Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Fruit’ Category

Apple Tart with Salted Caramel


My January was packed and I am just now getting a chance to feel that urge to get organized and start the new year off on the right foot!  I cleared out my entire email inbox yesterday.  I’m going to repeat that!  I CLEARED OUT MY ENTIRE INBOX!  The last time that happened was two years ago.  So now, my inbox is nearly empty (less than 15 emails sitting in there just waiting to be archived), but it seems as though I’ve got some photos to sort through (yikes)!  In my sorting and organizing, there are a couple of dishes that were ignored and never made it into a post, so this is a Throwback Dish - as in I cooked it sometime in the last year…and am just now getting around to posting it!

Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted this last fall while I was visiting my brother and his family in Portland, OR…it was too much to resist!  (disclosure – cell phone pics – please excuse!)

Mosaic Apple Tart with Salted Caramel

Tart base
14-ounce package puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
3 large or 4 medium apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small bits

Salted caramel glaze
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but then ease up on the sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt (or half as much table salt)
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat the oven to 400°F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and roll out your puff pastry dough to about the size of your sheet pan, use flour to prevent the pasty from sticking to your counter.

Peel your apples, core them and cut them in half.  Slice the apple halves thinly…a mandoline makes quick work of this…or slice thinly with a knife.  Now…the puzzle begins.  Starting on the outer edge, lay the apples around the border slightly overlapping each other, spiraling inward until you reach the center.  We  didn’t fit every apple slice in after circling in, so we went around and tucked in the extra slices wherever the tart needed them.  Sprinkle the apples with 2 tablespoons of butter and then dot with the butter.

Bake for 30 minutes, the edges of the tart should have started to brown a bit.  The tart will look dry – don’t worry…you’re fixing this problem with the salted caramel!  

About 10 minutes before the tart comes out of the oven, start the caramel.  In a saucepan, melt 1/4 cup of sugar over medium high heat, continue cooking it until it is coppery in color.  

 Off the heat, add the sea salt and butter and stir until the butter melts and is incorporated. Add the heavy cream and return to the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until you have a lovely, bronzed caramel syrup, just another minute, two, tops. Set aside until needed. You may need to briefly rewarm it to thin the caramel before brushing it over the tart.

After the tart has baked, transfer it to a cooling rack, but leave the oven on. Using very short, gentle strokes, and brushing in the direction that the apples fan to mess up their design as little as possible, brush the entire tart, including the exposed pastry, with the salted caramel glaze. 

Return the apple tart to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the caramel glaze bubbles. You should let the tart cool completely before serving…but I won’t tell!  Serve it up plain or give it a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.  

Very delicious right after it came out of the oven topped with the salted caramel sauce…but equally good the next day, and the day after as well.  I may have had a slice whenever I walked through the kitchen.  It also tasted even sweeter since I had some little hands helping me lay out all the apples thanks to my niece!

Blackberry Scones


There are a lot of scone recipes out there.  I tend toward a more traditional cream scone, but I did not happen to have any cream in the house…so a little internet research turned up some alternatives, and a few seemed promising using evaporated milk.  After reading through them and finding some consistencies between them, I sort of made up my own recipe, fingers crossed that it would turn out.

Since it is the new year…and I’m sure you all have resolutions that you are trying to keep…many having to do with eating healthy, getting fit and watching your weight…here’s a little bonus!  Using evaporated milk makes these scones lower in fat.  You can substitute evaporated milk for heavy cream in many recipes, it provides the thickness and creaminess without the added fat.

Mini Blackberry Scones

2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 can evaporated fat-free milk
1 cup fresh blackberries

Mix your dry ingredients together, then dump in the cold chunked butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter or two forks.

Before adding the evaporated milk, toss in the blackberries.  This helps them to stay whole and forces you to barely mix the batter once the liquid is added.

Pour in the evaporated milk and mix very gently.  It’s okay if the berries break up a bit.

Spoon into a scone pan (we scored this one years ago from our wedding – but they are not really necessary), or dump batter onto a greased cookie sheet and spread into an approximate circle or square.  Then using a pastry scraper or a knife, divide the dough into scone shapes (wedges, squares, triangles…whatever you fancy).

Bake in oven set at 400° F for 12-20 minutes depending on the size of your scone.

You are looking for tops that are golden brown.

Once they’ve come out of the oven and cooled just a bit, serve them up with honey, clotted cream, lemon curd or butter and of course, a cup of tea!

 

 

 

A Toast to 2012! (and a happy new year!)


I’m sneaking in one last post of 2012!  There is too much to reflect on here in this moment, but for the next few hours, I am celebrating all of what 2012 had to offer…and truly looking forward to an amazing 2013!

Let’s be honest, this particular evening…there is a good chance you have a drink in your hand and you are surrounded by friends and family.  Of course we will be popping a bottle of bubbly at midnight, but we are starting off the evening with one as well, accompanied by some Homemade Cranberry Vodka!

This process began about a month ago, with no recipe but a lot of internet research and it is very simple.

Housemade Cranberry Infused Vodka

1.  Buy cheap vodka.  (seriously, no need to buy the good stuff…the flavors you’ll infuse it with make up for any harshness straight out of the bottle)

2.  Use the extra bags of cranberries you had leftover from an overly ambitious thanksgiving.

3.  Pick through the cranberries to remove any that are soft or squishy and rinse them well.

4.  Toss them in a ziplock bag and use something heavy to smash them and pop them open.  I didn’t bother making sure that every single one had popped.  I gave it a good couple whacks, shook the bag around and whacked them a few more times.

5.  Using a funnel, or parchment rolled into a cone, put all the smushed cranberries into a clean, washed out, old juice bottle.

6.  Pour vodka in the bottle all the way to the top.  Now stash it away in a cool and dark(ish) location.  Shake the bottle at least once a day for the first week or so and then leave to steep for at least 3 weeks.

7.  Once the vodka has turned a deep red color, strain out all the cranberries and any small pieces…cheesecloth or a coffee filter work very well…and pour into a clean bottles, mason jars, etc.  The vodka should keep very well, especially in the freezer.

Now it’s time for the exciting part!

I haven’t settled on an official title for this drink…perhaps a New Year’s Sunset?  I’m open to thoughts and ideas!

Pour 1 oz. of cranberry vodka into the bottom of a flute.

Add in one dropper full of bitters.  We’re currently using Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters, which was a gift from my brother’s in-laws a year or so ago.

Next…pop the champagne…which was actually a Cava from Trader Joe’s.  There are plenty of reviews out there…and they all say the same thing…a very good bubbly for the price-point.  In fact, the Carte Noire M. Chevalier Brut was recommended to me by a nice older gentleman in the aisle of TJ’s while searching for a decent bubbly for a party that wouldn’t break the bank.  He told a long story of a blind tasting, where everyone settled on this one as their favorite of the evening and were truly shocked when they revealed the bottle and saw the price of $6 a bottle!

Top with Cava and just a dash of simple syrup to even out the tannins in the cranberries.

Put a little twist of citrus on the rim of the glass and you are ready to start the celebrations!

Christmas Eve we created another festive cocktail with our homemade cranberry vodka.

Cranberry Pimm’s Cup
(for 2 short drinks)

2 oz. housemade cranberry vodka
1 oz. Pimm’s #1 Cup
1 dropper full of Urban Moonshine Citrus Bitters
2-3 oz. of Sprite

Shake over ice and pour into two martini glasses!

Cheers to 2012!

Ready or not…Here comes 2013!

(please celebrate safely!)

Sous Vide Turkey Breast (or Thanksgiving…Round Two!)


We had a wonderful thanksgiving…including our four cranberry sauces…with 15 friends at 3 different houses.  The evening was wonderful and the food delectable including two different turkeys (one smoked) and incredible sides and of course dessert!  Apparently, that just wasn’t enough for us.  Since we had quite a bit of cranberry sauce left…we decided to do Round Two (downsized a bit!) on Sunday.

First…let’s give credit where credit is due…

This is our official Thanksgiving feast.  Complete with turkey, brussels sprouts, beets, green beans, salad, two gravies, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, four cranberry sauces and of course, stuffing.  My plate looked like this…

I may have overdone it…but that is what thanksgiving is for!

Now for round two!

We purchased a (fairly) reasonably sized bone-in, skin-on turkey breast to sous vide.

We dried it off, seasoned it well with salt and pepper, placed it in a vacuum bag, added a few pats of butter and a bunch of fresh thyme, and sealed it up.

Before getting started, we turned on our thermal-immersion circulator to get it up to the temperature that we wanted – 149º F.  Once it was ready, we dropped the turkey in and set a timer for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

We were so taken by the stuffing that our friend Paul made…we just had to remake it.  I may have mentioned in the past my issue with soggy foods – and stuffing generally falls into this category…however, I had trouble resisting this one…it has green olives!  Let me repeat…it has GREEN OLIVES!  What’s not to love!  We had  no trouble finding the recipe since it was in one of the recent Bon Appétit and is all over the internet!  Since we followed the recipe exactly (making only a half batch), I won’t write out the entire recipe here…all you need to know is that it’s called Italian Mother-in-Law Dressing and is very good!

I cooked up some chard, then onions, dried out some bread, chopped some olives, toasted some pine nuts and tossed it altogether with some rosemary and thyme!

We had one lonely sweet potato on hand, so I diced it up, steamed it a bit and then added some butter and fresh thyme.

The stuffing went into a buttered casserole dish and had the final broth and egg mixture drizzled over the top before getting covered and placed into the oven.

Cleo tends to be very interested in what we’re doing in the kitchen and has become quite bold as of late and thinks this perch on the couch is just perfect for her.  I’m not sure I agree!

Apparently I did not take any photos…but we also had some mashed potatoes cooking.  Rather than mashing, we used a food mill that was handed down from my parents.  I’ll be honest, it has been a while since I have made mashed potatoes that good!  They were so smooth and of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are really just a vessel for butter, cream and salt!

Two and a half hours later, we pulled the turkey out of the water bath.

Once you open the bag, discard the thyme and remove the skin (we saved this and cooked it up a day or two later…it crisped up nicely!).  Once the breast was removed from the bone, I cut slices and drooled a bit.

We set the table and opened a lovely rosé from Frog’s Leap that we purchased on a visit in April to Napa.

And then it was time to plate it up…oh, we also had gravy…and don’t worry…all four cranberry sauces were on the table ready to be enjoyed!

The turkey was very moist, tender and flavorful.  Until we are serving more than just two of us at our house…the sous vide option is just too easy and dependable to not do.  This is definitely just the first of many sous vided turkey options!

Oh…I almost forgot.  Let’s discuss cranberry sauces!  I personally loved the chutney.  I think it has found a way into my recipe box for future thanksgivings…it is savory and a little different while still maintaining that tart flavor that you want from your cranberry sauce.

At our feast, the chutney and the raw orange relish (a Connelly family recipe) were the favorites.  The standard cranberry sauce (another Connelly family recipe – Thanks Dad!) also had its followers.   But I have to say, I know the Mama Stamberg’s recipe is beloved by many an NPR listener, but it was just not a hit.  Perhaps there were too many options!

I hope you all enjoyed an abundant Thanksgiving and were surrounded by friends and family.  Anyone else have more than one thanksgiving?

 

 

 

 

 

Cranberries – Four Ways for Your Turkey Day!


Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite of the major holidays.  It involves a lot of cooking, a lot of food, and usually a lot of family and friends.  Expectations are only to enjoy a meal together…no gifts are exchanged, no pressure for a new years eve kiss, no costume to come up with…just eating and hanging out with folks you like, and maybe even love!

However…I can be picky when it comes to those traditional turkey day recipes.  First, stuffing and I have issues.  Spoiler alert:  stuffing is just soggy bread!  At least in my head, that is all it is…and no one likes soggy bread.  Second, let’s talk sides…I think the side dishes that make the cut for a thanksgiving feast should be savory in nature…I just can’t get on board with marshmallows and brown sugar in my sweet potatoes.  Third, I’m not the biggest fan of putting fruit on my meat…which means cranberry ________ (fill in the blank) on top of my roasted turkey.  But this year, I’m ready for change.  Go big or go home right…?

So I went BIG and made FOUR different cranberry accoutrements for this years turkey.

Let’s start simple…

Straight up Homemade Cranberry Sauce 

1 cup water
1/3 lb. fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. grated orange rind (optional)

Boil Water.  Add sugar and cranberries.

Cook 10 minutes or until all skins pop (longer cooking, thicker sauce).

Skim froth and add optional orange rind.  Chill.

 

Next…Cranberry Relish

1 navel orange, quartered, with peel
2 cups fresh cranberries
¾ to 1 cup sugar

Process orange quarters, sugar and cranberries in food processor until fairly fine.

Chill.  Stir occasionally.

 

Moving into the slightly less traditional, we have a…

Garlicky Cranberry Chutney 

(from Madhur Jaffrey‘s Cookbook: Easy East/West Menus for Family and Friends)

1 inch fresh ginger
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
½ cup apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp.’s sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. can whole berry cranberry sauce (I couldn’t find a 1-lb. can…so I used a 14 oz. can instead)
½ teaspoon salt (or less)
ground black pepper.

Cut ginger into paper thing slices, stack them together and cut into very thin slivers.

Combine ginger, garlic, sugar and cayenne in a small pot.  Bring to a simmer; simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes or until about 4 tbsp.’s of liquid are left.

Add the can of cranberry sauce, salt and pepper.  Mix and bring to a simmer.  Lumps are okay.  Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes.

(pardon the missing photos…I lost my daylight and apparently got distracted and forgot to take any more photos until it was done.)

Cool, store and refrigerate.

 

And finally…

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish

(I’ll warn you…this is not in the traditional category!  Found via The Splendid Table on NPR)

2 cups whole fresh cranberries
1 small onion (or half a larger onion)
¾ cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp.’s prepared horseradish

Grind the raw berries and the onion together – rough chop the onion and toss both into a food processor, pulsing until they are ground…but not puréed.

Add everything else and mix together.

Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw.  When served, it should have some little icy slivers, and be thick, creamy and have a color similar to Pepto-Bismol.

 

There you have it…three pictured below and 1 in the freezer for tomorrow.  I’ll let you know my thoughts, ratings and a verdict on which cranberry sides passed muster.

(left to right: Garlicky Cranberry Chutney, Cranberry Relish, Cranberry Sauce; Not pictured: Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish)

What cranberry dish are you partial to?  Any weird hangups about holidays or about food…or about holiday food…?      …….?         Bueller….?      Bueller….?

Orange Polenta Cake with Blackberries & Plums


Desserts in the summer should be delightful.  Fresh and vibrant.  I think you get a little more leeway with summer desserts…it can be an unexpected little something to try…so serious expectations.  So I say, run with it.  Try something new, be a little different and surprising!  Polenta cake fits the bill.  Think of this as somewhere in between corn bread and a citrus cake.

(Although I did not get the post up right on time, this cake was inspired by the Daring Cooks August Challenge…credit where credit is due!)

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Original recipe can be found here at from the Bon Appetit website and is also on epicurious!

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup medium-fine polenta or organic cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated orange peel
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-milk greek yogurt
3 plums, sliced with pits removed
½ pint blackberries

Preparation

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan.  (I used a mini bundt pan and a quarter size loaf pan which seemed to hold all the batter.)  Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

I used Golden Pheasant Polenta and the texture was perfect – coarse enough to notice but not so much that it ruined the texture of the cake batter!

Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with yogurt in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Spread batter evenly in pan.Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes (my mini pans took less time…I started them with 35 minutes and tested every few minutes after).

In the meantime, prepare the plums and blackberries so they have enough time to macerate.

Halve the plums (I used 3) and remove the pit and then slice somewhat thinly.  Add in a handful of blackberries and sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.

Toss gently and let sit for at least an hour.

Transfer to rack; cool in pan 15 minutes.

Run knife around cake edges to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then invert again on rack (top side up). Cool completely. 

Cut cake crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; serve with sugared plums and blackberries.

And for a little extra ummmpffff…top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

{Epilogue}

This cake was delicious the next morning, sliced, toasted and spread with just a bit of butter.  I may have eaten it for a week straight this way!

Enjoy!

3rd Time’s a Charm (almost) – Coconut Milk & Key Lime Panna Cotta


Update:  Recipe should have included 1/4 cup of sugar…correction made below!  

Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment…I tried again.

But wait, you say, that doesn’t look like a vanilla bean buttermilk panna cotta…why didn’t you attempt the same recipe?  Well, because I am difficult.  I figured something had to go my way if I made a completely different recipe that included no dairy whatsoever, right?  Hmmm…the answer is not as clear as one might think – yes and no.

Success…YES!  (as it did not separate).  And FAIL…it didn’t actually totally set…but I have only myself to blame for this one.

In “collaborating” (read: angrily discussing) with my brother who seems to end up with nothing but perfection when he makes panna cotta (all varieties, I might add) at his restaurant…he may have mentioned that the amount of gelatin can be tricky when using coconut milk.  What seemed to be like an extreme amount of gelatin…was apparently necessary.  I did not believe the recipe and (of course) thought I knew better…so this one is completely.my.fault!  There’s always room for a 4th or 5th or 27th attempt, right?

Nonetheless, it tasted spot on!  Recipe can be found here (see below)…and I recommend following the recipe to the letter…and I’m sure that your panna cotta will work out absolutely perfectly!  (mostly due to the fact that I am nowhere near your kitchen and therefore my luck (or lack thereof) will have absolutely no influence on your end-result!)  I repeat…follow the directions!

I searched and searched to find the recipe I used…and to no avail…so unfortunately…you won’t have the opportunity to make the exact recipe that I managed to flub up…so find your own.  Go, make panna cotta and succeed!

From my memory and photos….here is the recipe!

Key Lime Coconut Milk Panna Cotta
1 can (15 oz.) of Coconut milk
I packet of gelatin
2 tbsp.’s of fresh key lime juice
1 tsp. of key lime zest
1/4 cup of sugar 

Pour lime juice into the sauce pan and sprinkle in the gelatin.  (my recipe indicated an entire packet of gelatin should be used…but I (incorrectly) assumed that I would end of milk bricks if I added it all since I was using half the milk previous recipes had called for with the same amount of gelatin.  Once it is bloomed, add in the zest and stir around a bit to make sure it is completely dissolved.

Next add in the coconut milk and sugar; heat gently until you see bubbles forming and there is steam rising.  Make sure you continue to stir during the heating so the gelatin, lime juice and zest remain suspended in the mixture.

Remove from heat and pour into small dishes or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set.  I pulled one out later that evening to try it.  Once again, we had guests and I was trying to avoid another big let-down of serving what appears to be a delicious panna cotta hiding a secret gelatin layer…or ending up a soupy disaster.

That evening, the panna cotta had not set and I convinced myself that it obviously needed some more time in the chiller.  I unmolded it in a shallow bowl and we all nibbled spoonfuls.  Flavor…perfect – refreshing, lime-y and not overly coconut-y.  Texture…too soft…a little like thin yogurt.

The next morning when I pulled one out and plated it, it was certainly more set than the previous evening…but not that heavenly texture that panna cotta should be!

I will not give up.  I will not give up.  I will not give up.

Stay tuned for attempt #4.  I believe everyone has a cooking nemesis…like Kryptonite for Superman…perhaps panna cotta is my kryptonite!

What is your culinary nemesis?

Red, White & Blue Clafoutis


I am aware that the holiday has passed…but let’s be honest…I’m always a little late to the party in this respect.  I’d like to think it is because I am too busy enjoying the moment to post recipes prior to an actual holiday or event.  Come to think of it…I would be awful working at a monthly magazine or for a fashion designer…having to always think a couple of months ahead.  I digress.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful 4th of July celebration.  I did not spot a single fireworks display…most of the west is currently on fire so many cities were erring on the conservative side.  However, I did spend the evening at the Oakley Rodeo!

What follows is one of my favorite desserts to make…it’s light, delicious, totally adaptable to whatever fruit may be in season and therefore appropriate for all times of year and it is quick to make.  I first learned to make this here and it is traditionally made with cherries with their pits still in them.  I also weigh the dry ingredients and use the metric measurements as it just seems to come out better.

Red, White & Blue Clafoutis

100 grams sugar (2/3 cup±)
120 grams flour (1 cup±)
3 eggs
200 ml milk, lukewarm (1 cup±)
50 ml cream (¼ cup±)
5 grams baking powder (1 tsp.)
1-2 handfuls of blueberries and raspberries (or your choice of fruit – pears, plums, peaches, cherries, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (160ºC).

Butter and lightly sugar a heavy tart pan or dish and then chill.

Place fruit in a single layer  in the chilled and sugared dish.  The exact quantity of fruit is up to you, but pieces of fruit should not touch.

Weigh the dry ingredients (I made extra batter (1 and 1/3 recipes worth) for an additional individual clafoutis that never made the photographic cut) and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Pour the batter into the dish very slowly and gently, taking care not to displace or move the berries too much.

Bake for 40 minutes until just barely beginning to brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or garnished with powdered sugar, fruit coulis, or whipped cream with a sprig of fresh mint.

I could seriously eat the entire thing all by myself!

What are your favorite summer desserts?

Spring Onion & Leek Crostada with Ricotta and Back Bacon


 

We love brunching, we frequently find ourselves trying out new places in town (like here, here or here) or venturing to old standby’s (including here, here, here and here) when the world is still quiet and sleepy.  Every now and then we are lucky enough to be invited over to friends’ houses where we can nibble bites and sip our coffee at a more leisurely pace.  A few Sunday’s back, we were just in luck and threw together a spring onion and leek crostada with back bacon and ricotta…all thanks to our CSA box from that week.

When I started cooking the back bacon – I’ll explain what it that is in a minute…I didn’t really have a firm plan about when I was making and how it would take shape.  When this happens, sometimes the end product is brilliant…and other times, well…that is when it’s time to stop by a bakery on your way over.  This time, it was lovely!  The spring onions and leeks from our CSA box were too beautiful to not use and they screamed to be the feature of a dish.

So back bacon is not made from pork belly – it is the center cut boneless pork loin and is much leaner and meatier than regular American bacon.  It might also be labeled as Irish bacon.  It can be tricky to find so regular, good ‘ole bacon will do just fine.  We found it at a Fresh & Easy market, whose parent company is British…which explains why they carry it.

I started by washing the leeks and then slicing the leeks and the spring onions into very thin slices.  The ramekin in the back holds none-other than rendered bacon fat.  We always have it in the fridge and it keeps very well.  Whenever you cook bacon, just strain the warm oil that was left in the pan and cool, then place in the fridge.  Dare I say, it makes a decadent grilled cheese and it is very spreadable!  I also prepared a short crust – something like you would use in a tart or a quiche – generally it is just flour, salt, cold butter chunks and a little ice water.  Whenever you are making a pastry dough, it is important to let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before you roll it out. Which is plenty of time to slice and cook your onions and leeks and cook the bacon.  I sautéed the onions and leeks in butter and some of the bacon fat for about 5 or 6 minutes as I wanted them to sweat but not gain any color, and I seasoned them with fresh thyme.  Turn the oven on to 350º so it has plenty of time to reheat.

Next, I rolled out the crust and placed it on a piece of parchment on a half-sheet pan.  We had some ricotta left in the fridge which was perfect because this crostada needed something to hold it all together and work as a base.  I thinned the ricotta just a bit with some heavy cream and of course, seasoned it with salt and pepper and a little more of the fresh thyme.  Spread it evenly on the rolled out pastry leaving a 1-2 inch border on all sides and top with the back bacon slices leaving at least 1 piece to sprinkle on top.  Next, spread the spring onions and leeks over the top and top with another sprinkle of salt.

Now, fold the pastry in towards the center starting on one edge and working your way around.  A crostada is not a fancy food…so it does not need to be perfect!  Top with the last slice of bacon either sliced or crumbled.  Count yourself lucky if you manage to hide the last piece from your husband who is trying to sneak as many nibbles as he can blaming his actions on pure famine!  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and some of the onions and leeks have crisped on top.

Our CSA box had also arrived full of late harvest citrus and some fresh mint…so we brought those along with us as well.  Start by slicing off the top and bottom of the orange and then slice the peel and as much of the pith off of all sides.

When serving citrus served like this, it is best to ‘supreme’ the fruit…I can’t figure out an easy way to write up instructions for you…but I found a great video on youtube that will show you exactly how to do it here.  Next, chiffonade some mint and toss it with the segments of orange – very refreshing and easy to eat as there is no pith or seeds to pick out of your teeth.

The crostada is delicious warm or room temperature and was a delightful addition to the brunch buffet.  It was crumbly and savory, with a nice oomph of onions and leeks!

What dishes have you made that turned out surprisingly well despite no real plan when you started?  We are always on the lookout for new recipes that travel well…what are your favorites for a potluck brunch?

 

Panna Cotta – Under Construction! {a little help over here…please!}


Okay readers.  Clearly, I am in need of your help, your collective knowledge and wisdom, your trial and error experience with the seemingly simple (any-idiot-should-be-able-to-make-it) Italian dessert – panna cotta.

Don’t get excited…I did not make this one…

{via}

I made this one.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a perfect panna cotta is not supposed to look like this…

Seriously…I’ve searched and searched for clues as to why it separated…and I can find none.  I repeat…NONE!  I followed the recipe exactly.

Okay not e-x-a-c-t-l-y…but very close.  Instead of using vanilla, I used Meyer lemons as the flavoring, the juice and some of the zest.  I bloomed the gelatin and heated the milk, stirred it altogether to make sure it was good and mixed…I poured it into little ramekins and let it cool a bit and then put them in the fridge.

(and what’s worse…I served them to my in-laws who were visiting…who were more than polite and delved right in as if eating gelatinized milk with a weird-looking yellowish layer on top was nothing other than sheer delight – luckily they are good-humored individuals!)

It tasted fine as well…but the bi-level layering and the yellowish top layer was a bit hard to get past.

So what happened, huh?

Attempt number two is happening this afternoon…but, if that one doesn’t turn out.  I may have to throw in the panna cotta towel.

{I’m counting on you, readers, to pull me out of panna cotta hell and tell me what went wrong!  Puh-lease!}

oh…and Happy Mother’s Day!

—– UPDATE—–

I made a second batch yesterday afternoon using a Mark Bittman recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta.  The process varied quite a bit, and I was sure it would work out this time.  Many have thought that my issue may have been caused by the acid in the lemon juice – but yesterday’s recipe contained no lemon at all!  I was feeling very confident and pulled one out of the fridge after dinner and dug my spoon in…only to find that once again…full separation.

At this point, panna cotta and I are in a fight…a big one, and currently, I’m holding a big grudge.  We’ll have to talk it over at some point but I think right now I need some space!  GEEZ!

So I now request your help once again…or I’m going to start email-stalking Bittman himself until he discovers the error of my ways!

Help!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,025 other followers

%d bloggers like this: