I dug out the old French bread recipe I mentioned in my Bits & Pieces post and made that and was somewhat disappointed. For one thing, it's totally not a true French bread recipe - has sugar, oil, whatever, and French bread is supposed to be basically flour, water, yeast and salt. So before I do any more bread making I'm going to research making good crusty French bread.
Next, I worked on an old brownie recipe I used to make regularly that used "Choco-Bake", a Nestle product that was basically melted unsweetened chocolate in squeezable pouches which was very convenient. However, like all good things it is no longer made. I saw a recipe on the back of my All-Bran box that used cocoa and decided to try that. I thought the taste was wonderful but the brownies were kind of disgusting because there were all these lumps of All-Bran! So that went in the trash. Since then, I have tried two more batches using various and sundry combinations of my old recipe, the All-Bran recipe, two other recipes I found on line for cakey brownies and none of them were very good - they were so dry. Made me wonder if since I haven't made them for so long and since when I have a brownie, it's a Starbucks brownie which is more the "chewy" variety, maybe I now like chewy brownies. So having thrown out 3 batches of brownies, I'm cooling my heels on that one for a bit and will look for chewy brownie recipes next.
And after all that not so good work, I finally made something yesterday that I'm excited about. I made a "rustic" plum tart. The "rustic" basically means that you make pie dough, roll it out into a circle, heap the fruit in the center, and fold up the outside rim of the dough.
The exciting part is that for the first time ever (at least that I recall), I made a crust with butter rather than shortening or lard (which is what I use for fruit pies). I don't know why I was always somewhat intimidated by the butter dough cause it turned out to be basically the same as making regular pie dough. But, what makes it especially exciting is that because I didn't take the butter out of the freezer in time for it to thaw, when I pulsed it in my mini-processor, there were still too large lumps of butter in the flour. So, for the first time ever (and this one was the first time ever), I used my fingers to work the lumps of butter into the flour and it worked and I survived. I would see them doing that on cooking shows and could not imagine how I would not end up with an incredible mess if I did it. And I thought the heat of my hands would melt the butter, and so on. It went very well - but I did learn that even if I'm doing a small amount I should do it in a bigger bowl than I used.
So I made a plum tart and here is a picture of the finished product:
This was half of a recipe and it was still way too big for one serving although I sure kept eating it once I started. I'd think "well, just one more bite..."
I will certainly make a tart again and am hoping that maybe fresh, local peaches are finally coming in because I think I'd prefer those to the plums which were very tart even with the sugar mixed into them. But, oh my, it was tasty and a very good experience. I'm going to wait until I make another one before I post a recipe because in the reviews of this recipe I saw a couple of things people had added that sounded interesting and I'm going to try making a slightly smaller dough recipe and rolling it out a little thinner I think.
Next, I'm finally going to make puttanesca sauce which I've been wanting to do ever since the brand with which I discovered puttanesca sauce, was - again like all good things - taken off the market. I never had the heart to try some of the other ones I'd see in the grocery store. That's another recipe that can probably be tinkered with quite a bit.
So that's a whole lot of talk with only one picture but, as Emperor Franz Josef always said in the movie Amadeus - "there it is!" I loved that movie and was going to watch it a few weeks ago and discovered that I no longer remembered how to use the VCR!!! Sometime I must get around to figuring that out.