My Sister's Quite a Tart!

Ellens_tart Isn't this strawberry tart Gorgeous!!!!! My sister Ellen baked it yesterday, and she promised to tell me how she did it! I WILL share what she teaches me! Her secret is that she makes the BEST crusts ever. They always taste the way that you want them to, and that's half of the battle of creating a perfect tart or pie that tastes as wonderful as it looks (not always the case!)! She's also a painter, so everything that she makes has to be pretty!

Hi Beth,
I would recomment Julia Child's sweet pastry in " Mastering The Art of French Cooking." It combines the use of butter and vegetable shortening, which provides flakiness and a really nice flavor. The trick is to keep everything COLD. I melted two kinds of bittersweet chocolate, Valhrona and something else and poured on the prebaked crust to form a thin bottom layer. If you put it in the frig for 15 minutes it will harden quickly. I then spread a layer of good quality raspberry/strawberry jam and on top of that piped a mixture of mascarpone cheese, sweetened with a little vanilla and confectioners sugar( piping is the only way to avoid smearing the jam.) An easy trick is to put the cheese in a ziplock bag, snip off the end of one corner and squeeze.You can top with any berries. I began on the outside with strawberries and then did an interior of raspberries. Finally I sprinkled confectioners sugar over the top, which makes the tart really pretty.........
O.K. that's done!
love, me

Julia Child's Master Recipe

To Make a Butter Dough for Pastries and Pie Crusts:
Pâte Brisée Fine/Pate Sucree

For two 9-inch tart shells or a 14- by 4 1/2-inch rectangular crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached (scooped and leveled)
1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
(or, for dessert tarts, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar)
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise and diced
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed

Special Equipment Suggested: A food processor with steel blade

Blending flour and butter. Have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use (mise en place, mise en place, mise en place!]. Put the flour, salt (or salt and sugar), and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse (on-off half-second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly. Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately pour in the 1/2 cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the dough – it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together [illustration in cookbook]. (It’s important not to overmix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If to dry, pulse in droplets more water. From now on, work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.
Final Blending.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass. For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel (not
the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you
in a 6-inch smear [illustrated in cookbook].
Resting and Chilling.
Form the dough into a cake [illustrated] – it should
be fairly smooth and pliable. Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax
the gluten.

After the dough has rested, roll it out until it is larger then the tart pan, drape it over the pan and press it into the pan gently. Take a fork and use it to prick  the crust several times.  If you have those cute little baking stones , place them on top of the crust as well to weigh it down. Bake the crust until golden brown in an approximately 350 degree oven. When the crust is ready, remove from the oven, remove the baking stones and let it cool.


My Sister's Quite a Tart!

Ellens_tart Isn't this strawberry tart Gorgeous!!!!! My sister Ellen baked it yesterday, and she promised to tell me how she did it! I WILL share what she teaches me! Her secret is that she makes the BEST crusts ever. They always taste the way that you want them to, and that's half of the battle of creating a perfect tart or pie that tastes as wonderful as it looks (not always the case!)! She's also a painter, so everything that she makes has to be pretty!

Hi Beth,
I would recomment Julia Child's sweet pastry in " Mastering The Art of French Cooking." It combines the use of butter and vegetable shortening, which provides flakiness and a really nice flavor. The trick is to keep everything COLD. I melted two kinds of bittersweet chocolate, Valhrona and something else and poured on the prebaked crust to form a thin bottom layer. If you put it in the frig for 15 minutes it will harden quickly. I then spread a layer of good quality raspberry/strawberry jam and on top of that piped a mixture of mascarpone cheese, sweetened with a little vanilla and confectioners sugar( piping is the only way to avoid smearing the jam.) An easy trick is to put the cheese in a ziplock bag, snip off the end of one corner and squeeze.You can top with any berries. I began on the outside with strawberries and then did an interior of raspberries. Finally I sprinkled confectioners sugar over the top, which makes the tart really pretty.........
O.K. that's done!
love, me

Julia Child's Master Recipe

To Make a Butter Dough for Pastries and Pie Crusts:
Pâte Brisée Fine/Pate Sucree

For two 9-inch tart shells or a 14- by 4 1/2-inch rectangular crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached (scooped and leveled)
1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
(or, for dessert tarts, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar)
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise and diced
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed

Special Equipment Suggested: A food processor with steel blade

Blending flour and butter. Have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use (mise en place, mise en place, mise en place!]. Put the flour, salt (or salt and sugar), and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse (on-off half-second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly. Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately pour in the 1/2 cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the dough – it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together [illustration in cookbook]. (It’s important not to overmix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If to dry, pulse in droplets more water. From now on, work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.
Final Blending.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass. For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel (not
the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you
in a 6-inch smear [illustrated in cookbook].
Resting and Chilling.
Form the dough into a cake [illustrated] – it should
be fairly smooth and pliable. Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax
the gluten.

After the dough has rested, roll it out until it is larger then the tart pan, drape it over the pan and press it into the pan gently. Take a fork and use it to prick  the crust several times.  If you have those cute little baking stones , place them on top of the crust as well to weigh it down. Bake the crust until golden brown in an approximately 350 degree oven. When the crust is ready, remove from the oven, remove the baking stones and let it cool.


Embarassingly Simple Margarita Pizza!

2005_1020week0012_1 Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and it was gorgeous...a picture perfect day with flowers everywhere!  I spent the afternoon preparing dinner for my family and at the last minute decided to make this pizza. Wouldn't you know, the thing that took me three minutes to put together was what everyone loved the most and it was gone 5 minutes after my husband cut it!

This is one of the hor d'ouerves that I always forget to make, mostly because it is so simple and offends my "elitist food snob" sensabilities!

I have been humbled by the fact that after preparing a wonderful meal consisting of Beef tenderloin kebobs roasted with garlic and rosemary on a bed of garlicky spinach, fresh asparagus with truffle oil and pistachios, sliced tomatoes with French feta cheese and arugula and of course the mandatory rosy coloured pickled beets and eggs, that this pizza is the only thing that I don't have leftover for a midnight snack!

You will need one thin Boboli brand whole wheat crust. These are wonderful prebaked pizza crusts that you just unzip out of their plastic wrap. To make this pizza, I lightly brushed the crust with garlic flovored olive oil that was studded with fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. Then I spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, your choice, but like cooking with wine, only make pizza with sauce that you love the taste of!  I really dislike most "pizza sauces" so I always use a good pasta sauce instead! Then I topped it with tons of fresh basil , and covered the whole thing with really good cheese. I baked it for 15 minutes and that was it! I think the garnish took another minute!

There are so many things that you could use  to create a simple pizza like this, but the key is to use the best fresh vegetables,high quality meats and really good cheese. Because this pizza cooks so quickly, the flavours have to be  good from the start, because they have very little time to blend.  I love to use sauteed mixed mushrooms with truffle oil or shredded roast chicken with fresh tomatoes, garlic and spinach. Whatever you choose, keep it simple....that's the important part!  Three different  pizzas at a summer party with a great salad and lots of wine will earn you quite a reputation while keeping you out of the kitchen, and in with your guests! Also, if you make it ahead, this is GREAT picnic food for an alfresco evening with someone special! A little wine, a bit of chocolate, lots of moonlight.................


Embarassingly Simple Margarita Pizza!

2005_1020week0012_1 Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and it was gorgeous...a picture perfect day with flowers everywhere!  I spent the afternoon preparing dinner for my family and at the last minute decided to make this pizza. Wouldn't you know, the thing that took me three minutes to put together was what everyone loved the most and it was gone 5 minutes after my husband cut it!

This is one of the hor d'ouerves that I always forget to make, mostly because it is so simple and offends my "elitist food snob" sensabilities!

I have been humbled by the fact that after preparing a wonderful meal consisting of Beef tenderloin kebobs roasted with garlic and rosemary on a bed of garlicky spinach, fresh asparagus with truffle oil and pistachios, sliced tomatoes with French feta cheese and arugula and of course the mandatory rosy coloured pickled beets and eggs, that this pizza is the only thing that I don't have leftover for a midnight snack!

You will need one thin Boboli brand whole wheat crust. These are wonderful prebaked pizza crusts that you just unzip out of their plastic wrap. To make this pizza, I lightly brushed the crust with garlic flovored olive oil that was studded with fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. Then I spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, your choice, but like cooking with wine, only make pizza with sauce that you love the taste of!  I really dislike most "pizza sauces" so I always use a good pasta sauce instead! Then I topped it with tons of fresh basil , and covered the whole thing with really good cheese. I baked it for 15 minutes and that was it! I think the garnish took another minute!

There are so many things that you could use  to create a simple pizza like this, but the key is to use the best fresh vegetables,high quality meats and really good cheese. Because this pizza cooks so quickly, the flavours have to be  good from the start, because they have very little time to blend.  I love to use sauteed mixed mushrooms with truffle oil or shredded roast chicken with fresh tomatoes, garlic and spinach. Whatever you choose, keep it simple....that's the important part!  Three different  pizzas at a summer party with a great salad and lots of wine will earn you quite a reputation while keeping you out of the kitchen, and in with your guests! Also, if you make it ahead, this is GREAT picnic food for an alfresco evening with someone special! A little wine, a bit of chocolate, lots of moonlight.................


Baby Romaine Salad with Clementine and Salsa Vinaigrette

Clementine_1 I love salads! A salad can be composed of almost anything, with one very important rule.

Use the freshest ingredients possible!

For this particular salad I keep it pretty simple! Just the freshest baby romaine leaves, several diced avocados, a chopped red bell pepper,some diced pepper jack cheese,thinly sliced red onion,diced cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh pine nuts!

Did I say use the freshest ingredients possible?

Once you've put these ingredients into a lovely salad bowl ,you can make the vinaigrette.

I did remind you to use the freshest ingredients possible, didn't I?

Here is the dressing!

Juice of one clementine orange

Chopped rind of one clementine orange

One and a half tablespoons of freshly crushed garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half of a cup of good olive oil

One heaping tablespoon of FRESH salsa

Two tablespoons of sugar

Whisk together until smooth! That's it!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad in the bowl and gently toss the greens! Use less dressing than you think you need, each person can add more to taste!  For something a bit more filling, add some grilled flank steak or sliced chicken breast!

Picture of Clementines courtesy of http://www.cuesa.org


Baby Romaine Salad with Clementine and Salsa Vinaigrette

Clementine_1 I love salads! A salad can be composed of almost anything, with one very important rule.

Use the freshest ingredients possible!

For this particular salad I keep it pretty simple! Just the freshest baby romaine leaves, several diced avocados, a chopped red bell pepper,some diced pepper jack cheese,thinly sliced red onion,diced cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh pine nuts!

Did I say use the freshest ingredients possible?

Once you've put these ingredients into a lovely salad bowl ,you can make the vinaigrette.

I did remind you to use the freshest ingredients possible, didn't I?

Here is the dressing!

Juice of one clementine orange

Chopped rind of one clementine orange

One and a half tablespoons of freshly crushed garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Half of a cup of good olive oil

One heaping tablespoon of FRESH salsa

Two tablespoons of sugar

Whisk together until smooth! That's it!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad in the bowl and gently toss the greens! Use less dressing than you think you need, each person can add more to taste!  For something a bit more filling, add some grilled flank steak or sliced chicken breast!

Picture of Clementines courtesy of http://www.cuesa.org


Fresh Asparagus Soup!

Asparagusspear

Fresh Asparagus...I can never get enough of it!  Usually I'm going on and on  about the virtues of eating foods in their season, but I WILL eat asparagus at any time! Fortunately for an addict like me, it's springtime always somewhere in the world, and fresh asparagus can be found almost year round.

However....that being said there is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed minutes from the field.In it's freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the  stalks boiled for a few minutes a some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter.  I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh  hollandaise for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it!

Fresh asparagus soup is really a wonderful treat , and it's very easy to make!

Just melt some excellent butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add some garlic oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 1 large bunch of chopped wild ramps (or scallions if the ramps are not in season!). I let them saute for about ten minutes and then add six cups of good chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer for about 1/2 an hour, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a half cups of organic half and half and season with a bit of salt and pepper!

That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in many different ways.

I love to add curry powder to Asapragus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil. Another variation is to put some lightly sauteed lump crabmeat with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl and pour the soup over it. Another wonderful trick is is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect.  My husband, the truffle addict loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!

Whatever you add to it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line , but have fun , and let me know what you come up with!   

I serve this with a simple chilled riesling,a very ripe wedge of brie, a white bean salad , some good sausage and chewy bread.  If the soup is cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Photograph of wild asparagus growing in Idaho from www.showshown.com


Fresh Asparagus Soup!

Asparagusspear

Fresh Asparagus...I can never get enough of it!  Usually I'm going on and on  about the virtues of eating foods in their season, but I WILL eat asparagus at any time! Fortunately for an addict like me, it's springtime always somewhere in the world, and fresh asparagus can be found almost year round.

However....that being said there is nothing as wonderful as asparagus locally harvested and steamed minutes from the field.In it's freshest state, it needs little adornment , the ends peeled, the  stalks boiled for a few minutes a some lightly salted water and dressed with just a bit of salt and butter.  I love to serve it to my guests prepared just this way, several spears of the fresh asparagus plated with individual dishes of fresh  hollandaise for dipping. Asparagus SHOULD be eaten with the fingers, that just deepens the enjoyment of it!

Fresh asparagus soup is really a wonderful treat , and it's very easy to make!

Just melt some excellent butter (about 4 tablespoons) in the bottom of a soup pot, and add some garlic oil. When the butter is foamy add two bunches of fresh asparagus that you have cut into bite sized pieces, along with 1 large bunch of chopped wild ramps (or scallions if the ramps are not in season!). I let them saute for about ten minutes and then add six cups of good chicken broth. Let the whole thing simmer for about 1/2 an hour, and then take an immersion blender and puree the soup in the cooking pot until smooth. Then I add about 1 and a half cups of organic half and half and season with a bit of salt and pepper!

That is the basic recipe, and once you've made it, you have a delicious soup that you can embellish in many different ways.

I love to add curry powder to Asapragus soup, or a simple roasted cumin oil. Another variation is to put some lightly sauteed lump crabmeat with fresh chives in the bottom of each individual bowl and pour the soup over it. Another wonderful trick is is to add a flourish of fresh cream that you've mixed a little bit of limoncello (that fabulous Italian lemon cordial) at the end. Just pour a bit of it into the soup and swirl a fork through it for a lovely marbled effect.  My husband, the truffle addict loves it when I sprinkle some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the soup and a few drops of white truffle oil!

Whatever you add to it should be flavorful enough to enhance the asparagus, but not so strong that it overpowers it. It's a fine line , but have fun , and let me know what you come up with!   

I serve this with a simple chilled riesling,a very ripe wedge of brie, a white bean salad , some good sausage and chewy bread.  If the soup is cold, this IS the ultimate picnic lunch!

Bon Appetit!

Photograph of wild asparagus growing in Idaho from www.showshown.com