Elote Corn Salad

A dish of elote corn salad
I’ve been cleaning house here. Tidying up. I’ve been sharing my thoughts (and baked goods) on this site since May 30, 2008. Twelve years. Twelve. Years. This was my very first post. Two-Bit Tart didn’t start out as a food blog. It didn’t start out as anything more than a place to share the thoughts that cluttered my brain and a safe place to exercise my desire to write. I was still practicing yoga then, still dabbling with Buddhism. I had lost my father, but my mother was still alive, although Alzheimer’s was already robbing her mind. I shared it all here. This blog saw me through culinary school in 2009 and was my therapist in 2011 when a breakup hit me much harder than was warranted. I finally shared my blog’s existence with family and friends in 2016. Before that, it was my secret.

My very personal history is in these posts, but it’s time. It’s time to cull the words that no longer represent me, my pathetic early attempts at food blogging, my poorly written pabulum of self-absorption. Most will stay, but it’s time to allow parts to fly away. It’ll be a process, but most things worth doing usually are.

Someone once asked me why I so enjoy purging my home of the stuff that collects there. Purging allows me to make space, whether it’s a shelf, or a cabinet, or even an entire room – space for hope, for possibilities, for growth. I want this blog to be ready for any and all of those things, too.


Elote Corn Salad

  • Servings: 8-10 Servings
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A creamy salad with all the flavors of Mexican street corn, perfect for BBQs.


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. frozen corn
  • ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Mexican crema
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, plus zest from one lime
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. Defrost corn and broil until lightly browned, stirring once, about 8-10 minutes total. Do not roast too much, or corn will become crispy.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the corn and stir to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Tropical Tres Leches Cake

A pan of Tropical Tres Leches Cake with fresh fruit

 

To be alive at all is to have scars.
– John Steinbeck

How beautiful you are
He said
A tapestry of scars
– Atticus

I couldn’t help staring at him, transfixed. His perfect Dutch face – high cheekbones, full lips, mutable blue-grey eyes, alabaster skin – dissected diagonally, from his left eyebrow, across his nose, to the right of his chin – by a jagged, pink scar.

He. Was. Beautiful.

I blushed when those eyes caught me looking.

Thirty years later and scars still fascinate me. Rather than flaws, I see them as character, turning unremarkable symmetry into something unique, exquisite. In addition to their visual interest, each scar carries a story – nature’s version of a tattoo – without any say from the owner in the final artwork. This particular scar, this story, was the result of smashing through a windshield.

I find the invisible scars just a beautiful – the ones carried on the inside. We hide them from the world, afraid we’ll appear disfigured, imperfect, damaged. However, they’re what make us truly remarkable. A smooth cabochon is lovely, but a faceted stone, with its 1000 cuts, is much more precious and shines with fire. There’s no need to hide your scars from me – they’re what I like best. I won’t love you in spite of them; I’ll love you because of them. Scars, both the visible and unseen, tell the world we have lived…and survived.

– written July 2019

As is often my style, what I’ve written above has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe below, except that they were both birthed by me.


Tropical Tres Leches Cake

  • Servings: 12-16 servings
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Ingredients

    Tres Leches Milk
  • 10 oz. dulce de leche or 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (see note below)
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cake
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Topping
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut, toasted
  • Assorted chopped tropical fruit (strawberries, mangoes, kiwi, or berries)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together dulce de leche, evaporated milk, heavy whipping cream and vanilla. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325⁰ F. Grease and flour a 9”x13” pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Whip eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until frothy. With the mixer on medium, gradually add the sugar until incorporated, then beat on medium high until the mixture is pale yellow, thick and glossy, 8-10 minutes.
  3. While the mixture is beating, heat the milk and butter in a small pan over low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. When the eggs are ready, reduce the mixer to slow and add the milk. The milk can be fairly warm, but not hot to the touch.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three parts with the mixer on medium speed and beat just until combined. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  5. Pour the mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon handle or chopstick, poke holes in the cake surface, spacing them about ½” apart (a skewer is too small). Pour the tres leches liquid slowly over the cake and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight (the longer the better).
  6. A few hours before serving, whip together the cream, corn syrup, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spread the topping over the cake, garnish with fruit and coconut.
  7.  

    Note: If you can’t find dulce de leche, you can make your own by slowly reducing sweetened condensed milk in the microwave. Pour the milk in a microwave safe bowl and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on medium power for 3-5 minute intervals until milk begins to darken, uncovering and stirring between intervals. Once milk begins to color (about 10 minutes total), reduce power to low and continue heating and stirring until thickened and light brown. This process can take 30 minutes or longer.

    Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.


Raspberry Bakewell Mini Tarts

A platter of Raspeberry Bakewell Mini Tarts

The woman you seek does not exist, but someone more profound and exquisite (and real) would willingly stand beside you, clasping your hand. Place your impossible ideals of chaste Madonna by sunlight and sinful whore at nightfall aside and truly see us. We are angel and devil in equal measure and cannot hide one trait away depending on your desires or the time of day. Sometimes our licentious tongue yearns for daylight; sometimes our crooked halo still hovers above us in the night.

Our femininity is not determined by our willingness to compromise our light and dark selves for your sake. We are more complex, unpredictable,  and surprising than you could ever imagine. See us for who we are, love us for this dichotomy, and we will shower you with myriad delights.

Some of us will bear your children, some of us will dance naked in your moonlight, some of us will cradle you and gather up your tears, some of us with strive for heights greater than yours, and some of us will fill you belly with devilishly divine delicacies.

Raspberry Bakewell Mini Tarts

  • Servings: 32 Mini Tarts
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Is it a highly complex cookie or the smallest tart you've ever seen? Whatever you decide, the combination of tender crust, tart raspberry jam and rich almond filling are sure to delight.


Ingredients

    Raspberry Jam
  • 7 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 7 oz. sugar
  • Shortbread Crust
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Frangipane (Almond Crème)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Glaze
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon water
  • 32 sliced almonds, toasted

Directions

  1. Make the jam: Combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a small deep-sided saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. When the sugar is melted, increase the heat and boil for another 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a small container (pass it through a sieve if you’d rather not have seeds in your jam). Leave to cool and set.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 32 mini muffin cups. Make crust by beating together butter and sugar. Add vanilla, flour and salt and combine until fully blended. Divide dough into 32 equal pieces, pressing dough along bottom and up sides of each muffin cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to brown. If crust rises too much after baking, gently press back down into cups.
  3. While crusts are baking, make frangipane by whisking together butter, confectioner’s sugar, egg, almond flour and cornstarch. Spoon frangipane into a piping bag.
  4. Dollop about ½ teaspoon of raspberry jam in the bottom of each cup. Pipe frangipane over jam, covering jam completely. Bake tarts for an additional 20-25 minutes until tops are puffed and slightly golden brown. Cool completely
  5. To make glaze, mix confectioner’s sugar with water. Drizzle over cooled tarts. Garnish each with a sliced almond.

Cheesy Bacon Semolina Bread

Two Boules of Cheesy Bacon Semolina Bread
I host a monthly fiction book club. Successfully running for about 2 ½ years, our lineup ranges from historical fiction to surrealism to sci-fi and everything in between. I started the club with visions of it becoming a modern version of the traditional salon… a gathering of like-minded individuals discussing a shared interest, in this case – reading and books.

The other day, a potential new member asked me if we tackle uncomfortable issues – poverty, homelessness, women’s issues, and BLM. This was my response (in part):

“This is a fiction book club and while the books we read have, at certain times, focused on various issues such as slavery, poverty, the rise of Nazism in Germany, family issues, etc., these topics are always couched within a fictionalized story. Our primary focus is reading for pleasure and a good discussion.”

After responding, I felt guilty – guilty for reading for mere pleasure and a good discussion. In the face of MAGA, global warming, COVID-19, school shootings, and BLM, why am I gathering a group together to discuss fanciful escapism stories? Shouldn’t we be tackling these bigger issues? And what about my blogging? Why am I spending hours testing, writing, photographing and posting a recipe for some complicated artisanal version of bread when children in my own city went to bed last night without a morsel in their belly? Shouldn’t I focus on moving the needle rather than my own pleasure? Could I be doing more? Should I be doing more?

I’m confident I’m not alone in this feeling and, I decided, we need to cut ourselves some slack. We can donate, march, vote, and volunteer to support the causes important to us, but we aren’t doing anyone good if we don’t also support ourselves through self-care:  recharging by doing the things we love like reading and cooking and gathering socially. It’s a balance – no guilt required.

I seem to be a collector of flours.  I currently have eight (eight!) in my refrigerator, which doesn’t include the All-Purpose in my pantry.  I chose this recipe to help use up leftover semolina flour. This recipe was inspired by artisan semolina bread from breadworld.com.


Cheesy Bacon Semolina Bread

This is a hearty, savory bread that’s great for toast and rustic sandwiches. The Poolish needs to be started the night before.


Ingredients

    Poolish
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water (105⁰ – 110⁰ F.)
  • Dough
  • ½ teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water (105⁰ – 110⁰ F.)
  • Poolish
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • ½ – ¾ cup bread flour
  • 8 slices bacon, fully cooked and crumbled
  • 8 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 cup strong-flavor grated cheese (such as aged white cheddar)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried sage

Directions

  1. Make Poolish: Stir together flour and yeast in a medium bowl. Add water and stir until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight or up to 24 hours at room temperature. The poolish will become frothy.
  2. Make Dough: Dissolve yeast in water and let rest for 5 minutes. In the bowl of a mixer, combine water, poolish, olive oil and salt and mix on low speed with a dough hook until blended. Add semolina and ½ cup bread flour and continue mixing on low until fully combined. If dough is too sticky, add additional bread flour, if needed. On medium  speed, knead dough with a dough hook for 5about minutes until dough becomes a silky, smooth ball.
  3. Add bacon, scallions, cheese and sage and knead about another minute until ingredients have combined. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and proof in a warm location for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Working with each half, pull the edges of the dough towards the center, working your way around and shaping it into a round ball. Turn the ball over, cupping the sides of the ball, and roll the bottom around in a circle until the top is smooth and tight. Place both boules on a parchment-lined rimless baking sheet. Cover with cling film, ensuring the cling film does not touch the dough and proof for another hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 475⁰, arrange an 8×8 pan filled with 1” of hot water on the bottom rack (steam ensures a crisp crust), and a rack above for the baking sheet  (the sheet should be as close to the bottom of the oven as possible). Score each boule. Place the baking sheet on the rack and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the internal temperature  of the bread reaches 200⁰. Cool on wire rack.

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Buns
Yesterday was about self-care. Cajoling myself to smile, if only a little, for a moment. I bought myself a new candle, vetiver and cedarwood. I took an extra-long, extra-hot shower. I sat on the floor and played with the kitties in the morning sunlight while sipping my coffee. I spent the afternoon in my kitchen, my Band-aid and bomb shelter, baking wonderful things to share, scenting my little house with yeast, sugar and lemon.


Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Buns

Decadent fluffy lemon buns studded with blueberries for indulging and sharing.


Ingredients

    Dough
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk (105⁰ – 110⁰)
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Star Yeast
  • 1 Large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 ¼ cups bread flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (softened)
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • Glaze
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ⅛ cups powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Combine milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg, vanilla, bread flour, sugar, salt, and milk mixture. Using a dough hook on low speed, stir together ingredients until combined. Increase to medium speed and mix for about 8 minutes, slowly adding the butter a little bit at a time, until dough is fully developed (window pane test). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, and let proof 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.
  2. Combine butter, sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface 16” long by 15” wide. Cover dough with sugar filling leaving a 1” border on one long side. Cover sugar filling with blueberries. Roll up lengthwise sealing along the border with a little beaten egg.
  3. Cut into 12 rolls, approximately 1 ½” thick. Place in a 13” x 11” pan, cover with cling film and proof for another 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190⁰-200⁰. Remove from oven. Combine glaze ingredients and glaze buns while still warm.

Note: I was originally going to use fresh blueberries in this recipe, but decided to use frozen due to their uniformity in size and the ease of rolling them up in the buns.