Apple Strudel

My Mother-in-Law makes this delicious strudel every Christmas Eve as part of the traditional Ukrainian 12-course feast. It is always a highlight of the meal for me. 🙂

I used tart apples (Granny Smith) but may use a combination of tart and other firm sweet-tart apples next time. I also used a mandoline to slice the apples. My Mother-in-Law has the magic touch… hers tastes better than mine, of course, but I did use her recipe! Yum.

Yield: One Strudel, about 8 servings

  • 2 1/2 to 3 tart and firm apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • lemon zest from 1/2 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 2-3 T fine bread crumbs, plus more for sprinkling
  • 8 sheets of thawed phyllo dough
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • strawberry preserves

To Make the Filling:

  1. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. (I used a mandoline to slice the apples 1/8-inch thick.)
  2. Mix the sliced apples with the sugar, raisins, lemon zest, vanilla, cinnamon, and 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs.

To Make the Strudel:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Unroll the phyllo dough and cover with a damp towel and plastic wrap.
  3. Remove on sheet of phyllo dough and place on a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Brush the entire surface with melted butter, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, sprinkle with brown sugar, and dot with strawberry preserves (use very little preserves).
  5. Repeat this process for the next 7 layers of phyllo dough.
  6. After the dough is prepared, place the filling evenly on top of the dough, starting at the shorter end and leaving 1-2 inches uncovered at the opposite end.
  7. Lift the edge of the parchment paper closest to the filling to help roll the dough and form the strudel.
  8. Place the roll, seam side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush with remaining melted butter.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Ina Garten’s Easy French Apple Tart

I already have a couple easy fall apple desserts that I make every year- French apple cake and apple pie bars. I had to add this one onto the list this year. I love fruit desserts! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten, via epicurious.com. I used the puff pastry shortcut, reduced the amount of jam in the glaze, and modified the baking method.

The apple juices, sugar, and butter collect on the edges of the tart (and become quite dark!) but can be trimmed prior to serving. We ate it with vanilla ice cream which was completely unnecessary but delicious.

For the Pastry:

(Alternatively, use one sheet of store-bought puff pastry- I used Trader Joe’s)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the Apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples or a combination of apples (I used 1 1/2 Granny Smith, 1 1/2 Honey Crisp, and 1 Juici apple)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water

For the Puff Pastry Crust:

  1. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 2 hours at room temperature.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; remove from the pan.
  3. On the parchment, roll the thawed crust into a 10×14-inch rectangle. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges.
  4. Place dough (on parchment) on the rimmed baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator to chill while the apples are prepared.

To Make the Pastry Crust:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine.
  2. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas.
  3. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  6. Roll the dough slightly larger than 10×14 inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. (I would roll it out on the parchment paper.)
  7. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while the apples are prepared.

To Prepare the Apples and Finish the Tart: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.
  3. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. (I used a mandoline.)
  4. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
  5. Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup sugar and dot with the butter.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and continue to bake 15 to 30 minutes more, until the pastry is browned, the edges of the apples start to brown, and the apples are tender. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. *Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
  8. When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the water or Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. (I used apricot jam and used a whisk to break up large chunks. It could also be strained.)
  9. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Swiss Chard & Ricotta Galette

I kept waiting for Swiss chard to appear in my CSA box so that I could make this savory galette. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart. We ate it for dinner but it would be perfect for a special lunch or brunch. It was a surprisingly hearty meal served with a green salad. (I will confess that I served it with leftover pizza to please the rest of my crowd.) 🙂

The crust was particularly amazing. It is made with rolled oats and cream cheese which resulted in wonderful texture.

Yield: One 10 to 11-inch tart

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the Filling & Egg Wash:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces Swiss chard, leaves sliced in half through the center rib, stems separated and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 ounces ricotta, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg yolk

To Make the Crust:

  1. Pulse flour, oats, and salt in a food processor to combine.
  2. Add butter, cream cheese, and egg yolk; pulse until dough just holds together, 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add chard stems, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until stems are soft and slightly brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in raisins. Transfer mixture to a nonreactive bowl.
  4. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add anchovies, if using; cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Stir in thyme. (I incorporated the anchovies.)
  5. Add chard leaves and cook until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both cheeses with 2 tablespoons cream until smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Stir in nutmeg; season with salt and pepper.

To Make the Galette:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. On a large sheet of parchment, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch-thick round, about 13 to 14-inches in diameter.
  3. Arrange onion mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 3-inch border.
  4. Spread ricotta mixture over onion mixture; top with chard mixture.
  5. Fold edges of dough over and gently press down to seal.
  6. Transfer tart (still on parchment) to a baking sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Brush exposed dough with egg wash.
  8. Bake until crust is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tomato-Lemon Tart

Lucky me- I recently received several beautiful homegrown tomatoes from friends. 🙂 This quick and easy tart was a great way to showcase them.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit. I modified the method and proportions and added parmesan in lieu of creme fraiche. The punch of lemon surprised my son but I thought that it added bright and fresh flavor.

We ate this tart for dinner with a green salad. It would also be lovely served as an appetizer. A dollop of ricotta cheese may also be nice, so I included it as an option for next time.

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (one 14-ounce package or half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced into 1/8-inch rounds on a mandoline, seeds removed (5-6 slices)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup basil leaves, to taste, divided
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes (about 3 medium), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
  • ricotta cheese, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Place tomato slices on a paper towel-lined cutting board. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roll out puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper, smoothing out creases, to a large rectangle measuring about 10×14 inches.
  4. Prick pastry in a few places with a fork, leaving a 1″ border around the edges, then slide parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Combine grated garlic and 1 tablespoon of oil in a small bowl and brush dough with garlic oil, staying within border.
  6. Arrange 5 to 6 lemon slices over the brushed pastry, then scatter 8 basil leaves over lemon slices.
  7. Pat the tomatoes dry with additional paper towels. Arrange tomatoes on top of the pastry (a little overlap is okay). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  8. Bake tart until edges of pastry are browned, puffed, and crisp, about 30–35 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and top with grated parmesan and basil (chiffonade).
  10. Let tart cool 10 minutes before cutting into 8 pieces. Serve with a dollop of ricotta cheese, if desired.

Caramelized Zucchini Phyllo Pie with Corn & Herbs

This phyllo-crusted savory pie is packed with caramelized summer zucchini. It is a wonderful way to gobble up an abundance of fresh squash from the garden or your CSA share. 🙂 I loved that it was baked in a cast iron skillet too.

The recipe was adapted from thekitchn.com, contributed by Grace Elkus. We ate it for dinner with a green salad but it could also be served for a special brunch or lunch- an amazing summer meal.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 6 phyllo sheets from a 1-pound package of frozen phyllo dough (13×18-inch), thawed in the refrigerator overnight
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 2 medium-large shallots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup tightly-packed coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 scant cup freshly grated)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from about 2 ears fresh)
  • 3 ounces feta cheese (about 1/3 cup crumbled)
  • hot sauce, for serving (optional)
  1. Thaw 1 (1-pound) package phyllo dough overnight in the refrigerator, if needed (if there are two interior packages, just thaw one). Unroll and stack 6 of the phyllo sheets on a large baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp kitchen towel and leave at room temperature. Reroll the remaining phyllo sheets, place in a gallon-size zip-top freezer bag, and refreeze for another use. (I covered it with a damp paper towel topped with plastic wrap.)
  2. Trim the ends off 1 1/2 pounds zucchini. Slice each in half crosswise, then halve lengthwise. Slice lengthwise into thin planks. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Halve and thinly slice 2 shallots. Add to the bowl with the zucchini.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron or straight-sided ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and shallots (reserve the bowl), season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, and toss to coat in the oil as best you can (the pan will be very full).
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and shallots are slightly caramelized and beginning to stick to the pan, 12 to 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 tablespoon water, and continue to cook 5 minutes more, scraping up the flavorful stuck-on bits as you go.
  7. While the squash cooks, arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Whisk 2 large eggs in a large bowl.
  9. Prep and add the following to the eggs in the bowl: Coarsely chop fresh basil leaves until you have 1/4 tightly-packed cup. Coarsely chop fresh dill until you have 3 tablespoons. Finely grate Parmesan cheese until you have 1 scant cup, if needed. If using fresh corn, remove the husks and cut the kernels from the cobs (about 1 1/2 cups). Crumble in 3 ounces feta cheese. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  10. When the squash is ready, add it to the bowl and stir to combine.
  11. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a small bowl, for brushing. Wipe the skillet clean and brush with a thin layer of the oil.
  12. Working quickly to prevent the phyllo from dying out, transfer 2 phyllo sheets to the skillet, overlapping them to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pan, folding any overhang into the pan. (Keep the remaining phyllo covered). Brush lightly with olive oil.
  13. Place a third phyllo sheet in the skillet so that half is hanging over the rim. Repeat with the remaining 3 sheets, arranging them so they completely cover the rim of the skillet.
  14. Spread the zucchini mixture into the skillet in an even layer.
  15. Fold and crimp the overhanging phyllo toward the center, leaving the center 4 inches exposed.
  16. Gently brush any remaining oil over the phyllo.
  17. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown and crispy and the center is slightly puffed and set, 24 to 30 minutes.
  18. Let sit 10 minutes before slicing.
  19. Top with torn fresh basil leaves. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Nectarine & Blueberry Tart

I especially loved this beautiful tart because in addition to being delicious, it is made with a flaky and buttery press-in crust and a cheesecake-like no-bake filling. Nice shortcuts! I topped it with my favorite summer fruit- white nectarines. The original recipe uses peaches which would also be fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. The chilled temperature and brightness from lemon zest made it very refreshing.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter with confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).
  4. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square tart pan or a 9- or 10-inch round tart pan, with a removable bottom.
  5. Dock bottom at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
  6. Place on rimmed baking sheet or pizza tin, and bake until golden brown and set, 23 to 33 minutes. Let cool completely. (Crust can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.)
  7. Beat together cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
  8. With mixer running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.)
  9. Spread mixture into crust; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
  10. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel peaches/nectarines, if desired; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. (I left the peels intact.)
  11. Transfer to a bowl and stir in berries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  12. Just before serving, spoon macerated fruit over tart and drizzle some of juice from bowl over it. (I used all of the juice!)
  13. Sprinkle with mint, if desired, and serve.

Ina Garten’s Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts

One of my friends frequently serves these tarts when entertaining with rave reviews. She describes them as “flavor bombs!” 🙂 I loved them so much, I have also served them on more than one occasion myself.

The tarts can be formed into rectangles on sheet pans, or into rounds on pizza tins. Square pieces are perfect appetizer portions. As they are a bit time consuming to prepare, the tarts can be assembled a day prior to baking and serving. To limit the amount of moisture on the crust, it is important to not to incorporate too many tomatoes.

The recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, via Food Network.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I doubled the recipe, modified the proportions, and made large tarts rather than individual tarts.

Yield: Two 12-inch tarts

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 6 to 8 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (I used Trader Joe’s herb-goat cheese)
  • 1 pound Campari or small “on-the-vine” tomatoes (about 3 per tart), or 2 large tomatoes, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 6 tablespoons julienned basil leaves, divided
  1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 12 by 12-inch square. Fold the corners in to form a circle. Repeat with the second pastry sheet. (Alternatively, the pastry can be kept in a rectangle, lightly rolled until smooth.)
  2. Place the pastry circles on 2 pizza pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. (If using rectangles, place the pastry on 2 rimmed sheet pans lined with parchment paper.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  6. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry.
  7. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
  8. Place 1/2 of the onion mixture on each tart, again staying within the scored edge.
  9. On each tart, crumble 3 to 4 ounces of goat cheese on top of the onions.
  10. Place tomato slices over each tart. Brush the tomatoes lightly with olive oil and sprinkle each with 2 T basil, salt, and pepper.
  11. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes on convection, or until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven.
  13. After removing from the oven, garnish each tart with the remaining tablespoon of basil and more grated Parmesan.
  14. Serve hot or warm.

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