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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 Recipes

Cranberry Apple Salsa

November 23, 2016

Cranberry Apple Salsa is a blast from my past. While browsing through a box of recipe cards (yes, recipe cards!) from my Mother I came across a few of my own from the 80’s. Food trends come and go—Matcha, acaí bowls and avocado toast are currently popular—and the 80’s were no exception. Quiche, blackened anything and spinach dip were all the rage as was salsa. Salsa became a staple, it gained in popularity as chefs tweaked and played with flavors. Tropical salsas, (hello Wolfgang Puck!) typically paired with the blackened fish, were de rigueur. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but I made it often. Feeling nostalgic this holiday season, I thought I would revisit and add a few ingredients to bump up the flavor.

cranberry apple salsa

cranberry apple salsa

This salsa can be made ahead of time and is easy to prepare with basic ingredients. If you’re looking for an easy last-minute appetizer or a fresh condiment perk up your leftover turkey sandwich this is for you. Our tradition for lunch on Thanksgiving is heavy appetizers spread out mid-day for all to enjoy whenever hunger hits. A bowl filled with Cranberry Apple Salsa and a platter piled high with homemade persimmon chips and root vegetable chips such as these from Terra Chips   is light and refreshing.

Additionally, you can mix the salsa with cream cheese for a zippy bagel spread.

 

Cranberry Apple Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup picked over fresh cranberries, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup apple (I used fuji) peeled and finely chopped tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh jalapeños seeded and minced

Instructions

  1. In a small food processor finely chop the cranberries and apples separately. Or chop by hand
  2. Place in a medium size bowl
  3. Add remaining ingredients
  4. Cover and refridgerate at least one hour
  5. Serve with root vegetable chips or persimmon chips
http://gatherweekly.com/cranberry-apple-salsa/

 

 

Home Lifestyle Recipes

Red Cabbage with Apples

November 1, 2016

Growing up, my Mother prepared a lot of cabbage. Stuffed (Galumpki), slaw and soup to name a few.  I’m not sure if it was a result of her Polish heritage or that it is a hearty and economical vegetable but it was often on our table.

Red Cabbage and Apple Salad

Red Cabbage and Apple Salad

 

Farmers’ Markets are overflowing with cruciferous vegetables this time of year. Cabbage, both green and red, broccoli and cauliflower are abundant. On Thursday I noticed the first romanesco , a vibrant Dr. Suess looking vegetable.

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