I made a recipe story for our fresh fruit tart on Stellar, but wanted to document it on the blog too because, well, when was the last time we posted a recipe? If you recognized the photo of the tarts as one that we had on our calendar, then you are correct. This was for a project that never came to be. Oh, the graveyard of abandoned or unrealized projects…how many times have we dumped our failures into your yard?
But I digress.
Fresh Fruit Tarts
Makes four individual servings
6 ounces cold butter
2 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
Cut the butter into small pieces. Mix butter, flour, sugar and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed until butter is almost completely incorporated. Add egg and yolk, mix just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. and chill for about 30 minutes before rolling.
Roll each piece of dough between two pieces of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thickness, then press them into four individual tart pans. Chill before baking.
Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with uncooked rice or beans. This prevents the shell from bubbling up. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes until it starts to darken around the edges. Remove from the oven, cool for a few minutes, remove the parchment and beans/rice, then return it to the oven to complete baking for about 5-6 minutes. Cool completely while preparing the filling.
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add both the vanilla bean and seeds to the milk and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. Remove the vanilla bean from the hot milk, then gradually pour the milk over the egg mixture while whisking. Return the mixture to the saucepan, turn the heat to low, and cook while stirring until thick.
Remove from the heat and push the warm pastry cream through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl. Immediately spoon the warm pastry cream into the baked and cooled tart shells filling each only slightly more than halfway to allow room for fresh fruit.
Just after the tarts have been filled with pastry cream, arrange your fruit using whatever is in season and at the peak of ripeness. We used plums, currants, nectarines and blueberries on our tarts, but any fruit does well paired with the pastry cream. Make sure to refrigerate before eating.
Posted by Jenna | 3 Comments
Hard to believe given that it’s the height of summer, but there have been a few days recently where the weather was downright cool and even a bit chilly on the days when it’s been wet and stormy. This inspired Mark to want to make a chowder after picking up some tomatoes and corn at the farmer’s market. He had made focaccia with some thyme picked from our balcony garden the day before and was in the mood for soup to dip the bread in. The chowder is loaded with chunky fresh ingredients, but the roasting of the corn and tomatoes give it a rich, caramelized flavor that hints of the Fall season to come.
Roasted Corn and Yellow Tomato Chowder (serves 6-8)
4 ripe yellow tomatoes
4 ears fresh corn, still in its husk
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced pancetta (optional)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
First, roast the corn and tomatoes. Turn your broiler on high. Place the corn (with the husks still on) and tomatoes on separate foil-lined pans. Put each under the broiler. Broil the tomatoes until the skins have blackened, turning if necessary. Broil the corn for a little longer until the husks have browned, turning several times. Remove from the broiler and allow to cool. Remove the skins from the tomatoes when cooled and remove the husks from the corn. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and reserve any of the juice from the pan that they were roasted in. Slice the corn kernels off the cobs and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the fat has cooked off and it starts to get crispy. Stir in the onions, celery and thyme, and cook for about 4 more minutes, but don’t allow the onions to brown. Next, stir in the tomatoes and corn and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Add the broth and potatoes and simmer just until the potatoes are cooked, approximately 8 minutes. Stir in the cream, salt & pepper to taste, and simmer for just one more minute. Serve with chunky pieces of focaccia or other crusty, rustic bread.
Posted by Jenna | 9 Comments
Thank you all for the recipe suggestions, especially to those readers who took the time to type out whole recipes in comments. We actually do rotate quite a number of dishes that were mentioned. Once a week we have a taco night, a pasta night, a burger night (Claudine and I eat vegetarian Chicken burgers from Morningstar most of the time). These often end up happening on evenings when time is tight. When Mark does have more time to prepare dinner, he often will make other dishes like a steamed fish, a roast chicken, Cuban sandwiches, an Asian noodle dish, a curry, Thai or Indian food.
I’m trying to find my own go-to dishes that will add variety to the mix. I think we can be a lot better at making interesting salads as we are often lazy about the salads we eat and I’m thinking this could be my “thing”. Like some of you suggested, once I get back into it, I think it will be easier to take up cooking again.
In return for all your wonderful suggestions, here are 2 Indian dishes that Mark made very recently. I think Okra is something that people either like or dislike (kind of like eggplant). We happen to love Okra and we love this dish. Mark has been cooking Indian food ever since I met him 21 years ago. He made it so much during our years in Portland that I nearly became sick of Indian food. Nowadays, however, it’s a special treat.
Chana Dal (serves 6)
1-1/2 cups split Chana Dal, soaked in warm water for 6 hours
5 cups water
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 slices of ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon Panch Phoran (Indian whole spice blend, or substitute a mix of whole fennel, cumin, and/or black mustard seeds if unavailable)
6 fresh curry leaves (if available)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Drain the soaked Chana Dal. Put into a large saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the turmeric and ginger slices. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer (stirring occasionally) for 90 minutes, or until the dal is fully cooked. Stir in the salt and remove from the heat.
Heat the oil in a separate small saucepan. When it is hot add the whole spices, curry leaves and garlic. Fry until the garlic darkens slightly and the seeds begin to pop. Pour it all, oil and everything, into the cooked dal and stir to mix.
Bhindi Masala (Serves 6)
1/4 cup oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups finely chopped plum tomatoes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika or chile powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1-1/2 pounds okra, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt, continue to cook and stir for another 4-5 minutes. The tomatoes should start to soften up quite a bit. Add the spices and cook for another few minutes. Now add the okra and cook until it is tender, maybe 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
Posted by Jenna | 7 Comments
Does anyone really get excited about lentil soup? It’s a good old standby, hearty and filling, but I can’t really say I ever crave a bowl of lentil soup. But Mark made a huge pot the other day and it was SO good and flavorful, I was already looking forward to having another bowl the next day. Because we all know, soup is one of those foods that taste better the next day.
Lentil Soup (serves eight)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound button mushrooms, roughly chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 Tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1/3 cup tomato paste
8 cups vegetable broth
1 pound lentils
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, add the garlic and onion, and stir while cooking for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and rosemary, cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the lentils, return to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 40 minutes with the pot covered or until the soup has thickened and the lentils are completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper. We also like to put a dash of Tabasco in our soup right before eating for an extra spicy kick.
Posted by Jenna | 14 Comments
Here’s how our batch of eggs turned out after leaving them in their natural dye baths overnight (see post and general recipes from part 1 here). I do think that’s key to getting some of the rich jewel tones, to leave them in overnight. Even though the eggs didn’t stay as saturated once dried as it did right after taking them out of their baths (particularly the red beet dye), I love the more subdued, mottled effect that it left.
After placing each egg back in the carton to dry off, I did buff them a bit to gently wipe off any excess coloring and powdered residue that was left on the egg, particularly the tumeric. The colors are such a nice alternative to the brights and pastels that we’ve been dyeing eggs with in past years (not to mention the glitter and the stickers!). We’ll see if we keep to it, but we want to do this every year and try other food sources to color eggs with.
Posted by Jenna | 22 Comments
This is something we’ve been wanting to do for years – dyeing Easter eggs using vegetables and spices. After seeing how beautiful my friend Jen Causey’s eggs turned out, we planned our yearly egg dyeing activity over the weekend. Here’s the basic method and recipe that we used for our four colors:
Blue: Simmer 4 cups of water with 1 small red cabbage (roughly chopped) for 15 minutes.
Red: Simmer 4 cups of water with 2 medium red beets (grated) for 15 minutes.
Yellow: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and stir in 1/4 cup turmeric. Boil for 1 more minute.
Brown: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 cup ground coffee, and simmer for 10 minutes.
When each of the mixtures have cooled down, mix in 1/4 cup white vinegar and strain each of the colors into cups for dyeing. We left the eggs in the color baths overnight as per Jen’s suggestion. Stay tuned tomorrow to see how they turned out…
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments