Pecan Truffle Tart


Prepared: 11/22/2018 

My cat, Frank, and I traveled to my mom’s house in Charleston, WV this year for Thanksgiving, one of my contributions to our feast was this recipe from my box.

I made a Pecan Truffle Tart from a very old Bon Appetit (it was from before they changed the font and title colors and styles), my clipping does not show the year. I cannot find this recipe on either the Epicurious or the Bon Appetit websites. So apparently the archives only go so far back or these websites are very difficult to search. Both?!?

Nevertheless I know this recipe is from an old Bon Appetit in the 90's because this is on the back of my clipping.


The tart was decadent and delicious although I found that I liked each of the components better separately than I did together. I made each component ahead of time and assembled the tart once I was in Charleston.

I ended up with a lot of extra components as my only tart pan was much smaller than called for in the recipe, but that was quite serendipitous as:

The nut pastry was buttery and flakey, I much preferred the cookies I made with the leftover dough from the crust of the tart. The perfection of the pastry dough was allowed to shine through as a cookie-it was rather overwhelmed by the actual tart.

The velvety smooth ganache was just the right amount of chocolate and I used the extra to make separate truffles. These were delicious, especially when rolled in the excess of chopped pecans.

The pastry cream while delicious-- definitely got lost in the tart as the both the caramel and the ganache overwhelmed it. I ate the leftover as a pudding snack.

The caramel pecan topping was to die for, and the truffles I made by wrapping some the ganache around it were way better than the tart.

I’m not sure I would make the tart again, but I am definitely keeping the recipe for the delicious separate elements.



Nut  Pastry

1 1/4 cups pastry flour

1/2 cup toasted pecans (toast the whole bag of pecans, you will need them later in this same recipe)

2 TBS sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated orange peel (I used the zest from my entire orange)

1/2 cup (1 stick) of well-chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I ALWAYS use salted butter)

1 1/2 TBS ice water (I fill up a measuring glass with water and ice cubes and use what I need)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor. (For the record I own a Regal La Machine I from circa 1985, that thing is a true workhorse)  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, using on/off turns. Add vanilla with the ice water and add to dry ingredients and process until dough begins to gather together. (I added the vanilla separately. Sometimes you need more water, thats why I make extra). Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disc. (That step makes rolling out a much simpler task) Wrap tightly and chill 30 minutes.

Roll dough out between sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap (or waxed/ parchment paper) to a 12” diameter round. ( I only had a 8” tart pan which is why I had extra components) Brush off excess flour. Transfer dough to 9” tart pan with 1” high removable sides. (or don’t roll the dough out as thin and use a knife or cookie cutter and make shortbread cookies-they turn out really good and that hint of orange takes them over the top) Refrigerate the tart for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours. I baked my cookies right after rolling but they might have also benefitted from the rest period.

Beat 1 egg yolk with 2TBS of whipping cream to make a glaze. (I didn't glaze my cookies, but next time I think I will and then sprinkle some demerara sugar crystals on top.)

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Brush pastry with glaze. Pierce all over with fork. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. I used same temperature for the cookies and just kept an eye out for desired doneness.  Cool completely.


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped ( I used Lindt)

2 TBS unsalted butter (you know my feelings about butter), finely chopped (???)

1/2 cup whipping cream

I put all the ingredients in a deep glass measuring cup breaking up chocolate into small pieces and the butter in small cubes and put it the microwave for about a minute watching carefully until the cream starts to steam. Take it out and whisk until everything is melted and smooth. Then put this container in the refrigerator to cool. About 2 hours. This can also be made ahead.

But for the record, according to Bon Appetit:

Combine chocolate and butter in bowl of electric mixer. Scald cream. Add to chocolate mixture and let stand 5 minutes. Mix until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a shallow pan. Cool. Cover and refrigerate.

Proper ganache is smooth and shiny no matter how you get there.


Pastry Cream

3 egg yolks

3 TBS sugar

2TBS + 2tsp AP flour

1 cup whole milk

1 TBS butter

1tsp vanilla


Whisk yolks and sugar in a small bowl until light in color. (use your electric mixer for this, use your whisk for the ganache) I beat mine until it was thick with almost almost soft peaks. Gradually mix in the flour. (Scald the milk. Gradually whisk into beaten yolks. Return to saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.) See Note.

Note: I was convinced that this method would leave me with curdled cooked yolks so I did it the way I was taught in culinary school. I added a 1/4 cup of the scalded milk to the yolk mixture and beat it in, tempering up the heat slowly, I added another 1/4 cup and beat in completely, I added the remainder in a steady stream and then poured back into the saucepan and cooked at low heat, stirring constantly and DID NOT allow it to come to a boil. Cook until quite thick [this method took a good deal longer than 3 minutes but worth it] 

Then mix in the butter and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Can be prepared ahead. (Press the plastic wrap directly to the top of the pastry cream, that way the top will not form a skin.)


Caramel Pecan Topping

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

6 TBS firmly packed light brown sugar

3 TBS sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup + 2TBS lightly toasted pecans, coarsely chopped  (Seriously people, toast the whole bag of pecans at once-coming across things like this late in recipes drives me crazy)

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add both sugars and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in cream and vanilla; mixture will bubble up. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. (DO NOT wander away!) Remove from heat and add pecans. Cool completely.


To assemble:

Let ganache stand at room temperature for one hour to soften. Spread over the bottom of the prepared tart crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up. Cover with pastry cream, refrigerate for 30 minutes until set. Top with pecan caramel mixture.

Garnish with chocolate curls and additional toasted chopped pecans.

Now if one were to dip the tops of the cookies into the warm ganache, lightly sprinkle chopped toasted pecans on top of that, and serve beside a bowl of pastry cream,  but where does the caramel go? I will have to think about that :)

Zucchini Parmesan Squares

Prepared: 10/24/2018

This recipe is from Bon Appetit March 1994. Here is the recipe as it appears in Epicurious.

I prepared it as an appetizer, my offering for the Halloween bash at the studio. It was very tasty, everyone loved it, there were no leftovers, sorry to say.

I didn’t quite make it as the recipe instructed as I only had one medium sized zucchini to hand and fresh parsley- no basil. The parsley works well. I imagine that adding less than the 3 pounds of zucchini made my version more custard-like.

If I made this again I think I would make my version again.

Bacon and Cheddar Toasts

My son invited me for Easter dinner. I was in charge of appetizers and dessert. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give this recipe a a try. They ended up being voted the "best dish" of the night by everyone who tried them. There were none left over. Ruth Reichl was right when she advised that once you start making these toasts you never stop making these toasts. 

This recipe originally appeared in Gourmet magazine in 2004. Here is the recipe as it appears in Epicurious.

Here is my interpretation.

Prepared 4/20/2019

Yield: 56 appetizers (it will depend on the bread used)


1/2 lb extra-sharp white Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)

1/2 lb cold sliced bacon uncooked, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup) --I actually used a small white onion this time

1-1/2 TBS drained bottled horseradish (I used Inglehoffer thick and creamy style)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

14 very thin slices firm white sandwich bread (I used Pepperidge Farms extra thin white bread--I am so very happy that PF took HFCS out of all their products)


If you are making these right away: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. See note below if not.

Stir together cheese, bacon, onion, horseradish, salt, and pepper (I deviated from the original recipe here) I put all of these ingredients in the bowl of my food processor and gave it some pulses) I tried just mixing it in a regular bowl but I wanted a more homogenous blend that would be easier to spread. It worked much better to my tastes at least. 

Spread about 1-1/2 TBS mixture evenly to the edges of each slice with a small offset spatula (I really wish I owned a small offset spatula--they are cool but I don't so I made do with a butter knife). Arrange slices in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and freeze, covered with wax paper, until firm, about 15 minutes.

The original recipe wants you to trim the crusts off the bread and reserve them for another use--and I guess if you are throwing a fancy party--you go right ahead and trim and save (they are way too tasty to throw away)---I did not trim and the pieces with the little bits of crust ended up being the best bites anyway. Then cut each slice into 4 squares. Bake toasts on baking sheet until beginning to brown on edges, about 20 minutes.

I did the prepare ahead version. Note: Toasts can be prepared up to 2 weeks ahead and frozen, layered between sheets of wax paper in an air tight container. Thaw before baking.

I took them frozen and uncut to my son's house--we cut baked and scarfed them up. I will definitely make these again. And again. And again.


Ian's Meatloaf

Prepared April 30th, 2019

This very may well be the perfect meatloaf. It is good when in first comes out the oven but it just keeps getting better with age. It is huge so I have the last little remnant stored in my freezer I can't wait until it resurfaces. 

 Here is the recipe as it appears in Epicurious.

 Here is my version:

The recipe is enough for at least 6 servings--you will still have leftovers. :)


1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (2 slices of bread) I used my food processor to turn my Trader Joe's Canadian white bread into crumbs (I also made extra because I like to have bread crumbs on hand)

1/3 cup whole milk

1 medium onion, finely chopped (I used a purple onion as always)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium celery rib, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

2TBS butter (the recipe calls for unsalted BUT I always use salted butter)

2TBS Worcestershire sauce (I am so glad that Lea & Perrin's stopped ruining their "original" recipe with HFCS)

1 TBS cider vinegar

1/4 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 lb uncooked bacon (about 4 slices), chopped

1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped

1-1/2 lbs ground beef chuck

1/2 lb ground pork (not lean)

2 large eggs (I used eggs from my brother's chickens)

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

**Garnish** cooked bacon (for the record I did make this--I confess that I ate it while waiting for the meatloaf to cook!)


Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the middle. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl. Meanwhile. cook onion, celery, and carrot in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic at the last so that it cooks but doesn't burn. Remove from heat and in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, ***pet peeve alert** (here is where the original recipe lists extra ingredients not in the main ingredient list--yes it is only salt and pepper but it still annoys me-so they are up there now) salt and pepper. Add to bread crumb mixture. I added the eggs and parsley to the breadcrumbs at this point--trust me it makes it easier to mix with the meat this way. 

Finely chop the bacon and prunes in a food processor. I also strayed from the recipe here as I added this mixture to the ground beef and the ground pork and then I gently mixed the meat into the breadcrumb mixture with my hands. This way everything gets more evenly distributed and the less you work with the meat the better the end result.

Pack mixture into a 9x5 inch oval loaf in a 13x9 inch shallow baking pan. Bake until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of meatloaf registers 155° about 1-1-1/4 hours. I did not measure the temp-but if you are skittish about doneness of meat then it is a hefty thick loaf so you may want to check. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

I will definitely be making this again and again.

At the beginning of April Ruth Reichl, famous food writher and the last editor-in-chief of the late great Gourmet magazine listed her 10 favorite recipes from her magazine years for Epicurious and I couldn't click on this link fast enough.

I really hope that as I comb through my massive stacks of clipped recipes from Gourmet magazine that I had the foresight to clip some of Ms. Reichl's favorites.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the recipe for Ian's Meatloaf published in 2008--I might have missed this one as most of my clippings are from the '90's and I am not sure how far into the 2000's my subscription went. For posterity here is how my adventure with this recipe went--a free form meatloaf with bacon and prunes in the mix--how could one not want to try this one. It does not disappoint.

I made the Bacon and Cheddar Toasts published in 2004--I made these as my appetizer contribution to Easter dinner. They were the hit of the entire dinner and here is how my adventures with this recipe went--that little bit of horseradish seals the deal.

Three Cheese Chicken in Tomato Sauce

Prepared 4/16/2019

This recipe originally appeared in the "Too Busy to Cook?" section of Bon Appetit in 1995. The recipe was offered by an attorney out of Portland, OR who liked to cook as a way to reduce stress. Cooking and Yoga share the flow quality that comes with bringing a strongly directed focus to something "you do" and not worrying about in your head--"thinking about doing". A sense of calmness and presence. 

The original ingredient list is included--I like to think that I kept the basic integrity of the dish together but I did tweak a lot. I remain in a deeper sense of calm if I keep my cooking close to what I know to be true about using various ingredients. Nothing takes the "joy out of" cooking than following a recipe that you know is not right.

This one is pretty tasty and I would make it again. I imagine that this combo would work well with a lot of different meats.


Three-Cheese Chicken Breasts in Tomato Sauce

6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil (I do not measure oil used to sauté)
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (I substituted B/S-less thighs)
1/2 large onion chopped (I usually always use purple onions)
2 large garlic cloves chopped
1 TBS dried oregano
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce (I usually use Passata di Pomodoro)
1 14-½ ounce can Italian Stewed Tomatoes (I used Petite Diced regular [its what I had], which they did not make in 1995)
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves

8 ounces of penne (as stated I used fancier pasta), freshly cooked
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese or Romano cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (For The Record: I used an Italian 3 cheese grated blend from #WholeFoodsMarket

Preheat oven to 375°F. BUTTER (not listed in ingredient list--these things drive me crazy) 13x9x2 pan. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Season chicken with SALT and PEPPER. (ingredients not listed) Add chicken to skillet, sauté until outside is white, about 1 minute per side, transfer to plate (it doesn't say this BUT I covered my chicken). Add onion, garlic and oregano to skillet and sauté until onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. (I ALWAYS add my garlic at the end of a sauté just before the liquid--so that it doesn't burn--just saying--but I'm no attorney when it comes to cooking) Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes w/juice, wine, and bay leaves. (I de-glazed my pan with the wine first as it cooks out the alcohol and develops a richer flavor; I also adjusted the seasoning of my sauce with S&P). Cook the sauce until it thickens; about 8 minutes. He discarded his bay leaves at this point--I kept them in for baking--they add more flavor but you need to remove them before serving. No one wants a mouthful of bay leaf.

Line the prepared dish with pasta. Arrange chicken over. Spoon sauce over, covering chicken and pasta completely. Mix your shredded cheese selections in a small bowl. Sprinkle cheese mix over sauce. Bake until chicken is just cooked through and sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes. I like a little brown cheese so I waited, I was also using thighs which take longer. DON'T FORGET to remove the bay leaves if they are still in there.


Prepared: 11/21/2018  Forever Recipe

My cat, Frank, and I traveled to my mom’s house in Charleston, WV this year for Thanksgiving, my contribution to our feast was two recipes from my box.

The first was Mandarin Salad, a very tasty salad that came from my years as a paralegal in a downtown Pittsburgh law firm. This recipe comes from the Betty Crocker website circa 2004.The salad was just as good as I remembered it being, even though it had been years since I had made it.

Of course, the first thing my mom did when she saw my bag of romaine lettuce was to literally pitch it out of her back door. A little melodramatic-- but in her defense we were in the midst of yet another romaine lettuce/ E. Coli scare at the time. Thankfully, the Boston lettuce I also bought was enough to complete the salad. 


Mandarin Salad

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tbs + 1 tsp sugar

Sweet Sour Dressing (see below)

1/2 small head lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (I used Boston)

1/2 bunch romaine, torn into bite-size pieces (3 cups)

2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced (1 cup) the recipe says chopped but I prefer my way

2 TBS thinly sliced green onions (I sliced all 3 of my green onions and added the whole lot)

1 can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, drained

  1. Cook almonds and sugar in sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until almonds are toasted, sugar is melted and coats the almonds. Cool and then break apart.
  2. Prepare the Sweet-Sour dressing.
  3. Toss almonds, dressing and remaining ingredients.


Sweet-Sour Dressing

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)

2 TBS sugar

2 TBS white vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)

1 TBS chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper (I used a pinch)

1/8 tsp red pepper sauce (I used a couple drops)

Shake all ingredients in a tightly covered container. It says to refrigerate, if you make it ahead, but I can’t understand why.




Prepared: 10/26/2018 These are forever recipes.

Both recipes are from Bon Appetit but only the Green Bean recipe shows the date: September 1995. This will make the 3rd time I have made the Swiss Steak and the second time I made the green beans. Here are some notes I took the last time:

“I know I have fixed this before but it was so long ago, I have no other memory than the name. I imagine I fixed it while my son was growing up as a family meal. It must have been good because it is in “the box” where I keep successfully prepared yummy recipes. I remember it because I have always been drawn to the name. So here goes the 2014 version.

I have all the ingredients except the fresh parsley for garnish which I forgot to buy. And I really wish I had read the little blurb at the top of the recipe where it suggests a dessert of freshly baked peak of the season pears and freshly whipped cream—sounds very good. The only thing I found odd in the recipe was an dried herb called savory, I got some it reminded me of woody version of rosemary.

I am also making the Green Bean recipe that fell out of the box with the steak recipe especially since the blurb reads serve with green beans and mashed potatoes. In 2014 I used pancetta in place of bacon, as I love those precut little cubes that come already packaged." Did not write a single word about how the meal turned out—must of been good because it was still in “the box”.

In 2018 I made this while my mom was in town, this time we made the swiss steak in the crock pot, made mashed potatoes, the green beans and even gave baking pears a try. I will put this in “the box” forever, and I will also be doing the crock pot version. This is a simple delicious dinner.

The green bean recipe goes back in to the box again as well but it needs way more warm bacon dressing, the amount called for in the recipe-you can barely taste the vinegar, it is very stingy.

With that little tweak the tartness of the beans will perfectly off set the richness of the meat. DO NOT ask for a recipe for basic mashed potatoes, I just make them. Boiled potatoes, salt, milk, and butter.

As for the pears, something went wrong. We didn’t eat them right away for dessert but kept them in the aluminum baking dish I cooked them in over night—they had a very tinny unpleasant taste, inedible. So next time I will look for an actual recipe and bake in a glass casserole dish.

Contemporary Swiss Steak

Serve with green beans and mashed potatoes, followed by freshly baked peak of the season pears and whipped cream.

4 servings

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 pound cubed steak, cut into four pieces

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 large celery stalk, sliced

1 medium carrot, very thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon dried savory, crumbled (I omitted this in my 2018 version, even though what I bought before was still in my spice drawer.)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. (I do not measure and I put everything in a plastic bag.) Dredge both sides of steak pieces lightly in the flour mixture. (Drop steak pieces in bag and shake to coat.) Reserve the remaining flour.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. (I think it goes without saying but I so do not measure oil for the pan). Unless you can fit your steak in the skillet so that nothing touches please follow this recipe and cook in 2 batches. A couple minutes on each side to allow the steak to brown. Transfer to plate (better yet transfer to crock pot).

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet (or simply add more without measuring). Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot ( I cut mine into thicker chunks as I was making this in my crock pot.) Cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved flour and the garlic. (If you did not measure your dredging mixture you may have too much to just stir in — add some, you can always add more later if needed for thickening.) Stir into vegetables until you can't see the flour anymore. Stir constantly. Add the can of tomatoes (I just used canned tiny diced tomatoes not stewed because thats what I had on hand), the wine, oregano and savory (if using, I did not).

If doing the original stove top version:  Return steaks and accumulated juices to skillet, spooning vegetables over. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet and cook until steak is tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover skillet and simmer 2 minutes for gravy to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter and garnish with parsley.

If using crock pot: Cook the vegetable mixture until gravy starts to have depth then add to the crock pot on top of the meat. Cook a couple of hours, starting on high then reducing to low, until steak is fall apart tender.


Green Beans with Warm Bacon Dressing

While it is especially good with meatloaf, this vegetable will also do wonders for chicken or roast beef. (It is excellent on the side of Contemporary Swiss Steak)

2 servings, can be doubled

As I said, this dish needs more dressing than what the recipe calls for so, I will give both the recipe as it originally appeared in Bon Appetit and the extra dressing I plan to make next time in parenthesis. 

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 2” lengths 

2 (4) bacon slices

1 tablespoon chopped shallot  (3TBS)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (2TBS)

Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until tender about 8 minutes. Drain. Transfer to shallow bowl.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in medium skillet over medium heat until crisp. Place cooked bacon on paper towel. Add shallot to the bacon drippings in skillet and sauté for about 30 seconds, (lets call this slightly softened but not brown). Remove from heat and cool slightly, stir in vinegar. Season warm dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over green beans and toss to coat. Crumble bacon over top.

Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.