Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why do they call them tarts?

Leftover buttermilk from the panna cotta, asparagus from the farmers market (not nearly as pretty and petite as two weeks ago but still darn good), the last bit of on-sale ham still languishing in the freezer: what else to do but make an asparagus tart? But first, spend fifteen minutes on the Internet searching for the origin of the word tart. Short answer- from Middle English meaning savory pie derived (probably) from Old French tarte- origin unknown. Clever answer- a tart is always topless, duh.


While I had the food processor out I decided to make two crusts, one sweet and one savory. I used the Flaky Pie or Tart Dough recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking. I’ve had consistently good results from all the recipes I’ve tried from that book and I like that every step is covered so that the first time out I can be precise. I’ll wing it later but not until I know how things should be not just how they turned out.

For the filling I adapted the Leek Tart recipe from Patricia Wells’ Bistro Cooking. FYI- Her pate brisee recipe is also quite good and considerably less time consuming than the Flaky Pie or Tart Dough recipe because it is mixed entirely in the food processor.

I kept the sweet crust in the refrigerator to make a rhubarb gallette (more on that later).

Asparagus Buttermilk Tart

¾ cup diced onion (leeks or shallots would probably be equally good, or even better, but I’ve got a twenty pound bag of onions in the pantry)
1 tsp butter (or olive oil, I suppose)
One Bundle of Asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into bite size pieces (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup diced ham (optional)
½ to 1 cup grated cheese (I used Pecorino Romano but Gruyere is more traditional French tart-ish)
fresh ground pepper to taste
a wee bit of salt, if needed

Prepare dough ahead of time, giving enough time to thoroughly chill. Roll out the dough to line a 10½ inch tart pan, return to fridge to chill.
Preheat oven to 425.

Sautee onions with butter or olive oil on low to medium heat until tender but not brown. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Cool onions slightly and add to egg mixture along with asparagus, ham, and half of the cheese. Pour mixture into prepared crust sprinkling remaining cheese on top.
Bake on middle rack of preheated oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

asparagus buttermilk tart
Serve warm or at room temperature. Like all flaky crusts this one is best within the first few hours but leftover tart is still better than your average ham and eggs the next morning for breakfast.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sunday Morning Waffles on Saturday

I cook, he cleans. Except on Sunday when the fella makes me waffles (he still cleans!). Last week I topped mine with balsamic strawberry preserves/compote and fresh strawberries from the farmers market. Mmmm, now I'm wishing that Saturday was waffle day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Missing In Action

buttermilk panna cotta balsamic strawberry compote
My mom pointed out that cup size and serving directions were vague. I used 9 ounce Dixie Cups filled slightly less than half way and ended up with 7 servings. Okay I know, still vague. There will be a fresh post and recipe tomorrow. I'm attempting to rethink the focus of the blog, I want it to be useful.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Buttermilk Panna Cotta w/ Strawberry Balsamic Preserves

Panna cotta, an eggless custard, is a wonderful warm weather dessert. Creamy, but not too heavy, with a delicate clean finish.

buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry balsamic compoteI melded three or four recipes together for this and now that it is time to post I can't find any of my notes. So I'm guessing here, sorry! The Strawberry preserve recipe was pretty much intact as found on epicurious. I probably decreased the amount of sugar.

I use paper cups lightly coated with vegetable oil to set the panna cotta that way once the panna cotta has set you can just tear away the paper cup to the point where the top of the dessert is exposed, invert on a plate and pull away. I've never had any problem with sticking and it makes transportation to a party or picnic much easier than ceramic ramakins.

  • 3 Tbsps water
  • 1 1/2 tsps unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup rhubarb simple syrup
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract

Pour 3 tablespoons water into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes. Coat paper cups with oil ( I use a paper towel dipped in oil).

Heat cream and rhubarb simple syrup in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, and bring just to low boil. Add gelatin mixture; remove from heat. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Cool mixture to lukewarm, stirring often. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla; divide mixture among prepared ramekins. Refrigerate panna cotta until set, about 4 hours (but I've found 6 hours is best).

Serve with balsamic strawberry preserves.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cappellini Tossed w/ Garlic Shrimp and Kale

Cappellini Tossed w/ Garlic Shrimp and Kale

I had elaborate rainy day plans to bake two tarts-- one sweet and one savory. But just as I threw the tart dough in the refrigerator to chill the sun came out and I remembered that I was cooking for one. The energy for elaborate is hard to muster up for just me so I decided to delay the tarts a day. Fortunately, I also remembered the shrimp I bought on sale at the store the day before and the bundle of purple kale from the farmer's market on Saturday.

Of course even though I was cooking for one I made enough for two hungry people so now I have lunch.

4 cloves of garlic, minced (I love garlic and probably could've even had more)
2 Tbsp Olive OIl
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pound shrimp (in my case ten 16-20 count, I always ask for an amount not a weight so I can divide appropriately)
1 bundle of kale
1/2 pound cappellini (angel hair pasta)
salt, pepper, and pepper flakes to taste

After bringing a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, I minced the garlic and heated the cast iron skillet with the olive oil. Meanwhile I blanched the kale in the pasta water, squeezed it dry and cut it into bite size pieces. When the skillet was hot I briefly sauteed the garlic and then added the shrimp, cooking for about a minute on each side. After removing the shrimp I added the white wine, pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pan and cooked for another minute or so. By this time the water was boiling again so I threw in the pasta which only takes three minutes (one of the reasons I love cappellini), turned the heat off the sauce and then added the shrimp and kale to the white wine sauce. After draining the pasta and reserving a cup or so of pasta water to add, if needed, to the sauce I tossed it all together. Took pictures, which was torture because I was starving, and voila- dinner.

An incredibly easy and delicious weeknight meal.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lazy Tuesday Post ie: LEFTOVERS

Leftover Pork, Gastrique, and Quinoa Salad W/ Goat Cheese

quinoa rhubarb gastrique salad

I layered the quinoa on the bottom, topped it with lettuce, drizzled that with oil and vinegar and then finished it off with the remaining pork chop from the other night, chopped and tossed with the rhubarb gastrique. Crutons for crunch. Goat cheese for creamy. Yum.

I struggled to take a pretty picture of this but rhubarb, I've discovered, photographs best before it's cooked. The goat cheese and the gastrique were fabulous together.Hmmmm?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eek, Gastrique! Pretty darn good, actually.

balsamic reduction rosemary5 Spice Marinated Pork Chops w/ Rhubarb Gastrique

After I made the rhubarb simple syrup I had some leftover well cooked and sweetened rhubarb (from here on out to be known as schmoo) that I couldn’t bear to throw out. Don’t ask me why, I still have several pounds of uncut rhubarb languishing in the refrigerator, but unable to toss the stuff I decided to make a gastrique—a sauce made with a sugar/vinegar reduction. Tangy and not too sweet.

I used balsamic vinegar but read that red wine vinegar is best and in the end I had to add a tablespoon or so of cider vinegar to get the sauce as tangy as I wanted it.

Rhubarb Gastrique

½ cup Balsamic Vinegar (I used the Trader Joe’s cheap stuff, which is great for any balsamic reduction or sauce)
+ 1 TBSP cider vinegar added at the end

½ cup sugar (I used less than recommended in most of the recipes I perused because the rhubarb schmoo from the simple syrup was already quite sweet)

½ cup water

2 sprigs rosemary

About a cup of rhubarb schmoo plus another 1 ½ cups fresh finely chopped rhubarb

Simmer vinegar, sugar, water, and rosemary until liquid is reduced by half (about 10-15 minutes). Remove rosemary and add fresh rhubarb, cook an additional ten minutes. Add rhubarb schmoo and cook, stirring regularly, until a thick sauce is formed. Remove from heat, salt and pepper to taste.

The tangy subtle sweetness of this sauce immediately made me think of barbeque. I marinated some chops in a 5 spice marinade (again from Trader Joe’s, I guess I buy a lot of my condiments there). I was going to grill them but the fellow got home late and I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors with the smoke and inevitable clanging late night grilling can bring so I just broiled the chops.

Served with sautéed red chard and red onions fresh from the farmers market, and some quinoa. The quinoa was the perfect grain for this meal- flavorful enough to stand up to and compliment the gastrique.

rhubarb gastrique pork chop quinoa

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rhubarb Gin Rickey

When I was a teenager my favorite drink was a lime rickey, you could get them from some semi-local fast food chain and they were good. Not too sweet, fizzy, and perfect on a hot summer day. Now that I’m all grown up (or at least well past legal drinking age) there is still nothing better than a Rickey on a sunny afternoon. Yesterday we had one of the first hot afternoons of the season and so I took a break from chopping rhubarb to mix up a Rhubarb Gin Rickey

Juice of ½ lime
1 ½ ounces of gin (or more, or less, to taste)
½ ounce rhubarb simple syrup
Soda water or seltzer

Combine first three ingredients in a pint glass, fill glass with ice, top with bubbly water, stir once or twice to combine, garnish with a wedge of lime.

As I mentioned before I was surprised how subtle the flavors are in this. I made one for the fellow and after he reluctantly accepted a ‘girlie colored’ drink he agreed .

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

rhubarb simple syrup

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

With 18 pounds of the stuff I figured now is the perfect opportunity to try out a few different recipes. Today I started with simple syrup to use in drinks and as a base for my panna cotta.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups rhubarb
½ tsp lemon juice (to help maintain the color)

I chopped up the rhubarb and combined it in a medium sauce pan with the other ingredients over a medium low heat, stirring until the sugar was dissolved. At that point I let it simmer undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes, let it cool slightly and then pushed poured it through a sieve pushing out as much liquid as I could. Once it cooled I poured it in a leftover bottle.

The syrup is a pretty pink hue but the rhubarb flavor isn’t as pronounced as I would like. Still it made a tasty Rhubarb Gin Rickey (recipe and pictures in my next post), dangerous because it doesn’t taste at all like gin—or Rickey.

Yeah, the kitchen is back and better than ever.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

When I said pictures of lettuce

I bet you had something more impressive in mind (there is quite a bit of dirt though). Still, containers on a courtyard are better than pots on a windowsill.

And that's more impressive than the tomato plants.

The kitchen should be back tomorrow. I hope that cooking thing is like riding a bicycle because I'm feeling a little wobbly right now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Old food

artichoke and chicken kebabsStill without a kitchen (friday?!) so I'm looking for old photos from Mays past. As I recall these ended up being way more work than I expected. Sorting, trimming, blanching and marinating (in lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes-- same as the chicken) all those baby artichokes took hours. Good, but not that good. The light was fading by the time they went on the grill and I only got a couple of usable shots. Because chicken, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes have wildly different cooking times I put them all on separate skewers. Served with fresh baby spinach, feta cheese, and lemon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek Rhubarb Recipes? Really?

I found a rhubarb jello recipe on The Rhubarb Compendium (who knew there was a site dedicated to all things rhubarb?). While there is no indication whether or not the recipe tastes good it makes me think that Rhubarb/Rose Panna Cotta might be the first thing I try when my 18 pounds finally arrive. Plus- a rhubarb simple syrup opens up a slew of cocktail possibilities. On a side note the Rhubarb site promises that Star Trek rhubarb recipes are coming soon. I’m intrigued but the site was last updated in 2004 so I’m not getting my hopes up.

Spring Resolutions

The farmer’s market is brimming with all sorts of green goodness—a great time to start a seasonal food blog. Unfortunately, my kitchen consists of pretty new cabinets and a refrigerator- no stove, no sink, no countertops. A lousy time to cook, or clean, or chop up all those lovely greens from the market. So, for now, I’ll content myself with posting pages from the never completed cookbook I started for a design class last year. I've got 18 pounds of rhubarb coming from a friend's garden so once the kitchen has returned I'll have to revisit the rhubarb.