Tag Archives: eggs

better to give (than to eat all the cookies)

The holidays storm in each winter just moments before we get around to our pocketfuls of good intentions. Like the grand notion of baking for every family on our new street. We had a day in mind, and Andrew swore he would stand by my side and not allow yet another baking disaster. But we found endless errands to run on Baking Day, and Christmas week was upon us.

In the end, we attempted a less complicated recipe. Naturally—as December tasks go—at the last minute.  On my only previous attempt, I had produced a succesful batch meringues. And. They. Are. So. Dang. Simple. While I don’t know if they really count as cookies, they were well-appreciated and enjoyed by our neighbors. Fewer neighbors than we planned, as only one-third baked as pretty enough to give as gifts. The remainder resembled teeny toadstools, and were utterly delicious.

Note: we doubled this recipe, and they lasted well for four days in an airtight container on the counter. Maybe they last longer, but they all were eaten by then. Also, if you do not want to purchase superfine sugar, you can pulse regular cane sugar in a food processor. I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips; you could also use a dark chocolate bar.

Dark Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

adapted from Emeril’s recipe, yields four dozen small cookies

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until fluffy but not at all dry. (Be careful not to over beat.) Add the sugar gradually, about 3 tablespoons at a time. When 1/2 of the sugar has been added, add the vanilla extract. Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very shiny and tight. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

Working one teaspoon at a time, push a teaspoonful of meringue from the tip of 1 teaspoon with the back of another teaspoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between cookies. Or, quickly spoon mixture into a plastic gallon zip-bag with the tip cut and dollop onto the parchment. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies (undisturbed) in the oven for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until cookies are crisp and dry. I like to leave them overnight, but only when I have another dessert in the house to hold me over.

In case the neighbors want to know…

Per Cookie: (48); Calories: 44; Total Fat: 2.5 grams; Saturated Fat:0.5 grams; Protein: 1 gram; Total carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 5 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 3 milligrams

Now I did not create this blog as a venue for profanities, but I had to chuckle when one meringue recipient stated, “These are fucking unbelievable.”

Some other gifts I whipped up last week:

This pillow for Mom’s birthday I stitched over an insert. It was the sweater I wore in my high school senior portrait.

And a few handmade scarves I presented in these darling World Market take-out boxes to my co-workers. Andrew called them Lindsey’s Scarf LoMein.

What’s your favorite gift you gave away this year?

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a berry delicious Fourth

You remember I don’t bake, right? Fear of diasters + actual diasterous results prevent me from trying too frequently. You would not believe how flat the almond-blueberry “muffins” I made for company last weekend, yeesh.

So how about a do-able dessert endeavor?

I want everyone to have a memorable and safe fourth of July, and surely this calls for a patriotic pie. Andrew and I will be attending a big neighborhood celebration in his hometown. I am re-posting my favorite festive treat from last year’s celebration in Pennsylvania, because you must make it this year. In case you need a reminder why:

1. It’s really easy (think: add. stir. eat.)  

2. With a food processor, it’s fast and mess-free 

3. You can make it in advance (and make lots of people really happy when you two show up)  

4. The majority of ingredients are nutrient-dense–antioxidants, dietary fiber, whole grains, monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals (a few points over other desserts you may be considering…)

5. It travels and keeps very well  (though there will be fights for the last piece; sneaking down before breakfast was my tactic)

      

Fresh Berry Tart with Toasted Nut Crust

Vegetarian Times

crust   

1/4 each whole almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts   

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour   

1/4 cup sugar   

1/4 tsp. salt   

6 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, diced   

1 large egg yolk   

filling   

1/2 cup light sour cream   

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt   

2 tbsp. light brown sugar   

1 tsp. vanilla extract   

1 cup blueberries   

1 cup raspberries (or halved strawberries)   

1/4 tsp. grated orange zest   

1 tbsp. orange juice (from the same orange)

other goodies to get the job done

food processor

9″ tart pan with removeable bottom (other reasons you need this pan)

 

FOR THE CRUST   

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray.    

Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven 10-12 minutes, until browned.   

Pulse nuts, flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until the nuts are ground to powder.   

A side note about cubed, chilled butter. This is really key in certain baking recipes. When I worked in a bakery, I was cubing 20 lbs. of butter for endless cookies and scones. Ah, memories. Cut your butter with a sharp knife at the beginning of your recipe and return the cubes to the fridge until the recipe calls for them.   

Add butter to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.   

Add egg yolk and pulse until moist clumps form.   

    

    

   

As you can see, the mixture seems really crumbly. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of your prepared pan.   

A flat surface, like the bottom of a measuring cup, is the best way to ensure an even surface. The nut mixture doesn’t seems like quite enough for the edges, but it’s just right once the bottom is even.   

Your malleable, nutty crust should be about 1/4-inch thick.   

   

Now here’s a fantastic crust technique so you’ll never need pie weights. Pierce the crust well with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes. This keeps the crust from poofing up without the mess of foil and weights and other complications. Who loves simplicity??   

Adjust the oven temperature to 400F. Bake the frozen crust for 12-14 minutes, or until golden. Cool.   

FOR THE FILLING   

Whisk together the sour cream, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest in a bowl.    

Toss berries (or fruit of your choice) with the orange juice in a separate bowl.    

(Please, please don’t skimp on the orange zest, it really makes the tart special).   

Spread the sour cream mixture into the crust with a spatula. It didn’t seem like enough filling to fill the tart, but it is just enough so scrape every drop from the bowl!   

I really want to experiment with peaches on the next round of this tart, but it is ideal for berries, as they are less likely to brown or bleed color into the sour cream mixture while resting in the fridge for a few days. Nonetheless, the acid of the orange juice kept my strawberries fresh for the mere day and a half the tart lasted among company 😀   

Spoon the berries over top a little at a time, until the sour cream mixture is evenly covered. (No one says it can’t be a little artistic, though)! It really does look beautiful however you arrange your fruit—yet another thing to love about this beautiful dish. I also sprinkled additional zest over the finished tart.   

Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before serving. And take my advice, cut thin slices—my tart somehow fed twelve, but we would have loved seconds.   

 

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loving your leftovers: is it fry day yet?

Thank you, thank you readers!In its brief existence, A Pear to Remember reached over 6,000 viewers. 6,201 today! How do I express my gratitude? How about something interesting for the goods in your fridge?

in our fridge/freezer:

4 chicken tenderloins (from this meal)

romaine hearts

half a medium eggplant (from this meal)

3/4 jar tomato sauce

a hunk of fresh mozzarella

3 eggs

Don’t feel too bad for us, we’ve got orange juice and yogurt and sandwich makings, but these were most promising for a last-minute dinner. A really scrumptious undertaking for any night of the week…

tomato sauce has a short fridge life. andrew made us a special whole-wheat pizza on Monday night, but what to do with leftover sauce? read on.

 

 

Eggplant Medallions Over Grilled Romaine Hearts

a Thursday night Linvention

Finally, finally—do-able frying! I used to really complicate the batter and bread process, make a mess all over the place, and take a good 40 minutes from slicing to frying. Forget that.

It’s all about a line up—not far off from mise en place, which is about having all your ingredients measured and in place before beginning your recipe. This is a dip-n-drip station where tongs are your best friend. I used to do this by hand and the caked mixture all over your fingernails really slows you down.

Grab your slices (1/4 inch thin) with the tongs, dip in egg (2 eggs with a wee bit of salt and pepper beaten in) followed by breadcrumbs (this time from a can, lots of Italian seasoning sprinkled in). Then right into the skillet with hot oil—not too hot, it will burn right up and spatter all over the place. And not too deep, my slices were a breadcrumb away from submersion and cooked perfectly. About 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your pieces—just keep the width uniform. I made good use of my cheap-o mandolin here.

Set your golden goodies on a plate packed with paper towels and chug right along until you’ve fried all of your ingredients (zucchini, anyone?).

Now I had heard of grilling romaine lettuce, I thought it was as bizarre as you are thinking now; I had never seen it done. But darn it all, I want any excuse to grill.

I spritzed whole romaine leaves with a healthy sheen of olive oil, followed by a generous sprinkle of coarse salt and pepper—this made all the difference. After grilling both sides over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes, you’ve got a new lettuce experience. As in, lettuce forget about that side of pasta, okay? A rare mood to reject pasta, but this proved the perfect bedding for my fried friends. With a little tomato sauce drizzled over the entire thing and cold, cold mozzarella torn in big pieces alongside… yes! yes! 

If loving warm lettuce is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

The romaine is salty and flavor-packed in a way some rarely know lettuce to be. Serve it warm and enjoy the smokey flavor with the eggplant. I love homemade breaded eggplant because it makes this luscious aubergine into a filling meal I know you’ll love, too.

How did Andrew use his chicken? Check out his chicken parmesan technique here.

Also a good day all around—sometimes haircuts are as refreshing as new flavors.

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red white and blue brunch

My birthfather stopped in for a very brief brunch this morning (behind-the-scenes photos here). Andrew asked how I could keep calling it a brunch after we rescheduled for 9am? I told him that’s how I could get away with serving tomatoes.

A varied and truly tasty menu, for next Saturday at your place perhaps. Hours of prep work the night before? Waking up at 5am to get that casserole in the oven? Not with this menu. Start to finish, this entire meal begins and makes its way to the table within 40 minutes.

Red: French Toast with Sautéed Tomatoes

Such a surprise. They sounded so good on the page, and did not disappoint.

from Easy Vegetarian, serves 4

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

4 slices bread (white whole wheat was perfect)

4 tbsp. butter

8 ripe tomatoes, halved (we halved grape tomatoes)

coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large, shallow dish and beat well. Add the bread and let it soak 5 minutes so all the egg mixture is absorbed. (What an amazing technique for luscious French toast)!

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Melt the butter in a separate skillet. Add the halved tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes on each side. Put the hot French toast on a warm plate and serve topped with the sautéed tomatoes.

White and Blue: Homemade Berried Yogurt

Don’t worry: the yogurt itself is store-bought. Making a fresh berry mixture to stir in is heavenly—and will forever turn you off to those watery aspartame yogurt cups, I hope. Eesh.

tweaked from Easy Vegetarian, serves 4-6

8 oz. fresh blueberries, about 1.5 cups

half a lemon, zested and juiced

a pinch of ground cinnamon

2 and 3/4 cups plain yogurt (cannot use low-fat for this dish; 2% Greek over here)

agave nectar to taste

Reserve a few of the best berries for serving and put the remainder in a small saucepan. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1 tbsp. water. Heat gently for about 3 minutes until the berries just start to soften slightly. Let cool.

Spoon the berries into glasses, then add the yogurt and agave nectar (start with about 1/2 tablespoon and taste). Top with the reserved berries. You can also just serve this in a big bowl, as we did.

For the guys, Andrew made omelettes with Dubliner cheese and chopped peppadews. On the side, we served sautéed baby potatoes with caramelized onions, pink orange wedges, coffee, and pomegranate-blueberry juice (our most recent Trader Joes obsession).

Brunch is definitely my new favorite way to start the weekend. Next time: honey-roasted peaches with ricotta and coffee-bean sugar.

Easy Vegetarian is an excellent cookbook, with brunch and dinner inspirations galore. For more on this and my other favorite cookbooks, just click here.

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happy food

It’s a very exciting birthday this year, waking to fluffy white flakes through the window beside the coolest man I know (who proposed three years ago today). Yep, life is good, and I hope it finds you the same in the new year.

Twenty-five years of life does not mean twenty-five years of cooking and great food (though I’m optimistic for the next quarter-century). It’s really been six years of serious food love, and merely three of dedicated home cooking (cookbooks on the nightstand, sautéing in my slumber). When I met my Andrew, I had never seen, or tasted, a bell pepper—definitely clueless on chopping one. I had never held a knife other than a petite paring. And I really wasn’t clued into non-powdered garlic. Clearly, life has been more delicious since I began it with Andrew, and God bless him for putting up with my nightly vegetarian experimentations.

My point is that I am relatively new to beautiful food, and A Pear to Remember is the place to be if you are, too. When we are blessed enough to have food on the table each day, it ought to be filled with love (and maybe even roasted garlic). Delicious food is possible every day, and crucial for celebrations. So happy birthday to me and to Mom, Jesus and all the rest of you replicating this memorable dish in your own kitchen.

Here is our feast italianoJust wait until you tell your guests you “infused the oil”.

Lindsey’s Tuscan Spaghetti

inspired by Pierluigi Giachi from the Torciano Vineyard

1 lb. spaghetti (the best stuff you can find)

5 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 tsp dried chili flakes

2-3 springs fresh oregano

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley

6 tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano, finely shredded

While boiling your biggest pot of well-salted water, heat the oil over a low flame. Once hot (heat at least 3 minutes), add the crushed garlic, chili flakes, and oregano to the oil in your largest skillet. (If you want the dish very mild, add only 1/4 tsp. chili flakes). Let the aromatics infuse their vibrant flavor into the oil while the pasta boils, or until the garlic turns golden brown.

Pour the infused oil into a measuring cup with a fine strainer catching the garlic and herbs. Add the flavorful oil back into the skillet.

Cook the pasta just until al dente, about 1-2 minutes before fully cooked.

With tongs, transfer the spaghetti directly into the skillet (still over low heat). Toss gently until all the pasta is coated with oil, adding a few tablespoons of pasta water if necessary. Toss with the parsley, a few leaves of fresh oregano, parmesan and serve hot. You will not believe how this rustic dish glistens with flavor.

But wait! The garlic bread! An absolute must.

Lindsey’s Not-too Garlicky Garlic Bread

This bread was a dee-licious Linvention.

1 loaf Italian bread, halved lengthwise

7 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

7 cloves garlic

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. flat leaf parsley

2 tsp. finely shredded parmesan

Roast four cloves of garlic within their papery skin (olive oil drizzled over cloves, all wrapped in foil. roasted at 400 F for about 25 minutes until brown). Once cooled, squeeze the roasted garlic out of their paper into the softened butter. Mince the remaining garlic cloves on a microplane and add to the butter with the parsley, parmesan, and a pinch of coarse salt. Mash with a fork until well combined.

With a spatula, spread evenly on the bread. Bake on a pizza stone or cookie sheet at 375 F until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Slice crosswise and serve warm with tomato sauce. 

Where’s the tomato sauce in this feast? I realize we’re working backwards in terms of preparation, but Andrew’s Original Chicken Parmesan is a perfect meat-eater’s way to round out the meal—besides, of course, the salad. Mom and the rest of the family loved this recipe.

Andrew’s Chicken Parmesan

1 lb. organic chicken tenderloins

1 jar tomato sauce (our favorite: Emeril’s Kicked-Up Tomato)

6 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced thick

2 eggs

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano

2 tsp. finely shredded parmesan-reggiano

With kitchen scissors, cut the tenderloin into 2-inch pieces. Dip each into beaten egg, then breadcrumbs combined with oregano and parmesan. Add each piece directly into the baking dish. Drizzle the breaded chicken lightly with olive oil. With all the pieces in a single layer of an 8-inch casserole, bake in a 400 F oven until the chicken is just cooked through. Into the casserole, pour sauce to completely cover the chicken and top with mozzarella slices in a single layer. Bake again until the sauce bubbles and the cheese browns.  

Serve with chianti and a simple salad of crunchy romaine and small, sweet tomatoes—lemon and olive oil to moisten.

Such a feast that is easily all on the table in 45 minutes.

A tiramisu cake to top it all off? Oh do.

 

 

 

 

P.S. My very special birthday gift from Mom & Pops was a stunning 12″ Staub grill pan. Prepare for endless indoor grilling recipes in 2011!

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getting a little Greeky

Perhaps culturally inaccurate, but I’m willing to call my little skillet dinner twist Greek Lasagna. We live near some great family-owned Greek restaurants; Andrew and I have ventured into the city solely for amazing Greek cuisine. My exposure to Greek food left me with this observation: from a vegetarian perspective, my experience bears much resemblance to Italian dining, only with feta and spinach. And I love feta with spinach. So why not Greek-i-fy my attempt at skillet lasagna with all this great feta in the fridge and spinach in the freezer? 

Now I want to call this meal lickety-quick, but to me that means dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes. This is longer by the time it comes out of the oven, but doesn’t mean it’s any more challenging. 30 minutes of fun prep time, the easiest (essential) homemade sauce, and you have an impressive dinner for last-minute guests (who might also be named Adam and Melissa… 😉 ) 

Confession: I had never made lasagna of any kind (soon to be remedied after this smash hit), but what a deliciously fun way to start! Whether you’re a beginner or could layer lasagna in your sleep, this is a must-make. 

Greek Four-Cheese Skillet Lasagna

This serves 4 ravenous young adults as a main course, or easily 6-8 averaged-appetite guests when accompanied by salad and good bread… 

inspired by a late-night viewing of PBS’ Everyday Food 

2 28-ounce canned whole peeled plum tomatoes (no additives)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or minced on your microplane!)
3.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese, room temperature
1 box (12 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
3/4 cup crumbled feta
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed
dried oregano (enough for sprinkling)

food processor or blender and a deep saute pan (mine is 10″, 4 qt.) 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor (a blender might work too), pulse tomatoes until coarsely pureed. (Okay, you may be thinking already that store-bought sauce cuts 15 minutes out of this dinner. But homemade cuts so much sodium from your meal and tastes so rich, consider an exception here). 

In a large deep skillet, saute the spinach in half a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts to get a little crispy (yum). Add the garlic at this point, saute for about 30 seconds, then bring the tomatoes, garlic and oil to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

(May I note here that none of the gentlemen gobbling three helpings of this dish even noticed—or complained about—all the nutritious spinach? Not that men don’t like greens, I’m just not related to any of those kind…) 

Reduce to a simmer and cook on medium until thickened, about 12 minutes (you should have 5 cups marinara sauce). The longer the sauce simmers the better, so set the table or feed the dog or something… 

  

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together egg yolk, ricotta, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. The ingredient list length may seem intimidating, but you see here how all the ingredients combine with little effort.

Carefully pour sauce into a heatproof bowl (a pitcher or 8-cup pyrex is helpful) and return 3/4 cup to skillet; spread sauce evenly.  

 

Now it starts getting fun. (Keep the skillet nice and messy, it’s a one-pan meal). 

Add a single layer of noodles, breaking them up to fit.  

Top with half the ricotta mixture, spreading evenly. Sprinkled half the crumbled feta over top. 

  

  

 

Follow with a second layer of noodles…  

 

Then 1 inch of marinara.  

Add a third layer of noodles… 

 

Then the remaining ricotta mixture with the rest of the crumbled feta and a generous sprinkling of oregano.  

Follow with a final noodle layer 

Then remaining sauce (which will seem like a lot, but go to town).  

Sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan over top. 

  1. Now I hope while the sauce was simmering you did some push-ups, because the pan is, well, heavy by this point.

    this takes two hands and a karate stance...

Bake lasagna until golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Check on the top layer around 10-15 minutes. Mine browned so quickly, I covered it with foil for the remaining 15 minutes to finish cooking the pasta through. 

Now for a super-simultaneous sidedish…

Cut some in-season veggies, along with some slices of onions, while the sauce is simmering. 

Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper, and add to the 400 degree oven. Both dishes should finish about the same time. Flip the veggies once or twice, and let them crisp a bit. 

a whole new meaning to hot and heavy...

Let the lasagna stand at least 10 minutes before serving—enough time for the veggies to have a little private time in the oven and brown perfectly.  

 

Adam's third helping.

  

  

  

Serve your lasagna with a big ol’ spoon, top your roasted veggies with some fresh shavings of parmesan and have a really good time.

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a berry delicious Fourth

I hope everyone had a memorable holiday weekend!   

coloring with cousins (Maddy's a leftie, too)!

Andrew and I returned from a too-short time with my Pennsylvania family—fun with uncles, cousins, babies, and puppies—who could ask for more?   

Though I brought my share of food to our family gathering, I had the chance to practice other skills… like coloring in the lines 🙂   

I brought two pans of my Grammy’s irresistable mac and cheese (to which even my piano tuner requested a recipe), and this exciting tart—worthy of its own post.   

   

This tart was featured in the “Berries Jubilee” article of last summer’s Vegetarian Times. Yep, they have awesome recipes that I’m raving about these days.   

I’m not a big pie person—I don’t enjoy dough enough, even when it is delicious. I usually want more fruit than pastry. This dessert has a crunchy nut crust, attractive and deliciously unique. Clearly it’s beautiful and appealing to the eye, but here’s a few more things I love about this tart—reasons I hope will entice you to make it. (And then write me about the results) 😀   

1. It’s really easy. I’m talking little to no cooking technique required to make this. (We all need a break once in a while…)   

2. With a food processor, it’s fast and mess-free.   

3. You can make it in advance (and make lots of people really happy when you two show up).   

4. The majority of ingredients are nutrient-dense—antioxidents, dietary fiber, whole grains, monounsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals. (I’m not making a case for this tart as a breakfast food, but for a dessert, this is a wiser option than that pint of Ben & Jerrys).   

5. It travels and keeps well.   

FRESH BERRY TART WITH TOASTED NUT CRUST

crust   

1/4 each whole almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts   

1/4 cup whole-wheat flour   

1/4 cup sugar   

1/4 tsp. salt   

6 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, diced   

1 large egg yolk   

filling   

1/2 cup light sour cream   

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt   

2 tbsp. light brown sugar   

1 tsp. vanilla extract   

1 cup blueberries   

1 cup raspberries (or halved strawberries)   

1/4 tsp. grated orange zest   

1 tbsp. orange juice (from the same orange)

other goodies to get the job done

food processor

9″ tart pan with removeable bottom

 

FOR THE CRUST   

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with cooking spray.    

Spread nuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven 10-12 minutes, until browned.   

Pulse nuts, flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until the nuts are ground to powder.   

A side note about cubed, chilled butter. This is really key in certain baking recipes. When I worked in a bakery, I was cubing 20 lbs. of butter for endless cookies and scones. Ah, memories. Cut your butter with a sharp knife at the beginning of your recipe and return the cubes to the fridge until the recipe calls for them.   

Add butter to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.   

Add egg yolk and pulse until moist clumps form.   

    

    

   

As you can see, the mixture seems really crumbly. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of your prepared pan.   

A flat surface, like the bottom of a measuring cup, is the best way to ensure an even surface. The nut mixture doesn’t seems like quite enough for the edges, but it’s just right once the bottom is even.   

Your malleable, nutty crust should be about 1/4-inch thick.   

   

Now here’s a fantastic crust technique so you’ll never need pie weights. Pierce the crust well with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes. This keeps the crust from poofing up without the mess of foil and weights and other complications. Who loves simplicity??   

Adjust the oven temperature to 400F. Bake the frozen crust for 12-14 minutes, or until golden. Cool.   

    

FOR THE FILLING   

Whisk together the sour cream, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest in a bowl.    

Toss berries (or fruit of your choice) with the orange juice in a separate bowl.    

(Please, please don’t skimp on the orange zest, it really makes the tart special).   

Spread the sour cream mixture into the crust with a spatula. It didn’t seem like enough filling to fill the tart, but it is just enough so scrape every drop from the bowl!   

I really want to experiment with peaches on the next round of this tart, but it is ideal for berries, as they are less likely to brown or bleed color into the sour cream mixture while resting in the fridge for a few days. Nonetheless, the acid of the orange juice kept my strawberries fresh for the mere day and a half the tart lasted among company 😀   

Spoon the berries over top a little at a time, until the sour cream mixture is evenly covered. (No one says it can’t be a little artistic, though)! It really does look beautiful however you arrange your fruit—yet another thing to love about this beautiful dish. I also sprinkled additional zest over the finished tart.   

Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes before serving. And take my advice, cut thin slices—my tart somehow fed twelve, but we would have loved seconds.   

two minutes into cutting... the tart disappeared in the next two!

 

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the Indian spice cabinet

Until this evening, Andrew didn’t realize we had an Indian spice cabinet. This is ironic, as it is the most violent of our cupboards. All our boring, twice-a-year spices (nutmeg, thyme, italian seasoning), reside above the drinking cups, aligned in an intricate Tetris fashion. My special Indian spices, on the other hand, have a designated tiered rack above the kitchen sink. And almost every time we open this cabinet, the coriander seeds or ground cumin jars nose-dive into the sink, shattering glass all over the kitchen. We’ve mourned many ethnic spices in recent months.

Tonight was one to carefully retrieve the exotic spices from this special location, in a first-time attempt to make Indian vegetable fritters. With curry-lime sauce. Yep.  

Since drooling over this recipe on Smitten Kitchen (the most inspiring food blog ever), I’ve vowed for months I would make them and gobble them up. Mine are not as pretty as Deb’s, but they were amazing. And let me tell you, anything that has Andrew knowingly DEVOURING vegetables (zucchini! sweet potato! carrot!) speaks to its flavorful brilliance.  

I had this idiotic idea (like I so often do creating in the kitchen) that I would grate the veggies (that’s russest potato, sweet potato, carrots, onion, zucchini) by hand. On a box grater. Well, the words “hand” and “box grater” explain the bloody bandage on my right thumb…  

 

I read that hand grating (vs. utilizing my beloved food processor)  produces coarser vegetables that stick together. After grating both potatoes, attempting the onion, and stopping the bleeding from my right hand, I surrendered.  

Not that I don’t love my food processor.  

While I mixed the eggs and flour, I drained the shredded veggies in a colander lined with cheesecloth. The cheesecloth made it easier to squeeze the water from the veggies.  

love my spices

 

  

Though the recipe called for four eggs, I don’t enjoy egg-y foods—and I wanted to cut down on the fat just a tad. I used two whole eggs and two egg whites, and the consistency worked just fine. I whisked in flour, coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Smells unbelievable.  

On the side, I cooked basmati and wild rice with cumin seeds. For fluffy, authentic basmati, visit a previous post on the very topic 

I skipped out on the ginger and peas (not a fan of the latter), but loved the cilantro in these fritters. The flavor and color were just—oh gracious.  

This is not the time to skimp on fresh herbs. If you like (no, love) cilantro like me, the full two tablespoons of minced cilantro is essential.  

cilantro

 

  

This thick, rich egg mixture is a fantastic glue for all the shredded veggies. While my rice was cooking, I heated my 12″ nonstick skillet. As you may recall from the last time I made potato cakes,  I liked the browning better with my regular skillets, but nonstick was preferable here to avoid using an entire bottle of oil.  

fragrant and beautiful

 

  

By this point, the carrots and sweet potato have dyed the other pieces to unattractive colors… no matter.  

I was surprised to see the instructions to salt and pepper the veggies at this point, and also immediately after frying. I used kosher salt to lessen the sodium amount, but did find that salting is really crucial, even with all the fragrant spices. The salt enhances the complexity of these fantastic fritters.  

A warning about tumeric if you haven’t used it before: the yellow stains absolutely everything—which is why I have a special plastic spatula (circa 1992) I reserve exclusively for my Indian cooking endeavors.  

Because Deb explains it all so well, I’m going to send you to her site for ingredient amounts and directions. I must tell you that these are a great introduction to either Indian food or Indian cooking, if your taste buds have not yet ventured that far East. Also, this curry-lime sauce is so remarkably simple and divine (really, a four-year-old could make it), I intend to make it frequently for a dipping-sauce staple. Additional support for the wonderful versatility of plain yogurt.  

These are a great appetizer idea that would reheat well in the oven. Though I cooled my fritters between paper towels, as directed, I would strongly encourage placing the fritters on a (cookie) cooling rack directly from the skillet. The fritters were delicious, but weren’t as crispy sitting between damp paper towels—I’ve read that a cooling rack is the solution, but forgot about it this time around…  

This post is a bit jumpy, but there’s so much to say about Indian food!! I promise to share other favorite homemade Indian recipes in future posts. These spiced fritters speak to the simplicity of most Indian cooking—this cuisine always tastes complex, but rarely requires intricate cooking technique.  

Click here to head over to Smitten Kitchen and check out fritter-making in further detail 😀  

  

Now the great debate over who gets these leftovers for lunch…

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toum, skordalia, mujdei

No matter the language, it’s universally delicious. That’s right, we’re talking about garlic sauce. I came home, dreading a night of studying, determined to attempt Aioli. (Procrastination manifests in many forms). Ever since I told you about the blog Use Real Butter, I simply couldn’t get those fried lemon slices with aioli out of my head. Garlic mayonnaise, if you desire the American translation. Barefoot Contessa featured a French aioli dish with boiled fingerling potatoes as dippers. Surely the French have a more sophisticated term for dipping devices… That, too, had me fixated on this sauce.

seemed simple enough...

After reading dozens of tips for homemade mayonnaise techniques, I was pumped up to make awesome aioli. And then, according to my sole witness nearby in the kitchen, the Dark Side emerged. Mine to be exact. I became intensely pissed off at a variety of appliances, as I (mid-emulsion) transferred beaten yolks from food processor to mini food processor to ineffective mixing bowl with handmixer. The yolks either sat lifeless below the processor blades, or ran away from the beaters of my handmixer. The attempt was a frustrating pain in the, well, you know. But once the garlic and yolks and lemon juice emulsified…OH MY.

I followed the recipe from the blog Use Real Butter, and next time I will use the huge whisk on my standmixer. I’m certain this will be way more efficient, and am excited to try again 🙂

aioli
3 cloves garlic
1/2 -1 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

Make the aioli: Peel the garlic cloves and mince. Gather the garlic into a little pile and pour the salt over it.

With the flat of a sturdy knife blade (or a pestle, as in my case), crush the salt into the garlic until you get a nice paste.

Combine the paste in a bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk or beat the egg yolks together (you can also use a food processor…but I wouldn’t recommend it with this small of a batch), adding a few drops of olive oil at the start. I would NEVER consider this by hand, as even using an electric beater had me mixing mayonnaise for a solid ten minutes—with limited use of my left shoulder the rest of the night… Keep whisking and adding a little oil until it begins to thicken. When I say a little, I mean a TEENY SINGLE DROP at a time. That’s the secret.

Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and continue whisking in the remaining oil until it reaches the desired consistency and flavor. Add more lemon juice and or salt to taste. The consistency will thicken upon standing, or at least it did on my first attmpt.

Here’s the thing: it’s going to taste SO strong that even you garlic-lovers are going to think you went overboard with 3 cloves of garlic. But serving aioli as a dip for plain, fresh vegetables makes for a combination so beautifully French.

I couldn’t find any fingerling potatoes at the grocery store, so I roasted some baby red potatoes. No less fantastic, I imagine.

Now I had to get onto my studying, especially with this aioli-fiasco, so I heated up some pre-made soup. As in, it was already made when I found it at the grocery store. I’m very particular about buying pre-made foods, particularly soups for the sodium content. My absolute, absolute favorite (and exclusive) grocery-store soup pick? Pacific Natural Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato. Widely available, though you may have to head to the “natural” aisle of a store like Giant. For soup from a carton, little compares.

Baby arugula, walnuts, and my favorite simple lemon & olive oil (+ garlic + honey) vinaigrette on the side. A dinner so…memorable.

 

…with just enough leftover ailoi for the next day’s sandwich

(I could go on and on and ON about sprouted grain bread—particularly the sesame variety—but we’ll save that for another time)

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