which is why one of my favorite ways to eat strawberries is atop a towering mille-feuille. Want to join me on the path to strawberry dessert perfection? Here’s what you need to know.

All About Mille-Feuille

There are a thousand wrong ways to pronounce this fancy French term, which means “a thousand leaves” or “a thousand layers.” These are also known more simply as Napoleons or custard slices, depending on where in the world you order it. It’s a simple dessert made from crisp layers of puff pastry that are sandwiched together with creamy filling. Very traditionally, it can be topped with a layer of icing, usually poured fondant swirled with melted chocolate. But the brilliant thing about a dessert this simple is that there is no one way to do it. You can alternate fillings inside the layers; you can use multiple textures (like pairing jam with the cream); and you can incorporate garnishes, like fresh fruit inside or on top. For my favorite version, I keep it very simple with one filling, three layers of puff pastry, and plenty of lightly sweetened strawberries on top.

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The Cheater’s Pain-Free Puff Pastry
by Erin McDowell

Pastry layers

I love the process of making puff pastry, so I usually make my own when I want mille-feuille. Even so, this is such an easy dessert—don’t let the puff pastry part dissuade you. Store-bought puff pastry works just fine for this—use a really good brand, like Dufour, and you may not even notice the difference! Or, for a slightly easier DIY version, you can try my blitz puff pastry.

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Make sure it's 1/4-inch thick before you bake.
Photo by Julia Gartland

Roll out the prepared dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper, and trim the edges so they are straight. Cut the trimmed puff into long rectangles (I do 2 x 4 inches, but you can totally wing it—or make squares, circles, whatever) on the parchment paper.

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Rectangles work well in this recipe!
Photo by Julia Gartland

Dock the rectangles all over with a fork, then transfer the parchment to a baking sheet. Place another piece of parchment on top of the pastry rectangles and place a baking sheet on top of it. This helps keep the layers flat during baking. Bake the pastry at 400° F for 15 minutes, then remove the top baking sheet and parchment, and continue baking until the pastry is very golden, 4 to 5 minutes more. Cool the pastry completely. (If there’s a funky looking piece or two, snack on those immediately.)

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Darn—I mean, erm, great—no errant pieces to snack on here.
Photo by Julia Gartland

Filling

My ideal filling for mille-feuille is diplomat cream, which is pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. On its own, I find that pastry cream can be a little too firm for this dessert—the addition of whipped cream makes a softer, lighter filling—plus the puff pastry layers absorb some of the moisture from the cream as they sit. The layers stay crisp, but it’s easier for a fork to get through them, making it much more enjoyable to eat.

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Diplomat's cream works best here!
Photo by Julia Gartland

I make the pastry cream, let it chill in the refrigerator until it’s very cold, then in a different bowl, whip some cream to soft peaks (no need to sweeten the cream—the pastry cream’s got that covered). When the pastry cream is cold enough, I fold the two together to combine. You can, of course, use almost anything as the filling here—just whipped cream, just pastry cream, fruit curd, jam, mousse—make an ice cream mille-feuille, even. Whatever you decide, just make sure it’s firm enough to stand up to the stacking you’ll be doing later.

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Stack or high as low as you'd like.
Photo by Julia Gartland

The Berries

I like to add berries just to the top of my mille-feuille, but you could also sandwich them between the layers themselves (thin slices work better for this, just for the ease of eating later). You can even get fancy and arrange the cut strawberries facing outward, with the cream holding them in place. I like to quarter or halve my strawberries and toss them with just a tiny bit of sugar or honey. Then I place them on top, where they can be little jewels that burst into each bite.

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Showcase those strawberries—they're the stars here.
Photo by Julia Gartland

Assembling

The fun part! I like to keep each pastry at three layers, and I use a pretty generous amount of cream between each layer. However, there are lots of options here—do what you like best! If you keep the cream layers thinner, you can stack more pastry layers; it really comes down to what ratio of pastry to cream you like. I transfer my diplomat cream to a disposable pastry bag and cut a 1/4-inch opening from the tip (no piping tip required, though if you use a cool one, like one with a star tip, your filling will look mighty cool). I lay a piece of puff pastry onto a plate, and pipe little dots of filling all over the surface, gently place another layer on top, and repeat. Once I’m three layers high, I arrange my berries on top of the cream. A little dusting of powdered sugar just makes it even more appealing. Then, it’s ready to serve. The mille-feuille will hold its shape like this for several hours in the refrigerator—just remember, the longer they sit in there, the more moisture the puff pastry will absorb, and it will become less crisp. I like them best after they’ve been refrigerated for one hour after being assembled, when the puff pasty layers have softened a bit but still hold their crunch.

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Strawberries and Cream Mille Feuille

By Erin McDowell

  • 1 1/2
    cups whole milk

  • 1
    vanilla bean, split and scraped

  • 1/2
    cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4
    cup cornstarch

  • 6
    large egg yolks

  • about 24 ounces puff pastry (1 recipe blitz or 2 boxes Dufour brand)

  • 3/4
    cup heavy cream

  • 1
    quart strawberries, halved or quartered

  • 2
    tablespoons vanilla sugar

  • powdered sugar, as needed for finishing

View Full Recipe

Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 2 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

GlutenFreeMay 01 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

This is like the freak show or something because vegetarian taco meat is a weirdly delicious thing. This is a miracle of epic proportions.

Do we love tacos or DO WE LOVE TACOS? We – team POY, readers and bloggers and friends and family alike – definitely love tacos. We also love all derivatives of tacos – taco bowls, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos, etc., which is good news for the magic of vegetarian taco meat because it goes with everything. All of them. Not one taco relative left behind.

When we went to Austin for my birthday, my love of tacos was revived to the max. I am not even exaggerating when I say that I ate maybe two meals that were not tacos in our whole four days of Austin-ing. Dreams really do come true.

Since coming back, the number of tacos I’ve made is beyond counting. It would actually be embarrassing. That number is not slowing down anytime soon, kids. Being a taco fanatic means I am definitely not going to say no to a beef taco if you offer it to me, but I am also a part-time vegetarian and I love a good meatless alternative. I have no real explanation for this except that I love to eat plants and I find cooking vegetarian recipes to be easier. And more fun. So chipotle-spiced, easy-to-make veg taco meat was born.

Here’s what we have going on in this vegetarian taco meat situation:

  • Cauliflower
  • Walnuts
  • Chipotle Peppers
  • a few spices
  • salt

Can you handle it?

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 1 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 2 Cauliflower Walnut Taco MeatOnce that gets all ground up, we’re going to bake it.

You still with me?

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

While it’s baking, since you’re going to have about 30 minutes of down time, this is the perfect opportunity to get into a major salsa frenzy and whip up every type of friendly taco buddy that you can think of.

I went with the trifecta pictured here: corn and black bean salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole because I don’t want to hate my life.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 3 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

My taco vision quickly got out of control and I opted for a taco bowl – er, maybe burrito bowl, technically, with the rice and everything – instead of a traditional folded-in-a-tortilla fashion. Which is a callback to what I said at the beginning: that this vegetarian taco meat is ready to go with anybody in the taco family.

Only love for this mountain of glory.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 1 3 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

What can I even say? My heart is happy. Vegetarian taco meat, please never leave me.

I hope you love tacossss.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 3 2 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 2 185x185 Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat


  • Author:
  • e289icon alarm light purple Cauliflower Walnut Taco MeatPrep Time: 5 minutes
  • e289icon alarm light purple Cauliflower Walnut Taco MeatCook Time: 30 minutes
  • e289icon alarm light purple Cauliflower Walnut Taco MeatTotal Time: 35 minutes
  • 39e9icon fork knife light purple Cauliflower Walnut Taco MeatYield: 6 servings (about 1/2 cup each)

Description

This vegetarian taco meat is made with cauliflower, walnuts, and chipotle peppers. It’s so easy: just mix and bake. Meatless miracle!


Ingredients

The Vegetarian Taco Meat Basics:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups whole walnuts
  • 2 individual chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • a pinch of cayenne for more heat

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is evenly ground (see picture).
  2. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent over-browning.
  3. Serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls, and the like! 22771f44d Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat78f11f3fc Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

Notes

My salsa-making game is pretty loose. I like to just eyeball it and taste and adjust as I go.

Corn Salsa: toss some corn kernels in a pan and saute until roasty-looking. Mix with black beans, jalapeño, salt, lime juice, cilantro.

Pico de Gallo: toss chopped tomatoes with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Guacamole: toss mashed avocados with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Recipe Card powered by tasty recipes Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat

The post Cauliflower Walnut Taco Meat appeared first on Pinch of Yum.

5-Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 2 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

GlutenFreeMay 01 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

This is like the freak show or something because vegetarian taco meat is a weirdly delicious thing. This is a miracle of epic proportions.

Do we love tacos or DO WE LOVE TACOS? We – team POY, readers and bloggers and friends and family alike – definitely love tacos. We also love all derivatives of tacos – taco bowls, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, enchiladas, tostadas, nachos, etc., which is good news for the magic of vegetarian taco meat because it goes with everything. All of them. Not one taco relative left behind.

When we went to Austin for my birthday, my love of tacos was revived to the max. I am not even exaggerating when I say that I ate maybe two meals that were not tacos in our whole four days of Austin-ing. Dreams really do come true.

Since coming back, the number of tacos I’ve made is beyond counting. It would actually be embarrassing. That number is not slowing down anytime soon, kids. Being a taco fanatic means I am definitely not going to say no to a beef taco if you offer it to me, but I am also a part-time vegetarian and I love a good meatless alternative. I have no real explanation for this except that I love to eat plants and I find cooking vegetarian recipes to be easier. And more fun. So chipotle-spiced, easy-to-make veg taco meat was born.

Here’s what we have going on in this vegetarian taco meat situation:

  • Cauliflower
  • Walnuts
  • Chipotle Peppers
  • a few spices
  • salt

Can you handle it?

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 1 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 2 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco MeatOnce that gets all ground up, we’re going to bake it.

You still with me?

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

While it’s baking, since you’re going to have about 30 minutes of down time, this is the perfect opportunity to get into a major salsa frenzy and whip up every type of friendly taco buddy that you can think of.

I went with the trifecta pictured here: corn and black bean salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole because I don’t want to hate my life.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 3 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

My taco vision quickly got out of control and I opted for a taco bowl – er, maybe burrito bowl, technically, with the rice and everything – instead of a traditional folded-in-a-tortilla fashion. Which is a callback to what I said at the beginning: that this vegetarian taco meat is ready to go with anybody in the taco family.

Only love for this mountain of glory.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 1 3 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

What can I even say? My heart is happy. Vegetarian taco meat, please never leave me.

I hope you love tacossss.

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 3 2 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

cauliflower walnut taco bowls 4 2 185x185 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

5-Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat


  • Author:
  • e289icon alarm light purple 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco MeatPrep Time: 5 minutes
  • e289icon alarm light purple 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco MeatCook Time: 30 minutes
  • e289icon alarm light purple 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco MeatTotal Time: 35 minutes
  • 39e9icon fork knife light purple 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco MeatYield: 6 servings (about 1/2 cup each)

Description

This vegetarian taco meat is made with cauliflower, walnuts, and chipotle peppers. It’s so easy: just mix and bake. Meatless miracle!


Ingredients

The Vegetarian Taco Meat Basics:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups whole walnuts
  • 2 individual chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
  • a pinch of cayenne for more heat

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is evenly ground (see picture).
  2. Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent over-browning.
  3. Serve in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls, and the like! 22771f44d 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat78f11f3fc 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

Notes

My salsa-making game is pretty loose. I like to just eyeball it and taste and adjust as I go.

Corn Salsa: toss some corn kernels in a pan and saute until roasty-looking. Mix with black beans, jalapeño, salt, lime juice, cilantro.

Pico de Gallo: toss chopped tomatoes with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Guacamole: toss mashed avocados with chopped onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

Recipe Card powered by tasty recipes 5 Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat

The post 5-Ingredient Miraculous Vegetarian Taco Meat appeared first on Pinch of Yum.

Your Summer Calendar, in 14 Dishes (We’re Planning Ahead)

We count Memorial Day weekend as the official start of summer (forget that solstice thing), so in our minds, the dog days are nipping at our heels! Or vice versa? To kick off those good summer vibes, we’re throwing a sale over in our Shop. We’re talking 20% off. You might want to check it out…

In the spirit of looking ahead, we’re planning for the glorious summer bounty that’s to come in the next 14 weeks (and rounded up some Shop favorites to help you show off the season’s best). Save the date for strawberries, corn, tomatoes—coming to a farmer’s market near you.

Consider this your summer spoiler alert.

May 22: Rhubarb

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Rye & Rhubarb Anytime Cake
by Sarah Jampel

A nonstick pan guaranteed to slip that cake out perfectly intact, and a sunny stand to display the masterful results.

May 29: Asparagus

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Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Brown Butter, Lemon, and Eggs Mimosa
by Sara Jenkins

Your asparagus will stay snappy with clever fridge storage bags and you’ll scoop with snazz when scooping your hard-boileds out of the pot.

June 5: Radishes

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Cucumber and Radish Salad with Harissa Yogurt
by Poppy's Catering

Pile crunchy salads into single-serving bowls wearing pastels for summer and match with vintage flatware that’s always in season.

June 12: Strawberries

%name Your Summer Calendar, in 14 Dishes (Were Planning Ahead)
Pickled Strawberry Jam
by Christina Tosi

Jam like a pro in a roomy extra heat-conductive pan, then preserve the best of summer in classic Weck jars.

June 19: Swiss chard

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Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs and Parmesan
by Merrill Stubbs

Plan a bread baking project for a long weekend and use a chunk for homemade crumbs! And these bowls’ shred-in-bowl action saves you from one more dirty dish.

June 26: Peas

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Salmon Fillet with Snap Peas & Lemony Crème Fraîche Dressing
by Sara Jenkins

A company-worthy summertime meal demands a pretty, handmade platter and vintage-classic serving utensils.

July 3: String Beans

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Thoran
by Michael Snyder

This wok gets screaming hot for a nice scorch on those string beans—serve them in a deep, woodsy bowl (that will come in handy for every summer salad).

July 10: Cucumbers

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Hothouse Cooler
by Kendra Vaculin

Simple glassware for simple summer coolers, plus a juicer ’cause you’ll get hooked on having the fresh stuff around for cocktails.

July 17: Peppers

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Peperonata (Red Pepper Stew)
by Emiko

For this stew, there’s a fair bit of slicing and stirring ahead, but it’s made all the easier with handsome Italian knives and a gang of wooden spoons.

July 24: Summer squash

1c1d6d90 4f94 48cc 9153 babf62b32ae7  2015 0908 thai summer squash curry james ransom 026 Your Summer Calendar, in 14 Dishes (Were Planning Ahead)
Thai Summer Squash Curry
by Alexandra Dawson

Never skimp on the fresh pepper, and never skimp on everyday bowls.

July 31: Corn

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Summer Weekend Pasta
by Amanda Hesser

Make your own pasta with the kids. Serve it up in a gorgeous handmade bowl to impress the adults.

August 7: Tomatoes

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Sue Lyon’s Tomato Pie
by Sara Jenkins

A go-to pie plate and a pie server that says “I heart tomatoes”.

August 14: Blueberries

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Pavlova with Boozy Blueberry Sauce
by Deborah Davis

Make quick work of those egg whites with a handmade separator and ridged baking sheets guarantee no stuck pavlova.

August 21: Blackberries

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No-Cook Blackberry-Lemon Ice Cream
by Posie Harwood

More ice cream inspiration from our cookbook, and the only scoop worthy of summer’s golden child.

August 28: Peaches

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Grilled Peach, Halloumi, and Mint “Caprese”
by MariaR

Start with a never-fail charcoal chimney, add grilling grids that ensure not a peach will be sacrificed to hot coals, and end with a summer salad that whistles.

September 4: Grapes (Say hi to fall!)

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Concord Grape and Lemon Soda
by Merrill Stubbs

Here’s to the best summer ever!

What summer fruit or vegetable are you most looking forward to welcoming back into your kitchen? And what’s the first thing you do with it?

Science Explains Why Stinky Cheese Tastes So Good

I love some good stinky cheese. Stinky cheese can often carry a pungency so strong that consuming it takes on a perverse appeal. I realize this affection can be difficult to rationalize for skeptics.

Ask different people how they feel about certain stinky cheeses and you’ll see a wide array of opinions. For some, ingesting these rancid rinds can be trying tests of endurance. But a good number of these cheeses, from taleggios to ouleouts, can assume flavor profiles that are rich and fulfilling, producing sensations that I can’t often explain.

There’s scientific reason for this alchemy, succinctly captured in this two-minute clip from PBS’ Food—Delicious Science. The show premiered on Wednesday, illustrating, in layman’s terms, the biological and chemical principles that undergird the particular, peculiar mouthfeel some foods can take on in certain environments.

This particular clip orbits around host James Wong, who’s eating époisses, a variety that smells like the interior of a podiatrist’s office. (I swear I’m not being hyperbolic here—it literally smells like the bottom of a human foot.) As the video expounds upon pretty briefly, the brain perceives these aromas differently once stinky cheese makes its way into your mouth, as opposed to, say, simply putting it against your nostrils. It’s a reaction dubbed “backwards smelling”, involving a careful choreography of these two senses, taste and smell, that shifts our perception of these odors and ultimately stimulates pleasure.

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Why Your Cheese Stinks and When It’s a Good (and Bad) Thing
by Sue Conley & Peggy Smith

So, there you go. Don’t let anyone shame you for your stinky cheese affection. Science has affirmed you. Embrace the odor.

What’s your favorite stinky cheese? Let us know in the comments.