The sun is back out…and so am I

It’s the last day of winter, and the remnants of the last snow and sleet, have finally vanished. Outside the sun is peeking out from the cover of grey clouds that are quickly being usurped by the blue. Spring will be here tomorrow, that lovely season where everything comes alive. It isn’t warm yet, but like Hemingway once said “…With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning”! Perhaps, that morning isn’t too far away, or perhaps I am now desperately seeking the sun after weeks of rain and snow. So today to celebrate the end of winter I ended up baking the last of the pears for the season into a tart with an Almond Mascarpone Cream. Decadence you say? Oh yes it is! I poured so much time into it, though it is extraordinarily easy to make, that I forgot about making lunch. But, on days like this when I am super hyper active, I couldn’t let that go with just leftovers, so I made myself a bowlful of Kimchi Fried Rice topped with the ubiquitous fried egg. I’m happy and I can’t wait to have more such days of energy and craziness – seems they are my most productive.

If you are wondering why a simple tart took so much of my time that I almost forgot to make lunch, then I should clarify. I spent a good deal of time photographing it. I was challenging myself to come up with different compositions and layouts. Take a look and let me know if I succeeded.

Pear Almond Tart Pear Almond Tart with Almond Mascarpone Cream DSC_0010 DSC_0008

Here is my lunch from today….

Kimchi Fried Rice

The recipes are below, in case anyone is interested. Please DO NOT reuse/reprint/download any of these pictures, they are copyright of Photopportunist/Shruthi Venkatasubramanian and cannot be used in any form without my explicit permission.

Pear Almond Tart

1 Store bought 9 inch pie crust

5 tbsp butter (room temperature)

5 tbsp sugar

5 tbsp almond flour

3 tbsp flour

1 egg

1/4 tsp almond extract or 2 tsps amaretto

2 bosc pears, peeled and sliced

For The Amaretto/Almond Mascarpone Cream

1/2 cup mascarpone

1/2 cup cream

1/2 tsp almond extract or 3 tsp amaretto

3 tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

Preheat oven to 350F

Cream together butter and sugar about 3 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add almond flour and regular flour. Add egg, and amaretto/almond extract and cream till the ingredients are all just combined. Press the store bought pie into the tart pan and do not stretch the dough. Peel and slice the pears into thin slices. Spread the almond filling into the bottom of the tart. It will not fill the tart to the top, but it will rise during baking. Press the pears into the filling, keep the pears in the same shape when you slice so you can place them as is. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely. For the cream by whip mascarpone and heavy cream until thick, add powdered sugar, amaretto/almond extract, and vanilla.

Kimchi Fried Rice

1 cup leftover long grain or basmati rice

1 stalk green onions

1/2 onion, chopped

1 pod of garlic, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup kimchi without juice, chopped

2 tsp low sodium soy sauce

1 egg

In a frying pan, heat some oil and add the chopped onions,chopped white part of green onions and garlic and sautee till the onions become translucent and begin to change color. Add the kimchi and sautee till it begins to brown. Now add the rice and soy sauce and fry till the rice isn’t sticky anymore and starts to brown. In the same pan, after removing the kimchi fried rice, fry one egg with a tiny bit of salt and until the yolk is just about runny. Top the rice with the egg and sprinkle the rest of the green onions and eat up! Takes all of 15 mins to whip this up!

The sun is back out…and so am I

Welcome 2013 or Good Riddance 2012?

Last year didn’t end well, but then again by the same count it also means this year didn’t start well. I’ve been sick for a while with a flu that won’t quit and every time the doctor prescribes something for a symptom, it develops another symptom. Am sure it will all go away in a little while but it is frustrating to stay in  bed and drink hot soup all the time. If I never see another bowl of soup this winter, I won’t feel all that bad! The silver lining was that the holidays were fun, despite a bunch of us bouncing symptoms off of each other. There were tons of things to eat, tons of gifts to open and loads of laughter. The next year or rather this year has to be about moving forward, all this negativity that abounds in illness, needs to be circumvented. This year will be about getting healthy, about moving forward with my photography, about the next logical step in every facet. So cheers to growth and Welcome 2013, I look forward to your challenges.

So to celebrate here is a cake inspired by Ina’s chocolate cake(tweaked a few ingredients) you should make yourself, because I am yet to have anything so moist, ‘chocolatey’ and soul satisfying! When you do make this for yourself, curl up in a chair by a fire, switch on the television to a program that is your guilty pleasure and melt into the cake.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 0ne 9*10 round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and orange zest, stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop and melt the chocolate in a double boiler and allow it to cool down to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended.  Spread over cooled cake.

Chocolate cake - 1

Chocolate cake - 2

Make yourself this cake, enjoy it and make your own resolutions that you WANT to keep! Happy 2013 – and don’t forget to enjoy!

All pictures and material are copyright and cannot be reused or reprinted without the author’s explicit written permission. If you are interested in purchasing prints or want to hire me for any of your photography work, reach out at http://www.photopportunist.com

Welcome 2013 or Good Riddance 2012?