4.29.2011

A Lovely Potato and Asparagus Tart


Recently, uber-talented blog friend Cristina from Cristina From Buenos Aires to Paris posted an Asparagus and Orange Cream Tart. It looked like it would be light and delicious with an unusual combination of an orange-flavored cream and asparagus....very appealing. I was going to make it this weekend with the lovely asparagus in the market right now. And then I got sidetracked with another tart I watched Jamie Oliver make the other day. It had me salivating. Now t
o the eye, one would think the two tarts were identical. But Cristina used puff pastry and the orange creme is light in texture and contained crème fraiche.  Jamie's was crispy phyllo dough and plain old mashed potatoes, so comforting.....and perhaps appealing more to men?  You have to admit, there is just something about this combo: potatoes mashed with whipping cream, eggs and cheese....phyllo pastry....and fresh asparagus. What's not to like? I mean really. 

So I made it yesterday. What a perfect side for grilled meats or fish. Actually, I ate it for dinner, forget the protein. I hope you've worked with phyllo. If not, there are quite a few videos online that explain everything. It's really quite simple. And the soft filling of this tart balances so well with the crispiness of the phyllo.

The only changes I would make to this recipe would be to use a bit more asparagus on top AND perhaps add some sautéed
 scallions to the  mashed potatoes.

But I promise, Cristina, I will be making your lovely tart next weekend!  :) It will be absolutely perfect for some ladies I have coming for lunch.


Potato and Asparagus Tart

Recipe from Jamie at Home HERE.
 Ingredients:
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Sea salt 
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends removed, blanched
8 ounces phyllo pastry 
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup freshly grated Lancashire cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar
3 large organic or free-range eggs 
1 cup (8-ounces) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Put your potatoes into a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile blanch your asparagus in a separate pan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes, and drain in a colander. 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Get an ovenproof dish - I used a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom. Layer the sheets of filo pastry in the dish, brushing them with melted butter as you go and letting about 1-inch hang over the edge. You want to get the pastry about 5 layers thick. Put a clean, damp kitchen towel over the top and put aside.


When the potatoes are done, mash them with the cheeses. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and cream and stir into your cheesy mashed potato. Grate in the nutmeg, season well with pepper and mix together. Spread the mashed potato (it will be looser than you expect) over the phyllo pastry, then bring up the sides of the phyllo and scrunch them together to form a rim. Take your blanched asparagus and line them up across the filling, making sure you cover it all. Brush all over with the remaining melted butter and pop into the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve just as you would a quiche for a quick lunch or supper, with a salad.








4.25.2011

Roasted Radish and Potato Salad (and the Mother's Day Giveaway Winners!)


Do you love radishes as much as I do? One of my favorite ways to serve them for company is an idea I got from Ina Garten ages ago: stems on,  with a dish of sea salt, accompanied by a baguette with herb butter. Sheer heaven. Or how about a toasted slice of grain bread, slathered with some unsalted butter and topped with some sliced radishes and sea salt? Perfect on a summer's day. When I lived in Michigan, my garden was chock full of radishes. I used to yank them out of the ground, rinse them off with a garden hose and eat them then and there. Now I have to buy them at the farmer's market or Fresh Market. 

The other day I was blog-crawling and came across a couple marvelous radish recipes from Cathy at Noble Pig. One was for a radish tart and the other for a roasted radish and potato salad. I decided to try the salad first and if I loved it, the tart would follow shortly after. One thing I loved about this recipe was Cathy used the radish greens...which usually find their way into the trash at my house. They're gritty little things and take a lot of rinsing, but it's well worth the effort. Radish greens have a slightly bitter taste, but then so does arugula and I love that. If you don't like arugula, you just might not like radish greens. Then go ahead and use any greens you want. But please rinse a couple off and try them first.

Now as far as the roasted radishes are concerned, I could kick myself! It just never occurred to me to roast radishes. I did some serious re-thinking on the subject after I came across an article HERE. So I thought: I roast every other veggie, why not radishes? As it turns out, they taste rather like very mild turnips. The texture, surprisingly, was like a potato. And when the radish greens are mixed in (while the potatoes and radishes are still warm, please) and then dressed with this simple vinaigrette, you're going to be astounded. It was fabulous. You'll be making this over and over this summer. And if you're lucky enough to have radishes in your garden, be sure to roast them and try them with other dishes. What a find this recipe is. Thank you Cathy!                                                                          

Roasted Radish and Potato Salad
From Cuisine at Home via Noble Pig



Ingredients:
1 lb. radishes, trimmed and quartered (reserve greens)
1 lb new potatoes, quartered
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and black pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat oven to 425o F with a large baking sheet inside.

Toss radishes, potatoes, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl to coat.  Transfer mixture to hot baking sheet in oven.  Roast until golden, 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. 

In the meantime, wash radish greens in several changes of cold water and spin dry.  For the vinaigrette whisk together vinegar, 3 Tablespoons oil, Dijon, parsley and dill in a bowl until combined; season with salt and pepper.  Stir radish greens into roasted radishes and potatoes and add vinaigrette.


And now for the winners of the Mother's Day Giveaway!

Congratulations to:

Susan from
Savoring Time in the Kitchen  (Heidi's book)
Joanne from Eats Well With Others (Heidi's book)
Barbara from Barbara Bakes (Kim's book)
T.W. Barritt from Culinary Types (Kim's book)

Please email me at bsmithw@gmail.com and give me your addresses so I can get them into the mail to you ASAP!



4.22.2011

Happy Easter!





I'd also like to wish a Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends and readers!  

PLEASE  CHECK  OUT  MY  MOTHER'S  DAY  GIVEAWAY HERE! (Winners announced Monday, April 25.)

4.15.2011

Cupcakes for Easter and a Mother's Day Giveaway


Planning an Easter dessert that's new, scrumptious and fun for all ages is pretty simple what with all of you to turn to. So many great ideas!  Have you ever seen so much coconut? Coconut Easter eggs, Easter coconut macaroons, coconut-laden Bunny cakes, coconut pound cakes, regular old fashioned coconut cake and chocolate eggs sitting in coconut nests. Carrots make perfect sense. But coconut? Is it supposed to be bunny fur? Or perhaps it's supposed to be grass, albeit the color is a little off. Maybe both.


Luckily, a slice of coconut cake makes my mouth water any time of year. So I thought for Easter dinner I'd make these little coconut cupcakes and plop my happy bunnies right on top. (Who wouldn't be happy sitting in a pile of frosting?) These little cupcake gems have rum in them and orange juice, which frankly sounds like a good drink to me. And yes, there actually is one: it's called a Cuban Screw or Coconut Cuban Screw. :D Anyway, the rum in these cupcakes really isn't that strong and I suppose you could leave it out if you wanted to. But the little bunny hopes you won't.


Coconut Orange Cupcakes

From The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark



Ingredients for the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
finely grated zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream

Ingredients for the soaking syrup:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons Malibu rum ( a rum made in Barbados with natural coconut extract, which I didn't have so substituted dark rum)

Ingredients for the coconut buttercream:

3 large egg yolks, room temperature
6 tablespoons cream of coconut
6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
pinch of fine sea salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated unsweetened coconut, toasted (To toast, I used a dry frying pan on the stove, stirring constantly)

Method for the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 325º. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In an electric mixer bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar, orange zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. (about 5 minutes) Beat the eggs in one at a time. Then alternate the flour and sour cream three times on low speed until just combined. Divide the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on rack.

Method for the soaking syrup:

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water. Cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the orange juice and rum.

Method for the buttercream:

Place the egg yolks in a bowl. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a small saucepan. In the pan, heat the coconut milk and coconut cream until it reaches a simmer. (one bubble is enough) Drizzle the mixture slowly over the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the coconut/yolk mixture to the pan and stir over low heat until slightly thickened. The mixture should be 160º but not go over 180º or it will curdle.
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain into a clean bowl to stop the cooking, stir in the salt and refrigerate covered until thoroughly chilled.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter with the confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the rum and vanilla extract. On low speed, gradually beat in the cold coconut/yolk mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the coconut.

To assemble:

Halve the cupcakes horizontally and brush both side with the soaking syrup. Spread the buttercream on the bottom halves, replace the top halves and spread about 2 tablespoons of buttercream on top. Sprinkle with leftover toasted coconut.



And now for the Mother's Day Giveaway!
I've got 4 cookbooks to give away!
Two of Heidi's Super Natural Cooking:



And two of Kim's Good to the Grain:






To win one of these marvelous cookbooks, all you have to do is leave a comment about how you cook with healthy grains. If you become a follower, you'll get two entries.  (Please leave a separate comment for each.) 
Sorry guys, but U.S. and Canada only, please! And make certain I have your email address. I'll announce the winner April 25th so you don't have much time. After all, I want you to get this in time for Mother's Day!


4.11.2011

Marion Cunningham's Chocolate Yeast Bread


I'm sure you've all heard of Marion Cunningham. No, not the one from Happy Days, but the wonderfully talented American chef. David Lebovitz calls her "the last of the great, classic American cooks." She assisted James Beard for 11 years, was responsible for the most recent versions of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and has several cookbooks of her own. An unpretentious woman, she continues to provide straightforward, practical recipes for delicious American cuisine. She was a regular contributor to Gourmet and Food & Wine Magazine and I believe still writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times. I can't begin to list all her accomplishments, but refer you to one of the nicest articles I've ever read about a chef, written by David Lebovitz HERE. She also received the Grand Dame award from Les Dames d'Escoffier "in recognition and appreciation of her extraordinary achievement and contribution to the culinary arts,"  and in 1994, she was named Scholar-in-Residence by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.


                
                                                                                                    Marion Cunningham
                                                                                               (photo by Christopher Hirsheimer)

I've previously done a post on her yeast waffles, which have rightly replaced any other waffle recipe we've ever made at our house and have three of her cookbooks which I frequently search for inspiration. Here's yet another gem to tell you about: her Chocolate Walnut Butter Bread.

If you're looking for a delicious surprise for a Sunday breakfast, or if you're having company for brunch.. you've got to try Marion's fabulous bread. It's a combination of a yeast and sweet bread. Only one rising, you don't need a mixer and you can do it in one bowl. I don't make a lot of yeast breads any more but I made one loaf to see how it turned out and we loved the tender crumb and the rich surprising flavors. And here's a thought: make some French toast with this bread. There'll be some happy faces!



Chocolate Walnut Butter Bread
From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham


Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
4 eggs, room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken or chopped into large pieces (I used chocolate chips)

Method:
Put the warm water in a mixing bowl and add the yeast. Give it a stir and then allow to stand for 5 minutes to dissolve.
Add the flour, sugar, salt and eggs to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously until well blended. (I used an electric mixer) Beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated and the batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to let the batter rise to double its bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Stir the batter down and add the nuts and chocolate. Spoon into two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inch greased loaf pans. The pans should be about half full so the tops are nicely rounded when they are finished baking. Bake for 45  minutes. Cool in the pan for about 5  minutes, then turn out on a rack to finish cooling.



4.07.2011

Leek Fritters à la Ottolenghi


Are you getting bored with my posts about new cookbooks? Be honest and let me know in comments if you are. But for today, I hope not, 'cause I have yet another one. And it's a doozy.


The other day I noticed I had run out of Nielson Massey vanilla extract and this gave me the perfect excuse to visit the Williams Sonoma store in the mall. Cross my heart, that was all I was going to buy, not that I didn't walk through the entire store, per usual, but vanilla was supposed to be extent of my purchases. 

And there it was. In a basket near the door. A cookbook called PLENTY by  Yotam Ottolenghi.


Let's face it. I'm a sucker when it comes to cookbooks like this one.  I already have Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and love it, so I thought I'd really like this one. Usually, when I want a new cookbook it goes on my Amazon wish list OR I buy it used when available. But not this time. I turned around, bought it on the spot, and then went to the nearest chair in the mall and sat down to look at it. Me and all the old men holding their wives' purses. Honestly. I'm pathetic.

So...it's all veggies. Don't you love it? And oh... the photos! Not glamorously posed, but naturally. A real treat to see. I couldn't wait to tell you about it. 
So are you drooling? What to try first? A dilemma. And then I came across leek fritters. They reminded me a little of Faith's veggie fritter recipe we all loved around here and still make over and over. But these were so much better, if not as quick to make. Rather more like a pancake. It will be well worth the effort, I promise. I can't begin to describe the flavor. The spices are perfect, not too strong, exactly right.

So here it is:  Yotam Ottolenghi's Leek Fritters with a lovely yogurt/cilantro sauce....delicious.


Leek Fritters
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi


Ingredients for the sauce:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped

Ingredients for the fritters:
3 leeks (1 pound total, trimmed weight)
5 shallots, finely chopped
2/3 cup olive oil
1 fresh red chili, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup parsley, leaves and fine stalks, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon self rising flour (see bench note)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Bench notes
  • To make self-rising flour if you don't have any at hand: mix 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt.
  • This was much like making pancakes. You wait until the bubbles appear on top, then flip.


Method for sauce:
Process all the ingredients together until a uniform green. Set aside.

Method for fritters:
Cut the leeks into scant 1 inch thick slices. Rinse clean and drain dry. Saute the leeks and shallots in half the oil for about 15 minutes until soft. Transfer to a bowl and add the chili, parsley, spices, sugar and salt. Allow to cool.

Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and fold into the vegetables.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, whole egg, milk and butter to form  a batter.
Gently mix the batter into the egg white/vegetable mixture.

Add a couple tablespoons of oil to a pan over medium heat. Spoon about half the vegetable mixture into the pan, making about 4 large fritters. Fry them 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Remove to paper towels and keep warm. Continue making the fritters adding more oil if needed.
You should end up with eight large fritters. Serve warm with the sauce on the side or drizzled over.



4.03.2011

Nana's Baked Noodles Antin


I know exactly what you're thinking: who's Antin?  I've asked myself the same question. And I couldn't find a thing about it online, with the exception of one lone copy of the recipe....very strange.  It was on Cooks.com, where one often finds reprints of really old recipes usually with no explanation. The kind that were in those wonderful old church cookbooks. The recipe was identical to Nana's (my dear MIL), so I guess she wasn't the only one making this. One thing I do know, this is a really old recipe. I'd guess 40's or 50's at least, if not older. Would love to hear from anyone who might have heard of this before and if you know the background.

I imagine one of Nana's friends passed this recipe on to her....she had so many. One her nicest ladies' groups called themselves The Menopause Mamas. (no need to explain how that got started) The MM's for short. When I was pregnant with my first, the MM's had a baby shower for me and I got the most beautiful things! Wouldn't surprise me if the recipe came from one of those really fun women. They did everything together.

   My sweet MIL, Virginia Hayes Williams 
                                                                                                    
And yeah, that's me with the ghastly yellow/white hair, right after I had my daughter. (What was I thinking??) Nana was NOT pleased. She was such an elegant lady. "What have you done to your lovely hair, dear?" in the sweetest voice imagineable. And my ever-blunt paternal grandfather took one look and said: "does having a baby turn your hair white?" :)


At any rate, my MIL served this dish a lot with a grilled steak. Back in those days, that was pretty much the only thing anyone grilled.....well, perhaps chicken once in a while. I think it's much like a savory kugel, without the eggs. This would be even better made with whole wheat noodles, but I was using up what I had left over. Sort of a mac and cheese side dish. You might even have most of the ingredients in your pantry; toss them all together and you have one fast side dish. It wouldn't surprise me if this dish was invented to use up leftovers. Probably by someone whose last name was Antin! You can substitute some lo-cal sour cream and cottage cheese, although I've never tried that. (Will it curdle?) Anyway.. this is quick, easy, cheap and if you're a crunchy noodle lover like me, you will be eating the top off this casserole and then picking at the sides after dinner.


Baked Noodles Antin




Ingredients:
 5 ounces egg noodles
 1 cup  cottage cheese
 1 cup  sour cream
 1/2 clove  garlic, crushed
 1 sm.  onion, minced
 1 Tablespoon  worcestershire sauce
 dash tobasco
 salt and pepper
 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese



Method:
Cook noodles until barely done. Drain well  and mix with all other ingredients. Put into a buttered casserole, Top with Parmesan cheese and bake in a 375 oven until brown. 


Serves 6

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