Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lavender-Lemon-Blackberry Tart

Last week I went to a dinner party where I was asked to bring dessert. My friend made a 40 cloves of garlic chicken recipe with chicken from the CSA in town. Other people brought roasted root vegetables and carrots roasted with tons of garlic, butter, and cream. The dessert I brought held bright spring flavors and unusual ingredients that came together as a deliciously refreshing dessert.

I had made a tart like this a few years ago when a friend sent me lavender from the Sequim Lavender Festival. The recipe I used this time is adapted from Tyler Florence's Blueberry-Lemon Tart. Rather than the pint of blueberries, I used blackberries and to the lemon custard I added about two tablespoons of dried lavender. I was afraid I put WAY too much lavender-but it ended up being the perfect amount. I think the tart tasted better the next day after being refridgerated and with all of the flavors fully married. On a hot day, a piece of this tart would make a perfect afternoon treat.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Welcome back cookies

This is my first post in a llllllong time. I've been so crazy busy this past month with my yoga teacher training, that the few opportunities I had to cook or bake anything special I didn't have the time to write or reflect about it. It was an amazing month that has truly changed my life and I spent this last week decompressing and basically doing nothing. It was exactly what I needed. While in Seattle, I fell in love with a vegan, gluten-free bakery. Everytime I walked in the door my senses were overtaken. The smell of freshly baked pasteries displayed in such a way that makes them even more desirable. They also list the ingredients for everything they make and those of you who know me understand how much I love that. In place of wheat flours for a majority of their pastries, they use a mixture of chickpea and rice flour. I have no idea of the ratio that they use but I've been planning on experimenting with these alternatives since I got home. I found a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that I decided to use as a reference. I substituted 2/3 cup agave nectar for the sugar and then increased the flour to 1 1/4 cup. The mixture of flour I used was 3/4 cup brown rice flour, about 3/8 c. chickpea flour, and 1/8 c. potato starch. They were a success! Not too sweet, kind of cakey. The chickpea flavor comes through a bit and I really like it. You can actually feel pretty good about eating these because they are full of protein and super low in bad fats and sugar. With wheat being the most consumed and overconsumed grain today, I really like that these are wheat-free. These are quick, yummy, and different-try them!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Green eggs...no ham

I've never made, or even had, green eggs before. The closest I've gotten is probably while learning to read-and that book does a great job of turning someone off to the idea of enjoying eggs in such a hue. I woke up in a creative mood and with the need to finish a bag of greens and some eggs before taking to the road tomorrow morning. I don't know why I thought of green eggs for breakfast but I decided to go with it. Green eggs are really just eggs scrambled with pesto, which actually sounds delicious to me-but I'm not a huge ham fan so my version will fall just short of tradition. I added some Parmesan to the food processor and pulsed a few times to shred it fine. I then added about three large leaves of chard (chopped), fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and a small handful of walnuts. I decided to leave off the garlic, feeling it was a bit early for so pungent a flavor. While the food processor ran, I streamed in a little olive oil-not as much as is usually used in pesto, but just enough to bring everything together. In a bowl, I cracked one full egg and two egg whites, added the pesto and whisked until combined. At this point, I was a bit skeptical of how it was going to turn out...it looked like a lot of pesto to egg ratio. In a preheated skillet, I added some ghee (clarified butter) then the egg mixture and proceeded to cook it like any other scrambled egg. Surprisingly, it all came together and took on exactly the texture of scrambled eggs, but with a vibrant green color! With a couple slices of sprouted sesame bread this turned out to be a super good breakfast. I'll definitely make this again. If I was to add some sort of ham, a prosciutto would be my choice-but honestly not necessary. It could really be done with any greens and it would be really tasty with a sun dried tomato pesto (though that would be red eggs...). Oh, the possibilities!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A delicious summer salad...

Yesterday was hot here. I love hot...when I can spend all day in a bathing suit, by the creek, with a book. I like it less when I have to go places in my truck (with no air conditioning) or walk around in normal clothes that soon become a little damp. On top of it, my apartment has blown up with my attempts to pack for the summer-bleh. A little ray of sunshine amidst all my complaining is the salad I made for lunch yesterday. It truly brightened my day. I cooked some sprouted wheat parpadelle on the stove. Meanwhile, I opened a can of tuna packed in olive oil (SO much better than the water packed stuff!) and dropped it in a bowl with half a squeezed lemon, fresh parsley, sundried tomatoes, a minced garlic clove, chopped celery, salt, pepper, and cayenne. When the pasta was done, I drained it and sprinkled some cold water over them (but not rinsed completely) and them tossed them in the bowl with the tuna mixture. In my serving bowl, I laid down a couple handfuls of organic baby spinach and some sunflower sprouts-then I piled the tuna pasta salad on top. With a glass of iced green tea I was reenergized to finish my long list of to-dos. I was even able to enjoy some the weather in the park downtown. It's probably a good thing I'm heading North soon though!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brittney!

Yesterday was Brittney's birthday so I made her a cake in celebration. She said she had no preference as to what kind. I did some usual pre-baking/cooking research and found a really yummy looking carrot cake recipe made with agave nectar. I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, but followed the recipe exactly. I don't really like cream cheese frosting but I definetely wanted some sort of topping; here was my opportunity for creativity. There's a restaurant in Sedona that does a carrot cake with some sort of vegan coconut frosting-it's amazing. In my attempt to recreate such flavors I threw some dates, a spoonful of almond butter, a handful of coconut and a squeeze of agave nectar in the food processor. I also added a splash of water to smooth it out. The dates could also be soaked ahead of time to create a smoother texture. I turned on the machine and behold...it came out wonderfully. A kind of coconut almond paste that had the perfect consistency and sweetness. It was just enough to spread on top of the cake-as I am anti-frosting overkill. Then I sprinkled some more coconut on top and voila...a cake worth having a birthday for. The cake itself is moist and almost pudding-like and the topping just adds a creamy coconut complement. I loved it-but more importantly-so did Brittney.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It all started with a wedge a Brie...

The other night a friend of mine surprised me by showing up with a lovely piece of Brie. From there we created a wonderful little feast. Here's what we had:

Baby artichoke-I trimmed all the dark green leaves and the stem, then steamed them for about 10 minutes. Then I tossed them will olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted in the oven at 400 degrees for another 10 minutes. I had never had artichoke this way before but they turned out really good. I like anything roasted in olive oil.

Rainbow chard-This I sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Simple and delicious.

Beluga lentils- These were Trader Joe's pre-cooked lentils so they were easy-just warm and serve. Nice earthy taste.

Dried apricots- A definite favorite.

Sliced apple

Kiwi-We decided this was the only element that we could have done without. A bit tropical compared to the rest of the spread. Now we know.


Marinated Olives

Garlic Baguette-Toasted, of course.

Brie-We kept half as-is and then baked the rest with cranberries and pecans on top. I'm partial to the cold variety-preferably with a nice glob of black current jam (as I was taught by my mom).

Extra-sharp cheddar


White cheddar


Cabernet Sauvignon

Not bad for an impromptu little din-din. We were pretty happy with how it all came together. Good converstion, happy tummies, and beautiful, simple food.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Flan Patissier

This is a pastry I have yet to find in the United States. It's pretty much amazing. Flaky pastry filled with a pastry cream and baked until firm and caramelized on top. Yum! French patisseries consider this a standard in their display windows and I just can't figure out why we haven't caught on. That just means I have to make it myself, which isn't so bad because then you have the whole Flan rather than just a piece. It's best cold but we rarely wait that long, assuming we'll be able to eat it cold several times in the days to follow. The recipe is in metric units since it is a French recipe so it's helpful to have a scale.
Flan Patissier
For the pate brisee(crust):
250 g flour
5 g sea salt
40 g sugar
125 g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
5 cl room temp water
Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until crumb-like.
Mix the water and yolk and add to the flour/butter mixture to form the dough. (I usually have to add a bit more water to make the dough come together). Wrap and refrigerate 30 min.
For the creme patissiere (pastry cream):
3 eggs
150 g sugar
70 g corn starch
2 tsp. vanilla
15 cl heavy cream
60 cl. whole milk
Whisk the eggs and half of the sugar (75 g) and stop before the eggs whiten. Sift the corn starch into the bowl and add the vanilla and the cream. Heat the milk and the rest of the sugar until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add a couple ladles of the hot liquid to the egg mixture while whisking to temper the eggs. While whisking, add the tempered egg mixture back into the hot milk. Replace on the stove at medium heat and stir continuously until the cream just begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass or stainless steel bowl to cool a bit.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees .
Roll out the dough and lay in greased and floured spring-form pan. Pour in the pastry cream and bake 20 minutes. Raise the oven to 400 degrees and continue baking another 10 minutes. If the top doesn't brown on it's own I usually turn the broiler on at the end of baking to make sure the top gets caramelized.
Let cool and then refrigerate...if you can wait that long.