Tag Archives: birthday

Spring has finally Sprung…today in my kitchen

Can I complain for one hot second? I’ll take a rain check on a verbal/written reply and take the silence as a ‘yes.’ I am fed up with winter. It rained for my sister’s entire outdoor graduation. Sideways rain, and I don’t think you can get more insulting than that. It rained for my graduation too, but I was happy as a clam to be inside a Track & Field stadium (addendum: I would not have found myself quite so content had it been a sunny-side-up day). I am angry at the weather. Angry to be on the East Coast, although, given the recent (and not-so-recent) rash of natural disasters and other not-so-natural disastrous events, I suppose I should feel at least a modicum of gratitude to be right where I am.  But I am not grateful for my location so much as the produce that it produces. Today, it a little market near my train stop I found all three of the above-pictured vegetables. I hadn’t a clue what to do with them, but daydreamed all the way home on the train, and by the time I arrived, I had the scaffolding of a couple of ideas in my head. I rushed home. I dirtied a lot of a pots and pans. I sweated in my kitchen for the first time in many moons. I requested fancy cocktails from my fiance for our guests. He provided them. (they were delicious) I had a mini-meltdown over 2 poorly poached eggs. Then I got the hang of it.

I took one singular picture…it doesn’t do the final dish justice…but if you want to try any/all of the mishmash medley of vegetarian sensations that I created, the lackadaisical recipes are as follows:

Creamy Polenta

6 cups of water with a dash of salt to speed the boiling process

2 cups dry polenta

½ cup cream

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup grated romano/pecorino/other fancy cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring the water to a rollicking boil before mixing in the 2 dry cupfuls of polenta. Lower heat and let bubble and brew at a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream and butter, stir well and bring to a simmer again. Lastly, mix in cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Best served hot. Makes 6 servings or more…

Mizuna Greens

A Japanese green, these tender young’uns have been descried as “piquant, mild peppery flavor…slightly spicy, but less so than arugula.” I tossed them lightly with sesame vinaigrette, toasted sesame seeds and finely grated pecorino.

Caramelized Rutabega

1 large rutabaga (cut into ½-inch cubes)
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Freshly ground pepper

Cut the ‘bega into small cubes. Boil in salted water until tender-crisp (about 10 minutes). Drain well. Melt butter in pot, add the rutabega, sprinkle brown sugar and mix gently until caramel appears, just a few short minutes. Add pumpkin pie spice and pepper.

Crispy Pan-friend Spring Onions

4-6 young spring onions

3 tbsp butter

salt, pepper, lemon

With a mandolin, slice the onions into rounds. Melt butter in a skillet and turn up the heat. Add onions and flash-fry for 1 minute on each side. Season the onions with salt, pepper and lemon. Drain any excess butter (can be used with the polenta for an additional seasoning flavor).

Poached Eggs


  1. Do NOT boil the water. Do not let it simmer. Get the water “excited” with bubbles just barely appearing at the bottom. It is poachable now.
  2. Pour in a splash of vinegar
  3. Prep your eggs in ramekins, do not crack directly into the whirlpool you create.
  4. Make a whirlpool in the water with a spatula in your dominant hand, hold the ramekin containing the egg in the other hand, and gently dump it in the center of the whirlpool at the same moment that you remove the spatula
  5. Do not touch your egg as it swirls and gels. Close your eyes if you have to! Do not touch the egg. Trust it.
  6. Let it cook for at least 90 seconds before nudging it gently with the spatula to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it is ready, gently scoop it out with a slotted spoon and put in a warm bath of water to await serving time.

I discussed egg poaching in a previous entry and recommended Smitten Kitchen for an excellent tutorial. I still  stand by this method, despite my initial failed attempts. Check it out for detailed instructions and pictures.

Happy happy spring!


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A fruit tart for my sweetheart

I think some recipes tend to make themselves overly complicated and therefore, scary. For example, I made a Challah recipe the other day (stay tuned: soon to be blog-worthy) and just because I was running short on time, I skipped some steps and mixed everything together instead of in separate bowl, and just in general, stressed less. It turned out great!

Same goes for this tart. The original 5 recipes that I looked at gave me heart palpitations just scanning them. I got ADHD just trying to read through them in one sitting. So, for you today, I will attempt to distill these five recipes into one condensed version: the one that I ultimately made. Maybe the more complex versions are more delicious but in ignorance bliss I contentedly remain.

Who doesn't love a hidden chocolate surprise?

Sweetheart Tart

Pastry Crust

  • 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom (or four tartlet pans)
  • 1 1/3 C. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • A few tsp ice water (add as needed)

Pastry cream

  • 1 ¼ C. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/8 C. flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 generous Tbsp liqueur (Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Brandy…)
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • (I also melted half a bag of semisweet chocolate chips in a double boiler to spread in the tart crust before adding the pastry cream. This is a nice addition and also serves a dual purpose of preventing soggy crust)

Sweet Pastry Crust:

1)    Mix all the pastry crust ingredients. You don’t need to do it in any special order, but try not to over mix, and just crumble it into pea-size bits with your fingers until all the elements are equally dispersed. Flatten into a disc and cover with Saran wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, start your pastry cream.)

2)    Have ready an 8 – 9 inch (20 – 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a circle. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan. Lightly roll pastry on your rolling pin and unroll onto top of tart pan. With a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to cleverly and neatly get rid of excess pastry.  Prick bottom of dough (prevents puffing). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

3)    Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove weights and cool crust on wire rack before filling.

Pastry Cream:

1)    In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix to a smooth paste.

4)    Meanwhile, in a saucepan heat the milk and vanilla on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.

5)    Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30-odd seconds until it thickens dramatically.

6)    Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Apricot Glaze:

1)    Heat the apricot jam or preserves and liqueur/water in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps.  Let cool until it is only slightly warm.

To Assemble Tart:

1)    To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm.

2)    Spread a thin layer of the apricot glaze or melted chocolate (if using) over the bottom and inner sides of tart. Let dry.

3)    Spread the pastry cream into the tart, filling about 3/4 full.

4)    Go wild with your amazing decorating skills!

5)    After arranging the fruit, gently brush a light coat of the glaze on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny.  If not serving immediately, refrigerate.

This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. Serves about 8 – 10 people. Bask in the glory of the completed fruit tart.


Posted by on August 22, 2010 in Desserts


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