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Spring Vegetable Tart

March 21, 2018

When you see asparagus at the farmers’ markets, it’s a sure sign that spring has arrived.

 

This year, the “queen of spring produce” made a brief appearance at mid-February markets then disappeared with the extreme temperature fluctuations.

 

Never fear, asparagus reappeared this week!  Whether steamed, roasted (my favorite~topped with chopped hard-boiled egg, toasted panko bread crumbs a drizzle of olive oil, s & p), grilled, raw or fried I make sure it finds a way into at least one dish a day at my house, I can’t seem to get enough! Pick up a bunch or two and add this versatile tart to your spring menu.

 

One of my go-to spring dishes is a spring vegetable tart. Made with store-bought puff pastry, spring’s queen vegetable reigns when surrounded by green garlic, spring onions, leeks, and cheese. The tart works as a delicious appetizer, brunch or light meal- perfect for entertaining. It is very adaptable – simply substitute another vegetable or cheese (mozzarella is lovely) if you can’t find the ones listed. And the components can be made ahead of time so you can assemble the tart and cook it just before serving.

Voila, spring!

How to choose asparagus

When shopping for asparagus look for bright-green smooth skin, not wrinkled, pitted or dry. Tips should be closed and tight. Spears should be firm not limp.

 

To store, cut off about a half-inch from the bottom and insert in a glass with sides that reach at least half way up so as not to topple over. Fill with water until the cut ends are submerged and place in refrigerator. Check water daily, making sure that the cut ends are in water, until ready to use.

 

Unfortunately, asparagus is short-lived at farmers’ markets, typically arriving in February and continuing through May in Marin markets. 

 

What is green garlic?

The ultra-seasonal green garlic has something of a cult-like following. What started out as farmers thinning their rows of garlic to allow the bulbs to fully mature, has turned into a wildly popular and sought after ingredient. When very young, green garlic looks similar to green onions. As the weeks pass, it grows larger and begins to look like baby leeks eventually turning into heads of garlic. Green garlic is simply garlic that farmers thin to make room for other plantings to fully develop into bulbs that turn into the pale white dried forms most typically used everyday.

Another recipe using green garlic is my spring buttermilk coulis. It’s delicious drizzled over steam asparagus.                                                                            

Spring Vegetable Tart

Ingredients

  • 1 package of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 bunch asparagus (depending on size of asparagus you may not use the whole bunch)
  • 1-2 stalks green garlic*
  • 1-2 baby leeks or 1 medium-size leek*
  • 1 spring onion (white or red)
  • *use the white and pale green part only-all are optional
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese-plus 1 tablespoon
  • Olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • Optional toppings: lemon zest, prosciutto, and/or eggs (I like poached or sunny-side up)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface roll out puff pastry into a rectangle approximately 10" X 14"
  2. Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a knife, score the pastry within one inch of the edge being careful not to pierce all the way through.
  3. Using the tines of a fork, pierce the puff pastry randomly within the rectangle made with the knife, avoiding the edge. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While pastry is baking, trim asparagus ends so that they will fit horizontally within the inner rectangle.
  5. If using, thinly slice leeks, green garlic and spring onions. Wash to remove dirt and debris. Dry thoroughly.
  6. In a small bowl combine the 1 cup shredded gruyere and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.
  7. Remove pastry from oven, sprinkle with cheese. Starting at one end of the pastry, lay asparagus over cheese. If using, add slivers of leeks, green garlic and spring onions between the asparagus spears. Bruch vegetables lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until asparagus is tender about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon grated parmesan.
http://gatherweekly.com/spring-tart/

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Home Lifestyle Recipes

Preserved Lemons

March 1, 2018

LEMONS, SALT AND TIME!

Preserved Lemons are easy to make; just lemons, salt and time!

Fresh lemons are a workhorse in the kitchen. They add an acidic, bright zing to dishes unlike any other ingredient. While fresh lemon juice heightens flavor, preserved lemons add a fermented punch to any dish.  

When Paula Wolfert introduced Americans to preserved lemons in her cookbook Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco in 1973, many were unfamiliar with this product. At the time it was considered something of an exotic ingredient, found only in ethnic dishes such as Moroccan tagines and North African stews. Today it sits between mustard and chutney on grocery store shelves. As tempting as it may be to grab one, creating this versatile condiment requires just three things; lemons, salt and time. That’s it!

IN SEASON NOW!

Although finding citrus all-year round is easy, winter is when citrus is at its peak. Making a few jars of preserved lemons will save this fruit long after the bounty is gone. Eureka lemons are typically used however, the popular Meyer lemon makes for a sweet alternative. The spice mixture in this recipe is optional. With or without the spices, preserved lemons can be used in place of fresh lemons in most recipes.

Replace preserved lemon for lemon zest in gremolata, it’s delicious with roasted asparagus and carrots. A few drops of preserved lemon juice in a bloody mary adds a umami quality. A tablespoon of chopped preserved lemon gives a boost to a pot of beans or a bowl of grains. One of my favorites is to combine cooked pasta, shredded chicken, roasted broccoli, olive oil and a tablespoon or so of chopped preserved lemon rind, finish with several grinds of freshly ground pepper, parmesan and chopped parsley. 

The possibilities are nearly endless.

 

preserved lemons

preserved lemons

Preserved Lemons

Ingredients

  • Preserved Lemons
  • 9 or 10 lemons, preferably organic
  • About ½ cup (60g) kosher salt
  • Optional spice mixture:
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 or 6 coriander seeds
  • 3 or 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Scrub 5 of the lemons well, then soften them by rolling them back and forth on a firm work surface. Quarter each softened lemon from the blossom end to within ¼ inch of the stem end. Spread the salt in a wide, shallow bowl. Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of the salt on the exposed flesh of the lemons, then reshape the fruits. Halve and squeeze the remaining 4 or 5 lemons to total ½ cup juice. If using the spice mixture, have all the ingredients ready in a small bowl.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of the salt at the bottom of a large widemouthed glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the 5 prepared lemons into the jar, adding more salt and the spice mixture, if using, between the lemons. Firmly push down on the lemons so they release their juices. (A cocktail muddler is and ideal too for this.) Top with the ½ cup fresh lemon juice. The lemons should be completely submerged, with about ½-inch headspace between the liquid and the inside of the lid. Add more lemon juice if needed to cover. Screw on lid.
  • Let the lemons ripen in a warm place for 30 days, turning the jar upside down every few days to distribute the salt and juice. If necessary, add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. Transfer to the refrigerator.
  • To use the lemons, remove them from their brine as needed, using a wooden spoon or tongs to extract them, Rinse them unser running cool water to remove the excess salt. Usually on the rind is used.
  • They will keep for up to one year.
  • Adapted from “Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life”
  • By Emily Kaiser Thelin (Grand Central Life & Style 2017)

Instructions

http://gatherweekly.com/preserved-lemons/

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Home Recipes

Butterscotch Pudding from The Lark Creek Inn

November 15, 2017

 Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and when it comes to dessert the obvious choice is pumpkin pie. But what if you or your guests are not huge fans of the traditional offering?

For years my family dined at The Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA. When it was announced that they were transitioning to a more casual dining scene during the recession I panicked. Why? Because whenever we dined there we would consider dessert before ordering our main course. All because of the Butterscotch Pudding. Concerned that the revamped restaurant might change its dessert menu I took a chance and asked for the recipe. Low and behold they gave it to me.

This butterscotch pudding complements the Thanksgiving table; something without pumpkin spice but with all of the fall feels. It’s everything you would want in a holiday dessert; a velvety consistency, not too sweet and a beautiful hue of pale gold fitting with the season. And the great part about this decadent, creamy pudding is that it can be made ahead of time, adding freshly whipped cream at service.

The beauty of this recipe it that it uses butterscotch chips rather than having to make butterscotch from scratch. Using seeds from a vanilla bean may seem exotic but the flavor it adds to this pudding is key. Yes, vanilla beans are more costly than simply using vanilla extract but this is a holiday dessert after all and you deserves the best!

Ingredients

Ingredients for Butterscotch Pudding

To extract the vanilla bean seeds, simply lay a pod on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife cut down the middle of the pod from top to bottom. Fold the halves open. Begin at one end of the pod and lightly scrape the knife’s edge down along the inside of the pod, lifting the seeds from the pod.

vanilla bean seeds

Seeds from a vanilla bean

Quality is key!

This recipe calls for  just 8 ingredients so now is not the time to compromise on quality. I used locally produced heavy whipping cream, farmers’ market eggs and Guittard butterscotch chips, shop your local farmers’ market and stores for the best available ingredients in your area.  I guarantee this pudding will shine on your holiday table.

Just before serving, add a dollop of whipped cream. If you’re looking for a bit more dazzle, then a drizzle of homemade or store-bought caramel sauce, a dusting of ground cinnamon or chocolate shavings would dress it up.

If you’re looking for a last-minute appetizer for Turkey Day try this cranberry apple salsa!

Happy Holidays!

 

Butterscotch Pudding from The Lark Creek Inn

Yield: 8-10 depending on size of ramekin

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 quarts heavy whipping cream (preferably organic) plus 1/2 ounce heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 ounces butterscotch chips (I use Guittard)
  • 10 egg yolks, large
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/4 ounce Scotch
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. Put 1 3/4 quarts of heavy cream and butterscotch chips into a large saucepan (I recommend using a pan about three times the volume of this mixture). Split open vanilla bean in half and scrape the inside of the bean from top to bottom, add the seeds to the cream. Bring all to a boil, turn off heat and set aside.(I recommend staying close to this mixture, it will take a while to heat up but once it does it comes to a boil very quickly).
  3. Place the egg yolks into a large bowl. Slowly add the above mixture only a few drops at a time in the beginning which tempers the egg yolk and avoids scrambling the eggs. Then proceed with a steady stream. Set aside
  4. Fill a kettle with water, place on stove and bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
  5. Mix the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan, place over low heat and let mixture caramelize stirring frequently about 5 minutes. Watching carefully so as not to burn. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the scotch and remaining 1/2 ounce heavy cream. Return to heat and stir until all is melted, thickened and darkened in color about 1 minute. Pour this into the cream and egg based mixture. Add salt and stir until dissolved.
  6. Using a mesh strainer, strain mixture into ovenproof ramekins (I found it easier to pour this mixture into a container with a spout, like a pyrex, and then into the ramekins). Depending on what size ramekins you use (I tested many and found that a wide and shallow dish similar to one that is typically used for creme brûlée, 8 ounces, is best) will determine how many will fit into a 9" X 13" baking pan (in this case it was 3, you can place two pans side by side in the oven to cook 6 at a time). They can be snug but with space around the surface of each ramekin. Place in oven but before closing door add the heated water into the pan making sure not to get any into the puddings. Fill until water reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake at 250 degrees until puddings set. This should take about 60 minutes depending on size of ramekin. To test, if pudding jiggles just slightly but mostly firm, it's done. Using a hot mitt and spatula, remove ramekins from water bath onto a cooling rack. When cool, place in refrigerator until set, at least four hours or overnight. When serving, garnish with whipped cream.
http://gatherweekly.com/butterscotch-pudding/

 

 

 

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Home Lifestyle

The SLOW Week No. 5

September 17, 2017

Hello! It’s been a looooong time, hope you had a great summer!

 

S-shop: I can’t say it enough and especially this time of year, shop a local farmers’ market! Supply is up so prices are dropping but that won’t last long. Melons are selling for $1/pound, heirloom tomatoes for $2.50/pound and zucchini for $2/pound, all organic! You can freeze whole tomatoes in a plastic bags for winter use. Every September I make a big batch of this heirloom tomato soup and freeze, you’ll be glad you did. There is nothing like a warm bowl of this soup alongside a gooey grilled cheese on a cold winter’s night. And don’t forget to buy fruit and freeze for smoothies!

L-learn: The podcast The Splendid Table “is public radio’s culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrated food and it’s ability to touch the lives and feed the soles of everyone”. I especially enjoyed the most recent Seasons episode particularly the part about Gravenstein apples from Sebastopol, CA which starts at the 29:00 mark.

O-own:  salad spinner.  Of all the kitchen equipment I have (and I have a lot!!!) I use my spinner on a daily basis. I prefer spinners with 3 parts, a bowl, strainer basket and a top. They are easy to use, just fill up the bowl with cool clean water. Toss in greens or herbs and allow to sit about 15 minutes then lift out the basket. Don’t toss that water down the drain, water a plant or two! Then replace the basket and spin until dry. I then remove the greens and place on a clean kitchen towel, allowing them to air dry for a bit, just to make sure they are absolutely dry. Salad dressing will not coat wet greens. You can store your greens in the salad spinner (without water) until ready to use.

W-watch:  Pumpkin spice was so 2016! I think caramel  apple flavor is the next craze. This video of Carmel Apple Cake, Has me craving all things fall (well kinda, I’m still really really in love with tomatoes).

Have a great week!

 

Home Lifestyle

The SLOW Week Vol.4

April 26, 2017

S-Shop for starters/seedlings. Now is the time to be thinking about vegetables you’d like to plant in your garden. Farmers’ markets, nurseries and pop-up sales are good places to find heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs and plenty of other seasonal vegetables. This past weekend, I visited Cornerstone in Sonoma for the annual Tomatomania sale, a two-day sale of 300 heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. So when you go shopping for your garden, grab your favorites and add a new variety to the mix. I picked up a new one called Michael Pollan!

L-Learn I am loving the podcast The Feed by Rick Bayless and Steve Dolinsky. Great information, topics and information……and it’s free! 

O-Own a bag drying rackI try to limit the consumption of resealable plastic bags but in all honesty they are handy for a variety of reasons mainly marinating meat and vegetables. When I can, I wash and reuse only those that have been used for fruits and vegetables, those that are used for meat and fish I discard. Alternatively, you could use a tall drinking glass with wooden skewers.

W-Watch SustainableThis week I attended a viewing of the movie at a local bookstore. The movie reminded me of Food Inc, the movie I mentioned in last week’s post. The movie highlights farmers, the struggles they face making a living and the difference between small farmers and big-ag farming.

I haven’t been posting a weekly report as much of the same is still around. I do know, after speaking with a few farmers, is that early peach varieties will arrive within the month, cherries are just around the corner and mulberries will arrive soon!

Have a great week!