February 27, 2012

Hello Sunshine...

Wandering through the Farmers Market, touching, smelling and delighting over all of nature's spring offerings is but a distant memory.
We have no less than another 6 - 8 weeks before the good stuff starts to arrive.

I had (foolishly) thought that perhaps we would make it through this "winter" without anymore blustery days...  Ridiculous I know, but a girl can dream.

This is the time of year when I start yearning for the heat of summer.  I want sand between my toes, the sounds of the waves crashing and the cry of the seagulls to fill my ears.

Although this winter doesn't even begin to compare to the apocalyptic snowfalls we endured last year and all things considered I really have no right to complain; it is cold and gloomy, windy and gray.

Try as I might to summon the sunshine, a bit of citrus will have to do and for this girl it comes in the form of a tart.

Sunshine Tart

First we will start with the dough. 
  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 1/4 lb sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 lb all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 lb cake flour
  1. In an electric mixer: cream butter and sugar together until very light.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated
  3. Sift the flours together and using paddle attachment, stir in flour until completely incorporated.
  4. Remove dough from bowl and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for several hours.
  5. Roll dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  6. Line a ring mold with dough, pressing against the sides.  Dock the bottom with a fork, cover with a piece of parchment paper and fill with dried beans.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 - 25 minutes.
  8. Cool and set aside.

using an off-set spatula to smooth the top of the tart

For the curd:

  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 lemons, finely zested
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
  • pinch kosher salt
  1. Cream the butter and add in the sugar and lemon zest.
  2. Add the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, then add lemon juice and salt.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour into a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until thickened (about 12 minutes), stirring constantly.
  4. Do not let curd come to a boil (the eggs will scramble), lower heat if necessary to keep it at or just below a simmer. 
  5. When mixture has thickened, remove from heat and let it cool.
  6. Fill tart shells when completely cooled.
  7. Garnish with whipped cream or meringue

meringue ready to be torched

Sunshine Tart with a tan...

February 19, 2012

And the award goes to...

Picture it...  Ohio, early 1980's.  A girl and her Momma, glued to the television watching movie stars walk the red carpet.  We used to watch the Oscars as if it were a runway show during fashion week.  I feigned interest in the actual awards part of the show, but to be perfectly honest I didn't really care who won "Best Picture".  My Mom was letting me stay up past my bedtime and that was award enough for me.

I have friends who host elaborate Oscar parties and I must admit the thought of it has crossed my mind on more than a few occasions, but considering the size of my shoebox apartment it doesn't seem to be an option this year.

However, just because I won't be hosting a gathering doesn't mean I can't make some good party food...

I tried to keep it fairly simple, with options that could be served warm or at room temperature.  These can also be transported fairly easily if you are a guest bringing a little something to the festivities.

Mini twice baked potatoes with creme fraiche & caviar
  • 12 baby Yukon potatoes
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • caviar
  • 2 or 3 pieces chives
  • a few tablespoons of milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut potatoes in half (or if very small, just trim the top off) and then cut a small piece off the bottom so the potato will sit level on a plate.
  3. Using a small melon baller or a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon,  scoop out the potato.
  4. Toss the cut potatoes in a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt & pepper and roast for about 20 - 25 minutes until a knife can easily pierce them.
  5. While the potatoes are roasting, use the scooped out bits of potato to make mashed potato with a few tablespoons of milk and the butter.  Season with salt & pepper.
  6. When roasted potatoes are done and cooled, fill with mashed potato, top with creme fraiche, a piece of chive and caviar.


    Mini Quiche
    • 24 mini shells, blind baked
    • 1/2 cup quiche filling (bacon, onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc.)
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 6 large eggs
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
    • pinch freshly ground black pepper
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
    2. Make quiche custard by whisking together milk, cream, eggs, salt & pepper
    3. Fill quiche shells with cheese and vegetables or bacon (whatever you've chosen to use)
    4. Pour custard into shells and bake for approximately 12 - 15 minutes.
    *You will have custard left over.  As quiche is baking, the filling will settle and you may have to top off the quiche with a little more custard about halfway through.

    Quiche Suggestions:
    1. Lorraine: caramelized onion, bacon & swiss
    2. spinach & goat cheese
    3. mushrooms & manchego
    4. smoked salmon, cream cheese & chives
    5. red pepper & goat cheese
    6. caramelized onions & gruyere
    7. broccoli & cheddar
    8. asparagus & truffled pecorino

    February 12, 2012

    L is for Libation

    With Valentine's Day upon us,  I wanted to do a special drink for those of us who will not be amongst the throngs of people in crowded restaurants with overpriced dinners and less than stellar prix fixe menus.

    I had been given a jar of  hibiscus flowers in syrup as a sample at a food show and I've been dying to try them out in something,  but I needed to exercise restraint and wait for just the right thing...  Well friends, today is the day!

    So bring home a bottle of bubbly, some flowers and kick back with the one you love... sipping champagne with a lovely flower dancing in the bottom of your glass.

    LOVE-ly Libation

    • 4 hibiscus flowers in syrup
    • 1 shot hibiscus syrup
    • 1 shot Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
    • rose champagne

    1. Drop 2 flowers in the bottom of each champagne flute.  Evenly divide Chambord and syrup between the two glasses.

    2.  Top with champagne.

    Happy Valentine's Day

      February 08, 2012

      Wedding Soup

      Italian Wedding Soup.  Just the name evokes thoughts of over-the-top Italian affairs, with miles of food and a Venetian hour that would make any diabetic go into a sugar coma just from looking at it.

      Italian weddings in New York are a sight to be seen.  If you've ever watched "My Sweet Sixteen" or any of the wedding shows, then you are familiar with what I'm talking about.

      Everything is over the top, extravagant and then maybe just a little more...   I was invited to an event of this magnitude last year and let me tell you, it was AWESOME.  They even had someone making cotton candy...

      Although these affairs are a sight to behold,  I doubt that was what someone had in mind when this recipe was born.
      Its origins actually have nothing to do with weddings at all, but with the "marriage" of meat and greens.  There are hundreds of variations of this soup, but the one common thread is meat (usually in the form of tiny meatballs) and greens.

      This happens to be one of my favorites, as it covers most of MY major food groups (meatballs, noodles & veggies) and as is the case with all meals of this sort, you will have leftovers for lunch the next day.

      Wedding Soup
      • turkey meatballs
      • 10 - 12 cups chicken stock
      • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 3 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
      • 5 oz pkg. baby spinach
      • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
      • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
      • 1/2 pound thin noodles
      • 2 large eggs
      • 2 tbsp olive oil
      • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

      1. First, make the meatballs.  Brown them in batches over medium-high heat and set aside.  Don't worry if they aren't cooked all the way through,  they will finish cooking in the soup.
      2. Add olive oil to a large stock pot and allow to heat up over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent and soft, then add carrots & celery.  Season with salt & pepper.
      3. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables begin to soften.  Add garlic, stir to combine and then add meatballs.
      4. Pour the stock in and let it come up to a simmer.  Season again with salt & pepper.
      5. Add the spinach and stir to combine as you are adding it.  It will look like too much initially, but spinach wilts down to nothing.
      6. Add the noodles and continue to let it simmer.
      7. Whisk eggs with 2 tbsp of the Parmesan cheese and add to the soup while stirring.  It will form ribbons of cheesy egg goodness.
      8. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle a little Parmesan on top for garnish.